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Archive for April, 2008

In one of my Paradise HD drive-by’s I noticed a bike angled up on a 45 degree ramp with charcoal carbon fiber fenders on display near the front windows.  I was transitioning out of the building at the time and the $75,000 price tag made me laugh so, I didn’t think much more about it until I read an article on some high-priced ‘super’ exclusive bike that Eddie Van Halen purchased for $70K.  Then I became curious. 

It turns out that Mr. “Danc’n with the Devil” himself bought a bike similar to the one on display at Paradise HD.  The bike is manufactured by Confederate Motorcycles.  They are based in Birmingham, Alabama.  The bike is a F131 Hellcat.  A hand-built, 490 pound rocket sled with exhaust systems embedded into the swing arm and carries cooling engine oil in the frame.  It has a 2147cc (131-cu.-in. V-twin engine), 150-horsepower engine.  Confederate has a small two product line with a third planned for later in 2008. With prices starting in the new home down payment “land” no one will be buying those machines out of necessity. The dudes buying them are all about garage parties to show off their one-of-a-kind styling and “look-at-me-and-how-much-money” I can spend.  The Hellcat doesn’t come with a passenger seat…but, you’re likely divorced after buying the ride!  Besides the gauges look like an oversized TAGHeuer chronograph and are so bling’in out there you’re obviously living the celeb fantasyland and “all we ever want is more” theme. 

The motorcycle has carbon-fiber wheels, 300mm dual front brakes and beefy 50mm inverted front forks, attached to a proprietary chassis and swingarm.  The design is all about the ability to track corners and bring it to a very speedy but non-skid halt. The “blue-hair” group will appreciate the twin Zenon high intensity headlights to illuminate their driveway.  You won’t see these light up any road trip, but it’s sure to impress your neighbors while checking symmetry of the landscapers’ handy work the previous day.  Even the exhaust system is wrapped in and around the swing-arm within its carbon steel frame.

This is part of a minimalist trend where dark, gritty, edgy, stripped down bikes reach out to the Skateboarder’s rather than gray bearded guys trying to relive misspent youth.   

Lastly, if that motorcycle price has you bummed during this economic downturn…not to worry.  The confederate “Destroyed” t-shirt is on sale for $75.  Cool huh?

Photo courtesy of Confederate.

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How’s that for drama in a headline?  I’m recycling the news a bit, but in case you didn’t hear bad-boy Jesse James and wife Sandra Bullock were being chauffeured in a SUV rent-a-car on Friday night and were hit by Lucille Gatchell in Gloucester, Massachusetts.  It seems the 64 year old Lucille “blew” a 0.20 percent blood-alcohol level which is double the legal limit.  Both automobiles were totaled, but no one was hurt.

Bullock is in Massachusetts filming The Proposal.  They were in Cape Ann/ Rockport, an area north of Boston’s North Shore and en route to their hotel in Eastern Point.  The movie is about a demanding female boss who suddenly faces deportation to Canada. She makes a deal with her young male assistant to agree to a sham engagement and marriage.

Jesse must be wondering WTF?   First he marries a famous movie star and almost a year ago to the day this crazy lady Marcia Valentine who is obsessed about Bullock tried to run him down in the driveway outside his home in Southern California while one of his 3 kids watched and now there is this drunk driving incident.

Dude you’ve got to be thinking that “carrying Sandra’s purse” is getting rather dicey…on living?!  Sure his ex was Janine Lindemulder (link not safe for work) and he’s now hooked up with a “legit” movie star, but the West Coast Chopper mogul has got to be mindful of current events…

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Rather than talk about riding I thought I’d talk about a ride.  Finally!  It’s remarkable that we had a nice day so that day is imprinted in my mind.  

On April 12th the Northwest experienced some terrific weather and we took a spin on the “Black King”.  The weekend arrival of warmer temperatures meant a long-anticipated return to the road for a lot of riders.   I did my standard “pre-flight” check looking for signs of weather cracking on the tires, checking tire pressure and fluids before setting out.

We decided to head down the Willamette Valley along State Highway 99W.  Pinot Noir is typically the draw of traffic for chats with winemakers and your typical tourist attraction with more than 40 wineries on this loop. Many think this ride is like Napa Valley in California 25 years ago. The 84-mile stretch of countryside between Newberg and Monroe is awesome in the Spring.  The rains, and we’ve had more than our fair share this year, mean the fields are blooming with wildflowers and the bugs were out in force.

At the start of this ride Portland’s suburban sprawl takes too long to fade to countryside which happens just south of Newberg. This end of the Willamette Valley has the region’s highest concentration of wineries (about 25) and snazziest tasting rooms.  We rode and enjoyed the sites versus sampling wines.  We cruised by the alpine-style Steiger Haus near picturesque Linfield College–the Youngberg Hill Farm Inn and drove close to the llama farm at Spring Creek until we ended at the McMenmins in Corvallis.

We were at the new McMenmins on 2001 N.W. Monroe Ave. which borders the OSU’s campus.  Go figure!  This is the 2nd pub in Corvallis and they continue to keep the existing Corvallis location at 420 N.W. Third St., open.  Founded by OSU grads Brian and Mike McMenamin, the highly successful brewery, restaurant and hotel chain is a mainstay in the Northwest for Ruby and Hammerhead Ale.

We had a cold Ruby and continued our tour of the valley via I-5 North as the sun was starting to set and we’d seen plenty of bugs.  It was a great ride and nice to put a couple hundred miles of wind in your hair.

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What Bikers Want

I’ve been around the block a few times and have a fair number of miles on the ‘ol scooter.  In my travels I’ve noticed some things along the way that Bikers want. 

Here are my top ‘10′ observations.  Have any to add?

  1. Bikers want to lose a few extra pounds and they want an extra tall glass of cold beer.
  2. Bikers want to do something about global warming and they want to get a good tan.
  3. Bikers want to feed their need for speed and they want to feel safe around automobile drivers
  4. Bikers want to ride in the sunshine and they don’t want the humidity
  5. Bikers want to find true love and they want their true love to be totally hot
  6. Bikers want affordable Harley’s and they don’t want to sacrifice performance or a safety feature to get one
  7. Bikers want tattoos to be on the fringe of society and like to stare at “tramp stamps” in the vendor booths
  8. Bikers want the coyote to catch the roadrunner and will never talk about eating less meat
  9. Bikers want the cops to eat more donuts and spend less time writing tickets
  10. Bikers want less technology and more time on the road

It seems that Bikers want to be treated better, but not too much better…they want to be noticed, but not too noticed.  Basically they want their cake and to eat it too.  In other words, the same thing everyone else is having, but different.

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In what seems like the year of voting…I’ve been debating with myself over the last couple days whether or not I should write this post and then I saw some news on Harley sales. Obviously, I outvoted myself and wrote it!

This week the Pope is in Washington, DC., and since the Catholic Church is partly based on symbolism, it’s only fitting that one of America’s most iconic rides – the Harley motorcade – be symbolized too. As thousands of people greet Pope Benedict XVI and he’s schmoozed by President George W. Bush – the Police “Motorcycle Team” always stands ready as a precision motorcycle-cade team made up of officers from all the various Enforcement Groups there to Protect and Serve the dignitaries.  Canada has a similar team.

Given all the symbolism, I found it so very ironic that Harley Davidson decides today is the perfect time to announce that it will cut its work force by 8 percent and trim bike shipments by thousands since domestic sales fell nearly 13 percent in Q1.  These announced layoffs are dramatic and the first of this magnitude in 20+ years! 

It’s no surprise that Harley CEO Jim Ziemer might have something to say about the difficult economy…ya, think Jim?  Could that housing market implosion have anything to do with people no longer pulling equity out of their homes to finance Harley’s over priced “Surrender Your Inner Badness” or “March Badness” hype?!!  Two carnies and a pygmy pony could stomp out better marketing slogans than that.

I’m not sure about you, but I think a new $21K motorcycle (plus another $5K to make it run “nice”) is something people think twice or three times about.  I’ve blogged about arrogant dealers in the past who think people fall over themselves to spend that kind of cash, but with that easy equity cash bucket from the house gone, I think people will either hold on to their current bike for a little while longer or just wait out the “R” (recession thrash-n-crash) until the economy warm up a bit.

I read in several reports that Harley-Davidson has approx 5,600 production workers and 3,500 non-production workers.  Eight percent is approx 800 people impacted by this “downsize” decision and I truly feel sorry for each and every one of those cuts.  I work in an industry that routinely whacks-n-hacks a few thousand heads before morning smoke break so, I know the feeling….

It’s a difficult economic time my friends, but hang in there.

 

Photo courtesy of Philliefan99

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Below is my first “official” confirmation that it will be a Summer-of-Bruce.  His shows won’t be ending at Giants Stadium in July because he’s returning to Milwaukee in August for the Harley 105th show. 

H-D 105th Anniversary : Bruce Springsteen & the E-Street Band Concert

The Roadhouse at the Lakefront, Milwaukee, WI

Sat, Aug 30, 2008 09:00 PM 

Seat location: section null — Total Charge: US $ 42.50

You’ve secured your spot alongside your fellow riders at the 105th Anniversary Celebration Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band Concert. Your order will begin shipping in approximately 5 weeks. 105th Anniversary Celebration ticket packages and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band Concert tickets, if purchased, will be shipped separately. 

For 105th Anniversary event information visit www.harley-davidson.com/105th. You didn’t add Event Ticket Insurance to your order, but it’s not too late to protect your purchase! Click here to add insurance to any Ticketmaster order. 

 

According to The Business Journal, 60,000 general admission tickets will be sold so I’ll be seeing a bunch of E-Streeters at the festivities.

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Old motorcycles represent millions of memories for about as many people. 

To the spirit of those who still find adventure behind the grips of an old motorcycle, I’m going to dedicate a post or two – as time permits – to early American cycling.  Some will be about Harley’s as well as other great rides from a time long ago.  They’re all old motorcycles now.

There is a lot of history written about Honda.  I owned several prior to the Harley switch.  The quick read is that company founder Soichiro Honda developed a design for piston rings in 1938 and started to sell them to Toyota.  During World War II, the manufacturing facilities were mostly destroyed, but Soichiro rebuilt the manufacturing plant and attached an engine to a bicycle which created a cheap and efficient transport.  Honda’s first full-fledged motorcycle on the market was the 1949 Dream D-Type. They followed up with many other scooters throughout the 1950s.

Honda introduced the CB750 motorcycle to the US in 1969.  The bike was targeted directly at the US market after company officials fully understood the opportunity for a larger bike.  It had 750-cc, 4-cylinder SOHC engine, electric start and disc brakes.  The motorcycle set the bar very high for manufactures.  Disc front brake and an inline four cylinder engine were previously unavailable on mainstream production bikes. And with a price under $1500 (US) it had significant advantages over British competition. 

The Honda four was so successful a number of smaller bikes followed.  The CB350 launched in 1972 then the CB400, CB500 and finally the CB550 launched in 1974.  All the models shared the same block with different bores.  The SOHC design was made until 1982, and it introduced to the biker public to a 10,000 rpm redline and 100 mph hot rod.  The “Supersport  F” models even had 4-into-one exhaust pipes and the CB400F model had 6-speed transmissions.  Yamaha had a couple of two-stroke motorcycles (RD350 and RD400) which directly competed and were faster and simpler.

As you might recall the 70’s were full of metal flake colors and Honda was no exception with “Candy Jade Green” and “Flake Sunrise Orange”.  I’ve read recently that a premium condition 1975 CB550K (four-into-four exhaust pipes) sold at Bonhams’s Legend of Motorcycle auction for over $7K.  Wow!

Whether you ride to rallies, spend hours tinkering, polishing adjusting or just sit in the garage admiring it, a lot of bikers think the Honda CB series were some of the best motorcycles ever made. 

 

Photo is courtesy of Henry Norris.

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You might feel that the Harley Owner’s Group (H.O.G.) is just a successful marketing tool which supports the interests of the motorcycle manufacturer.  Or you might think it’s about where organized members live out the riding dream.  Who knows?

I’ve been a member the last 10 years riding through HOG history while collecting the patch/pins and enjoying HOG Tales.

For background, HOG was established in 1983 and by the end of that year there were 33K members in the U.S. & Canada.  HOG is the official riding club of the Harley-Davidson Motor Company. There is currently more than one million members and over 1,400 chapters worldwide.  This makes it the largest factory-sponsored motorcycle organization in the world.

If you are near that “boomer” demographic you likely remember back to the pre-internet days of the early ’80s, when Harley was hurting. Japanese imports were kicking butt. The economy was in the toilet and Harley laid off 40% of its work force. They were losing money and on dicey terms with the banks.  Management had bought the firm from AMF Inc., in 1981 and there were lots and lots of poor quality “rumors”.

So, management gathered in Florida for a GYAT (get your act together) with Michael J. Kami. Kami was a business guru and during the late ’50s and early ’60s, he’d been chief strategic planner for IBM. He also had a similar run at Xerox and now he was brainstorming with Harley management on how to build customer loyalty when out comes the “owners group” idea.  As they say…the rest is history.

Back in February 1998, I picked up the iconic FatBoy and Milwaukee celebrated HOG’s 15-year Anniversary with over 53,000 members from 42 countries.  And the HOG stats keep growing:

  • 1999 – The HOG Members Only website goes on-line.
  • 2000 – HOG’s 500,000th member enrolls. The 1st South American Regional HOG Rally is held in Iguaçu Falls, Brazil.
  • 2002 – Milwaukee kick’s off their 100 Anniversary with The Harley-Davidson Open Road Tour at the 19th Annual HOG Rally in Atlanta.
  • 2003 – HOG reaches its 750,000 membership milestone. HOG celebrates its 20th Anniversary with Club HOG XX Rally in Bend, Wisconsin
  • 2005 – The 2nd leg of the Posse Ride finishes in Milwaukee, with over 700 riders
  • 2006 – HOG attains its one-million member milestone. The Moscow HOG Chapter is founded.
  • 2008 – 25th Anniversary of HOG and the 105th Anniversary of the motor company.

I recently made the jump to a “Life Member“.  I don’t wear “colors” or patch/pins to shout out to the world.  I leave them for the picture frames in the garage (see above photo), but I’m serious about my passion for Harley motorcycles and HOG membership. 

I’ve often heard, if everyone could join us they would.

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There are 16 days until I fly into southern Nevada for the Laughlin River Run.  The event offers great riding and solid entertainment typical of a gambling resort.

More than 60,000 people converge on this event located on the Colorado River April 23-27 for one of the premier Biker shows in the West.

For the geographic challenged biker, Laughlin sits just south of Vegas, north of Phoenix, and east of L.A. in between two mountain ranges in the Mojave Desert. Traveling from the cold and rainy Northwest means the Mojave weather this time of year provides great riding conditions and lots of scenic views for cruises. If vendor booths wear you down, there’s always time for margaritas by the pool or time to throw the dice on the craps tables.   We’re planning to cruise Red Rocks Canyon, run Route 66 into Oatman, AZ., check out the London Bridge in Lake Havasu City and stop in at Hoover Dam on the return trip to Vegas.

I won’t be doing blog updates.  Let’s save that for the dudes getting paid for their journalistic aptitude.  I’ll do a post or two when I get back and describe some of the activities we participated.

Last year I put on ‘Cheap Sunglasses’ and caught Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard in concert.  Better known as ZZ Top it was an awesome show.  This year I’m looking forward to catching Foreigner in concert.  They made some great music.

Maybe we’ll see you there?

 

Updates on this trip start HERE.

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That’s the way I imagine it was in 1933.  It was 75 years ago today that the drink that made Milwaukee famous was made legal again.  

The home of Harley had many breweries (go figure – mixing bikes and beers?!), including Milwaukee’s own Schlitz, Blatz and Pabst.  They all celebrated the occasion by sending their first cases of beer to the White House for President Franklin Roosevelt.  Before national prohibition could be officially repealed, President Roosevelt signed legislation called the “Cullen-Harrison Act” (also know as the Beer Revenue Act) that went into effect on April 7, 1933.  It allowed the public the ability to legally drink beer 8 months before the amendment could be formally repealed.  Not only did this make a lot of people happy, it also helped stimulate the nations struggling economy.

These days it’s much different.  You walk into a bar room and you’re lucky not to be stopped and asked to sign waivers.  But that’s not the case behind Jim’s Tap in Brookings, S.D.  For 25 years now, motorcyclists have lined up one day a year behind Jim’s Tap and ride the Harley’s through the bar and out the front door. They come from hundreds of miles away for a few seconds that look very much like a scene from a movie.

In celebration I had a light beer with dinner tonight.

Photo is courtesy of Anheuser Busch.

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