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Archive for January, 2014

Belen, New Mexico

Belen, New Mexico

An un-American fact about America today is that for some groups, much more than others, upward mobility and the American dream are alive and well. It may be taboo to say it, but certain ethnic, religious and national-origin groups are doing strikingly better than Americans overall.

Which brings me to Belen, New Mexico (30 miles south of Albuquerque) and Jacob Williams.

Mr. Williams is a 27 year old who back in 2008 went to prison for killing a motorcyclist and crippling the motorcycles passenger while driving drunk.  Williams pleaded guilty to felony charges of vehicular homicide, great bodily harm by vehicle and aggravated driving while intoxicated.

Jacob Williams Arraignment - Pleads Not Guilty

Jacob Williams Arraignment – Pleads Not Guilty

District Court Judge William Sanchez, presided over the case and sentenced Williams to the maximum six years in prison allowed under the plea agreement.  He was released from prison in 2012.

Jump ahead to last Saturday where a witness told KOB-TV that she called 911 twice to report seeing Williams driving erratically around her neighborhood.  She then called again three hours later to report seeing him getting into a fight with a neighbor.  More details HERE, HERE and HERE.

However, deputies failed to quickly respond before the pickup that Williams was driving veered over a center line, killing Daniel Sanchez, 51, and seriously injuring his 11-year-old daughter, Magen who were riding on a motorcycle.  In an  unbelievable ironic twist, it turns out that Daniel Sanchez is the brother of the District Court Judge William Sanchez who sentenced Williams back in 2008.  Breath tests found Mr. Williams’ blood-alcohol level at 0.16 percent, or twice the legal limit of 0.08.

The death of the judge’s brother appeared to be coincidental and a Valencia County Sheriff’s Office spokesman made a statement about the failure to quickly respond by saying that only five deputies were working that day, and they were tied up with other felony crimes and another fatal crash.  No one should have to bear the burdens caused by someone else’s negligence on the road!

How did we get to this place?  Where taking a life is worth 0-6 years?  Really?!

It would seem that for years New Mexico has had a willful blindness to the facts as one of the highest rates of alcohol-related traffic deaths in the nation.

Maybe it’s time for all motorcyclists to boycott New Mexico?  Along with boycotting the popular rally’s (i.e. Red River Run), which draws tens of thousands of motorcyclists to Red River and nearby Angel Fire and pumps hundreds of thousands of dollars into the area economy.

And with Super Bowl taking place this Sunday and having developed a reputation as one of the more dangerous days of the year for drunk driving… please be careful out there.

Photo courtesy of Google Maps and KOAT.

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2013 Harley-Davidson Road Glide

2013 Harley-Davidson Road Glide

Harley-Davidson Inc. reported it’s Q4’13 financials today posting a 9.7% year-over-year rise in earnings to 34 cents per share from 31 cents in the year-ago quarter.  The year-over-year increase was due to higher revenues and lower operating expenses in the Motorcycles segment.

Revenues improved 1.7% to $1.19 billion and operating income rose 5.1% to $122 million from $116.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2012.  Net income increased 6.8% to $75.4 million from $70.6 million a year ago.

For the 2013 full year results revenues increased 5.7% to $5.9 billion from $5.58 billion in 2012 and net income increased to $734 million from $623.9 million a year ago.

Harley-Davidson shipped 46,618 motorcycles to dealers and distributors worldwide during the 4th quarter which was down 0.95% from 47,067 motorcycles in the fourth quarter of 2012.   In the U.S., shipments improved 6.3% from the year-ago quarter to 27,387 units and commands roughly 50% share of the U.S. market,

Keith Wandell, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Harley-Davidson called the year “outstanding.”

So were there any other highlights?

Well yes… John A. Olin – Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President stated, “As we anticipated, U.S. retail sales growth in the fourth quarter slowed from the third quarter’s growth rate, behind 2 key drivers…”   “The second was the impact of the absence of the popular Road Glide models in the 2014 model year.  When you look at Q4 of 2012, the Road Glide represented 9% of that volume, and that Road Glide customers are incredibly loyal to that motorcycle. And that’s probably the biggest impact that we had on our 2013 retail sales in the fourth quarter.”

Mr. Olin also talked about a “fatten the tail” strategy.

Huh?

I’m not 100% sure of the context, but simply put, a financial fat tail describes a rare and extreme event.  On one end of the spectrum, are products like Project RUSHMORE that encourage trade-up at a high revenue and at a very high margin, and typically are aimed at H-D’s core customer. But, Rushmore is selling extremely well with outreach customers. And in addition, the Street Glide is the #1 selling bike to women, young adults, African-American and Hispanic’s.

Suffice to say that the Road Glide was a huge part of H-D sales and it’s no longer there.  Yet, the quarter was great!  Congrats to the H-D team.

Photo courtesy of The Bike Exchange

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social-overload-big2The thrill is gone!

We know we can connect, but can you affect our regular human everyday lives? That’s where the new frontier is, making us feel better about our existence when we’re not tethered to the computer, tablet or phone.

We’ve got social media fatigue. People have seen the movie, and they don’t need to waste more time.

I remember reading a retail industry study a few years ago which concluded that on average only 1% of total retail businesses actually have a written marketing plan in place.  It would seem that many H-D dealers have hitched their wagon to the theme of creating a monthly flyer (print or email) or as I call it, a marketing calendar that has a “reason to buy today” theme dedicated to each month.

This re-active theme is to make their sales messages more compelling, regardless of what media they choose to get the word out.

And getting the word out they are!   The motor company and now most of the local dealers are relentless.  They think they need to be everywhere.  Email blasts, posting on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, Instagram, Flickr, FourSquare, YouTube, Pinterest, Snapchat, Vine, etc.  Talk about getting distracted in so many different directions.

If you look at industry statistics, 6% of people ride motorcycles — and that’s in the best markets. If you’re marketing and casting a wide net, 94% of people you come in contact with aren’t going to be interested in what you offer. So of that 6%, what percentage are males? 90%. And what is the main demographic composition of Pinterest? 80% female. So for this particular market, investment and time in Pinterest is not going to be profitable or effective. It’s just not a fit, demographically speaking.

Another example is G+ which is Google’s answer to Facebook.  It’s only a couple years old, and has grown very quickly.   But, if you look closely you’ll discover that for some industries like photography it is great.  However, there’s very little moto-involvement and likely to be ineffective.

And then there are the ‘old skool’ methods.  Remember that t-shirt you purchased in route to Sturgis at the Montana dealer?  Yeah, they got your U.S. postal or email address and now you’ve become their new BFF with all the local promo’s, rides, service deals, photo contests and HOG prizes.  Talk about an example of casting a wide net… a thousand of miles away!

And speaking of Twitter, like every fad, once upon a time Twitter was cool. You know how it works, you hear about something from your hipster friends, you say you don’t need it but eventually you dive in, love it for a minute and then abandon it because it’s hard to be witty and viral all the time and do it in 140 characters.

My view is that Tweeting is like peeing off a cliff in the dark. No one sees it and you risk getting yourself wet.  Which is why Twitter is a sea of dropouts.  In addition, those who fan the flames of cool, (i.e. the youth), are always on the hunt for the latest and the greatest, moving on to new social networks (i.e.. ask.fm, SnapChat), only to abandon them when they fall out of favor, or when everybody else is there, and lose their cred.

I’m not saying there’s nothing there at Twitter. There is a nugget now and then. But following people, corporations or dealers is time-consuming, and ever less fulfilling. As for participating yourself, why would you?  The Internet has turned into a giant game that everybody’s trying to win.  Remember when everybody was gonna have a Webpage, then a blog?

So, here are some unsolicited thoughts for Harley-Davidson and it’s dealers. 

Clutter is our enemy.  We hate advertisements.  We want information we can use. The more drivel, the less we pay attention.  Just because you have our ear, does not mean we’re interested in everything you have to say. Either play to your core or play to everybody. If you’re doing the latter give us less information.

We live in a word of mouth culture and those social site quantifications are meaningless, because the system is being gamed.  The number of likes and followers are like virtual badges, they’re ultimately meaningless. 

Social media is no match for word of mouth. They can be one and the same, but frequently are not and consumers know the difference between what is hype and what is genuine.

Photo courtesy of m2mediamanagement.com

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speeding_102Only fourteen days since the first reckless motorcyclist was arrested in 2014, and now we have Jason James Overhuel of Keizer, OR., exhibiting a new era of motorcycle excellence.

On January 17, 2014, an Oregon State Police (OSP) trooper stopped to assist a motorcyclist whose motorcycle broke down during the evening. During the contact of the motorcyclist, Mr. Overhuel, age 30, told OSP officers he was waiting for gas but denied operating the motorcycle. The OSP officers learned that Mr. Overhuel’s operator license was suspended.  After roadside assistance arrived, Mr. Overhuel was WARNED not to operate the motorcycle because his license was suspended. If he did and OSP spotted him, he would be cited and the motorcycle would also be towed and impounded.

After sleeping on it… and what can only be described as an epic misunderstanding of the OSP troopers words of advice.

At approximately 10:31 a.m., the next day, the same OSP trooper that had stopped to assist the disabled motorcycle saw a motorcyclist riding southbound on Interstate 5 near milepost 257 at a high rate of speed. The trooper overtook the speeding motorcycle and obtained a speed reading of up to 102 mph, using all 3 lanes to pass slower traffic and failing to yield to the trooper’s emergency lights for a brief period until stopping.  After the stop the OSP trooper confirmed that it was Mr. Overhuel.

OSP arrested Mr. Overhuel for reckless driving and he was also cited for violation Driving While Suspended.  And as previously communicated, the motorcycle was towed and impounded.

Mr. Overhuel looks to be stuck in a below-average eddy and it will take a lot of rowing to get out.

Photo courtesy of Telegraph.co.uk

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Boom! Box 6.5GT Infotainment

Boom! Box 6.5GT Infotainment

For the person that is looking for improved sound quality, or maybe needs additional help in finding points-of-interest or just wants to have the next big thing…  Harley-Davidson has designed a plug- and-play upgrade for the Boom! Box 4.3 standard audio system.

Called the Boom! Box 6.5GT Infotainment System, it’s a technology upgrade for Touring models equipped with the standard radio. It has a brilliant 6.5” display, and features a low distortion 25 watt/channel amplifier that has been optimized for great sound in an open-air environment. The system features can be accessed via the glove-friendly touchscreen, joystick hand controls or with hands-free voice recognition.  Riders can expect cleaner, sharper sound at volumes up to 25% louder than previous Original Equipment radios. The system has a built-in automatic volume control which compensates for the increased noise levels as speed increases, and automatically adjusts the bass and treble for optimal performance.

The MSRP price for the 6.5GT is $1799.95.

The 6.5GT is factory-equipped with AM/FM radio, weather alert, integrated iPod and USB audio device playback, map-based GPS navigation, and has Bluetooth pairing for mobile phones and wireless headsets.  In addition, there is an optional Bike-to-Bike communication, XM weather and traffic services, and other features are just a plug- in module and some additional $$ away.

Additional information at:  Owners manual (HERE); Parts List (HERE).

Photo courtesy of H-D.
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2015 Road Glide Fairing?

2015 Road Glide Fairing?

With the rich history that Harley-Davidson has, the company rarely takes a big chance, but on occasion has celebrated a new model now and then.

You might recall that recently the motor company rolled out a range of new 2014 touring models.  However, Harley-Davidson informed the riding community that there would be no Road Glide Custom or Road Glide Ultra in the 2014 line up due to the “fact” that their tooling on that model’s fairing is antiquated and wasn’t intended to be used for the volume of sales that the FLTR’s have been generating.

This seemed like a rather lame excuse to many in the ‘Glide’ riding community given how quickly new tooling can be executed and there were whispers of a marketing ploy. 

So, jumping aboard the speculation train… I recently received this photo of what appears to be a pre-production 2015 Road Glide fairing.  It provides some insight into what’s planned for the model when it gets re-released in 2015.

The fairing showed up on eBay for a day then was quickly deleted.  The speculation is the fairing was stolen by an employee of the Harley-Davidson vendor responsible for making the fairing.  Nobody has facts, just speculation. 

I would argue that it looks to be on track to what we would expect from Harley-Davidson given the cut out for the 6.5-inch color touch screen.

What do you think?  It’s an internet concocted rumor or hints of what’s to come?

UPDATE:  July 8, 2014 – “Official” spy photos of the 2015 Road Glide are HERE.

UPDATED: August 1, 2014 – Harley-Davidson officially reveals the 2015 Road Glide.

Photo courtesy of RoadGlide.com

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Near Blackwell Hill

Near Blackwell Hill

Just 4 days into the New Year for the first motorcyclist arrest.

Patrick Whalen Parks, age 21 was taken into custody on I-5 at mile post 38 southbound on Blackwell Hill, just south of Gold Hill for reckless driving, driving while suspended—violation, driving uninsured and expired vehicle registration.

How’s that defiance thing working out for you Patrick?

Mr. Parks, who is from El Sobrante, CA and was taken into custody by OSP troopers, was riding a Suzuki motorcycle weaving in and out of traffic in a dangerous manner at over 100 MPH.  At one point passing vehicles on the inside median and almost caused a crash.

Even though motorcycling is a respectable form of recreation we continue to see isolated incidents each year by bad actors that generate negative press and mare the motorcycling image.

Photo courtesy of Google Maps

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