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Lance Armstrong visits Nike HQ in Beaverton, OR. with OCC Bike and all the supporters

People who end up living their dreams are not those who are lucky and gifted, but those who are stubborn, resolute and willing to sacrifice – NY Times interview with Jonathan Vaughters a former professional cyclist.

Now that I’ve got your attention, we know… without a doubt Lance Armstrong is the biggest contemporary sports fraud alive.  Most could look the other way on the doping, but it was the lies — all of the lies — years of lying.

Remember way back to 2004 when American Chopper was firing on all cylinders?  There was even a Lance Armstrong/LIVESTRONG bike introduced on Jay Leno. We know that Lance’s net worth is upwards of $120 million and that he turned the rubberized yellow bracelets into a must-have, cause related fashion accessory.

However, the whole set of values that the LIVESTRONG “brand” was grounded in (resilience, courage, endurance, hard work), has now been shown to be a façade after the USADA doping report paints a story of lies, intimidation and deceit spanning 15 years.  It was only a couple weeks ago that Nike introduced the Holiday 2012 LIVESTRONG collection, but is now hoping to salvage it’s corporate image by ending the 16 year Lance endorsement and emphasizing the LIVESTRONG charity association.

Cutting the support of Lance Armstrong/LIVESTRONG

You might think that Lance’s future will be similar to Pete Rose?  A book signing tour – My Prison Without Bars or selling notarized copies of his banishment letter outside Caesar’s in Las Vegas.

Unlikely, because there is always a savvy marketer out there that is an expert when it comes to brand-washing, and will promote it as now is the best time to consider pursuing Lance because you’ll have a better chance at securing an affordable partnership.

It’s clear that his reputation, his legacy and his character were thrown away by the doping.  And, that is LiveWRONG.  I waited awhile before jumping on the “slam Lance train”, but the cutting photo above captures how I feel after being a long time supporter and the shame he’s brought onto the community here in Oregon.

UPDATE: January 18, 2013 – I watched the Oprah Winfrey “interview” last night.   Armstrong offered up at best a contrite explanation of his difficulties… hyper-competitiveness fueled his toxic need to control every outcome… but, there were no new facts beyond the USADA report and it was really nothing more than another example of Armstrong trying to control the apology narrative from Oprah’s chair.  More importantly he vehemently deny that he ever called Betsy Andreu fat!  Sure he called her a lot of names, impugned her character and tried to permanently wreck her ability to ever earn a living, but as a consolation he never ever called her fat.  I’m sure Betsy feels so much better!

Armstrong ran a doping cartel and perpetuated the doping scam for over a decade, was complicit in every aspect of the lies and cover up, sued or smeared into financial ruin and bullied so many “friends” that by his own admission he lost track of how many, lied to sponsors and strategically misled the public to improve his personal finances.  What he did to people was just plain mean.   And this entire “apology tour”, with the media circus and its elegantly choreographed week-long build up prior to sitting on Oprah’s chair was just another example of Armstrong’s need to control every outcome.  Shameful.

Lance Armstrong visits Nike HQ in Beaverton, OR., with OCC bike – Photo courtesy of Beau Hudspeth.

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Happy New Years!

Now that the champagne toasts are made and the ball dropped, it’s time to start thinking ahead:  What’s your riding resolution for this year?  Will you ride your motorcycle more often to work?  Take that epic journey or stay close to home?  Will you buy a new ride or enhance the existing one?

Before going forward let’s take a quick look back.

Over the years I’ve posted the occasional summary of the more popular and least liked stories from the past 12 months.  It’s not my “helper-monkey”, but the good folks at WordPress.com state their rankings algorithm is based on how many people read a particular article.  The average is the sum of views divided by the number of days and its gets even more complex if you are the sort of person who likes to verify computations.  I don’t.

The final tallies can be a little mystifying, to be honest.

Are readers giving a “thumbs-up” because they liked the content of the article or just the topic itself?  I don’t find these summaries a really useful exercise because some of the better written articles (IMHO) will sometimes have the fewest views.  It’s the old adage that writing about or reposting the nip slips, exposed undies and ever-presence dysfunction from the celebrity train wrecks for the whole world to see will bring a whole lot more views if that’s your goal.  But, if nothing else, the summary does provide a snapshot of what struck in my readers’ collective fancy during the past year.

In 2011, I posted 88 new articles (about 7 per month).  That brought the total archive on this blog up to just over 800 posts.  I uploaded 165 pictures (or about 3 per week).  The busiest day was September 25th (during the Vagos and HAMC shooting in Reno) with 1,120 views on an article I posted in 2008 (HERE).  Clearly the social behavior and the attraction of the events in Reno was a big draw, but I’m mystified why the more current article (HERE) had fewer views?  Maybe it’s a SEO thing.  I also want to provide a shout-out to the large number of UK viewers who consistently visit the blog.

Here are the 2011 most viewed highlights:

Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs Flying Colors in Oregon
OCC Family Feud Ends
Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs Are New Media Darlings
Vagos MC Meeting In Grants Pass
Harley SAMCRO Limited Edition Motorcycle
Harley-Davidson’s SwitchBack
Vintage Motorcycles – Honda CB750
Harley Engine History
“Green Nation” Busts On Saint Patrick’s Day
No Angel
The Day Laughlin River Run Changed
Men Of Mayhem
A “Legend Bell” Full of Mystery
Harley Snubbed In Benjamin Button Movie
Operation Black Rain Nets Oregon Mongols

I enjoyed this past year—and I hope you have, too.  If I’ve done my “job” right as editor of this blog, then your visits will have helped make your motorcycle hobby a bit more meaningful.  Hopefully you’ve become closer to your motorcycle and grown your relationship with friends that you’ve met on the road.

Happy 2012!

Photo’s courtesy of WordPress.com and Northwest Harley Blog.

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2012 Paint Palette

Have you been reading the headlines? There was a big earthquake in Haiti. Some men were rescued from a mine in Chile. Oh, and apparently there was a gigantic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

What’s that you say? This all sounds like last year’s news?

Well, don’t tell that to Harley-Davidson. The motor company recently introduced 15 new models, which it considered innovative and groundbreaking  products:  a “tubeless” laced wheel option, and six new colors or color combinations on the touring models!   Then in a déjà vu lapse they announced the retention of last year’s integrated branding firm Graj + Gustavsen Inc. to continue advising the company on strategic branding initiatives related to apparel and apparel-related accessories.

It would seem that even Harley-Davidson understands that the touring models have so few innovations that their only hope of differentiating itself from the other players is through paint palettes…. So, the only buying question you’ll have to ask yourself, then, is: Does H-D make a convincing enough “color case” that you should invest about $20K in a “new” touring model?

Here’s the crux of H-D’s argument.  First of all, the new colors or color combinations are beautiful. The mostly unchanged motorcycles from 2011 are even more beautiful in 2012.  The unchanged frame is beautiful, too. It’s graphically coherent, elegant, fluid and satisfying. That, apparently, is the payoff when a single company designs and builds both the engine and frame housing?  The ‘advanced’ Harmon/Kardon radio retains its 1970’s BMW inspired ‘red’ glow and that glossy Vivid black paint — continues to be a magnet for fingerprints, boot scuffs, and unfortunately looks wicked great only in the dealer showroom. I think the words in the H-D press release were “The Legend Lives On.”  The band, Talking Heads, said it best… in the song “Once In A Lifetime.”  The “same as it ever was, same as it ever was” lyrics… really resonates for the 2012 touring models.

It’s been a while since I’ve had a good, proper, Harley-Davidson rant. Part of that has been the adventures of this year; I think it’s softened me and given me more patience, made me a little more graceful. Another part of it, probably closer to the heart of the matter is that I’ve been busy doing other things and a good rant takes time to incubate.

Well a rant has been building and I finally snapped as I read an article in last week’s “Wall Street Journal” (subscription required) where there was a front page story on Hyundai. How it went from a laughingstock to a runaway success in the car market. Now that they’ve solved the quality problem, now that they’ve caught up with Toyota and Honda, the company is confronted with a huge issue going forward, creativity. How do you lead when you’ve spent your entire manufacturing life following? Read WSJ article HERE.

The new Elantra is so far ahead of the market that Corolla sales have stalled and the new Civic has been blasted by critics as it fails to fly from the showroom. Instead of focusing on the econo box look, Hyundai imitated BMW and Mercedes-Benz. And the model was redesigned in four years instead of five, trumping its competitors in the marketplace.  The success of the Elantra is testimony to the change in culture at Hyundai. To one now focused on leading, on creativity.

This leads me to the question of is there a culture of innovation at Harley-Davidson?  When talking about innovation we often define the term too narrowly. In fact, innovation can – and does – occur in every industry of our economy, from consumer electronics to health care.  Yet, when I re-review the 2012 touring models, instilling creative thinking must be a work in progress.

For comparison, a few times a week, video screens around Hyundai’s headquarters in Seoul show a one-minute clip that has become a favorite. It shows an open office where workers wearing the same shirt and haircut are “beavering” away (that’s Oregon slang). Then a new person arrives with a different hair cut. Each time he voices an idea, the others shout him down. Eventually he gets the same haircut and everybody likes him. Then a question appears: ‘Aren’t we stuck in conventional thinking?’

I don’t know if a video loop like that would necessarily fly in a Milwaukee plant with the union workers, but that’s not the point of this post.

It’s about how most every American business is in a mad dash to innovate except for H-D.  The only answer can be the titans at the top are traffic cops sans creativity?  Don’t blame the public or the economy, blame the fat cat executives who are denying they’re the problem like the honchos at Goldman Sachs. What makes the rich believe they’re invulnerable, always right and entitled?   Somehow in the “dash-for-cash”, it’s all about shooting low, to the sweet spot, where most people live so the purveyors can make money.  Good enough just doesn’t cut it and of course there are exceptions, but generally speaking we’re in a low point for H-D touring motorcycles.

It’s a new game. No one gets to rest on his laurels. Making it today is no insurance you’ll thrive tomorrow, look at the carcasses strewn along the highway… OCC, Indian, or Big Dog.

We’ve got endless hype and yet sales are anemic.  Mediocrity thrives at Harley-Davidson because it’s all about the money.  About playing it safe… with new paint palettes!

Photo courtesy of  Hyundai and H-D.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Since the first day when Federal Agents raided the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative (BALCO) back in September 2003, the ‘steroids scandal’ has engulfed some of the biggest names in sports and brought increased scrutiny to the illegitimate nature of pharmacy law.  This link provides more information on the MLB debacle.

Now we’re learning from Times Union about a connection with James M. D’Amico, a dentist from Cape Coral, FL., who had a revoked dental license while prescribing “nutritional supplements” a.k.a. steroids and human growth hormones.  This case, prosecuted in South Florida has ties to a steroids-distribution investigation launched four years ago in Albany and recently brought to light one of Mr. D’Amico’s high-profile clientele as none other than Paul Teutul Sr. of Orange County Chopper (OCC) and ‘American Chopper’  fame.  According to Mr. D’Amico’s seized records, Paul Teutul Sr. received 73 prescriptions at a cost of over $51,000 from August 2, 2002 to October 3, 2006.

Now I’m not a dentist, but clearly there must be a lot of legitimate uses for steroids in a dental practice for 73 prescriptions?!

Maybe Paul Sr., was overwhelmed in the fiercely competitive custom motorcycle business and realized it’s not enough to be smart and charismatic — you need to have bigger, stronger and faster moving biceps than all the other also ran’s — and as a result looked to nutritional supplements to build the one-of-a-kind choppers in record breaking time.

According to the Albany NY based Times Union web site article, the D’Amicos prescriptions to Teutul were processed by Orlando’s Signature Compounding Pharmacy, whose operators remain under felony indictment in Albany.  Robert G. Calson, a Sarasota, FL., physician who pleaded guilty in Albany three years ago to insurance fraud for his role in that case, also prescribed supplement drugs to Tuetul through Signature.

In connecting the dots it wouldn’t be a big leap to assume that some of that ‘American Chopper’ yelling for prime time was more related to “roid rage” and it’s possible that this doping scandal is truly the end of the road for the Teutul dynasty.  Translated: The threebie that isn’t.

More blog posts on the “Ragin Teutuls” HERE.

Photo courtesy of Automated Trader

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Paul (Senior) Teutul -- The Hair Club Motorcycle

That’s how I would described American Chopper, the reality television show based on the Teutul family business, Orange County Chopper custom-built motorcycles.

Unless you live in a cave you’ve been unable to avoid hearing about Paul Sr. and Paul Jr. revving up their litigators and fighting it out in the courtroom — a shareholder dispute or family feud?  If you’ve missed it I’ve previously blog about this father/son feud HERE and HERE.

At this point I suspect that Paul Jr. is doing a victory break dance after the decision by the appeals court reversed a lower court’s ruling that would have forced him to sell his 20% interest in Orange County Choppers to his father, at a price to be determined by the court.  Teutul v. Teutul, 2010 NY Slip Op 09248 (2d Dept Dec. 14, 2010).

You may recall that the lower court’s April 2010 ruling enforced Senior’s exercise of a buyout option contained in a January 2009 letter agreement that had temporarily patched up the father-son business relationship, and avoided cancellation of their television deal with Discovery Channel, following Senior’s on-air firing of Junior.  The court enforced the option notwithstanding that the buyout price was expressed in terms of “fair market value as determined by a procedure to be agreed to by the parties as soon as practicable.  The solution to the parties’ inability to agree on valuation procedure, the court concluded, was for the court itself to step in and determine the fair market value of Junior’s shares.

Only a legal student would find the previous two years of this business divorce interesting.  I did find it curious that according to Discovery Channel the Jan. 3rd premiere show garnered 2M+ viewers and was the number #1 cable program (excluding sports and movies) during prime time among the male 18-54 demographic.

American Chopper’s Hair Club Motorcycle

The next new episode of Senior vs. Junior is Jan. 17th where Paul Sr. will unveil the newest completed chopper built for the 35th Anniversary of the Hair Club.  Most notable is the brushed metal skull-themed paint which illustrates Hair Club’s signature “magic” where one skull is bald and the other has a full head of hair, flowing like flames.  In addition there is a promotional opportunity that I wanted to make you aware of where you can win the Hair Club motorcycle by entering their contest HERE.

Thanks to Sam Mazzarelli of Marlo Marketing and Communications for the  email with this information and corresponding photos.  The Hair Club motorcycle will be unveiled for what is expected to be a large crowd at Washington State University (Pullman, WA) on January 17th.

Photos courtesy of American Chopper, OCC and Marlo Marketing.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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The title is a reference to an interview process which is called voir dire, a French phrase translated as “to see and speak the truth.”  Another way to say it is democracy in action.

I’m talking about Paul Teutul (Sr.) and his son Paul M. Tuetul (Jr.) of OCC/American Chopper fame.  Like rock stars, they are.  A key part of building the custom motorcycle scene for mainstream America.  They weren’t in it for momentary good times, they wanted world domination from the outset.  I’ve blogged about them previously HEREHERE and HERE

But their working landscape turned toxic, and rather than resolve the dispute they remained lockjaw-ed, rigid, corporate minded and took the low road of “I’ll get mine and F you” kind of thinking.  The problem, me thinks is greed.  The perpetual rock throwing finally hit the White Plains, NY., courthouse where an oral argument before a four-judge panel on Paul Junior’s appeal from a lower court ruling against him, enforcing Senior’s “option” to purchase Junior’s 20% interest in Orange County Choppers (OCC) for an amount to be determined by the court in an appraisal proceeding.

For the uninitiated here is a recap, in January 2009, after a nasty, made for TV, on-air power struggle in which furniture somehow became airborne, Senior fired Junior.  The two entered into a letter agreement that allowed Junior to continue working at OCC and avoided cancellation (and breach of contract) of their television deal with Discovery Channel, which owns The Learning Channel on which American Chopper is aired.   Junior rejected the option exercise, following which Senior brought suit to enforce it.  In April 2010, Orange County Supreme Court Justice Lewis Jay Lubell ruled in Senior’s favor (read the decision here). It’s a complex issue about fair market value and when it comes to valuing shares of close corporations for which there is no ready market, requiring agreement as to basic assumptions such as the date of valuation and the applicability of discounts.

Whatever your impressions are of the TV show and the Teutul’s antics, I’d think sitting in a courtroom and watching the legal experience unfold to determine your monetary fate separates the men from the boys.  Having had my disproportionate share of legal issues I’d never predict the outcome of an appeal, but it’s likely a decision will be handed down before end of year.

I personally like my custom bike builder hero’s to take me above this worlds problems!  That’s why I quit watching anything Teutul and instead was riveted by the rescue of the Chilean miners.  Everybody threw in together.  I was impressed by the technology, the fortitude.  We applauded the human spirit and believe that problems can be solved.  But not in Teutul land.

For those interested in learning more about the case, here are links to the appellate briefs:

Junior’s main brief (36 pages)
Senior’s opposition brief (25 pages)
Junior’s reply brief (15 pages)

Links courtesy of the excellent New York Business Divorce Blog and attorney/author Peter Mahler.

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Renegade Wheels Owner - Chuck Frederick

He joins an elite club of A-listers who love to flaunt their fabulous machines and high quality wares.

I’m talking about Chuck Frederick, owner of Renegade Wheels.

I was recently contacted by the co-founder of MaleStandard.com, a men’s lifestyle source of information on grooming, dating and other esoteric items that men care about, in regards to an exclusive article about the man behind Renegade Wheels.

It turns out that Renegade Wheels developed a customer set of wheels for Paul Jr. (of OCC fame) Designs of American Chopper and this article covers the story behind the business as well as the new relationship with Paul Jr.

Here is an excerpt:

Q: Circling back around, it’s hard to deny the excitement that is exuding out of you after your trip to Sturgis to showcase your wheels on Paul Jr.’s bike. How did that collaboration come to light?
A: It was a surprise. The collaboration wasn’t something that was pre-planned. Paul Jr. had intended on making his own wheels however he was in a real time crunch and knew he likely would miss his deadline without Renegade’s assistance, so he had Vinnie give us a call. It turned out the timing was great for us and we could get right on them.

Q: Was the custom design specific to just that bike?
A: Yes. Most of Paul Jr.’s bikes are theme or corporate and get very unique one-off wheels.

It’s well written and a good read so check it out HERE.

Full Disclosure:  I purchased (blog post HERE) a set of Renegade Wheels last year, but have no affiliation with the company.

Photo courtesy of Renegade Wheels.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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