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Indian Motorcycle 2017 Line-Up

Indian Motorcycles

Could this be a historic mark on Sturgis?

Seventy-five years after Ed Kretz dominated the first motorcycle race on the sands of Daytona Beach, Indian Motorcycle announces the 2017 line-up just days before the start of the 76th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and just hours before Harley-Davidson’s Q2’16 financial results.

Indian states the 2017 lineup includes the recently released Scout Sixty, Indian Springfield and Chief Dark Horse models with new color choices.

A new and the industry’s largest and brightest touch-screen information and entertainment system has a 7-inch display with turn-by-turn navigation, Bluetooth audio and USB flash drive support. The Chieftain bikes come with 100 watts of audio, while the more expensive Indian Roadmaster has 200 watts.  The screen is glove compatible with two-finger touch capabilities, according to the company.

Indian has grown at a brisk pace, introducing nine new models since its relaunch in August 2013.  The motorcycle industry is looking to be flat this year, so Indian and Harley-Davidson are in a share battle.  For the full year, Polaris sees motorcycle sales increasing in the high teens on a percentage basis.

Time will tell if it’s a brand, a dealership or a bike thing as the two companies slog it out in the back half of the year.  On the surface it looks like Indian will once again challenge its main rival.

If you are headed to the 76th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally,  riders can view the entire new 2017 lineup at the Indian Motorcycle Factory display on Lazelle St. or experience them firsthand with a Factory Demo Ride at 2100 Whitewood Service Road (I-90 at Exit 30) from August 6 – August 12 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily.

Photo courtesy of Indian Motocycles.

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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Renegade Wheels Owner - Chuck Frederick

He joins an elite club of A-listers who love to flaunt their fabulous machines and high quality wares.

I’m talking about Chuck Frederick, owner of Renegade Wheels.

I was recently contacted by the co-founder of MaleStandard.com, a men’s lifestyle source of information on grooming, dating and other esoteric items that men care about, in regards to an exclusive article about the man behind Renegade Wheels.

It turns out that Renegade Wheels developed a customer set of wheels for Paul Jr. (of OCC fame) Designs of American Chopper and this article covers the story behind the business as well as the new relationship with Paul Jr.

Here is an excerpt:

Q: Circling back around, it’s hard to deny the excitement that is exuding out of you after your trip to Sturgis to showcase your wheels on Paul Jr.’s bike. How did that collaboration come to light?
A: It was a surprise. The collaboration wasn’t something that was pre-planned. Paul Jr. had intended on making his own wheels however he was in a real time crunch and knew he likely would miss his deadline without Renegade’s assistance, so he had Vinnie give us a call. It turned out the timing was great for us and we could get right on them.

Q: Was the custom design specific to just that bike?
A: Yes. Most of Paul Jr.’s bikes are theme or corporate and get very unique one-off wheels.

It’s well written and a good read so check it out HERE.

Full Disclosure:  I purchased (blog post HERE) a set of Renegade Wheels last year, but have no affiliation with the company.

Photo courtesy of Renegade Wheels.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Practicing the piano for 10-years does not make you creative.  It just allows you to replicate what’s been done before.

I’m not sure who coined that phrase, but for some reason I’m reminded of Harley-Davidson and the debut of their 2011 models.

I can neither confirm or deny that I’ve been busy testing a sample of the 2011 H-D motorcycles.  I cannot confirm or deny that I’ve signed a NDA/embargo agreement to not disclose, either in print or talk about what the good folks at Harley-Davidson have been up to until July 27, 2010 – the date that the company will roll out some new thunder.

The plant is filled with journeymen, skilled at their jobs, but the motorcycle models are not famous. Because to be famous you’ve got to make jaws drop, people have to forego crucial financial activities in order to invest in H-D motorcycle ownership, people have to want to tell others about your brand.  In order to succeed you’ve got to innovate.  It requires perspiration and it demands inspiration.  I’m talking about innovating in such a way that a large percentage of the motorcycle riding public cares.

We’re in a era of marketing.  Because it’s so easy.  Go online and tell your story.  Start a Facebook page, upload some stop-action videos and evangelize to the ADHD 20-somthings.  Tweet about anything and everything.  But, isn’t it interesting that as more motorcycle manufactures go online trying to sell, fewer motorcycles are moving…both sales-wise and emotionally.  The key isn’t about putting a motorcycle in front of people.   It’s about creating something so good that it builds its own audience.  It’s an incredible challenge.  To employ a classic art form, include pop references, but come up with something new.  So new that the new thing excites us, that not only makes our blood boil, but makes us want to tell everyone.  So good it gets inside your psyche and affects you…not like the lasting power of a popsicle.

For so long the basic tools have been ignored and Harley-Davidson has taken the easy way out.  It’s been about marketing an image or brand over product innovation and their spot in the firmament is at risk.  They’ve always been good about building relationships, but too much of the H-D model line-up can be denied.  You can play that “tune” for a friend and they just ignored it.

The 2011 models need to tap us on the shoulder lightly and then wrap itself around our heart.  In other words, be so good we can’t ignore you…

Photo courtesy of Deviantart.com

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MAD Maps Inc.

Harley-Davidson marketing experts have consumption maps.

Basically it tracks how customers perceive the value of their products and they “map” out benefit-vs.-price along with a number of other purchasing criteria and behaviour dimensions when customers evaluate H-D products against competitors.

I’m not referring to this type tool.  Rather it’s the visual representation of what’s called a navigational map.

As motorcyclists we know firsthand about the value in a two-dimensional road map.  Especially if you’re directionally challenged like me!  Sure there are paper and digital versions and debating the merits of each has no value since they both serve a purpose.  Although some may argue that going on a road trip with a map is no way to roll.

Personally I like to have a paper map with me when I’m on a road trip.  In addition I have an iPhone and its navigation and weather applications have proved quite handy dodging rain storms.  But, now there is an iPhone app designed especially for Harley-Davidson riders by MAD Maps Inc.

In collaboration (read officially licensed product they paid $$ for!) with Harley-Davidson and tech partner Abalta Technologies, MAD Maps lets motorcyclists download electronic versions of scenic loops right to your iPhone. Users can purchase rides from a library of more than 1000 routes in the continental U.S. and rides are searchable by current location, city or state. These aren’t ordinary road maps. The company developed its maps with the help of local feet-on-the-street scouts who know the back roads.  This enables the maps to highlight the best roads, roadhouses, roadside attractions, and more which is oriented toward the motorcycle enthusiast.  Because it’s built with Harley riders in mind, the app lets you of course find the nearest H-D dealership – in case you need another black t-shirt – and the app also provides you the location of the nearest Best Western, where H-D riders get special 10% discount on overnight stays.

I down loaded the application (cost $0.99) and within moments was looking at a number of rides in and around the Oregon/Washington state area.  My first route was a Mount St. Helens ride.  You’ll be ask to set up an email/account to registered on the MAD Map servers, but it’s easy enough.  Being able to do all this from an iPhone is super convenient.  I can download a map on a moment’s notice, without having to plan ahead.  It’s important to note that with the purchase of this app it includes your choice of only five rides anywhere in the country. All additional trips/maps are $0.99 cents each.  Some of the reviews stated there are very few rides in their area.  I’m most satisfied with the rides in the northwest and see the value.

So whether you’re looking for a new adventure in your backyard or Sturgis bound and looking for a new Vanocker canyon ride, this app will have you covered.

Photo courtesy of Apple iTunes and Mad Maps Inc.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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As Thanksgiving approaches and families prepare to gather around the table to share turkey and stuffing, the Northwest Harley blog editorial team (me), decided it was time to look back at the announcements and decisions from the motor company that made news this past year for all of the wrong reasons.

This is my list of the top H-D turkeys over the last 18 months – clearly the ideas and business strategies didn’t live up to expectations or were so poorly executed that they flopped with the consumers. Between the economy, the shutdown of Buell, cuts in production, the credit crunch, a transition to a new non-motorcycle-riding CEO, management departures, adding a new CFO and Mango’s for distribution rights in India, to an abrupt about-face on MV Augusta… it’s been an ugly, yet busy year-and-a-half!  Here is a recap with a couple winning moments highlighted (Bold):

  • Harley-Davidson to cut jobs, ship fewer motorcycles (April 17, 2008)
  • Harley getting burned by loan crash (May 2, 2008)
  • Harley-Davidson to buy Italian motorcycle maker (July 11, 2008)
  • With acetylene, Harley-Davidson opens museum (July 14, 2008)
  • Harley-Davidson profits down 23 percent (July 17, 2008)
  • Harley-Davidson officially kick starts celebration (August 28, 2008)
  • Harley-Davidson profit down 37 percent (October 16, 2008)
  • Harley CEO Ziemer to retire in 2009 (December 15, 2008)
  • Harley-Davidson to cut 1,100 jobs, most in Milwaukee area (January 23, 2009)
  • Harley-Davidson sets $600M debt sale to fund finance arm (February 3, 2009)
  • Harley-Davidson sales down 13 percent in 2009 (March 5, 2009)
  • Harley-Davidson names Johnson Controls’ Wandell as next CEO (April 6, 2009)
  • Harley-Davidson reports sales, profit declines (April 16, 2009)
  • Harley-Davidson completes funding plans (May 1, 2009)
  • Harley-Davidson’s CFO resigns (May 4, 2009)
  • Buell plans to consolidate operations in East Troy (May 12, 2009)
  • Buell scraps East Troy consolidation plan (May 19, 2009)
  • Pennsylvania may offer aid to keep Harley in York (May 22, 2009)
  • Harley-Davidson to cut 1,000 more jobs; 480 in Milwaukee area (July 16, 2009)
  • Harley scouting four sites for new factory (August 19, 2009)
  • Buell to temporarily shut down East Troy plant (September 8, 2009)
  • Harley names Olin permanent CFO (September 18)
  • Harley-Davidson to end Buell line, cut 180 jobs (October 15, 2009)
  • In general it was a tough year for the motorcycle industry. H-D has made some pretty large missteps. They ranged from products that simply did not take off, to entire business plans that went awry. Clearly, some of the turkeys are bigger than others. In the face of this adversity, H-D management decided the future of the company is based in large part on cost takeouts.  I think the company should shift away from that thinking or  obtaining large union concessions and to focus on innovation and growth initiatives.  Mr. Wandell has to know the Strategic Inflection Point is real and that you cannot save your way out of a recession.  Growth based on innovation, new products and the emotional connection with customers will help turnaround the company.

    I know it’s never nice to point out the faults and failures of others, but I’m hopeful by bringing a spotlight on these H-D management will learn from the struggles. While this list is by no means exhaustive, it does include some of what I believe are the bigger flops.  As always, I welcome your comments.

    Photo courtesy of Exploratorium

    All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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    BD_CalOrganizing your schedule shouldn’t be a burden.

    I use a number of calendars both paper and electronic as I suspect many of you do the same.  Personally I think paper is easier, always available and generally more portable.  I was looking around for a new calendar and ran across the 2010 Big Dog Biker Calendar.  Should be no problem keeping track of important dates as the calendar has oversized date boxes providing plenty of room to write in important events as well as 12 months of inspiring images. However, don’t be fooled because most of these ladies aren’t the ‘gas chick’ on the back seat type… they ride motorcycles for personal enjoyment.  Go figure!

    That’s what impressed me about this calendar.  I must be getting old(er) as many of the models are “real” women! Mature women who ride their own bike.  There is real beauty in maturity versus the plastified bimbo’s with platform shoes that are too fake, too overdone.  To each his own… I suppose.  I’ve made every effort to avoid sleazy and keep it classy.  It’s a challenge, but someone’s got to do it.

    Photo courtesy of Big Dog Biker.

    All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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    box_wheelsBeing frugal and customizing your motorcycle seems like a contradiction of terms, right?

    Not really.  With the economy in a slump, more riders are no longer trading for a newer bike, rather are hanging on to their current ride longer.  My last ride kept me tinkering one piece at a time in the garage for nearly 10 years before trading to a bagger.  Like many of you I want my bike to stand out, so I go through periods of modification or tweak components to reflect what I want to see.

    Recently I needed tires.  When I originally purchased the motorcycle I planned to customize the wheels, but could never justify replacing perfectly good tires/wheels and over the last 3 years I’ve been setting aside $$ in my “modification jar” for the appropriate time.

    Wheels_OnRenegade Wheels – Chuck Frederick and Wendell Smith are good guys, that also happen to make amazing wheels.  I’ve made it a point to stop at their booth whenever attending a motorcycle rally to check out their new models and styling.   Last February the company announced ownership changes with Chuck continuing as President and Wendell moving on to pursue other opportunities.

    So the day came to order a bolt-on set of wheels, pulley and matching rotors wrapped in Avon rubber.  I didn’t contact Chuck, but the customer service I received and finish quality was excellent.   I specifically wanted to provide a shout-out to Kerri and Yvette for making an average customer feel like he was getting extraordinary service.  Tire sizing is confusing as there are 5 methods in use and there are 3 technical organizations that all manufactures adhere too.  I had a number of questions which they easily answered.  I stepped up to a 21” front and 18” rear wheels which are manufactured in the U.S.  All wheels come with applicable hubs, bearings and carry a lifetime structural warranty.

    Finally, getting custom wheels on discount is an oxymoron, but some worthy advice is to pay attention to rally pricing and any show specials as it helps establish the discount a non-dealer will pay.  In addition, show specials often include free installation which is a 2-3 hour service savings for folks who aren’t inclined to do the work themselves.  It’s always good when enthusiasts are given options especially when we (the customer) can save some money during these more difficult times and for me it’s about making modifications and keeping the motorcycle longer.

    All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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    mfg_plantBaby boomers and Harley-Davidson motorcycles.  The combination of these two delivered a plethora of profits.

    I was upgrading my Mac OS and while I waited, I read magazines.  First it was “Baggers” then “BusinessWeek.”

    Skimming the BW magazine I notice an article about business book guru Jim Collins.  He wrote “Good To Great.”  Collins was brought to West Point, where he chaired a discussion amongst military men and civilians.  Had America lost its greatness, was it in decline?  The attendees were split as to America’s future, half optimistic and half pessimistic.  But what fascinated Mr. Collins was an observation from a CEO during a break.  The dude stated: “I’ve been thinking about your question in the context of my company.  We’ve had tremendous success in recent years and I worry about that.  So what I want to know is: HOW WOULD YOU KNOW?”  This question formed the basis of Collins new book, “How The Mighty Fall.”

    Harley-Davidson has been quite mighty.  But they broke the first rule of Mr. Collins’ book.  Which he labels Stage 1: “Hubris Born Of Success”.  “Stage 1 kicks in when people become arrogant, regarding success virtually as an entitlement, and they lose sight of the true underlying factors that created success in the first place.”

    Mighty_FallBingo!  Harley-Davidson and Baby Boomers.  H-D execs actually believed they were geniuses, who’d found the golden formula.  Dealers marked up everything from t-shirts to baggers.  From then on, motorcycle model after model would all sell thousands of bikes, there would be untold profits!  Rather than questioning their success (“We might have been just really lucky/we’re in the right place at the right time…”), they believed they were entitled to it.  And ultimately blamed this decline of their fortunes on the economy.

    Stage 2 of Mr. Collins’ theory of corporate decline is “Undisciplined Pursuit Of More”.  Here we have H-D catering to image buyers… selling sizzle, style and fashion over function paradigm.  With spokespeople like Marisa Miller.  If TV sells motorcycles, let us find the least amount of clothing and the most telegenic performer and craft a message about lifestyle for TV/print consumption!  

    Stage 3 is “Denial Of Risk and Peril.”  That’s the beginning of the end.  “Those in power start to blame external factors for setbacks rather than accept responsibility”.  It’s like the music industry saying the Internet ruined it’s business!  It’s the economy’s fault, we couldn’t get bank funding at HDFS, etc. But what’s Harley’s business?  Manufacturing premium (overpriced?) priced one-dimensional products and marketing them for sale on TV and print magazines to the ‘boomers’, the young, minorities and to women?  No difference in product just marketing messages.

    Stage 4 is “Grasping For Salvation”.  “The critical question is: How does leadership respond?  By lurching for quick salvation or by getting back to the disciplines that brought about greatness in the first place?”  We’ve got Harley-Davidson heavily invested in MV Augusta and embedding advertising space in video games (UFC).  A non-motorcycle riding enthusiast at the helm.  Is that their core mission?  And we’ve got dealers exiting the business.  All the while the motor company works to protect a business model of an overexposed limited product to reap giant rewards.  Dealers are up in arms that corporate got rich and the locals did not…  But once again, what was each entity’s core mission?  Dealers were made to expose.  The motor company were made to..?  MAKE!  That’s what manufacturing companies do.  Making motorcycles is their core competency.  It’s their defining MISSION!  But that got lost in the shuffle of incredible profits during the nineties.  Harley started selling branding, lifestyle, sizzle, fashion and even some premium priced motorcycles!

    Stage 5 is “Capitulation To Irrelevance Or Death”.  Some would argue that’s where the motor company is today.  “In some cases the company’s leader just sell out; in other cases the motorcycle institution atrophies into utter insignificance; and in the most extreme cases the enterprise simply dies outright.”  How long until Harley-Davidson chops up the parts and sells it for catalog value?  

    What is the future?  Not the past.

    “Never give in.  Be willing to kill failed business ideas, even shutter big operations you’ve been in for a long time, but never give up on the idea of building a great company.”  It’s clear.  Looking for an instant success like the old Michael Jackson days of MTV ultimately render instant irrelevance.  The company needs to be about MOTORCYCLES!  Today’s execs seem only interested in tonnage.  They could be selling anything!  They are not necessary.  Harley needs to find unique talent and nurture it.  Leverage independent blogs?  Motorcycle artistry/development isn’t finding more people to buy a plain stamped out bike, it’s a creative arc, over a period of iterations, wherein the motorcycle grows and more and more people come along for the ride.  

    That’s what you need to survive…”to build an enterprise that makes such a distinctive impact on the world it touches (and does so with such superior performance) that it would leave a gaping hole – a hole that could not be easily filled by any other institution – if it ceased to exist.” Everyone knows that real motorcycle enthusiasts are the indies.  The commercial crap from the majors is about commercialism more than artistry.  Today it’s about manufacturing cookie-cutter stuff and yelling at the public to buy it, all the while bitching that the economy is failing.  This is a recipe for disaster.

    Rather than whine, be the company that accepts reality, that notes change and adapts to it.  That doesn’t mean charge huge upfront fees for anybody who wants a CVO.  Or clothing attire marked up to the point that celebrities question the essence of imported fabrics.  Your average Joe consumers are your partners, they’re the ones who are going to make you money.  

    If you lose your core, you’ve lost everything!

    Photo courtesy of Newsweek.

    All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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    President Bush at Harley-Davidson

    President Bush at Harley-Davidson

    What the bleep?!

    I’ve tried to avoid political innuendo’s or stump for candidates on this blog, but today is my one time post.

    I could have jumped in and drove traffic up with that Jesse Jackson (off-air mic before Fox & Friends – re; Obama’s genitalia) or Whoopi Goldberg’s cultural language debate on the N-word, but obviously I didn’t. 

    So, all this political correctness thrash got me thinking about who would be better for Harley-Davidson and the biker community if elected president?  We’ve certainly seen g’dubya Bush pontificate the benefits of free-trade as I’ve covered it in a previous post, but are there any patterns which might predict a direction?

    One pattern that is clear is politicians love a “crisis.”  Heard about the “home crisis”, “mortgage crisis”, “financial crisis” or if not the crisis then have you heard about the “disaster”?  John McCain and Barack Obama both think that the government should bail out homeowners who can’t pay their mortgages. When they say the government should do this, they mean us the taxpayers, including those who are paying their mortgages. They also think the government should regulate the lending and investment industries further. 

    Why?  Because “crisis” justifies making big government bigger.  I’m not sure about you, but I still see those Ditech commercials offering fixed-rate mortgages for 5.5% and my VISA seems to work just fine so, I don’t get the financial crisis.  But on to my point, which candidate is better…

    John McCain

    John McCain

    McCain is a candidate of contradictions. He initially opposed President Bush’s tax cuts, but now supports making them permanent. He has crusaded against the influence of corporate lobbyists, yet has more K Street fixers raising money for his campaign than any other candidate. He says he’s a full-bore, free-enterprise capitalist even as he admits that he hasn’t understood economics as well as he should and is reading Alan Greenspan’s book!  He has been active on global warming, proposing a carbon trading system that was opposed by some in the oil and gas industries. He is also a supporter of increasing so-called CAFE standards for automobile emissions. He proposed sweeping anti-smoking legislation in the late 1990s that would have raised taxes on cigarettes, restricted the industry’s ability to advertise, and given the FDA broad new authority over tobacco companies. It’s estimated that it would cost the industry more than half a billion dollars over 25 years.  Looks like if McCain becomes President, Corporate America including Harley-Davidson’s choices aren’t very good.

    Barack Obama

    Barack Obama

    In contrast, Obama takes time to consult on the economy with billionaire Warren Buffett, who also supports his rolling back the Bush tax cuts.  This would likely benefit many of the people running big American companies.  He is proposing to raise taxes on capital gains and dividends by two-thirds, moving the rate up 10 points to 25%.  This would potentially curtail investment.  Obama would also let the Bush tax cuts expire allowing the top individual income tax rate to return to 39.6%.  Obama’s record in the Senate is rather thin, but he has sponsored bills from union labor to alternative fuel to the earned income tax credit.  In one move that was unpopular among business executives, Obama sponsored a bill to give shareholders a nonbinding proxy vote on executive pay. Obama voted for a free-trade pact with Peru that contained provisos to protect the Peruvian environment and Peruvian labor. That would be hard to take if you’re a U.S. business owner who wants costs to stay low in your new Peru operation. Obama also states  he would look to amend the NAFTA trade agreement to add similar protections to the Clinton-era pact.  This may well hurt Harley.

    This isn’t exhaustive research on the candidates and both will likely have Corporate America sipping arsenic over their direction while wishing for alternative choices!  The future is never certain, but these “dudes” will continue to deliver their lines predictably.

    I guess while we’re fantasizing about “alternative” choices, what we really need is a motorcycle that runs on politician lies.  Talk about mileage!

    Bush photo courtesy Yorkblog.  Candidates photo’s courtesy of campain websites.

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