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Multiple Years of Hells Canyon Rally T-shirts

Multiple Years of Hells Canyon Rally T-shirts

A motorcycle t-shirt addiction!

If you are reading this post based on the title then you know I’ve completed the first step, acceptance!

It started out as a day of cleaning the closet and the dresser.  The t-shirts were categorized by:
  • Stack #1 — The newest Harley t-shirts (location based) that I frequently wear during the week
  • Stack #2 — T-shirts with some wear from various HOG events and motorcycle rallies
  • Stack #3 — T-shirts that have significant wear that I save up and pack for those long trips and then I’ll throw them out as I travel to lighten the load
  • Stack #4 — Long sleeve t-shirts only
  • Stack #5 — In the garage for oil clean up.  Typically they were gifted Sons of Anarchy (SOA) tee’s!
Various H.O.G. Rally T-shirts

Various H.O.G. Rally T-shirts

I’m no longer in denial, and have finally accepted that I have a propensity to purchase too many motorcycle t-shirts.  I’ve got several shelves and drawers in a dresser dedicated to everything from tank tops to long sleeve t-shirts.  I’m definitely flirting with excessive and now realize after my day of cleaning that I should just say no!  I could hit the road and wear each shirt and never do laundry for well over a month.

Do you have this problem?

I have t-shirts from so many H-D dealers around the world, then add in those from the various pubs, band/concerts, place-name t-shirts, and an original Big Lewbowski t-shirt that I can’t bring myself to ditch “The Dude.”

I can promise you that nearly any time I go somewhere on the motorcycle, I’m buying a t-shirt there. Why? Because it’s what I like to wear.  But, it also starts out as some regret because when I’m at a motorcycle event and I see a t-shirt that is out of the ordinary I’ll think about purchasing it.  It’s unique.  It’s a color of black that I don’t own!  The graphic design is interesting.  The compulsion is to buy the t-shirt, hope for a good fit after being washed and then add the particular t-shirt to my ever growing collection.

You just don’t understand the extra ordinary strength it takes for me to not buy a t-shirt these days.  In many instances t-shirts have been the only documentation of my rides, a recap of the journey or a memory on one of those bucket list highways.

You may think that it gets better with time, and that as I get older I wouldn’t feel the compulsion to have so many H-D t-shirts, but I am here to tell you that in fact it does not.

I’ve decided I have give up fighting it, and will now spend more time parting with the worn t-shirts by dropping them off at Goodwill or using some for doing a wax and shine on the bike.   Hopefully I’m making a fellow t-shirt “addict” a happier person.

Photos taken by author.

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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2015 Freewheeler™ Trike

2015 Freewheeler™ Trike

The wait is over!

According to the Harley-Davidson press release here’s what’s new in 2015:

Freewheeler™ Trike – From its mini ape-hanger handlebar to its bobtail fenders, the Freewheeler trike fuses custom style and easy-handling performance. The all-new rear body shape gives the Freewheeler a low, lean profile.

Braking System for Softail® Models – A new braking system for Softail models delivers improved modulation and responsiveness and decreases hand lever effort by 40 percent. ABS is now standard on all Softail models and optional on the Slim. New front brake components include a rigid four-piston fixed front brake caliper with 34 and 32mm pistons coated to minimize initial displacement, brake pads with high-output friction material, a new master cylinder with a higher mechanical ratio, and a new 300mm front brake rotor. The caliper and master cylinder have been restyled to enhance the looks of each model.

Electra Glide® Ultra Classic® Low / Ultra Limited Low Motorcycles – A package of ergonomic enhancements that offer the lowest seat height and highest rider confidence available in a premium touring bike, combined with a full complement of Project RUSHMORE features and classic Harley-Davidson style.

2015 Street Glide

2015 CVO Street Glide

CVO Street Glide Motorcycle – It’s back!  The CVO Street Glide has a new Boom! Audio system with 600 watts of power streaming through four bi-amped front and rear three-way speakers.  It’s a limited-production bagger to achieve that rolling concert “bubble” with volume and sonic quality that will shock the neighbors. There will be four color options with an intricate paint scheme.

CVO Road Glide Ultra Motorcycle – This was a CVO surprise given the new release of the new 2015 Road Glide and many thought it would be a year before a CVO version would launch.  This a super-premium touring motorcycle with world-class aerodynamics, luxury touring essentials and the performance of a Screamin’® Eagle Twin-Cooled™ Twin Cam 110™ engine.

You might recall that Harley-Davidson previously announced the 2015 Road Glide before Sturgis.  It was also included it as part of this press release:

2015 CVO Road Glide Ultra

2015 CVO Road Glide Ultra

Road Glide® Motorcycle – After a model year hiatus, this bagger is back with a new triple vented, frame-mounted fairing, Dual Reflector Daymaker™ LED headlamps and a new handlebar with reduced reach and a new wrist angle for improved ergonomics.

Road Glide Special® Motorcycle – The Road Glide Special is equipped with premium Boom! ™ Box infotainment, upgraded suspension, and Reflex™ linked brakes with an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS).

So what do you think of the new models?

Photos courtesy of H-D

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Gypsy’ed up ride...

Gypsy’ed up ride…

Are you all about bagger bling?

The “bling” refers to any unnecessary accumulation of shiny and glimmering metal.

There is a place for those who can’t stop called the chrome asylum because of bagger bling gone wrong!  Like the rider in this photo…

In my view it’s an example of too much chrome swag.  Some might even think it’s hideous and wholly unnecessary, but as we know there is no accounting for good taste with all the riders out there.

We know that straight off the shop floor most Harleys shine more than your average foreign made motorcycle, and for those that like their ride to blind the onlookers, there’s a seriously fat accessory catalogue full of go-fast bits, chrome doo-dads and custom add-on’s.  Not to mention all the 3rd party catalogs and online part suppliers.

Is it possible to have too much chrome swag?

Clearly!  You’ll know it when kids point, dogs bark and other riders do a double-take.  It’s often described as: “They sure Gypsy’ed up that ride”…

A reference to the bright and flashy which is often associated with folks exoticising voyeruism or wearing Esmeralda-like headscarves, or running psychic healing parlors.  I realize that’s a less than positive cliché, and mean no disrespect.  The Gypsies are fascinating people with an incredible story.

But, creative enhancements and all that chrome is so addictive.  Rainy weekends can be spent pouring over the parts book, matching gas tanks with seats and sissy bars, and tossing up whether to splurge on the chrome rocker covers to match the new floor boards or save up for the titanium lifters.  For those with both a hunger for lots of shiny things and the means to satiate that need, Harley-Davidson is there for you and the endless fun.  They are single-handedly responsible for promoting, propagating, passively approving and ironically being amused by all aspects of the ‘bling’ culture.

I suffer from what’s called the chrome cooling effect – most often called “Bling Delete” and has only increased the flat black or black anodized popularity.  It used to be done by ‘rattle can’, but now manufactures have combined billet aluminum with black anodized finishes to provide riders the perfect mix of function and aesthetics.  There are as many if not more flat-black or deep-cut, black anodized billet accessories as chrome, so if you’re into the less is more glamour, you have lots of choices.

Clearly motorcycle enthusiasts have become “creators”, in which motorcycles are the canvas.

Stay shiny my friends.

Photo courtesy of HOG Asia. Gypsy’ed term courtesy of Hal.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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At Sturgis 2012 and the marketing spin on the delayed launch of new 110th Anniversary models.

A couple weeks back, Harley-Davidson announced its 2013 model lineup.

I’ll cut to the chase.

What the marketing department portrays as a launch at the intersection between craft, art, and technology… it is in truth mostly carryovers and there is little to stimulate excitement other than a new paint scheme.  Adding fuel to the excitement starved debate is how H-D was late to release the 2013 motorcycles compared to previous years.  Why did the motor company avoid the traditional opportunity to showcase the new models at Sturgis?  Instead having a wooden crate on display with the launch date stamped on it for later in August.  I was disappointed and thought it was a bit lame, but it likely stopped people from asking the pesky question of where are the ’13 models, over and over of the Sturgis staff.  They could just point to the box…

Post Sturgis and as expected (and previously blogged HERE) there are a number of 110th Anniversary models receiving the press attention. Understandable, given its the kick-off celebration of the 110th Anniversary.  Recently at the Harley-Davidson Museum, and then in a Europe continuation of the festivities at European Bike Week in Faaker See, Austria, on Sept. 4-9, 2012.  However, the ‘official’ Harley-Davidson Anniversary Celebrations will unfold in Rome, June 13-16, 2013, and in Milwaukee, Aug. 29-Sept. 1, 2013.

H-D vendor area at Sturgis 2012

There will be ten models available as part of the 110th Anniversary Editions.  They will have unique serial number plates and Anniversary Vintage Bronze/Anniversary Vintage Black paint (CVO models get Diamond Dust/Obsidian paint).   Each will feature commemorative solid bronze fuel tank badges plated in black nickel and then distressed to highlight the bronze. A bright gold-tone Bar and Shield cloisonné is inserted in the main body of the “single wing” badge along with special anniversary badging and trim.  All of the Anniversary Editions will be loaded up with factory-installed options as ‘standard equipment’ including a premium price between $665 and $2,495 over the non-Anniversary models.

The ten 110th Anniversary Edition Harley-Davidsons are:

  • 1200 Custom 110th Anniversary Edition (limited to a quantity of 1,500): MSRP $11,699
  • Super Glide® Custom 110th Anniversary Edition (limited to a quantity of 1,450): MSRP $15,999
  • Fat Boy® Lo 110th Anniversary Edition (limited to a quantity of 1,750): MSRP $19,499
  • Heritage Softail® Classic 110th Anniversary Edition (limited to a quantity of 1,900): MSRP $20,799
  • Road King® 110th Anniversary Edition (limited to a quantity of 1,750): MSRP $20,999
  • Electra Glide® Ultra Limited 110th Anniversary Edition (limited to a quantity of 3,750): MSRP $25,999
  • Tri Glide® Ultra Classic® 110th Anniversary Edition (limited to a quantity of1,450): MSRP $33,499
  • CVO™ Ultra Classic® Electra Glide® 110th Anniversary Edition (limited to a quantity of 1,100): MSRP $38,599
  • CVO™ Road King® 110th Anniversary Edition (limited to a quantity of 900): MSRP $30,999
  • CVO™ Road Glide® Custom 110th Anniversary Edition (limited to a quantity of 900): MSRP $33,999

Historically the Anniversary models become a collector item and sometimes retain higher resale value.  In addition, for 2013, the motor company is pushing the Hard Candy Custom program, a shout-out to the styling movement from the chopper era of the 1960s that showcases metal flake paint, and styling details.  The motor company also introduced the new CVO™ Breakout™ model.

Photos taken by author at Sturgis 2012 and courtesy of H-D.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Harley-Davidson has always held a certain fascination for the monied elite, from Wall Street bankers to Middle Eastern oil sheiks.  They all ride on the essence of the freedom brand.  Since the motor company jettisoned more employees over the holidays it’s now dabbling in a bit of capital resource-allocation and looking for Hollywood’s crucial role in revitalizing the companies pop culture standing. 

We live in a world of brands.  Think Zoo York t-shirts, or Jukijama sneakers.  It’s a thirst for fame. 

Savvy celebs are trying to fuse entertainment and social networking, closing the gap between performer and fan. Even hip-hop “musician’s” using their often limited musical footprint to expand into merch have far exceeded t-shirts and turned to alcohol concoctions to sell “cool”.  So, can we really blame Harley-Davison for flexing their marketing muscle and trying to close the gap with youth in order to survive?

The key is authenticity. 

Harley-Davidson has to choose associations that are credible and organic if they wish to succeed.  Why?  Because the essence of Harley-Davidson is freedom—outfitting confident individuals to assert their true independence.  All their products under the brand reflect this rock-solid individuality.  It’s like an Armani suit.  Sure, you could say it’s part of your wardrobe, but it’s more than just a business suit.  It’s a state of mind. 

In the latest example of cementing their mainstream outreach Harley-Davidson has joined up with Marvel on the official 2012 The Avengers movie promotion.  You can watch the official Avengers movie trailer (HERE).  Little information is available on exactly what the promotion is, but here is a sign-up page (HERE) to enter information and become one of the first fans to know about the promotion.

If you’re thinking this is déjà vu all over again.  You’re right!  Marvel previously partnered with Harley-Davidson on Captain America: The First Avenger movie.  Captain America rode a Harley-Davidson replica of the “Liberator”, a classic H-D motorcycle that was used by U.S. Service Men and Women during World War II.   For the Captain America promotion, Harley-Davidson launched an interactive site and ran a sweepstakes with a customized H-D motorcycle as one of the prizes. They even made Captain America posters available at dealers, and auctioned off a bike signed by the Hollywood elite in the movie to benefit Disabled American Veterans.

For The Avengers, maybe they’ll be riding a new CVO Road Glide?!  The teaser states “You could be immortalized in Harley-Davidson and Marvel’s, The Avengers history.”  Are we talking about funeral’s and a headstone?!

If so, maybe we need to lean into those $10,000 imported padded shoulders of that Armani suit because just like The Avenger it serves as a defensive role and deflects nearly all ill-infused assaults from all manner of scumbags, hangers on, wannabees and true movie biz powerhouses.

Photos courtesy of Marvel and H-D.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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2012 Paint Palette

Have you been reading the headlines? There was a big earthquake in Haiti. Some men were rescued from a mine in Chile. Oh, and apparently there was a gigantic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

What’s that you say? This all sounds like last year’s news?

Well, don’t tell that to Harley-Davidson. The motor company recently introduced 15 new models, which it considered innovative and groundbreaking  products:  a “tubeless” laced wheel option, and six new colors or color combinations on the touring models!   Then in a déjà vu lapse they announced the retention of last year’s integrated branding firm Graj + Gustavsen Inc. to continue advising the company on strategic branding initiatives related to apparel and apparel-related accessories.

It would seem that even Harley-Davidson understands that the touring models have so few innovations that their only hope of differentiating itself from the other players is through paint palettes…. So, the only buying question you’ll have to ask yourself, then, is: Does H-D make a convincing enough “color case” that you should invest about $20K in a “new” touring model?

Here’s the crux of H-D’s argument.  First of all, the new colors or color combinations are beautiful. The mostly unchanged motorcycles from 2011 are even more beautiful in 2012.  The unchanged frame is beautiful, too. It’s graphically coherent, elegant, fluid and satisfying. That, apparently, is the payoff when a single company designs and builds both the engine and frame housing?  The ‘advanced’ Harmon/Kardon radio retains its 1970’s BMW inspired ‘red’ glow and that glossy Vivid black paint — continues to be a magnet for fingerprints, boot scuffs, and unfortunately looks wicked great only in the dealer showroom. I think the words in the H-D press release were “The Legend Lives On.”  The band, Talking Heads, said it best… in the song “Once In A Lifetime.”  The “same as it ever was, same as it ever was” lyrics… really resonates for the 2012 touring models.

It’s been a while since I’ve had a good, proper, Harley-Davidson rant. Part of that has been the adventures of this year; I think it’s softened me and given me more patience, made me a little more graceful. Another part of it, probably closer to the heart of the matter is that I’ve been busy doing other things and a good rant takes time to incubate.

Well a rant has been building and I finally snapped as I read an article in last week’s “Wall Street Journal” (subscription required) where there was a front page story on Hyundai. How it went from a laughingstock to a runaway success in the car market. Now that they’ve solved the quality problem, now that they’ve caught up with Toyota and Honda, the company is confronted with a huge issue going forward, creativity. How do you lead when you’ve spent your entire manufacturing life following? Read WSJ article HERE.

The new Elantra is so far ahead of the market that Corolla sales have stalled and the new Civic has been blasted by critics as it fails to fly from the showroom. Instead of focusing on the econo box look, Hyundai imitated BMW and Mercedes-Benz. And the model was redesigned in four years instead of five, trumping its competitors in the marketplace.  The success of the Elantra is testimony to the change in culture at Hyundai. To one now focused on leading, on creativity.

This leads me to the question of is there a culture of innovation at Harley-Davidson?  When talking about innovation we often define the term too narrowly. In fact, innovation can – and does – occur in every industry of our economy, from consumer electronics to health care.  Yet, when I re-review the 2012 touring models, instilling creative thinking must be a work in progress.

For comparison, a few times a week, video screens around Hyundai’s headquarters in Seoul show a one-minute clip that has become a favorite. It shows an open office where workers wearing the same shirt and haircut are “beavering” away (that’s Oregon slang). Then a new person arrives with a different hair cut. Each time he voices an idea, the others shout him down. Eventually he gets the same haircut and everybody likes him. Then a question appears: ‘Aren’t we stuck in conventional thinking?’

I don’t know if a video loop like that would necessarily fly in a Milwaukee plant with the union workers, but that’s not the point of this post.

It’s about how most every American business is in a mad dash to innovate except for H-D.  The only answer can be the titans at the top are traffic cops sans creativity?  Don’t blame the public or the economy, blame the fat cat executives who are denying they’re the problem like the honchos at Goldman Sachs. What makes the rich believe they’re invulnerable, always right and entitled?   Somehow in the “dash-for-cash”, it’s all about shooting low, to the sweet spot, where most people live so the purveyors can make money.  Good enough just doesn’t cut it and of course there are exceptions, but generally speaking we’re in a low point for H-D touring motorcycles.

It’s a new game. No one gets to rest on his laurels. Making it today is no insurance you’ll thrive tomorrow, look at the carcasses strewn along the highway… OCC, Indian, or Big Dog.

We’ve got endless hype and yet sales are anemic.  Mediocrity thrives at Harley-Davidson because it’s all about the money.  About playing it safe… with new paint palettes!

Photo courtesy of  Hyundai and H-D.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Harley tells us it’s the real deal — and it’s coming soon.

Using nearly every marketing adjective possible in the dictionary  — raw, slammed, bulldog-stance, classic, radical, straight-on style, bad attitude, distinctive, authentic, broken-in, blacked out, aura of rebellion, custom cool styling and the ever fav “low profile” — to describe the new, but “old” Forty-Eight model.

The new motorcycle is a factory custom in the Sportster line and joins the Dark Custom family which includes the Nightster, Iron 883, Cross Bones, Fat Bob and Street Bob. More on the Dark Custom motorcycles is located HERE.   The 2010 H-D Sportster Forty-Eight is priced at $10,499 in black and $10,789 in silver or orange.

Sportster motorcycles became the starting point for many legendary choppers of the 1960s, and were also getting pumped up for dirt racing and daredevil stunt riding in the 1970s.  The 48 try’s to retain regain the aura of rebellion from the late 50’s, when the custom culture was formed by the hot rod era. 

I hear a lot of guys say they think Sportsters are starter bikes.  I’m not so sure, but they are typically short hop bikes unless you’re into punishment.  Given the economy and the price, H-D has just hit a bunch of folks straight in the face with this machine.  It’s a beauty!

Photo courtesy of H-D

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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