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Archive for January, 2008

Harley-Davidson LEGO

Yesterday LEGO turned 50 years old.  That’s 50 years of happy kids worldwide building anything their curiosity will allow from the famous stud-and-tube coupling system. 

In celebration of a couple members of the Posse turning “golden” this year I thought a LEGO tribute to Harley was in order. 

It started in 1947, when LEGO bought a plastic injection machine. The brick wasn’t invented until 1958, when the shape of the stud-and-tube brick was patented. LEGO sets have gone through much iteration, from the younger version, DUPLO, to the more sophisticated LEGO TECHNIC and LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT sets.  They have many different themes in LEGOLAND and the most successful line was LEGO Star Wars. 

For the more detail minded here are some LEGO brick facts from Gizmodo: 

• There are 62 LEGO bricks for every one of the world’s 6B inhabitants.

• Children around the world spend 5B hours a year playing with LEGO bricks.

• More than 400M people around the world have played with LEGO bricks.

• LEGO bricks are available in 53 different colors.

• 2.16M LEGO elements are molded every hour, or 36K per minute.

• More than 400B LEGO bricks have been produced since 1949.

• The LEGO bricks sold in one year would circle the world 5 times.

• There are 55,600 LEGO videos on YouTube.  

I don’t remember my first LEGO “build”, but if you do then feel free to add comments and share the story of what you built.  

Harley-Davidson LEGO photo courtesy of Jonathan Eric Hunter’s (LeGogh) LEGO MOC Collection.

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I recently attended the Easyrider show at the Clark County (Vancouver, WA) Fair Ground and “convention center”.  I’m just now getting around to posting the pictures.  I’m doing a bit of an experiment with this post by leveraging Alexander Ginda’s picasa2html web tool to export a number of photos from my Picasa web album and compactly load them into a blog post.  The HTML code generates a URL link back to the original photo so you can explore the higher rez pictures vs. viewing them in a thumbnail.  Very cool software and a shout out to Alexander for the free tool! 

At any rate I hope you enjoy the bike photos.

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In the summer of 1998 I received my first “Gremlin Bell” from a good friend (Santiago).  Some call it a Guardian Bell, Ride Bell, Lucky Bell or a Legend Bell.  

It all started when I bought a new Harley Fatboy motorcycle in March of that same year and was putting on major miles during a summer of riding.  I had never heard of Gremlin Bells or the story of evil road spirits before that time and I found the story interesting.  Santiago passed on the brass folklore.

I’m not a superstitious person.  I did notice, however, a disproportionate number of Harleys sporting the gremlin bell vs. other motorcycle manufactures.  The Fatboy being my first Harley and leery of the reliability (I sat with friends on the side of road working on them not riding) I thought it couldn’t hurt by installing a bell. 

The folklore is so-called gremlins are evil road entities whose focus is to undermine your riding experience while you’re out having fun.  Some of the gremlins are happy to ride along, but some are mean and cause dangerous situations just for the fun of a challenge. A Gremlin Bell is the defense against these mean gremlins, or so the folklore goes. In theory, the mean gremlins who ride with you get stuck in the hollow of the bell and the ringing makes them horrified. They drop out onto the road and off of your bike, perhaps causing tiny potholes, but no longer your concern. The trick is to hang the bell by its leather string somewhere fairly low on the motorcycle, close to the road, so the gremlins drop off easily and can’t bounce back up to cause any harm.  The bell makes a little ringing sound which notifies you that your “protection” is working. 

Another important aspect of the folklore is how the bell is obtained.   Tradition states it has even more power if the bell is received as a gift vs. you just buying it outright. When I upgraded to a Road King in 2006, Kitty passed along the “legend” and supplied a chrome bell for the new ride.  It’s unclear if “size-matters” because most bells are about two-inches. Although I’ve started to see several chrome/brass Gremlin Bells as large as three-inches.   

Gary & Becky Spetzler of Gremlin Bells seem to be the market segment leaders in the “Gremlin” market…I see their displays and bells at about every motorcycle dealer, shop as well as most rally events. 

I already have a winged/fire breathing Dragon tattoo…I hope they don’t conflict?!  Guess I’ll be buying more since I’ll have to throw a lot more than a pinch of salt over my shoulder to offset the hoodoo or get a body piecing voodoo charm.

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No, I’m not talking about a cold beer in your hand or your wish on the Oregon coast, but about Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.  This song is “off the charts”.

And, Harley announced Springsteen will be a main attraction at the Milwaukee 105th Anniversary celebration in August.  This will be an additional concert that will be held outside the Summerfest Grounds at the Roadhouse at the Lakefront and requires a separate ticket (read requires more $$ from your wallet) from the official 105th Anniversary ticket. 

Only 105th Anniversary ticket holders are eligible to purchase Bruce Springsteen concert tickets.  If you think you have back door around it think again.  The 105th Anniversary ticket holders are required to enter their 105th ticket package confirmation code to purchase a Bruce Springsteen ticket when tickets go on sale. 

For every official 105th ticket purchased, the ticket holder will qualify for one Bruce Springsteen concert ticket. If a ticket holder purchases multiple official 105th tickets in one purchase, they will receive only one confirmation code, but will qualify for the same amount of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band concert tickets equivalent to the number of official 105th tickets purchased. 

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band concert tickets are $40.00 (plus $2.50 for tax, shipping and handling).  Seating is limited. The concert tickets will be available only on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

Tickets go on sale April 5th at 8am (CST). 

Photo is courtesy of Columbia Records and Springsteen web site.

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It’s about as “old skool” and chopped as Harley can be out of the factory.  The wizards introduced the new Softail “CROSS BONES”.  It’s part of the Dark Custom series of bikes and designed to bring back bad boy roots or your memories of living the dream. 

Very cool mini “ape-hanger” bars, solo spring-seat, fat-bob tires with primer paint and drilled-out metal parts…stripped and raw are the marketing adjectives.

Now you have a good reason to counter the ‘recession’ pundits and leverage Harley’s 105th anniversary finance package (1.05% APR) to drown out the opinions of the world!

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Unless you live under a rock you already know it’s the 105th Anniversary at Harley Davidson.  If you’re unfamiliar with Harley then you’ll be stoked to learn that they throw a great party at the “factory”.  This year will be especially grand because Harley opens a new museum and the Harley Owners Group (Club H.O.G.) turns 25 years old.   

As is the case this year (and every fifth year celebration), there are several rides that converge on Milwaukee, WI. from all points across the U.S.   

In the Northwest, Paradise Harley Davidson (Owner: Mike Durbin) was selected as the Portland area departure point for the “Ride Home”.  The official Northwest departure point is from the Cascade Harley dealer in Bend, OR, but maybe every Harley dealer throws a name in the hat to participate and make a claim as the “departure point”?  Not that it matters because there are no special event pins or patches or new motorcycle discounts.  Just the fun of claiming you started at a departure point and made the ride home. 

So what’s a Ride Home?  Basically you join up with a bunch of riders who enjoy motorcycles and caravan to Milwaukee, WI.  If you start at the departure point with a dealer there is potential in coordinating motel rooms for the over night stops.  Or you can just get on your bike and head out solo…stopping where ever your want.  There is merit to both options. Once you’re in Milwaukee and arrive “Home” the festivities include music, street parties, vendor booths and refreshments. 

Above is a map of the riding route from Paradise Harley.  The dates and stopping destinations are: 

A. August 20 – Tigard, OR – 0 miles

B. August 20 – Boise, ID – 425 miles

C. August 21 – Idaho Falls, ID – 285 miles

D. August 22 – Cody, WY – 250 miles

E. August 23 – Rapid City, SD – 400 miles

F. August 25 – Sioux Falls, SD – 350 miles (+ day in Black Hills)

G. August 26 – La Crosse, WI – 310 miles

H. August 27 – Milwaukee, WI – 225 miles 

If you’re interested in joining this group stop in at the dealer and talk with Jason Ross.  If not then maybe we’ll see you on the road.

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It’s a bit early for planning the 2008 riding season, but sometimes you have to make a hotel reservation early otherwise you’ll be tent camping in the rain!  Such is the case for the Seaside Bikefest. 

For years Seaside OR has hosted a number of marquee events ranging from Volleyball tournaments to Biker events.  This year the Bikefest is set for July 11-13th.  There will be music entertainment, vendor booths, poker runs and a number of custom bikes on display.  Much of the action is in and around the Seaside Convention Center, but for the serious biker there are hundreds of miles of coastline to weave your suspension through while enjoying the views. 

Here is the Seaside Civic and Convention Center  URL and the address is: 415 First Ave., Seaside, OR.  97138.   Also the Yakima HOG chapter had a few photo’s posted of last years event HERE 

See you there.

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The Easy Rider Bike Show is happening Saturday, January 12th at the Clark County Fair Ground (Vancouver, WA.).  Although it varies, most Harley events remain constant with lots of custom and restored motorcycles.  The event flyer states we’re likely to see a custom builder, a few vendor booths and if we get lucky booth babes hawking wares or providing giveaways.  

See you there!

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A bit of nostalgia on this rain/snow mixed day.  

After WWII the allies engaged in a scramble to pinch Nazi Germany’s technology and this included motorcycles.  The Harley “Hummer” (Model 125) design was an adaptation of the German DKW motorcycles whose engineering designs were forfeited to the Allies as a part of War Reparations.  The simple DKW 125cc was reproduced as the British BSA Bantam, the “Hummer”, the Russian Moskva M1-A and the Yamaha YA-1 in Japan. 

The Hummer was added to Harley-Davidson’s model line in 1948. The “Hummer” is the unofficial nomenclature as its official listing is the American Lightweight and referenced that way in the Enthusiast Magazine.  The Hummer was a stripped-down basic model using a redesigned “B-model” engine with the old 125 cc capacity. It was named after Dean Hummer, a Harley dealer in Omaha, Nebraska Omaha, who led national Harley two-stroke sales. The Hummer was as basic as it could have been, and was sold without battery, electric horn, turn signals, or brake lights. 

However, one company went on to innovate the DKW 125.  IMME (a German word for bee and the tank logo) was made in Immenstadt in Bavaria from 1949-51.  The Imme’s list of innovation is impressive in today’s standards let alone in the 50’s.  It had a single sided front fork, a rear swing-arm which doubled as exhaust, rear monoshock, and quick release wheels that leave chain and sprocket in place and a twist grip 3-speed gear box.  

The designer was Norbert Riedel whose claim to fame was designing 2-stroke motors to jump start German jet fighters. Production started in 1949, but only 80 motorcycles were made the first year.   Production numbers reached 400 a month later, and in 1950 up to 1000 a month. The bikes could be sold, but some financial (and warranty) problems occurred and the IMME AG went out of business.   Riedel had designed a new egg-shaped twin 150cc engine and planned a comeback with an improved version of the IMME and a 150cc scooter, but in 1951 the factory was shut down again.  Later Norbert Riedel worked for Triumph in Nürnberg and Victoria. He died in 1963 in an avalanche accident.  

Photo courtesy of Harley Hummer Club.

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BHSU (Black Hills State University – 605.642.6464) is located in the northern Black Hills of South Dakota in a town called Spearfish.   I just received their Sturgis Rally Newsletter which outlines the upcoming dates and room rates for anyone thinking about Sturgis ’08 and wanting to stay at BHSU.  Say what?  Stay at the university?   

Absolutely!  Last year I stayed in the BHSU dorm during my week at the Sturgis Rally.  As a first-time guest I had a lot of questions about how this facility would compare to the camp grounds or measure up to lodging at a hotel. 

Shhh….keep this between just us.  I think its one of the best kept secrets and suggest anyone headed to Sturgis consider this lodging alternative.  I’ve yet to do the camp grounds, but the last time I did Sturgis I stayed at One-Eyed Jacks Casino and Hotel in Deadwood.  That was super nice and the prices reflected just how proud of the place they were!!  

If you are looking for a place to shower and sleep then BHSU is bargain. BHSU uses what they called “Blocks” because they don’t have the personnel to staff the dorms and run it like a hotel with multiple daily reservations.  Instead they block out predefined dates and you have to pay for all the dates even if you are not planning to be in the place the entire block of time.  The 2008 blocks are: Block A – July 31 thru August 4th; Block B – August 5 thru August 8th; Block C – July 31 thru August 8th.   Check the web site for updates. 

A couple of things to remember about BHSU and lodging/dorm rooms: 

  1. The rooms don’t have A/C and it gets hot in SD in August.  When you make reservations ask for the dorm rooms that get afternoon sun.  All the rooms include a fan, but the afternoon sun rooms (just the opposite of what you’d think natural) were cooler than some of our buddies who seem to get blasted from sun up to sundown.
  2. Also it’s a “dry-campus” meaning alcohol is not permitted.  Think of this as a dry place to sleep and shower and attend parties elsewhere.  If you can’t stand the thought of not having something to drink before bedtime, and you don’t want to be on the Harley, then there are several great places to eat and drink within a 15 minute walk. 
  3. Last item and most important is to order up the linen package.  The bed sheets and especially the towels are quite handy unless you plan to run naked through the quads… 

I also liked the fact they had bike washing facilities right in the parking lot.  After 1200 miles I managed to collect a lot of bugs and it was great to ride around the Black Hills with shiny chrome.

If you stay at BHSU let me know what you think of the place.

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