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Posts Tagged ‘Sucker Punch Sallys’

sturgis_bkgrndThe open road is just three weeks away!

But, I won’t be at the granddaddy of them all — I’ll miss chatting with CJ Halon (Guilty Customs), rubbing elbows with Jeff Cochran (Sucker Punch Sally’s), miss the Legend Ride with Aerosmith front man Steven Tyler and all the cigar aficionados, artists and vendors at the 69th Annual Black Hills Motorcycle Rally – a.k.a.,  Sturgis.

Sure it’s a can’t miss event and I’m not cutting corners, but having been there a few times already I’m now more selective on which years to attend and if all goes well I’ll make next year’s big 70th blowout party.

Canada_GlacierInstead plans have been set for a week of saddle time/travel in the province of Alberta, Canada…few places on the planet have massive mountains as large as the National Parks of Jasper, Yoho and Banff.  Our posse plans to take in the cathedral-like peaks and ancient blue-white glaciers then return home via Glacier National Park… an exquisite destination where the masses have been going since the day railcars were the only means of traveling.  Clearly the Canadian exchange rate will increase the cost of the trip, but the Columbia Ice field and Hwy 93 between Jasper and Banff will make our trek worth it.

The Canadian Rockies will often make their own weather and for us folks without a roof we’re hoping for a lot of sunshine and that the rain gear stays buried in the bottom of the bagger.

Photo courtesy of H-D and the Google.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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or_redrocksTalk was about a down turn in attendance.  The economy, you know.  Sure the attendance of Laughlin River Run was down (based on my unscientific estimate), but the beautiful weather, the awesome display of motorcycles, and the backdrop of events in the area brought out plenty of riders for the 27th annual motorcycle rally.

It turns out that bikers are indeed welcome in the little town on the Colorado River!  A nice change given un-friendly events in Daytona and in Snohomish, Wa.  We made the 90-mile trek to Laughlin from our Vegas base camp.  The end of April marks a return of bikers to Casino Drive which for a few days becomes the center of everything motorcycles.  I don’t know about you, but I thought it was easy to get around compared to years past.  A side benefit of smaller crowds I suppose.  The lines to vendor booths were shorter, there were no parking hassles and the overall atmosphere was just more relaxed.  Nice!

Sucker Punch Sallys - "Big Kev"

Sucker Punch Sallys - "Big Kev"

There were too many vendors to cover it in detail.  I’ll let the trade rags write about the assortment of “must haves” for your bike. However, I wanted to do a couple of shout-outs.  We grabbed some face-time with “Big Kev” of Sucker Punch Sally’s.  He had the fun meter on high with the “shine” as riders milled about the village of white tents and booths near the casinos.  Thanks for the hospitality and kudos to the SPS team!  I posted previously about who in the chopper industry is going to be the “new” ambassador and still maintain that SPS has the right old school ideas.  Moving on we spent some quality time with Dan Miller of Renegade Wheels to better understand the nuisances of proper wheel fit/placement on baggers. They have some high quality wheels and had a steady line of folks dropping $$ for additional bling.

Conventional wisdom is to post up at the rally, but I had a bit more passion for desert riding near and around Vegas this time around.  We spent more seat time around Lake Mead, the Valley of Fire, Red Rocks Canyon and the Pahrump Valley.  The RRC gets over a 1M visitors each year since it’s only 30 minutes from the strip, but I never get tired of the 13-mile scenic loop drive.  Further up the road is Pahrump which is a gateway into death valley.

rrc_posseBack to the ride out to Laughlin…as we anticipated, LEOs were visible and out enforcing any traffic violations.  Our first encounter was in the town of Searchlight, NV. where Senator Harry Reid was born.  For a town with a population of under 600, it sure had one of the highest saturation patrols I’ve witnessed from Sheriff, State Police, metro police and city LE.  We did a quick gas/water stop and the dialogue with other bikers quickly turned to ticketing for exceeding the speed limit by as little as 2mph in some cases.  A notable top priority for LE was helmet compliance.  Not for just wearing one, but city police were validating that riders had a DOT approved helmet and were aggressively ticketing.  Unfortunate because a lot of folks were getting pulled over.  We managed to idle out of town and not draw attention.

The trip was a great way to recharge after months of cold and rainy weather.  The most notable event?   There was NO event!  There were NO major problems.  No issues with motorcycle clubs and when I checked earlier today there were no motorcycle fatalities!  There were four felony arrests and 20 gross misdemeanor arrests in Laughlin and according to the Mohave News there were a number of accidents in and around Oatman.  In fact there were three within 61 minutes of each other.  But, no fatalities which is all you can hope for with so many riders who show up to revel in the taste and tunes of the desert.

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Jeff Cockran

Jeff Cockran

You know Jesse James as a custom bike builder (WCC), publisher (Payupsucker Publications), television host (Monster Garage), Hollywood celebrity (wife Sandra Bullock), car builder, welder and restaurateur (Cisco Burger), but did you know he’s got some serious “behind-the-scenes” legal trouble?

Contrary to popular opinion I’m not a big Jesse fan even though he did visit the U.S. Troops in Iraq before Obama!  Clearly he has talent and has built some interesting bikes.  However, his chumminess with the Hollywood elite while casting himself off as an everyday bloke working for the blue collar common man as a “glorified welder” is an insightful commentary and somewhat disingenuous as the bad boy C.F.L. industry personality.  These days the whole biker experience (as “media darlings“) has become gimmicky and any day I expect to see a “Chopper Deal or No Deal” game show on TV.

Having had my share of legal issues in this litigation-base society I’m not judging Jesse because I think he’s done a lot for the industry, but it does look like a negative trend or downward spiral…he’s being sued for breach of contract by Keats McFarland & Wilson LLP — his former lawyer for more than $327K in unpaid fees.  And he’s being sued for breach of contract by Michael B. Jones for more than $422K in the failure to deliver a custom 1949 Cadillac. Last year Jesse was in another law suit with the Sheet Metal Workers Union over a trademark infringement when he co-opted their image on popular WCC calendars that were sold in Wal-Mart.  And capping off a year plus of legal fun he was fined $275K by CARB for selling motorcycles with engines not approved by the state.

Sucker Punch Sallys

Sucker Punch Sallys

All of this is adding up to some serious coin and has to be cutting into the Monster Garage residuals!  Most important is the question of “Where is the chopper industry going?” 

We witnessed the sponsorship implosion from Billy Lane’s accident.  Is Jesse on the same collision course?  We have OCC and the Teutels, but they’ve become wealthy growing into grander and more upscale shops while doing corporate built-off’s.  Not to get personal, but even Paul Sr. looks to be sitting around the lounger too much because either his bicep tat’s are starting to droop or Hi-Def TV is not kind to body builders?

What we need is another Indian Larry personality.  Another larger than life ambassador for the industry to make an entrance onto the TV scene and become an inspiration.  Is Jeff Cockran of Sucker Punch Sallys our next ambassador?  I think he’s one to watch…

What do you think?  Is it the slowdown of the economy, or the fad of TV choppers wearing thin, or did the greed of the custom builders over charging customers simply cause the market to crash?

UPDATE: November 12, 2008 – More legal issues with Mr. James and WCC who are being sued by Fortune Fashions over a clothing line which was to be sold thru Wal-Mart.   Jesse pulled the deal, hired a key employee and then decided to sell direct to Wal-Mart anyway.  Legal docs HERE.

Photo’s courtesy of SMWIA and SPS web sites.

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