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Archive for the ‘2012 Models’ Category

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 11.07.03 AMI never had the opportunity to meet or hang with Adam Sandovalas and Scooter “Trash” Sandoval, his Chihuahua.  He’s traveling around the U.S to every Harley-Davidson dealership raising money and awareness for the children of fallen soldiers. Basically it’s a ride, stop, meet and greet, throttle up to the next dealer and repeat.  You can follow along on his web site at Scootin’ America.

Similar to the USPS slogan, neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night will keep Adam and Scooter from the swift completion of his task.

I remember seeing a Facebook post back in June of Adam and Scooter stopping at PDX Speed Shop and recall thinking it would have been cool to shake his hand and listen to a couple of his stories on this cross country adventure.  I admired the fact that here is a person willing to put his personal life on hold and do what he believes in to get the job done.

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 11.14.26 AMMany of us have thought about doing something similar or noteworthy on our motorcycle.  I’ve heard and been part of the discussions in my own riding circles.  Take a couple months to do this or a bucket list dream ride of doing that, but more often than not we stop – just short of pulling the bike out of the garage.

Adam has dedicated a couple of years time to ride thousands of miles on his 1996 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide and spread the word benefitting those who need a hand.  I could drone on about Adam and his accomplishments, but this has already been done. I could write about his dedication to see this project through to the end and his drive to make a difference, but there are plenty of photos of the endless handshakes and well-wisher’s.

What I really wanted to bring attention to is that on July 2nd, on the way to one of the first Harley-Dealer stops of the day, a lady driving in oncoming traffic came across the center line and hit Adam. Scooter was okay, but they Life-Flight Adam to the UPMC Presbyterian hospital in Pittsburgh where he was admitted. He was stable and underwent surgery on July 3rd. He is progressing well given the situation and started the first day of physical therapy on July 5th.  If interested you can follow his updates on his Facebook page HERE or on his Twitter page HERE.

His stated goal is to fix himself up along with the Harley and complete his mission for our soldiers.  If you want to know how-to-help please visit HERE.

To read that Adam wants to get back out there and finish the task got me to thinking that innovative marketing is the underbelly of Harley-Davidson success and wouldn’t it be cool if they provided a bit of positive outreach and started a fund to loan or buy him a new bike!  This is something that would clearly serve all and is a win-win-win.

Harley-Davidson’s U.S. Media Relations Manager is Jen Hoyer.  If you have some passion about this her contact info is HERE.

Photos are courtesy of Scootn’ America.

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Can-Am Spyder

Can-Am Spyder

Hype, or is Bombardier taking a gamble?  But, lets start at the beginning.

U.S. safety regulators are investigating two reports of fires in the Can-Am Spyder three-wheeled motorcycles.

The motorcycles are made by Bombardier Recreational Products Inc.  (BRP) of Canada and the probe covers about 52,000 motorcycles from the 2008 through 2014 model years and they are looking into what is causing the fires.

Bombardier has had three recalls to date in 2012 and 2013, and all involved the risk of fires. Last year, the company recalled about 8,200 Spyders because brake fluid leaks could cause fires. In 2012 it recalled about 34,000 because fuel vapors could leak due to an ill-fitting gas cap. It also recalled 9,600 because fuel vapors could exit a vent hose in the engine compartment.

I don’t want to draw any similarities because these are very different situations, but many of you might recall the Ford Pinto.  It was one of the biggest continuing automotive news stories in the late 1970s with dramatic tales of exploding Fords on the highway and considerable awards from civil-court juries that were presented to victims of accidents involving the cars.

At the time, experts calculated the value of a human life at around $200,000, while a serious burn injury was worth about $67,000. Using an estimate of 180 deaths and 180 serious burns, someone at Ford put on paper that the cost to redesign and rework the Pinto’s gas tank would cost close to $137 million, while possible liability costs worked out to around $49 million.

Ford’s corporate legal machine went to work, however, when the memos regarding the liability assessments were leaked and entered into evidence, the cases were as good as over and Ford paid dearly in civil claims, public image and as a brand for product safety.

Former Ford exec Lee Iacocca reflecting on the Pinto incident and Ford’s attempts to control the damage, made this summation in his book Talking Straight“Clamming up is what we did at Ford in the late ’70s when we were bombarded with suits over the Pinto, which was involved in a lot of gas tank fires. The suits might have bankrupted the company, so we kept our mouths shut for fear of saying anything that just one jury might have construed as an admission of guilt. Winning in court was our top priority; nothing else mattered.”

BRP is a world leader in the design, manufacturing, distribution, and marketing of motorized recreational vehicles and powersports engines.

The term “transparency” means much more than the standard business definition and its my hope that the company will be candid with the motorcycle riding public beyond the narrow interpretation of legal compliance on the risk of fires.

Photo courtesy of BRP.

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Triumph-RecallSafety recalls are usually instigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the vehicle’s manufacturer. In either case, the manufacture must file a public report describing the recall and must attempt to notify owners of recalled vehicles or vehicle equipment.

All motorcycle manufactures have seen there share of recalls, but Triumph is having an unfortunate run of build quality lately.  Below is a list of the recall notices from the NHTSA.

Back In January: Triumph Motorcycles recalled 250 model year 2011-2012 Daytona 675 and Street Triple motorcycles and 2012 Thunderbird and Thunderbird Storm motorcycles. The wheels were assembled with bearings of an unknown quality. Wheel bearings of poor quality could fail unexpectedly, increasing the risk of a motorcycle crash. Triumph will notify owners, and dealers will replace the affected bearings free of charge. The NHTSA Campaign Number: 13V032000

They also recalled 244 model year 2013 Trophy motorcycles manufactured from September 5, 2012, through November 29, 2012. These motorcycles were produced with a label bearing incorrect tire data which fails to conform to the labeling requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 120, “Tire Selection and Rims for Motor Vehicles Other Than Passenger Cars,” and they fail to comply with the certification requirements of 49 CFR Part 567, “Certification.” Owners relying on the information contained in the label may install incorrect replacement tires, increasing the risk of personal injury. None of the affected motorcycles have been sold to consumers and they will be repaired prior to sale. Therefore, an owner notification letter will not be issued for this campaign. NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 12V592000.

The latest notifications are:

NHTSA Campaign ID Number:  13V211– 2012 and 2013 models – Neutral Gear Light Remains Illuminated

NHTSA Campaign ID Number:  13V180 – 2012 and 2013 models – Incorrect GVWR Data on Label

NHTSA Campaign ID Number:  13V212 – 2012 and 2013 models – Transmission May Pop Out of Gear

NHTSA Campaign ID Number:  13V215 – 2012 and 2013 models – Throttle Cables May Hinder Steering

UPDATED: June 7, 2013 – Another recall just announced.  NHTSA Campaign ID Number: 13V223 2012 and 2013 models – Fuel Tank May Leak.

Owners may contact  your dealer or Triumph at 1-678-854-2010 for more information.

Photo courtesy of Triumph

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Purpose-2012With a cocktail of high-strength steel, aluminum, magnesium, rubber and plastic Harley-Davidson adds flexibility, functionality and refreshed paint schemes to their model lineup each year.

By the numbers, 2012 was a pivotal year for Harley-Davidson.  Earnings per share up 16.7%, revenue growth up 6%, $280M annual savings from restructuring, sales outreach with the 18-34 demographic grew at twice the rate of core customers, but in the first ever Consumer Reports’ motorcycle reliability survey, conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center about 1-in-4 owners of Harley-Davidson motorcycles reported experiencing a major problem with the motorcycle in the previous four years.

Twenty-five percent had a major problem!

H-D Executive Leadership Team

H-D Executive Leadership Team

It turns out that BMW motorcycles were even less reliable than a Harley-Davidson with about 1-in-3 owners reporting problems in the previous four years.  How did the Japanese manufactures perform?  Only about 1-in-10 Yamaha owners experienced issues during that time, followed closely by Kawasaki and Honda.

However, reliability problems don’t seem to affect the satisfaction scores of owners and their bikes.  When asked whether, considering everything, they would buy their bike again if they had to do it over, 75% of Harley-Davidson owners said definitely yes, closely followed by 74% of BMW owners and 72% of Honda owners.  In contrast, only 63 and 60% of Yamaha and Kawasaki owners, respectively, would buy their bike again.

Both BMW and Harley-Davidson riders have segments that skew more toward the enthusiast and hardcore, meaning they tend to keep bikes longer and I wonder if this says something about the riders than the bikes.  Could H-D riders be more critical about problems?

AZ Proving Grounds Video

AZ Proving Grounds Video

In 2012, the average U.S. retail purchaser of a new Harley-Davidson motorcycle had a median household income of approximately $89,500. The Company defined its U.S. core customer base as Caucasian men over the age of 35 and its U.S. outreach customers as women, young adults, African-American adults, and Latino adults. (Sources: 2012 Company 10K and 2012 Annual Review)  The motor company no longer provides data on age demographics which had been rising in recent years.

Reliability is only one of several factors buyers consider when purchasing a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.  Among the bikes that needed repairs, survey respondents reporting having the most trouble with accessories, such as lights, instruments, switches, and radios (21 percent), brakes (20 percent), the electrical system (16 percent), and the fuel system (15 percent).  Most of the repairs were fairly inexpensive, but for a company whose reputation relies heavily on the quality of its products the 1-in-4 number is perplexing.

The survey results can be viewed by subscribers at the ConsumerReports.org web site and in the May issue of Consumer Reports.

Photos courtesy of H-D.  

H-D Executive Leadership Team photo: (Left to Right — Tonit Calaway (VP, Human Resources); John Olin (Sr. VP and CFO); Keith Wandell (Chairman, President and CEO); Lawrence Hund (President and COO HDFS); John Baker (GM, Corp Strategy and Business Development); Joanne Bischmann (VP, Communications); Paul Jones (VP, General Counsel))

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Harley-Davidson VRSCDX

Harley-Davidson Motor Co. is recalling 2,798 motorcycles.  The NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number is 12V503000.

The recall covers all 2012 model year and certain model year 2013 VRSCDX motorcycles manufactured from June 14, 2011, through Aug. 1, 2012.

The issue is related to the license plate bracket mounting screws which can loosen and the assembly can separate from the rear fender, resulting in possible damage to the rear brake line, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Harley-Davidson is in the process of notifying owners, and dealers will inspect and repair any affected motorcycles free of charge.

Photo courtesy of H-D.

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By now you’ve likely read the Q1’12 financial report about how Harley-Davidson Inc. blew away the key financial metrics for the quarter.

You know – Financial Reports – the documents and records pulled together by the motor company to track and review how much money the business is making (or not) with the purpose to update the lenders and shareholders.  These reports are not very friendly or helpful explanations.  More often they require an accounting degree because of the use of financial derivatives, contracts and instruments.

At any rate, not only did H-D report strong gains in earnings for the first quarter of 2012, but motorcycle and related products revenue for the quarter jumped to $1.27 billion, compared with $1.06 billion for the year-ago period.  Consolidated revenue for the quarter, which includes revenue from H-D’s financial services unit, rose to $1.43 billion for the quarter, compared with $1.22 billion in the year-ago quarter.  Most important was the fact that retail sales of new motorcycles grew 20.3 percent worldwide in the quarter compared with the prior-year period and it was led by a strong 25.5 percent increase in the U.S.

Is Harley-Davidson becoming cool to work for again?

It’s a big place and I’m sure some would say yes its cool.  However, what they’ve been through the last couple years has been painful and the process of getting rid of a lot of old bad habits has some maybe thinking no.  The Harley-Davidson chairman, president and CEO, Keith Wandell’s willingness to take on the risks took a lot of courage and it now seems to be paying off.

In other words, it takes 10,000 hours to become world class.  This is a key point in Malcolm Gladwell’s book called “Outliers” which has popularized the theory of 10,000 hours to excellence.  Clearly Mr. Wandell has put in his 10,000 hours, but that doesn’t mean anyone will notice.  Many will just shrug their shoulders at his accomplishments, or they might not even care.

I’ve taken notice and wonder if Harley-Davidson is ahead of its time or is the outlook less optimistic because they’re very good at setting targets that they are confident of being able to hit?

I would suggest that their success this quarter has been largely dependent on “baggers” and the discretionary spending situation improving versus bold new designs.  Meaning the whole motorcycle industry is running on conventional wisdom. People keep doing it the way everybody else is doing it, not expecting a different result so much as being desirous of converting people over to their brand or getting the few remaining conventional buyers left in the business.

You might disagree, but from my vantage Harley-Davidson hasn’t busted out a new “hit” (model) with worldwide success in long time despite the daily onslaught of promotions and publicity.  I’m talking about a stand in the line type of hit!  The conventional orthodoxy of the motorcycle industry is that H-D’s are styled conservatively.  This is typical market research talking.  It’s conventional wisdom saying don’t take a risk on design.  Just accept safe.  A blacked-out bolt here and a new red glitter color there.

Independent of this most recent financial report, the issue is that “safe” doesn’t consistently move the needle in terms of sales.

John Krafcik, President and CEO of Hyundai Motor America

If that were true then Hyundai sales wouldn’t be burgeoning or would they be the most feared major car company in the U.S.  Do you remember when Hyundai’s used to be a joke? Jay Leno said you could double a Hyundai’s value by filling it up with gas.  No one’s laughing now as Hyundai’s John Krafcik steered it from joke to contender. It took a risk.

So, when will we see some of that product “risk” that Harley-Davidson refers to in the quarterly financial reports?  Or has it all come down to being safe and going after the number of “likes” on social networking sites?  Hey, Harley… 1999 called and said they want the true-to-self artistry back!  We can smell the hype.  We know when you’re working it.  What’s sup with all the emphasis on tweeting and hyper-vomiting facebook “fans” over everyone’s networking profiles.  It all adds to the dissonant fray of self promotion and it’s hard to hear when everyone is yelling.

If you have a hot product, people want it.  We know when something impacts us, when we believe it’s great.  And when we find something good, we want to get closer, we want to tell everybody we know.  You don’t have to tweet, you don’t have to Facebook, you don’t even need a website. But it’s got to be different, it’s got to challenge conventional wisdom, it’s got to appeal to people’s hearts more than their pocket books.

Harley-Davidson is at a point where they can make the transformation from the perennial also-ran to a motorcycle industry jauggernaut that pushes the envelope in its designs while other companies try to catch up.  Or the Hyundai equivalent will…

Photos courtesy of H-D and Richard Drew/AP.

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Harley-Davidson's new factory in York, Pa.

A new Harley-Davidson motorcycle rolls off the assembly line in York, PA.

You might recall that one of the first moving assembly lines was at Ford Motor Company in 1913.  Until this time automobiles were built one at a time and were quite expensive.  With the Model T, they began experimenting with different production techniques and the conveyor belt system was born.  At its peak a finish Model T came off the assembly line every 10 seconds.

Workers could not stop the line even if parts were wrong.  Workers were not allowed to think on the job.  They were allowed to only do their assigned task and do them ever quicker.  They required almost no skill to perform and were highly repetitive.  Many workers were unfulfilled and became bored and dissatisfied with their jobs.  As a result, absenteeism rose and employee turnover became high.

Fast forward 100+ years and everything has changed, right?.

The “New Factory York” is Harley-Davidson’s largest motorcycle factory.  Once there were 41 buildings on the huge 232 acre plot, but most have been demolished along with 2300 jobs.  The entire manufacturing facility is now housed in one building.  It’s a model of efficiency which H-D plans to “copy-exact” in Menomonee Falls and Tomahawk.  The process is centered on advanced manufacturing techniques that are used at Toyota and Caterpillar that are well known for their quality and efficiencies.

The Milwaukee changes are a com’in… because effective this month adjusted labor contracts went into effect giving the company more flexibility with the workforce.  Similar to the York plant there can be the use of seasonal employees who are not entitled to medical or retirement benefits and receive less pay for the same work done by regular employees.  While still unionized they are paid about $16.80 to $26 per hour versus $30.50 to $38 per hour for regular employees.

But, just like in 1913 not all the workers seem to be infatuated with the changes.  There is a great article written by Rick Barrett at the Journal Sentinel which captures the mixed opinions and whether the transformation has resulted in a better workplace.   We all know that change is messy, but some of the comments had me wondering if some in the workforce would prefer a return to the Model T era.

Photo courtesy of H-D

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The Changing Faces Of Harley-Davidson Owners

Don’t you just like that word?!

You’re either out of the inner circle or working hard to remain firmly in the trusted seat.

Maybe you’re that guy who is tired of missing out on his friends’ weekend motorcycle trip because he doesn’t ride. Or maybe she’s the woman who has been a passenger for years and wants to ride her own ride. Maybe you’re that middle-aged guy who sees a kid on a dirt bike and remembers the happy riding days of his youth, and suddenly can’t recall why he ever stopped riding. Or the young woman who spots a sleek new “72” in the local Mall and suddenly decides, with absolute certainty and no warning, that she simply must have it and learn to ride it.

There are many different ways or reasons to get into motorcycling, but the common riding experience is inclusive for everyone.

And speaking of inclusion, last month I read how more and more businesses are looking to make sure they get their fair share of the black dollar and how H-D is no exception in making sure that this community is appreciated for helping strengthen their bottom line.  In fact,  there were reports of African-American reporters who were completely immersed (read wined and dined in Milwaukee on H-D’s dime) into the biker culture with the motor company for three days and pitched on the company attributes in hopes of them writing about the experience and then even more African-Americans coming over to participate in the H-D lifestyle.

If nothing else, Harley-Davidson, is showing how serious it is about broadening its reach.

I’ve often blogged, that if the motorcycle industry is to be reborn — and even the quickest scan of sales statistics is enough to know a rebirth is necessary — it will come from expansion into long-ignored niches, such as youth, women and minorities. We Boomers are quickly approaching our doddering years and will soon be trading up to trikes if we’re lucky or for walking sticks if not.

These days if you meander into any Harley dealer you’ll likely find: a pink-haired twenty-something white woman who could be a student to a bandana-ed Hispanic man that is a police officer and all nondescript types in between who ride. Oh sure there is the occasional tatted up true blue stereotype white male rock star trying to look gritty and the ever present old time long haired grey bearded biker.  But, Harley’s message is simple: They are no longer a niche brand. They are no longer focused on Boomers who hijacked the brand during the last decade. They are for everyone.

The claim is that no stereotypical Harley-Davidson rider exists anymore.  I say welcome to the family and a trusted seat in the inner circle!

Photo courtesy of Flickr

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It’s that time of year where I start thinking about rides and I’ve been looking around for a new pair of motorcycle boots.

Not the bulky steel-toe armor mid-shin style, but something that provides more wind resistance in the cold than my low-rider Doc Martins, but more important during those hot summer days doesn’t have me looking for cold water to stand in!

You might already know this, but I stumbled across a set of 6-inch Moc-toe boots with wedge soles from Duluth Trading Company (Item #43141).  Given that Duluth boots are made in the U.S.A. and have a “no bull” guarantee where you can return them for any reason… I decided to hit the BUY button on a black pair to give them a try and in a couple of days I had them at my door.

Clearly no two riders will agree on style or type of boot and I’m not giving advice other than riding with flip-flaps should be discouraged.  Motorcycle safety courses recommend “boots” that completely cover the ball of your ankle, are made from leather and have good traction soles.

At any rate, after receiving the boots and inspecting them I was reminded of a pair of wedge soled contractor boots I purchased back in my electric tradesman days when buying a pair of boots was a right of passage.  It turns out these are made in Wisconsin just like the famous motorcycle company and they are made with real Vibram soles and a Goodyear welt.  Once I laced them up and slipped them on it felt like I’d been wearing these boots for months.  A truly genteel leather feel which wasn’t like the last pair of boots I purchased where after a year they were still stiff enough to hold up a cinder block and left my feet feeling just as rough!  I also discovered that the boots come with a high-end shock absorbing gel insole that works quite well.

I haven’t had an opportunity to take these on a long road trip, but right out-of-the-box they seem durable and broken in for comfort.  These are not overpriced China built knock-offs and if you plan to invest $150 in a pair of boots I recommend giving the “Ultimate Contractor” Duluth boots a try.

Photo courtesy of Duluth Trading

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Did you join the fight?

I’m talking about the ‘super-hero’ fight in the latest Avengers movie sponsored by Harley-Davidson.

Last month I wrote a post about how the motor company was looking to cement their mainstream outreach and joined up with Marvel on the 2012 The Avengers movie promotion.

They have now released more promotion information about an “Assemble Your Freedom” contest where you ‘heed-the-call’ to assemble your team, your bike and once completed you are now in the pot for a chance to be drawn into an upcoming Avengers comic.

Beware because when you click HERE the link will ask you to develop a super-hero story.  I decided on a character called “MacSword”…

He’s a psychic that can only use his powers while he is fighting. He has five swords from a giant sword all the way down to a small blade, because I based him off an artist that draws a picture using his swords as he fights. So the swords are like paint-brushes to him. As he fights, the way he cuts things and destroys stuff will fit into his picture and he predicts the future. But he blacks out when he fights and has to interpret the fight through pictures.

He was a child prodigy in his small Milwaukee village but went rogue to find out why he was drawing these pictures and their meaning. He joins up with this organization called Sector 72, which took him in and promised to teach him more about his power which is used to fight evil.

Yeah, it doesn’t have to make sense.  So, get your imagination in gear and win that comic competition.

Photo courtesy of H-D and Marvel

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