Archive for December, 2008

Financial Crisis Forces Changes at Honda

December 18, 2008

Japan’s Honda Motor Co. Ltd. on Dec. 5 announced its decision to end its Formula One activities. That was followed Dec. 12 by American Honda’s decision to drop out of AMA road racing. Most recently, on Dec. 18, Honda Motor Co. Ltd. President and CEO Takeo Fukui said the financial crisis has forced the OEM to radically update its business plan over a very short period of time.

“The situation is worsening day by day and is showing no sign of recovery,” says Takeo Fukui, president and CEO, Honda Motor Co. Ltd. “As we face the next year, while hoping for the earliest recovery of the global economy and the market situation, Honda will develop business plans based on an assumption that the situation will worsen next year and will navigate the company through this challenge.”

Visit Dealernews to learn more.

Leno’s Garage for the Cycle Enthusiast, Too

December 18, 2008

Jay Leno is arguably one of the best-known gear-heads in North America, and owner of one of the finest car collections in the world. Housed in a 17,000 sq.-ft. former airplane hangar, Jay’s “Big Dog Garage” holds dozens upon dozens of vehicles in a collection that spans multiple continents and more than a century.

But Jay is more than a “car guy,” he’s also a collector of motorcycles. Among his prized possessions: a lenojetbike 1930 Brough Superior SS100, 1955 Vincent Black Knight, Ducati Desmosedici RR, 1966 Suzuki X6 Hustler, 1975 Suzuki RE5, 1931 Henderson KJ, the S&S Mobil 1 motorcycle, an Elvis Presley 30th Anniversary Signature Harley-Davidson, 1918 Pope motorcycle, 2008 Can-Am Spyder, Vincent Black Shadow, 1927 Harley-Davidson JD, 1946 Indian Chief, Honda 305 Super Hawk, 1924 Ace motorcycle, Vectrix scooter, Zero electric off-road motorcycle, Aprilia 850 Mana, Piaggio MP3 250, Boss Hoss V8, and the MTT Y2K Turbine Superbike made famous during an appearance on The Tonight Show.

Interested in learning more about the treasures in Jay’s garage? Check out the Jay Leno’s Garage web site for a ride-along in and on many of the vehicles he takes pleasure in owning.

The Indians are Coming

December 18, 2008

Mike Smith Indian is announcing that the dealership will be the second store (after the factory shop in North Carolina) in the U.S. to receive a shipment of new Indian motorcycles.


The shop says the shipment of 17 new Indians will coincide with the dealership’s grand opening at the former Hoopers Outdoor Center in Paducah, Ky. The resurrected OEM announced this summer that Mike’s would be one of Indian’s inaugural dealerships. Read about it here. Indian first discussed its dealership plans with Dealernews back in January. Here’s what dealer development director Gary Busch had to say about those plans.

It’s now been a few months since Indian honcho Stephen Julius first rolled out the production bikes to the crowds at Sturgis. Since then, I’ve yet to read any riding reviews of the new Chiefs. If anybody has a link or a story they’d care to share about the new bikes pass it along. I’ve heard about the plans to build a superior bike, the launching of a whole line of Indian apparel, the development of a new Power Plus 105 cu. in. motor, the construction of iconic dealerships and the resurrection of a legendary brand. What I haven’t heard is how the bikes ride.

Yes, We Do Get Weather in So Cal.

December 18, 2008

If you’re not from Southern California, you know you’ve found yourself smugly giggling when we start complaining about any kind of weather. Well, I’m here to say you’re right, we do complain about rain, snow, cold, whatever. At least I do. The main reason I live in So Cal is to avoid rain, snow, cold and whatever. So this week’s share of steady rain and 40-degree cold has been quietly tolerated.

With that said, our friend Andy up at Big Bear Choppers sent us this up-to-the-minute pic of BBC headquarters way up in the heights of the San Bernardino Mountains.


We love BBC, but don’t think those are the optimum riding conditions for a Pro-Street Sled. Maybe if you attach a snowboard to the forks, that 300mm rear would act like a tread.

Here’s a profile we did of them in the August 2007 issue of Big Twin Dealer (RIP).

H-D Awards National Film Contest Winner

December 16, 2008

Harley-Davidson hosted a party last Thursday, Dec. 11, for the winner of Bikes, Camera, Action!, a contest the OEM says was designed to challenge female filmmakers from around the country to inspire other women to get behind the handlebars of their very own motorcycles. More than 65 party guests, including the contest winner, her film crew, members of the media, local Harley enthusiasts and film school professors, were among the first to view the winning film.

Dozens of female filmmakers answered the call to participate in Bikes, Camera, Action! and create original two-minute short films that capture the freedom and control that riding offers women.

Victoria Sampson of Shadow Hills, Calif. was selected as the Grand Prize Winner and honored at the premiere party for her film, Her Need for Speed. H-D says Sampson’s film stood out for the quality and creativity of the content. Aside from unveiling her film at the premiere party, Sampson received $5,000, a new High Definition video camera, a Harley-Davidson leather jacket, and a gift certificate for a 5-day bike rental through Harley-Davidson’s Authorized Rentals.

Melissa Kosar of Orange, Calif. and Marta Masferrer of New York City were selected as First Prize Winners, receiving $1,500 to use toward their next project, a Harley-Davidson leather jacket and the opportunity to learn to ride through Rider’s Edge, Harley-Davidson’s rider training program. Kosar’s film, entitled Girls Night Out and Masferrer’s film, Here Comes the Bride can be viewed, along with the Grand Prize winning film here.

London Benefits From Journo Turned Mayor

December 15, 2008

Last month we here at Dealernews reported that motorcyclists in London, England, to help ease congestion, will be allowed to travel in bus lanes beginning in January.

Certainly such a grand scheme couldn’t have come from a multi-term politician, and it didn’t.

The man who proposed this cycle-friendly idea is recently elected London Mayor Boris Johnson. A boris-johnson-wide1 journalist by trade, Johnson has worked as an editor for The Daily Telegraph and The Spectator, and served as motoring correspondent for GQ magazine.

Now, to think about how I could capture a senate seat representing Illinois …

Check out Johnson’s recent interview on the BBC’s Top Gear television program:

Honda Withdraws from AMA Road Racing!

December 12, 2008

This just came over at 6 p.m. on Friday (always a good move when you want to avoid commenting – this editor’s opinion). Please contact us if you have any thoughts on this.

American Honda withdraws from AMA road racing

Torrance CA: American Honda announced today that it will withdraw Team Honda
from participation in the 2009 AMA Roadracing Series. This was an extremely
difficult decision to make as the racing spirit reaches to the very core of

The primary factor contributing to this decision is the current global
economic situation and its impact on Honda. Although Team Honda will not be
in attendance, Honda will continue to be represented in AMA Roadracing
through our ongoing support of both the Erion Honda Racing and Corona Honda
Racing teams.

Entering the second year of our partnership with Red Bull Energy Drink, the
Honda Red Bull Racing team will return for the 2009 Supercross and National
Motocross season with a full roster of factory riders.

American Honda¹s factory and support teams have earned more than 100
national titles in U.S. Road Racing, ATV, Supermoto, Supercross, Motocross
and off-road competition, and we would like to extend our deepest thanks to
all the sponsors, supporters and fans of our racing efforts over the years.
We ask that you continue to support the Honda Red Bull Racing team, the
Erion Honda Racing team and the Corona Honda Racing team along with all the
other Honda Red Riders as they chase the championships and battle for each

While it is unfortunate that the current economic conditions led us to
take this action, rest assured that Honda¹s deep-seated passion for
racing has not been, and will never be, diminished.

NHTSA Highlights Cycle Safety

December 11, 2008

Did you know the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has a web page devoted to motorcycle safety?

The NHTSA says its Motorcycle Safety page focuses on comprehensive programs designed to help prevent crashes, the prevention of injury when a crash occurs, and the reduction in the seriousness of injury after a crash.

The federal office says its initiatives are designed to foster promoting motorcycle rider education and licensing; reducing the number of impaired motorcyclists; increasing motorist awareness of motorcycles; and increasing helmet use.

Documents on display include:
– “Legislative Facts 2008: Motorcycle Helmet Use Laws”;
– “Summary of Novelty Helmet Performance Testing”;
– “Uniform Guidelines for State Highway Safety Programs – Motorcycles”;
– “2006 Motorcycle Safety Program Plan”;
– “DOT Secretary Peters Urges Manufacturers to Provide Free or Inexpensive Helmets or Safety Training With Each New Motorcycle Sold”;
– “Model Language for Share the Road with Motorcycles”;
– “Evaluation of the Repeal of the All-Rider Motorcycle Helmet Laws In Florida”;
– “Traffic Safety Facts 2006: Motorcycle”.

The page also features links to Motorcycle Safety Planners, Publications, Resource Guides, Public Service Announcements, Brochures and Studies & Research.

More on RSD and AOI

December 11, 2008

Not to belabor the subject, but there were a few cool bits I forgot to mention in my original post here about the Roland Sands/Toyota Trucks/Upper Playground collaboration, Architects of Inspiration.


Sure I talked about the RSD-influenced works of art by Sam Flores and Mr. Cartoon, but I didn’t mention The NOTHING machine by artist Rodney Aguiar. I love creative, Rube Goldberg sh*t like this. Take a close look. It’s a motor-drive collection of gears, sprockets, chains and crankshaft that repeatedly types out the word “nothing” on a mutilated electric typer. I want to make something like that brushes my teeth for me.

photo from RSD blog

photo from RSD blog

There was also the collaborative piece between RSD and Smokin’ Seagulls in which they transformed three dirt bikes into some kickass cafe racers. I’ve got an old YZ250 that I’ve wanted to do this to for a long while.

Seeking a bit more information about the project so I tossed a couple of questions at Sands who came back at me with the following:

How were the artists selected?

I worked with Matt Riveli at Upper playground to select artists that matched what we wanted to accomplish. We really wanted to create an environment. I was already fans of guys like Sam Flores and N8 VanDyke so those guys were some of my top picks and they jumped on board to do it so it was great. The Smoking Seagulls guys were friends and we were amped to work together on the café racer piece. Bell helmets brought Jona on board and he was a huge talent. I brought my friend and a great talent Karl Drehsen from Long Beach and Tom Clark is a pinstripping genius I work with all the time. A classic master.

Who came up with the concept?

It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I’ve always enjoyed painting and creating and this was the next obvious step. Take all the things I love to do and put them together. If there was a guy doing a back flip over the whole thing we might of combined it all … next time.

Check out the RSD blog for more on AOI (and other stuff RSD is up to).

Stupid Hurts

December 10, 2008

The Orlando Sentinel reported today that a 6-year-old was tossed from a motorcycle operated by his father, landed on a van and sustained serious injuries.

Here’s the newspaper’s account:
“The boy, Paul Politan of Cocoa, sustained serious injuries and was taken to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando, the FHP said. The motorcycle driver, Paul Politan II, 38, of Cocoa, also was ejected. The elder Politan was in serious condition at Orlando Regional Medical Center.

“Both were wearing helmets, the FHP said. The two were riding north on U.S. Highway 1 on a 2007 Honda motorcycle when the motorcycle hit the rear of a northbound 1996 Dodge van at around 8:20 a.m. near Melaleuca Road, the FHP said. The motorcycle failed to slow down, the report said.”

1) A 6-year-old as passenger
2) A 6-year-old as passenger while traveling on a highway
3) A 6-year-old as passenger while traveling on a highway and the father allegedly fails to slow his bike and collides with the rear of a van

I’m all for freedom of movement and living a life free of government intervention, and I’m sorry the boy is injured, but … really?

Stupid hurts.