I don’t know about you all, but after working from home and being cooped up for more than a year, I am ready for the warm weather—and the ability to get outside that comes with it. I did manage to get some big rides in over the past six months, heading to Yellowstone on the Challenger and down the Pacific Coast Highway. And in March, I joined the press rides in Arizona for our two big launches: the refined FTR and the new Chief. Now that the weather is nice, I don’t plan on passing too many more days without spending at least a little time in the saddle of one of my bikes.
Doing a socially distant press launch was different, to be sure, but we did it in a safe way that was still a lot of fun. For the FTR, we ran about 150 miles out from Phoenix, through the mountains to Tortilla Flats. The Chief ride was incredible, too, with some very nice glamping and a ghost town in the Arizona desert. We hit some cold days in those mountain passes, with temperatures down in the 40s, but as a Minnesotan, that wasn’t a problem for me.
I am excited for both of these bikes. Having come from the International side of the company, I was part of developing the original FTR. It was designed with a global mindset, and its sporty style resonates with European customers. So seeing it get even better in response to customer feedback is special. As for the Chief, that’s a product we needed to have. With its big motor and small chassis, it fits right in that sweet spot between the Chieftain and the Scout.
Last spring, we weren’t sure how badly our business would be affected, but now it’s thriving. Riding was an escape for a lot of people, and as a result, we had a record retail year, both in North America and internationally. That momentum continues into this year, and it’s building. In fact, our biggest challenge right now is not demand, but in battling through production shortages due to supply constraints. As quickly as we can get parts in, we’re shipping bikes out.
Thanks for riding through these times with us. We like to think that our bikes make us the best motorcycle company out there, and we know for a fact that we have the best riders. You all are the reason we love coming to work every day—even if the commute has been virtual for a while. Here’s to a happy and healthy summer, and a safe return to normalcy for all of us.