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Archive for December 9th, 2011

“It’s disgraceful, but how about the heartless timing for Christ’s sake.”  — Australian Workers Union State Secretary Wayne Hanson said to reporters.

It’s not well known, but the majority of cast wheels and hubs for Harley-Davidson motorcycles are produced in Australia and shipped to Milwaukee.  Harley acquired Adelaide-based New Castalloy in 2006 when continuity of wheel supply was an issue.  The Australian subsidiary is New Castalloy and was a long-time supplier that was on the verge of bankruptcy of its then parent company, Ion.

Now Harley-Davidson plans to shift the manufacturing to China (according to South Australian Trade Minister Tom Koutsantonis) where it will save the motor company about $9 million a year.  The decision to cease operations  at New Castalloy will effect 183 employees and 29 contract workers. Harley expects to complete the transition to “outsourcers” by mid 2013.  The company estimated the related restructuring costs at $30 million, of which $10 million will be recorded in 2011 and $20 million in 2012.

South Australian Trade Minister Tom Koutsantonis said to reporters, “To tell a group of workers before Christmas they may not have a job is insensitive and I think quite silly.”  Mr Koutsantonis also stated that the motor company had given no indication to the government of the closure and as a result were unable to provide any assistance.  The South Australian Employment Minister Tom Kenyon stated that workers would get between $3K – $5K each in job training, but he was rather candid in that there was no place for them once we’ve got them through the right training.

The Australian manufacturing sector is bearing the brunt of global uncertainty (read layoffs) and high Australian dollar.  Ever the politically correct, President and Chief Operating Officer Matt Levatich said,  “The company’s decision on wheel production follows a review of the long-term fit and competitiveness of the New Castalloy business with our strategy and was not made lightly.”

As we know and have read many times, Harley has been recreating itself as a premium brand and smaller manufacturer while trying to grow its market share outside the U.S.

Made cheaper in China might be the new corporate mantra and correct decision based on pure Wall Street math, but there can’t be much pride in that choice.

UPDATE: July 10, 2013 — Harley-Davidson reverses decision to shutter the Adelaid plant (HERE)

Photo courtesy of H-D and New CastAlloy

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Five of a Kind At Grand Canyon

This is a shout out to an extraordinary posse.

Hardly the stereotypical, tatted-up, badass bikers portrayed in pop culture or do we ride the machines of American Chopper — slick and polished.

From the outside looking in you can’t understand it, but there are many benefits to riding a motorcycle with a group.  Aside from the obvious “wind in the face” to take your mind off daily troubles to the cool events that you visit from glitz to back-water destinations.   From the moment you mount the motorcycle the most important aspect from my vantage is the posse camaraderie.

Whether I’m with my family at home or the “family on the road,” the center piece of the posse is the Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Oh sure some lost their way for a time and rode other kinds of bikes, but these days the posse is like a mini-community based on a shared passion and a common interest around the Harley brand.  And while we defend the motor company we haven’t drank the Kool-aid!  We’re a demanding and very vocal enthusiast bunch when it comes to items the company needs to do to please it’s customers.

A Half-Dozen at HCMR

Has the posse always agreed on everything?  No.  We’ve had the typical debates about the merits of camping vs. checking in, riding with a large group or going solo, silence vs. Boom! Audio, up early vs. sleeping in, freeway speed or riding slow back-water roads and the more contentious item of planning way ahead or plan as you go.  We’ve tried them all and each has offered up some unique and fun adventures.  And no matter what the trip or the destination, all a good motorcycle ride needs is camaraderie and fun roads, right?

And speaking of roads, one common thread is that we all have plenty of time to ride.  That is to say, we make time to ride.  As much as we have in common, all of these accomplished riders is also entirely unique.  Each has his own set of experiences, his own philosophy of life and riding, and his own collection of interesting stories about life on the road.  I especially look forward to riding in the dry hot desert while others think a misty Highway 101 ride down the coast is “just perfect.”

I’ve been riding with this group for many years and everyone adjusts.  In fact, some of the members have history back to the coastal range and the dirt bike days at Lee’s Camp before a Harley-Davidson motorcycle stirred up any emotions.

The remainder of the posse at the CCA Ride

I’ll often get ask how we do it.  How do we handle riding all those miles.  I’ll typically just say that if you string a few 300 mile days together, one day at a time, then you’ve got a Posse Ride!

We’ve enjoyed following the “road less traveled” as so many other riders do.  It made us appreciate how divvied up this western part of the U.S. is, with dozens of valleys separated by mountain ranges, woven together by asphalt strips. These roads are really three-dimensional curves, and a rider will certainly get longer life out of the Dunlops, wearing out the sides as much as the middle.

As the years fade away — I’m reminded of winding our way along the back roads of the countryside – and it made me appreciate how rich the memories are of the years riding with an incredible group of friends.

Thank you all for the memories!

Photos taken by author

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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The 2012 Progressive International Motorcycle show will soon hit the northwest on December 16-18th at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.

Attendees can check-out new bikes from Aprilia, Beta, BMW, Brammo, BRP, Darwin, Ducati, Erik Buell Racing, Gas Gas, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Husqvarna, Indian, Kawasaki, KTM, Moto Guzzi, MV Agusta, Norton, Star, Suzuki, Triumph, Victory and Yamaha.  There will also be the latest aftermarket parts and accessories.

Not only will there be new bikes, but the show is jammed pack with other events and activities.

There is the Learning Curve – an interactive stage with industry experts presenting a variety of motorcycling topics for both new and experienced riders including adventure riding, motorcycle maintenance, increasing bike performance, seminars for women riders and more.   There will be Demo Rides for licensed motorcyclists.  There is the Custom Bike Show – where motorcycle builders will showcase elite-level custom motorcycles competing for a piece of a $90,000 cash purse prize and a chance to compete in the U.S. Championship, at the Daytona Beach Motorcycle Show, in March.

The Smage Bros will have a motorcycle trials stunt riding show and attendees will also get a chance to create their own motorcycle design at the Kawasaki Design-A-Bike kiosk, featuring a brand new digital spray-painting technology available only at these shows.

See you there!

Photo courtesy of Progressive.

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It’s December and motorcyclists are warned to take care during the winter months on the roads as icy conditions make for treacherous navigation.  However, motorcycle bloggers have just skidded on the ice and hit the barrier!

I’m talking about Crystal Cox.

Ms Cox runs several law-centric blogs, like HERE, and HERE.  She was sued by investment firm Obsidian Finance Group in January for defamation, to the tune of $10 million, for writing several blog posts that were critical of the firm and its co-founder Kevin Padrick.  According to Portland’s U.S. District Court Judge Marco A. Hernandez, Ms Cox isn’t entitled to the protections afforded to journalists — specifically, Oregon’s media shield law.

Oregon’s media shield law reads:

No person connected with, employed by or engaged in any medium of communication to the public shall be required by … a judicial officer … to disclose, by subpoena or otherwise … [t]he source of any published or unpublished information obtained by the person in the course of gathering, receiving or processing information for any medium of communication to the public[.]

The Seattle Weekly, has reported extensively on this case and has a lot of background if you want more of the details.  It turns out that the U.S. District Court (i.e. Judge Hernandez) has drawn a line in the sand between “journalist” and “blogger” which at minimum creates an icy chill if not a complete freeze for any blogger engaged in snarky comments or trying to preserve the role of corporate watchdog.

The bottom line is that according to the court, Ms Cox didn’t qualify for Oregon’s media shield law since she wasn’t employed by a media establishment. She is a blogger, not a journalist. The penalty: $2.5 million which serves to effectively shut-down or silence an independent blogger and the free flow of information.

We all know that social media can provide the public the thrill of immediacy. It’s a real-time opportunity to explore relationships with the audiences circling our blog brands. Granted it can be at times an improv-type atmosphere, but the energy created by this immediacy is what ends up making social such a powerful performance medium.  A medium of communicating to the public!

It now seems that unless bloggers have only nice things to say…the U.S. District Court has effectively criminalized the freedom of information in the blogging medium.

Reuters Handbook of Journalism HERE (pdf).

Photo taken in winter 2008

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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