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Archive for June, 2010

Screen Shot From Site - Bend Area (Cascade Lakes)

Whatever kind of motorcyclist you are — day tripper or world explorer — mapping software can help start your next adventure in the right direction.

Fortunately FX Development, Inc., a Seattle-based early stage startup recently launched myscenicdrives.com.  It’s a new website to help motorcyclists find that cool scenic drive.  The site offers cleaver features that will help riders find new things to explore. Each scenic drive provides an overview, interactive map, recommended stops, weather forecast, and GPS directions.

Initially the company was focused on the Pacific Northwest, but recently listed rides for Idaho and California as it expands.  The site provides both a rich, user-friendly web interface for PCs as well as a mobile web version which is great for smartphones like the iPhone.  Once the user selects a drive, phones with GPS capabilities and software (such as Google Maps) will easily get you on the road.

The website currently features more 40 scenic drives in California, Washington, Oregon and Idaho with more States coming.

An item I would find useful is something like what the “Directory Assistance” service does today for convenience by sending an SMS text-message to the rider.  If I’m on the road mobile users are eager to get information and directions on the go especially if there is limited web access in a remote area.  A text message of the route along with pertinent details saved via a text message would provide me the extra convenience and functionality that I like.  With virtually 100% of handsets in the US capable of text messaging, it would be smart to leverage this channel and deliver additional value.

One word of caution for the site builders… I’ve seen a number of these type sites fall victim of having a preoccupation and interest in $$, not riding, and therefore have put the focus on advertising at the expense of the consumer experience.  Don’t do it!!

Photo courtesy of myscenicdrives.com

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The Culbertson Guidon -- Custer's Last Stand

Last Friday marked the 134th anniversary of the battle.

I’m talking about The Battle of the Little Bighorn, also known as Custer’s Last Stand.  It claimed, 263 soldiers, including Lt. Col. George A. Custer and attached personnel of the U.S. Army, who died fighting several thousand Lakota, and Cheyenne warriors led by Sitting Bull.  They fought for their land near what’s now Crow Agency, MT when the government tried to drive the Indians off the land after white settlers discovered gold there. The Black Hills in southeastern Montana (present day South Dakota) were declared Indian land in the late 1860s.

A single swallowtail flag – or Guidon – is one of the few artifacts found from the battle.  Guidons served as battlefield beacons marking company positions.  The victorious Indians stripped the corpses of trophies, but missed the bloodstained flag, which was hidden under the body of a soldier.  The Culbertson Guidon as it’s called was recovered by Sergeant Ferdinand Culbertson, a member of a burial party.  It was sold for $54 in 1895 to the Detroit Institute of Arts who has now decided to sell it and use the proceeds to build its collection. The flag has been valued at $2 million to $5 million and will be auctioned sometime in October by Sotheby’s.

If you’re headed to the Sturgis Rally then the battlefield is a must see stop.  It’s at the junction of I-90 and Hwy 212 and today the Little Bighorn National Monument offers up a wide range of activities and interpretive opportunities. I was there about 3 years ago and blogged about HERE.  The Forest Rangers provide talks about the battle and there are a number of related items presented in the Visitor Center.  I remember most an obelisk which commemorates the U.S. Army dead, and marks the spot of the mass grave where all U.S. soldiers were re-buried.

Tribal Sites: Crow TribeArikara TribeSioux TribesCheyenne Tribehttp://www.c-a-tribes.org/

Photo of flag courtesy of Sotheby’s.

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Springfield-era Indian Motorcycle

Back in 2004, Stephen Julius, a British-Italian financier with a talent for extracting valuable brands from the junkyard (remember Chris Craft?) did just that as he scooped up the Indian Motorcycle marquee and brand rights.  Partnering with Mr. Julius would be his Harvard Business School classmate Steve Heese.  The two would be the 5th set of entrepreneurs who purchased the intellectual property rights and have tried to resurrect the iconic Indian nameplate.

Last week I received an email from Indian Motorcycle.  They plan to provide an exclusive VIP space in downtown Sturgis for any motorcyclist who rides/trailers a Springfield-era Indian motorcycle to the mother of motorcycle rallies.  It’s a cool idea to reinforce the relationship and I would anticipate that rally attendees will be able to stroll through the area and gawk at the vintage motorcycles.  I’m planning to attend the rally and hope to snag a couple of photo’s.  You can participate by sending an email to Etracy at indianmotorcycle dot com if you plan to attend Sturgis and want to participate in the VIP area.

The email message led me to do a quick scan of the Indian.com web site to see what’s new.  What I found was shocking.  Marketing heads should roll!

The main page is stuck in 2009!  Yeah, I know they aren’t on the same release schedule as other motorcycle manufactures, but the view is the same as it ever was.  The news/press release page is stale.  I’m not talking about “brown bananas” stale here… it’s full on AWOL.   Not a single press release since January 2009?  That’s 17 months?!   In April they re-launched on the West Coast and posted some Facebook banter along with tweets, but the lack of any pure play press release boggles the mind.  This is at best a scattershot approach and I don’t know any 20-something willing to shell out $30,999 for a Bomber in this current economy.  This “new-wave” thinking to do all your evangelizing via Facebook is… well ‘da bomb… not meant in a good way.

I’ve been critical about over hyping products in this new-era of marketing, but if the good folks at Indian plan to make their motorcycle company the de-facto standard in premium cruiser motorcycles a little more press information now and then to let us know you remain alive and well would be a good thing.

Photo courtesy of Indian.

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Practicing the piano for 10-years does not make you creative.  It just allows you to replicate what’s been done before.

I’m not sure who coined that phrase, but for some reason I’m reminded of Harley-Davidson and the debut of their 2011 models.

I can neither confirm or deny that I’ve been busy testing a sample of the 2011 H-D motorcycles.  I cannot confirm or deny that I’ve signed a NDA/embargo agreement to not disclose, either in print or talk about what the good folks at Harley-Davidson have been up to until July 27, 2010 – the date that the company will roll out some new thunder.

The plant is filled with journeymen, skilled at their jobs, but the motorcycle models are not famous. Because to be famous you’ve got to make jaws drop, people have to forego crucial financial activities in order to invest in H-D motorcycle ownership, people have to want to tell others about your brand.  In order to succeed you’ve got to innovate.  It requires perspiration and it demands inspiration.  I’m talking about innovating in such a way that a large percentage of the motorcycle riding public cares.

We’re in a era of marketing.  Because it’s so easy.  Go online and tell your story.  Start a Facebook page, upload some stop-action videos and evangelize to the ADHD 20-somthings.  Tweet about anything and everything.  But, isn’t it interesting that as more motorcycle manufactures go online trying to sell, fewer motorcycles are moving…both sales-wise and emotionally.  The key isn’t about putting a motorcycle in front of people.   It’s about creating something so good that it builds its own audience.  It’s an incredible challenge.  To employ a classic art form, include pop references, but come up with something new.  So new that the new thing excites us, that not only makes our blood boil, but makes us want to tell everyone.  So good it gets inside your psyche and affects you…not like the lasting power of a popsicle.

For so long the basic tools have been ignored and Harley-Davidson has taken the easy way out.  It’s been about marketing an image or brand over product innovation and their spot in the firmament is at risk.  They’ve always been good about building relationships, but too much of the H-D model line-up can be denied.  You can play that “tune” for a friend and they just ignored it.

The 2011 models need to tap us on the shoulder lightly and then wrap itself around our heart.  In other words, be so good we can’t ignore you…

Photo courtesy of Deviantart.com

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Riders Depart Key West, FL - Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge

How about riding 500 miles a day for 14 days straight and then each night sleeping on the ground?  For some it’s just the kind of thing that makes it onto a “bucket list” and they’re ready to go.  For others it creates a moment of pause.

Endurance riders sometimes engage in endurance events known as rallies. Rallies take on a multitude of formats, differing in duration (anywhere from 12 hours to multiple days) and type of road.

That was the situation yesterday for about 1000 riders at the start of the Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge.  Riders left Key West, FL., exclusively on Harley-Davidson motorcycles headed for Homer Alaska.  Grueling ride?  Absolutely!  But, the challenge has the added benefit for the rider who travels the 7,000 miles first — they’ll win $500,000.

According to urban legend the term “Hoka Hey,” means “It’s a Good Day to Die” in Sioux. In reality this is a corruption of the intrepretation.  The reason people think it means “it’s a good day to die” is that the Lakota Sioux leader Crazy Horse famously shouted to his troops “Hokahey, today is a good day to die!” It meant something more like “Let’s go men, today is a good day to die!”

At any rate, the challenge is billed as an annual once-in-a-lifetime challenge where the contestants’ mettle will be tested.  Co-founders Beth Durham and  Jim “Big Jim” Red Cloud describe the Hoka Hey Challenge not as a speed race.  It’s about endurance.  Besides John Ryan holds the record for a continent crossing where last year he performed a crossing in 86 hours and 31 minutes.  The Hoka Hey contestants pay a $1,000 entry fee. They can have their miles sponsored for charity, much like a marathon.The route will span two countries, over more than 62 mountain ranges, 33 Indian reservations, 25 national forests, 8 deserts and 6 national parks. The daily routes are secret until each morning during the 14 days. The first checkpoint is somewhere in Mississippi.

I don’t know if this is the “Olympics” of all endurance rallies, but none-the-less good luck riders!

UPDATE: June 28, 2010 — According to reports out of Homer, AK, Frank Kelly, of Prosperity, S.C., and Will Barclay, of Highland, Fla., rode under the finish banner on the Homer Spit after finishing the Hoka Hey Challenge this morning (Monday).  The two men who’d only met on the road made a pact in Fairbanks when they left the last checkpoint about 3:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon: they’d finish first together.  Kelly, 34, works for AT&T and Barclay, 50, flies corporate jets. Kelly rode a 2009 Harley-Davidson Road King Classic and Barclay a 2008 Electroglide Classic he bought three weeks before the race — his first Harley ever.  Congrats!

UPDATE: July 7, 2010 — Allegations of fraud and questions on the legitimacy of the organization and winner payout prompt the first legal complaint.  Formally filed with the State of Florida’s Attorney General against the Hoka Hey Challenge and its organizers Beth and Jim Durham of Hot Springs, South Dakota. Jim Durham also goes by the name of Jim Red Cloud. More information about the complaint HERE.

UPDATE: August 3, 2010 — Excellent interview with Will Barclay, the winner of the endurance race HERE.  H-D should do a commercial and leverage this guy!  A shout out to Quick Throttle Magazine for making it available!

Photos courtesy of Hoka Hey web site, Andy Newman and The Citizen.

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It’s not a radical idea.  It’s just one day where everyone can agree to ride a motorcycle.

It’s called Ride To Work Day and the annual event is Monday, June 21st.

The Ride to Work Day was inspired by “Work to Ride – Ride to Work‘” marketing materials created between 1989 and 1991 by the Aero Design and Manufacturing Company, a Minnesota based manufacturer of motorcycle riders clothing. In 1992 these items inspired motorcycle magazine editor Fred Rau to write an editorial calling for a national ride to work day.  The first annual Ride to Work Day event was proposed in Road Rider magazine (now titled Motorcycle Consumer News) in the May 1992 issue.

The Ride To Work organization is a non-profit group advocating and supporting the use of motorcycles and scooters for transportation, and providing information about everyday utility riding to the public.

See you on the road…

Photo courtesy of Ride To Work.

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Early 1900's Police Patrol Ads

You might not be aware of this, but August Vollmer, Chief of Police for Berkeley, CA., is often credited with establishing the first police motorcycle patrol in 1911.

However, many police bureau’s reported using motorcycles as patrol vehicles earlier.  For example right here in “River City”, the Portland, OR., Police Bureau hired Merle Sims in 1908 because he owned his own motorcycle and by 1910 the Portland bureau purchased two of their own motorcycles for patrols of the city.

So what does this have to do with the Law Enforcement Museum?  Glad you ask!  In 2000, the U.S. Congress and President Bill Clinton authorized the establishment of a National Law Enforcement Museum in Washington, DC.  It paved the way for the nation’s largest and most comprehensive museum honoring the duty and sacrifice of America’s law enforcement officers.  The key purpose of the museum is to tell the story of American law enforcement through exhibits, collections, research and education.

The National Law Enforcement Museum will have several motorcycles, including H-D on exhibit when it opens in 2011 as well as a broad sampling of historical and contemporary objects.

"Mechanical Nippers"

The building is located in the 400 block of E Street, NW, which is part of the Judiciary Square, just north of Pennsylvania Avenue and the National Mall. In the original plan for the nation’s capital, Pierre L’Enfant identified Judiciary Square as the center of the judicial branch of government, and today the historic setting is surrounded by a number of federal court buildings. Directly adjacent to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, the Museum makes an architectural statement that complements this monument to officers killed in the line of duty.

Patrol photo taken at H-D Museum.

The two different “mechanical nippers” pictured are Malcolm (bottom left) and the Iron Claw (bottom right) by Argus Manufacturing Co.  Photo courtesy of NLEO Museum.

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