The original plan was to ride to EICMA on a Victory Gunner. I had come up with the idea in summer, imagining French back roads and Alpine passes.
When I get in touch with Victory's PR team in the UK, however, they gently point out the flaws in my thinking: EICMA takes place in mid November and I've given myself very little time to get there. Which means spending time on the motorway (aka freeway/interstate).
"You can do what you want, mate," says Victory UK's PR man, Steve. "I can get you a Gunner, no problem. But, well, have you ridden here in November?"
I have. Britain is terrible this time of year. Incessant rain and gale-force winds. The sun disappears until March. When Steve offers a Victory Vision as an alternative, I say yes before he finishes the suggestion.
The Vision is Victory's top-of-the-line tourer, happy to be brought up against the likes of the Indian Roadmaster, or Harley-Davidson Electra Glide. Relatively unchanged since being introduced in 2008, it maintains a contemporary look that puts it on the same aesthetic stage as the Honda Goldwing.
Twenty-nine gallons (132 liters) of storage space, full fairing, electronically adjustable screen, heated grips, heated seats, cruise control and stereo. All powered by a ginormous 1731 cc (106 cu. in.) V-twin. Yeah, that's the way to travel to Milan.
I pick up the bike in London and ride it back to Cardiff (where I live) to load its panniers and top box before heading out the next day. At first glance, the sheer enormity of the Vision intimidates me. Everything is big on this bike. Fairing the size of a Smart car, handlebars like the horns of a Texas steer, a seat large enough to accommodate an adult male polar bear.
Everything is big except the handlebar-mounted radio and cruise control buttons. They are too tiny for gloved hands. With the stereo, at least, there are additional controls on the bike's acre-sized tank. But those controls are out of my line of sight. So, there is a lot of haphazard mashing of buttons. Eventually, the radio comes to life and –– this really happened –– blares Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild"...