Archive for June, 2008

Good morning fellow riders!  It was hazy skies and 60 degrees here in the Northwest when I hit the road at 6:45am for the H.O.G Million Mile Monday

Today every single H.O.G. member worldwide can take part in this event without having to cross a single state or national border.  Sounds easy.  And they even made it simple to log the miles and obtain your certificate!

Bikers all over the country riding a million miles made me think how environmentalists are constantly evangelizing for higher gas taxes as the cure-all to the global warming theory. Consumers now pay about 46 cents per gallon in gasoline taxes and that’s not including taxes paid directly to the government by the oil companies and passed onto consumers.

Let’s break it down…if I did this correct, one million miles at 45MPG means we’ll burn about 22,222 gallons of gas today.  At $4.24/gallon we’ll burn through $94,221 in gas and put nearly $10,000 into the government coffers with gas taxes! 

I think Harley/H.O.G got this one right by starting the million miles off on a typical work day/week for most of us and unlikely they’ll have an environmental “hit” which could have been the case if they advocated everyone drive a million miles on a Saturday.  I for one can appreciate that.

Hopefully you rode today and were able to take a longer route, or maybe spend lunch hour riding with coworkers.

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Are you unhappy with your first motorcycle life?  Then join others who are in the same camp ground and trade-up in Second Life. 

What is Second Life?  It’s a 3-D virtual world created by its Residents.  From the moment you enter the World you’ll discover a vast digital continent, teeming with people, entertainment, experiences and opportunity.

For hardcore gamers this virtualization of life is not difficult to wrap your head around, but for us old road geezers – the joining of physical and virtual space in meaningful ways is something unexpected and the linking of virtual and the physical worlds means augmented reality overload!

But, hey I’m hip to this new immersive world gig…I didn’t like my under-powered “first life” on the Fatboy and traded-up…in the above picture I’m cruising around on my massively-high-powered Nu-Ness bike. It’s a 9-foot-long, black-and-white, chrome-covered custom motorcycle designed by Arlen Ness – easily one of the most innovative customized bike builders on the planet.  In my first life I could never afford to own a bike like this, but in my second life I can have my own star on Hollywood boulevard…

I have become particularly interested in the work that Harley-Davidson is doing on MySpace and I anticipate there is a conference room full of marketing guru’s who decided they can make a lot more money if they purchase (using: Linden Dollars) some land in Second Life and create cool rides in the virtual world for people who can’t afford a Harley in the “real” world! 

Rather than trying to target the right people in the marketing messages they can setup a Second Life space so that the right people find them ….one idea they should explore is the notion of bringing customers into the virtual service department.  An environment where a highly trained service tech’s can “virtually” install my performance parts or fix my problems and charge me without ever leaving my home!  Or maybe I could be a traffic cop and run around ticketing bikers who exceed the 80dba noise emission level…I’ll be rich…in Harley land!

There are many examples of corporate mixed reality showcases at Xerox and IBM Impact 2007,, but popular motorcycle culture mash ups with Harley that virtualize my real life sensors (riding in the wind) in a more meaningful way won’t get me off this keyboard… I think these online chat and virtual worlds facilities “are for people who drive cars.”

Nu-ness biker photo courtesy of Ugotrade.

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Like many “Average Joes” on the street, if you ask them to name a well-known motorcyclists I suspect most would connect-a-dot with actors who have played bikers in movies (Brando, Fonda, McQueen, Travolta), but if you ask them to name something relevant about the AMA (American Motorcyclist Association) or what they have done for motorcyclists — I believe you’d get the perverbial deer-in-the-headlight look.

In the early days (circa: 1920’s) only members of AMA chartered motorcycle clubs were permitted to race, and professional racing with its world-class competition was a prime factor in the formation of motorcycle clubs. The AMA imposed strict rules on its members in the interests of racing safety as well as for public image, specifically to promote an image of a family-friendly and wholesome sport.  This was especially true after an organizational rift within the AMA apparently occurred in reaction to media coverage of the 1947 incident in Hollister, CA.  

So what is AMA today?  Basically they promote and protect the motorcycling lifestyle and freedom on two wheels. AMA advocates for motorcyclists’ interests in the halls of local, state and federal government, the committees of international governing organizations and the court of public opinion. Through its member clubs, promoters and partners, the AMA sanctions many motorsports competition events around the world.

It’s the AMA promotion of motorcyclist interest and the HIPPA Recreational Injury Technical Correction Act that brings me to blog today.  There is a rule making it possible for health care benefits to be denied to those who are injured while participating in motorcycling.  That’s not right and I’m soliciting your help.  Write your Congressman.  I’ve supplied a form letter below or you can go HERE and leverage the easy to use form at AMA.


Subject:  Cosponsor S. 616, “The HIPAA Recreational Injury Technical Correction Act!”

Dear,  [Congressmen Name HERE] Oregon is: Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)

I live, ride and work in your district and I am urging you to support motorcyclists by co-sponsoring S. 616, “The HIPAA Recreational Injury Technical Correction Act.”  

U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and U.S. Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) recently introduced S. 616, “The HIPAA Recreational Injury Technical Correction Act.” Identical legislation passed the full Senate in the 108th Congress and obtained 177 bipartisan cosponsors in the House. 

S. 616 aims at ending health care discrimination for individuals participating in legal transportation and recreational activities-activities like motorcycling, snowmobiling, skiing, horseback riding, and all-terrain vehicle riding. 

This legislation addresses a loophole caused by a Department of Health and Human Services’ rule making it possible for health care benefits to be denied to those who are injured while participating in these activities. 

On August 21, 1996 an important opportunity arose when President Clinton signed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), prohibiting employers from denying health care coverage based on a worker’s pre-existing medical conditions or participation in legal activities, such as motorcycling. 

In 2001, the Department of Health and Human Services released the final rules that would govern the HIPAA law.  The rules recognize that employers cannot refuse health care coverage to an employee on the basis of their participation in a recognized legal activity.  However, the benefits can be denied for injuries sustained in connection with those activities!  Therefore, you were guaranteed the right to health care coverage but not guaranteed any benefits in return for your monthly payments.   

This legislation will fix the loophole for people like me in your district!  Please cosponsor and support S. 616.  Thank you very much.

Your [Name/Signature]

Whether you agree or not with the AMA charter to promote a motorcycle image of a family-friendly and wholesome sport…I think reasonable minded motorcyclists will all agree that your health provider should NOT be able to deny you medical coverage just because you are a biker.

Thanks for supporting!

Full disclosure: I don’t work for the AMA or am I a member.

Photo courtesy AMA advertisement.

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No, I’m not talking about the 70’s rock band who produced the album “Flat as a Pancake”, but about Wisconsin. 

It’s home to the Green Bay Packers, Cheeseheads, Yoopers and (drum roll, please) Harley-Davidson.  I’m jazzed about finally visiting the “Mothership”, (3700 W Juneau Ave.; aka home; Harley Central; the place where it all started) the place that will make this entire trip a possibility on the ‘ol Road King.

It’s been 105 years since 1903 when William Harley and his friends Arthur and Walter Davidson launched the Harley-Davidson Motor Company. This year also marks the 100th Anniversary of producing police motorcycles. So, the factory is planning a number of commemorative events up to the 105th Anniversary weekend in Milwaukee.

I’ve previously posted several articles on the 105th HERE.  It’s still a couple months out, but a sub-set of the “posse” will be riding out…and take in the Juneau Ave store, stop for a local burger at Kopps and sample some real Wisconsin cheese at Seguins.  Nothing says Milwaukee like a butter burger, fresh fries, a Sprecher root beer, and frozen custard.

See you on the road…


Photo courtesy of Harley.

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Ah-riding. I know it’s a great way to unwind after a hectic work day. But, why not combine a little riding pleasure while at work during the day?  I was enjoying a smoke break at work and reading the HOG Tales Magazine wondering who is behind this glossy publication at Harley-Davidson? 

HOG Tales Magazine is multi-language magazine and mailed to more than 1 million members of the Harley-Davidson Owners Group (H.O.G) around the world.  A subscription to HOG Tales, is included for all full memberships. The inside cover states Christine Adamavich is the Editor, but like so many things these days in corporate America the customer-facing communications and media tactics are “outsourced” to hired guns in the publishing business.

With a little research I learned that the U.S. version of the magazine is produced by GS Design, a Milwaukee-based design firm specializing in graphic design, web and multimedia.  GS Design has been working on HOG Tales since 1996 and provides the graphic design as well as much of the content.  They also do a lot of Harley corporate communications ranging from Annual Reports to multi-color dealer briefs, online content and model information.

In Europe, the publishing arm of Archant LLC (Archant}Dialogue), a family-owned business since its inception 160 years ago and one of the UK’s largest independent media businesses publishes the HOG Tales magazine.  Quite simply they do it all from planning and research, to creating and commissioning content, editing and design, selling advertising space, printing, distribution and marketing.  The Archant Dialogue team manages all aspect of the publishing cycle and distributes to more than 100K members across Europe in six languages.  The Archant Group is the UK’s leading independent publisher and beside the HOG Tales have many specialist magazines and they also publish 90 daily and weekly newspapers.

There you have it.  The companies behind publishing HOG Tales and allowing you to reconnect to riding while behind the office desk!

Photo is courtesy of HOG Tales

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Welcome to Oregon — from the rugged seacoast, to the high mountain passes of the Cascades and everything in between including the Judicial Branch.  Oregon’s beauty is here for all to enjoy.

In April, five months after the first chapter of the outlaw Mongols Motorcycle Club opened in Oregon, the Eugene police arrested three members of the club on felony charges, accusing them of trying to run a pair of investigators off the road during a interstate confrontation.  The Mongols were Justin J. “Mooch” DeLoretto; Nathan A. Cassidy; and Matthew A. Weiss.  They were held on charges of second-degree attempted assault and conspiracy to commit second-degree kidnapping.  DeLoretto is credited with setting up the Oregon chapters of the club and is identifiable with a “Mongols” tattoo on the back of his head and referenced here in this post.

Oregonian reporter Bryan Denson provides a lot more details, but the quick download is DeLoretto followed two men in a SUV that turned onto his driveway in rural Turner, OR. He was driving a pickup and didn’t realize they were police in a government issue Ford Explorer and followed them into Salem, where the SUV stopped briefly outside a house that once was a Gypsy Joker clubhouse. DeLoretto then followed the SUV down I-5, phoning other Mongols and their associates to join him in the chase.  I’m not going to speculate as to why they wanted to get together and chat…

As the legal wagon wheel turns in Oregon, the Lane County jury acquitted DeLoretto of 8 felony charges, but did find him guilty of misdemeanors last week.  Weiss previously pleaded guilty to coercion and drew a 30-day jail term. And Cassidy, drew 90 days for reckless driving and unlawful use of a weapon (his vehicle). Both were banned from associating with the Mongols.  DeLoretto is fighting this no-association order and trying to protect his free-association rights.  If the state successfully demonizes his actions and the no-association order holds up — will he be in parole violation when visiting his brother?   As it turns out DeLoretto’s has a twin brother (Jeremy) who is filling in as acting president of Mongols Oregon chapters.

I don’t condone this or any interstate chase, but I’m thinking the state is a bit hyper-sensitive about anyone associating with the Oregon Mongols.  Maybe I have it all wrong?


UPDATE: June 20, 2008 — Accused of a litany of felony and misdemeanor crimes, Justin “Mooch” DeLoretto, (27), took his case to trial.  A Lane County jury found him guilty of reckless driving and other misdemeanor charges from the April 23 incident in which he was accused of trying to run two biker-gang investigators off Interstate 5 during rush hour. The jury acquitted DeLoretto of eight felony charges, including conspiracy to commit second-degree kidnapping.  Circuit Judge Debra Vogt sentenced the president of Oregon’s Mongols Motorcycle Club to a year in jail and ordered him not to associate with other Mongols — including his twin brother Jeremy, who was at the time acting MMC President — or any outlaw biker gangs.  The judge ordered Mr. DeLoretto, to serve six months for each of two counts of menacing. She also suspended his driver’s license and ordered him to serve five years of probation in which he can neither associate with the Mongols nor wear their insignia.

UPDATE: June 24, 2008 — One day after Lane County Circuit Judge Debra Vogt sentenced Justin “Mooch” DeLoretto to a year in jail, he was released to make room for more serious criminals.  The Mongols Oregon Chapters president remained in jail before and during his trial which had his bail set very high.  He served 62 days  and was released because of jail overcrowding.

UPDATED: June 25, 2008 — More HERE, but DeLoretto was sentenced Monday (23rd) to one year in jail on two counts of menacing (misdemeanor).  The real kicker is that the DA influenced the judge who order DeLoretto not to associate with the Mongols or wear their insignia for 5 years.  Essentially striking down his constitutional right of freedom to associate.  He was processed into Lane County jail after sentencing and then promptly released 24 hours later due to jail overcrowding!  In total, DeLoretto served 62 days in Lane County jail — 61 of those while waiting trial and unable to post a very high bail.

UPDATE: September 30, 2008 – the Oregonian reported that Justin “Mooch” DeLoretto, the founder of the Mongols Motorcycle Club‘s Oregon chapters, who was ordered not to associate with the organization after a June conviction for menacing a pair of outlaw biker investigators, has left secretly to California.  According to Detective Dave Burroughs there will be a warrant for his arrest.  Mr. DeLoretto, joined the San Diego Mongols chapter and went to work in a tattoo parlor owned by a member of the motorcycle club.

UPDATE: October 2008 — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) raided all people, places and things Mongol in October and they raided that tattoo parlor. DeLoretto was detained and investigated. And, so Lane County, Oregon learned that he had violated his probation by leaving the state. Oregon issued a warrant for his arrest and asked him to please return to account for his misdeeds.

UPDATE: January 2009 — Justin “Mooch” DeLoretto, turned himself into the Lane County Jail again.  He was being held on $50,000 bail, but according to Lane County Sheriff Captain Doug Hooley commented to the Eugene Register-Guard, that there was nothing with his risk assessment score that keeps him from getting out.  He was eligible for release later that day.

UPDATE: April 4, 2017 — According to Oregonian news reports, Mr. DeLoretto is a George Fox University graduate student, who is required to complete an internship at a social service agency to obtain a master’s degree in social work.  He started an internship a year ago at the Oregon Youth Authority and would of course use what he learned to work with gang-affected youth in the criminal justice system when he completed his studies.  But, four months later, the state agency ended his internship after learning he was a founding and member of the Mongols Motorcycle Club.

At any rate, as of this week Mr. DeLoretto has filed a federal lawsuit against the Oregon Youth Authority, claiming his internship was terminated solely because of his club “membership” which violated his constitutional rights of free speech and due process.  DeLoretto, (now 35), is seeking undetermined monetary damages for the loss of the internship and punitive damages.

History — Justin “Mooch” DeLoretto was a founding member and President of the Mongols Motorcycle Club in Oregon. The Mongols established chapters in Portland, Eugene, Medford and Bend in 2008 and there were reports the club was determined to provoke virtually every other motorcycle club in the country.  It should be noted that for many years, the best known motorcycle club in Oregon was/is the Gypsy Jokers Motorcycle Club. The Mongols and the Gypsy Jokers both wear a black and white patch and do not attend each other’s “gatherings.”  In addition, the Oregon Mongols did not appear to be particularly close with either the Free Souls Motorcycle Club or the Outsiders MC. Both of those organizations predate the Mongols arrival in Oregon.

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Dealernews is reporting that Storz Performance, Inc. reached an agreement with Harley-Davidson to acquire the business’ trademark rights for the term “XR 1200”.  Storz had filed a U.S. Trademark application for the term.  Nothing publically was stated on terms because of the confidential nature of the agreement.  Storz Performance introduced its XR 1200 dirt track style conversion kits for Sportster motorcycles in January of 2005.

I previously blogged on Harley launching the new XR1200 only in European markets and how that strategy was somewhat confusing. This sport-bike looks to be popular and maybe this settlement paves the way for the model to hit U.S. dealers.

Photo courtesy Storz Performance.

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This went largely unnoticed, but Harley-Davidson rode “virtually” into the social network scene with the launch of Harley-Davidson MySpace profile. And in true bad boy fashion, visitors are greeted with the “Screw it, let’s ride” manifesto and a link that challenges them to bring their own words to the rallying cry.

Of course Harley will provide updates [SELL, SELL, SELL] on the latest motorcycles and a link that lets visitors customize their own virtual rides with authentic HD accessories. Maybe they will provide some “virtual Harley dollars”?  They’ve included some “SWAG” on the site, screen saver downloads, wallpapers, custom protective skins and other downloads for cell phones and iPod’s.

I’m sure the marketers at HD sat in a conference room and ask:  “How can social networks make us more money” and that is the central mission of the site….and oh yeah, they provided links to information about buying a Harley motorcycle.  Imagine that?!  The marketing spin machine spews out how — Harley-Davidson — wants to give all us motorcyle enthusiasts on MySpace the chance to connect:

“Harley-Davidson isn’t just about bikes; it’s about bikers who love the freedom of the open road and this gives everyone from young hot shots to wind weathered easy riders a place to gather on common ground”.

That would rate fairly high on the “gag-O-meter” and let’s make one thing clear.  The main goal of any Harley internet marketer is to drive more traffic (visitors and page views) to their site and/or the dealer network web sites.  Social networks like MySpace provides a platform for Harley to spread their marketing messages and leverage marketing tactics at a specific demographic.

Is this a bad thing?  No, but putting up a profile page on MySpace does not mean it will be a “successful” marketing campaign.  There are examples of social marketing gone wrong (re: Wal-Mart on Facebook) and:

  1. Is MySpace really the demographic for Harley Davidson? Will teenagers loading up Harley widgets translate into motorcycle buyers? Comscore reported that 24% of MySpace users were ages 12-17. Recently that has decrease to 12% of the user base. They certainly won’t be plopping down $20K. Internet users between the ages of 35-54 now account for 40.6 percent of the MySpace visitor base.
  2. Harley should expect a small group of ‘brand terrorists’ to vent their frustrations for the whole world to see. I would expect comments filled with criticism on the recent downsizing to union issues. Will that help or hurt the brand?
  3. Will the MySpace “To Catch A Perv” black cloud really help position Harley as a premium brand?

Harley has embarked on a series of new ad campaigns that appeal to everyone or is that noone?  I don’t believe non-motorcyclists will buy a bike from MySpace.  And, I don’t know about you, but this is not where I’ll be going to share stories from the road, or post pictures/videos of my bikes or swap tips, tricks and suggestions.

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You see it all the time…companies involved in cross-promotion or product placement deals for television and/or films.  High-tech companies are the worst in pushing products including Apple Computers, which must have a warehouse full of MacBooks for their “hired-out-for-loan” program in exchange for exposure.  From the first Tom Cruise “Mission Impossible to Fox’s “24″, Apple must outspend all other PC companies in product placement and is perhaps more active in this area than any other technology company.  Product placement has become a significant source of revenue for media companies and I would assume that manufactures compensate the producers in some manner.

I think my first exposure to product placement (that I remember) was while watching Steve McQueen steal a Triumph from the Nazis and chasing himself around the fields of Germany in The Great Escape, the finest motorcycle sequence ever filmed, in my humble viewpoint and I didn’t know for years that Bud Ekins made the big jump.

However, after recently seeing “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Crystal Skull it would seem that Harley-Davidson is joining the product placement cult.  Just like in the movie “Wild Hogs” which had both “product placement” for a physical product as well as self-promotion for a media property (Extreme Makeover – Home Edition),  when Mutt (Shia LaBeouf) speeds through the college campus with Harrison Ford riding “bitch”, it was on a Harley.  By the way I think stunt rider Lee Morrison is one of the best motorcycle riders on the planet! 

But what type motorcycles were they using?  The two-wheeled star of the movie is a 2007 Softail Springer Classic that was modified to look “period correct” — from 50 years ago.  Harley supplied Lucasfilm with the bikes and requested that they be recognizable as a Harley, however, the bike’s builder, Justin Kell, stated that he modeled them to be a postwar Knucklehead and did a lot more than just put 1955-56 tank badges on them.  Modern improvements were necessarily left intact on the motorcycles because the bikes were used to do high-speed stunts in the film.

Because of product placement deals the film had to use new bikes.  A total of five bikes were built for the film, one of which was an effects bike that was destroyed in the course of filming and two of the remaining bikes will be returned to Harley-Davidson, which plans to display them in the new motorcycle museum, opening July 12th in Milwaukee. The remaining two others were purchased by the production company.

The chase scenes move rather fast and many people won’t notice, but astute bikers likely noticed the belt drive in the campus chase scene.  Also the not-so “period correct” bikes had a disc brake on the front wheel, dual throttle cables, a “Twin Cam” engine along with modern grip/hand controls, including a starter button when it was seen being kick-started earlier in the movie.

I wonder where we’ll see Harley placement next?  To me, Wild Hogs and now Indiana Jones is a new high (or new low, depending on your perspective) in marketing strategy. I checked out the movie web site and there are plenty of games, promotions and activities to satisfy the interactive mind – expected for a film such as this. What I was surprised not to find was a tie-in to Harley-Davidson for a ‘Wreck a Hog’ simulation game, since they blatantly promote the destruction of the motorcycle in the film.   

Harley did sink rather low…I found a “Motor Wheels Mutt” licensing deal for a toy tie-in back to Harley on the Burger King site.


Train photo courtesy of Lucasfilms.

Motor Wheels Mutt courtesy of Burger King

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If you’re considering a switch to a two-wheeler – even if to augment your vehicle inventory – apparently you are not alone.

The Motorcycle Industry Council recently reported that sales of scooters and economical motorcycles are at their highest levels in 20 years.  Name-brand scooters in the first quarter of 2008 were up 24 percent over a year earlier, and sales of small and medium-size motorcycles rose 7.5 percent. Sales of “heavy-weights” or large cruiser bikes were down 11 percent.

A couple days ago I received a scooter flyer in the mail evangelizing the “greenness” and fuel efficiency of the 2009 Yamaha C3 (available in October).  It look all too familiar and then I realized….hey, Harley did one of these back in the early ‘60s.  The “Coker” (period-correct) tires even finished off the copy design.

And speaking of green that flyer would have done Al Gore proud with planet friendly subtle shades of green color background intermixed with black ink displayed on 80% post-processed recycle paper…if they’d have made it smell like kiwi fruit I would have just ate the advertisement to save the land fill!

Before you bust me about my recycled paper eating habits, let’s review this Yamaha bad boy (Cubed 3) features.

  • Harley-Davidson retro “box” design scooter appeals to the “Boomer” generation.
  • C3 name accentuates “chunky” cubic space
  • High-function features include big bob tires on cast aluminum wheels, a motorcycle-type fork and handlebar.
  • Side-hinged, locking storage compartment swallows up to nine gallons of gear.
  • The C3 achieves fuel economy up to an estimated 115 mpg with a fuel tank that holds 1.2 gallons of gas.
  • Liquid-cooled three-valve, four-stroke engine is powerful, quiet and low-maintenance.
  • Electronic fuel injection: a 19mm Mikuni throttle body provides optimal mixture in all conditions.
  • Fully automatic, V-belt transmission provides easy, twist-the-throttle-and-go operation.
  • Pushbutton electric starting (with backup kick-starter) for ease of operation.
  • The air-induction system and exhaust catalyst technology reduce air pollution.

Clearly, the overall economic hardship and senseless fuel-inefficient cruiser monsters as gas prices spike would warrant a discussion in Wisconsin about bringing back the Harley Topper to stake a claim in the scooter space, right?

You might recall that the Topper was the only scooter that the Harley-Davidson ever produced and they were manufactured between 1960 and 1965.  They produced less than 3000.  It utilized a CVT transmission called “Scootaway Drive”, like most scooters produced today and the engine was a 165cc single-cylinder (9HP) two-stroke that required premixed gas/oil. The starter was a rope-recoil type similar to a Honda lawnmower.  The front body, fender and floorboards were made of stamped steel, and the engine cover and body were made of chopper gun-sprayed fiberglass.  Harley even rolled out the two-tone Hi-Fi Red and Desert Sand colors which looks very similar to the copy-cat Yamaha C3!

Shouldn’t Wisconsin have a Harley Scooter on the R&D drawing board?  Couldn’t Harley become as prominent in the scooter space as it is in motorcycles?


Topper photo courtesy of Motorcycle Museum.

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