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Posts Tagged ‘Triumph’

indian_buttonsOn Christmas day the Paramount Pictures movie starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett opens.  Called “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” it’s a story adapted from the 1920’s story by Scott Fitzgerald about a man who is born in his eighties and ages backward.  Looks interesting.

There are a couple of motorcycles in the movie…at least from what I can view in the trailers.  One is a Triumph Twin (Blue) and the other is a Flathead Indian (Red).  Harley was unable to obtain a product placement in this episodic period film (starts at the end of WWI) which will clearly attract worldwide attention.  Why? Very odd.  The entire film is played in flashback manner and I’m thinking that Harley would like to be transported back in time to change the motorcycle props.

It’s been reported that Pitt’s “ol lady”, Angelina Jolie will give him a new motorcycle for his 45th birthday.  According to entertainment news it’s a new Ducati (Monster 1100S)!  The S model features 43mm titanium nitride-coated Ohlins forks.  I wonder if she thought to buy the DDA (Ducati Data Analyzer) accessory?  All top tier movie stars riding the busy streets of Hollywood need to record their riding data and analyze it while sipping refreshments on N. Rodeo Dr.

Photo’s courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

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We all did it as young tikes on a bicycle…zoom down a hill and lock the rear tire brake putting the bicycle into a “lazy-S” skid.  Locking the rear wheel required little skill and resulted in a small range of possible after effects.  It was fun, cool and the likely outcome was bragging rights for the largest skid mark and/or wearing out the tire/tube (which your mom reminded you that money didn’t grow on a tree in the back yard) or being ejected off and acquiring a “road rash”….thus embellishing your bragging rights!

On a motorcycle, however it’s a much different story.  The deceleration of motorcycles is a topic of great debate among accident reconstructionists. There’s been very little research about motorcycle braking, despite improvements in tire manufacture grip and the increase of Anti-Lock Braking (ABS) systems installed on motorcycles.

But, the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety released a new report (.pdf) this week which states fatal crash rates involving motorcycles equipped with optional antilock brakes was 38 percent lower than the rate involving similar motorcycles without those systems.  Antilock brakes, similar to the devices found on automobiles, help riders stop their motorcycles abruptly without locking up the wheels or fishtailing. The system monitors the brake pressure multiple times per second, allowing motorcycle riders to fully brake both wheels in an emergency situation and avoid losing control and hitting the blacktop.  Taking a “skid for life” is not something anyone looks forward to and this is especially pronounced when braking under a panic emergency situation.

Speaking of emergencies.  On a trip to Hells Canyon a couple years ago we were riding on two-lane roads in unfamiliar territory.  As we came around a corner out jumps a 1000 pound Heifer from the side of the road.  The motorcycle in front of me did an emergency brake…most of which was rear brake which then created a dirt-track type slid maneuver on the asphalt.  Big difference between a 300 pound 2-stroke and a 900+ pound Harley.  He managed to pull it out of the “lazy-S” without going down, but it serves as a reminder to all about minimizing that rear brake effect.

It’s well know that Harley-Davidson was slow to adopt this technology across the product line.  In 2004 they announced ABS for certain Police models, but only recently introduced ABS broadly in the product line-up.  Previously ABS was typically found only on touring bikes from Japan manufactures and was available on motorcycles from BMW since the K100 introduction in 1988.

The report also found there were 6.6 fatal crashes per 10,000 registered motorcycles without ABS in 2005-2006. The rate for the same bikes equipped with ABS was 4.1, or 38 percent lower, during the same period.  In a second study, they found that antilock brakes appeared to reduce collision claims – insurance losses were 21 percent lower for motorcycles with antilock brakes compared with similar motorcycles without ABS. The findings were based on a data set of 72,000 insured years of 2003-2007 model year Honda, Suzuki, Triumph and Yamaha bikes.

Clearly the ability of maneuver under hard braking scenario’s or during a crash avoidance predicament is very important. In a DOT/NHTSA report (.ppt) it was reported that 22% of motorcycle fatalities were related to braking or steering maneuvers.  In doing research for this post I came across this report from a Mechanical Forensics group which details a single long straight skidmark vs. a “lazy-S” shape and the meanings of each.  The good news is that ABS is now standard or optional on about 40 motorcycles in the 2008 model year including BMW, Harley-Davidson, and Honda.

In the Northwest sunny and dry payment is uncommon 9 months of the year and unfortunately we don’t get to pick the time and place for a panic stop.  It’s during those unplanned panic stops that having ABS will pay for itself.  Think about it, read up on the systems and if you’re like me you’ll want it!

Photo courtesy Flickr and IIHS report.

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I’m a week away and unfortunately missed the return of happier days and the “Bronze Fonz” dedication

This week Henry Winkler was in Milwaukee to dedicate a Fonzie statue (located on the west side of the river at the Rock Bottom Brewery) along with Anson Williams (Potsie) who toured the Harley-Davidson museum and even Cindy Williams from Laverne & Shirley stopped by the Miller brewery.  I guess to reminisce about Schotz Brewery, a fictitious analogy to “the beer that made Milwaukee famous”… the Joseph Schlitz brewing company.

The show Happy Days ran for 11 seasons on ABC starting in 1974 and was cancelled in 1984.  It was inspired by the real-life experiences of Thomas Miller who served as exec producer on the series and grew up in Milwaukee.  

A lot has changed in Milwaukee in the past 25 years  The positive aspects of TV for one and the good nature and optimism of life. The Milky Way Drive-In which was the original inspiration of Arnolds Drive-In has long since been demolished and clearly Joanie no longer loves Chachi (Erin Moran and Scott Baio) a testament to how life is now much tougher to live.

For those of you who are too young to remember or too old and can’t get enough of the show here is an online tribute site.

Oh yeah, for those of you curious about which type motorcycle “The Fonz” rode during the 11 seasons…in the early days he rode a custom Harley Knucklehead then drove a variety of other bikes like a Triumph (TR6 Trophy), Triumph 500 cc twin and a BSA.  In real life Henry Winkler was afraid of motorcycles.  In the only scene he was ever taped riding a Triumph he didn’t know how to stop the bike and crashed into two production assistants.

Poster courtesy of the web site.

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You see it all the time…companies involved in cross-promotion or product placement deals for television and/or films.  High-tech companies are the worst in pushing products including Apple Computers, which must have a warehouse full of MacBooks for their “hired-out-for-loan” program in exchange for exposure.  From the first Tom Cruise “Mission Impossible to Fox’s “24″, Apple must outspend all other PC companies in product placement and is perhaps more active in this area than any other technology company.  Product placement has become a significant source of revenue for media companies and I would assume that manufactures compensate the producers in some manner.

I think my first exposure to product placement (that I remember) was while watching Steve McQueen steal a Triumph from the Nazis and chasing himself around the fields of Germany in The Great Escape, the finest motorcycle sequence ever filmed, in my humble viewpoint and I didn’t know for years that Bud Ekins made the big jump.

However, after recently seeing “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Crystal Skull it would seem that Harley-Davidson is joining the product placement cult.  Just like in the movie “Wild Hogs” which had both “product placement” for a physical product as well as self-promotion for a media property (Extreme Makeover – Home Edition),  when Mutt (Shia LaBeouf) speeds through the college campus with Harrison Ford riding “bitch”, it was on a Harley.  By the way I think stunt rider Lee Morrison is one of the best motorcycle riders on the planet! 

But what type motorcycles were they using?  The two-wheeled star of the movie is a 2007 Softail Springer Classic that was modified to look “period correct” — from 50 years ago.  Harley supplied Lucasfilm with the bikes and requested that they be recognizable as a Harley, however, the bike’s builder, Justin Kell, stated that he modeled them to be a postwar Knucklehead and did a lot more than just put 1955-56 tank badges on them.  Modern improvements were necessarily left intact on the motorcycles because the bikes were used to do high-speed stunts in the film.

Because of product placement deals the film had to use new bikes.  A total of five bikes were built for the film, one of which was an effects bike that was destroyed in the course of filming and two of the remaining bikes will be returned to Harley-Davidson, which plans to display them in the new motorcycle museum, opening July 12th in Milwaukee. The remaining two others were purchased by the production company.

The chase scenes move rather fast and many people won’t notice, but astute bikers likely noticed the belt drive in the campus chase scene.  Also the not-so “period correct” bikes had a disc brake on the front wheel, dual throttle cables, a “Twin Cam” engine along with modern grip/hand controls, including a starter button when it was seen being kick-started earlier in the movie.

I wonder where we’ll see Harley placement next?  To me, Wild Hogs and now Indiana Jones is a new high (or new low, depending on your perspective) in marketing strategy. I checked out the movie web site and there are plenty of games, promotions and activities to satisfy the interactive mind – expected for a film such as this. What I was surprised not to find was a tie-in to Harley-Davidson for a ‘Wreck a Hog’ simulation game, since they blatantly promote the destruction of the motorcycle in the film.   

Harley did sink rather low…I found a “Motor Wheels Mutt” licensing deal for a toy tie-in back to Harley on the Burger King site.

 

Train photo courtesy of Lucasfilms.

Motor Wheels Mutt courtesy of Burger King

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