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Archive for May, 2010

K1200 GT

This week Toyota paid a $16.7M civil penalty for not notifying the NHTSA of a dangerous pedal defect.

Certainly Harley-Davidson has had its fair share of defects and needed to recall motorcycles in 2008 HERE, 2009 HERE and then again in 2009 HERE.

Now it’s the German motorcycle manufacturer BMW’s turn.

This week they launched a global recall of 122,000 motorcycles owing it to front brake problems.  The company uncovered a risk of leaks in the braking systems on its K1200 GT motorcycles and other models built on the same base.  The recalled models are R1200 GS, R1200 GS Adventure, R1200 R, R1200 RT, R1200 ST, and K1200 GT.  The recall concerns motorcycles built between August 2006 and May 2009, some of which have already been checked, according to a BMW spokesman.

“Over time, it emerged that even corrected braking systems did not resolve the problem 100 percent,”

The culprit seems to be vibration generated by the motorcycle’s operation which were found to cause leaks that affected the front brake.  The company stated that rear brakes continued to function normally.  BMW has not heard of any accidents linked to the problem.

As of this writing, BMW has yet to post information to the Office of Defects Investigation or onto the NHTSA site (Safecar.gov) about this recall notice.

UPDATED: March 17, 2015 — Edward Walker of the About Automotive Industry Action Group provided this:  Complete Road Safety Overview: Global Issues, Safety Laws, New Road Safety Measures, Car Safety Technology, Car Safety For Kids, Teenage Drivers

Photo courtesy of BMW

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Today was not a good day for leadership.

First it was Calderon.   You know — the Mexican President, Felipe Calderon?  His administration has attempted to rid Mexico of the narco-traffickers using thousands of Mexican troops and hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid, but cartel members have killed thousands in an effort to maintain control of the lucrative drug trafficking routes.  More than 18,000 people have been killed since Calderon launch his military offensive in 2006.

Then in an unprecedented mucho ballsy move he comes to the U.S. today and complained about Arizona’s immigration law (SB1170), when all the state wants to do is protect itself against a flood of illegal immigrants from Calderon’s country!  And, how about that Congress’s standing ovation for the Mexican leader?!  Adding insult to injury in this twilight zone was President Obama complaining whining about Arizona trying to do something about a problem he- President Obama and the federal government- have created and choose to ignore.  George W. didn’t help.  Combined with the fact they can’t be bothered to read the law that they’re criticizing. If they did, they’d find out that parts of Arizona’s law are word-for-word the same- exactly- as the federal statutes on immigration.  I’ll save my viewpoints on how Mr. Calderon should spend his time trying to create opportunities for his own citizens, so they’re not driven by poverty and desperation to sneak into this country illegally for another day.  The fact is that this “pony show” is all about pandering to Hispanics for votes.

And speaking of pandering…

Polaris Industries Inc., (parent company of Victory motorcycle) announced today that it will establish a new factory in Mexico’s Monterrey/Saltillo area. Talk about great timing on doing your part for the American economy — exporting American jobs along with the factories.  This major realignment will begin immediately and will lead to an eventual sale or closure of the Polaris’ Osceola, Wis., manufacturing operations.  Polaris stated the realignment allows it to invest in and outsource certain “nonstrategic” component manufacturing processes while improving on-time delivery to customers, and providing savings in logistical and production costs.  Make no mistake, it is all about the money.

Scott Wine, CEO of Polaris, stated in a press release:

“Pursuing opportunities in new markets outside the United States, while concurrently evaluating our cost structure to improve our long-term competitive positioning, are key components to our growth strategy. This decision was based on a thorough review of our worldwide operations and will allow us to improve our ability to meet the quality, delivery and cost standards desired by our dealers and customers.”

Harley-Davidson has made it public they are also considering a move out of Wisconsin.  Inconceivable? Think again.  Polaris plans to have their factory in Mexico operational beginning in the first half of 2011.  Can H-D be too far behind?

My philosophy is that if my neighbor doesn’t have a job, sooner or later I won’t have a job either.

Photo courtesy of Harlistas.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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"A Pair of Knuckleheads" - By David Bill

For some the price of fame is getting too steep.  Aggressive paparazzi posting up everything which then becomes water-cooler chatter in The Sun or the Daily Star tabloids.  It’s a dilemma.  Celebs need the publicity to remain famous, but in publicizing themselves they trade-in some privacy.

Most of us don’t have photographers crawling through the bushes nor have we achieved celeb status where a media horde follows our every move once we set foot outside the house.  However, this blog post will likely trade-in some “Billy” The Artist privacy for additional media attention!

Who is “Billy” you ask?  His name is David Bill and he is a UK-based artist who is incredibly talented in capturing the unique attributes of Harley-Davidson fine art.  He contacted me earlier in the week about a fine art print taken from his original pencil drawing and suggested that I share it with the blog readers.  I truly admire folks who have these incredible artwork skills and gladly offered up an article.  The print in reference is of a 1946 and a 1947 Harley Knucklehead.  It’s titled ‘A Pair of Knuckleheads’.  More information is available at the link.

Detailed View - "A Pair of Knuckleheads"

So, who is this talented artist?  In a word he is a classic “Renaissance Man”.  A person with broad intellectual interests and is accomplished in the arts.  What follows is a transcript from my ‘interview’:

Q: All the so-called famous artists (Picasso, Warhol, Dali, Pollock etc.) are dead and seem to get all the mainstream media attention.  Tell me something about yourself that blog readers would find interesting…
A: As a teenager I wanted to work in comic books as an illustrator and went to art college.  While there I was told to ‘express myself’. What this really meant was to do anything other than ‘express myself in the art that I enjoyed producing’. Within a week I was called into the headmaster’s office being asked “Billy what don’t you like about Modern Art?” I used the local Museum’s Galleries current exhibition as part of my reply and explained “that it was finger painting for adults!” The head of the art department eventually laughed as it was the school’s drawing tutor whose work was on display! Talk about dropping a complete clanger…… but at least I was honest.

Q: Being an artist is a tough job as you just pointed out.  Is this about oppressed artists sticking to the man?
A: Well that clanger I mentioned was the start of a lot of problems. I paint representational work. That is how I ‘express myself’. “Do I hate all contemporary art?” No. But pickling a Shark and saying it is ‘Art’ is a sham along with a lot of other smoke and mirrors that is offered up as art today. These days kids are jammed through the art system and told to express themselves, but left abandoned to try and earn a living in a heartless industry filled with lies and hype. At the end of the day food costs and paying bills means riding into a big headwind while trying to ‘express yourself’ and it leads a lot of people down a path of depression.  But, my advice is that rather than complain you have to pick up your brushes and pencils and get on with it. I have never met an ‘inspired’ electrician who only works when the ‘feeling’ is right!

Q: For all those unknown Bob’s Tool and Die Shops out there what other snippets of insight do you have?
A: For awhile I ended up in a factory and worked for a year before returning to art college where I studied for my degree in multi disciplinary design at Staffordshire University.  It was at University that I ‘fell into’ industrial art. Looking for projects to do I ended up producing a Truck manufacturer’s 60th birthday painting which led on to many other bits and pieces. I really enjoy painting and drawing people at work and machines, hence the motorcycle art, be it heavy industry or musicians at a gig. Since then my family has grown with three children (Peter, Hannah and John who are the children in the Stepping Stones paintings) and I have had a roller coaster ride in the art world with two London Shows, work in private and corporate collections including Aston Martin, Britannia Building Society and the BBC among others. I have been down salt mines and thrown out of a plane for a painting (with a parachute). This all sounds ‘Great and Grand’ but is like most people a life of struggle and pain. Of great highs and incredible lows. It has not been an easy ride and I wouldn’t want to misguide you. I have packed and made boxes, done a stint as a bus driver and written off thousands of pounds after not being paid for work completed. The joys of the freelance life.

David Bill became an artist in order to make art.  He has the will and determination to continue making it until someone takes notice and perhaps, one day, we’ll read about his fame in the NY Times or in a blog.  Visit his web site.  I think you’ll find it compelling.

Photos used with permission and courtesy of David Bill (a.k.a. Billy The Artist).

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Can embarrassment and personal demons be squelched with money?

It would seem so and that $169,800 is all that’s needed!

I’m referring to the Iron Pigs MC member and Seattle police detective Ronald Smith.

It probably comes as no surprise that Smith, who as you may recall shot a member of the Hells Angels MC in Sturgis a couple years ago has filed a lawsuit against the city of Seattle and the Seattle Police Department.  The suit alleges the department disparaged him and negligently provided false information that led to his indictment on a perjury charge.

Disregard that all charges were dropped and why let any of the facts get in the way when Mr. Smith sees dollar signs.  The only thing missing in this little drama is an attorney to throw in the proverbial race card and get the ACLU marching.

I’ve blogged about this incident HERE, HERE and HERE as well as provided a number of updates.  A brief recap is during the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Smith, who was in Sturgis with members of the Iron Pigs, a motorcycle club composed of LEO’s and firefighters shot and wounded a Hells Angels MC member, Joseph Patrick McGuire, in self-defense during a fight in the Loud American Roadhouse on Aug. 9, 2008. Smith was charged in Meade County, S.D., Circuit Court with the felonies of aggravated assault and perjury. He also was charged with a misdemeanor count of carrying a concealed weapon without a permit.

Now comes the pain and suffering.  Mr. Smith claims he was “guilty until proven innocent,” shunned and neglected.  Huh?  The lawsuit contends his reputation was harmed by the criminal charges and that shortly after the incident, the Seattle Police Chief at the time, Gil Kerlikowske said during a public-relations event that Smith was an “embarrassment” to the department and would “not be working for him much longer.”

That working for him part was absolutely correct!   Shortly after Mr. Kerlikowske became the “drug czar” or the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy for Obama.  He is responsible for advising the president on drug control programs, and for coordinating drug policies among all federal agencies.

My point?  While the various bloggers have raged back and forth between supporters of the police to distrust of the police and the justice system…could someone, even the Seattle Police Chief please just apologize to Mr. Smith before he continues to take all of your hard earned tax dollars.

Photo courtesy Flickr and Iron Pigs MC.

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Walter Mitty was a fictional character in James Thurber’s short story “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” published back in 1939.  Mitty was a meek, mild man with a vivid fantasy life where he imagines himself as a wartime pilot, an emergency-room surgeon and devil may care dreamer.

What about daydreaming of wind-in-the-face, and being part of the counterculture rebels-with-tats ethos?

As luck would have it, Harley-Davidson is launching a comprehensive effort aimed at getting the “Walter Mitty” dreamers of the world to ride H-D motorcycles.   It’s call the “Start Something” campaign, with the message that you have to stop dreaming and actually do it.

The advertisements feature model superstar and motorcycle rider Marisa Miller in the Maxim Hot 100 issue along with a brand presence at the Maxim party in Los Angeles, advertisement on the Maxim Web site, the Maxim television program and of course can you spell social media in 140 characters?

H-D also has a new promotional book, “Guide to Ride” meant to dispel any of “Mitty’s” conflicting thoughts about whether to ride or not. Including tips on handling protests by the significant other.  The book is available at dealerships or the company’s website.

A very important associated promotion has H-D offering up Rider’s Edge New Rider Training Courses for free.

To all you ineffectual dreamers — isn’t time to take a road trip?

Photo courtesy of H-D.

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Uh, that would be a NO.

No, I don’t have a man crush on Mark-Hans Richer the Harley-Davidson CMO.  But, we do have some things in common and that is we’re both motorcycle enthusiasts of double-digit years, and proud owners of H-D motorcycles.

Mark-Hans Richer is the “Billy Mays” of pitch men for H-D products, brand and lifestyle.  He pontificates about the rebellious nature.  He’s on the advertising speech circuit.  He is an opportunist.  He defends H-D founding fathers and their ideals.  He mixes up speeches with dramatic entrances.  He quotes the younger generation and the thanklessness of posterity.  He laments about young-rebels-with-tats ethos.  He slams “American Idol” and aligns product placements with fictional motorcycle gangs (“Sons of Anarchy”) through the use of attitude-enhanced advertisements, social media efforts, and lifestyle programs around counterculture happenings.

Mark-Hans Richer (H-D CMO) Dramatic Entrance

To say Richer is a marketer would be like describing Bill O’Reilly as just another news anchor.

Richer is a blow-hard motorcycle zealot to the core evangelizing and marketing a company strategy.  He would make Peter Drucker, the management guru of the 20th century PROUD.  It was Mr. Drucker who stated, “Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two – and only two – basic functions: marketing and innovation.”

So, what’s behind the man sticking it to the man, the chief marketer or H-D rock star?  Mr. Richer joined H-D in July 2007 as the Sr. VP and Global Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) with primary responsibility for overseeing all global marketing activities including promotions and advertising, motorcycle product planning, the H-D Museum, and the Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.).

Mark-Hans Richer (at Pontiac) Slammn'

Prior to joining H-D, Richer held marketing and advertising positions at General Motors’ defunct Pontiac brand. In November 2006 he was inducted into the American Advertising Federation’s Hall of Achievement for his career of high-impact, non-traditional marketing approaches. These include two Cannes Gold Lion-awarded marketing programs while at Pontiac, and prior successes helping lead advertising and promotions at GMC and Chevy Trucks. Richer also has previously won three Effies, the PMA Super Reggie, Promo Magazines’ interactive promotion of the year and a Kelly Award for best national print.

Harley-Davidson is lucky to have hired this motorcycle in every garage evangelist!  Richer has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show (remember the Pontiac Give Away?), The Apprentice III and V, The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch and CNBC. He has been on the cover of Promo magazine and Advertising Age’s Point. He and his team’s accomplishments have been covered by Advertising Age, Ad Week, Brandweek, Media Post, The Wall Street Journal, USA TODAY, NPR Radio, The New York Times, Chief Marketer Magazine, Business 2.0 and Fast Company among many others.

Have I blogged about H-D marketing tactics?  Yes.  Have I’ve been critical of some H-D marketing?  Yes.  But, how do you fault a guy whose job it is to find new ways to “stick it to the man” so to speak?!  In the Greek to New Jersey dictionary that translates to – ti na kanoume – whaddya gonna do?

Seeing this as a small hurdle, I decided to take a different angle and set out on a behind-the-scenes, unauthorized “tell-all” blog – everything Richer – and the icon behind the worldwide marketing empire at Harley-Davidson.  I did my best “Nixon Deep Throat” impersonation and was hopeful to uncovered it all…sham marriages, secret informants, shirtless outtakes in Cosmo, fear of flying, a celebrity-Melisa-Miller-addiction dysfunction, or personal hygiene habits that would make Michael Jackson blush, but I didn’t.  There is nothing worthy of TMZ.  Nadda.  Mark-Hans Richer is either squeegee clean boring or has a brilliant publicist who ran interference — always putting a good spin on whatever embarrassing predicament their boss found himself — like that time as the marketing head of Pontiac he jumped up on a conference room table in a Digitas meeting to shred a few tunes on Guitar Hero.

It turns out that Richer is the marketing real deal.  It reminds me of that saying “A marketer without the press is like a pencil without a sharpener: pointless”!  All he wants to do is sell Harley-Davidson, the brand, the motorcycles, the lifestyle and talk about the achievement of double-digit sales to young adults.  Look for a Richer “Fan Club” page coming to a Facebook near you…

Photo courtesy of H-D, WARC and SlyFox.com.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Roland Sands Design - XR1200

Roland Sands Design (RSD).

This week they finished up a XR-1200 build.  They customized reinvented a stock Harley-Davidson XR-1200 over the course of a 30 day build and clearly created a high-performance work of art.

Congrats!

After 10 years on the professional level and multiple track records, including the 1998 AMA 250GP Championship, Roland Sands focused his efforts on the Performance Machines product line as VP of Research and Development.  In 2005 he founded Roland Sands Design and has been illustrating to the motorcycle industry what his performance minded customs and aftermarket parts can do for V-Twins, Metrics and Sportbikes.

Stock Harley-Davidson XR-1200

RSD’s mission is to create the best motorcycle products in the industry without regards to the bikes beginning.  Whether it’s a chopper, sport bike, or sport chopper they build the best for it.  They walk the line between custom and performance bikes trying to deliver the best of both worlds.

A detailed review of the 30 day build out is available on their blog HERE.

Photo courtesy H-D and RSD.

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