I headed up to Annapolis from Southern Maryland at 8 and the closer I got the less likely I thought the demo would be held. We had some pretty bad storms come through last night and most of the lights along route 2 were out with debris from downed trees that were cleared from the roadway still littered the shoulder. But about three blocks from the dealer power was on and the demo rides were held as scheduled.
I got there a little after nine but the first ride didn't start until 10:30. I picked the High Ball as my first ride. I talked to a guy before heading out who said that he hadn't been on a bike for 20 years and it showed. I was in the #5 spot and he was in the 4th having a lot of trouble but was trying his best to keep up. After the first light we were going straight through a round-a-bout and he wiped out trying to come back left. He had some road rash on his left arm but no problems other than that. The meat wagon did take him in just to be on the safe side but I never heard anything more. The Vegas 8 Ball he was riding didn't fair too well thought. the left peg and shift linkage were toast so I suspect it was down for the rest of the day at least.
Once everyone was known to be OK and help was on the way the rest of us continued on. The temps were in the upper 90 with high humidity, about 3/4 of the lights were out, there was a lot of debris along the road and one section had the top layer of asphalt stripped off to get ready to be repaved. Also a few of the other riders were either new riders or had never rode in a group before. Needless to say it was hardly the best demo ride I've ever done but any day riding is a good day.
As for the bikes, I ended up going out twice swapping bikes in the middle of the ride both times. I gotta say that the first time I sat on a High Ball the apes were all the way up and the seat felt like a rock so I didn't think I would like it but I wanted to see how it felt on the road. This one was set up with the apes slightly lower and even though the seat was still firm I was surprised at how comfortable it was riding. The only thing that gave me some trouble was shifting through second, both coming up and back down. Several times I thought I heard it shift into the next gear but it was actually in neutral. This also happened a couple of times on another bike as well so I figure it was because all the bikes had pegs and I have boards with a heel-toe shifter. By the end of the ride It wasn't happening near as much so it was probably my technique.
Halfway through I swapped with a guy who was riding a Judge. It wasn't long before I knew that I wouldn't be riding one again. At 5'10" I'm not a big guy but I'm not exactly short either. The bike handled well and has good power but I just felt way too cramped up.
We got back and it didn't look like there were that many people waiting to head out so I was able to get on the Jackpot. I did notice a guy walk up looking at the Jackpot so I offered to ride something else but he said he was good. He ended up getting on a Vegas which is another bike I wanted to try so I we agreed to swap halfway through. The Jackpot's throttle response is awesome. Even with stock pipes this thing just wants to run. Once you get to a corner however you have to be ready to convince it to turn since it wants to stand up straight. I guess this is something like going to the darkside would be. I ended up pushing harder but not leaning my body over quite as much. A friend of mine who owns a Jackpot told be after the ride that it just takes some getting use to but I really didn't enjoy the handling. The power on the other hand...
So halfway through I switched out with the Vegas. Over all the Vegas is a nice bike. Doesn't have the punch the Jackpot has but has better road manners. For me the High Ball was by far the best fit. I felt extremely comfortable and more like I was sitting in the bike than on it like the Vegas.
As for the rest of the open house, the barbecued roast beef from Pitt Boys was very tasty and the music was great as well. The heat didn't help but it seemed everyone (except the guy that laid it down) had a great time.
2014 Indian Chieftain