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Archive for the ‘2010 Models’ Category

Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 3.41.17 PMI’ve never been ask this question, but I was curious how you know if you’re under Federal investigation?

In Harley-Davidson’s case it might have been a knock on the door of the Milwaukee HQ.

As it turns out, the U.S. government is investigating complaints from Harley-Davidson owners who say their motorcycle brakes failed without warning.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states the investigation covers 430,000 motorcycles with model years from 2008 through 2011 and the investigation stems from motorcycles with an anti-lock braking system.

A common motorcycle maintenance task is to replace the hydraulic fluid in the brake system.  Check your service manual, but for many Harley-Davidson models it’s recommended to change the D.O.T. 4 fluid and flush the brake system every two years.

Did you know brake fluid can collect condensation over time from the outside air?  Brake fluid collects water in a similar fashion as your McDonald’s soda cup has water droplets on the outside. Hydraulic fluid will over time absorb water which causes the fluid to boil when the brakes are applied and will reduce effectiveness of the system.  A spongy brake feel might be a combination of contaminated brake fluid or air in the system. Either way, changing the brake fluid is often recommended.

41300152_obBut, I’ve digressed.  Motorcyclists have reported that the brakes on the hand lever and foot pedal did not work, causing one driver to crash into a garage door.

Government regulators said they’ve received 43 complaints, three reports of crashes and two reports of injuries.  The NHTSA said it is possible that some riders who experienced brake failure did not change the motorcycle’s brake fluid every two years as recommended by Harley-Davidson Inc.  The old fluid may corrode valves in the anti-lock braking system, but even if riders did not change the fluid, the sudden brake failure “is a concern.”This is not a motorcycle product safety recall as of yet.

Harley-Davidson stated it was aware of the Federal investigation and that it was cooperating with regulators.

Photos courtesy of H-D.

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Can-Am Spyder

Can-Am Spyder

Hype, or is Bombardier taking a gamble?  But, lets start at the beginning.

U.S. safety regulators are investigating two reports of fires in the Can-Am Spyder three-wheeled motorcycles.

The motorcycles are made by Bombardier Recreational Products Inc.  (BRP) of Canada and the probe covers about 52,000 motorcycles from the 2008 through 2014 model years and they are looking into what is causing the fires.

Bombardier has had three recalls to date in 2012 and 2013, and all involved the risk of fires. Last year, the company recalled about 8,200 Spyders because brake fluid leaks could cause fires. In 2012 it recalled about 34,000 because fuel vapors could leak due to an ill-fitting gas cap. It also recalled 9,600 because fuel vapors could exit a vent hose in the engine compartment.

I don’t want to draw any similarities because these are very different situations, but many of you might recall the Ford Pinto.  It was one of the biggest continuing automotive news stories in the late 1970s with dramatic tales of exploding Fords on the highway and considerable awards from civil-court juries that were presented to victims of accidents involving the cars.

At the time, experts calculated the value of a human life at around $200,000, while a serious burn injury was worth about $67,000. Using an estimate of 180 deaths and 180 serious burns, someone at Ford put on paper that the cost to redesign and rework the Pinto’s gas tank would cost close to $137 million, while possible liability costs worked out to around $49 million.

Ford’s corporate legal machine went to work, however, when the memos regarding the liability assessments were leaked and entered into evidence, the cases were as good as over and Ford paid dearly in civil claims, public image and as a brand for product safety.

Former Ford exec Lee Iacocca reflecting on the Pinto incident and Ford’s attempts to control the damage, made this summation in his book Talking Straight“Clamming up is what we did at Ford in the late ’70s when we were bombarded with suits over the Pinto, which was involved in a lot of gas tank fires. The suits might have bankrupted the company, so we kept our mouths shut for fear of saying anything that just one jury might have construed as an admission of guilt. Winning in court was our top priority; nothing else mattered.”

BRP is a world leader in the design, manufacturing, distribution, and marketing of motorized recreational vehicles and powersports engines.

The term “transparency” means much more than the standard business definition and its my hope that the company will be candid with the motorcycle riding public beyond the narrow interpretation of legal compliance on the risk of fires.

Photo courtesy of BRP.

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Purpose-2012With a cocktail of high-strength steel, aluminum, magnesium, rubber and plastic Harley-Davidson adds flexibility, functionality and refreshed paint schemes to their model lineup each year.

By the numbers, 2012 was a pivotal year for Harley-Davidson.  Earnings per share up 16.7%, revenue growth up 6%, $280M annual savings from restructuring, sales outreach with the 18-34 demographic grew at twice the rate of core customers, but in the first ever Consumer Reports’ motorcycle reliability survey, conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center about 1-in-4 owners of Harley-Davidson motorcycles reported experiencing a major problem with the motorcycle in the previous four years.

Twenty-five percent had a major problem!

H-D Executive Leadership Team

H-D Executive Leadership Team

It turns out that BMW motorcycles were even less reliable than a Harley-Davidson with about 1-in-3 owners reporting problems in the previous four years.  How did the Japanese manufactures perform?  Only about 1-in-10 Yamaha owners experienced issues during that time, followed closely by Kawasaki and Honda.

However, reliability problems don’t seem to affect the satisfaction scores of owners and their bikes.  When asked whether, considering everything, they would buy their bike again if they had to do it over, 75% of Harley-Davidson owners said definitely yes, closely followed by 74% of BMW owners and 72% of Honda owners.  In contrast, only 63 and 60% of Yamaha and Kawasaki owners, respectively, would buy their bike again.

Both BMW and Harley-Davidson riders have segments that skew more toward the enthusiast and hardcore, meaning they tend to keep bikes longer and I wonder if this says something about the riders than the bikes.  Could H-D riders be more critical about problems?

AZ Proving Grounds Video

AZ Proving Grounds Video

In 2012, the average U.S. retail purchaser of a new Harley-Davidson motorcycle had a median household income of approximately $89,500. The Company defined its U.S. core customer base as Caucasian men over the age of 35 and its U.S. outreach customers as women, young adults, African-American adults, and Latino adults. (Sources: 2012 Company 10K and 2012 Annual Review)  The motor company no longer provides data on age demographics which had been rising in recent years.

Reliability is only one of several factors buyers consider when purchasing a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.  Among the bikes that needed repairs, survey respondents reporting having the most trouble with accessories, such as lights, instruments, switches, and radios (21 percent), brakes (20 percent), the electrical system (16 percent), and the fuel system (15 percent).  Most of the repairs were fairly inexpensive, but for a company whose reputation relies heavily on the quality of its products the 1-in-4 number is perplexing.

The survey results can be viewed by subscribers at the ConsumerReports.org web site and in the May issue of Consumer Reports.

Photos courtesy of H-D.  

H-D Executive Leadership Team photo: (Left to Right — Tonit Calaway (VP, Human Resources); John Olin (Sr. VP and CFO); Keith Wandell (Chairman, President and CEO); Lawrence Hund (President and COO HDFS); John Baker (GM, Corp Strategy and Business Development); Joanne Bischmann (VP, Communications); Paul Jones (VP, General Counsel))

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H-D Brake Light Switch

Harley-Davidson issues a recall notice, NHTSA Campaign ID Number 11V506000NHTSA, earlier in the week.  The component in question is the brake light switch.

According to the recall report excessive heat from the exhaust may cause the switch to not activate the brake lamp or activate the brake lamp when no brake is applied and/or cause a brake fluid leak at the brake light switch.  H-D is recalling certain model year 2009 – 2012 Touring, CVO Touring and Trike motorcycles manufactured from June 6, 2008 – September 16, 2011.
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The list of affected models is significant and the potential number of units is over 250,000.  H-D will notify owners and dealers will install a rear brake light switch kit free of charge.  The recall is expected begin on or about October 31, 2011.  Owners may contact H-D at (414)343-4056 or go to NHTSA for more information.
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Photo courtesy of H-D.
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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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Northwest Harley Blog Health-o-Meter

Contrary to some of my previous posts, I’m just not a numbers guy.

I’m no mathematician, but I know the odds of winning the lottery are astronomical and for the most part I balance my checkbook, so when earlier in the month I received an email from the WordPress crew congratulating me on the Northwest Harley Blog stats for 2010 I was a bit skeptical.

The dichotomy doesn’t escape me.  It’s like the advertising industry promoting itself through ads or how Fox Business News promotes itself with on-air promos that declare it the best [pick your adjective here].  So it is with some speculation and a good deal of in trepidation that I offer up this (as some will see it) self-promo and recap for 2010:

Stats: This blog was viewed more than 207,000 times in 2010. I wrote 170 new posts, growing the total archive on the blog to 708 posts. I uploaded 307 pictures – about 6 pictures per week – with the busiest day of the year being September 10th.  Since starting the blog, the all time busiest day was March 9, 2009 (9,120 page views) from this blog post HERE.

Where did they come from?: The top referring sites in 2010 were hdforums.comen.wikipedia.orgmahalo.com, and en.wordpress.com.  A lot of visitors came to the site by searching, mostly for sons of anarchysusanne klatten, occ, vagos mcjay dobynsyakuza, and old motorcycles.

Main attractions in 2010: Below are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010:

1.    Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs Are New Media Darlings May 2008; 85 comments
2.    Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs Flying Colors in Oregon May 2008; 44 comments
3.    Vagos MC Meeting In Grants Pass August 2008; 63 comments
4.    OCC Family Feud Ends February 2010; 4 comments
5.    Vintage Motorcycles – Honda CB750 April 2008; 7 comments

It’s unfortunate that only one post in 2010 hit the top 5, but it’s gratifying that some of the more popular posts written before 2010 indicate that the content has staying power.

What about Facebook?: According to AllThingsNow.com the highest shared post on Facebook related to the Patriot Guard HERE.  If interested you can see all the details of shared articles via Facebook HERE.

My take away from all the stats?  I’m fairly objective when it comes to evangelization, but if I had to write a 10 second news headline it would be something like:  “Northwest Harley Blog: After three years a solid start, has a few rough spots.  Sometimes brings deep motorcycle news to the masses. It’s an informative site to surf and may well draw both avid motorcyclists and the non- riding public viewers in which Harley-Davidson seeks”.

Okay, back to quality writing and time to put away the self-promo soapbox!

Photo courtesy of WordPress.com

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Helmet Impact Attenuation Test

Or are they?  Ever wonder what standards and the testing that goes into DOT and/or SNELL certified helmets?

I did, but first some background.

Tucked within the Department of Transportation is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which regulates the performance of motorcycle helmets (among other vehicle products) under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966. In accordance with the Safety Act, NHTSA promulgated Standard No. 218, which spells out the testing procedures that helmets sold in the U.S. must satisfy.

One of these procedures is an “impact attenuation test,” which involves the dropping of a helmet from a minimum height of six feet onto an anvil to measure the effect of the impact on the helmet. Id. at S7.1. Another test applies force to a helmet’s chin strap to determine whether the helmet will remain in place during a crash. See id. at S7.3.

Interestingly, Standard 218 relies on self-certification, which means that companies test and certify their own helmets rather than having NHTSA do it for them. When helmets pass the test, the companies place a Department of Transportation (“DOT”) label on them.  NHTSA enforces these requirements by randomly purchasing helmets, employing independent companies to run compliance tests on them and publishing the results.

DOT certified helmets according to conventional wisdom are typically less-expensive than SNELL certified helmets.  I’m not so sure given the internet pricing these days.  At any rate, the SNELL Memorial Foundation (a not-for-profit American organization funded by helmet makers) sets widely adopted standards for helmet performance.  In fact, Formula 1’s sanctioning body, the FIA, has a similar helmet standard that applies to many racing events.  The SNELL certification sticker on a helmet means it has passed a series of tests that hopefully you’ll never experience!  For example a few of the latest SNELL SA 2010 standards (updated every 5 years) are as follows:

Outer Layer: The outer layer is made from a composite such as fiberglass or carbon fiber and covered with a protective enamel coating.  To meet the SA 2010 standard a helmet must be able to withstand a 1450-degree (F) propane flame for 30 seconds during which the padding inside the helmet can’t exceed 158 degrees.

Face Plate: Open face helmets are acceptable for some, but those who want all the protection possible will opt for a full-face helmet with a visor shield.  The SNELL test calls for a visor shield to resist piercing by one-gram lead pellets fired at it in 3 locations at a speed of 311 MPH.  In addition, the shield must endure 1450-degree (F) torch for 45 seconds without melting.

G-Forces: If you take a serious blow to your helmeted head, most of the force is absorbed by the thick layer of foam.  The SNELL standard mandates the helmet must accelerate the head it’s protecting at a peak of no more than 275g after being struck with an anvil at speeds as high as 17 MPH.  Certain procedures subject the helmet to three of these hits in a row.  The structure of the helmet must remain intact.

I don’t think there is anyone out there who is confused about the purpose of a crash helmet, but now when you see the SNELL or DOT symbol you may have a better appreciation of the standards.

Links to some helmet manufactures:  AraiBellPyrotect ProSchuberth GmbHSimpson

Looking for more information?  There is an interesting article written by Dexter Ford, long-term writer for Motorcyclist, who researched and wrote the article in the New York Times entitled “Sorting Out Differences in Helmet Standards.” It was published on September 25, 2009.  Conspiracy advocates believe Ford was fired over the article which angered the magazines advertisers.

Still looking for more?  The court (Cincinnati-based federal appeals) revives a defective motorcycle helmet claim against Fulmer Helmets HERE.

Photo courtesy of NY Times/Jim Brown.

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