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Posts Tagged ‘Daytona Bike Week’

Chief-2014Traditional product launches often act as a big corporate “Lighting Bolt.”

Meaning the company plans a big event, creates loads of new sales tools and collateral and places those important ad campaigns in the trade rags.  All the while keeping everything in hush, hush secrecy ‘til they near the big day. Then comes the big ‘Ta Da’. The press release hits the wire, they hold some big chest-thumping events and then start selling, having trained the sales force in the weeks prior.

Spirit of Munro -- Named in honor of Burt Munro’s “Munro Special,”

Spirit of Munro — Named in honor of Burt Munro’s “Munro Special,”

The Indian Motorcycle (Polaris Industries) launch plan is different.

Their launch process is a more gradual, momentum-building approach that is often called “Rolling Thunder.”  Not to be confused with the Rolling Thunder® Inc., and POW/MIA topic, the rolling product launch approach dribbles out information, builds credibility over time, creating anticipation, and leverages social media to feed the various channels and momentum.

Case in point is the dribbling out of key information from Indian Motorcycle. First up at Daytona Bike Week was the reveal — a release of information about the new 111 cubic inch engine, called Thunder Stroke 111™ made in Osceola, WI and assembled at the Polaris plant in Spirit Lake, Iowa. Next up was the back story of the custom-built streamliner named “Spirit of Munro” and then last weeks announcement of their intent to unveil the new 2014 Indian Chief motorcycle at the 73rd Sturgis Motorcycle Rally followed with a sneak-peek video and the subtle announcement (HERE at 0:43) of the $18,999 price. The previous Indian Chief sold in the $26-$37K range and the previous owners may stare at that in slacked-jaw envy!

Thunder Stroke 111™

Thunder Stroke 111™

Clearly the supply-chain scale and negotiation mojo that Polaris brings to the Indian table brought better component pricing and improved labor rates.

The Indian brand dates back to the early 1900s.  Polaris acquired it in 2011 and 27 months later will release a new classic motorcycle line.  Polaris continues forward with their Victory 15-year old brand of motorcycles.  They each draw on different customers.

I’m not sure how many more “dribbles” they have planned, but the press buzz and excitement of the launch in social media circles is clearly throttling up.

Photo’s courtesy of Indian Motorcycles.

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Dave Zien

Florida’s warm breezes welcomed the motorcycle community to what most consider the grand opening of the east coast motorcycle season.

I’ve been to Daytona Beach for the Daytona 500, but unfortunately never able to visit during Bike week.  Something to add to my ‘bucket list’ I suppose as Bruce Rossmeyers Harley Davidson at Destination Daytona and New Smyrna Harley Davidson play host to tens of thousands of bikers from around the world.   There are a number of biker venues like, Main Street’s Boothill Saloon, Iron Horse Saloon, Cabbage Patch, Gilly’s Pub 44, Broken Spoke Saloon, and Froggys to keep a person occupied.

The official stats have yet to be released, but antidotal media reports suggest that attendance is a bit mixed.  Some merchants blamed the economy and/or high gas prices for a less than spectacular attendance record this year..  One attendee interviewed by the local paper said:

“People just don’t have as much discretionary money to spend on a bike. And let’s face it, this is a frivolous vacation,” said Phil McAllister, pausing before adding, “But it’s still a lot of fun.”

I’m not sure if this is a predictor of the 2011 riding/rally season across the U.S. or not.  What do you think?  Will you be attending more, same or fewer motorcycle rallies than last year?  I’ll be attending fewer this year due to scheduling issues.

But, there were a couple of other notable items that will mark this years Bike week in the history books.  One was a sonic boom as the space shuttle Discovery began its rapid descent over the Atlantic Ocean and skillful final landing. After 39 missions, the space shuttle Discovery landed for the last time March 10th at Kennedy Space Center, about an hour from Daytona Beach.  The other and one that is most unfortunate was former Wisconsin state Sen. Dave Zien and AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer was seriously injured on Sunday in a motorcycle accident in Florida.

The accident occurred at 6:15 a.m. Sunday on eastbound Interstate 10 near Marianna in Jackson County.  Mr. Zien was driving in the inside lane when a Ford SUV crossed over from the right lane and into the median. The driver lost control of the vehicle and it rolled, flipping onto its side on the interstate facing north.

Zien attempted to avoid the crash scene but was unable to, clipping the back of the SUV. Zien was thrown from his 2009 Harley-Davidson bike where he was reported to have lost part of his left leg, and was airlifted to Tallahassee Memorial Medical Center, where at last report he was in stable condition.

Mr. Zien is best known as an AMA Hall of Famer, for defending motorcyclists’ rights while serving in the Wisconsin Legislature and true to his words he was not wearing a helmet in this accident.  Mr. Zien served as vice president of the Wisconsin Better Bikers Association and was known for riding around on his Harley-Davidson with a full-size American and Wisconsin flags on his bike. In addition, back in 2005, Zien was the main author of the Wisconsin RURA (Roadway Users Responsibility Act) 466.  That bill provides for increased penalties for vehicle operators who violate the right-of-way of other roadway users.  And in my opinion I hope there is a similar law in Florida because the driver of the SUV, Ryan G. Matheny of Marietta, OH., was charged with failure to maintain lane and driving with a suspended license.

Here’s hoping Mr. Zien a speedy recovery.

Photo courtesy of AMA.

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NASCAR.

I’ll admit that I’ve never been a big fan of this traditionally southern sport.  I’ve been more of a casual observer, not a participant and you wouldn’t catch me dressed up in any favorite driver licensed logo attire.

However, I was in Daytona Beach, FL on February 14, 2003 and of all things happen to be working in a press booth at the Daytona 500 race.  Yes, mullets were sported.  There was a lot of domestic beer drinking.  And hard-core fans were dressed up in stereotypical brightly colored racing gear.  I was involved in a series of product launch activities with Sierra Entertainment’s NASCAR Racing simulator game (NR2003).  This wasn’t just an average video game.  Rather it was a comprehensive simulator where many professional drivers used it in the multiplayer mode, including driving superstars Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Martin Truex Jr. who were often found on-line practicing on the various race tracks.  NR2003 was the last version to be released by Papyrus (now iRacing) before Electronic Arts bought the NASCAR license from NASCAR.  But enough about work!

I read an article today on this weekend’s Daytona 500, Danica Patrick’s racing debut and found myself reminiscing about that 2003 trip.  Chatting with drivers, people watching, visiting the pits, tire change competition duels in the convention center, food and the entertainment.  There was a lot to enjoy.

My biggest disappointment?   Being two-weeks too early to participate in Bike Week.  The 69th Daytona Bike Week starts on Feb 26 – March 7th.  While I made a point to visit Charlie Horse, a few pubs, the hard sand and enjoyed some of the warm winter days it wasn’t the same without motorcycles lining the narrow streets… the opportunity to ride that 22 mile long “Loop” and see Florida’s natural beauty just wasn’t in the cards.  I did have a chance to do a drive-by at Bruce Rossmeyer’s old H-D dealer to scavenge for yet another unique black t-shirt.

As the internet buzz “lights up” with rally details I’m thinking that someday I need to participate in Daytona Bike Week.

Photo courtesy of Papyrus

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Hamsters Logo on Fuel Tank

Hamsters Logo on Fuel Tank

In the Andes, guinea pigs have a festival devoted to them, which includes contests for the biggest, fastest and best-dressed furry friend.  A Hamster fest has yet to be founded, unless you’re thinking of the motorcycle group?!

The Hamsters’ Motorcycle Club (HMC) is an elite and somewhat secret group of motorcycle riders.  Charter members were Arlen Ness, Dave Perewitz, Donnie Smith, Ed Kerr, Jim Leahy, Barry Cooney and Steve Allington.  A who’s who of the motorcycle industry!  It began in 1978 at Daytona Bike Week.   As the story goes Jim “Jimmy” Leahy and others were in the Mystic Sea Hotel.  They were taking a nap and when they woke up no one was around.  No money, no food and peeved about being ditched Jimmy started calling them Hamsters.  He drew pictures of Hamsters on a bunch of paper plates and wrote Hamsters M/C on each of them.  Before placing them on doors he personalized the names of the charter members.  The idea was it would aggravate his posse, but instead they all laughed about it and the name stuck.  Jimmy went and had black shirts with white letters made up that said Hamsters M/C.  Later the MC was dropped and they call themselves enthusiasts.

Hamster_LogoThe rodent stuck as the mascot which graces bright yellow t-shirts.  The club is selective about new members, but it includes blue collar workers to doctors.  You don’t just join the club.  You must ride with the group 6-7 years and then you’ll receive an invitation to join. There are now 240 members with chapters as far away as Italy, England and Japan.  These days the Hamsters are about as opposite you can get from the outlaw bad guy clubs.

It takes three things to become a Hamsters member:

  1. Owning a custom bike
  2. Riding a custom bike to South Dakota’s Sturgis rally with the group, at least two years in a row
  3. Receiving an invitation to join by another member

The Hamsters have ridden to Sturgis for 25 consecutive years and never followed the same route.  The Spearfish Holiday Inn has served as the Hamsters’ headquarters for several years although approximately 20+ Hamsters purchased townhouses behind the hotel known as Hamster Hill Lane.  The annual dues are $100 and Hamsters who don’t attend at least one function each year are voted out.  Some years there are no new members allowed into the club. Some years there are as many as seven. The average is two.

The Hamsters are famous for a lot things, but two notable items I wanted to bring to your attention is the Hulett Ham-n-Jam in the land of no overpasses (Wyoming on the way to Devil’s Tower) and their generosity and major fundraising for charitable functions.  Many of the Hamsters are world-renowned motorcycle and motorcycle parts builders who donate items to be auctioned off at charity events.  The group’s generosity and ability to raise funds/donations is staggering.

I would be negligent if I didn’t also mention the high profile and weird coincidence of Bruce Rossmeyer (Daytona H-D) and Clifton “Click” Baldwin (Carolina H-D).  Both Harley-Davidson dealer owners, both on the way to the Sturgis Rally riding from dealer meetings, both members of the Hamsters Motorcycle Club/Group, both in deadly motorcycle accidents (Wyoming and Montana respectively) while passing a vehicle turning left on a two lane country highway.  Both passed away one year apart, neither were wearing helmets and both accidents were reportedly misjudgments.  It’s truly sad and a tremendous loss for the communities and families.

I’m reminded of the prophetic Marvin Gaye song “Brother, brother, brother…there’s far too many of you dying…”  Let’s hope for better days ahead…

Photo of courtesy of Hamsters.

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