Archive for the ‘California’ Category

CARB — Saving the Golden State (one blender at a time)

October 8, 2009

Over at Dealernews we recently posted a story about the California Air Resources Board’s claim that two San Diego, Calif.-area motorcycle dealers sold off-road motorcycles that were then registered as streetbikes. The result was a $180,000 settlement with the state agency. 

Well, this sparked heated responses from the owner of Motor Forza, Balz Renggli and the owner of GP Motorcycles, Paul Lima, the dealerships targeted by the state. Both say that CARB’s information about the settlement misrepresented the case by saying it had fined the two stores rather than had settled with them. They also say that the agency wrongly accused their stories of wrongdoing. More than anything, the two owners claim, the cases are instances of an arrogant state agency that is accountable to no one and of the bumbling bureaucracy of the Department of Motor Vehicles. 

We try to keep tabs on what CARB is up to given cases like this so we like to prowl through the “Enforcement Actions” section of the regulatory body’s homepage. Just want to make sure our public servants are hard at work protecting the Golden State from all pollutants, foreign and domestic. 

This is when we found the following case from September, and thank goodness we did. God knows how many lives may be saved by these (more…)

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.

9021 … Oh, High-side

May 21, 2009

Dean McDermott, Tori Spelling’s husband, may be best-known for promoting his wife’s career. But, after adeancrash session at Keith Code’s California Superbike School, McDermott found another cause to shill for.

Here’s a video (copy and paste into your browser):

LeoVince Hosts Benefit Street Ride, May 14

April 20, 2009

LeoVince’s 4th Annual Grape Crusher ride, benefiting Speedway Children’s Charities, takes place Thursday, May 14.4-7-09grapecrusherflyer

The ride, 100 to 120 miles in length, follows the California coastline northward then cuts inland through the wine country back to Infineon Speedway. Riders will gather at LeoVince USA’s Richmond, Calif. headquarters starting at 9:30am with the ride leaving promptly at 11 am. A gourmet lunch served along the way, and Jason Britton will be one of the celebrity guests joining the ride. The ride ends at Infineon Raceway at 5 pm with a catered reception including LeoVince athletes, celebrities and team crews.

Cost is $40 per entry and includes a takeaway gift and raffle. All benefits from the ride go to the Speedway Children’s Charities fund.

For more information and to register for the ride, go to

Blogged Too Soon — Malcolm’s Protest Sale

March 23, 2009

Last week I blogged about USA Today picking up the Malcolm Smith Kids Love 2 Ride protest sale, saying that it was odd that none of the local media has been actively covering the issue — that it took a national newspaper to pick up the story.

Well, turns out I blogged too soon. Turns out that the Temecula Valley News and the Press Enterprise both ran stories covering the protest sale and the youth ATV/bike ban. I’m glad to see the general press picking up on this issue given the huge impact motorcycling has on Southern California’s culture and economy.

The more play this story gets the better. I know we’re covering the heck out of it over at

Malcolm’s Protest Sale Gets Nationwide Attention

March 19, 2009

Interesting to note that it was USA Today that picked up Malcolm Smith’s protest sale of youth (12 and under) ATVs and dirtbikes. I’ve yet to see much (if any) coverage in the LA Times. Not sure about the Press Enterprise, Smith’s local paper, but I couldn’t find anything via Google.

I don’t know why this wouldn’t get more play in the local press given motorcycling — in all forms — is a huge part of the Southern Californiapicture-11 culture and economy. I know one place  you’ll get just about ALL THE COVERAGE you can stomach in regards to the lead content regulation effect on the powersports industry. That’s over here at

Here’s  the first paragraph of the story and a clicky to the full USA Today piece.

LOS ANGELES — Angry with a nationwide ban on sales of youth motorcycles and ATVs over lead concerns, one of the biggest dealers in Southern California plans to sell the child-size vehicles today despite potential criminal penalties.

Beemer Shop Owner Tells It Like It Is

March 12, 2009

The other night on The Story, a radio program that runs on one of our local NPR stations the host interviewed Ted Porter, the owner of Ted Porter’s BeemerShop. It’s an independent BMW shop up near Santa Cruz, Calif.

The show itself is simply long-form interviews with (mostly) ordinary people whose livesbeemer intersect with current issues. With Porter, the obvious hook was the economy and its effect on the motorcycle industry. During the interview with host Dick Gordon, Porter talked about his business and laid out one of the most compelling descriptions of running a motorcycle business that I’ve ever heard.

Porter’s tale was like a primer on doing EVERYTHING right, an approach that he said centered around that Business 101 basic — customer service. He explained in great detail why he ties the success of livelihood to this simple business concept (which doesn’t seem so simple for some shops). He also gave a ground level view of just how scary it is to be a small-business owner right now. Here’s a snippet from The Story’s website:

Ted Porter runs a motorcycle repair shop in California. He used to be a tinkerer. He fixed bikes on the weekends and worked a day job. But when his “hobby” grew a waiting list, he took the plunge and opened his own shop. These days, though motorcycle dealerships in his area have gone under, Ted’s business is thriving. He tells Dick Gordon about the one business decision he made that was crucial to his success in this wavering economy: staying true to the ideals of customer service he learned from his dad.

I highly recommend giving this interview a listen. It’s available as a podcast by going here or by looking it up on iTunes (search American Public Media: The Story).

Yamaha Still Trying to Satisfy Consumers Via Buy-Back Program

January 12, 2009

Chris Hanekamp is among multiple R1 owners unhappy with Yamaha's Customer Assistance Program.

Californian Chris Hanekamp, owner of a 2000 Yamaha R1, is unhappy with Yamaha Motor Corp., USA. Hanekamp’s displeasure stems from a motorcycle buy-back program that’s the result of a lawsuit Yamaha and South Seas Cycle Exchange of Honolulu settled in 2007 with the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

The suit, filed in 2005, stemmed from a CARB investigation that started in 2002 and found that Yamaha had imported more than 400 motorcycles that failed to meet California emissions standards. Yamaha evidently registered the bikes in California, obtained state license plates, and then eventually sold some of them to state residents. In most cases, these were popular 1999 – 2002 R6 and R1 models that were in great demand and difficult to purchase in California. CARB said it found that one dealer, San Jose Yamaha, sold approximately 200 units to California residents.

Under terms of the agreement, Yamaha paid approximately $1.2 million to the California Air Pollution Control Fund, $500,000 to fund a project to test the impact of ethanol fuel blends on emissions from off-road gasoline engines, and $300,000 to the Office of the Attorney General for attorneys’ fees.

In addition to the financial penalties, Yamaha and South Seas Cycle Exchange started a vehicle purchase program to buy back and destroy or remove any motorcycles that had been identified as not having been certified for use or registration in California.

The vehicle purchase program launched in November 2007 with letters sent to consumers who had purchased the bikes in question. In the letter, Yamaha explains that the buy-back program – which the OEM calls a “Customer Assistance Program” – would use a starting valuation that’s an average between the high and low prices for the bike as provided in, then adjust the offer based upon the condition of the bike, the mileage, and any accessories that have been added.

Hanekamp, one of multiple consumers who have declined Yamaha’s offer, purchased his R1 from San Jose Yamaha in September 2000. He says the bike has been “kept in immaculate condition,” has 12,000 miles logged, and has sentimental value because his father, who passed away in 2001, helped him make the purchase.

“I had made several attempts throughout the year to resolve this,” Hanekamp tells Dealernews. “I gave them two options: Either offer me the full price I had paid for the bike when I purchased it new or let me trade straight across for a 2009 model in exchange for my title. They did not want to budge on their offer of $6,500.

Contacted for this piece, Yamaha offered only that it is still working with multiple owners to resolve the situation.

“I‘m not going to give in to Yamaha Corp. wanting to solve their problem by buying my bike back at depreciated value,” Hanekamp says. “After all, they are the ones that created this mess and knew about it all along.”