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Archive for July, 2008

Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman

Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman

Two Best Friends, 15,000 miles – the ultimate motorcycle adventure – on the Fox Reality Channel is about an amazing motorcycle journey with Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman in “Long Way Down.” 

The show makes its U.S. television premiere on Fox Reality Channel, Saturday, August 2 at 9pET/PT.  This is a follow-up series to “Long Way Round.”  However, this time, the team’s 15,000 mile journey has them traveling from London to New York via Russia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia through political hotbeds, treacherous road conditions and natural wonders.

Elixir Films and Big Earth productions is making the film available on the big screen. A somewhat unique event which will be in select local movie theatres here in the Northwest for one night only, Thursday, July 31st at 7:30pm – TONIGHT! 

Several Portland area theaters (Regal (Division, Hillsboro, Bridgeport Village, Vancouver); Century(Cedar Hills)) will be showing the film.

Photo courtesy Elixer Films.

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Timpanogos Harley-Davidson

Timpanogos Harley-Davidson

Over the past year I’ve made a couple work trips to Orem, Utah (30 min South of Salt Lake City) and I’ve been watching a “new” Harley dealer come on line in the town of Lindon.  The dealership finally opened last Friday, July 25th

It’s not your typical motorcycle dealership.  It’s a three-level building built completely of reclaimed materials from bridges to railroad ties to old pieces of Geneva Steel.  The steel trusses in the ceiling were made in 1903, and the wooden floorboards are weathered from decades of service as roofs of Geneva Steel brick buildings. Geneva Steel was a steel mill located in Vineyard, Utah, founded during World War II to enhance national steel output. It operated from December 1944 to November 2001.

So, Timpanogos Harley-Davidson just off the 1600 North exit on Interstate 15 at 935 N. 1200 West in Lindon is now open!

Dave Tuomisto

Dave Tuomisto

Dave Tuomisto is the owner of the $16 million green building/dealership and memorial to a company that created and propelled the Utah County economy. Dave’s grandfather worked at the Geneva Steel power plant, and his mother was a crane operator there for three years during World War II and why he wanted to do something to preserve the history. Dave is the founder of the Bajio Mexican restaurants, which also explains the dealership gourmet eatery called Marley’s. 

Customers can watch mechanics working on bikes through large windows, which are old train doors. The oldest pieces in the building are sets of trusses from the 1870s, brought in from an old train depot in Ogden. Other sets were salvaged from a Salt Lake City Coca-Cola factory from the early 1900s. The shop has a definite rustic feel.

So, if I get this correct you take a bunch of scrap iron, spend a lot of money and you get to build a really cool Harley dealership that people all over the Northwest are talking about!

The dealership is like a mini-museum and the bonus is doing some great rides on Highway 128, Colorado River Scenic Byway, Alpine Loop and Indian Canyon.

Photos courtesy of Deseret News.

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Not sure how I missed this with the 13 press releases on July 22, 2008, but thanks to “ride-it-like-you-stole-it” for commenting on my 2009 line up post.

Harley-Davidson is officially moving into the three-wheel (trikes) motorcycle segment with the introduction of the Tri Glide Ultra Classic.  It’s based on a new chassis specifically built for the three-wheel market.  The Tri Glide will be sold (MSRP of $29,999) and serviced by the dealer network and covered by a two-year warranty.

It was about this time last year that Harley signed a deal with Lehman Trikes USA of Spearfish, SD to design and build Harley based trikes which I blogged HERE.  It turns out that Lehman Trikes posted a press release stating they are doing the conversion services for Harley’s Tri Glide motorcycle production.  Lehman will provide components, paint, and conversion services in the manufacture of the motorcycle.  The original Harley link on their web site last year is now a dead link.

A couple of notables on the Harley “three-wheel” strategy.  The motorcycle has a new rear-axle assembly that utilizes an aluminum center section with steel axle tubes. The rear suspension features dual air-adjustable rear shock absorbers.  It’s powered by a Twin Cam 103 cu in engine with Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI) and 6-speed Cruise Drive transmission used on current Touring bikes, but adds an optional electric reverse ($1,195) integrated with the rear differential assembly that is engaged with a handlebar-mounted reverse module. The Tri Glide has dual front disc brakes and a Hayes Brake dual-disc rear brake system with a lever-actuated, integrated park brake.

As I stated in my previous post it’s not clear who is the targeted demographic.  Is it something to take your poodle for a ride or a legitimate use to target the older demographic, or the more safety-conscious and/or disabled?

Interesting is the fact that the Harley-Davidson web site is devoid of ANY information or digital media animation about the Tri Glide.  Makes me wonder just how much this three-wheel strategy is being rolled out?

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This past weekend I was in a Seattle area hospital concerned about a family member who is having “chest” pains.  Everything turn out good. 

However, while there I passed the time reading the local paper and about the sad passing of Dr. Randy Pausch at the young age of 47. 

I previously posted about how I was first introduced to this Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist whose “last lecture” about facing terminal cancer became an Internet sensation and a best-selling book.  His inspirational lectures made him a household name in the US.

Randy touched many and provided direction in so many people’s life.  Time is all we have and he evangelized that we need to live in the present and adapt more qualities towards others and family such as generosity and unselfishness.  Although somewhat humorous, clearly this bloggers post didn’t get the correct message!!

The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences in California announced the creation of the Dr. Randy Pausch Scholarship Fund for university students who pursue careers in game design, development and production.

His quote will stick with me:

 “Play more, to have more fun.”

Thank you Randy for being the kind of dad and the kind of person we all want to be.  For those of us who knew you only through the blog media, I’ll try to give your message some resonance, ringing on…and on…

An extraordinary man who will be sadly missed.

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I read an article about the Harley-Davidson Museum which was accompanied by a photo of the “Captain America” bike in the movie Easy Rider (1969). 

It’s unclear if the film was essentially a western with bikes replacing horses or a post-classical Hollywood male-bonding LSD joy ride.  No matter what your viewpoint, the film was added to the U.S. National Film Registry as having been deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” 

However, this post isn’t about how everyone should go down to your local video store and rent Easy Rider to be a rebel.  It’s about how some family’s are severely touched by demons and despair in large quantities that’s unequal to the general population. 

For example, earlier this year the Easy Rider producer and lawyer, William Hayward died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  He was 66-years old and the suicide occurred in a trailer where he was living in Castaic, CA, an unincorporated area near Los Angeles.

William “Bill” Hayward was the youngest of three kids and born in 1942.  His growing up years were chaotic. There were several moves between California and Connecticut with the last to Greenwich, Connecticut, in 1948 after his mother, Margaret Sullavan was divorced from Leland Hayward. Sullavan wanted her children to have “normal” childhoods, and isolated them from the “evils of Hollywood”. The children lived in a separate house with a nurse (nanny) and a cook. A tutor taught Hayward and his siblings at home for the first few years of their life. When they were older, his sisters, Brooke and Bridget attended Greenwich Academy a private girls school, where Jane Fonda was a classmate. Bill Hayward and Peter Fonda attended Brunswick, a boy’s school around the corner from Greenwich Academy.  Interestingly is the fact that Sullavan was married to Henry Fonda for less than a year in 1931.

In the fall of 1953, the Hayward children (Brooke, Bridget and Bill) all left home to attend boarding schools. Brooke attended Madeira, a private girls school in McLean, Virginia; Bridget went to Gstaad, Switzerland and Bill to Lawrenceville in New Jersey. Brooke attended Madeira her junior and senior years, graduating in 1955 going on to Vassar and Yale.

Bill’s mother, Margaret Sullavan died of an accidental drug overdose January 1, 1960. At the time, both Bridget and Bill were patients in a mental asylum, Austen Riggs in Stockbridge, Massachusetts and Menninger’s in Topeka, Kansas, respectively. In October 1960, Bridget Hayward died of a drug overdose just 8 months after her mother. Leland Hayward died in 1971 at home, after an extensive hospital stay following an unsuccessful surgery.

At one point and according to Brooke Hayward’s bio, she was married to husband number two, Dennis Hopper, 1961-1969; they had one child, a daughter, Marin. And as you likely know Hopper worked closely with Peter Fonda (a long-time Sullavan/Hayward family friend) and Bill Hayward on the movie Easy Rider.

Bill Hayward also produced “Haywire” (1980) for CBS, an account of his mothers suicide based on a memoir by his sister Brooke.  In Haywire, Brooke wrote of a conversation she had with Bill in which he said if he ever committed suicide, he would do so by shooting himself in the heart….which is exactly what he did.

This was a family whose talent was unfortunately outshined by its demons.

 

Replica “Captain America” bike photo by Randy Leffingwell and courtesy of the 1969 Easy Rider film.  Photo taken at the Harley-Davidson Museum.  (the two originals were destroyed during filming, according to museum literature).

Haywire book courtesy of Amazon.com

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We’re warming up the tires…it’s a month from today before we kick off our ride to the “motherland” and attend the 105th Anniversary. 

There will be thousands of riders taking to the roads in the Northwest during this time frame to converge in Milwaukee during the last week of August.

According to the Harley Ride Planner 2.0 site there are three official start points in the Northwest.  Actually there are more, but the “official” ones are Vancouver, BC (2328 miles), Seattle, WA (2132 miles) and Bend, Oregon (2074 miles).  The Bend route, like all of the other routes include stops at local Harley dealers who are planning street parties and events to bring in the riders and more importantly their $$$!   It’s not well known, but over the past three years, clothing and apparel sales are up 12 percent at Harley, largely due to a stronger female customer base. As a corporation with 684 independent dealers, Harley last year sold $305 million in general merchandise – or 5.3 percent of the company’s $5.7 billion revenue – which includes apparel, according to their annual report.  That’s a lot of t-shirts!

The Bend route will make six overnight stops and ride less than 300 miles per day providing dealer’s an opportunity to extract a few extra dollars from riders wallets in including mine.  Our small group has not decided which route (northern or southern) we’ll take.  It really depends on weather. 

Drafting behind others from dealer-to-dealer on the interstate isn’t my idea of a motorcycle road trip so, we’ll take our own path and intersect with others as we get near Milwaukee.

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Harley unveiled the changes in their motorcycle line up today in the form of 13 press releases!  Call me crazy, but I find it questionable how a PR department see’s value in doing so many press releases in the same day?

At any rate, many of the changes feel a bit cosmetic or like minor “updates” with no major new model launched compared to previous years.  Maybe I’m biased toward touring bikes, but there was no “Rocker” type equivalent announcement or a news making launch of the U.S. XR 1200 to break through the ever increasing motorcycle market noise. 

Harley introduced a new frame/swing arm for touring models.  It has 50% fewer parts and 60% fewer welds which result in better maneuverability, heat management, luggage capacity and rear-tire life due to the new Dunlop D407 Multi-Tread tires.  Touring models have new 17-inch 28-spoke “cast” aluminum wheels, 180mm rear tire and a new exhaust system that passes under the frame vs. under the seat.  Exception is the Road King Classic.  In an acknowledgment of the “widening-girth-of-America” the cargo/passenger capacity was increased approx 70 pounds and slightly larger injection-molded saddlebags were added this year.  The Road King Standard has this funky Red colored light (vs. amber) on the front fender..gives it a police special look.

The V-Rod gets “Muscle” (as if it didn’t have enough already!), a new model with a heighten angular appearance over the standard model.  It has air scoops eerily similar to the mid-80’s Yamaha V-Max.  The Screamin’ Eagle treatment from the Custom Vehicle Operations (CVO) is added to the Fat Bob and Road Glide models.

I don’t see these changes creating a lot of additional demand or perking up sales in the near-term for heavyweight motorcycles, but Harley has taken some solid steps to improve their line-up.

HD photo source Harley-Davidson.

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