- Messenger spacecraft (figure 1) performs a Mercury flyby. Not the same kind of “Mercury flyby” I did to the car of that name last week on my motorcycle though.
- Thomas Beatie (figure 2), the world’s first pregnant man, gives birth to a daughter. Don’t even ask!
- The Eyak language in Alaska becomes extinct as its last native speaker dies. Can’t even ask!
- Nebraska bans the electric chair as sole execution method. Does any execution method have soul?
- The United States Air Force retires the F-117 Nighthawk (figure 3). I want one for my retirement!
- U.S. Government takes control of the two largest mortgage financing companies in the U.S., Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Frankly Moronic!
- Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, the last two remaining independent investment banks on Wall Street, become bank holding companies as a result of the sub-prime mortgage crisis. Holding shit as it turned out.
- SpaceX launches the first-ever private spacecraft, the Falcon 1 (figure 4) into orbit. Hey… they got a Falcon… we got an Eagle!
- Dow Jones Industrial Average falls 777.68 points, its largest single-day point loss, following the bankruptcies of Lehman Brothers and Washington Mutual. Too big to what?
- “Bloody Friday” saw many of the world’s stock exchanges experienced the worst declines in their history, with drops of around 10 percent in most indices. Oopsie!
- Barack Obama (figure 5) becomes the first African-American President of the United States. Still waiting for a woman president… or are we?
- MV Agusta-Cagiva makers of the highly regarded, but poor selling F4 (figure 6) is purchased by… guess who?
- Victory produces their first touring model (figure 7)… the Vision. Not sure exactly who’s ‘vision’ but there ya have it.
- South Carolina Indian Powerplus models (figure 8) are seen on the road… not in showrooms… yet.
- Harley-Davidson buys MV Agusta/Cagiva for $109 million.One hundred nine million…what were they thinking?
On the surface
- Whoopie! Another anniversary for the Motor Company… the 105th! Badges and paint to commemorate.
- Buell makes it to the 25th anniversary… and beyond.
- Jiffy stand safety interlocks are introduced. Seriously?
- ABS brakes… very serious!
- Dyna line gets the new FXDF Fat Bob. Dyna fans swarm!
- Softail Rocker gets a “stowaway” p-pad. Softail fans snooze!
- But the bignews (figure 9) is the XR1200! Aside from being 100 pounds heavier than a Buell XB this is the Sportster with real Sport in its blood. Fast, stylish, durable, good handler… the XR12 had it all… yet all during its production life a mere 10,706 were sold worldwide. Yeah, it was only sold in Europe in 2008, but the Germans couldn’t break it on the autobahn, so by 2013 the XR12 had proven to be the fastest, most bomb-proof X-engined bike ever built… for the connoisseur.
The inside story
- V-rods get a slipper clutch… nice!
- ABS brakes… and metric calipers, wheel bearings (25mm) and hollow axles.
- Touring bikes get “e-throttle” a.k.a. “fly-by-wire.” Initially, a trifle trouble-prone but now “coin of the realm” and good as gold.
- Touring bikes get an “isolated” (cush) drive (figure 10) on rear wheel. Better than going without, but not without the downside of added complexity.
- California bikes get catalytic mufflers. Forest fires begin to break out from parking in the weeds.
- Best of the year… Buells and the XR1200 get completely redesigned “pancake” oil pumps (pic 11) placed in the cam side engine cover! Eliminates pesky drive gears and improves oiling (and breathing) considerably!