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Posts Tagged ‘Harley-Davidsion’

santa_cruz_closedThe sign in the window tells the story.  It’s not something that Harley-Davidson dealers have experienced since the 1980’s, but it’s starting to happen across the U.S. – foreclosure and going out of business sales.

Today it was announced that in Dubuque, Iowa, Wilwert’s Harley-Davidson is being foreclosed after almost 50 years in business.  According KCRG news and the county Sheriff’s department the building is set for public auction on January 15, 2009.   The sale notice states there is a judgment awarded to American Trust and Savings Bank in Dubuque for $1.6M.

Last week and shortly after running an ironic “End-of-The-World” sale the Santa Cruz Harley-Davidson dealer removed their equipment from the shop and closed.  Owner Mike James cited poor motorcycle sales due to the struggling economy ending 11 years at this location and a 80 year run in the city.  The dealers satellite shop in Watsonville, CA closed earlier this year.  He was quoted in the Mercury News

“We may be the first Harley dealer, but we won’t be the last.”

Things like this can really have a “domino effect” and in the end affects a lot of people beyond just the immediate employees.  There is a local HOG Chapter without a sponsoring dealer and more important many people from the dealer as well as the owners have contributed greatly to local charities and fundraisers.

It’s a sobering reality and I hope the best for the employees and owners.  Interestingly is that the only comment from corporate Harley-Davidson is a “no comment” on these things.  Is that corporate lethargy and money talking?   In this environment addressing customer concerns and making sure they don’t become further disappointed by parts and service issues should be important….

UPDATE: To clarify, Todd Wilwerts Golf Vehicles is NOT affiliated with the Harley dealer or is it closing. 

Photo courtesy of Santa Cruz HD web site.  

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I’ve noticed lately that I’m getting old-r. Maybe ’cause it’s that time of year for a lot of birthdays or maybe it’s my lack of patience?  Anyway I’m standing in the Starbucks line to buy my normal Grande Coffee and it’s like freakin’ 700 people long ’cause the only thing the teenage boy at the register is thinking about is the teenage girl at the other register and some lady has her purse inside out trying to win the “exact change” trophy…Mac, take a breath…it’s only 6:30am so, just drink your coffee and chill…

Okay, where was I? Oh yeah, I’m getting old-r and as a “Generation Jones” I’m starting to question if I’m living the dream or just growing old (dis)-gracefully.

When I think about this age gig and demographics I’m sort of hip and fit into the internet generation. I do “The Google“, I blog a bit, I’m on Facebook, I Flickr and Picasa photo’s, I connect with groups on CollectiveX, I’ve planned parties on MyPunchBowl, I’m hip to Wikipedia, I manage calendars online with Eventful, I Digg lots of articles on the web, I jog with an iPod, I ride a Harley.  But, then I get reminded just how “un-cool” I am when I can’t find music on the mainstream radio that I like and I tire quickly of the “10/2-minute” (10 minutes of ads for 2 minutes of content) rule of commercialization.

Speaking of music, how about that hip-hop Jibb’s song ‘Chains‘.  I was flipping radio channels in the cage and thought…Jibbs who?! I don’t get it. I understand the lyrics and get the thump, thump, thump, but I could hardly change the channel fast enough!  If it’s hip-hop then I’m into the Kid Rock ‘Cowboy‘ style.  Nobody I know is wearing a chain with their ‘NAME’ spelled out in diamonds. They don’t have 26’s (rims) on a Range Rover.  Heck most of us are driving a Pontiac Sunfire or Toyota Corolla’s… on 12’s… and with squeaky brakes…, so why is everyone bounc’n to Chains?

What’s next?  Harley is not “cool” and I’ll need to mortgage the house for a six-figure V-Twin custom that’s overloaded with billet and explosions of flame colors?!

Yep, I’m getting old-r because I don’t care if people want to debate what is or is not cool.  I personally, couldn’t care less.  I’m going ridin’.  Ya comin’?

Bicentennial poster photo courtesy of H-D Museum.

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We all did it as young tikes on a bicycle…zoom down a hill and lock the rear tire brake putting the bicycle into a “lazy-S” skid.  Locking the rear wheel required little skill and resulted in a small range of possible after effects.  It was fun, cool and the likely outcome was bragging rights for the largest skid mark and/or wearing out the tire/tube (which your mom reminded you that money didn’t grow on a tree in the back yard) or being ejected off and acquiring a “road rash”….thus embellishing your bragging rights!

On a motorcycle, however it’s a much different story.  The deceleration of motorcycles is a topic of great debate among accident reconstructionists. There’s been very little research about motorcycle braking, despite improvements in tire manufacture grip and the increase of Anti-Lock Braking (ABS) systems installed on motorcycles.

But, the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety released a new report (.pdf) this week which states fatal crash rates involving motorcycles equipped with optional antilock brakes was 38 percent lower than the rate involving similar motorcycles without those systems.  Antilock brakes, similar to the devices found on automobiles, help riders stop their motorcycles abruptly without locking up the wheels or fishtailing. The system monitors the brake pressure multiple times per second, allowing motorcycle riders to fully brake both wheels in an emergency situation and avoid losing control and hitting the blacktop.  Taking a “skid for life” is not something anyone looks forward to and this is especially pronounced when braking under a panic emergency situation.

Speaking of emergencies.  On a trip to Hells Canyon a couple years ago we were riding on two-lane roads in unfamiliar territory.  As we came around a corner out jumps a 1000 pound Heifer from the side of the road.  The motorcycle in front of me did an emergency brake…most of which was rear brake which then created a dirt-track type slid maneuver on the asphalt.  Big difference between a 300 pound 2-stroke and a 900+ pound Harley.  He managed to pull it out of the “lazy-S” without going down, but it serves as a reminder to all about minimizing that rear brake effect.

It’s well know that Harley-Davidson was slow to adopt this technology across the product line.  In 2004 they announced ABS for certain Police models, but only recently introduced ABS broadly in the product line-up.  Previously ABS was typically found only on touring bikes from Japan manufactures and was available on motorcycles from BMW since the K100 introduction in 1988.

The report also found there were 6.6 fatal crashes per 10,000 registered motorcycles without ABS in 2005-2006. The rate for the same bikes equipped with ABS was 4.1, or 38 percent lower, during the same period.  In a second study, they found that antilock brakes appeared to reduce collision claims – insurance losses were 21 percent lower for motorcycles with antilock brakes compared with similar motorcycles without ABS. The findings were based on a data set of 72,000 insured years of 2003-2007 model year Honda, Suzuki, Triumph and Yamaha bikes.

Clearly the ability of maneuver under hard braking scenario’s or during a crash avoidance predicament is very important. In a DOT/NHTSA report (.ppt) it was reported that 22% of motorcycle fatalities were related to braking or steering maneuvers.  In doing research for this post I came across this report from a Mechanical Forensics group which details a single long straight skidmark vs. a “lazy-S” shape and the meanings of each.  The good news is that ABS is now standard or optional on about 40 motorcycles in the 2008 model year including BMW, Harley-Davidson, and Honda.

In the Northwest sunny and dry payment is uncommon 9 months of the year and unfortunately we don’t get to pick the time and place for a panic stop.  It’s during those unplanned panic stops that having ABS will pay for itself.  Think about it, read up on the systems and if you’re like me you’ll want it!

Photo courtesy Flickr and IIHS report.

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