Archive for August, 2009

Roll Your Own Gear – Joe Rocket’s Hemp Jacket

August 27, 2009

OK, I’m sure we’re all a little tired of the obvious pot references when talking about products manufactured from hemp. If you haven’t been paying attention or have been too stoned to care (again with the funny stuff!) there are increasingly more hemp products available to retailers. To the list that includes paper, clothing, biofuel, concrete and health food you can now add protective motorcycle gear.

No this isn’t that same loose-flowing-hacky-sack-friendly schmatas  you’d see at the Renaissance Faire or a2098_Hemp_Jacket300 Phish concert. This is real, CE-rated armored gear from the good folks at Joe Rocket. Introducing the Hemp Jacket, a piece of gear the company calls “a true rider’s jacket” that’s been tested six ways to Sunday (according to the company).

Why hemp? (more…)

Let Dealernews Be Your Public Voice

August 21, 2009

Note: The following was written back in April for our May issue.

Dealer Jack O’Neill complains in this month’s “InBox” about how difficult it was this year to earn co-op advertising funds for his Yamaha PWC business. To get funds at all, he said, he would have had to order at least 90 percent of what Yamaha recommended. Instead he ordered 50 percent and got nothing.

We rarely get angry letters from dealers, so they tend to take priority. Our standard procedure is to call the offending party for comment. In this case I was dealing with Yamaha through a PR agency. I e-mailed Jack’s letter to the agent, and he promptly replied that he’d call me the next day. And so he did.

He told me that he’d learned that Jack apparently had had a beef with Yamaha for years. In other words, the dispute was personal. From the agent’s tone of voice, I sensed he was halfway expecting me to throw the letter out.

But I had spoken with Jack, and he had said specifically that his complaint was not personal. None of his other PWC suppliers, he had said, required so much of him to earn co-op dollars. And even if the (more…)

NSFD (Not safe for dogs) Suzuki Commercial

August 20, 2009

OK, I know this is in bad taste. In fact, it could be considered somewhat abusive. But, hey, I didn’t change my middle name from Patrick to BadTaste when I was 30 for nothing.


How Do You Want Your Dealernews?

August 19, 2009

Print is dead.

There’s no doubt you’ve seen or heard this phrase (or some variation thereof) when it comes to newspapers and magazines. All across the country dailies, monthlies and weeklies are shutting down. Advertising revenue is in the tank. Subscribers are opting out. Everyone is going online for their news. People don’t have time to read the newspaper anymore. Young people don’t read anything anymore, they just text and talk. Politics have killed print. Bias has killed print. The cost of printing has killed print.

Print is dead. Well … maybe not.

It’s more complex than that. Maybe it’s an optimistic streak in me (or just fears about job security), but I don’t so much see print as dying as it is rapidly changing. Certainly many publications are no longer with us and more will fall, but many others will survive and even (more…)

Doing Boise on a Moped, eh, Scooter, um, Bicycle Thing

August 17, 2009

Last week while attending the Western Power Sports annual sales meeting in Boise, Idaho, I took a little side trip over to Scooters of Boise to have a look around. The store is a scooters-only dealership that stocks machines fromIMAG016Genuine Scooter Co., QLink, SYM and Kymco and all the gear a scooter-lover could want. It’s a really cool little joint that fits in well with the sort of bohemian/earthy feel I get from Boise. 


I first discovered the store last year during the WPS show and got to talking to co-owner Kathy Navin about business. Well, this time around Kathy was again tending shop and she remembered me from last year’s visit. After poking around a bit and checking out the Genuine Buddy, I noticed an odd looking machine over near the entrance that looked more moped than scooter, and a bit more bicycle than moped.


Kathy brought me over and immediately offered me a test ride on the A2B, an (more…)

Scooterists Assemble in Twin Cities for ‘Rattle My Bones’ Rally

August 16, 2009

Hundreds of scooterists from all over the Midwest assembled in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul Aug. 13-16 for the 2009 Rattle My Bones scooter rally.

RattleMyBones2The four-day event started with a meet-and-greet and scavenger hunt on the evening of Aug. 13; had participants assembling Aug. 14 for five ride possibilities, a “historic sites” ride and one ride each for geared scoots, automatic scoots, vintage scoots and for scooterists who have never been on a group ride before; continued Aug. 15 with a 70-mile, large group ride followed by dinner, a gymkhana, bike show and music; and wrapped up Aug. 16 with an organized breakfast, raffle prize giveaway, awards presentation and a final ride.

Sponsors included dealerships Scooterville, Blue Cat Motors and Leo’s South; as well as CF Moto; Scooterworks USA; Binetto/Shad; Aerostich; Bell Helmets; Corazzo; Scorpion EXO and Scoot! Magazine, among others.

As the logo suggests, the Rattle My Bones rally was named after a song by the defunct Twin Cities band The Suburbs.

As the logo suggests, the Rattle My Bones rally was named after a song by the defunct Twin Cities band The Suburbs.

CBS News “Investigation” Raps Rhino

August 5, 2009

Yamaha Disputes Many CBS Claims

You may have seen CBS News “investigation” last evening into accidents, deaths and lawsuits surrounding the Yamaha Rhino side-by-side vehicle. The nearly six-minute broadcast by reporter Armen Keteyian was a typical TV slap-dash, superficial handling of a serious subject.

Yamaha has an excellent  rebuttal to the CBS piece on its website You can read the Yamaha reply here.

The CBS bit featured an amateurish effort by Keteyian to paint Yamaha officials in a bad light when he and a CBS camera crew barged into Yamaha’s corporate headquarters in California and demanded to talk with a company representative for his story. A security guard justifiably told the CBS gang to leave Yamaha’s private property.


Hell’s Angels ‘Invade’ Minnesota

August 1, 2009

“They rode with a fine unwashed arrogance, secure in their reputation as the rottenest motorcycle gang in the whole history of Christendom.” – Hunter S. Thompson, Hell’s Angels

The Hell’s Angels made a small town in Minnesota the spot to amass before heading out to Sturgis for the annual motorcycle rally, and while local and national law enforcement have been on high alert, locals have proved less concerned.

hellsangels02The bikers of “unwashed arrogance” are largely a thing of the past. No longer ex-military and out for a post-war good time, the ranks have been largely replaced by the miscreant too dumb to conform to societal norms. They are the suited and tied, the employed white collar and blue collar, mixing with ner-do-wells to form a slutty fraternity of kindred spirit.

But nevermind the description, the bikers started rolling into Carlton County, Minn., on Sunday, July 26. By Thursday, July 29, more than 300 of the patched riders were in attendance. Some estimates suggest an equal number of law enforcement agents in the area.

The Hell’s Angels made their base roughly 100 miles from the Twin Cities, at the Black Bear Casino Resort on I-35 and the Lost Isle Bar on Hwy. 210. Both locations were barricaded for maximum privacy.

Although the Hell’s Angels are classified by the FBI as a gang known for crimes ranging from drugs to prostitution to money-laundering to gun-running, residents say the bikers have been polite, respectful folks.

“What I imagined were constant bikes going back and forth,” Don Rostollan told Minnesota’s StarTribune newspaper. Rostollan owns Spirits Restaurant and Bar and a convenience store across from the temporary Hell’s Angels headquarters at the Lost Isle Bar on Hwy. 210. “I’m kind of surprised you don’t see more.”

One biker reportedly asked Cozy Cafe waitress Tracy Burns where he could buy some wild rice. One ordered a double shot espresso at a coffee shop. “Good guys,” Burns told the StarTribune of the handful that have stopped by the cafe. “Good tippers.”

However, past deadly outbursts with the Outlaws (currently holding court in a nearby town in western Wisconsin) has stoked concern about the potential for violence.

Yet Carlton County Sheriff Kelly Lake told the StarTribune there had been no major incidents involving the Hell’s Angels. Authorities ticketed 24 of the member bikers for speeding and 71 non-members for minor traffic violations between Tuesday and Thursday. One Angel, a 43-year-old New York member, was arrested for driving under the influence after he refused to take a field sobriety test and was found to be riding a motorcycle reported stolen in New Jersey.