SPEEDBUMPS – February 2012

SPEEDBUMPS: NEWS AND NOTES FROM AROUND BIKERLAND

FEDERAL JUDGE RULES THAT N.Y. STATE’S MOTORCYCLE CHECKPOINTS ARE CONSTITUTIONAL:

In a decision that is sure to drive civil libertarians and bikers up a wall, Federal Judge Gary Sharpe recently ruled that the checkpoints constitute an attempt by the state to promote motorcycle safety which is a manifest right of the state, and in the best interests of the public. He came to this rather startling conclusion based on how successful the roadblock checkpoints have been, and cited the large number of tickets written along with warnings and several apprehensions. In laymen’s terms it’s sort of “since we caught a lot of you breaking the law, it means the checkpoints were a good idea, and thus promoted motorcycle safety and protected the public to boot.” Four NY bikers had sued the state, saying that the checkpoints were illegally targeting bikers since cars, trucks etc were waived thru the checkpoints, and only motorcyclists were stopped and ticketed for violations. This decision is sure to be appealed. Four other states are also being sued by riders and riders groups. This decision is being very closely monitored by both sides.

LYNNWOOD H-D SOLD:

As we mentioned last month as breaking news, Lynnwood H-D inLynnwood,WAhas been sold to the Thompson Motorsports Group that also owns Eastside H-D inBellevue, along with a satellite store inSeattle. A name change is in the works to something a bit  edgier but this is still awaiting approval from Harley Corporate, so we are unable to release that info now. What we can tell you is that with new ownership, being all local, we see that as an improvement right out of the gate. Approx. ¾ of theLynnwoodstaff have been retained, so you will still see some familiar faces. Speaking of familiar faces, the new GM atLynnwoodis Sebastian Bularz who was the former Operations Manager at EHD. Sebastian has been in the Harley industry for 18 years and is a long time rider. Down the road when economic times permit, the goal is to move the dealership to a newer facility to better serve its customers and the region’s riders.

S&S REVERESES ITS LONG STANDING ANTI-INTERNET POLICY:

Times change and nowhere is that more evident these days than in the motorcycle industry. One of the biggest names within that industry, S&S will now not only allow its dealers to sell on line, but is actively encouraging it. The management at S&S has announced an all new internet policy based on their newly created “MAP” (Minimum Advertised Price) program. Now dealers are encouraged to advertise and sell S&S products as long as they do NOT advertise prices below the companies established minimum prices when offering these products. S&S is following in the footsteps of several large companies, including Harley-Davidson, who has established similar programs that preclude any of its dealers from overtly and obviously breaking established prices. The new program was put into effect on January 1st, 2012.

DUCATI REPORTS 43% GROWTH IN 2011:

Not only did Ducati bump up its sales by a whopping 43%, it posted huge gains in all of its North American operations and regions.North Americais now Ducati’s top market in the world for the first time ever! Announcing more good news Ducati says its apparel line posted an even bigger gain of 50% for fiscal 2011. Their new Multistrada motorcycle was voted Best Cruiser of 2011 by three different sport bike magazines and its new Diavel model has also won awards in its category. Ducati’s North American Operations group is headquartered in Cupertino,California.

HONDA UNVEILS THE 2012 FURY CHOPPER MOTORCYCLE:

When Honda first brought out the Fury Chopper three years ago, many of us “Harley” types chuckled. Now here we are 3 years later and Honda is still selling these bikes and doing very well with them. The bike is so unlike anything we think of from Honda, and has killer specs like a water-cooled 1312 CC 52 degree slanted V-Twin, ABS brakes, 200MM rear tire and more. It sells for an MSRP of just $13,999. A non-ABS version is also available at an even lower price of $12,999. Very good looking, powerful, option loaded ride at under $14K. No wonder it’s doing so well.

ILLINOIS LEGALIZES RUNNING RED LIGHTS:

The State Legislature in IL has passed a bill making it legal for motorcycles to go through a red light if after stopping for a “reasonable” period of time if the light does not change. This is generally caused by motorcycles not having the weight or mass to trigger the automated sensors built into most auto controlled traffic lights. A similar bill is being presented toWashingtonStatelegislators during the current session.

BIG BEAR CHOPPERS—THE SAGA CONTINUES:

Apparently there is a great deal more to this story than a simple bankruptcy or foreclosure. The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s office has opened an active investigation at the behest of the local prosecutor’s office. The point of the investigation is to see just how many buyers with unfilled orders and open refunds there are, and at what point were these bikes sold? If deposits were taken after the owners, Kevin and Mona Alsop knew they would be closing or even felt there was a reasonable chance they were closing, fraud could attach, and this could become an active criminal case. We will keep you posted on this developing story. In the interest of fair journalism we must state that the Quick ThrottleCaliforniaissue, is a non-reimbursed creditor of BBC based on unpaid advertising bills for its “Ride the Mountain” event this past summer.

RAGE CHOPPERS:

In a related story to the above comes late word that a new start up company, Rage Choppers of Riverside, CA will be building BBC style choppers. Key employee: Kevin Alsop, former owner and CEO of BBC.Riversideis a stones throw from the now closed BBC facility in Big Bear,CA. Word is that Alsop is an “employee” with no ownership stake in Rage. I will bite my tongue and withhold my usual smart ass comments.

MOTORCYCLE THEFTS DOWN 24% SINCE 2007:

Don’t throw away that lock and chain or deactivate that big bucks security system just yet, but this is very good news. It also flies in the face of normal crime statistics that usually rise during a protracted recession such as the one we are in.

We are all still targeted but better locks and security systems, better owner education on prevention, and active and aggressive police work have sure made a huge difference since the last major report in 2006 saw thefts rising and recovery rates falling. Top stolen brand: HONDA!

TRIUMPH SALES UP WORLDWIDE:

With a 7% worldwide sales increase and a 15% sales increase in North America which includes the USA, Triumph is one of just a handful of companies that showed significant gain in 2011 and the ONLY motorcycle company in the world to have shown gains every year for the past 5 years all the way thru the worldwide recession. Triumph also dramatically increased its budget for research and design resulting in the introduction of three new models this year alone. Congratulations to Triumph and itsU.S.dealer network which spearheaded the huge increases. Record Sales, record profits—what’s not to like?

LEHMAN TRIKES FOUNDER DIES:

John Lehman, creator, founder and father of the “Three World” has died from a heart attack at age 60. In 1985, using his own garage, John created the very first Lehman Trike so that his family could enjoy with him all the fun and adventure of motorcycling. In 1993 he and his life-long friend, Larry Strilchuk, realizing there was a huge interest in a safe, reliable, fun, three wheeled motorcycle, formed Lehman Trikes and the rest, as they say, is history. Lehman was in the throws of passing the company to a new investment group after the recession took its toll on this segment of the motorcycle market. Lehman sources tell us that deal will continue to move forward. John, like many within our industry was a husband, a father, a brother, and a very good friend to many. His works of charity are legendary and his virtues as a friend are well known. He was truly an industry giant and will be sorely missed by all who knew him.

H-D NEW BIKE INVENTORIES AT 10 YEAR LOW:

The investment firm, Robert W. Baird and company recently undertook a nationwide survey of Harley-Davidson dealerships and found that on hand inventories of most models were at a ten year low. 86% of the dealers who were polled felt that inventories, especially of key models were too low. This is in part due to Harley’s wanting to keep Harley exclusive and desirable, but it is also impacted by the major two year long renovation of theirYork,PA.plant that produces a large amount of all of Harley’s “big bikes” and tourers. They are currently the firm’s top sellers. Word to the wise: If you want to be riding in April, you should be buying NOW!

INDIAN MOTORCYCLE DEALERS ARE DISAPPEARING:

With the recent sale of Indian from its Kings Mountain/British owners to Victory, and Victory’s subsequent decision to create an all new Indian Chief by 2014, many current Indian dealers are throwing in the towel and closing. The latest to join the list is Indian of St. Petersburg, FL. They join the likes of Indian of Wichita, KS, Indian of Chicago, and Indian of Toronto to close their doors. With new models probably two years away there is really very little that Polaris-Victory can do for the left-over Kings Mountain Indian dealerships except try and provide them with a Polaris built version of the Kings Mountain Indian bike. It’s a pretty tough sell at over $36K in this economy, knowing that an all new motorcycle with a brand new motor and updated electrics etc is a scant 18 months to 2 years away, so one assumes these closures are dealers simply recognizing the futility of trying to last that long with a non-viable product to sell.

VALERIE THOMPSON GIVEN AMERICAN WOMEN RIDERS COMMUNITY HERO AWARD:

Rider and team owner Valerie Thompson, a Washington State native now residing in Scottsdale, AZ where her team is headquartered, was chosen for this year’s award based on her notable and on going charity work for Hopekids Children’s Charity. Her racing exploits as well as her team’s help, support this charity whose sole purpose is to provide support and guidance for at risk children with the community. Valerie was very involved— personally taking children to drag races, attending movie nights and participating in a series of fund raisers and awareness events.

Congratulations, Val!

HARDBAGS DETER THEFTS:

Okay, so that’s probably a no brainer but did you know that a skillful thief can rip off BOTH your soft saddlebags in 24 SECONDS? I have switched my Harley Springer cavernous soft bags to a pair of retro after market hard bags with locks. Yes you can break into them but that’s not how thieves really work. Instead they steal the entire bag and go thru them later. The downside in my case is that they hold 40% less stuff. Not good on a long trip. Plus they cost a small fortune and require serious re-fitting and new mounting hardware. Another solution is to look into several small, after market companies that are selling easy and inexpensive fixes to slow the thieves way down. Slow ‘em down and they will probably leave you alone and move on to another bike. The best of these companies is Brukus. Go to their website and check out their products and a short video. It might save you a lot of grief!

BLACK FRIDAY HOLIDAY SALES:

While many dealers reported a significant improvement in their so called “Black Friday Sales” others expressed disappointment in light of the fact that overall, BF sales set records! Well who can match $2.00 waffle irons that sparked a violent melee in a store inGeorgia? Or what biker would rip that hard to get toy out of the hands of a crying 9 year old girl in theMidwestwhose mother promptly clocked the culprit, another mom with her 8 year old in tow?

But in my opinion the real reason some Black Friday sales were down was that everyone was at their local gun shop buying lots of shiny new handguns! That’s right. After all what says Christmas better then a brand new 9MM Baretta or a Glock with an extended 20 shot magazine? The ATF set a one day record for back-ground checks on Black Friday by handling 143,846 checks for gun dealers. Many were for “multiple” gun sales. Now everyone knows you can’t legally buy a gun for someone or give it as a gift but hey, is your sweetie gonna rat you out when you present her with a neat little 22 with a short barrel and inlaid pearl grips that will fit right into the band on her Maidenform? Of course not. By the way, the second biggest day was the Monday after Xmas—so called “Return Monday” which coincides with all those killer (oops—bad choice of words) sales. I mean gun dealers were throwing in ammo, holsters and lessons. How can you say no? That day drew another 123,217 in ATF back-ground checks. Important note: guys, watch out, 65% of the handgun sales mentioned above were to women! What ever happened to just buying a T-Shirt with a rose on it and a nice, sappy card?

NEW LONG DISTANCE ENDURANCE CHALLENGE:

Just confirmed that promoters for the all new “American Motorcycle Rally” will be running this 7,000 mile endurance challenge (can’t say race) between June 13th thru June 23rd, 2012, with the race beginning from the A.D. Farrow H-D dealership in Sunbury, Ohio. Registration is $1000.00 per bike and so far the race has attracted at least 9 of last year’s so called “winners” of the Hoka Hey Challenge. I say “so called” since the Hoka Hey promoters disqualified all the “winners” after announcing they had won but that there were “issues” and rules violations and thus all were DQ’ed. Is it any wonder that riders and insiders within the motorcycle community now refer to that race as the “JOKA HEY”?

This new “Rally” plans to learn from past long distance endurance “challenges” mistakes. GPS, more check points, mandatory layovers, a route that can really be run well within the parameters, are just a few of the changes. Cash prizes will all be awarded at an awards ceremony the night the Challenge ends, not a month or more later as was the case with the Hoka Hey mess. Any prize money not awarded will be donated to the prime sponsor’s charity of choice. The race is open to all brands of motorcycles, and trikes are allowed. The promotional organization is set up as a non- profit. These rules along with many others are designed to promote fairness as well as transparency and to eliminate all of the suspicions and concerns that were the hallmark of previous challenges. Interested? Visit their website at: www.americanmotorcyclerally.com 

URAL SALES UP 39% IN THEU.S.MARKET:

O.K. I know what you’re thinking: “Who really cares?”

Well the N.Y. Times for one, whose story was my source for this silly little tidbit. I mean here we are clawing our way out of the biggest and longest recession in our history and one that has gutted sales of motorcycles everywhere, and this look-a-like from a 1932 black and white English movie is selling bikes as fast as they can make them. Even Brad Pitt bought one! Funny thing is the longer you look at it, the more interesting it gets. Then you have an absurdly low price. I mean it is after all, Russian made in the infamousUral Mountainsso when you convert rubles to dollars you save a bundle. You can get it serviced anywhere, it’s so basic so maybe we are out of step? NAH!

By the way for those of you who consider me just another member of the proletariat you will be happy to know that the U.S.base of operations is in Redmond, WA. They have a website at: http://www.imz-ural.com/  and of course they are also on Facebook.

DAYTONA BIKE WEEK TRADEMARKS CANCELLED BY FEDERAL JUDGE:

Stating that the trademarks should never have been granted in the first place after being open for decades, a Federal Judge simply threw them out as being too generic to copyright by an outside entity, and saying that at best, only that community could possible copyright them. She further decided that they had been obtained from the Federal Trademark and Patent office fraudulently and noted that the so-called owners of the trade marks could not enforce them in any way, nor stop anyone from making merchandise for sale at Daytona Bike week.

We feel as do many within our industry that this decision will have enormous bearing on the fight to strip similar trademarks from others that are currently holding them for the Sturgis Black Hills rally.

As many of you know, this group created havoc at this past summer’s Sturgis rally. Many vendors were refused access to the trademarks, and others were charged exorbitant sums to use them. As a result, we all paid more for “Official” rally T-Shirts, clothing and other souvenirs, and we also had far less of a selection as so many vendors just boycotted “Official” rally goods. We did! Most of what we saw sucked anyway so it was easy. Many people we spoke with there also felt the same way and bought little or no official products. Hopefully a positive decision on this by the courts will take place before this year’s Sturgis Rally in August. We will keep you posted.

HARLEY-DAVIDSON BRAND BARELY MAKES TOP 100:

Each year Interbrand ranks the top 100 most valuable global brands. Coca Cola continues at the top while H-D continues its slide downward. Ranked 98 last year it has dropped 2 positions to the bottom and is #100 in the newly released ranking. Brands are measured using several criteria including attracting talent, impact of brand name on sales, and the fulfillment of customer expectations, among others. Obviously the impact of the lingering downturn has taken its toll on the Harley brand but then so has the closure of close to 100 dealers, the laying off of thousands of workers, the shift away from unionized employees to hourly workers, and the downsizing of its factories. This included a recent round of layoffs that cut the Harley work force by another 25%. Another sore spot among riders is the sourcing of so many Harley items overseas like MotorClothes. Add to that the almost constant pandering to Wall Street to keep its stock value at par and you can see whyMain   Streetis not always happy. Several years ago Harley ranked way up in the topTEN! Let’s hope that Harley’s management sees this as a sign that the concerns of both riders and dealers need to be more fully addressed.

BIKERS SPENDING LOTS MORE $ ON THEIR RIDES, HAPPIER TOO:

According to a newly released survey by renowned researcher, J.D. Power & Associates, today’s riders are spending a great deal more money both on their purchase of a new motorcycle but also on aftermarket upgrades, motor clothes and gear as well. The average price of a new bike is now $16,125.00 and the rider spends another $1349.00 on accessories and $425.00 on gear during the purchase period. Customer satisfaction is also way up with a whopping 97% saying they would not hesitate to recommend the brand purchased to others and 81% saying they plan to repurchase they same brand when the time comes. This is great news for the entire motorcycle industry particularly in the area of initial spending, brand satisfaction, and overall positive satisfaction with the purchase of a bike. That means more riders staying in the fold and more satisfied customers touting the positive benefits of motorcycling.

MD

About Mike Dalgaard