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Archive for August 22nd, 2008


As thousands of motorcycles depart from 105 starting points and follow the 25 national routes to Milwaukee I’ll be among the many riders roaring across the heart land to the Milwaukee area.  I’m looking forward to doing my small part in contributing toward the economic impact of the Harley-Davidson 105th Anniversary Celebration.

As a serious blogger, I try to provide consistent and valuable content, but I’ll be taking a break over the next several days while enjoying the “Ride Home“.  No, the blog doesn’t necessarily take much time, but it’s one less thing to think about along with less electronics and chargers to pack in the saddle bags.   Also I’ve learned that an odd thing happens when you’re not blogging: you come up with lots of blog ideas!   There is something about riding in the wind which generates plenty of ideas.

I’ve appreciated the cooler temperatures we’ve had in the Northwest these past few days, but soon it will feel like someone has a blow dryer in our face because warmer temperatures are on the way.

The journey begins tomorrow…

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I was at the Laughlin River Run a few years ago and one of my riding buddies had his motorcycle (‘98 Fatboy) stolen right out of the security patrolled Hilton Flamingo Hotel (now the renovated Aquarius) parking garage.  This reminded me of not only the painful several hour process in the police station filling out forms, interviews etc., but got me thinking about how chop shops pull off the VIN/Title changes on these “re-manufactured” bikes/engines.

You read about chop shops all the time from the couple running an operation out of a garage to more sophisticated operations that include Outlaw Biker “Club” members.

The Harley-Davidson factory has highly capable and a most legit remanufacturing process for your original power-plant and will retain your original VIN.  It starts with a dealer removing your engine and shipping it to the Factory’s Capitol Drive Facility in Milwaukee. When it reaches the factory, they will unpack and prep it for disassembly and after a couple weeks and couple thousand dollars your “new” motor arrives on your door step.  Specifically related to registration is the VIN on the old crankcase is destroyed, and the customer’s original VIN will be stamped on a new crankcase when they engine is assembled.

The term “rebirthing” covers a range of illegal activities that have one thing in common: to allow a stolen motorcycle, or a motorcycle that has parts that have been stolen, to be passed off and registered as a legitimate vehicle. Organized motorcycle thieves and their accomplices perform a wide range of activities in order to rebirth vehicles.  Under current law, a LEO may seize and take possession of a motorcycle or motorcycle part if the officer has probable cause to believe that the vehicle identification number (VIN) has been removed or damaged in such a way that the motorcycle cannot be identified. 

When buying a used Harley-Davidson, checking the VIN numbers against the title is mandatory. If they don’t match exactly you should think about looking elsewhere. If you have a Harley engine with matching title taken from a crashed or salvaged motorcycle, and put that engine into a new frame, the title might be invalid.

This site has an extensive post on VIN numbers and how not to leave yourself open to unscrupulous people.

For the curious…the Fatboy was never recovered!

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