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Archive for April 8th, 2009

Elvis Presley - 1957 Harley-Davidson FLH

Elvis Presley - 1957 Harley-Davidson FLH

This month marks the 40th Anniversary of Elvis Presley’s return to live concert performances in Las Vegas in 1969. 

It had been 8 years since Elvis last performed a live benefit concert in Honolulu, his first post-Army appearance, and after 8 years of recording sessions at American Studios and movie making he started his record breaking engagement in July of 1969. When he opened at the International Hotel for a four-week, 57-show engagement, it broke all existing Las Vegas attendance records.  At the time it was the largest showroom in Las Vegas, holding more than 2000 people.

elvis_enthusiastYou don’t have to drink the Elvis cool-aid to know he enjoy Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Elvis became a lifelong bike enthusiast and was a member of the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA).  Sometime in 1955 after earning a regular income he purchased his first H-D.  It was a small ’56 ST165.  Your basic entry level model with 165cc that was sometimes incorrectly referred to as the Harley Hummer.

In January 1956 he bought a new Model KH from the Memphis H-D dealer and in May of that year he appeared on the cover of Harley’s The Enthusiast magazine riding that ’56 KH.   The ’56 Model KH was 54ci (883cc) side valve motorcycle and the precursor of today’s Sportster which was released in 1957 with an overhead valve motor.  After just a few months Elvis moved up to a larger motorcycle when he purchased a 1957 Harley-Davidson FLH.  At the time The Atomic Powered Singer wrote: 

“Elvis bought his new Harley on November 1, 1956 while he was in downtown Memphis to have his Continental Mark II insured. Later in the day Natalie Wood, clad in jeans, climbed up on the seat behind Elvis and they gunned out from the Audubon Drive driveway and roared around the Memphis streets for three hours accompanied by a motorcycle policeman and Nick Adams, who was riding Elvis’ old Harley Davidson.”

Elvis Presley passed away August 16, 1977.   CKX continues to market and TCB for the “King”.  To commemorate his passing Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. (EPE) and Graceland H-D are offering to sale five special edition 2009 Harley-Davidson Street Glide with Elvis imagery at $50,731 each.  Buyers will be treated to a unique bike delivery experience in Memphis during Elvis Week and can participate in the various Elvis rides.

I might be in the Vegas/Laughlin area later this month and will let you know if there are any Elvis “sightings.”

Photo courtesy of H-D Enthusiast Magazine and photographer Ted Bruehl.

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Laughlin Police Station

Laughlin Police Station

By the time you finish reading this post another 18 motorcycles will have been stolen.  In the U.S. there are more than 8 motorcycles stolen every minute of every day through-out the year!

Back in 2004 I remember spending several hours with the Laughlin, NV Police getting questioned and filling out paperwork after a FatBoy was “removed” from the security monitored Flamingo (now Aquarius) Parking garage without our buddies permission! 

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) states that 60,763 motorcycles were reported stolen in the U.S. during 2008.  That number is down 2.3% from 2007 when 62,206 were stolen and down 4.8% from 2006 when 63,828 disappeared.

Some interesting data points from the report:

  1. There are 684 different makes of motorcycles identified in the report.
  2. Motorcycle theft is seasonal compared to other vehicles with July-August accounting for the highest thefts.
  3. Five brands account for 80.4% of total thefts – Honda (15,034); Yamaha (11,797); Suzuki (10,427); Kawasaki (6295); and H-D (3745)
  4. KTM, Baja and Vespa were the only motorcycle brands which experienced increases in thefts during this period.
  5. Five states have the highest theft activity – CA; FL; TX; NC; IN
  6. The industry has a 30.3% recovery rate (18,422 recovered of 60,763 thefts) which is down from previous years.

I’m always amazed when I ride by a house that has a motorcycle parked outside and more often than not lacking any theft protection.  Sure they could have an immobilizer which isn’t visible, but locks/chains do provide visible discouragement to would-be thieves.  Most often the suggestion is to secure a motorcycle to some type of permanent structure or in-ground anchor with a high-quality chain, cable or other device to help prevent theft.

Personally I use a combination of disc and armored cable locks along with the provided motorcycle fork lock.  I don’t have storage capacity to carry a high security 6-sided boron manganese steel chain type device nor do I want the extra riding weight.  I do want to provide enough of a visible deterrent so thieves will go for an easier target once I arrive at my destination.

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