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The CanAm Fire Controversy

Can-Am Spyder

Can-Am Spyder

Hype, or is Bombardier taking a gamble?  But, lets start at the beginning.

U.S. safety regulators are investigating two reports of fires in the Can-Am Spyder three-wheeled motorcycles.

The motorcycles are made by Bombardier Recreational Products Inc.  (BRP) of Canada and the probe covers about 52,000 motorcycles from the 2008 through 2014 model years and they are looking into what is causing the fires.

Bombardier has had three recalls to date in 2012 and 2013, and all involved the risk of fires. Last year, the company recalled about 8,200 Spyders because brake fluid leaks could cause fires. In 2012 it recalled about 34,000 because fuel vapors could leak due to an ill-fitting gas cap. It also recalled 9,600 because fuel vapors could exit a vent hose in the engine compartment.

I don’t want to draw any similarities because these are very different situations, but many of you might recall the Ford Pinto.  It was one of the biggest continuing automotive news stories in the late 1970s with dramatic tales of exploding Fords on the highway and considerable awards from civil-court juries that were presented to victims of accidents involving the cars.

At the time, experts calculated the value of a human life at around $200,000, while a serious burn injury was worth about $67,000. Using an estimate of 180 deaths and 180 serious burns, someone at Ford put on paper that the cost to redesign and rework the Pinto’s gas tank would cost close to $137 million, while possible liability costs worked out to around $49 million.

Ford’s corporate legal machine went to work, however, when the memos regarding the liability assessments were leaked and entered into evidence, the cases were as good as over and Ford paid dearly in civil claims, public image and as a brand for product safety.

Former Ford exec Lee Iacocca reflecting on the Pinto incident and Ford’s attempts to control the damage, made this summation in his book Talking Straight“Clamming up is what we did at Ford in the late ’70s when we were bombarded with suits over the Pinto, which was involved in a lot of gas tank fires. The suits might have bankrupted the company, so we kept our mouths shut for fear of saying anything that just one jury might have construed as an admission of guilt. Winning in court was our top priority; nothing else mattered.”

BRP is a world leader in the design, manufacturing, distribution, and marketing of motorized recreational vehicles and powersports engines.

The term “transparency” means much more than the standard business definition and its my hope that the company will be candid with the motorcycle riding public beyond the narrow interpretation of legal compliance on the risk of fires.

Photo courtesy of BRP.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

ABS Brake Safety

Harley-Davidson ABS Model List

Harley-Davidson 2014 ABS List

The European Parliament mandated that all new motorcycles and trikes sold in Europe with engines larger than 125cc are required to have ABS by 2016, and because of “global harmonization” – a term to describe manufacturing vehicles to uniform standards – suggests that the requirement will make ABS much more common in the U.S.

I would have anticipated a bigger push for ABS because the rate of fatal crashes is 31 percent lower on a motorcycle with antilock brakes than in the same models without ABS, according to research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Thirty-one percent is a big number.  Or about one in three motorcycle crashes that could possibly be avoided.

With ABS, riders stop more quickly and stopping distances improve on wet and dry surfaces. ABS reduces concern that the wheels will lock up, which might result in a skid. Locking up the brakes in a panic stop robs the rider of any steering control which can easily lead to a skid and crash.  In the often wet northwest riding environment, maintaining control of steering during an emergency stop is most valuable.

ABS is becoming increasingly common on larger motorcycles.  In fact, BMW Motorrad USA started making ABS standard equipment on all its motorcycles beginning with the 2012 model year.  In the above photo is a list of 2014 Harley-Davidson models that include ABS.  One concern is that it’s been difficult to find ABS on smaller motorcycles.  Those smaller motorcycles are often purchased by less experienced riders, who are likely to benefit most from ABS.

From my vantage, if you don’t have ABS brakes it’s one of the best incentives to consider trading/buying a new motorcycle that does.

Chart photo courtesy of Consumer Reports.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

FXDL Dyna Low Rider Recall Letter

FXDL Dyna Low Rider Recall Letter

It’s surely just a coincident that two months ago GM icon Jim Federico was hired on as the Harley-Davidson VP of Engineering and now the motor company has issued an ignition switch recall on more than 3,300 FXDL Dyna Low Rider bikes.

You might recall that ignition switch problems have plagued General Motors and have now turned up in the motorcycle business.

It turns out that engine vibration can turn the switches from ‘on’ to the ‘accessory’ position.  If the switch goes to “accessory,” the engine can shut off while being driven and potentially cause a crash, however, there have been no crashes or injuries reported from this problem.

This recall involves 3,361 motorcycles shipped in the U.S, which represents certain model year 2014.5 FXDL models built 1/6/2014 through 6/9/2014.

Some of these motorcycles may have been assembled with a top engine mount bracket assembly (P/N 16400026) that has a resonant frequency equivalent to 5800 RPM engine speed. When the engine is operated at that speed, it causes excessive vibration in the ignition switch, which mount to that bracket. The excessive vibration can cause the switch to move from the “IGN” (ignition on) position to the “ACC”(accessory only) position, shutting the engine off. The production Electronic Control Module (ECM) calibration will not allow engine speed to exceed 5600 RPM, but Harley-Davidson offers street-legal performance calibrations which will allow the engine to operate above 5600 RPM. If a performance calibration has been installed which permits the engine to exceed 5600 rpm, it could allow a condition that may potentially cause the engine to stall unexpectedly. A stall while riding in traffic could lead to a crash.

The chronology of recall events are:  On 3/31/14, Harley-Davidson’s Customer Service department notified the Harley-Davidson Recall Investigation Committee (RIC) that the ignition switch on an FXDL motorcycle fitted with a non-Harley-Davidson exhaust system moved on its own from the “IGN” (ignition on) position to the “ACC” (accessory only) position during operation on a chassis dynamometer for tuning purposes.

The RIC initiated an investigation and analysis of this issue. A search of existing warranty data in April, 2014 disclosed no warranty events, but a search of customer complaints disclosed one complaint, which referenced an event similar to the initial report, i.e., an FXDL model motorcycle fitted with a non-Harley-Davidson exhaust system, operated on a chassis dynamometer.

During May, testing was initiated to attempt to re-create this condition.

During May and June, the RIC met to review test and field data information. The testing indicated that this condition could potentially occur both on the road as well as on the dynamometer, that a non-Harley-Davidson exhaust system was not necessary to create the condition, but could enhance it, and that the production Electronic Control Module calibration was not able to create the condition, as an engine speed of 5800 rpm or greater (production calibration includes a 5600 rpm rev limiter), was required to create the condition.

Another review of the warranty and complaint databases in June revealed a total of four events, all of which occurred on motorcycles believed to be fitted with non-Harley-Davidson exhaust systems and ECMs with higher than production engine speed rev limit calibrations.

There were no reported crashes or injuries.

On 6/19/14, the RIC completed its review and analysis, and referred the issue to executive management.

On 6/27/14, upon review of the results of the RIC’s investigation and analysis, Harley-Davidson’s executive management made its determination that a safety related defect existed in the subject population and declared a recall to remedy the issue.

Authorized Harley-Davidson dealers will replace the engine mount bracket assembly and ignition switch knob on the affected motorcycles with the components provided in the recall kit which is covered by the warranty.

Photo courtesy of H-D.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

The 2015 Road Glide

The 2015 Road Glide

Harley-Davidson officially “revealed” the 2015 Road Glide this morning along with an updated web site with some additional details.

The “reveal” is a peculiar twist given that we’re a few weeks away from the typical new model launch window.  Here is the corporate press release announcing the 2015 Road Glide.  I’m sure it’s just the first stage of a lot of hype and media buzz planned for the traditional post-Sturgis announcements.

Or being a bit skeptical of marketing motives… maybe this H-D reveal is simply a tactic to take away some of the headlines from the 2015 PolarisIndian and Victory news?

2015 Road Glide Inner Fairing

2015 Road Glide Inner Fairing

Back to the Road Glide.

There are two models.  The Road Glide and Road Glide Special.  Both models include the same specifications from Project RUSHMORE that is currently available on 2014 touring models.  There is the air-cooled, high output Twin Cam 103™ with integrated oil cooler mated to a 6-speed cruise drive transmission, the new Reflex anti-lock braking system (ABS) with dynamically, electronically linked brakes for optimum braking in all conditions.  Both Road Glide models include the redesigned saddlebags for a sleeker look and added new latches that you can operate with one hand.

The 2015 Road Glide Fairing

The 2015 Road Glide Fairing

The 2015 Road Glide Special is basically an elevated experience of riding that includes the new Boom Box 6.5 infotainment system which features a 6.5″ full color touch screen display and it can be operated by convenient new hand controls or by voice command.  It also includes display color options: Orange (default), Blue, Brown, Green, Gray, Purple, Red.

There’s a new handlebar on the Road Glide motorcycle for 2015 that makes the riding position more comfortable for a wider range of riders and the hand grips are now 5 1/2″ closer to the rider.  There is also new gauges which has a 10% larger speedometer and tachometer with 68% wider numbers; 28% larger fuel and volt gauges with 30% wider numbers.

Most distinctive is the new triple-vented fairing that opens and closes to equalize pressure in front and behind the windscreen.  Lastly there is the new dual Daymaker LED headlamps providing better nighttime riding visibility.

I’ll be interested to experience how easy it is to reach and adjust the infotainment system.  Previously anyone under 6 feet tall could have an issue reaching up to the radio system.

I’m looking forward to seeing the new 2015 Road Glide at the local dealer.

Note:  If you’re tracking or curious how accurate any of the previous blog posts were:  Road Glide spy photos HERE.  Early 2014 Road Glide speculation HERE and HERE.

Photos courtesy of H-D.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

MC (right) at Laughlin River Run 2014 with Shark Week III Crew

MC (center) at Laughlin River Run 2014 with members from the Shark Week III Crew

According to this recently published survey, Utah has the second best drivers in the country.  Using statistics primarily from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the compiled results scored every state on the quality of their drivers.

It is apparent to me that whoever conducted that study has never driven in St. George, Utah and they never talked to MC.

Who is MC?

Just a motorcycle enthusiast, from Oregon, who on July 31, 2013 was part of a multi-state group riding through the area attending the Shark Week III motorcycle rally. He had split from the group early that morning and was heading home to attend a friends wedding ceremony.  It was around 7:30 a.m., as he traveled northbound on Bluff Street through the Red Cliffs Parkway intersection.  While doing so, there was a left turn yellow light and he was initially cut off by a southbound car making a left turn toward Red Hills Parkway. The  first car missed MC before he was hit in the side by a second car also making a left turn on a yellow/red light.  (Note: This intersection is now under construction and will have a flyover to help prevent accidents!)

Bluff Street will now pass over Red Hills Parkway

Bluff Street will now pass over Red Hills Parkway

Although MC was wearing full protective gear, he had head trauma and the impact left MC with significant injuries to his left leg.  It’s St. George county protocol for trauma patients to be flown directly to University Medical Center in Las Vegas as a matter of course, but MC’s blood loss was so severe due to multiple open fractures, the onsite EMT decision was made to fly him to Dixie Regional Medical Center.  You can read the local newspaper report HERE.  Previous blog posts related to this incident is HERE.

The Sheriff who was on the accident scene (MC was lucid enough to give his cell phone to the officer and had him call) called us and we arrived at the accident within 15 minutes and prior to the life flight landing on scene.  Perhaps an ambulance ride directly to Dixie Regional Medical Center should have occurred, but I won’t second guess or revisit the sequence of events.  In fact, Dixie Regional Medical Center created a recovery video testimonial HERE.

There is an old biker adage that many of you have heard before.  “There are those who have been down and those who are going down.”  It’s often described almost as a self-fulfilling prophecy—a mental process whereby an individual subconsciously creates the belief in the inevitability of that event.  The point is, I don’t buy into it and don’t think of accidents as a right of passage to be a motorcycle enthusiast.  I’ve certainly dumped a dirt bike more times than I care to admit, but I never viewed it as inevitable or part of the hobby—I just made some poor choices.

MC

MC at Bryce Canyon, Utah – 2013

Like many things in life there are inherent dangers with motorcycling.  Risk is part of the package.  An accident can have all sorts of negative repercussions.  And any accident that involves someone you know or is a good riding buddy only amplifies the situation.   From a psychological perspective it wouldn’t be unreasonable for the entire riding group to weigh the risks and rewards of riding and question why do it.  But, I’ve digressed.

The EMT’s put MC on life flight and we helped clear the wreckage from the Red Cliffs Parkway intersection.  The underinsured driver was cited for failure to yield to oncoming traffic and attempting to beat a red light while not paying attention to the rest of the traffic in an intersection.  The male driver was in his girlfriend’s well-used Honda.  Clearly the vehicle driver penalties in the state of Utah are not proportional to the suffering inflicted onto MC.

MC was in St. George’s Dixie Regional Medical Center for exactly 12 weeks and underwent 12 surgeries before being transported home to Oregon.  In Oregon there were more doctors, more surgeries, more physical therapy and mountains of medical forms.

Five months after the crash, MC reached the point where a fixator was removed from his foot.  And a few months later, May 2014, he underwent his 15th surgery—”de-bulking”—to remove the surplus transplanted muscle tissue from around his ankle.  There’s been a lot written on his path to recovery HERE (warning – graphic images).  The scope of this life-changing accident has been very challenging, but through it all MC remained mostly positive with the help of friends and family. There was also significant outreach from the motorcycle riding community especially the Shark Week III crew who deserves a big shout-out!

Today, a year later,  MC is mobile and self-sufficient.  For the most part, life is returning to a more normal pattern.  Those of us who know him, know that the year has been one of the hardest in MC’s life.  The medical decisions, the money worries and trying to smile every day and be grateful didn’t come easy.  It’s unclear if MC’s best motorcycle riding days are yet to come or if the risk-reward ratio tipped somewhere along the line.  Only he can answer that question.  In reality, it is possible for a motorcyclist to never go down. Ask around. You’ll be surprised how many motorcyclists have never actually been in an accident. Oh sure, they’ve had scary moments, war stories even. But, most have never been down in any kind of a serious way.

The dog days of summer are upon us, and I believe all MC really needs to think about is how much body hair does a guy have to remove from your face before golfing.

This blog post is to mark the 1-year anniversary and to provide a quick shout-out to all the folks who for the last 12 months provided prayers and positive vibes.  You’ve been awesome and we’re all grateful that MC is doing so well!

Photo’s taken by author and courtesy of MC.  Road map courtesy of UDOT.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

HD-CrowdMany riders are on the road and in route to the Sturgis Rally.

If you rushed out of the garage before finalizing a list of things to do while in S.D., below is a list of activities Harley-Davidson will be rolling out for rally attendees.

The 2015 models will not be launched at Sturgis.  Last year the motor company started a new trend of  introducing the new model line up during the 3rd week of August after all the press/media noise subsides post-Sturgis and they can garner more mind share.

3rd & Lazelle Street, Downtown Sturgis, SD
Saturday through Saturday, August 2-9, 9am – 5pm

  • Stunt Show – 3 times daily (10am, 1pm, & 4pm) Produced by Ill Conduct Team
  • H.O.G. Rally Point – Join Tina, Thor and other H-D staff in the H.O.G. area. Pick up your FREE event Pin, join the club or renew your membership.  Plus, August 2-8 all H.O.G.® members + one guest are welcome to join us in the H.O.G area  from 3:00pm – 5:00pm for live entertainment, complimentary samples of our new H-D Road House Meats and beer samples.
  • Willie G. ® and H.O.G.® Commemorative Merchandise – You can’t buy it at home! Stop by to purchase exclusive Sturgis 2014 clothing.
  • Genuine Harley-Davidson® Parts & Accessories Display – the latest Harley® models equipped with the full line of custom Parts & Accessories. Check out our 12 fully accessorized bikes!
  • 2014 H-D® Motorcyle LineupCheck out the 2014 bikes, including NEW customized Street motorcycles, RUSHMORE bikes, the Low Rider® and the SuperLow®1200T.
  • Women’s Area – Rebel One hosts the JUMPSTART® Rider Experience and Bike Lift Seminars on how to properly lift a dropped motorcycle. Enter the sweepstakes to win a FREE Riding Academy course or Rental.
  • Weber® Mobile Grill Academy – Get a first-hand look at Weber grills and accessories; Weber Experts will be there to answer any questions you may have about grills, grilling techniques, recipes, and all things grilling!  Join the Weber Family by signing up for Weber Nation and you will be entered to win a Weber Genesis gas grill.
  • Craftsman® Garage Station – Come for a free oil fill-up and tire pressure check! Stay and watch our artists sculpt, paint, and engrave. Take home a cool new design on your bike helmet or a personalized engraving on a free Craftsman cap wrench.
  • Free Bike Wash – Wash away all the Black Hills dust and dirt at the free bike wash from 9am – 4pm. Just bring a dirty bike and a little elbow grease.
  • MDA will sell event pins and host a bike raffle. Enter to win a black 2014 Street Glide!
  • Visa will offer Visa Card membership application and free giveaways to all applicants!

Black Hills Harley-Davidson
2820 Harley Dr.
I-90 Exit 55, Rapid City, SD
Saturday through Saturday, August 2-9, 9am – 5pm

  • Harley-Davidson ® Motorcycle Test Rides – Take a FREE test ride on a 2014 Harley-Davidson® motorcycle, including our new RUSHMORE bikes, LowRider® and SuperLow® 1200T. Come early and ride as many bikes as you want. All riders must have a valid motorcycle license and adhere to riding gear requirements and safety rules.  Demo registration will close at 4:00pm daily.
  • 2014 H-D® Motorcycle Lineup – Check out the 2014 bikes
  • Harley-Davidson® Motorclothes® – Try on our new jackets – even take them for a test ride! All items will be available for immediate purchase.
  • H-D1 Fit Shop – Come experience the feel of a more comfortable, safer ride. Stop by the H-D1 Fit Shop and find your perfect seat and handlebar combination.

Featured Activities:

  • Sunday, August 3 – “Weber® Big Burger Battle Cook-Off” competition. Come to the Weber® display at 3rd and Lazelle St. to watch pre-selected finalists compete in a cook-off!
  • Tuesday, August 5 – The 6th Annual Women’s Biker Belles Ride and celebration sponsored by Harley-Davidson®. Visit www.bikerbelles.com to register and for more information.
  • Wednesday, August 6 – “Weber® How to Grill a Perfect Burger” hands-on grilling class exclusively for H.O.G members led by Weber® Grill Expert, Kelsey Heidikamp.  Classes offered at the Weber® display at 3rd and Lazelle St. at 11:45am, 1:30pm, and 3:15pm. To participate, please send your name, cell phone number, H.O.G. number and preferred class time to HandsOnGrilling@harley-davidson.com. Space is limited so sign up soon! Sign up ends Friday, August 1.

Photo courtesy of H-D.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

IMG_3406The World’s Fair came to Spokane in 1974.  Forty years later the first tri-state Pacific Northwest HOG rally came to town and is now in the books!

Several of us rode up and took part in the event along with over 1600 other attendees plus a mix of locals and volunteers.

Lone Wolf Harley-Davidson hosted the PNW HOG Rally at its 11-acre complex. The rally had good music, food, refreshments and local vendors from the biking community.  At one point there were over a 1,000 motorcycles parked on the grass in front of Lone Wolf H-D to enjoy the festivities.

Lake Coeur d'Alene

Lake Coeur d’Alene

A few shout-outs from this blogger:

  • Thanks to Lone Wolf Harley-Davidson for being a great host.
  •  Kudos to J.T. Hasley (H.O.G. Events Manager) and Bob Klein (Harley-Davidson) for supporting.
  • Terrific job on the printed maps and rides that made it safe and fun.
  •  As a company sponsored riding club how can I not thank Harley-Davidson and Harley Owners Group for bringing it all together.
  •  Lastly, a sincere thanks to the many volunteers who made us all feel welcome and put in some long hot days to make the event a success.
Closing Dinner Celebration

Closing Dinner Celebration

A job well done!

A few of us stopped in at Cruisers on the state line where many roads lead there and one that goes right through the joint.  I’m not sure if my hearing will recover from either the band or the deafening loud pipes as folks motored through.

Photos taken by author.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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