● An intense solar flare blasts X-rays across the solar system. We all saw right through that… didn’t we?
● At 66 years old, Rumanian university lecturer Adriana Illiescu becomes the oldest birth mother in the world. An oldie but a goodie… apparently.
● The Superjumbo jet aircraft Airbus A380 makes its first flight from Toulouse, France. Not enough to bother the 747, though.
● First partial human face transplant is completed for Isabelle Dinoire in Amiens, France. No, she’s not two-faced.
● John Paul II dies in April… 4 million people come to the funeral. A pope poops out.
● The same month, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is inaugurated as the 265th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church taking the name Pope Benedict XVI. A pope pops up.
● Tony Blair’s Labor Party is re-elected for a third consecutive term in the UK general election. He becomes Britain’s longest-serving Prime Minister of the 21st century. (A fella named Walpole managed to last 20 years, 314 days, but Blair’s better lookin’.)
● YouTube, the website where videos may be shared and viewed, is launched. Since over 400 hours of viewing is uploaded every minute… you can’t tell me you’ve seen it all!
● XCOR Aerospace makes first manned rocket aircraft delivery of U.S. Mail in Mojave, California (figure 1). Amazon probably has a couple stashed somewhere as well.
● The 2005 Atlantic power outage happens. Talk about keeping a lot of people in the dark.
● The White House announces the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq is over. Found ’em under the bed with the monsters.
● Former USS America (CV-66), a decommissioned super-carrier of the U.S. Navy, deliberately sunk (figure 3) in the Atlantic Ocean after four weeks of live-fire exercises. Largest ship ever to be disposed of as a target in a military exercise. No wonder the defense budget is high.
Sadly, all that’s going on with Indian is back channel regrouping and redesign. Meanwhile, Polaris is kickin’ butt with new models of Victory motorcycles both on the street and on the drawing boards. Enter the Ness clan for 2005 and several signature editions (figure 2) with their fingerprints (and other touches) all over.
Very little to report from Harley-Davidson, beyond their 20th consecutive year of record sales, stock prices and production (329,017). Oh, and the appearance of the first non-bagger 103” (1690cc) CVO Softail (Fat Boy), and a bump from 1130cc to 1250cc for the V-Rod in the form of the Screamin’ Eagle VRSCRE (figure 3)… which also involved a chrome-laden bump in price of nearly 8 grand… to a whopping $25,495!
Buell had its own new 2005 variants of the XB line, including the incredibly versatile Ulysses (figure 5) , and sales were up over 17 percent! What’s really revealing, however, is over half of Buell production is shipped overseas… especially Europe. Most Americans never really got the Buell concept, but in countries where motorcycles were taken more seriously as day-to-day transportation, the revelation of a nimble 250cc-sized machine with stump-pulling torque found lots of fans… and buyers.
On the surface
Not much of anything major going on for this year but minor and important detail changes were aplenty. From new ICM software, to one-inch axles, to improved oil seals, to forged flywheel teeth, the Harley factory was determined and effective in its refinement of all models. Not least, in the V-Rod line-up, boasting much beefier shift forks across the board, with Brembo brakes, inverted forks, a little extra displacement to be had on certain versions and for certain reasons—about which you might want to keep reading.
The inside story
In 2004 H-D bought out Porsche Design interests, regarding the latter’s contributions and complicity in the liquid-cooled Revolution engine design. That fact accounts, in some degree, for the changes in V-Rod displacement and equipment, as well as the appearance of the race-only, wheelie-bar equipped, 165 hp Destroyer! Make no mistake, the reason the Destroyer (figure 4) existed at all is because the newly-unfettered V-Rod devotees in the CVO back room just wanted to build it. The fact that over 600 orders came in immediately upon the news endorses thinking which resulted in the world’s first over-the-counter factory-built drag bike.