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A Day To Remember

US-FlagGrilling, pool parties and retail discounts.  I’m talking about Memorial Day!

This coming Monday is a day to remember and honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country.

So as you cue-up your music playlist for a ride on this holiday and/or prep the BBQ’s to spend time with family and friends, it’s important that we take a moment to pause and remember our fallen heroes.

If you’re looking for Oregon Memorial Day events to participate in then visit HERE.

Photo taken by author.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog
Matthew S. Levatich

Matthew (Matt) S. Levatich

Harley-Davidson announced that the current CEO of Harley-Davidson, Keith Wandell (age 65) is retiring after taking over the position back in May 2009.  Matthew S. Levatich (age 50), who has served as the President and Chief Operating Officer since May 2009 is scheduled to take over as the next CEO on May 1, 2015.

Mr. Levatich served as President and Managing Director of MV Agusta, a former subsidiary of the Company. In his 15 years at Harley-Davidson, Matt has held positions of increasing responsibility in the U.S. and Europe. He served as General Manager of Parts & Accessories and Custom Vehicle Operations and Vice President of Materials Management.

Matt joined Harley-Davidson in 1994 through its Leadership Development Program and serves on the executive advisory board of the MMM Program at the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management and Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Northwestern University.  He is a trustee on the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and a Regent at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). Mr. Levatich holds an Undergraduate Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He holds ME in Engineering Management and MBA in Marketing, Finance and Organizational Behavior from Northwestern University.

Matt will take the helm of the company at a much better stage than it was during the tenure of Wandell where coincidentally, Harley-Davidson has reported consecutive profits for six years in tandem, which shows how key the effects of Wandell were on the company.

Congrats are in order.  There are challenges ahead which need to be overcome by the company as a whole and it will be interesting to watch advances in the pipeline made by Mr. Levatich.

Photo courtesy of H-D.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

2015 Road Glide

2015 Road Glide

Harley-Davidson (NYSE: HOG) released its Q4’14 financial report along with full-year results.  The motor company reported a drop in net income for the final quarter, but overall profits were up for the year.

Celebrating its 112th year, Harley-Davidson shipped 270,726 motorcycles around the world in 2014.  The Road Glide had a big comeback and sales have been robust and represented about 14% of total U.S. retail sales in the fourth quarter.

For the full year 2014, the Company shipped 270,726 motorcycles to dealers and distributors, a 3.9 percent increase compared to 2013 and in line with guidance. Full-year revenue from motorcycles was $4.39 billion compared to $4.07 billion in the year-ago period. Revenue from parts and accessories was $875.0 million compared to $873.1 million in 2013.  Consolidated revenue topped the $6 billion mark for the first time since 2006.

In 2014, international sales of new Harley-Davidson’s grew at more than 5% and accounted for more than 36% of total retail Harley-Davidson  motorcycle sales which is up from 30% in 2008.

You can read the full financial press release HERE.

Photo courtesy of H-D.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Sunset in Sturgis, SD

Sunset in Sturgis, SD

The city of Sturgis, S.D. inked a deal with Harley-Davidson which is timed for this year’s 75th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and made Harley-Davidson the official motorcycle of the rally and for the next 75 years!

I don’t know if that is one of the longest-term sponsorship agreements ever written, but it might be.

Many, but not all people who go to Sturgis ride Harley-Davidsons, and Harley has had a big presence in Sturgis for years. Mt. Rushmore was also the inspiration for Harley’s Project Rushmore line of motorcycles.

During a news conference at the company’s headquarters, they removed a brick from the historic front entrance using a 2015 Harley-Davidson Street® 750 motorcycle. That brick, alongside one from the Harley-Davidson Museum and 73 bricks from the headquarters’ famous motorcycle-only parking area will be delivered to Sturgis on Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

The deal with the city makes the Harley-Davidson’s footprint in Sturgis fairly permanent: there will be a Harley-Davidson-branded plaza on Main Street built with some of the bricks from the company’s century-old headquarters in Milwaukee. The venue will have a stage for concerts, and events year round.

It will all be completed in time for this year’s 75th Rally.

Photo taken by author in 2012.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Mountain-SnowBack in the “party like it’s 1999” days, ODOT estimated studded tires cause $50M (that’s millions!) of damage EACH year.

The lawmakers in Salem must have salivated at the ODOT estimates while using them as a recruitment tactic to advocate increased license fees or increase road taxes, or pushing legislation that would require those “freeloaders” who use studded tires to be penalized to help cover the costs.  There were even rumors of using Motorcycle fees to help pay for the damages.  There have been 17 attempts by lawmakers to ban or limit those devilish tires.  They debated a permitting system and complained about how there is no mistaking the sound these tires make on the roads… just hearing those sounds provides proof positive that irresponsible citizens continue detrimental road behavior.

Studs Report
Then last Friday, on what is one of the slower news day and largest travel day before the Christmas holiday – ODOT quietly released an updated studded tire report

It’s a miracle!

The costs of repairing studded tire damage is expected to decline.  The study concludes that the use of studded tires in Oregon has declined by half.  Well if that doesn’t just dig a rut into any lawmaker’s “tax ‘em heavy and often” way of thinking.

Yes, that new study of studded tire use in Oregon shows drivers have changed their habits. The study downgrades the current use of studded tires, the amount of pavement damage caused by that use and the cost of repairing the damage.  All good news!  A quick summary of some findings:

  • The number of vehicles using studded tires has dropped by 75%: A previous report published in 2000 determined that about 16 percent of registered vehicles in Oregon were equipped with studded tires; the 2014 survey found a reduction in that number to about 4 percent.
  • The study concludes that the use of studded tires in Oregon has declined by half since the previous survey.
  • The study found wide ranges of wear rates for different kinds of pavements, reflecting the many factors that contribute to pavement rutting.
  • Based in part on an overall reduction in the use of studded tires, the increasing popularity of all-wheel and four-wheel drive vehicles, and the increased use of non-studded winter tires, the research indicates the use of studded tires will continue to decline; therefore the resulting damage to Oregon’s highways, streets and roads and the costs of repairing studded tire damage are expected to continue to decline.
  • In 2012, studded tires caused an estimated $8.5 million in damage (that’s much different than the $50M!) to Oregon highways. This calculation was developed by looking at effective pavement damage—damage sufficient to require repaving before the pavement surface would normally be repaved.

The first question I have is whether we’ll see a proportionate drop in ODOT budget now that we know citizens are preserving Oregon roads?  Studded tires are no longer a tactic to raise fees/taxes across the state, so what’s next – for the Salem masters?

Full Disclosure:  Currently I do not, but I’ve owned multiple sets of studded tires in the past.

Photo courtesy of ODOT.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

FLS SoftailQuality control issues in 2014 seem to bedevil Harley-Davidson.

The latest examples are the recalls of 4,688 model year 2014-2015 FLS Softail motorcycles manufactured March 25, 2013, to October 2, 2014 for a lamp-outage detection issues and 1,560 of its 2015 Tri-Glide Ultra Classic FLHTCUTG motorcycles due to rear-brake master cylinder issues.

The Softail motorcycles may have been manufactured without lamp-outage detection for the front turn signals and a rider may not be aware that a front turn signal is not working. And without working front turn signals, there is an increased risk of a crash.  Harley-Davidson is notifying owners, and dealers will correct the body control module software, free of charge. The recall began in December 2014.  The Harley-Davidson’s number for this recall is 0618 or NHTSA campaign number: 14V725000.

Tri-GlideOn the 3-wheel, certain Tri-Glide Ultra Classic motorcycles manufactured from July 14, 2014, through Oct. 15, 2015, could have rear master cylinder assembled with an incorrect piston.  Harley says this piston may not provide the proper support and may allow a tear in the primary cup. If the primary cup develops a tear it will decrease the brake performance and might increase the risk of a vehicle crash.  Harley-Davidson will notify owners, and dealers will replace the rear master cylinder, free of charge. The recall began December 16, 2014. The Harley-Davidson’s number for this recall is 0162.  Owners may contact Harley-Davidson customer service at 1-800-258-2464 or National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236, or go to www.safercar.gov.

While Harley-Davidsons recalls this year pale in comparison to the massive 300,000 bike recall issued back in 2011, but that was simply a rear brake light problem.

Most of the 2014 Harley-Davidson recalls seem to be centered around rushed product development and/or shoddy workmanship.  That same workmanship issue which has dogged the automakers.  And speaking of, these are the same automakers which just 4-years ago Mr. Keith E. Wandell (Harley-Davidson CEO and President) stated; “Look in a mirror – Harley was already so far down that same (GM) path it wasn’t even funny.”   Basically warning Harley-Davidson employees that it was turning into a GM… and the credibility issue that becomes being associated!

Prior to the above recalls we’ve seen the motor company recall more than 105,000 model 2014 Touring and CVO Touring motorcycles because of a problem with the anti-lock braking system that caused the front wheels to lock up without warning. In August, it recalled over 4,500 bikes for a faulty ignition switch.  It’s also recalling about 1,400 of its 500 and 750 Street bikes from the 2015 model year for a possible fuel tank leak.  I’ve captured the 2014 recalls HERE.

Is Harley-Davidson re-testing the customers reputation of shoddy workmanship (and raising the ghost of Harley’s past)?  It would do well to get a tighter grip on these issues and instill the pride of craftsmanship that should be the motorcycle maker’s hallmark.

Photos courtesy of Harley-Davidson.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

IMG_4034Is it me?  Is it you?

I didn’t wear a hoodie for Trayvon. I didn’t march to Save Our Girls or Kony.  I didn’t do the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” march for Mike Brown in Ferguson.  I didn’t do the “Can’t Breath” march for Eric Garner in NYC.

You won’t see me out there. Nope.

While I can’t deny that I’m Caucasian, I can say that as a motorcycle enthusiast I’ve experienced law enforcement arrogance that allows an armed “professional” to be less responsible of my rights than a typical citizen.  And I’ll acknowledge up front that I can’t represent or fully appreciate any of the issues through a racial lens or what African-American people feel.

It’s not that I don’t believe in any of these causes.  I’m not in denial that there are aggressive LEO’s out there who push the limits with their actions.  Just this week an Oregon State Police detective was prosecuted for destroying evidence and lying about it.  And a Clackamas County Sheriff was fired for mishandling and then lying about evidence, forcing the dismissal of 10 cases!  Clearly an affront to all Americans.

It’s just that I’m not convinced marching in 2014 is really going to make a difference.  But, let’s back up for minute before I explain why.

About four years ago I attended a day-long training session at the Oregon Public Safety Academy (DPSST) on law enforcement using deadly force in making arrests. You can read about it HERE.  I was in “Tactical Village” – a sprawling complex with faux buildings, roadways, cars, buses and the typical neighborhood debris you’d find in any urban environment.  We had Glock’s that fired paint-pellet bullets and went through various training scenarios to simulate real-world incidents.  I spent several hours responding to chaotic, dangerous or unpredictable situations in an effort to serve others or as they say… “walk in a LEO’s shoes.”  Suffice to say that my lack of split-second decisions got me killed repeatedly and made me realize how we all should talk about citizen retraining, so critics will at least wait until they have all the facts of a case before calling in the high-profile, paid-to-incite activists.

So, why do I sit behind my computer and criticize some of the marching or protest efforts?  This isn’t 1960 when the act of sitting in a restaurant sparked a nationwide movement that changed some things. It’s 2014 and we live in a “right now for the moment” world or I prefer to call it a bandwagon, hashtag advocacy society.  People create protest hashtag campaigns faster than a drive-thru burger joint.  Then along comes the funky complementary graphics they believe it provides everyone a sense of solidarity.  If its trending, we’re hashtagging it. Get your hashtag t-shirt or beanie now!

But, once the thrill is gone, so are we.

Think I’m trippin?  What happened to the girls everyone wanted to save a few months back? Where are they now? How many of those hoodies everyone posed in put Zimmerman in jail or helped to pay for legal fees for Trayvon’s family?  Where have all the occupy chanters gone?  What’s changed in 3- years?  So, how are these new protests around the country stopping cops from killing or from spraying mace in the faces of the marching kids today or tomorrow?  If you can answer that then I may reconsider my position.

People lose interest when they realize the issue is more complicated than a hashtag.  They can’t sit still long enough to ensure change before racing off to the next hashtag driven controversy.

I’m disgusted by much of what I’ve seen – on both sides.  We have constitutional rights to a legal system that treats all equally and fairly.

But, the real work happens when there’s no marching, or when there’s no protesting.  Do we really need high-profile, paid-to-incite activists flying in on carbon-spewing private jets to rally the disenfranchised?  The real work happens at the polls during the primaries or a non-presidential election. The real work happens as members of your community-based organizations, at your local city council town hall and in our churches. The real work is not on social media and a race to the next crowd gathering. Social media is great for promoting a message, but not change itself.  Where is the solidarity to do the real and very difficult work?!

Marching for a few hours or a couple weeks is not going to change anything.

Photo taken by author.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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