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Kingfisher-LogoI’m talking about Kingfisher.

Beer was introduced into India by the British, who eventually set up a brewery that produced Asia’s first beer — a pale ale called Lion. However, these days, lager is the only type of beer you’ll find available in India and “The King of Good Times” is Kingfisher.

It’s India’s most recognized and widely available beer. Its name has been associated with sports, fashion, and even an airline.

And sooner than anyone would have thought… in Bawal, India a Harley-Davidson assembly line worker will be having a Kingfisher and relaxing with co-workers.

But, I’ve gotten ahead of myself…  let’s jump into the the way back machine and set the dial for — 2009.

The fact is we must focus both our effort and our investment on the Harley-Davidson brand, as we believe this provides an optimal path to sustained, meaningful long-term growth,” said CEO Keith Wandell at the October 15, 2009 announcement to discontinue production of Buell motorcycles.  On October 30, 2009 the last Buell (Lightning XB12Scg) rolled off the company’s East Troy, Wisconsin. assembly line.  It was the last of the 136,923 motorcycles built in the company’s 26 years of operation.

Harley-Davidson Street 750

Harley-Davidson Street 750

It was a combination of factors in making the decision, but essentially the global recession forced a reckoning and Harley-Davidson decided to refocus on its tent pole products or what I’d call doubling down on its core lineup of heavyweight bikes.  As a result, the motor company abandoned entry level motorcycles (Buell Blast), exited the sport bike (Buell and sold MV) and thumb their noses at the adventure market (Buell Ulysses).   In the process the motor company made a lot of motorcycle enthusiasts upset about what looked like a myopic approach of only looking at spreadsheets versus doing a bit more market research and addressing a need.

Jump ahead 4-years and witness the financial rebound of the company and the launch this week of the new Harley-Davidson Street 750 and Street 500 motorcycles.  Could it be a Buell Blast ReDeux?  The smaller 500cc motorcycle basically fills a void left when they discontinued the Buell motorcycle line which included the 492cc Buell Blast.  More important in this announcement is the fact that the motorcycles will be made both in the U.S. and Bawal, India, marking the first time the company will manufacture a complete motorcycle at an overseas facility.  I’ll repeat that… the first time the company will manufacture a complete motorcycle outside the U.S.!

Harley-Davidson Street 750  (Side View)

Harley-Davidson Street 750 (Side View)

The manufacturing news in of itself will be fodder for many future blog posts, but sticking to the motorcycle announcement, the new ‘Street’ bikes are the first Harley-Davidson motorcycles to be designed from scratch since the V-Rod 13 years ago.

It makes this Road Glide owner wonder if that’s an indicator of where all the engineers were redirected in lieu of updating the ‘Glide’ with the all new Project RUSHMORE features that were incorporated into the new 2014 touring models?

The fact is the company has aggressively expanded its marketing efforts because realistically, there is no replacing white Baby Boomer men. And this means they have to attract younger men, non-Caucasian men, women, and do that from countries as disparate as India, Italy, Brazil and the U.S. with much more success.  By turning inwards, relying on a single-brand tradition and nationalism over the last 4-years and divesting itself of brands that were dimming the lights on a brighter future–the motor company can and now has expanded into other segments.

At the Street 750/500 announcement the Harley-Davidson, CEO Keith Wandell said, “The younger riders don’t want their dad’s chromed-out Harley,” “They want the Dark Custom, sinister look, the ability to rebel.

Sounds like a bit of marketing spin, but with more than half of its dealerships outside the U.S., Harley-Davidson has really put a lot of investment behind a push to expand and broaden its customer base including new motorcycle buyers–worldwide.

Photo’s courtesy of H-D and Kingfisher.  Note: Kingfisher, “The King of Good Times”, is India’s most recognized and widely available beer. Its name has been associated with sports, fashion, and even an airline.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog
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'80's Vintage T-shirt Logo

As a motorcycle enthusiast you’ve likely changed or upgraded the mufflers on that stock Harley-Davidson.

Maybe even gone so far as to push it up a notch with a full exhaust upgrade, race tuner, cam and dyno tuning to live’n up the motor and eek out a few more ponies.  And wink, wink, nod, nod, I’m sure that EPA certified “cat” remained on the bike to reduce tailpipe emissions, right?

We all know that exhaust mods are a fine line in the environmental sand, yet most motorcycle enthusiasts if ask would state that they un-equivalently have a great appreciation for nature and their experiences with it on the open road.  Maybe even consider themselves “Green.”   I’m not talking about a raging tree-hugger environmentalist or “Hybrid Head” here, but someone who indeed cares about the environment and wants to do their stewardship part.  And by riding a fuel efficient motorcycle it qualifies to a degree to speak with some green conviction vs. the guzzler tax crowd. 

Could we do more?  Sure.  So, let’s talk about the environmental footprint of your favorite refreshment after a long day of riding the Harley-Davidson.

Whether it’s a beverage served on the rocks in a comfy biker bar or at home in a frosted mug or sipped from a flask with riding buddies around a campfire.  The production of whiskey and other spirits requires much more energy than wine or beer. In addition, the distilling process also makes a lot of waste.

If you recall in college 101 we learned that “liquor is quicker” than wine or beer. But producing it uses more energy, ounce for ounce, and nearly all the water that goes into the still emerges as waste.   So, if you’re fully committed to making a difference on this planet or maybe you’re just feeling guilty about that exhaust modification and want to know how the various spirits stack up so that you can do something about it.  Here is the invaluable information:

Whiskey: Single malt Scotch is made from only one grain source, while most American whiskeys are made from mixtures of rye, corn, wheat, or barley. So what’s the greenest? Most single malts are produced by boutique outfits using old-fashioned energy-hogging pot stills, as opposed to the more efficient column-style stills employed by major distillers. And while American bourbons are aged in virgin-oak barrels that are used only once, most of those barrels end up being reused by other liquor makers. Green Suggestion: Maker’s Mark.  The bourbon maker buys local grain and turns its waste into energy. Most of the company’s land is a nature preserve.

Vodka and Gin: Although some vodkas are still made from potatoes, most now come from a mix of grains. Ditto for gin. In terms of distillation, vodka requires more energy and water than most spirits. That’s because it’s distilled down to 95 percent ethanol—some ethanol plants even make vodka on the side—then diluted back to 40 percent. Gins are often made the same way. Green Suggestion: Square One vodka, which is organic and purchases one-quarter of its electricity from a local wind farm through renewable energy credits. TRU2 gin uses lightweight bottles and recyclable corks, and plants a tree for each bottle it sells.

Rum: The mojito enabler is made from molasses or cane juice, and its fibrous leftovers can throw off the microorganism balance in waterways. In 2001, the EPA sued Bacardi for illegally dumping 3,000 gallons of this goop into a river near its Puerto Rico plant. (Many major distillers now treat their water.) Sugarcane is also a notoriously destructive crop, producing massive amounts of wastewater and greenhouse gases. Green Suggestion: Don Qrum. The Puerto Rico-based distiller turns its waste into compost and irrigation water, and uses excess steam from its treatment plant to help power the still.

Tequila: Tequila’s waste problem is as bad as rum’s. For every liter of tequila, you get about 11 pounds of pulp and 10 liters of vinazas, or acidic waste—which ends up befouling soil and water in Mexico’s Jalisco state, where most tequila comes from. Blue agave farmers, meanwhile, have used more and more pesticides since their crops were chewed up by insects during the 1990’s.  Green Suggestion: Casa Noble or 4 Copas, the first tequilas to be certified organic.

Beer: In 2008, New Belgium Brewing Company commissioned an environmental analysis (PDF) of its Fat Tire Amber Ale and found that refrigeration accounted for almost one-third of its overall greenhouse-gas emissions. Glass production was second, contributing 22 percent. Though aluminum production is an environmental disaster, cans beat bottles handily on the carbon front: Pablo Päster, a blogger and sustainability consultant, calculates that shipping cans rather than bottles results in 30 percent fewer emissions. And cans are recycled at significantly higher rates. Good news for your inner frat boy: Kegs are the most efficient vessels of all.  Green Suggestion: New Belgium. The Colorado-based company brews in superefficient kettles and is entirely powered by renewables.

Of course none of this is relevant unless taking into account greenhouse gas emissions and the water footprint to manufacture the product. So, to be fair it takes about 20 gallons of water to make a pint of beer and as much as 132 gallons of water to make a 2-liter bottle of soda.

There you have it.  A green guide to refreshments for your next motorcycle road trip.

Photo courtesy of eBay, H-D and Jack Daniels (’80’s vintage t-shirt).  Full Disclosure:  Author has no affiliation with any of the above listed spirits manufactures.   Don’t drink and ride.

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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That’s the way I imagine it was in 1933.  It was 75 years ago today that the drink that made Milwaukee famous was made legal again.  

The home of Harley had many breweries (go figure – mixing bikes and beers?!), including Milwaukee’s own Schlitz, Blatz and Pabst.  They all celebrated the occasion by sending their first cases of beer to the White House for President Franklin Roosevelt.  Before national prohibition could be officially repealed, President Roosevelt signed legislation called the “Cullen-Harrison Act” (also know as the Beer Revenue Act) that went into effect on April 7, 1933.  It allowed the public the ability to legally drink beer 8 months before the amendment could be formally repealed.  Not only did this make a lot of people happy, it also helped stimulate the nations struggling economy.

These days it’s much different.  You walk into a bar room and you’re lucky not to be stopped and asked to sign waivers.  But that’s not the case behind Jim’s Tap in Brookings, S.D.  For 25 years now, motorcyclists have lined up one day a year behind Jim’s Tap and ride the Harley’s through the bar and out the front door. They come from hundreds of miles away for a few seconds that look very much like a scene from a movie.

In celebration I had a light beer with dinner tonight.

Photo is courtesy of Anheuser Busch.

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