Story & Photos by Randy Twells
May is Woman Rider Month so what better story is there than a motorcycle dealership, owned by a Woman Rider, and their first Demo Event with women (as well as men) riders hitting the road on these awesome bikes! Maybe you saw our Women Who Ride story about Petrina Herman, in March 2012*; this lady rider has now taken the San Diego motorcycle scene by the handlebars and become the first Indian Motorcycle Dealer in Southern California, also carrying Victory Motorcycles in her dual-brand store …..San Diego Indian Motorcycle!
Saturday & Sunday March 15th & 16th, the Demo truck with the iconic Indian head graphic was parked out front at Kettner Blvd. and West Kalmia St. in San Diego’s Downtown Little Italy neighborhood where this great new dealership is located. Demo Truck Driver / event Supervisor & Rider Briefing/ Instructor Tim Kougl hails all the way from Campbellsport, WI. And helping out here today locally were Road Guards and registration volunteers from San Diego HOG. “Wait-what?” you ask. Well, Petrina’s husband is New York Myke the Owner of San Diego Harley, so….. the San Diego HOG guys and gals were more than happy to come out and assist at this great event and check out the bikes in the process. Jen, Ashley and Dee were inside taking demo signups. Road Guards were Cartoon at the head of the column, Mark at mid-point and Brent rode sweep at the tail end. They really helped me with getting photos too so thanks guys!
Throughout the day Petrina moved among all her guests, visitors and employees and the ride briefings too, taking it all in stride and making everyone feel welcome. How cool to have a woman rider welcome you to her world!!
Now it was not just women riders who were here taking their turn at the 20 minute escorted group rides, no sir. Men too wanted to test the mettle of these highly anticipated machines that have gotten rave reviews. The various Indian models have various features and fit differences among them, so one Indian model may work better for one person and for another rider, a completely different fit or non-fit to their body configuration. So Tim gave the ride briefings on the different bikes’ features & controls and an idea of the route, which included city streets and some tight cornering as well as full speed highways to give a complete idea of how the Indian would perform on all types of roads. “And …they’re off—for a nice 20 minute ride. And you could ride all day long and try several bikes if you wanted.
San Diego HOG Newsletter Editor Jo Ricker tried out the new Indians on Saturday. She says, “WOW! As a rider for the past 15 years, it has been great learning the roads, riding with HOG and Black Sheep HDFC and being part of the “family” of motorcycle enthusiasts. Along the way I’ve personally owned 5 different Harley-Davidson motorcycles (currently have a Heritage Softail) and rode a BMW R1200R for a year.
So when I had the opportunity to test ride the new Indian Motorcycles I was pleasantly surprised at what a great “ride” it was! I test rode the Vintage and the Classic models, both of which are 111 cu. in. engines but each had different features like beach bars or fringe, etc.
The Classic turned out to be my favorite because it compared very well to my all-time favorite Harley, the Road King. It was sturdy but easy to handle with a lot of power. The ride was smooth, the balance was great, comfortable seat and as a 5’ 3” female, it was nice to have a comfortable “stock” seat that was not too wide to reach the ground flat-footed! As I walked away my thoughts were that if I was going to purchase a new bike, the Indian Classic would definitely be a consideration. With better overall maintenance costs than my HD and a very comparable cost for the bike, I believe the Indian line will be a serious competitor in the market moving forward.
Sunday, another woman rider grabbed those handlebars for a test ride- Marlene Stroyer, of Stroyer Brothers Auto Body & Painting in Escondido. She too currently rides a Road King (2003). Marlene’s been riding since 1999- about 14 years. Her prior bike was a Suzuki Volusia 800cc. She took the CHP rider course in 1998 (wow, same year I did!) on a Honda 125 after some preliminary work on a Honda 200 in a parking lot under her hubby’s guidance. At this event Marlene rode the red Indian Vintage with the fringed bags etc. and noted there were some differences between that and her Road King, mainly in that her bike is ‘set up’ to fit HER, while the test bikes had their standard features & equipment and could not be customized for each rider here. However, she still got a good idea of what to expect if she were to ride one regularly; she found the Vintage to be smooth handling and acceleration, nice balance, responding nicely in turns & tight maneuvers without jerkiness, very comfortable even on this first ever trial on this bike. Which says a lot! She also felt the Indian (111ci 6 speed) had stronger response / “get up & go” than her Road King (88ci 5 speed).
We also had several guys give us their comments. Rich Grihalva says, “First I must say the new Indians are absolutely stunning in their appearance fit and finish and if I were making a buying decision based on that alone, without question the Indian is the only choice. I currently ride a Kawasaki Vulcan Nomad 1700 a.k.a.103 with about 60k miles on it. ..The Chieftain felt like home on first contact. Seating position, handlebars, foot controls and everything else was rider friendly and comfortable. The floorboards provide plenty of leg room and make highway pegs completely unnecessary. Handling at parking lot speed was effortless and confidence building and on the road it was quick and very responsive. This is the bike for the mountain roads as well the long rides. Suspension was smooth and handled varying road surfaces with ease and comfort. Power was right there with a quick twist of the throttle. Of course this bike might have had a stage one exhaust system. The only drawback was the fact that the wind screen rattled when a bump was experienced. This might be addressed by a set of rubber wheels on each side the moving section and the LED display was a bit hard to read in the sunlight. If I were in the market today, this is the bike that would be the replacement for my Vulcan Nomad.
“The thought and consideration that went into the new Indian has paid off with a line of bikes that will proudly carry on the tradition of style and value that have made Indian the American icon it has become over the years.”
Jose “Joser” Mejia says, “I started out very excited to try out the new Indian Motorcycles & I wasn’t disappointed, especially in the looks department but I’m a little biased since I’ve always loved the full fender look of the Indian Motorcycle… I tested both the Vintage & the Chieftain models— In the end I just couldn’t stop smiling while riding my dream motorcycle; so which one did I prefer? That’s easy, the Vintage that model just says Indian Motorcycle to me. Richard Kling said he had bought his brand new Chieftain 2 days ago, also has a 2001 Scout, “absolutely love this bike! Low center of gravity, feels light for its 800 lbs dry weight. Really good in the twists & turns. “
There was a great lunch available both days with the Taco Man food truck who is a friend or relative of someone … and Petrina put a supply of free bottled water and pastries/chips/muffins out for anyone who needed immediate fuel too. Sales Manager Gary Saffle and Kelsey at the Front Desk were here to assist guests along with a full staff.
On Sunday, 101.5 KGB Radio set up and Bob of Bob & Coe in the Mornings was our Host for their gig. And since this is Downtown Little Italy, it’s right in the flight path for planes landing at San Diego’s Lindbergh Field, where the newest hi-tech corporate jets along with huge prop planes and 777’s swoosh right over the Indian demo truck- a sensory blending of the old, the new, and the iconic, Indian Motorcycle getting it right in these awesome new bikes. Indian Motorcycles are right at home in this Old San Diego history-breathing building with its gracefully aged wood floors and historic neighborhood of Little Italy, waiting for you to stop in and feel the timelessness here over a cup of coffee in the store’s Moto Fuco Cafe. And- Saturday June 14th be sure to come out for San Diego Indian Motorcycles’ Grand Opening Celebration from 10-5. It’s a party for sure— but let’s also pay it forward and bring non-perishable food items, toiletries or cash donations for SDMOM- San Diego Military Outreach Ministries, helping young military families of deployed service members with food, supplies and services they need. See www.sandiegomom.org or www.sandiegoindian.com for more info!
*Petrina’s Women Who Ride Story–