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Posts Tagged ‘AMA’

vlam2014_lowresThere is about a week left before Election Day.

Remember motorcycle-only checkpoints?  Too much ethanol in gasoline?  Health insurance discrimination against motorcyclists?

There is and have been a wide variety of issues on Capitol Hill related to motorcycling.  Election Day choices will affect motorcyclists and that’s why it’s important for all of us to cast our ballots in the November general election.

The AMA Government Relations Department put together a guide for their members and you can access it (HERE) to take stock of where candidates stand on motorcycling issues as you decide how best to cast your ballots.

Some members in the winner-take-all government believe this wild ride on robot scooters from the guys at OK Go represent motorcycling at it’s finest…  a clever video, but they are clearly not masters of “wind in the face” road trips!

Photo courtesy of AMA.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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red-lightI’m talking about Senate Bill 5141 which was signed by Gov. Inslee and took effect on June 14th.

It states that if a motorcyclist approaches an intersection, including a left turn intersection, controlled by a triggered traffic control signal using a vehicle detection device, and that signal is inoperative due to the size of the motorcycle, the motorcyclist must come to a complete stop. If the signal fails to operate after one cycle, the motorcyclist may proceed through the intersection or turn left after exercising due care.

The Washington legislation provided a legal way for motorcyclists to get through a red light and according to the American Motorcyclist Association, 14 other states have passed similar legislation.

In Oregon, motorcycle detection issues remain a problem at traffic lights in both rural and urban areas.  If you’re like me you’ve experienced the frustration and/or jockeyed around so that the auto behind can trigger the light.  And when motorcyclists encounter devices that fail to notice their presence, most riders will proceed through the red light after taking “due caution.”

I’m wondering when the Oregon Department of Transportation and the Oregon Governor’s Advisory Committee on Motorcycle Safety will take up the issue?

Many cagers and law makers believe that motorcyclists are at fault in triggering traffic lights so, in the spirit of reporting both sides… the Oregon Motorcycle Manual and the TEAM Oregon Motorcycle Safety Program offer advice on how to position a motorcycle correctly at traffic stops so signaling devices will hopefully register it.

Photo courtesy of the internet.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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A classic Yamaha ad said it all in 1978

Do you remember when the last time you ask yourself… “What was I thinking…?”

I’m sure everyone reading this post right now will immediately jump to a time in their life or place where they can remember an incident created by some questionable judgment.

I can remember an instance on my trusty Yamaha YZ400 that I often referred to as “Ol Yeller” – that bike really helped me perfect the art of sliding on gravel after failing to negotiate a bend in the road at high speed.  At the time I was thinking in slow motion how this isn’t so bad… I’ll just slide toward the right into that nice green pasture.  No fence, no worries.  Just then the motorcycle (which was out in front of me) flipped up in the air and changed directions mid-stream while I dropped several feet into a creek bed with a thud.   I remember staring up at the blue sky and hearing the quiet sounds of nature — birds chirping and the sounds of a bubbling brook that was shortly followed with a wet sensation in my pants.  It wasn’t what you think!

The "'Ol Yeller" - 1978 Yamaha YZ400

The world came to a standstill and other than suffering from a severely bruised ego I only noticed a little trouble breathing.  I sat up (helped by a fair amount of adrenalin) in time for my buddy to arrive and ask “Dude, what were you thinking?”  I should have ask myself that question just before gunning the YZ throttle and I did ask it a number of times daily when later I learned and suffered through the recovery of a couple cracked ribs.

I picked myself up and sloshed out of the ice cold creek (remember that wet sensation?), checked that everything seemed to be in place, located the Yamaha and rode with a bent handlebar and warped front wheel back to Lee’s Camp on the OR coast range where we started the day.   It was a painful ride and ended an otherwise rather good riding day.  It’s provided some good camp fire stories over the years.

Had the anti-OHV group, Wildlands CPR been in the area I’m sure they would have used my incident  as a poster-child example for off-road harassing of wildlife and destroying vegetation.

How about you?  Do you have a “What was I thinking” experience?

Photo courtesy of Yamaha.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Oregon Trail Interpretive Center - Baker City, OR

On Friday we were up early to grab coffee and breakfast before making our way out to the ‘Devils Tail’ and Hells Canyon Dam.

It was rather obvious while eating my scrambled eggs and looking out across the vendor parking lot that there were some hard-living characters who had run wild the night earlier.  They weren’t totally burned out, but obviously moving a little slower.  It got me to thinking about how Harley like virtually every other motorcycle manufacture, is facing a huge, looming crisis; the ageing of its core clientele.  Like every other market they touch Boomers dominate the motorcycle industry, especially for those expensive touring cruisers that generate so much profit for the corporate coffers.

Depending on whose data you reference; AMA states the average age of its members is 48, the American Motorcycle Industry Council’s most recent survey (2008) has the average pegged at 43 years old (up 5 years from 1998) and a JD Power and H-D survey has the average at 49 years old.  It would seem that motorcycling is no longer a young man’s sport.   Based on my observation this morning I would concur and while I didn’t see anyone trading their favorite ride in on an RV, I did see a lot of interest in the Boss Hog trikes and customers lining up for demo rides.  Most were intrigued with how to navigate the parking lot in reverse gear.

Hells Canyon Dam

I’m not sure about you, but I’m the kind of person who gets satisfaction when my mechanical stuff is humming.  It puts a smile upon my face and makes me feel glad all over.  I felt that way on the ride out to the Hells Canyon Dam.  The departure temperature hung in the mid-60’s – cool for eastern Oregon — and looking around the horizon it was clear there was going to be a mix of rain showers and blue sky.  Yeah, we were going to be dancing between the rain drops all day long on this ride.

We traveled out on Baker-Copperfield Hwy (Hwy 86) toward Richland, through Halfway with a brief pit stop at the Scotty’s Outdoor Store just prior to Oxbow as we headed back to the bottom of the canyon.  Hells Canyon is on the border of Idaho and Oregon, and the ride is deep in the valley alongside the Snake River.  Yeah that one — the one where Evel Knievel attempted his X-1 Skycycle jump over the canyon, unsuccessfully, back in 1974.   Many people will disagree when you remind them that the Hell’s Canyon is North American’s deepest river gorge at almost 8,000 feet, 2,000 feet deeper than the Grand Canyon, but it’s true.

Posse On Devil's Tail

And as a bonus it has one of the most famous rides in the area — the Devil’s Tail — a 22 mile route from Oxbow, Oregon to Hell’s Canyon Dam. There are hundreds of S-curves and twisty’s with picturesque views.  The Devil’s Tail is not for the novice, and requires attention to riding. Last year we talked to a motorcyclist who misjudge the road and dump his bike.  Fortunately they had only minor injuries.

Baker City "Rain Out"

Back in the day this road was used to deliver workers and supplies to the site of the dam construction when it was being built in 1966. Today Idaho Power employees use it to access the dam and outdoor hobbyist use it for recreational access.  At the end of the road the dam and water were nearly level with the road.  As you drive across the dam we were greeted with a loud “whooshing” sound and at the visitor’s center which is a short, but steep ride below the dam we took pictures of the large volume of water flowing through to make hydro electrical power.  It’s a spectacular sight and the close proximity means you literally feel natures power.

Interstate 84 North - Departing HCMR

We reversed directions and headed back to the Sunridge Best Western where we met up with some other riders who arrived late-afternoon.

On Saturday the weather was a mixed bag.  The morning started out partly cloudy with the occasional sun burst, but the Whitman National Forest was socked in with storm/rain clouds which is where the posse planned to ride for a ghost town tour.  We downed some breakfast and remained optimistic the day would bring something better.  It turned out that optimism was sorely misplaced!

Hwy 14 - West of Umatilla

Thinking it would clear later in the day we elected to hang out in the vendor booths in downtown Baker City and wait it out… but, rain is a life metaphor – into every ride a little rain must fall, right?   Well it did.  I know the Folkestad’s like to state that the HCMR has never been “rained out” and I’m not sure what criteria they use, but it started raining around 1pm with showers at first and then turned to a steady hard rain from 2pm through most of the night.  We graced the downtown area refreshment centers and talked shop with the High Desert H-D folks from Meridian, ID.  Downtown was jammed and by the time we returned to the motel restaurant/bar it was packed with wet riders who called the day a total bust.  Good for Baker City businesses, but it seemed the weather conditions were conspiring against us.

Near Maryhill Winery - Goldendale, WA

On Sunday morning you could smell the cool breath of mother nature as we wiped off the previous night rain soaked seats.  Unlike Western Oregon, the majority of the landscape in Eastern Oregon is wide open which allows riders to see the lay of the land and it provides plenty of time to take it all in.  For me I enjoy Eastern Oregon because it’s different.  The people are different (in a positive/good way), the weather is different, it looks different and the roads are different.  It seems that people have a habit of never appreciating a place until you’re about to leave it.   I had some regrets that I didn’t get time to explore the ghost towns, but we were about to point the bikes north hoping for a dry day!

We rode out of Baker City on I-84 and encountered cooler temperatures as we traversed the Wallowa Mountains.  The sun shined brightly and by the time we stopped to re-fuel in Pendleton is was actually warm.  We cut over to Umatilla and rode Hwy 14 on the Washington side of the Columbia River.  The pull toward home and returning to “normal” life was getting stronger as the pace quickened back to Portland.  We dodged some rain drops near “The Couve” and got home in time to learn that yes, the self-proclaimed “King” — Lebron James — was still not a NBA champion and that my friends means the only place celebrating more than Dallas that night was Cleveland!

In spite of the ‘rain out’ on Saturday the Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally was a great experience.  If you have not attended it should be something on your bucket list!

Postcard From Hells Canyon – Part 1 HERE.

Photos taken by editor. Previous HCMR posts: 2010 HERE, 2009 HERE

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Motorcycle enthusiasts in any given year will lobby and go to the mat on legislation issues that affect their hobby in the Northwest.

In Washington state one such bill was SB 5242  —  known as the biker profiling bill – it recently passed into law.   The bill prohibits singling out bikers for police stops without a legitimate reason. Motorcycle profiling is defined as when law enforcement officers single out people who ride motorcycles or wear biker “clothing,” stopping, questioning, searching or arresting them without legal grounds.

Motorcycle clubs who feel they have been singled out over the years see this as a major victory.  However, it’s a win for all motorcyclists in a way that the media isn’t really talking much about. Let me explain.

You might recall that I blogged about the NHTSA who recently made funds available to state, county and local law enforcement agencies to run “motorcycle only” checkpoints. The funds were recently applied for and granted in Florida, and as you can imagine during Daytona Bike Week there was a motorcycle only checkpoint in operation and the bikers-as well as the AMA- went ballistic.

Under the new Washington State law this supposedly cannot happen. Washington State Police (WSP) has stated that although they would not have applied for the funds regardless, that would not have stopped sheriffs and city law enforcement from applying. However, under the new bill they cannot … until someone decides to run county or city legislation to override the state law…

UPDATE: May 16, 2011 – Interesting and well articulated alternative viewpoint from Brian O’Neill (LEO) on how SB 5242 targets the wrong folks (police officer training) and this will get in the way of disrupting gang activity in Washington state.

Photo courtesy of Photobucket

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Two words:  Rattlesnake Grade!

The editors of American Motorcyclist magazine used their 230,000-members to nominate and vote on members’ favorite roads. Nearly 100 roads made the ballet box, and the magazine published the top 15 roads in the April issue.

Oregon made the top 15 with an amazing piece of pavement called the Rattlesnake Grade. Typically any rider who’s done this twisty piece of paved paradise will just smile and their face will light up when ask about it.

Here are the top 15 routes and I’ve bolded the northwest routes:

15. Washington Route 129 and Oregon Route 3, Clarkston, Wash., to Enterprise, Ore. (Map HERE)
14. Ohio Route 170, Calcutta to Poland.
13. California Route 58, McKittrick to Santa Margarita.
12. U.S. Route 33, Harrisonburg, Va., to Seneca Rocks, W.Va.
11. Natchez Trace, from Natchez, Miss., to Nashville, Tenn.
10. Angeles Crest Highway, California Route 2.
9. U.S. Route 12, Lolo Pass, Idaho and Montana. (Map HERE)
8. California Route 36.
7. Cherohala Skyway, North Carolina and Tennessee.
6. Going to the Sun Road, Glacier National Park, Montana. (Map HERE)
5. California Route 1, Pacific Coast Highway.
4. U.S. Route 550, from Ouray to Durango, Colo.
3. U.S. Route 129 — The Tail of the Dragon — on the North Carolina-Tennessee border.
2. Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina.
1. Beartooth Highway, Montana and Wyoming. (Map HERE)

There are more detailed descriptions in the magazine which can be viewed online HERE.

Beside truck drivers, no other group puts in more miles and samples more road than motorcyclists and these are some great rides to consider.

Photo courtesy of AMA.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Screamin' Eagle 120R Engine

In a move that contradicts previous year investment strategies, Harley-Davidson is feeling flush this holiday season and announced increases in race team support and contingency funds.

First off was the $45,000 fund announcement and support of the AMA Pro Racing Vance & Hines XR1200 Series.  The series expands to nine rounds of the 2011 AMA Pro Road Racing season scheduled for a March 10 – 12, 2011 start in Daytona.  The Vance & Hines XR1200 Series features H-D XR1200 motorcycles specially modified with racing kit parts supplied exclusively through V&H.

On the same day H-D announced that all three factory sponsored riders (Hines, Krawiec, Coolbeth) were re-signed for 2011 and will be returning to their respective race teams.  Steve Piehl, H-D Director of Customer Experience stated that “Although we didn’t win any championships this year, Andrew, Eddie and Kenny all displayed the hearts of the champions they are, and we are confident they will continue to perform at the highest level in 2011.”

The more interesting news (at least to me) was the additional announcement by H-D to create a new Draggin’ Bagger Class (D.B. Class) for the 2011 race season.  This new drag racing class is centered on the introduction of its Screamin’ Eagle 120R engine, a 120 cubic-inch V-Twin capable of outputting 135 HP and 137 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheel.  The new class is for 1999 and up H-D touring motorcycles equipped with the 120R engine.  The motorcycles in this class must run with an original frame, fairings, saddlebags and other bodywork as race fans watch to see who can run a wheelie popping 10-second race.

This is the first time in decades that H-D has offered a crate racing engine and I’m sure we’ll see some exciting racing in the 2011 season.  Lastly, H-D announced it will continue its sponsorship of the All Harley Drag Racing Association (AHDRA) and the Draggin’ Bagger class will debut in Orlando, FL on March 4-6, 2011.

Photo courtesy H-D.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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