Archive for July, 2009

Bruce Rossmeyer Killed in Motorcycle Accident

July 31, 2009

The news traveled fast on Thursday that Bruce Rossmeyer, the dealer extraordinaire who dreamt upPicture 1and built Destination Daytona, the man behind one of the largest network of Harley-Davidson dealerships and various auto dealerships and other holdings, was killed while riding with a group of friends to the Sturgis Rally.

Immediately after finding out about the accident and while writing an obit for our website I called up Maurice Slaughter, the owner of four H-D stores in Virginia and North Carolina. I know how small this industry is and figured Slaughter could offer some insight into Rossmeyer. Turns out Slaughter knew Rossmeyer from their previous lives in the automotive business. The Virginia dealer had been with Toyota dealer development when Mr. Daytona Beach decided to retire from the auto business in order to sell motorcycles full-time. Well, Rossmeyer was (more…)

Aprilia Fastest Bike at Pikes Peak … Again

July 30, 2009

The formal results are in: Piloting a 2009 Aprilia SXV550, Davey Durelle was the fastest motorcycle up the hill at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on July 19.PikesPeak_logo

The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, first held in 1916, features a course that climbs 12.42 miles, has 156 turns and starts at 9,390 ft. climbing to over 14,000 ft. Durelle completed the treacherous run in an astounding 11:48.649 minutes. It was his 13th personal victory at the event and the second year in a row he took the title of fastest motorcycle on the mountain.

Durelle finished a split second ahead of Gary Trachy aboard a 2008 KTM SMX. Both raced in the 750cc class.

PikesPeak1Durelle grabbed the hole shot and lead for the first two miles before Trachy made a pass for the lead. Trachy stretched his lead to five seconds before Durelle used the power of the SXV to close the gap in the wide open dirt section and re-passed him for the lead less then a mile from the summit. Durelle and Trachy battled side by side to the top finishing a mere .094 seconds apart – one of the closest finishes in the history of the event.

Davey Durelle is sponsored by Aprilia USA, Dunlop Tire, Arai, Spider Grips, Scotts Performance, Victory Circle Graphixs and Erico Motorsports (a Dealernews Top 100 dealer).

The fastest ATV on the mountain was a 2008 Honda 450 piloted by Michael Coburn with a time of 12:18.858 minutes.

Buell Blast Coffee Table, uh, Door Stop

July 29, 2009
Introducing the 2010 Buell Blast.

Introducing the 2010 Buell Blast.


So, is the Buell Blast dead? I’m thinking so after watching a couple of videos on Buell’s website.

If this little one-lunged machine is a goner, this might be the most creative send-off I’ve seen since Jack in The Box blew up the clown.

Would this be anti-marketing? Not sure how one would describe the level of effort Buell’s put into shelving a a model that’s been the butt of many jokes, but also the first ride for many who have gone through the Rider’s Edge course. There’s even a huge niche of aftermarket companies who build kits for converting the Blast into something, well, uh, a little bit more bitchin’ than its natural form. Whatever. This is pure entertainment. I especially like the gallery and the specs. 

Do yourself and check out the page devoted to the 2010 Blast. Nice work, Buell.

Rey Sotelo Pleads Guilty

July 17, 2009

Rey Sotelo, the Gilroy-era Indian CEO has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to traffic in stolen motorcycle parts as part of a federal racketeering case aimed at Northern California V-twin shop.

Sotelo made his first appearance in federal court back in February for allegedly conspiring with a central California shop to ship a stolen motorcycle to Sweden. He was arrested in July 2008 and charged with conspiracy for allegedly helping to counterfeit the bike’s official papers along with men associated with the Road Dog Cycle in Denair, Calif.

Check out the full story at

Polaris Launches Electric Vehicle

July 16, 2009

First New Product for On-Road Division

Polaris Industries, Inc., the suburban Minneapolis powersports manufacturer, today (July 16, 2009) entered the electric vehicle market with the announcement of its new low emission neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV),  the Breeze.

Polaris' new neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV), the Breeze.

Polaris' new neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV), the Breeze.

It’s the first new product for the company’s On-Road Division, which Polaris organized this year. As we told you here two months ago, it’s one of several new products that the company likely had under development for the on-road market. The other two possibilities are a scooter and a sport bike.

Additional new products could be announced next week when Polaris holds its dealer meeting.

As we wrote here in May, there seems to be a market for an efficient, reasonably-priced vehicle that can be used in gated communities and other neighborhood developments. As we wrote at that time, Polaris is a company that prides itself on its innovation, can be the one to do so.

In its announcement today about the Breeze, Polaris said the vehicle is designed for “multiple consumer uses such as golfing, comfortably transporting up to four passengers, or easily carrying light cargo loads.”

The Breeze is targeted at consumers living in master planned communities.

It’s expected to be available in limited quantities for test rides and purchase in selected markets in September. Polaris says it will be sold through “Polaris Neighborhood Vehicle” dealerships, but it didn’t provide any details about those dealerships.

I’ve asked Polaris for specs on the Breeze but haven’t received them yet. I’ll give you the details when I learn more.

In the meantime, watch this space and for more information on the Breeze. also will have more information from Polaris today following its conference call with investors this morning where management will  announce 2Q earnings and discuss other company issues. Hopefully, they will provide details on the Breeze and, possibly, provide hints about other new on-road products. JD

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Rider Impressions: The Victory Hammer S

July 15, 2009

In June I picked up a 2009 Victory Hammer S from Polaris headquarters in Medina, Minn. Now, after one month and nearly 1,000 miles, it’s time I return the bike.

As a fan of all things with two-wheels, I would’ve enjoyed keeping this head-turner in my garage alongside the SV1000S, Tomos Golden Bullet moped and forthcoming two-stroke Stella scooter. Having a muscle cruiser like the Hammer helped satisfy my different moods – whereas I enjoy long, quick-paced rides on the Suzuki, I equally enjoyed implementing the Victory for shorter, inter-city jaunts. If the SV1S, in triple black livery, is my B2 stealth bomber, the Hammer S, available only in a vibrant blue with white rally stripes, was my attention-grabbing Blue Angels C-130T Hercules “Fat Albert” – heavy, but powerful and impressively agile for its size.
The bike attracted attention and garnered questions wherever I went, whether at the filling station, neighborhood grocery store or local bike night. “Go ahead and park it right out front on the sidewalk,” the owner of my favorite restaurant, Eli’s in Minneapolis, said after grilling me on the bike’s specs and my impression of the ride.VictoryHammerOverdrive

“Nice Hammer!” a guy in a pickup truck shouted to me while we were stopped at a red light. “I just bought one! I love it!”

The Hammer S represented the fourth Victory extended ride the folks at Polaris have granted me. The first bike, the V92TC, was a bit unkempt; the first year Vegas was better, but still not tuned quite right (needed more breathing, found through the parts catalog); and the Vision I rode for a few months last summer was hugely impressive in handling and performance for its size.
What’d I like about the Hammer S? I had a list of highlights I quoted to everyone who asked: The 97hp, 113 ft. lbs. of torque offers a healthy dose of acceleration, the bike’s outfitted with a smooth running carbon fiber belt, the sixth gear “overdrive” transmits a fuel-saving engine speed of 2,400 rpm at 70mph, it maneuvers surprisingly well with the big 18-incher up front and 250/40R18 Dunlop rear, and braking was impressive (stainless steel lines, front dual 300mm floating rotors with 4-piston caliper and rear single 300mm floating rotor with 2-piston caliper).VictoryHammerBelt

The list of things I didn’t like is much shorter: To garner the hardtail look, engineers placed the rear shock a bit too far forward, directly under the seat. It’s preload adjustable, but nevertheless transmitted some kidney-jarring bumps when traversing roadway irregularities.

Moto Guzzi V7 Classic — GOT ONE!

July 10, 2009

Piaggio USA delivered to me yesterday a brand-spanking new Moto Guzzi V7 Classic and it’s every bit as stylish and ass-kickingly cool as I remember. I’ve been lusting after one of these since I first saw the pics floating around the Internet. And, after saddling up on one at the Long Beach IMS stop, I started pestering the always capable Jeff Perlman over at Brandware (Piaggio’s PR agency) for a test ride. 


Phone pic of the V7 safely ensconced in the secret motorcycle proving grounds at Johnson Manor.

Phone pic of the V7 safely ensconced in the secret motorcycle proving grounds at Johnson Manor.

What does this have to do with the business side of the industry? Not a whole lot, but it does point to Piaggio/Moto Guzzi’s efforts to widen its footprint here in the U.S. with a faithful remake of a much-loved model. Triumph cemented its rebirth with its lineup of modern Bonnevilles and more than one OEM has teased the two-wheel crowd with concept models that echo the very standard profile of motorcycles past. While the riding public may embrace each new trick and tweak of the modern-day motorcycle, there seems to be a spot in most moto-hearts for bikes that look, feel and ride simply like bikes.  

It’s been long slog getting Moto Guzzi reestablished here in America (same for Aprilia, but that’s a completely different story) but Piaggio is gaining ground with models such as the V7, the Griso, the Breva and the Stelvio. Still trying to figure out the market niche for the California Vintage as there several capable cruisers out there on the (soft and smushy) cruiser market. Perhaps it’s the same as with the V7 — the nostalgia crowd.

SBA Launches Dealer Floor Plan Program

July 1, 2009

Government Guarantees Up To 75% of Loans
Move Is Expected To Free Up Money for Dealers

July 1, 2009— The Small Business Administration (SBA) today launched its pilot program designed to increase dealer access to floor plan financing. Details were provided this morning in a conference call with news media representatives and SBA staffers.

As many as 4,000 loans could be guaranteed under the program that runs through Sept. 30, 2010, said Eric Zarnikow in response to one of my questions. Zarnikow, the SBA’s associate administrator for capital access, said the agency is limited to backing only 10% of the total number of loans it makes under its 7(a) program, which would be about 4,000 at the current rate of processing.

The SBA will evaluate the program next year and determine whether or not it should be retained or dropped. “We’ll determine what to do at that time,” said Zarnikow.

Floor plan loans will be available for a minimum of $500,000 up to $2 million under the pilot program—dubbed by the SBA as its DFP (for Dealer Floor Plan). The loans will have a maximum repayment term of five years.

The loans will be made by local banks to dealerships, not by the federal government, but the government will guarantee a portion of (more…)