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Archive for August, 2011

Keith Wandell doing The Street Interview

Haven’t you heard? The CEO of Harley-Davidson, Keith Wandell has decided to take time off from the company in order to pursue his dream of playing keyboard in a band named “Wizard.”

Just kidding—unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you probably already know what Keith is up to this week.  He’s coming off a “Booyah” financial quarter where by every financial measure the company has generated improvements.

I ran across this video where Mr. Wandell does an interview with The Street reporter Debra Borchardt.   He’s in the press “hot seat” and provided some insights into H-D’s relative success in the 1H 2011.  The Street — is a leading provider of financial news, commentary, analysis, ratings, and business and investment content, made available through online publications, content syndication and audio and video programming.

Side Bar: Mr. Wandell has come a long way from the initial days of not owning or riding a motorcycle to where today he owns three!  He rides a Street Glide CVO 2011; Road King Classic; and Dyna Wide Glide.  That H-D employee discount must be working out for him.

The bottom line of the interview is Harley-Davidson is rockin’ with Mr. Wandell!

Photo courtesy of The Street.

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Hwy 101 and Redwood Collage

Like many of you I’m accustomed to the routines in life and when August rolls around I’m often thinking about a ride east to immerse myself in all things Sturgis.

Not this year.

This year success would be defined as a slow and meandering journey, not a specific destination. Sure our group had a general idea about riding the pacific coast highway down to the Redwoods and then over to the Sierra Nevada mountains to Yosemite.  But it was left fairly open ended.   There was some thought to traversing back over through Death Valley and then returning to Oregon via the eastern side of the state and what follows is a brief summary of the ride:

Portland to Coos Bay
Oregon offers an incredible diversity of motorcycle road scenery. The state is blessed with hundreds of miles of Pacific Coast shoreline, countless miles of arid canyon and twisted mountain road riding, vast stretches of alpine mountain roads, and some of the most appealing cities in the world.  But we wanted to get to California and took I-5 south to Oregon Route 38.

Highway 38 runs between Interstate 5 near the communities of Curtin to the city of Reedsport on the Oregon Coast.  It’s also known as the Umpqua Highway because the western portions of the road run alongside the Umpqua River.  The road runs by the Dean Creek Wildlife Area, which provides overlooks for viewing regional wildlife and continues on passing through the Elk Creek Tunnel Forest State Scenic Corridor.

We were riding an easy pace and overnighted at Coos Bay.  The next morning we rode down the beautiful coastline on Hwy 101 to the awe inspiring redwood groves.  The road winds along the coast and we fortunately avoided any measurable rain.  Certainly cooler temperatures with the occasional whiff of mist, but very good riding.  The group even took some time for the odd tourist attraction along the way — Ride Through A Redwood Tree — that make this area well known.  Shortly afterward we were on the “Avenue of the Giants” which is well marked and parallels Hwy 101 for about 35 miles.  We stopped at the Forest Service visitor center and took in these amazing works of nature.

With two easy days under our belt we overnighted in Fortuna and made plans to ride NorCal’s ultimate motorcycle ride — Highway 36!  This road is why you own a motorcycle.

California SR 36

140 miles of S-Turns (Fortuna to RedBluff) — Hwy 36 (SR 36) begins in Fortuna at an interchange with Hwy 101. After going through the community of Alton, Hwy 36 continues east through the city of Hydesville. The road continues through Carlotta before paralleling the Van Duzen River all the way to the town of Bridgeville.  We stopped in the community of Mad River which has a small general store, a tiny burger joint built into an old camper or RV, and a gas pump that approached $6/gallon.  We all got off the motorcycle and discussed the unusual nature of Hwy 36 and how it can catch you off guard.

One minute you’re rolling along enjoying the marvel of paved engineering, the next minute you’re working to navigate a narrow section with no center line and massively tall trees which are literally in the road.

Arrival in Reno

The pavement is bumpy and constantly changing, despite some attempts at repaving.   You can ride through the area at a good, but slow speed as there are a lot of  S-curves, tight hairpins, blind corners, and even some swoopy drop offs where the road just falls out from underneath you where even a heavy cruiser seems to get air.  As quickly as it started Hwy 36 opens back up to its wider two lane as if that narrow section never happened.

In general there were few trucks or zaney vacationers on Hwy 36 trying to run us off the road so it was an enjoyable experience.  As we dropped down into the Central Valley the temperatures rapidly shot upward and we decided to grab some lunch in Red Bluff.
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Highway 36 heads eastbound out of the Central Valley  to Lassen Volcanic National Monument and over to Susanville.  It’s nothing to get excited about and while a good road it’s nothing more than a main highway from point A to point B road.  We filled up with fuel in Susanville and headed to Reno where we overnighted.
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More Miles and Smiles – Part 2 HERE.

Map courtesy Google.  Photo’s taken by author.
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I’ve had a lapse in concentration.

Not only about the All Harley Drag Racing Association (AHDRA), who will bring an exciting race to Oregon this weekend August 27-28th,  but you might have noticed the blog posts have become fewer of late.  Unfortunately a new job has me fully booked and while I have a number of partially completed posts in various stages I’ve just not had the spare time to polish them up and get ‘em to the line.

And speaking of the line, I wanted to bring to your attention how AHDRA and Team Latus Motors H-D are bringing the “Northwest Nitro Nationals” to the Woodburn Dragstrip and if you’re a speed junkie or maybe you just like to hang out in the pits —  then this is a must attend event.  Fans can expect to see plenty of fast action with tire smoking and fire-breathing bikes.

Interested in reading more?  Here is a link to SPEED, the official magazine of the all Harley drag racing association.

Photo courtesy of AHDRA.

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No, it’s not a new motorcycle club.  It’s not even a reference to the 40+ continuous days of 100°+ temperatures in Texas.

I’m talking about litigation “heat” for the motor company.

Recently a Federal Court Judge has denied a Harley-Davidson motion to dismiss Harley bikers’ claims for fraudulent and unfair business practices, violations of Consumers Legal Remedies Act (CLRA), and unjust enrichment. As a result a class action lawsuit** will now go forward against Harley-Davidson alleging certain Harley motorcycle engines produce severe, and excessive heat causing burn injuries and clothing to catch on fire.

Class action lawsuit filings are nothing new to Harley-Davidson.   Back in 2005 there was a lawsuit/complaint against the company alleging securities law violations.  Of course the company believed that that lawsuit was without merit and vigorously defended against any action just like they will on this latest case.  Talk about keeping the legal department busy, this class action suit adds to another lawsuit by Brando Enterprises HERE on the “Brando Boot.”

At any rate last week, a federal judge ruled that a class action overheating & burn lawsuit against Harley-Davidson could go forward, siding with four bikers who claimed their Harley-Davidson motorcycles were defectively designed because their engines ran so hot as to pose a constant danger to riders of being burned and were therefore not fit for their intended use.

The complaint alleges that since 1999, Twin Cam 88, 96, 103 and 110 cubic inch engines in Harley motorcycles produce severe, excessive heat causing clothing to catch on fire, burn injuries and the danger of burn injury to riders and passengers as well as overheating causing premature engine wear and is in models manufactured after 2006, transmission failure.  Although Harley-Davidson asked the Eastern District of California court to throw out the claims under state law, the U.S. District Judge sided with the plaintiffs.

Harley-Davidson will now face a Class Action Certification process at the end of the month.

**Case No. 2:10-CV-02443-JAM-EFB in the Eastern District of California (Plaintiff’s represented by Owen, Patterson & Owen)

Photo courtesy of Jeff Hoffman.net

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At The 70th Sturgis Rally

Can you feel it?  It’s in the air. The annual Sturgis celebration (Black Hills Motorcycle Rally) is in full force.

Every year, about this time I get a lot of hits on the blog from previous Sturgis articles I’ve written.  Especially the 2008 article about the first shooting in 20 years between the Iron Pigs and HAMC.

Last year I went to the 70th Rally (blogged it HERE) and raved about the music (except Dylan), the food, the rides and, of course, the people.  I took it all in, and enjoyed every minute of it. Was it my best Sturgis ever?  I don’t know what the future holds, but it was pretty good.

This year had all the makings of being a major contender, but reports of the legal action surrounding the Rally trademarks and who can sell (legally) t-shirts with the name “Sturgis” along with reports about the economy has put clouds over the event.  Some motorcyclists have suggested that the core H-D customer has gotten older, sold their motorcycles and become tired of the event.  Some veteran riders have complained the Sturgis rally has lost its outlaw edge, attracting too many bankers and lawyers with top-of-the-line $30K+ Harley-Davidsons and not enough old-fashioned hard-core bikers.

I won’t argue that the meaning and appeal of motorcycle rallies change as you get older, but I’m thinking it’s neither the economy, trademark disputes or aging demographics.  Maybe Sturgis has just got…. OLD?!

The event has largely remain unchanged for the last 10+ years.  There are some who look forward to the Sturgis routine. They are the same people who return to the same spot year after year. They take the same riding routes.  It never gets old.

However, there are no easy dollars anymore especially in this new economy and it makes me wonder if there is still a place for bloated, over-commercialized rallies?  Many would argue yes.

I won’t be immersing myself in all things Sturgis this year.  I elected to spend the time and $$ riding down Hwy 101 along the pacific coast range through the Redwoods and then over to the Sierra Nevada mountains and through Yosemite.  That’s why I’ve been off line for the past couple weeks.  It was time to ride, but I gave South Dakota a break.

How about you.  Why didn’t you attend the mother of all rallies this year?

UPDATED: August 11, 2011 – Another item which seems to remain consistent year-over-year at the rally are the stats.  The South Dakota Highway Patrol logged the following incidents during the Sturgis motorcycle rally as of 6 a.m. Thursday:

• DUI arrests: 151 (Sturgis 140, Rapid City 8, Southern Hills 2, Badlands 1)
• Misdemeanor drug arrests: 96 (Sturgis 69, Rapid City 17, Southern Hills 10)
• Felony drug arrests: 36 (Sturgis 19, Rapid City 13, Southern Hills 4)
• Other felony arrests 1 (Southern Hills)
• Total citations: 834 (Sturgis 503, Rapid City 176, Southern Hills 89, Badlands 66)
• Cash seized: $1,853 (Rapid City)
• Concealed weapons arrests: 6 (Sturgis)
• Vehicles seized: 5 (Sturgis 2, Rapid City 3)
• Injury accidents: 64 (Sturgis 33, Rapid City 14, Southern Hills 13, Badlands 4)
• Fatal accidents: 2 (Sturgis)

Photo taken at 70th Sturgis Rally

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