Archive for May, 2008

Every year on Memorial Day, many of us pay tribute to all those who have died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day was first observed in May 30, 1868 as a way in which the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers would be decorated with flowers.  The holiday’s name was changed in 1971 and became a federal holiday.

The Oregon Veterans Motorcycle Association is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to Vets who ride motorcycles in Oregon.  There were many observances across the state from Eagle Point National Cemetery (Medford), to Willamette National Cemetery in Portland.  I spent some time there earlier and even with a mix of cool and not-so-nice weather, looking over the acreage and thousands of flags is a solemn reminder and incredible site.

I wanted to do a “shout-out” to all those in our Armed Forces serving in combat areas now and to those who have served to defend our country and our freedoms in the past.

Thank you seems hardly enough, but it’s one small way to remember and take pause for our Veterans.

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I don’t know if I’m feeling lost and listless due to the foul weather or that we’re without the Seacrest, Randy and gang for several  months opening up Tuesday nights to a new set of Discovery OCC/American Chopper re-runs?

The fact that two nights ago Amanda Overmeyer, the tattoo laden, biker, rocker, nurse, on American Idol sang her last “Idol” song with the troupe means the world of motorcycles will never be the same!  The Biker ‘hot-rod’ was booted off the show after making it to the top twelve women and seeing her perform again on Wednesday night only brought on more emotional outcry of the bias in American Idol fans about bikers.  Nursing might fill her days, but the gothic stylized Amanda is the “real deal”…she stands out in a crowd and even made Simon Cowell cower. 

Eight days short of June and we’ve seen a 4 day temperature swing of forty degrees (55-95-55)!  Today its even cooler with a high of 52 degrees and rain.  I guess bikers and Amanda fans have a couple choices and that is to watch the TV weatherman to see which of the Presidential candidates “blows”…or download the Idol “countdown” widget for next season.

Photo of Amanda courtesy of American Idol.

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Every time a U.S. President wants to demonstrate the benefits of free-trade, they hold up poster child Harley-Davidson, who was yanked from the Japanese jaws of death and a shrine for the ever faithful.

Today was no exception as Bush stumped on global trade and discussed how it “mostly helps” American workers during his speech on the Columbian Trade Agreement.  

The Wisconsin 6th District Congressman Petri was in attendance because he believes that Harley’s are a product that people around the world ought to be able to drive by making it more affordable.

Then pointing to the Motorcycle on the South lawn – Bush stated;

“…that motorcycle right there — 20 percent more expensive in Colombia, 8 percent more in Korea, and 15 percent more in Panama.  And so the purpose of a trade agreement is to reduce those tariffs; is to make the products less expensive.” He continued with “So if we get the deal done with Colombia, that motorcycle will be $4,000 less expensive,” Bush said. “The great quality of Harley will be the same. There will be no diminution of how cool one is when they drive a Harley. (Laughter.) But it’s going to be easier for somebody to buy it.” 

In his second year serving on the Bush appointed International Trade Advisory Board, Harley’s CEO Jim Ziemer must be feeling pretty special that his company is sharing the international presence spotlight!  All of this is like a perfect storm…Harley announced plans to reach out to customer groups that were not its traditional fans – women, young people, and minorities along with a shift from “pull” to “push” marketing. 

I would anticipate that South America has just as many mid-life testosterone driven, on their 3rd marriage buyers as the U.S. so why not push a policy of price parity?


Bush touring York, PA plant courtesy of USA Today – Eileen Blaas.

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If you own an antique motorcycle or always wanted too I’m sure you are familiar with “Concours d’Elegance” type events.  Similar to the high-end showcase for automobiles at Pebble Beach or auctions at Bonhams the Legend of the Motorcycle is a world-class concours exclusively for motorcycles.

Held a couple weeks ago the annual event was on the lawns of the Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay, CA and contained more than 150 of the best pre-1978 motorcycles from around the world.  These historic motorcycles were showcased and judged.  They were all there from Norton’s, Vincent’s, Excelsior, Harley, Crocker & Brough Superior including bikes from custom builders Jesse James, Shinya Kimura, Paul Cox, Roger Goldammer and Billy Lane.  Also on display were memorabilia from artworks, to racing photos and antique advertising as well as Steve McQueen’s 1940 Indian Scout.

A list of all the motorcycles at the event is HERE.  Or if you’re interested there are more than 100 photos of the event on the Sports Car Market (SCM) site.   I’d like to make it down to this event someday, but not sure where I packed my bowtie…


Advertising photo courtesy of Legend site and is Motoleggera Ducati 60 cc. gorgeous woman advertising poster, 1951

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Thirteen years ago in Seattle, 100 motorcycles gathered to participate in the first Children’s Ride. The event was a success raising $13,000 for Children’s Hospital.  Last year the Children’s Ride #12 raised more than $680,000 for Children’s Hospital. The ride has become one of the top five guild fundraisers for Children’s Hospital as well as one of the largest charity motorcycle events in the Pacific Northwest.

The Imagine Guild and Children’s Ride was founded in 1995 by Rick Baldwin. In 1974, Rick’s daughter Tessa was admitted to Children’s Hospital for treatment of third-degree burns when a coffee pot toppled on to her. Being a young father with limited financial resources, Rick benefited from the uncompensated care fund provided by Children’s Hospital. Always wanting to repay the hospital for the care his family received, Rick combined his love for motorcycles with his gratitude to Children’s Hospital and the idea for Children’s Ride was born.

This year the Imagine Guild will expand the Children’s Ride event to include a concert.  Not just local bands, but top talent from the likes of: Marshall Tucker Band, Kenny Wayne Shepherd , Spike and the Impalers, Starship and Foghat.

There are three registration levels this year:

  • Basic Ride Package = $70 per person – includes a concert ticket at the 200 level on the White River Amphitheater (WRA) Venue Map
  • Enhanced Ride Package = $90 per person – includes a concert ticket at the 100 level on the WRA Venue Map
  • Enhanced Plus Ride Package = $130 per person – includes a concert ticket in the Floor Level on the WRA Venue Map

The Friday night before the concert is a Children’s Ride Gala and Auction. This festive affair will feature silent and live auctions, dinner and entertainment. Bid on a Harley-Davidson custom motorcycle by Brian Klock.  Brian makes some awesome baggers!

What better way to party (biker style) and raise money for Children’s Hospital.


Poster picture courtesy of Hawgtide.

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Driving to work, whether at a factory, an office or a retail outlet, happens 10 times a week…assuming you drive home after ward.  Let’s say your commute is 20 miles, 200 miles a week, 50 weeks a year, for a total of 10,000 miles.  Now let’s do the math. Your trusty Chevy SUV delivers a snappy V8 performance of 16 mpg, which means you pumped 625 gallons into the tank over the last year. At $3.65 a gallon, that equals $2,281 ($190/month). If your motorcycle is getting 40 mpg, that means 250 gallons, or $912 ($76/month).

In the Northwest the cold and rain limits the number of months a person can drive unless you’re really into wet weather riding.  So, the above numbers are not an exact apple to apple comparison, but you get the point.  A motorcycle can save you money while putting a smile on your face!

On July 16th it’s the annual Ride to Work sponsored by the organization with the same name.  This ride is to demonstrate to elected officials and the public that the motorcycle community represents a significant percentage of the population, that riders are from all occupations and walks of life, that motorcycle styles may vary from “blinged-out” choppers to fuel efficient scooters, that riding on two-wheels helps reduce traffic and we ride for transportation as well as recreation.

See you out there!

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I’m not from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the California Air Resources Board (CARB).  I know very little about the Federal Clean Air Act emission standards.  But, I do know enough about marketing to be suspicious when I see “spin” coming from Harley about noise abatement and that “good” mufflers absorb and attenuate noise levels from the motor.  Now I’m being told how I should drive while in my neighborhood or further risk increased regulatory measures to control motorcycle noise.

This all started a while ago, but I started to be suspicious a couple years ago when Harley discontinued manufacturing ‘Screamin’ Eagle’, non street-legal exhaust pipes and then started the subtle campaign against loud exhaust pipes. The first effort was directed at/through dealers, with posters and literature that attempted to educate dealers and riders about the negative consequences of loud pipes.

For me the Harley riding experience is the sum total of the Harley `Look,’ ‘Sound’ and ‘Feel.’  And one of the biggest parts of the riding experience is the classic sound of the bike.  Harley’s challenges related to noise and emissions regulations may seem inconsequential to you as a rider, but more stringent European (EEC) noise limits and the development of future motorcycles need to meet lower future regulations and the end result of this debate, however, will directly affect how you shop or what you buy.  Whatever technology manufacturers use to reduce noise emissions, it is likely to affect the power and price of equipment you will purchase in the coming years.  The cost of compliance is high and in order to comply, all riders may have to sacrifice something in power and should be aware that the new regulations will inevitably lead to tradeoffs.

The primary business of the Harley Motorcycles segment is to design, produce and sell premium heavyweight motorcycles.  Most all of the recent 96/96B motor displacement and transmission redesigns have been to maintain regulatory compliance in ALL markets.   That’s a big deal as approximately a third of all new motorcycle sales are outside the U.S., with Japan, Germany, and Canada, in that order, representing the Company’s largest export markets and account for approximately 51% of export sales.

The U.S. allows higher noise levels for motorcycles than in other regions and countries.  As a result, the ever so subtle marketing campaign Harley initiated about riders being “courteous” in neighborhoods and down playing the significance of 3rd party exhaust pipes.  In fact they are discouraging 3rd party exhaust pipes.  Are they doing this because they care about your neighborhood?  No!  They know government regulations have a materially adverse impact on their capital expenditures, earnings, or competitive position.  Harley will have to make the lowest common denominator bike.  Meaning they will have to comply with the most stringent noise emissions and sale that across the U.S.  For example, last year Denver, CO passed legislation using label match-up enforcement.  The police can ticket a motorcyclist if a bike made after 1982 has a muffler lacking a mandatory factory U.S. Environmental Protection Agency noise certification stamp.

Do you think Harley is really monitoring the growth of anti-noise ordinances that target motorcyclists or is this another way of gaining market segment share in the $2.8 Billion after market muffler, accessories and riding apparel market?  The day is coming my friends where an enjoyable ride will sound like an idling Toyota Prius and people wondering if it’s running.

Exhaust photo courtesy of West Coast Choppers

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Contrary to some of the comments on previous posts, I’m really not on a rant about motorcycle gangs or evangelizing that riders join any Rotary Club on wheels. 

I have noticed that there is a renewed interest and a lot of media attention surrounding television shows on outlaw biker gangs.  These shows follow two types of stereotypes, the bad evil biker dudes or the cuddly “Wild Hogs“.  The latest is the FX cable network which ordered up 13-episodes of the drama series called “Sons of Anarchy,” which centers on an outlaw biker “club” and how the club’s efforts to protect its home in fictional Charming, Calif., from suburbanization.

The show was originally called “Forever Sam Crow”,  however, the litigation happy Hells Angels caught wind of the pilot from Kurt Sutter (writer & director) who was in a Variety interview and there were references to a specific Northern CA. motorcycle “club”…shortly after the interview hit the newswire they received a cease and desist notice from the same “club”.  Something about copyright infringement so, the name of the TV show and club was changed.

This is reminiscent of last years lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court of CA where the Hells Angels Motorcycle Corporation claimed the characters in the Disney movie “Wild Hogs” were identified as members of the “club”.  I don’t know about you, but Dudley didn’t make me nervous sporting leather clad gear and a do-rag.

And then there’s HBO’s show under development called “1%” from “The Player” writer Michael Tolkin about a biker “club” in small-town Arizona.  The outlaw biker gang phenomenon has always made for interesting debate, but with the media getting involved things have gotten dicey because some of the actual places named and used in the script were identifiably associated with Sonny Barger and the Hells Angels (such as the primary location being Carefree, AZ, which is the town adjacent to where Barger presently resides, and that the principal character moved there from Northern CA, which is what Barger did too).  Barger’s production company pulled out the litigation play book and sued HBO in Los Angeles.  The 60-year old wants the court to declare the “1% Script” as a joint work with Tolkin, enjoin Tolkin and HBO from selling or exhibiting the program, and award compensatory damages for exploiting Barger’s publicity rights.  Fritz Clapp is Barger’s attorney to the complaint (courtesy of Reporter blog) contends that the script was developed with Barger’s collaboration, however, HBO, the White Mountain Company, and writer/producer Michael Tolkin cut him out of the project and violated his publicity rights when he demanded changes.

Whether you’re a biker “club” (as members say), a gang (as police allege), or a syndicate (as federal agents charge) one thing is clear… do-gooder philanthropists donating to toys-for-tots doesn’t sell anything.  But, marauding drug dealers, corruption, crime, murder and mayhem sells advertising and that’s what this is all about.  Media companies serving up another dish of nightly violent entertainment for middle-Americans about jack-booted thugs posing as celebrities who are either misunderstood or maligned to get you to buy another tube of toothpaste.

I’m thinking Fox should have a “Biker Gang Survival” channel.  Let’s call it “American Loser”…the show will make millions!


Photo is courtesy of Kurt Sutter blog.

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Last Sunday (May 4th) the weather was perfect in the Northwest.  The temperature was in the mid-70’s and hardly a cloud in the sky.  The group quickly rallied together and met up for an afternoon ride.  We all met up at Paradise HD and then headed South.  We decided to take in the rural and scenic farmland of the Willamette Valley.  The only freeway travel as we rode was I-5S toward Wilsonville.  We took the SW Stafford Road exit off I-205 N and then took SW Mountain Road past the Sandelie Golf Course to the Canby Ferry.  The map “pin” indicates the location of the Ferry

The Canby Ferry carries vehicles and their passengers across the Willamette River just North of Canby.  It crosses the scenic Willamette River between Canby and Wilsonville.  The service started back in 1914 when the Ferry was purchased in Newberg by Canby Mayor W.H. Bair and by Harry B. Evans, representing the Canby Business Men’s Club. In those days it was propelled by a splashboard driven by the river current and held on course by a cable.   It’s been upgraded a lot since then. The cost to ride the Ferry for a motorcycle is $0.50.

After a less than 10 minute ride we exited the Ferry and headed straight on N. Locust Street until the road dead-ended in Canby.  We navigated our way back on to 99E and headed West until we got to Barlow Road.  On Barlow we rode South toward Monitor.  We took Meridian Road South out of Monitor and then headed West on E Marquam Street which brought us in the back way to Mt. Angel.

In Mt. Angel you can visit a German Benedictine Monastery or stop in the Brewing Company.  The town is famous for it’s version of the “Old World” Oktoberfest and people come from all over to this small community for ethnic foods and traditional Biergarten.  Unfortunately the Brewing Company was closed and we had to hit a local “haunt” for some cool refreshments.  We rode out of Mt. Angel on W. Church Street past the Evergreen Golf Course.  This is a quick way back to I-5 if you want to avoid all the Woodburn traffic.  

This ride may not be the sport bike-haven that you get in the mountains, but we were on “heavy” cruisers and there were plenty of curves to go around not to mention how those of us without hay fever were treated to the wonderful spring sights and smells of the agriculture.

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An outlaw biker and his “colors” declare membership in a particular club. Colors usually consist of a three-piece patch embroidered on a leather or denim jacket which contains the name of the club, the club’s logo, and the club’s location.

Bryan Denson of The Oregonian wrote an interesting article (April 20, 2008 – with Bruce Ely (photographer)) about the rise of Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMG) in Oregon.   Specifically it detailed how the Mongols Motorcycle Club (MMC) had discretely opened a 4th chapter in Eugene after previously setting up chapters in Portland, Medford and Bend.  The article characterized them as one of the most violent OMGs of the “Big Five” and it made me wonder if Oregon was set for a bloody turf war like the late 60’s in San Francisco.  The aftermath of many killed bikers was that the Gypsy Jokers MC left California and the Hells Angels agreed to stay out of Oregon.

So what’s going on here?  Are rivalries between OMGs sparking a local trend and a recruitment drive to expand their network?  Will Oregon witness more violent confrontations and increased criminal activity?  Will this impact the Taco Wednesday riders who seldom throw a leg over anything and live to ride…to a dealer to buy something bright and shiny?

A little background and context — OMGs are well-organized with a hierarchical structure, bylaws, and a written constitution. The organizational structure is complex.  Members are required to pay dues and attend meetings and events (e.g., “runs”) to demonstrate loyalty to the club leadership.  Infractions are punished by penalties with the most severe being death.  Club members refer to themselves as “1%ers” (or One Percenters) and most display “1%” patches on their jackets, or “Colors 13”.  The label refers to a quote by the American Motorcycle Association stating that “ninety nine percent of all motorcycle riders in this country are law abiding citizens.”   The OMGs claim to make up the remaining one percent, thus the reference.

The Oregon Attorney General (Hardy Myers) completed a comprehensive review of the organized crime threat to citizens of Oregon back in 2006.  The review included everything from possible terrorist attacks to threats from outlaw motorcycle gangs.  The “Big Five” refer’s to the five major U.S. OMGs (Hells Angels (3500 members worldwide), Bandidos, Pagans, Outlaws, and Sons of Silence).

The illegal activities of “1%ers” include narcotics manufacturing and trafficking, vehicle thefts (in particular, Harley motorcycles), assaults, and prostitution. Some OMG members have diversified into “legitimate” businesses (e.g., motorcycle shops, night clubs, strip clubs), though more often these businesses have been set up for money laundering and fueled by unlawful activities.  Oregon now has five separate OMGs. Most have multiple chapters in the state and at least one chapter in three bordering states. In addition, the largest OMG in Oregon has established a chapter in Germany and has affiliated clubs in Australia and South Africa.  Below is a list of the estimated members of each OMG:

OMG                       Founded                  OR Members

Free Souls               1968                      105

Brother Speed          1969                      45

Gypsy Joker             1956                      40

Outsiders                 1968                      26

Mongols                   1969                      12-15

Vagos                      1965                      15

Source: Police estimates; Attorney General report

The typical response from an outlaw member is “It’s not a gang…we’re a bunch of motorcycle enthusiasts getting together”, but do a Google search on any day of the week and you’ll find news about numerous arrests across the country from manufacture of illegal drugs to trafficking and for all the mystique of being just a bunch of rowdy dudes riding together for the fun of the camaraderie…a lot of dead bodies are piling up!  Does this mean all outlaw clubs are filled with miscreants?  No, I’ve personally met and talked with Hells Angels and Jokers members and found them to be reasonable.  If you treat them with respect then they are reasonable.  But they are not all saints either. My advice is to show respect, but to have as little interaction as possible.

The biker legend runs deep in America and many fun loving riders cherish the freedom of the open road and the wind in their face.   But, I don’t buy into the outlaw clubs attempting to wrap themselves in a Harley flag of defiance and rebellion.  I’ve posted on the Laughlin River Run melee previously and a freewheeling, even raucous lifestyle is one thing, but pushing drugs and killing people are not.

The increased appearance of “colors” flying in Oregon no matter who the “club” means that for us true motorcycle enthusiasts the road just gets a little rougher to navigate.


UPDATE: June 20, 2008 — Accused of a litany of felony and misdemeanor crimes, Justin “Mooch” DeLoretto, (27), took his case to trial.  A Lane County jury found him guilty of reckless driving and other misdemeanor charges from the April 23 incident in which he was accused of trying to run two biker-gang investigators off Interstate 5 during rush hour. The jury acquitted Mr. DeLoretto of eight felony charges, including conspiracy to commit second-degree kidnapping.  Circuit Judge Debra Vogt sentenced the president of Oregon’s Mongols Motorcycle Club to a year in jail and ordered him not to associate with other Mongols — including his twin brother Jeremy, who was at the time acting MMC President — or any outlaw biker gangs.  The judge ordered Mr. DeLoretto, to serve six months for each of two counts of menacing. She also suspended his driver’s license and ordered him to serve five years of probation in which he can neither associate with the Mongols nor wear their insignia.

UPDATE: June 24, 2008 — One day after Lane County Circuit Judge Debra Vogt sentenced Justin “Mooch” DeLoretto to a year in jail, he was released to make room for more serious criminals.  The Mongols Oregon Chapters president remained in jail before and during his trial which had his bail set very high.  He served 62 days  and was released because of jail overcrowding.

UPDATED: June 25, 2008 — More HERE, but DeLoretto was sentenced Monday (23rd) to one year in jail on two counts of menacing (misdemeanor).  The real kicker is that the DA influenced the judge who order DeLoretto not to associate with the Mongols or wear their insignia for 5 years.  Essentially striking down his constitutional right of freedom to associate.  He was processed into Lane County jail after sentencing and then promptly released 24 hours later due to jail overcrowding!  In total, DeLoretto served 62 days in Lane County jail — 61 of those while waiting trial and unable to post a very high bail.

UPDATE: September 30, 2008 – the Oregonian reported that Justin “Mooch” DeLoretto, the founder of the Mongols Motorcycle Club‘s Oregon chapters, who was ordered not to associate with the organization after a June conviction for menacing a pair of outlaw biker investigators, has left secretly to California.  According to Detective Dave Burroughs there will be a warrant for his arrest.  Mr. DeLoretto, joined the San Diego Mongols chapter and went to work in a tattoo parlor owned by a member of the motorcycle club.

UPDATE: October 2008 — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) raided all people, places and things Mongol in October and they raided that tattoo parlor. DeLoretto was detained and investigated. And, so Lane County, Oregon learned that he had violated his probation by leaving the state. Oregon issued a warrant for his arrest and asked him to please return to account for his misdeeds.

UPDATE: January 2009 — Justin “Mooch” DeLoretto, turned himself into the Lane County Jail again.  He was being held on $50,000 bail, but according to Lane County Sheriff Captain Doug Hooley commented to the Eugene Register-Guard, that there was nothing with his risk assessment score that keeps him from getting out.  He was eligible for release later that day.

UPDATE: April 4, 2017 — According to Oregonian news reports, Mr. DeLoretto is a George Fox University graduate student, who is required to complete an internship at a social service agency to obtain a master’s degree in social work.  He started an internship a year ago at the Oregon Youth Authority and would of course use what he learned to work with gang-affected youth in the criminal justice system when he completed his studies.  But, four months later, the state agency ended his internship after learning he was a founding and member of the Mongols Motorcycle Club.

At any rate, as of this week Mr. DeLoretto has filed a federal lawsuit against the Oregon Youth Authority, claiming his internship was terminated solely because of his club “membership” which violated his constitutional rights of free speech and due process.  DeLoretto, (now 35), is seeking undetermined monetary damages for the loss of the internship and punitive damages.


Mongol photo courtesy of Bruce Ely of The Oregonian.  Person in photo is reported to be Justin J. “Mooch” DeLoretto, 27, and credited with setting up the Oregon chapters.

Gypsy Joker photo courtesy Flickr


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