A day at Vansons - Victory Forums - Victory Motorcycle Forum
 
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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old 07-06-2010, 04:30 PM Thread Starter
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Default A day at Vansons

After being out of the seat of a bike for a few years and always having a great time attending Vansons open house back in 2000-2004 I decided to suit up and ride down yesterday. The weather was pretty crappy, low 40's windy rain off and on but the weather people said it was going to get better so onward I went.
I turned the corner just shy of noon and as and thought to myself, "they must have cancelled the event as the lot was void of bikes and only a handful of cars were parked. Earlier years had 500+- bikes parked in the entire lot with bikes lining up and down both sides of the street for a quarter mile.

Hopping off the bike another ride pulled in on a new Victory big touring cruiser, not my cup of tea but as my grandmother used to say "that's why baskin robbins has 31 flavors"

The lot had a few venders, a far cry from a decade earlier..one seller of sausages/dogs etc, two Harley race teams with their bikes on display and a dyno service that went by the name of Robs Dyno (more on that later).

When I walked inside my second shocker of the day was infront of me, an open room with just a few tables around the perimeter. The tables had various groups selling tickets to win a Harley for 20 bucks, several groups of people promoting various causes such as Angles for Autism and similar. Flash back a decade earlier and the room had several thousand Vanson jackets, suits, pants on display offering HUGE savings from 20-75% off regular prices. One could barley walk around the room with out rubbing next to one of their quality products and the room, well it had that amazing leather smell that was still etched in my mind years later. There were a few racks 3-4 of discounted jackets and pants, none even came close to fitting, most likely they were overruns or special orders that never were shipped or returned for various reasons.
At this point there was a reality check, the economy has really hit Vanson Leathers very, very hard. I must admit it was rather depressing seeing what was once a great company that had been cut down as a result of the economic downturn. The large display room was all but vacant, only three other people dressed in Harley leathers were walking around the room. As I did the quick rounds, my thoughts were wow, what a waste of a day....I would be in and out in five minutes. As I entered the back room it became clear that Vanson had put their new leathers for sale in this room combined with their manufacturing facility which also shared this space along with the upper floor. Again years past had this room filled with sewing machines and people working every day getting the orders out ASAP. My eyes were drawn to several racks of new racing leather jackets, and well it would not be complete with out putting on a jacket. I grabbed a 48 Mark 2 Cobra and slide it on...its been a long time since I had felt a new Vanson Jacket. For those that don't know, they take 1-2 years to break in, they double and triple up leather around the seems and impact points, so this takes quite some time to confirm to your body. My two jackets and suit are 10 years old and are as comfy as an old pair of top of the line leather shoes. A quick look at the price tag, 650 and the jacket was pealed off and put back on the rack. Being unemployed makes buying a jacket like this out of the question, ok maybe one day it would find a home with me, but it wont be today as this would mean rice and beans for at least three months to offset the expense and well, those two foods are not in my diet plans for breakfast lunch and dinner...

At this point I was ready to head out, one more lap around the vacant room found me at the Narranganset Beer table. Alcohol and bikes imho don't mix, never have and never will. The hot little cutie behind the table said "would you like to try a Gansett?" , ok, I know what I just said but if I drink a beer, my time at Vanson would be at least another hour to get it out of my system prior to throwing a leg over my zx14. She passed me the beer and after a few sips, very refreshing...clean crisp taste..pretty damn good.. do I sound like a beer commercial yet? On the table they had some T-shirts, buttons, swag stuff...and a roll of tickets. I asked the girl what are the tickets for? She said were giving away a Vanson Jacket with our logo on the back. Ordinarily my time is not spent filling out anything, you get the phone calls, the junk emails and you never win, but since a beer was in my hand why not, I have time to kill since I had been drinking a beer.

As I tossed the ticket into the clear plastic jar, I heard a bike outside pegged against the rev limiter and began to smell burning rubber. Outside I went just in time to get a lung full of the remains of a tire being spun at several thousand rpms. I wondered over to the dyno and found an 08 GSXR 1000 being tuned. Notice I said tuned and not dynoed for peak hp. Years past most every event had a portable dyno with mostly sport bikes attempting to be the king of the day with peak hp....to be honest I had won virtually every local event with my turbo busa...no surprise there, like bringing a knife to a gun fight...a n/a bike vs a turbo...
What was amazing was how technology had changed, tuning has become quite easy rather then the black art of years past. Robs dyno had a load setting where he could tune the engine at idle, 5%, 10%, 20%, 30%, 50%, 80% and 100% throttle position. The gains across the curve were very impressive to say the least.
Walking towards me was a biker wearing his leathers and helmet, as I caught the persons eyes it took a moment but the person was a fellow buddy, one I had ridden with and raced at New England Drags for five years back a decade ago. Al is quite the guy, one of the few people I have met in my life with a good heart towards others all the time, I don't think he has a bad bone in his body, why his wife left him I cant figure out.. He also (from years ago) had a garage full of bikes...from several busas (his turbo bike made 420 rwhp) to Harleys, dirt bikes..pretty much everything. He was wearing his Vanson leathers, a Simpson helmet and I expected to see him on his turbo busa but not to my surprise he had a 06 Harley screamin eagle (full dresser) don't know the model but it was decked out...big $$$$ no doubt. He asked me how the gsxr had done, I said 165 but the gains across the curve were impressive. He asked Rob how much for a dyno tune on his Harley and was informed 300. Al has never in my memories skimped when it comes to his bikes and this time was no different. The bike was put on the dyno and with in about 40 minutes was done. A ten mile ride proved that it was a different bike, he said it was very smooth, pulled at any rpm and was a "different bike" that he was glad it was done, money well spent.
Al convinced me to put my ZX on the dyno, 25 bucks later and four pulls proved to me that my stock busa 2000 blue/ silver 1298 cc's made more power then the neutered zx due to all the noise ordinances that modern bikes had to confirm to. The bike flat out died at 9k, it fell over quicker then the NAV of Ken Heebners cgm focus fund during the drop....(ok not that fast, the cgm fund fell much faster in 08) No doubt a quality exhaust and pc3 would tack on 25+ hp all the way to 11,000rpms. Since my days of drag racing are over for now, I didn't run home and order a new pipe, pc3 etc....remember unemployed, got to watch the coins....
The rain began to fall, the few other bikes had left and Robs dyno service was shutting down, my bike was the last on the dyno (maybe 5-6 all day vs 70-80 years earlier) but the times they are a changing fast....isnt that a song?
I told Al that I would follow him out of Fall River and rice back toward Providence, RI before heading back to CT.

At this point, I bet you think the story is over, right? Well almost, upon returning home to my three jumping dogs who wanted out to go play and relieve themselves, the phone rang. A quick glance showed a 508 area code. My initial thoughts were crap, I bet my credit card didn't clear and Rob was calling me...man would I feel bad as I am the last person who would ever try to screw a small business owner. I picked up said "hello" and the person on the other end said, Is this Barry?, "yes" he said this is Vanson calling, you won the drawing, come in when you want and pick out any jacket and we will sew the Narragansett Beer logo on the back. HOLY S#!T...I WON!!!!, I have never won anything short of tickets to Circus America when I was 5 years old.

Today I head back to Vanson to select a new jacket and have them stitch the logo on the back....being unemployed has some benefits....but I would rather be working again...

Well, that is the end of the story...hopefully you enjoyed reading it...

The story goes back to April of this year, since then I sold my Lingenfeter Vette and bought a 09 Hammer S this past June 30th when I turned 43, its being shipped now and should arrive this week.


Fast foward to today and look what was on my door step when I got home...
Its a Cobra Mark 2 jacket with Narragansett all leather logo




Last edited by 9secondsflat; 07-06-2010 at 04:35 PM.
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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old 07-06-2010, 06:13 PM
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Congratulations.

Since this isn't Victory related I'll move this over to the Victory Lounge. Thats for non Victory related discussion.
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