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Ted Gilbert on his Sport Model on top of Larch Mountain

Did you know, that in August 1919, Ted Gilbert became the first motorcyclist to ride a machine to the top of the rocky butte near Portland, Oregon?

His motorcycle of choice was a Harley-Davidson Sport Twin. Sitting at 4,045 feet above sea level, Larch Mountain is 11,000 feet of narrow, brushlined trail. Rugged and heavily timbered, with huge boulders, sharp stones, and logs lining its sides, it had previously withstood all attempts for anyone to reach its summit on a motor vehicle. The three-mile climb took 2 hours and 20 minutes and needed neither chains nor a tractor band to help the Sport Model along. A big sign measuring 4 feet by 6 feet nailed to the side of a huge fir tree marks the time, the name “Harley-Davidson Sport Model,” and the name of its rider, so that when Mazamas and various other organizations of mountain climbers would later reach the top, they would be able to see that a motorcycle could climb the hazardous cliffs of Larch Mountain.

“Hot Road” Perfume and Cologne

Did you know, Harley-Davidson offered a line of perfumes and colognes?

During the “Disneyfication” era which included branding any merchandise product such as T-shirts, leather jackets, caps, helmets, socks, gloves, knifes, signs, wedding cake decorations and key chains.  This was a product to complete the all-encompassing Harley-Davidson lifestyle and smell like your favorite bike at all times. The line of perfumes and colognes were called “Hot Road” and featured woody aromas with hints of tobacco.  It was 1996 and Harley-Davidson thought they’d attempt to capitalize on the company’s unique brand loyalty and decided to produce their own line of perfumes and colognes.

The woodsy scent with faint traces of tobacco did not make the top of the list for even the most loyal Harley-Davidson fans, yet you can still purchase some HERE.

Jeffrey L. Bleustein

Did you know, Jeffrey L. Bleustein is considered the “Father” of the Kevlar Belt?

Mr. Bleustein was Harley-Davidson Chairman from December 1998 to April 25, 2009.  He retired as Chairman of the Board in April 2009.  Previously, he served as Harley-Davidson CEO from June 1997 to April 2005.  He also served at Brunswick Corp in many capacities and was President of Tri-Hawk, Inc., a subsidiary of Harley-Davidson, 1984 to1985.  Mr. Bleustein was a technology consultant with AMF.  In 1969, AMF merged with Harley-Davidson and in 1975, AMF assigned him to help reorganize H-D engineering operations.  Led by AMA Hall of Famer Vaughn Beals and 11 other Harley-Davidson executives (including Willie G. Davidson), Bleustein helped execute an $81.5 million leveraged buyout of the company from AMF Corporation in 1981.

Mr. Bleustein was responsible for engineering innovation which included the rubber engine mounts, redesign of the V-Twin and introduction of the Kevlar drive belts.

More on the CEO’s of Harley-Davidson HERE.

Harley Owners Group

Did you know, Rich Teerlink established HOG?

Mr. Teerlink  — served as Chairman and CEO until 1999 at Harley-Davidson until he retired.  Mr. Teerlink joined Harley-Davidson in August 1981 as CFO where he enjoyed great success over his 18-year tenure.  He started just two months after a group of 13 Harley managers had bought the company from its then parent company, AMF, in a leveraged buyout.  Mr. Teerlink’s greatest accomplishment was establishing the Harley Owners Group (HOG) in 1983.

More on the CEO’s of Harley-Davidson HERE.

Did you know, the birthpace of Harley-Davidson in Australia, is considered to be Morgan & Wacker in Brisbane?

Many people don’t realize that Harley-Davidson started operations in Australia just 14 years after the U.S.  At the Morgan & Wacker dealership is a 1917 V-Twin, the exact bike that was one of the first in Milwaukee, and it sits half-way around the world in Brisbane, Australia.  Bill Davidson recently visited and was photographed by the motorcycle.

Oregon Fueling Experts

Did you know, Oregon Regulation of gasoline dispensing recognizes the special fueling requirements of Harley-Davidson motorcycles and makes the motorcycle rider the expert at fuel dispensing?

According to Oregon’s legislature, ORS 480.330 it’s all about the inconvenience and hazards of self service.  I feel it’s just another step in the government ladder of dependancy.  At any rate, the law states that an owner, operator or employee of a filling station, service station, garage or other dispensary where Class 1 flammable liquids, except aviation fuels, are dispensed at retail may not permit any person other than the owner, operator or employee to use or manipulate any pump, hose, pipe or other device for dispensing the liquids into the fuel tank of a motor vehicle or other retail container.  However, on June 11, 2001, Oregon motorcyclists won the right to pump their own gas. Governor John Kitzhaber signed House Bill 3885 into law, which gives motorcyclists the choice of fueling their own bikes. Oregon and New Jersey are the only two states which prohibit “Self-Serve” gas pumps, and motorcycles are the only class of vehicle allowed to actually dispense fuel into their own tanks in Oregon, which was effective January 1, 2002.

The law recognized the special fueling requirements of various motorcycles which then made the rider the expert at fuel dispensing. This bill also removed a liability for gas station owners who permitted the common sense practice of allowing motorcyclists to fuel their own motorcycle.

Bruce McGill “D-Day”

Did you know,  Bruce McGill, “D-Day” character in Animal House, rides a Harley-Davidson Sportster motorcycle up the Delta House internal staircase?

The 1978 John Landis movie was filmed in Eugene, Oregon and starred John Belushi. Many campuses rejected the filmmaker’s location request, due to the raunchy content of the script, before the University of Oregon approved it. Then-President William Boyd even allowed his office in Johnson Hall to be used as that of Dean Vernon Wormer (John Vernon).

The movie’s Delta House was an early-20th-century Eugene residence that served as the home of the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity from 1959 to 1967. Although it was demolished in 1986 and replaced by a suite of doctors’ offices, a large building outside the new building bears a plaque that commemorates the Delta House location.  Many of the interior scenes were filmed within the adjacent Sigma Nu house, which still stands today on East 11th Avenue; the exterior of the frat house was cast as a sorority house through whose window Belushi peered at half-naked coeds.

The movie’s climactic parade scene, featuring actor Kevin Bacon’s film debut, took place in downtown Cottage Grove, Oregon.

Did you know, Harley-Davidson has multiple manufacturing plants in Asia?

The motor company announced plans to build a manufacturing plant in Thailand where motorcycles will be assembled from parts manufactured and shipped from the U.S. The company said the plant will cater to the Asia-Pacific market, particularly China and Southeast Asia with plans to begin production in Thailand in 2018.  The factory is being erected in the Rayong province, Thailand which is geographically located southeast of Bangkok. This will allow the Harley-Davidson to circumvent Thailand’s tariffs of up to 60 per cent on imported motorbikes.

The Thailand plant is the second factory in Asia as Harley Davidson has a plant in Bawal, India, where the Street 750 model and Street Rod is produced. In addition, Harley-Davidson manufactures motorcycles at a plant in Brazil and has a wheel factory in Australia.

Tri-Hawk, Inc.

Did you know, Harley-Davidson sold a no-doors, no-roof, no-regrets, Polaris Slingshot knockoff back in the 1980’s?

Called the Tri-Hawk it was viewed as a semi-automobile.  Harley-Davidson acquired the company in 1984 and the cost for a Tri-Hawk was nearly $12,000.  Jeffrey L. Bleustein — who had a long tenure at Harley-Davidson, served at Brunswick Corp and was President of Tri-Hawk, Inc., a subsidiary of Harley-Davidson, 1984 to1985. Mr. Bleustein was also a technology consultant with AMF.

For many years Harley-Davidson made three-wheelers in the form of utility and police “trikes,” but they were not like the svelte looking Tri-Hawk’s.  They product appeared only briefly in Harley-Davidson showrooms as it was determined to be a marketing miscalculation and they were quickly pulled from the motor company line-up.  The two-passenger Tri-Hawk had already been in limited production before Harley-Davidson decided to take it on to fill some niche. In 1983, prior to acquiring Tri-Hawk, Harley-Davidson made a deal with an Austrian Rotax company for engine-gearbox racing units destined for 500 cc short track racing, but the Tri-Hawk was powered by a French-built Citroen four-cylinder motor.

Tri-Hawk

The Tri-Hawk design was developed by race car engineer Robert McKee with deep pockets by millionaire sportsman Lou Richards who was underwriting the project . The Trip-Hawk was assembled in a small plant located in the beachside town of Dana Point, CA. The 1299 cubic inch flat four air-cooled engine rode up front while the frame and suspension echoed McKee’s racecar experience. Borrowing even more from French technology, the builders incorporated a hydraulic braking system manufactured by Renault.  Weighing over 1300 lbs., and powered by 80 horsepower through a 5-speed transaxle transmission, theTri-Hawk had what marketing called, “exhilarating performance characteristics.”

The product had appeal, but the motor company decided not to sell them through their dealers, leaving only the factory in Dana Point and three other franchise locations to sell all the Tri-Hawk’s.  With limited availability and about eleven Tri-Hawks leaving the factory per month they became a sales failure.  Not from design flaws, but from management and company neglect.

Photos courtesy of Harley-Davidson; Harley-Davidson perfume photo courtesy of Sofie Lindberg; photo of Bruce McGill courtesy of IMBD, photo of Ted Gilbert on his Sport Model on top of Larch Mountain courtesy of Motorcycle Enthusiast;

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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New Castalloy workers Martin Parker, Edward Fern and managing director Michael Tamasi celebrate the Harley-Davidson news.

New Castalloy workers Martin Parker, Edward Fern and Michael Tamasi celebrate the news.

I blogged back in December 2011 (HERE) that Harley-Davidson made a decision to shift wheel and hub manufacturing from Adelaide-based New Castalloy to China.

The plant was set for closure by mid-2013.

This news hit the Australian Workers Union State Secretary and union workers just prior to the Christmas holiday and resulted in some name calling and bad blood with the motor company.

Jump ahead a 1.5 years and New Castalloy had shed approximately 90 of the 212 workers, but there was some good news this week!  Harley-Davidson reversed the decision to shutter the plant and struck a 4-year deal, on both an extension to the plant’s lease and a new wage-agreement were obtained.

It would seem logical to assume that New Castalloy greatly improved its cost structure as they are now viewed as competitive at producing low-volume, high finish wheels.  The Australian government, which owns the Mooringe Ave. plant waived rent at the site to help secure the deal.

Congrats!  I’m sure the nice folks in Adaelaid feel good knowing they’ll continue to help H-D riders around the world express their own style of freedom.

Photo courtesy of Dylan Coker.

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Long-way-thereWritten by Graeham Goble on June 2, 1972.  Nearly 40-years ago!

Only in his early 20’s when he left home in Adelaide to pursue a music career in Melbourne, Australia.  He became home sick and initially traveled back and forth by car every three weeks to see his family.  The trip often took over 9 hours and the idea for the song came from one of those long trips home.

This is all a set-up for that moment in the fall of ’76 when I was driving through the snow covered heartland of North Dakota and heard this song for the first time.  One of the things you’ll notice about North Dakota is how proud NoDaks are of their state.  Another thing you notice is how geographically diverse North Dakota is. It’s of course flat in most parts, but intermixed with a lot of rolling hills and green. And there are sections of the state that have buttes as far as the eye can see.

But, I’ve digressed.

Nodak-RGIt was the early days of FM radio.  You remember radio without advertisements, right?!  And I hear these swirling strings and then cappella harmonies and the track proceeds to positively rock out.  For nearly 10-minutes!  The youth of today have never heard a song uninterrupted for 10-minutes on radio.

I’m talking about the song, “It’s A Long Way There” by The Little River Band (LRB).

“People on the road are getting nowhere
I’m on the road to see
If anything is anywhere and waiting just for me”

It’s one of those songs that sounds as great today as the day it was released.

LRB-Album CoverI came home, ripped off the album shrinkwrap and dropped the needle and…  with big speakers, and large amps you could actually see the instruments come alive in the speakers.  In those days it was not an earbud nation!

What I truly enjoyed most about the seventies music was it wasn’t cookie-cutter.  There was even a time I thought I had a future in music.  It was really a long way to where I was going.  Sometime I’ll tell you my history, because I haven’t been writing this blog drivel forever and it took me years to find a niche.

That was 1976 and now, in 2013, LRB is still touring the U.S., but sadly with NO original members. Through a bizarre legal situation, the original members lost the rights to the ‘Little River Band’ name and Trademark.  Now it’s Birtles, Shorrock and Goble (BSG).

Harley’s touring bikes are built for American roads and as you lollop along with the engine thudding crank up  LRB, and “It’s A Long Way There”.  It’s an exquisitely recorded gem from the good ‘ol days that is a perfect companion for that road trip playlist. HERE is a more recent performance.

Check it out.

Photo’s taken by the author, album cover courtesy of LRB.

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“It’s disgraceful, but how about the heartless timing for Christ’s sake.”  — Australian Workers Union State Secretary Wayne Hanson said to reporters.

It’s not well known, but the majority of cast wheels and hubs for Harley-Davidson motorcycles are produced in Australia and shipped to Milwaukee.  Harley acquired Adelaide-based New Castalloy in 2006 when continuity of wheel supply was an issue.  The Australian subsidiary is New Castalloy and was a long-time supplier that was on the verge of bankruptcy of its then parent company, Ion.

Now Harley-Davidson plans to shift the manufacturing to China (according to South Australian Trade Minister Tom Koutsantonis) where it will save the motor company about $9 million a year.  The decision to cease operations  at New Castalloy will effect 183 employees and 29 contract workers. Harley expects to complete the transition to “outsourcers” by mid 2013.  The company estimated the related restructuring costs at $30 million, of which $10 million will be recorded in 2011 and $20 million in 2012.

South Australian Trade Minister Tom Koutsantonis said to reporters, “To tell a group of workers before Christmas they may not have a job is insensitive and I think quite silly.”  Mr Koutsantonis also stated that the motor company had given no indication to the government of the closure and as a result were unable to provide any assistance.  The South Australian Employment Minister Tom Kenyon stated that workers would get between $3K – $5K each in job training, but he was rather candid in that there was no place for them once we’ve got them through the right training.

The Australian manufacturing sector is bearing the brunt of global uncertainty (read layoffs) and high Australian dollar.  Ever the politically correct, President and Chief Operating Officer Matt Levatich said,  “The company’s decision on wheel production follows a review of the long-term fit and competitiveness of the New Castalloy business with our strategy and was not made lightly.”

As we know and have read many times, Harley has been recreating itself as a premium brand and smaller manufacturer while trying to grow its market share outside the U.S.

Made cheaper in China might be the new corporate mantra and correct decision based on pure Wall Street math, but there can’t be much pride in that choice.

UPDATE: July 10, 2013 — Harley-Davidson reverses decision to shutter the Adelaid plant (HERE)

Photo courtesy of H-D and New CastAlloy

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Nothing like a little real-life danger to provide the backdrop in promoting a product.

Harley-Davidson is doing just that with the live streaming of the attempt at the world record jump on a H-D motorcycle.  Seth Enslow will be trying to break Bubba Blackwell’s record by leaping 160 feet across the front of Sydney Harbor, at Sydney’s Barangaroo, East Darling Harbor Waterfront – a world record.  The jump will be attempted on a H-D XR1200 with the Harbor Bridge in the background.

The jump will stream live March 2nd starting at 9:15am Australia EST.  This is happens in less than an hour.

The campaign is being heavily promoted with a special micro-site HERE, the Australian YouTube H-D branded site HERE and on twitter HERE.

Nothing like the possibility of a death to bring in the viewers!

UPDATE: 3:15 PST — SethEnslow is the new record holder after breaking the previous record held by Bubba Blackwell.  The streaming video was fraught with technical issues, and we had to put up with advertising, but in the end we did see the jump live from Sydney.  Seth made it look too easy.  Congrats!

Photo courtesy of Cam Sinclair.

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grave_diggersThe term refers to Australia films of a particular genre that were released during home-grown tax advantage days for film producers.

In looking at films during this era I ran across Stone which was made about the same time, but is not an ocker and is much different from other biker movies.  It contradicted the Hollywood biker films of the day and was more of a “thinking man’s” motorcycle club movie that dived into biker values.  The time was 1974 and the film reflected on the disillusionment that ex-servicemen felt after Australia’s earlier withdrawal from Vietnam.

The Australian motorcycle club was called the Grave Diggers.  All members of the club were returning soldiers, either from the Vietnam War or the earlier Korean conflict.  The patch of the club was a skull wearing the hat that made Australian troops famous in both World Wars, the slouch hat.  The patch was first used as an advertising icon for the film, but has since become the patch of the Vietnam Vets Motorcycle Club in Australia and supposedly is the only patch that can be worn across other motorcycle (outlaw) clubs territories without an issue.

The movie was written and directed by Sandy Harbutt, and starts out with the posse cruising by an open-air speech from a politician on environmental issues. They stop to heckle him and a member (Toad), high on illicit drugs, wanders off and climbs onto the roof of the city hall. There he becomes witness to a sniper’s fatal shot of the politician. Over the coming days, several members of the motorcycle club are killed by an unknown assailant, seemingly in an attempt to kill off anyone who might have seen the assassin. A policeman, Stone, is sent in with the intention of posing as a member of the group to try and find out who is behind the killings.  Yeah, it’s farfetched and a typical cinema story. Luckily YouTube has a trailer posted.

Using the biker community, Harbutt was able to assemble large casts of extra bikers which were used in several scenes, most notably the opening burial procession and the fighting sequences. The locations were actual biker hangouts and there are no set shots, giving the film an authentic atmosphere.  The Grave Diggers rode four-cylinder Kawasaki KZ 900’s.  Clearly high speed races around the streets of Sydney mark Stone as a different movie than the typical Harley-based choppers of Hollywood ilk (Devil’s Angels (1967); Hells Angels on Wheels (1967); Easy Rider (1969)).  Stone’s ride was a Norton Commando twin and Harbutt provided some unique angles on-board and behind the various bikes.

Stone is a great example of Australian filmmaking and a biker movie which has achieved cult film status.  If you’ve not seen the movie I suggest you grab a copy and/or see the documentary Stone Forever (1999).  The documentary provides a good background and recreates the funeral run with an estimated 30,000 motorcyclists.

Photo source courtesy of Sandy Harbutt.

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pondeadvt2002_pg6One of the cool things about the internet is discovering a taste of world knowledge while sitting on the peripheral edge.  Often when doing research for blog posts it feels like a mini-journey to me.  For every step forward, I take two to the side or three back before compiling a broad range of information.

Part of my post-election withdrawal therapy has been background research on the only Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club (HAMC) member (Robert G. McClure) to be convicted of four murders in the State of Oregon.  McClure was found guilty of execution-style killings in the small Seventh-day Adventist community of Gaston, Oregon and sentenced to four consecutive life prison terms.  More about this in a future post, but one of the side paths this took me on was across the Pacific to the Australian Crime Commission.  They deemed ‘biker gangs’ a significant criminal threat to their nation.   As a result, the Australian Government is moving forward to ban the wearing of “colors” nationwide (similar to actions taken last month in CA. with the Mongols MC arrests) and they’re introducing laws to take legal action which allows them to confiscate ‘motorcycle club’ assets, including the club brand (“patches”), motorcycles and property.  It’s an interesting tactic for governments to seize trademarked name/brands and property, but I’ll save the far reaching laws with broad definitions and the suspension of habeas corpus rant for another day.

Humble Pie Concert

Humble Pie Concert

It was during my Australian surfing I ran across this little nugget buried in a video clip.  First off, and I’m dating myself here, the musical performance is one of the greats –  Humble Pie (Steve Marriott) – and the song is called “Big Train” or maybe its “Big Train Stops at Memphis.”  The beginning of the video has a member of the HAMC (“Mother”) who shouts to the audience… “One more song and they ain’t going home at all.” Somehow you believe him!

The Australian music festival at Ponde was famous in its own right, but certainly not on the same scale as the Altamont Speedway Festival which headlined the Rolling Stones.  This video was recorded off an Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) late night TV music show called “Rock Arena” back in 1983.  The show was cancelled in 1989.  Others in the video were keyboard player Goldy McJohn, a former member of Steppenwolf, the Bass player was Jim Leverton and the drummer (unseen) was Fallon Williams.  Another one of my “favs” is Led Zeppelin’s song “Whole Lotta Love” which is said to be a direct take off of Marriott’s version of the classic song “You Need Lovin’“. Give it a listen and you’ll see what I mean…

mannum_australia1The Ponde Music Festival ran for 23 years (1979 to 2002) in Mannum, 50 miles from Adelaide Australia, and was hosted by the HAMC.  I find it curious that over the last year there has been a dramatic increase in arrests and negative publicity coming out of Australia on issues with, in Aussie words, “bikie” gangs.  I’m intrigued how “club” attitudes have migrated from supporting a public musical festival to turf wars, firebombs, shootings and combative LE exchanges?  Internet searches reveal little about the perceptions of the festival in the past which started out as a gathering for bike enthusiasts, but expanded over the years into a full-blown top talent multi-day music festival.

 

Video courtesy YouTube, Newspaper photo courtesy of Advertiser Newspapers Pty. Ltd.

All Rights Reserved © 2008 Northwest Harley Blog

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