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Archive for September 29th, 2008

HD Servi-Car

HD Servi-Car

Harley-Davidson built a Servi-Car (a three-wheeled utility motorcycle) from 1932 to 1973.  Then for the 2009 model year Harley introduced the new Tri-Glide Classic

Customers who are turned off by the thought of sliding atop a motorcycle have more options these days, but few options exist for small displacement (below 400cc) trikes.  

I’m speculating here, but Harley may be looking to change this and bring a more diverse selection to new riders entering the sport.  According to the Wired Magazine Blog, Harley is planning to introduce a “leaning trike” at the Intermot Motorcycle show in Cologne, Germany next month.  They surfed across information and images from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and posted the information which shows a trike with 2-wheels upfront and pivoting on an independent suspension to provide motorcycle-like “leaning” capability.

One could argue this is similar to the Can-am Spyder Roadster designed by Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP) and that Harley is playing copy-cat in its effort to create a new category of on-road vehicles.  Who knows.

If indeed small displacement then clearly it’s all about sales of Harley products.  Scooter sales have skyrocketed in the first half of 2008.  Up 66% as compared to a year ago and at the same time overall motorcycle sales have only achieved a meager 0.5% increase.  Meanwhile Harley sales have decreased 8.7% so for them to go looking at other alternatives would seem prudent for the stockholders.

However, the last time I was on a trike I was 5 years old.  I had a neighbor buddy that stated the only reason to ride something with three wheels was that I was too scared to ride something with two…I reacted and went to two.

Clearly I’m not a motoring writer and just not connecting with these.  Is it closer to a car than a motorbike?  Do you steer it like a snowmobile and forget that the brake is on your foot rather than the handlebars?  Do you clamp your thighs to it like it’s a Quad in the sand dunes or did I lose you all with that semi-bikespeak and should be using horse riding metaphors?

Two-wheels up front or two in back, a trike is a trike and they have an image problem as a toy.  Even the fact that you don’t have to have a motorcycle license doesn’t make sense to me.  And if you are a biker who has reach that “certain age” and starting to think it would be nice to…these will look just as silly being trailered as the motorcycle’s do today.

Images courtesy of Wired and U.S. Patent Office.

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The story of Chicken Little is an allegory about alarmists, which concludes with an admission about ill-founded apocalyptic predictions.

Thinking about how “The Sky is Falling“…on my return ride from Street Vibrations yesterday…I couldn’t help but wonder if the speculation, rumors, concerns, worry and numerous citizen calls created an apocalyptic “environment” for the rally? 

SWAT

SWAT

I was in Virginia City during “Street V” and I’ve never witnessed (in the U.S.) so many submachine guns, stun grenades and specialized fire arms attached to so many SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) members… all of them willingly ready to perform dangerous operations.  They were there to prevent another motorcycle rally from going sideways or prevent a terrorist attack by stud-n-leather clad motorcycle riders! 

Talk about taking apocalyptic prevention measures… turns out that Virginia City pulled out all the stops (and city budget $$ too!) to have these specialized paramilitary tactical units “lurking” in doorways and engage any potential armed criminal or take down with steel reinforced boots any dangerous biker who ate one too many $5 combo hot dogs and beer.

Supposedly the apocalyptic predictions started just a few days before the Street Vibrations.  Rumors started about biker “club” tensions or retaliation as a result of the San Francisco’s HAMC chapter president, Mark ‘Papa’ Guardado who was shot outside a bar earlier this month. He was a high-profile figure in the motorcycle club.  A rival Mongols “club” member,  Christopher Ablett is a suspect in the case.  Since the funeral there has been a pipe bomb explosion in San Jose aimed at members of the Mongols.

Phone calls flooded the Nevada police lines with residents stating their concerns of biker violence spilling over into Reno, Sparks, Carson City and Virginia City.  As a result the law enforcement agencies beefed up and planned for the worst of the worst.  I didn’t see it, but it’s likely snipers with high-powered rifles and night vision optics were watching my every hot dog bite and beer burp?

Virginia City Police

Virginia City Police

There are so many analogies between motorcycle events and that of Chicken Little.  The first is that all the doom and gloom are unnecessarily alarming.  Second, they expose the inability of the average (non-motorcycle riding) citizen and their motorcycle hating followers to process relevant information and synthesize rational, appropriate interpretations.  The majority of people and motorcycles at Street Vibrations are recreational riders and this was overkill to the power of TEN.  An incredible show of AGGRESSION or police force which did NOT correctly interpret the situation or was supported by the facts. 

Yes, there was a large “Red and White” presence at Street Vibrations.  I saw a number of Vagos, Henchmen as well as many other “clubs”.  Many of the clubs have a no colors rule and were not highly visible, but you could easily tell if a group were part of some “gathering”.  I did not see Mongols.

I believe that law enforcement were tricked and fell for “the sky is falling” trap!  It’s another example of how the Outlaw Motorcycle “Clubs” behavior helps set the overall “tone” for many motorcycle events and the police agencies worked in cooperation to miss-interpret.

To be fair, the Sheriff reported that on Saturday there was at one point about 11,000 bikers in Virginia City and they arrested 6 people.  One for domestic violence, 2 for DUI, and the remainder for disturbing the peace and indecent exposure. 

Yeah, the sky is falling…

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