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Archive for June 21st, 2010

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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