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photos_large_5Don’t get your underwear wrapped around the axle with that title.

“Off the reservation” is a common phrase, which many people use without considering the context of its original meaning. Namely, that Native American peoples were restricted to reservations created by the U.S. government, and their freedom was severely limited by the terms of the treaties they were often forced to sign.

I’m using it in its literal sense (to deviate from what is expected) and as you might anticipate it’s a reference to Indian motorcycles rampant sales and intractable competition versus the Harley-Davidson Motor Company.

Harley-Davidson posted flat sales for Q2 2014, yet Indian/Polaris posted higher revenues for the second quarter 2014 at $1.01 billion, reflecting an increase of 20% over last year’s second quarter sales of $844.8 million.  Polaris stated that sales at its motorcycles division soared 107% year-over-year to $103.1M in large part due to strong demand for the new 2014 Indian motorcycles.  Clearly they have deviated from what was expected.  One could debate that given Polaris motorcycle revenue is much smaller than Harley’s, it’s easier for them to hit double digit growth numbers, but that would be down playing the strong demand for the Indian products.

Additionally, Harley-Davidson stated its share of the market for new heavyweight motorcycles with engines of 601 cubic centimeters or greater slipped to about 50% in Q2 2014 from 53% a year earlier.  Another indicator that competition is weighing on the company.

Financial calls with terms like ‘diluted earnings’ and ‘operating efficiencies’, don’t mean much to riders and it’s not like Harley-Davidson is hurting.  But, it’s good to see Indian doing well with North American retail sales up 15% year-over-year in the second quarter.

Congrats!

Full Disclosure:  I’ve got a riding buddy who traded his H-D Street Glide in on a new 2014 Indian back in January and loves it.  There is no dealer in Oregon yet and he went to the extra effort of buying it from a Seattle dealer.

Photo courtesy of Indian/Polaris.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

HOGchartHarley-Davidson announced it’s Q2 2014 financials, indicating that Q2 net income was $354.2M on consolidated revenue of $2.00B, compared to net income of $271.7M in the year-ago period on consolidated revenue of $1.79B.

Dealers worldwide sold 90,218 new motorcycles compared to 90,193 motorcycles in the year-ago quarter.  U.S. sales were flat/down as dealers sold 58,225 new Harley-Davidson motorcycles in the quarter, compared to sales of 58,241 motorcycles in the year-ago period.

Some interesting nuances from the analyst call:

  • Market share was down 2.6% on a year-over-year basis at 50.3%.
  • Management confirmed the Road Glide is coming back with the new 2015 product launch in August.
  • In the U.S. the Road Glide accounted for 10% of sales
  • There were self-inflicted wounds with the intro of the Street on Sportster sales which was down double-digit and compounded by lack of Street inventory.
  • Management stated Indian touring bikes have had little impact on Rushmore bikes which in the first half were up double-digits.  But, read this HERE which colors the picture a bit different.
  • The Street start-up issues are supply chain in nature and related to this being the first time H-D is manufacturing a product internationally.
  • H-D now expects to ship between 270K and 275K motorcycles worldwide which represents growth of approximately 3.5% to 5.5% versus prior year.

Despite the soft Q2 sales, H-D believes the demand fundamentals for the business remain intact and underlying growth trends are strong.  The industry has grown for three straight years coming into this year and there is more investment in the industry than Harley-Davidson management has seen in the last five years in terms of new products, marketing and advertising.

Photo courtesy of Edgar and H-D.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

novelty-helmetOn Saturday Andrew Barns, 26, died when a car pulled out in front of him on his motorcycle at 185th and Farmington Road shortly before 7 p.m.  According to Sheriff reports he was wearing a novelty helmet and the medical examiner will determine if the novelty helmet contributed to his fatal injuries.  No citations were issued (at this time) to the driver.

I didn’t know Mr. Barns, but would like to offer my condolences to his family and friends.  It’s a sad day for all motorcycle enthusiasts and one to reflect on our choices.

Freedom and choice vs. safety

We’ve all heard the debate or been involved in a compelling argument on both sides of the helmet laws.  There are some motorcyclists who do, but most don’t wear a novelty helmet as a symbol of resistance “against the man” i.e. protesting lesgislators that require bikers to wear certified helmets.  Full Disclosure: I rode double digit years with a novelty helmet and even paid $2 for the DOT sticker to minimize chances of getting pulled over by law enforcement.

I don’t recall the exact moment, but I decided a few years ago that if I have to wear a helmet it might as well be one that offers some degree of protection and elected to switch to a certified helmet.   Those of you who visit this blog regularly know there are a lot of freedom of choice posts and it was MY choice to purchase a DOT certified helmet.  This may not reflect your thinking and that is your choice.

This post is about reflecting on our choices.

Clearly Mr. Barns accident was the auto drivers fault and I’m not trying to pile on to his tragedy, but it’s important to note that more than 800,000 novelty helmets are sold in the U.S. every year!   That’s about the same number of motorcycles that were registered in the state of California in 2011.

In my view, the vendor/marketers of novelty helmets are like big tobacco–unapologetic, dismissing safety concerns, squelching debate and claiming they simply are accommodating consumer demand.   Most all are made in China or India and even those Carbon Fiber/Kevlar versions are outright fakes.  Sure it’s legal to make and sell novelty helmets as long as they aren’t falsely represented as meeting federal standards, but talk about a poster-child for proliferating cheap ineffective Chinese products as motorcycle crash deaths mount.

And I’m intrigued by the contradiction… Harley-Davidson motorcyclists complain about the cheap China made Harley trinkets or 3rd party chrome parts which they want no part of, but think nothing about buying a $29 “Made In China” novelty helmet believing that ‘something is better than nothing’ regarding its protection.  But, I’ve digressed.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration agency has estimated that as many as 754 people die each year in states with mandatory helmet laws because they were wearing novelty helmets instead of certified headgear, which amounts to nearly 1 in 6 rider fatalities.

According to this study based on head trauma vs. non-head trauma deaths, head trauma deaths account for 34% of motorcyclist deaths.  Many would agree that an approved/certified safety helmet is by far more protective and would overwhelmingly prevent serious injuries as opposed to a novelty helmet, but I would also like to see a correlation and follow-up on motorcycle licensing, training and education.

I am sure there are a fair number of riders out there who won’t appreciate this blog post.  They will see my post as advocacy for the U.S. becoming a more repressed, intolerant and regimented place.  More government intervention.  Most blogs just don’t want to touch the topic.  But, novelty helmets just don’t share the same distinguishing characteristics as certified helmets.

If we’re being intellectually honest as a group/industry, its important to spotlight helmet considerations in the ongoing debate over motorcycle safety.

The Barns tragedy compelled me to urge motorcyclists to think different–if you’re going to wear a helmet, why not consider or make it a certified one?

Photo courtesy of Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

The Sutter Emmy Snub

Sutter-5It happened again…

I’m talking about Kurt Sutter’s rant (again) about another Emmy snub for his critically acclaimed, astounding work of genius that is currently running fifteen or twenty times a week on FX Cable Network—Sons of Anarchy.

There were 13 episodes in Season 6 if you were keeping score.

We all know this is just a TV show, just like we all understand politicians who get in front of the camera and talk about jobs, the economic recovery, healthcare, the illegals crossing the border, etc., are just a TV show too.

For me, “Sons” lost its way a long time ago.  As the show gained notoriety, Sutter’s dark writing and extreme dramatic license became more about shock and awe moments than genuine storyline.  Even with a blog Sutter shout-out, I changed the channel, quit watching, stopped criticizing and moved on.

It’s now in its final season.  As a working blogger hack, it hardly matters what I think.  Of course, Sons of Anarchy is not made for me.  It’s made for an audience that spends its (jobless?) days on Facebook, or tweeting and surfing the web buying things on credit.

Frankly I could care less about the Emmys.  If we’re being intellectually honest, the Emmys are not and have never been a valid qualifier of talent.  Mr. Sutter clearly has talent and his share of loyal fans who believe he’s a genius, but why claim to be suffering from a syndrome named after a mediocre daytime soap actress (Lucci Effect)?

For my valuable entertainment time, Breaking Bad was just a vastly superior show.  Sons always had the potential and talent (in front of and behind the cameras), but seemed willing to settle for less (gratuitous and gruesome violence for ratings) rather than strive for the best.

Photo courtesy of Kurt Sutter and Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

14-Touring-RecallHarley-Davidson is recalling 66,421 Touring and CVO Touring motorcycles from the 2014 model year because their front wheels can lock up without warning.

The motor company says the front brake line can get pinched between the fuel tank and the frame which could cause front brake fluid pressure to increase, increasing the risk that the front wheel could lock up while riding. Motorcycles with anti-lock brakes built between July 1, 2013, and May 7, 2014, are included in the recall.

NHTSA Campaign Number: 14V-319

Components:
SERVICE BRAKES, HYDRAULIC

Potential Number of Units Affected: 66,421

Problem Description:
Harley-Davidson Motor Company is recalling certain model year 2014 ABS-equipped Touring and CVO Touring motorcycles, models FLHTK, FLHTKSE, FLHTKSHRINE, FLHTCU, FLHTCUTC, FLHTP, FLHX, FLHXS, FLHXSHRINE, FLHR, FLHRC, FLHP, and FLHRSE, manufactured July 1, 2013, through May 7, 2014. The affected motorcycles may have been assembled with the front brake line positioned so that it can be pinched between the fuel tank and frame causing the front brake fluid pressure to increase.

Consequence:
A pinched brake line will increase the front brake fluid pressure, possibly resulting in a front wheel lock-up, increasing the risk of a crash.

Remedy:
Harley-Davidson will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the motorcycles for brake line damage and replace the damaged lines as necessary. Dealers will also install one or two cable straps to properly prevent the line from being pinched in the future, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in July 2014. Owners may contact Harley-Davidson customer service at 1-800-258-2464.

The chronology of events leading up to the recall:  Harley began an investigation on September 11, 2013 after it was “advised of a pinched brake line under the rear fuel tank mounting bracket of a police motorcycle being set up for service.”

On October 8, 2013, H-D determined that “six warranty claims/consumer contacts” were potentially linked to the brake line issue. Among those six incidents were “one crash with no injuries.”

Within a week corrective action was taken on the final assembly line at the York facility, as on October 14 a cable strap was added to retain the brake lines from being pinched under the aforementioned fuel tank mounting bracket. H-D reports it then closed its investigation on November 11, 2013.

However, the investigation was reopened on May 7, 2014 when the York Final Vehicle Audit “reported a Touring bike with a brake line pinched in a different location, between the fuel tank and the frame several inches forward of the rear fuel tank mounting bracket.”

Harley-Davidson added another cable strap to the production process addressing the issue at the new suspect location. The company subsequently reanalyzed its warranty data on May 12, reporting “a cumulative total of 39 warranty claims potentially related to this issue, four of which reported crashes (with one reported minor injury).” On May 20, it determined another “customer complaint involving a reported crash with minor injuries” was related to the front brake line issue.

In total the company knows of five crashes and two minor injuries related to the defect.

Photo courtesy of H-D and NHTSA.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Happy July 4th

July4-FlagThe American Revolution was a political upheaval that took place between 1765 and 1783 during which the Thirteen American Colonies broke from the British Empire and formed an independent nation, the United States of America.

The British responded by sending combat troops to re-establish royal control and through the Second Continental Congress, the Patriots fought the British in the American Revolutionary War (1775 – 1783).  The Continental Congress declared independence in July 1776, when Thomas Jefferson wrote and the Congress unanimously approved the United States Declaration of Independence.

There’s an old saying about those not learning from history being doomed to repeat it.

And it feels like this past year has a number of parallels between the old and the new as if on a loop.  The themes, conflicts, lessons, incidents of yesterday foreshadow today’s events.  They all provide context for today and reminders of lessons learned—for remembering, implementing, and hopefully avoiding them in the future.

But, I’ve really digressed…

As you prep the BBQ’s, set up the bean bag toss game and family and friends gather around to celebrate and light off a few rockets, let’s remember what we have, how we got it, and what it means to be an American — 227 years after the Declaration of Independence was written.

Today, also marks the fact that there are only 180 days remaining until the end of the year.  Ride safe!

Photo courtesy of the internet.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

2015 Road Glide

2015 Road Glide

We’ve all speculated and here are some recent spy photos that confirm the redesigned 2015 Road Glide which will incorporate many of the Project RUSHMORE updates that were announced on the 2014 touring models.

Clearly the obvious update is the new Road Glide fairing which now exaggerates the “Shark” look with a distinct downward slant, imparting a disgruntled expression for the motorcycle.

2015 RG FrontIn addition, there is a recessed channel in the centerline above the headlight which I will call and it will now be forever known as “Shark Gills” which is the new fairing intake scoop to adjust wind buffeting.  I wonder if that “Shark Gills” term is trademarked yet?

In the automotive world, an air dam (hood scoop), is an upraised component on the hood that allows a flow of air to directly enter the engine compartment.  It has only one opening and is closed on all other sides. Its main function is to allow a direct flow of air to the engine and provide the engine with cooler, denser outside air, increasing power.

2015 RG DashThe Harley version is only used to minimize wind buffeting on the rider and in these spy photos it’s difficult to determine if the design will also include a bug screen mesh insert?

The photos indicate the use of floating brake rotors and the hard bags feature the one-touch latch release system.  If you look closely at the dashboard the layout is similar to previous spy photo’s I’ve released HERE or the mid-year speculation HERE.

The speculation and dealer rumors that I’ve received indicate there will be no CVO version for the 2015 launch, but it will be great to see this motorcycle return to the model line up.

I wonder if the manual will have any “feeding” suggestions…

Photo’s courtesy of H-D, Brian Williams/KGP Photography and Motorcycle-usa.com.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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