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Posts Tagged ‘2012’

Red Rocks

Red Rock Canyon In Route To Laughlin

Year-end stories are always interesting to me.

Publications around the world rate stories, detail online traffic numbers, select the best leaders and generally give readers a special year in review.

On the national stage here are a few of my more notables:

We had what I’d call the best supporting furniture award…that went to the empty chair that actor Clint Eastwood spoke to throughout his speech at the Republican National Convention.  We narrowly re-elected a president.  John Edwards and Roger Clemens, both escaped conviction.  There was the epic fall of Lance Armstrong.  There was the Korean pop singer, Psy and that Gangnam Style video which skyrocketed a catchy tune into YouTube superstardom.  We bought more than 48 million iPads, weathered a couple of hurricanes, and cheered for the Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner who, broke the sound barrier from 24 miles up.

Baker City at HCMR

Baker City at HCMR

When I look back on the motorcycle rides there was:

LAUGHLIN RIVER RUN – in April the Road Glide was shipped to the Las Vegas desert.  Then it’s a short 100 mile jaunt through the desert to Laughlin, NV and it’s a great way to escape the Oregon monsoon rain to enjoy the heat of the canyons.  And being close to the Colorado River and between two mountain ranges in the Mojave Desert there are a lot of scenic rides with panoramic views to enjoy.  Not to mention the motorcycle rally itself.

HELLS CANYON MOTORCYCLE RALLY – in June, some riding buddies took off on 3-days of enjoying nature’s perfume – the sweet smell of rain showers on the cedar and pine forest – into the Cuprum-Sheep Rock country.  At times, the cold rain made us wish for a fishing lure and then there were other times the motorcycle tires were inches from the edge of a 1,000-foot drop-off while in the next instant the left-view mirror came pretty close to scraping a craggy rock wall on the grade coming up from Hells Canyon Reservoir into the mountains…  it’s always an exciting adventure in Baker City!  But hey, that rain is a “summer” adventure in Oregon.

On top of Bear Tooth Pass

On top of Bear Tooth Pass

FOUR-CORNERS MOTORCYCLE LOOP – in late August the posse set out for the mystical 4-corners.  It turned into a 4000-miles epic journey over a couple weeks that led us through Eastern Oregon, Southern Idaho, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, South Dakota/Sturgis, Montana, Northern Idaho, Washington and then back home.  Moab, the 4-corners and Bear Tooth Pass were the highlights.  It was amazing scenery and viewing it all from back-roads on a motorcycle made it all the more fun.  The trip was much more than just a motorcycle ride.  We were exposed to searing heat, dodged wildfires and rode through mud-flows so deep on Colorado’s Million Dollar Highway that we could have caught trout with the right fishing gear!  The gist of the ride was exploring Moab and 4-corners, but the searing summer heat kept us from really getting to know the area well, and it gave me lots of ideas for future trips.

STREET VIBRATIONS –  One of my favorite ways to end the Northwest riding year is this late September trip to Reno.  The drive is pretty quick and it always guarantee’s the heat of the valley inter-mixed with cool mountain meadows and panoramic views of the Sierra Nevada mountains. The crux of the ride is of course the rally and wide assortment of builders and vendor booths along with coming back with a to-do laundry list of possible winter projects for the motorcycle.  It’s not like we’re going to be loafing around on the couch this winter, right?!

Street Vibrations 2012

Street Vibrations 2012

That was my look back and it helps to motivate me to plan for 2013.  A couple of rides already blocked out on the calendar are the Harley-Davidson 110th Anniversary in Milwaukee and “Shark Week” in Utah.

In looking back on 2012, we also need to keep in our thoughts and prayers those who were met with tragedy this year, whether from storms or gunfire here at home, or on a battlefield on foreign soil.  May 2013 be safer, healthier and happier for all of us.

Photos taken by author.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog
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President Barack Obama has been re-elected for 4 more years and we remain a collection of polarized red and blue states.

The first instinct of some will be to blame the voters — to say they just don’t “get” it — or to imply the “takers” simply outnumber the “makers.”

To my way of thinking, Americans should have been outraged by what happened in Benghazi. Or outraged by the increasing debt — or by the fact that the unemployment rate actually rose during Obama’s first term.  But it’s the job of the political spin “machine” and party movements to persuade Americans to buy into their “reality distortion field” — vision.  And clearly they aren’t buying what Republicans are selling.

So while most will focus today on Obama’s reelection victory and mandate this or mandate that, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the hard work and sacrifice of Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and their families.

I’ll admit it — Mitt wasn’t my guy in the primaries.  But when he got the nomination, I put a few of my differences aside to join him in supporting the many other things we have in common from a business background.  As the campaign went on, he grew on me — especially after he chose Ryan to help confront some serious spending issues.   They ran a good and dignified campaign.  Many of you may disagree, but I felt President Obama lowered himself and the office of the president with mudslinging class warfare and immature name-calling.  It’s debatable, but I felt Romney kept his eye on the bigger picture.

At the end of the day, I respect Mitt Romney.  As one of the 48%, the loss is a disappointment, but I’m proud to have been represented in this election by a man who carried himself with dignity, even when he faced vicious & narrow-minded attacks on his personal character, his work ethics and his faith.

As he stated in his gracious concession speech, that he “left everything on the field” and for that, I wanted to provide him a sincere shout out.

To Mr. Obama: The campaigning and election are over. It’s time for governing and making things happen.  Please do it!

Full disclosure:  I have a major distrust of government that wants to manage every aspect of my life.  I believe in balanced budgets and that private enterprise creates wealth, but I also know that some of Wall Street bankers and corporate executives are so overpaid you’d think they solved world peace and don’t get a pass.

Photo courtesy of Scripps Media.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Harley-Davidson VRSCDX

Harley-Davidson Motor Co. is recalling 2,798 motorcycles.  The NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number is 12V503000.

The recall covers all 2012 model year and certain model year 2013 VRSCDX motorcycles manufactured from June 14, 2011, through Aug. 1, 2012.

The issue is related to the license plate bracket mounting screws which can loosen and the assembly can separate from the rear fender, resulting in possible damage to the rear brake line, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Harley-Davidson is in the process of notifying owners, and dealers will inspect and repair any affected motorcycles free of charge.

Photo courtesy of H-D.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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2012 Interbrand Top 100 — Harley-Davidson #96

Maybe it was the Willie G. retirement?   Or it could have been a result of Mark Hans Richer (H-D CMO) flexing marketing muscles on the urban scene.

It might be that after nearly three years of downsizing, plant closures and restructuring its business, Harley-Davidson is firing on both cylinders and there is a lot less heat buildup due to the “synthetic lube” of Keith Wandell’s (H-D CEO) new break-in procedure?  Whatever the case, it has emerged with an improvement in brand value.

This according to Interbrand who recently released the 2012 Best Global Brands.  In 2010, the H-D brand was 100 on the top 100 list.  In 2011 it improved to 98th and for this year it again improved its ranking to 96th.

How does Interbrand choose which brands it considers best?

The research firm uses three factors: 1) the financial performance of the branded product or service; 2) the role the brand plays in influencing consumers; and 3) the strength of the brand in asking a premium price for its products or bringing in earnings for the company.

“Stereo Typical” Harley Ad

The restructure strategies seems to be paying off with signs of solid performance and consistent growth. Sure there are significant “head winds”…  meaning challenging economic times and the motor company knows that it cannot solely rely on baby boomers, and needs to appeal to women, minorities, Gen Y, and Millennials.

HERE is an example of that new outreach (#stereotypicalharley).  Or the remix version HERE.

The management at Harley-Davidson want customers to “feel a certain way” when using their products, visiting a dealer, or surfing on the H-D Web site.  They know that a brand connects a business with the hearts and minds of consumers.

Photo courtesy of Interbrands and H-D.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Happy New Years!

Now that the champagne toasts are made and the ball dropped, it’s time to start thinking ahead:  What’s your riding resolution for this year?  Will you ride your motorcycle more often to work?  Take that epic journey or stay close to home?  Will you buy a new ride or enhance the existing one?

Before going forward let’s take a quick look back.

Over the years I’ve posted the occasional summary of the more popular and least liked stories from the past 12 months.  It’s not my “helper-monkey”, but the good folks at WordPress.com state their rankings algorithm is based on how many people read a particular article.  The average is the sum of views divided by the number of days and its gets even more complex if you are the sort of person who likes to verify computations.  I don’t.

The final tallies can be a little mystifying, to be honest.

Are readers giving a “thumbs-up” because they liked the content of the article or just the topic itself?  I don’t find these summaries a really useful exercise because some of the better written articles (IMHO) will sometimes have the fewest views.  It’s the old adage that writing about or reposting the nip slips, exposed undies and ever-presence dysfunction from the celebrity train wrecks for the whole world to see will bring a whole lot more views if that’s your goal.  But, if nothing else, the summary does provide a snapshot of what struck in my readers’ collective fancy during the past year.

In 2011, I posted 88 new articles (about 7 per month).  That brought the total archive on this blog up to just over 800 posts.  I uploaded 165 pictures (or about 3 per week).  The busiest day was September 25th (during the Vagos and HAMC shooting in Reno) with 1,120 views on an article I posted in 2008 (HERE).  Clearly the social behavior and the attraction of the events in Reno was a big draw, but I’m mystified why the more current article (HERE) had fewer views?  Maybe it’s a SEO thing.  I also want to provide a shout-out to the large number of UK viewers who consistently visit the blog.

Here are the 2011 most viewed highlights:

Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs Flying Colors in Oregon
OCC Family Feud Ends
Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs Are New Media Darlings
Vagos MC Meeting In Grants Pass
Harley SAMCRO Limited Edition Motorcycle
Harley-Davidson’s SwitchBack
Vintage Motorcycles – Honda CB750
Harley Engine History
“Green Nation” Busts On Saint Patrick’s Day
No Angel
The Day Laughlin River Run Changed
Men Of Mayhem
A “Legend Bell” Full of Mystery
Harley Snubbed In Benjamin Button Movie
Operation Black Rain Nets Oregon Mongols

I enjoyed this past year—and I hope you have, too.  If I’ve done my “job” right as editor of this blog, then your visits will have helped make your motorcycle hobby a bit more meaningful.  Hopefully you’ve become closer to your motorcycle and grown your relationship with friends that you’ve met on the road.

Happy 2012!

Photo’s courtesy of WordPress.com and Northwest Harley Blog.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Not so long ago the saying among motorcyclists was “there is no replacement for displacement.”

In fact, on CVO models the 1800cc (110 cu in) engine produced copious amounts of torque and high horsepower numbers… it was the key to happiness and a big smile.  It’s H-D’s analog approach to a mostly digital world.

But, let’s start from the beginning.

Remember the day you sat in your basement, in your bedroom with the lights off, driving the stereo speakers to the point of distortion, listening to music that energized you and soothed your soul at the same time?

Well get READY!  Along comes the 2012 models and we’re talking about a one-hundred watt smile which emanates from the Harman/Kardon Advanced Audio system.  The kids these days might be listening on earbuds, but the H-D creators are clearly freaks for sound.  Who says high-end motorcycle audio has to be difficult?!  What’s coming out of the speakers on the new models is positively mind-blowing.

I’m financially challenged, but even I was doing the calculation on a new 2012 CVO Street Glide from Harley-Davidson…  New this year is a second 100W per channel amplifier and bridged tweeters mounted in the saddlebag lids.  That’s a total of eight speakers and two power amplifiers kicking out 400W of lower mid-range and crisp highs of crashing cymbals.  Not quite the gut-kicking bass of JBL concert speakers during a U2 concert, rather it’s like a warm ooze embrace of a digital sound field.  It’s the aural grease you’ll need to make it through the day!

The new 2012 CVO Road Glide Custom gets a boosted 100W (up from 80W) amplified Harman/Kardon system too.  The speakers are not the $3000 a pair Dynaudio BM15A’s you’d find in a music studio, but new this year are the two-way 5×7’s for booming down the boulevard.  If I had either of these motorcycles I’d park it in the garage and shut all the windows because the music tracks on this system mean you’ve got to crank the volume – up enough – that you’d be in the same room with the band.  Yeah, it’s that good.

For many riders they will stop right there when reviewing the new 2012 models and look for the check book.  But there is more…  H-D standardized on the Twin Cam 103 engine (with automatic compression release) as standard equipment on Softail, touring and most Dyna models.   H-D launched the V-Rod 10th Anniversary Edition and the new Dyna Switchback.  Some additional 2012 highlights include:

  • A Security Package that pairs Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Smart Security System with proximity-based, hands-free security fob is available for all 2012 V-Rod, Dyna, Softail, Touring and CVO models. The Security Package is standard equipment on CVO models and on the Road Glide Ultra, the Electra Glide Ultra Limited and the Road King Classic. The Security Package is a factory-installed option for all other models.
  • The Night Rod Special is updated with new tapered tail section, lighter-weight wheels, an inverted front fork and improved ergonomics. Harley-Davidson celebrates a decade of power cruising with the V-Rod 10th Anniversary Edition motorcycle, finished in Brilliant Silver Pearl bodywork.  All V-Rod models will carry V-Rod 10th Anniversary badges.
  • The new Dyna Switchback combines hard saddlebags and a windshield with the eager handling and Twin Cam 103 performance of the Dyna chassis. It’s a custom-touring bike ready for a long weekend trip, until the detachable bags and windshield are removed.
  • The Fat Boy and Fat Boy Lo have a new reduced-reach handlebar for more-comfortable ergonomics. The Softail Deluxe and Heritage Softail Classic will be available with a new optional “tubeless” Chrome Aluminum Profile Laced wheel option for ease of tire replacement and repair.
  • On Touring models, the Twin Cam 103 is equipped with an oil cooler. All Touring models except the Ultra Limited will offer a new “tubeless” Chrome Aluminum Profile Laced wheel option.
  • The Sportster line cuts across a broad range of riders with models ranging from the XR1200X to the SuperLow to Dark Custom roadsters like the Iron 883, Nightster and Forty-Eight. The Sportster 1200 Custom can be personalized for fit, function and style with H-D1 factory customization, and new 1200 Custom color options have been added to Bike Builder this year.

If any of this appeals to you go online to H-D and check it out.

Photo courtesy of RCA/Popular Mechanics (circa: 1958)

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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H-D announced Q2’11 financial results this morning.

In a word – Booyah!

By every financial measure Harley-Davidson generated improvements in the second quarter of 2011, with strong earnings growth, increased shipments and growth in its dealers’ new motorcycle sales both in the U.S. and globally.  Here are some of the stats that CEO Keith Wandell and CFO John Olin reviewed from Anaheim, CA. where the annual dealer meeting and new product launch was in progress:

  • Revenue in Q2’11 was $1.51B (up 15%) with income up 36.8% to $190.6M
  • Motorcycle shipments up 7,769 in Q2’11 vs. Q2’10; Motorcycle segment revenue up $204.6M (18%) vs. Q2’10
  • Touring motorcycle shipments made up 38.3% in Q2’11; up 3.6%
  • International shipments were 36.2% in Q2’11 vs. Q2’10 at 42.5%
  • Shipment forecast for 2011 rose by about 8% and now H-D expects to ship between 228,000 and 235,000 motorcycles worldwide
  • Market segment share (651+cc) is 53.8%; up 0.2% from 2010
  • U.S. dealer network sales of uses motorcycles up 11% through May; Used bikes sales continue to firm up (meaning they offer the dealer a method to help offset the “sticker shock” of new bikes)

Did anything go less positive?  Well that depends on your viewpoint.  From a shareholder’s perspective it’s “Houston, we’re ready to throttle up”!   Stock price set a new 52-week high at $46.88.

As a rider/layman the touring motorcycle shipment increases were offset by the decreases in Custom and Sportster declines.  There were no age demographics quoted in the analyst call, but we’ve been told that typically “youngsters” don’t buy the higher priced baggers.  In addition, the new 2012 touring models that were announced earlier in the month have… shall we say… “lean” engineering innovation compared to previous years.  In a number of cases there we’re only paint palette changes and price increases made up the so-called “new” touring models.  There was about a 1% price increase in the U.S. market.  The lack of innovation is especially troubling (to me) given that product development spending was up $7M in the first half of 2011 which was described as a continuation of their strategy and focus on leaner engineering.  Sure metals and fuel costs are up, but the lack of stronger product changes is not always a recipe for long term success.

Nothing was noted on the call about the recent expansion in India.  Not sure why given that SG&A expenses were up about $13M on the strategy to grow 100 – 150 international dealers by 2014.  Latin America saw a decrease in retail sales which was largely due to all Brazil dealers being terminated.  There was a restart in that country and the new dealers (6) were coming up to speed.

Congrats to H-D on a great quarter!

UPDATE: Full transcript of the analyst call is HERE courtesy of SeekingAlpha.

Photo courtesy of H-D.  Full Disclosure: I don’t own H-D stock

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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