Posts Tagged ‘105th Anniversary Celebration’

Life is short.  Vacations are even shorter.

I don’t know about you, but every year I find myself running up against a shortage of vacation time.  Even if I have the budget for the motorcycle event, I don’t always have the allotted vacation time.

There’s another consideration. Riding anywhere from the Northwest during November – February isn’t like the southern California sunshine or early spring in Arizona! So, with limited time off work and riding round trip to a motorcycle rally means either you reduce the number of events you’ll attend each year or look for alternatives.

I’ve tried several alternatives.  Shipping with a professional transport company, Fly-n-Ride and friends who trailer.  It’s not that I wouldn’t love to ride the round-trip distance. I’ve just got, you know, a job.  Does this mean I’m lame?

That depends on your viewpoint.  Built vs. bought, driven vs. trailer, riding vs. shipping are all very common debates in the motorcycle community.  Individuality has been part of Harley-Davidson experience for over a hundred years and the issue of riding vs. shipping can touch off an emotional reaction for hard-core enthusiasts.  Being “authentic” some would argue, means the tires never leave the blacktop.  On the other side of the opinion page are those with an eye on their shrinking vacation balance.  They know that a journey – even with part of it in a shipping truck – is still an experience in riding, but just in a different way.

A couple of examples from my portfolio of rides.  A few years back I took advantage of a Fly-n-Ride out of Miami, FL.  Traveling 3300 miles one-way across the country is something I would only read about in the trade magazines, but the F&R program afforded me an option of enjoying the open air in a part of the country I rarely visit.  Or take the 105th Anniversary Celebration in Milwaukee a couple years ago.   Being limited on time I rode the 2100 miles out, but had the bike shipped back.  For both of these events I wouldn’t have been able to participate had I needed to “keep the tires on the blacktop” for the entire trip!

I was thinking about this topic after making travel plans for the so-called land of “trailer queens” – Laughlin River Run (April).  I’ve read the blogs too.  L.A. riders who take a whole day in a t-shirt to travel to Laughlin, NV.  About 366 miles and yet they trash talk anyone who arrives via an alternative method.  I say ride it, push it or trailer it is fine as long as you’re out there enjoying the sport.   My plan is to have the bike shipped to Las Vegas and our group is doing a Grand Canyon – Sedona – Laughlin loop over a 4 day period.  Start to finish will be about 1000 miles.  Sure, I’d like to have the extra 4 days to ride roundtrip Portland to Las Vegas, but it’s a question of using those 4 days later in the summer for a trip to Sturgis.

For me it’s about balance and participating in more rides/events.  The perennial debate – fewer trips with more riding miles vs. shipping – will continue as the motorcycle community questions if there is a something better.

Photo courtesy of H.O.G.

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Ice Racing -- Franky Zorn

Yes, it’s been ten years!

Magazines and newspapers with decade-ending rankings have started to appear.

Over the next month, we’re going to be deluged with statistics.  Telling us who the winners were.  People who provided fodder for the system, that you consumed, and forgot.  Best movies, best athlete, best TV shows, best songs, best companies etc.  So, I thought it would be good to go back and compile highlights on the Harley-Davidson decade.

It wasn’t all good news—marked by the roughest economy since the Great Depression.  In pulling together the data I was reminded of a song by James McMurtry’s “We Can’t Make It Here”.  It’s a favorite and one I would vote as the “best” song of the twenty first century, yet it never seems to get air play.  But, this isn’t a rant about how they killed radio and now have us anesthetized in front of the flat screen, selling us products we don’t need, that we put on credit cards that charge 29%.  Sure, McMurtry’s lyrics are poignant, but there’s a hypnotic groove that hooks the listener.  It makes me want to play the song again and again.  But, I’ve moved a little off topic… here is a look back:

2000 — The Softail Deuce is introduced.  All 2000 Softail models have the Twin Cam 88B engine, a counter-balanced version of the Twin Cam 88.

2001 — The V-Rod is introduced for the 2002 model year. Inspired by the VR-1000 racing motorcycle, the V-Rod is H-D’s first motorcycle to combine fuel injection, overhead cams and liquid cooling.  It delivered 115 horsepower.

2002 — The all-new Buell Firebolt is launched.

2003 — Buell launches the Lightning XB9S.  More than 250,000 people come to Milwaukee for the final stop of the Open Road Tour and the H-D 100th Anniversary Celebration.

2004 – The Sportster family models receive rubber engine mounting, a new frame, and a wider rear tire. The Road King Custom is introduced with a low rear suspension and wide handlebars it brings a beach cruiser look to a classic motorcycle.

2005 — The XL 883L Sportster 883 Low brings a lowered seating position to the Sportster line.  H-D and the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) mark the 25th anniversary of their partnership.

2006 — The first of the 6-speed transmissions are made available on 2006 model year Dyna motorcycles. The 2006 model year includes the all-new Street Glide, a lower profile touring motorcycle. H-D appoints Beijing Feng Huo Lun (FHL) as the first authorized H-D dealer on mainland China.

2007 — Union rejected a proposed new collective bargaining agreement for employees and went on a strike at its final assembly operations in York, Pa.  H-D launch the Sportster XL 1200N Nightster. The H-D Foundation and the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Mobile Service Offices (MSOs) launched the Harley’s Heroes Tour.  H-D celebrated 100 years of Police Motorcycle Sales.

2008 – H-D teamed up with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).  H-D holds its 105th Anniversary Celebration and the H.O.G. 25th Anniversary.  H.O.G. launched the Million Mile Monday ride. A H-D Softail stars in the new Indiana Jones movie. H-D acquires MV Agusta Group expanding presence in Europe.  The H-D museum opens to the public. H-D introduces the 2009 Tri Glide Ultra Classic motorcycle (3-wheel).  For 2009 touring models H-D introduces the all-new frame, swingarm, engine mounting system, wheels and tires and new chassis.   The H-D XR1200 is launched in the U.S.

2009 — CEO James Ziemer retires and is replaced by Keith Wandell. H-D reports decreased revenue, net income and diluted earnings per share and provides a new strategy and restructuring update. Buell named Official Pace and Safety Bikes of AMA Pro Road Racing. H.O.G. set a 5 Million Mile Monday goal, but falls just short of the goal. H-D launched the Ride Free II Guarantee program.  H-D rolls out nine new motorcycle models for 2010 across six model platforms. H-D formally enters the motorcycle market in India. H-D unveils long-term business strategy after poor Q3 revenue and announced the discontinue of its Buell product line and plans to divest its MV Agusta unit.  Erik Buell leaves the company to establish Erik Buell Racing.  H-D announced it will keep its motorcycle operations in York, Pa., that includes a restructuring plan which eliminates almost 50% of the workforce.

H-D Revenue: 2000 = $2.24 Billion (2000 was the 15th consecutive year of record revenue); **2009 = $4.08 Billion (back-to-back yearly declines — in ’06 revenue = $4.55B)

H-D U.S. & Canada Market Share (651+cc): 2000 = 45.9%; **2009 = 45%

H-D Gender:  2000 = Male (90%); Female (10%); **2009 = Male (89%); Female (11%)

H-D Median Age: 2000 = 44.2; **2009 = 48.1

H.O.G. Membership: 2000 = 582,400; **2009 = 1.3 Million

Unit Shipments: 2000 = 204,592; **2009 = 225,000

(** indicates estimates as final results not tabulated/reported and subject to change)

From record revenue and income to record downsizing and decline.  I didn’t mean to get you reaching for the Prozac, but it’s not all that bad.  Just like ice racing in winter months can be slippery with the occasional crash, H-D will continue to modify, adapt and adjust to come out on top.

Photo courtesy of Rutger Pauw;  Statistical Sources: H-D; H-D Investor; Google Finance and various analyst estimates.

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