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Posts Tagged ‘2009’

Pony Express2It was a 10-day, 1,900-mile motorcycle journey across seven western states from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California, and took place September 15-24, 2009.

The Pony Express occupies a disproportionate part of the history of the American West.  Cruel hours, terrible weather, life-threatening hostility in every direction, and poor prospects for retirement.   Yet folks lined up to ride uncertainly through trackless and forbidding territory, to sleep on a hard, cold dirt pile and be awakened by the sound of gunfire.

The H.O.G. touring rally retraced the historic route that the original Pony Express riders followed in 1860-61 as they moved mail through America’s Wild West.  Points of interest included various museums tracing the history of the famous ride, and actual Pony Express Station facilities and monuments as well as the opportunity to stand on the original Pony Express trail in several locations.  Ride activities included seven dealer-sponsored events along the route.  Rally attendees covered territory that tested the endurance skills of Pony Express riders on horseback nearly 150 years ago.

 

Pony Express Ride Map

Pony Express Ride Map

There were a number of special events to highlight on this ride.

The first was at Flaming Gorge Harley-Davidson in Green River WY., where Willie G and his wife Nancy participated in a Friendship Dance with the Native American dancers from the Wind River Indian Reservation.

There was also a 500–mile riding stint from Salt Lake City to Carson City, Nev., that was recognized with a unique “500-mile” pin commemorating that segment of the rally.

In addition, all the riders and HOG general manager Benny Suggs along with Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons visited the Northwest Territorial Mint in Dayton, NV on September 23, 2009.  They presented Suggs with a silver medallion along and approximately 500 HOG members also received a version of the national HOG challenge coin which featured the official Harley Owners Group logo on one side and the HOG shield on the other.  Each was uniquely edgemarked with the text, “Pony Express Ride 2009” for the event.  No other HOG challenge coins have been edgemarked, making them prized Harley-Davidson collectibles.

There are a number of ways to enjoy the Pony Express National Historic Trail these days, but not many can say they rode with Willie G on the Pony Express ride!

Photo courtesy of Harley-Davidson.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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There is no place more empty than the spot where your motorcycle used to be!

Motorcyclists often put a great deal of money and attention into customization of their cycles, from elaborate paint schemes, high-performance motor upgrades, exhaust systems to billet custom wheels.  It’s not uncommon for aftermarket parts to add thousands of dollars to the original cost of the motorcycle and the hard earned efforts also capture the attention of thieves.

According to a new report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), motorcycle thefts nationwide have declined at about the same percentage rate as motorcycle sales trends.  A total of 56,093 motorcycles nationwide were reported stolen to law enforcement in 2009, down from 64,492 reported in 2008 or a 13% drop.

The top five manufactures stolen last year and top five states were:

Manufacture Number Stolen Top 5 States (#Stolen)
Honda 13,688 California (6,273)
Yamaha 11,148 Texas (5,526)
Suzuki 9,154 Florida (5,009)
Kawasaki 5,911 North Carolina (3,045)
Harley-Davidson 3,529 Georgia (2,067)
Total 43,430 Total of 5 States (21,920)

The summer months of July (6,319); August (6,079); and June (5,672) saw the most theft activity while the fewest thefts were recorded during the winter months of December (2,927); January (3,570); and February (3,100).

Photo courtesy of NICB.

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It was a Dark Sky Film made in 1970.

The film also appeared under the title Nam’s Angels.  The plot included a biker gang, the Devil’s Advocates who were recruited by the CIA to execute a daring rescue behind enemy lines in Cambodia. After customizing their Yamahas into combat-ready death machines, the gang roars into action on this unlikely suicide mission. Heavy casualties ensue. I kid you not.

I’m not sure if the movie did much if anything to propel Yamaha sales, but this week there are reports the Japanese motorcycle maker (Yamaha Motor) has plans to close seven factories globally with a loss of 1,000 jobs.  This is all in an effort to bounce back from a  Y216.1 billion ($2.7 billion) annual loss in 2009.  Yamaha is the world’s second biggest motorcycle manufacturer after Honda and this streamlining is in addition to a previously announced 10% reduction in the company’s global workforce of 17,000 which is underway.  This is Yamaha’s first loss in 26 years.

Specific plant closure include 5 of its 12 domestic factories by 2012, all in Shizuoka prefecture (central Japan) who now produce parts for motorcycles, marine products and buggies.  In addition, Yamaha will close a motorcycle factory in Italy and a marine products plant in Florida.

It looks like the only motorcycle manufacture beating down the 2009 slowing motorcycle trend was BMW Motorrad.  New products like the K1300GT, S1000 RR Superbike along with the opening of 8 new dealers in the past 5 months has them bullish on the future.

An interesting side bar on The Losers — it’s playing on a television in the background of a motel-room scene between Bruce Willis and Maria de Medeiros in Pulp Fiction. Clearly Quentin Tarantino is one of its fans.

Photo courtesy of Dark Sky.

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Harley-Davidson reported its first quarterly loss since 1993!

No surprise given home foreclosures, unemployment fear, stalled economy and ice-cold demand for high-end, premium priced motorcycles.

For Q4’09, H-D reported revenue of $764.5M and a loss of $147.2M.  Affecting Q4’09 results was the previously announced 53.1% reduction in motorcycle shipments from the year-ago period and $167.1M in restructuring, on the Buell end-of-life costs and the MV Agusta discontinued operations.  For all of 2009; revenue was $4.29B compared to $5.58B in 2008, a 23.1% decrease; income was $70.6M in 2009 compared to $684.2M in 2008, a decrease of 89.7%.  And don’t forget all the non-cash charges related to Harley-Davidson Financial Services (HDFS).

There was a surprise in today’s financial call.  Keith Wandell, (H-D President and CEO) stated: “We also feel good about where we’re at.” Huh?

Isn’t that the kind of thinking that would have Kodak saying that they’re relying on film, or newspapers saying they’re relying on print, or music labels saying they’re relying on CDs.  Just because you can’t see the cliff from where you are, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.  Remember when everyone said no one would read a book on a hand-held electronic device, and suddenly now everyone’s saying the opposite, Kindle’s got so many new competitors and Apples yet-to-be released tablet gets more press than a starlet without panties getting into a car outside a pub.

Mr. Wandell may be referring to his reactive changes the past 8 months and the hope they will restore growth. I’m skeptical, and time will tell if they are the right decisions or if management can execute with a renewed intensity.  But isn’t that just the point.  REACTION to events vs. pro-active change?!  From the outside looking in, the majority of action the company has taken seems REACTIVE.  They curb demand, shrink manufacturing, reduce structural costs, pullback on spending, slash and cut employees, sell off businesses based more on profit margins not on the contribution to the customers soul.  Motorcycle sales are down more at H-D than other manufactures.  Why?

There is a saying: “Businesses should concentrate on their customers’ needs, not on specific products.” — “Marketing Myopia” (1960); Theodore Levitt, Harvard Business School

My opinion is that H-D needs to relearn customer needs.  If you desire to appeal to your core fans, then they’ll want to know that you are in it for the motorcycle hobby/sport, not just the money.  Stop calculating how to get to millions of revenue in a spreadsheet by maximizing this and that.  Just create something rawly desirable, then the revenue will come.  A great hit is more powerful than any marketing campaign.  People don’t need motorcycles, but they want one.  When the product is great.  When it speaks to them.  When it’s seen as integral to their lives.  You’ll have something!

Photo courtesy of JupiterImages.

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The U.S. motorcycle market endured some tough times as a whole in 2009.  According to recently released industry sales figures U.S. motorcycle sales declined 41% this past year, however, a couple northwest Harley-Davidson dealers were named among the Top 100:

MONTANABeartooth Harley-Davidson/Hi Mountain Recreation (Billings)
WASHINGTONDowntown Harley-Davidson Renton (Renton)

Non-Harley dealers in Oregon – Bend Euro Moto (Bend), Moto Corsa (Portland) were named to the Top 100 along with Renton Motorcycles (Renton), Skagit Powersports (Burlington), and South Sound Motorcycles (Fife) all based in Washington.  Interestingly there were no dealers from Idaho, Utah or Nevada.

The Annual Top 100 Awards is a juried competition that recognizes dealerships for the achievements in retail design and merchandising, e-commerce, customer service, community involvement and general business management. More information on the competition can be found HERE.

Congrats!

Photo courtesy of Advanstar Communications Inc.

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Nearly two weeks into January and I suspect most of us have long since abandoned our New Year’s resolutions.   Yeah, I’ve been slow to hit the treadmill too.

The cold weather and holiday lures many motorcycle riders into snacking more and with that often comes a little extra weight.  Come spring riding season we’ll jump on the motorcycle… add helmets, rain gear, sleeping bag, food, and clothing along with a duffle bag of camping gear to the bike and unknowingly may have overloaded it.  Many riders don’t give weight limits or baggage much thought.  We’ve seen them… cruising down the road with multiple bungee straps holding their leaning cargo… a disaster in the making.  Of course the real danger is weight limits can contribute to tire failure.

Like all motor vehicles, motorcycles are manufactured to specific weight limits, but it’s not always easy to figure out the correct limits.   Lucky for us the Edwards legal firm, pulled together a web site which provides quick and easy weight calculations for Harley-Davidson and other cruiser motorcycles.  It’s a unique marketing tool disguised as customer advice.  They are at the end of the day in the business of providing legal representation should you need it, but the weight calculator serves a very useful purpose.

If you’re old school and want to reference the Owner’s Manual fine.  However, many owners’ manuals including Harley-Davidson’s only list the bike’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). So, you’ll need to calculate what weight is available for passengers, gear and fuel. It’s a little challenging, but find the motorcycle’s “as-shipped weight,” also known as “dry weight.” This is the bike’s weight alone, not including gas and other liquids. Sometimes, weight is expressed as “wet weight,” which is the weight of the bike plus all liquids. If there is no “wet weight” specified, it’s suggested to add 50 pounds to the “dry weight” (a gallon of gas weighs about six pounds plus other fluids). Subtract the motorcycle’s “wet weight” from the GVWR. The result is the maximum amount of weight you can put on the bike, including passengers.

I found the site rather interesting especially when comparing the differences in weight capability of the new H-D touring chassis/frame which was introduced on 2009 models vs. my older ride.

Photo courtesy Flickr.

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H-D announced a recall order that according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) could affect up to 111,569 motorcycles.

Touring motorcycles are manufactured in York County, PA at the Springettsbury Township plant which has been under a lot of pressure to ratify a new labor agreement.  More information HERE on the approval of that agreement.  In addition, H-D announced this week that effective December 16, 2009 Ed Magee would be general manager of the plant replacing Fred Gates who will retire in 2010.

The NHTSA Campaign ID number is 09V457000 and the component effected is the gasoline storage tank assembly/mounting.  The front fuel tank mounts may distort in reaction to severe frame damage from a frontal collision which in turn may cause a fuel leak at the weld of the front bracket to the tunnel.  The result could lead to a fire.  Dealers will install a left and right brace which is intended to reduce front mount distortion during certain crash conditions.  The repair is free of charge and the safety recall is expected to begin on or about December 14, 2009.  Owners can contact H-D at (414)343.4056 or the NHTSA at (888)327.4236.

The models effected are:

  1. All 2009 – 2010: FLHP; FLHPE; FLHR; FLHR SHRINE; FLHRC; FLHT; FLHTC; FLHTCU; FLHTCU SHRINE; FLHTCU W/SC; FLHTCUTG; FLHTP; FLHX;
  2. All 2010 – FLHXXX; FLHTCUSE5; FLHTK
  3. All 2009 – FLTR; FLTR3-CVO; FLTRSE3; FLHTCU4-CVO; FLHTCUSE4

In 2008, H-D announced recalling nearly 47,500 touring vehicles because of a fuel-filter shell issue.  More information available HERE on that recall.  Then earlier this year they announced a 2009 CVO Road Glide recall HERE.

Photo courtesy of H-D

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