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Archive for August, 2013

"Wind in the face..."

“Wind in the face…”

I’m headed out for some quality “wind in the face” time…  We’re Milwaukee, WI bound and going to take in the 110th Anniversary celebration.

In my mind, most of the fun is in the journey across the country, but once we arrive it will be three days of events both big and small to excite and entertain all who attend. Sixty bands with top tier musical acts daily. Factory tours, museum tours, demo rides, and plenty of refreshments and Milwaukee hospitality…you name it and the motor company has thought about it along with the great city of Milwaukee we’re clearly going to be wow’ed.  If you need more info on the 110th Anniversary go HERE

I know that for many the recession/depression-like economy over the past few years has limited many a family budgets.  And sustaining a cash flow causes everyone to rethink rally expenditures.

So if you can’t attend, local artist, Doug LeTendre, is the guy behind “Little Pictures by Doug, LLC“. He makes cards in honor of everything Milwaukee and Wisconsin. It’s unique artwork that is original, hand-made cards for only $20 for a pack of ten.  He’s now working on a card to commemorate the H-D 110th Anniversary.

It’s some cool art.  Click on Doug’s cards to see a sample of his original art. 

I’ll see you in Milwaukee to wish Harley-Davidson a happy 110th Anniversary!  Ride safe my friends.

Photo courtesy of Hallmark.

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2014 Road King

2014 CVO® Road King® FLHRSE

“Life is like that.  There’s always more, always a reveal.”  — Cheryl Strayed (Book Author – “Wild”)

During this week’s launch of the new 2014 models, Harley-Davidson stated it has made a monumental shift in the product development approach with Project RUSHMORE.  There was very little in the way of specific or actionable detail about that new development process.

This absence of any detail is most intriguing.

Shouldn’t the motor company share some insight about their cutting-edge manufacturing processes or renewed focus on quality that will provide an even greater market advantage or leave little competitive oxygen?  Sure, they’re using “chrome dipped” marketing words to describe the core ingredient of a new customer-driven product development effort, but in building a better mouse trap it’s a bit abstract to state that the motor company is working with motorcycle enthusiasts to do a better job of bringing their insights and needs to new motorcycles.  What’s different now versus previous years when they listened and collected rider feedback?

And speaking of new motorcycles, the CVO models launched for 2014 are:

  • CVO® Road King® FLHRSE
  • CVO® Electra Glide Ultra Limited® FLHTKSE
  • CVO® Softail® Breakout FXSBSE
  • CVO® Softail Deluxe FLSTNSE
2013 CVO® Road King® FLHRSE

2013 CVO® Road King® FLHRSE

Let’s take a closer look at the first one on the list, the new 2014 CVO Road King.  I’ve got a riding buddy who purchased a 2013 CVO model and I’ve been around this style motorcycle a good bit on various rides.  I’ve also been a long term rider/owner of a Road King and can state it’s a nice bike!  One of the key selling points (print and online) for the 2013 CVO Road King was the high-performance audio system.  It was a FIRST on a non-fairing motorcycle and included a 200 watt amplifier to drive speakers in the fairing lowers in front and the saddlebag lids behind.  A cocoon of audio on a Road King!

The first thing I noticed in looking over the stats of the 2014 CVO Road King is that MSRP dropped $1500 from the previous year.   The 2013 is $29,999 and the 2014 is $28,499.

Huh? 

On average, pricing on 2014 models went up 3.5% (yr/yr) and reductions in price rarely happen unless it’s technology/PC related.

The mainstream motorcycle media and press picked up on the Road King price reduction.  But, it was reported as if some kind of magical process appeared at the Harley-Davidson factory and reduced the price.  I’ve scanned numerous reports and NOTHING was written about the – big reveal – fairing lowers and front speakers were removed.  Along with the saddlebag speakers.  And that 8GB iPod – gone.  Or how the 200W high-performance audio amp was removed along with the handlebar controls. 

I’m not trying to be snarky, but did Project RUSHMORE (that new customer-driven product development effort) provide rider feedback that CVO Road King riders felt choked by the lack of bag space on road trips?  Were Road King riders depressed about the lack of space?   Did the CVO Road King owners tell the motor company that it was too difficult to operate the audio system?  Should non-fairing motorcycles be about wind in the face and never have an audio system period?  It would be very interesting to know the facts and what feedback translated into the re-engineering and removal of the audio system.   I suspect that rider feedback had little to do with this decision.

When the 2014 Harley-Davidson marketing collateral states “the road trip will never be the same” they truly mean it for the CVO Road King owners!

Photos courtesy of H-D.

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2014 Ultra Limited

2014 Ultra Limited

At the Harley-Davidson dealership meeting in Denver this morning, the company introduced eight new motorcycles for 2014. 

Proclaimed the largest new model launch in the company’s 110-year history, the eight new motorcycles feature improved power and braking performance, enhanced rider ergonomics, and styling updates.  The eight new models are the Road King®, Street Glide®, Street Glide® Special, Electra Glide® Ultra Classic®, Ultra Limited, Tri Glide® Ultra, CVO Ultra Limited and CVO Road King®.

2014 StreetGlide

2014 StreetGlide

All these motorcycles fall under a new product development moniker (“Project RUSHMORE“), announced about four years ago, with the intent to bring new bikes and features to the marketplace faster.  The key areas of RUSHMORE are:

Control:  The motorcycles will pass faster, stop quicker and allow riders to see farther at night.  Some models feature the new Twin-Cooled™ High Output Twin Cam 103™ while others get the new High Output Twin Cam 103™ powertrain – both with fuel injection.  Reflex™ Linked Brakes with ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System) is new for all models and the new Daymaker™ LED is also standard on some models while others get new Dual Halogen lighting.  The Linked braking, means braking with the front and rear wheels is synchronized and the system will automatically calculate the amount of braking that’s necessary under the existing conditions.

Infotainment: The Boom! Box infotainment systems feature voice recognition and touchscreen for music, GPS navigation and phone in motorcycling, with audio, Bluetooth® connectivity, text-to-speech technology, plus support for intercom and CB communications in a single module.  H-D integrated the vehicle information in a single electronic touch screen.  There are five-way joy sticks on the left and right motorcycle hand controls for most of the system’s functions.

Feel: Aerodynamics and ergonomics are improved – with a new Batwing fairing with splitstream venting, which reduces head buffeting and with wider and deeper seats and new back and arm rests.  The motorcycle hand controls have been redesigned, and the number of dash gauges have been reduced from six to four — with temperature and oil pressure readouts moved to the electronic screen and the gauges made larger for better visibility.

Style: The function of several components are improved such as the larger Tour-Pak® and saddlebags with convenient One-Touch latches, sleeker fenders, lighter cast aluminum wheels and intuitive hand control switches.

Other changes in the 2014 lineup include anti-lock brakes on all five Sportster models, a new CVO Softail Deluxe that comes with a detachable windshield with GPS navigation, Daymaker LED lighting and detachable saddlebags.  Also, the Twin Cam 103 engine is now standard equipment on the Street Bob and Super Glide Custom models.

On the surface the changes look positive and bring H-D more in alignment with the competition.  It’s peculiar that the motor company goes to great lengths to hype part of the “new” development process that now includes formal focus groups and events like motorcycle shows and music festivals, and simply chatting with customers!

Huh?  Is H-D marketing implying they didn’t have product focus groups prior?

I’m looking forward to getting a look at the bikes at the 110th Anniversary in Milwaukee.  I wonder how much difference the additional head cooling makes on the engine?  The new Boom! Box infotainment radio with improved connectivity and text-to-speech technology is a welcome update because the old radio was dated and in serious need of an update.

Photos courtesy of H-D.

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Indian TankCoincidence? 

On Friday, August 9th, three days after the Indian launch, the Harley-Davidson Chief Financial Officer, John Olin sold 11,104 shares of HOG stock.  The stock was sold at an average price of $59.00, for a total transaction of $655,136.00. Following the transaction, the CFO now directly owns 12,702 shares in the company. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, at this link.

Just a couple of days later Harley-Davidson CEO, Keith Wandell sold 77,102 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, August 13th. The shares were sold at an average price of $58.82, for a total transaction of $4,535,139.64. Following the sale, Mr. Wandell now directly owns 70,545 shares in the company.  Those stock options must be working out for him as he now owns three motorcycles; a Street Glide CVO 2011; Road King Classic; and Dyna Wide Glide. 

Well-heeled Riders

Well-heeled Riders

As is often the situation with an executive selling  stock it was likely in the pipeline for weeks prior to the actual sale.

But, after the Great Recession began, the lingering impact of the worst downturn in a half-century continues to deplete the standard of living on the middle-class American household.  Let’s face it, the big factor in the market for anything expensive nowadays is that the only people who have disposable income are the super-rich… and THEY have more of it than anyone has ever had in all of human history.

Sure it’s become trite to slam the rich and I’m trying not to be repetitive.

But, it’s not about being ostentatious:  the super-rich don’t care about impressing the rest of us, because they never see us. They glide from the gated community to the private jet to the island vacation home without encountering any “downscalers.”  They mix exclusively with the other super-rich, and those are the only people they care about impressing.

And that’s tough, because when you’ve got enough money to buy about anything that’s ever been made without a second thought, you have to realize that the guy living next door to your McMansion can buy it too.  So, you’ve just ordered a one-off custom color CVO with a turquoise ostrich-skin seat with matching hand-made gloves and boots?  He’ll give it a glance and say, “Not bad. I think I’ll get a couple for my kids to use when they’re home from prep school.”

So, if really you want to one-up your neighbors by owning something they can’t, your choices are restricted to items with a built-in limited supply, such as art works, and a U.S. Congressmen. Or in keeping with a narrower interpretation of that custom motorcycle style genre, just minimize the amount of tchotchkes on that bone stock H-D motorcycle.

Simple is the new chrome and when your well-heeled fellow riders guffaw, you just have to learn to smirk in a superior way and say, “I guess you don’t grasp the irony…”

Photos courtesy of Indian Motorcycle and Flickr.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Shark Week III - Utah

Shark Week III – Utah

This blog post is a continuation from HERE.

The next day we decided to avoid the large group ride, instead to venture on our own ride.   We planned to do an approximately 300 mile loop to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park.

Though one of the smallest of southern Utah’s national parks, it’s visually stunning, particularly at sunrise and sunset when an orange wash sets the rock formations ablaze.   There are steep trails that descend from the rim into the 1000ft amphitheaters of pastel color daggers, then continue through a maze of juniper trees in the high-mountain desert.

Zion National Park

Zion National Park

The high altitude meant cooler temperatures (80°F)  than in St. George.  And if we were looking for solitude on the road we wouldn’t find it out here.  The crowds and RV’s had arrived in force clogging the park’s main road as we watched ill prepared visitors explore the trails.

The Native Americans once called this colorful landscape of jumbled rocks and sedimentary canyons the Land of the Sleeping Rainbow and it was easy to see why when you snapped a photo.

'Glidin' Bryce Canyon

‘Glidin’ Bryce Canyon with Sandcastle-like Spires

We made a number of stops in the park and walked around for photo op’s and then made our way back to the entrance.

Prior to leaving the park we had a late lunch in the Cowboy’s Buffet and Steak Room.  Yeah, they had National Park prices, but it was quite tasty food.

Afterward we headed back through the park to St. George and the oppressive heat.

Bryce Canyon Panorama

At Bryce Point Overlooking Bryce Canyon – Panorama

The St. George’s forecast was Howard Beale-esque.  “We’re hot as hell, and we didn’t want to take it anymore!”  Apologies to actor Peter Finch’s rant as the “mad as hell” broadcaster from the 1976 film “Network,” but Utah was in a sizzling grip of triple-digit temperatures and we were getting sick of it!

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon Hoodoos

It was the first time I could recall where I’ve been on a motorcycle ride and unable to sit outside during the evening.  At 11pm at night it was in the high 90’s.  We didn’t need to watch the news to understand there was a heat advisory.

We sat in the A/C room looking over maps and determining what direction or ride to take on the next day.

Tunnel Riding Toward Bryce Canyon

Tunnel Riding Toward Bryce Canyon

We had a member of the posse that attempted an “Iron Butt” ride.  He departed a couple days later than the main group on Tuesday, July 30th and was scheduled to arrive that evening from Portland, OR to St. George UT (approx. 1034 miles) in less than 24 hours ride.  He arrived around 9:30pm with all the documents and gas receipts in hand as well as a navigation unit with the stats to validate his ride.  Congrats and BIG props for that accomplishment!

"Big Ben" Completes Iron Butt - 1034 Miles!

“Ben” Does An Iron Butt – 1036 Miles Under 24 Hrs!

One of our riders (MC) had to split from the group and return home early for a friend’s wedding.   He planned to leave early the next morning and the remainder of our group had decided to ride out early to Las Vegas, stay overnight and then loop back north on Highway 95 and take a couple extra days for our return ride.

It’s very difficult to write/post the following…

More Bryce Canyon

The Land Of Sleeping Rainbows

We awoke early Wednesday (July 31st) morning to get a jump on the heat of the day.  We were just getting out of the showers and packing up the gear about 7:30am when the cell phone rang…

It was the sheriff and he stated that “MC” was hit by a car in the Bluff Street-Red Hills Parkway intersection.  This was about 3 miles from the hotel.  The person who got the call rushed up to the intersection.  The rest of us got there about 10-15 minutes later.  We arrived to see the paramedics working on him and prepping him for Life Flight.  Once the helicopter took off we helped clear debris and gather up some personal belongings.

Life Flight Takes MC

Life Flight Takes “MC” To Dixie Regional Medical Center

We talked to St. George Police Sgt. Craig Harding about the accident.  He stated that “MC” was traveling northbound on Bluff Street through the Red Cliffs Parkway intersection.  This is the last red light leaving town!  There is some disagreement by multiple eye witnesses whether “MC” was on a solid green or just changed to yellow light. While traveling through the intersection, “MC” was initially cut off by a southbound car making a left turn toward Red Hills Parkway.  Some witnesses reported that “MC” yelled at the first car before being hit in the side by a second car who had clearly run the light and was also making a left turn.   None of it mattered as the driver of the second car was cited for failure to yield to oncoming traffic.

The impact left “MC” with significant injuries to his left leg (multiple compound fractures).  He was in surgery for nearly 4 hours.  He has a broken collar bone, severely smashed ankle/foot, head trauma (3” gash around the left eye) and other miscellaneous cuts, scrapes and bruises to his arms and hands.  He was coherent at the accident scene and the reason why we got the phone call so fast.

"MC" Enjoying The NV Desert And Ride On Hwy 93

“MC” Enjoying The NV Desert And Ride On Hwy 93

It’s one thing to read and blog about motorcycle accidents, but quite different being there in person and knowing the rider.  The 4 mile ride to the hospital was very difficult.

In the trauma center doctors told us they were extremely concerned with the potential loss of his foot.  In fact, they prepped “MC” while in his pain medicated state about how he could lose the foot.  We all thanked God that he was alive and not paralyzed.  Dr. Clark told us following the accident in the trauma center…“The boot might have saved the foot… but, the helmet saved his life!”

We stayed at the trauma center for a couple of days until significant others arrived in St. George.   We then started our return ride home be it with some riding anxiety and shaken confidence.

The EMT’s, Life Flight personnel, the trauma doctors, and nursing staff all deserve a HUGE debt of gratitude.  Also a shout-out to Dr. Clark!  Yeah I know that a shout-out from this blogger is not nearly enough, but it’s a small start and I’m sure when “MC” is feeling better he’ll show them this post.  I also want to send a big shout-out to Mike aka “Shark Daddy.”  He rushed to the scene prior to the Life Flight arrival and helped in an immeasurable way by talking and holding onto “MC” as he was being worked on by the EMTs.

Lastly, I want to extend a special thank you and evangelize my appreciation and gratitude to the Shark Week organizers and attendees.  During the closing awards dinner the group passed a hat around and collected over a $1000 cash and presented it to “MC” in the hospital to help out with medical expenses.

Ron “Stray Mutt,” you and the group are absolutely awesome and I can’t begin to remember or list all the names of our new “best friends!”  Just know that we’re telling everyone about the groups generosity and kindness.

Final comment is to “MC”… get well buddy so that we can all ride another day!

Part 1 of this blog post is HERE.

UPDATE: August 13, 2013 – It’s been almost 2-weeks since MC’s accident.  All the prayers and outreach have helped because the news and trend on his recovery and foot/leg is positive each day.  Thank you!  He was recently transferred to an Acute Rehabilitation Unit where he is undergoing intensive physical therapy.  MC is in good spirits along with getting terrific support from his sig other (Sherry).  Both have an attitude to push forward and through the healing/rehab process and I’m sure we’ll continue to hear good news.  Yesterday he spent a couple hours in a hyperbaric chamber with enriched oxygen to increase blood flow and to help heal his foot. 

Unfortunately he is facing mounting medical expenses.  The driver of the automobile (using his girlfriend’s car) had minimal insurance coverage and MC is unemployed and under insured.  We’re looking into fund raisers to help, and appreciate everyone’s continued positive thoughts and prayers as we work on a plan to get him transported back to Oregon.

UPDATE: August 21, 2013 – MC was scheduled to be release from Acute Rehab today, but unfortunately he suffered a major heart attack while lying in bed this morning.  MC was rushed to the Dixie Regional Medical Center ER for emergency surgery.  He will be back in the ICU within a couple hours. Reports are that the angioplasty and stent placement surgery is going well.  Sadly, this is exactly where MC started out twenty-one days ago almost to the exact hour. The trauma doctors at Dixie are awesome and he’s in a good place if this was going to happen.

UPDATE: September 18, 2013Many are already aware of this, but in case you just landed on this blog post and didn’t know, you can now get updates or follow MC’s recovery progress HERE on Facebook or on his blog HERE.

Photos by author.

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Fire near Goldendale, WA casts smoke on I-84

Fire near Goldendale, WA casts smoke on I-84

“The boot might have saved the foot… but, the helmet saved his life!”  said Dr. Clark, Dixie Region Medical Trauma Center.

But, let me go back to the beginning.

You haven’t heard from me for several days because I was on a ride to southern Utah for the annual Shark Week gathering.

Shark huh?

backward-picI’m not talking about the Discovery Channel event this week, but a semi-secret society of Shark Nose owners (a.k.a. Road Glide or ‘Glides’) that meet up on an annual basis and talk about the joy of wrenching and riding a ‘Glide’.  More importantly was the opportunity to ride through Zion National Park and see Bryce Canyon up close.  You know, those sorbet-colored, sandcastle-like spires and hoodoos that look like something straight out of a science fiction movie.

Mineral Hot Springs

Mineral Hot Springs

So we loaded up the iron steeds and rolled out of Portland early in route to St. George, Utah.  It seems that ‘Gliders’ like to awaken and ride off early.  Not me so much, but I conformed with the posse knowing that the previous 5-days had record heat and getting a lot of miles under our belt prior to the real oppressive heat would be a good thing.

We planned to take three days to cover the approximately 1100 miles to St. George.

On the first morning it was some good and quite riding with the gorge wind on our backs.  The first bit of change was due to a fire near Goldendale, WA., which blanketed I-84 and much of eastern Oregon with a thick blanket of smoke, but we rode on.  We did a quick ‘drive-by’ at the Oregon H.O.G. event in Pendleton, but it was largely winding down on Saturday (July 27th) so we continued heading east.

Downtown Boise, ID

Downtown Boise, ID

The first overnight stop was in Boise which seems to have a perpetual Basque street party anytime we arrive.  I didn’t see any Basque athletes, but supposedly they are famous for their feats of strength.  Something about dragging around a 1500 pound rock attached to a belt.  We did see some husky dudes that likely played on the college football team.  We ate dinner at the Reef Restaurant and enjoyed some refreshments in the Tiki Bar.

Snake River Panorama

Snake River Panorama

We rolled out early the next morning and were making good time on the interstate.  We crossed the Snake River at Twin Falls and headed south on Highway 93.  We decided to overnight in the small copper mining town of Ely, NV.  It’s located at the cross-road of highways U.S. 50 (“Loneliest Road In America”) and U.S. 93.  There is a newer La Quinta Inn that was quite nice and we ate dinner at the La Fiesta Mexican restaurant.  There was a group of riders coming in from Cali that all rode Screamin’ Eagle touring models.  It looked like a dealer convention and we chatted with them for a while and share some stories.

It's a long road...

Highway 93 Stretches Across the NV Desert

The next morning (Monday – July 29) we continued on U.S. 93 where the road stretches across the Nevada desert with very few services.  We had a light wind at our backs and I recall Molly Hatchet’s, “Flirtin’ With Disaster” sounding especially good.

I know, a third-rate boogie band.  But, it was different in the seventies.  It was overplayed to death back then, and the boomers know it by heart and get a nostalgic thrill every time we hear it today.  You see country records rarely had any presence north of the Mason-Dixon line, and southern rock bands dominated the airwaves, to the point where we got imitation acts, like Molly Hatchet, third generation stuff that was easily dismissible, except for the hits.  And that’s what the rednecks and the northerners had in common. This sound. It brought us together. Because it could not be denied. And it was always played by southerners. First, the Allman Brothers. Then Lynyrd Skynyrd. Then the Outlaws and Molly Hatchet.

But I’ve digressed.

Showers roll across the desert

Showers Roll Across The Desert

In the town of Panaca we took Highway 319/56.  The road continued to be flat and most straight with a few zig-zag’s across the irrigated farm land.  At the Beryl Junction, we made a brief stop at a John Deere farm implement business/gas station and then we rode south on Highway 18.  It was too long and the heat became oppressive as rode down into the valley.  Most of day we were at higher altitudes and it was comfortable, but about an hour outside St. George, Utah it felt like a furnace.

Arrived at Shark Week III

Arrived at Shark Week III

Off to our right I noticed that the afternoon sun was casting shadows on Snow Canyon State Park.  It’s a canyon about 15 minutes from St. George carved from red and white Navajo sandstone in the Red Mountains.  Finally we had arrived in St. George.   We checked into the Shark Week III event at the Lexington Hotel and after a day of desert heat we were badly in need of food, showers, air condition and some rest.  Mostly showers!

After showers and some dinner we thought about sitting outside with some chairs in the parking area, but it was too hot.  We did wander the parking area and chatted up the planned events with the other ‘Gliders’.  It’s a great  group of folks and was nice to meet some fellow ‘Gliders.’

The blog post continues HERE which provides more details on the Dr. Clark comment.

Photos taken by author.

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