Archive for the ‘history’ Category

Myrtle Beach is Dead

January 13, 2009

To motorcycle rallies. It’s now official the city known for its May rallies that cater to all niches of the motorcycling world is shutting its doors and hanging up a c-l-o-s-e-d sign for big bike events.

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In the latest of a saga that began in May 2008 (here) when Myrtle Beach officials starting looking for a way to end the rallies following a shooting over the Memorial Day holiday rally. Since then there have been lawsuits and hearings (here) and a myriad stories coming out about the possible ban.

This month the city and the area Chamber of Commerce launched a Web site detailing a long list of new laws and regulations (check ’em out here) aimed at motorcyclists and the bikes they ride in on. Mayor John Rhodes writes in a letter posted on the site:

This was a difficult decision. Myrtle Beach welcomes visitors year-round, but the giant motorcycle rallies simply grew too large. Our staff, residents and businesses strained to keep up with these huge single-focus events. It may surprise you, but our economy is much healthier with a fully diversified visitor base, instead of a concentration on one or two extremely large events.

Please know that Myrtle Beach is not anti-biker or anti-motorcycle. We want folks to come on the vehicle of their choice and enjoy all of the things Myrtle Beach has to offer. We are ending the motorcycle-related rallies because they grew too big and lasted too long. The huge rallies even kept visitors away from Myrtle Beach, and that’s not good.

Over at the custom builder Cyril Huze’s blog — where Huze has been following the MB fiasco pretty closely — the comments have been pouring fast and furious, with the overwhelming consensus being Eff Myrtle Beach. Despite the city’s claims that it’s not anti-biker most of the comments I’ve read on various Internet forums and comment sections (where there’s nothing but facts) center on the idea that if the city is going to ban rallies, it might as well kiss goodbye to all motorcycle tourism year-round.

One reader on Huze’s blog, with the tag of “Florida Biker,” says:

Let Myrtle Beach have it their way. I can promise you, in a few short years we will be reading where the city now is “Re-Opening” the “Spring Bike Fest”. Well i can assure you they will be hard pressed to get anywhere near the turn out as in the past events. The city will be looking at the budget and see a decrease in sales tax income and wonder what happend [sic].

Another from a reader named HWGTHNG:

I said this before when Myrtle Beach talked about this. Let em suffer. Bikers have no need to beg for places that want our business. Chattanooga TN opened its doors to the biker community not once but twice hosting the State and the National HOG rallys. The “Choo Choo” city is located in the middle of all of this mess and can handle the size crowd this generates.

My main thing about questioning the logic of making a sweeping move like this is the repercussions for non-motorcycling businesses. Myrtle Beach is a beautiful place and I’m sure tourism will still thrive, but from what I know about towns that host large yearly events, the local businesses often rely on those annual crowds to make their yearly nut. For some tourist destinations, small mom-and-pop operations often run in the red for most of the year right up until the returning swarms get their cash registers ringing again.

And then there are the local motorcycle shops and related stores. I can only imagine the pain they’re going to feel from the lost business. Oh well, for those affected by such things in a very real way, remember that most city council members and mayors govern for four-year terms. Voting anyone?

Bid on Henderson’s Original ACE Drawings

December 26, 2008

Mid-America Auctions plans to place William Henderson’s original drawings for the ACE motorcycle on the block during a Jan. 10 auction in Las Vegas.
During the World War I era, a number of early manufacturers went out of business or were bought up by stronger companies. William Henderson sold his company to a German immigrant, Ignatius Schwinn. The Henderson had a fine reputation as being America’s most luxurious, elegant, and expensive four-cylinder motorcycle. Schwinn felt he had taken ownership of the “best of the best” and added it to his Excelsior Line. Despite signing a non-compete clause, Henderson soon began plans for another bike, the ACE.
Henderson began drawing the plans for his ACE and searching for investors to help finance the new factory. Production began as soon as his non-compete expired. However, money would eventually run out, and while searching for the finances needed to complete his machine, production was moved, and even discontinued a couple of times.
On Dec. 11, 1922, while Henderson was test riding the new ACE, he was struck by a car and killed. Within weeks his assistant, Arthur Lemon, completed the final drawings, and then sold the rights to Indian Motorcycle Co. Indian produced the bike as the ACE, then Indian ACE, and finally as their own brand, the Indian Four.
Henderson’s original drawings, numbering approximately 400 pieces, disappeared from view. Lost in the files of the massive Indian Company, the Henderson Ace drawings were assumed to have been destroyed in 1953, when the original Indian went out of business. Astonishingly, the new owner, Bill Melvin, found the drawings as they were being placed in a dumpster and headed for a landfill. They had sat under layers of dust in a warehouse for years.
The ACE drawings, done on a cloth material, are each signed and dated by William Henderson and Arthur Lemon. They’re still contained in the old envelopes from the Indian factory.
The auction is to be held at the South Point Hotel in Las Vegas on Jan. 10. Click HERE to see the 500 vintage, classic & special interest motorcycles to be presented for auction.

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.

Credit Crisis and the Industry

December 9, 2008

Talked to a North Carolina dealer today who says that compared to last year, the percentage of bikes being financed at his store has gone from seventy-somcredit_ben3ething to twenty-something. This echoes what dealers told me during a month-long investigation. Check out the resultant story to see how dealers are coping with tighter standards and fewer lenders. Used-bike financing is especially scarce, and dealers report stockpiles (meaning values will probably drop). Many dealers are shifting away from revolving credit and toward installment loans. A shift toward more sensible loans may be one of the few benefits of the current situation.

I also wrote a story on the joys and sorrows of working with credit unions. Industry consultants give suggestions on how to approach the unions.

KYMCO Quannon – Small Bike, Big Fun

December 8, 2008

KYMCO’s recently introduced Quannon 150 sportbike (MSRP $3,449) is destined for U.S. dealerships during the second quarter of 2009 as an early-release 2010 model.

The bike, released for Euro markets last year, is powered by a 149.3cc air-cooled four-stroke four-valve kymco_quannon150 engine producing 14 hp. Physically, it’s not much smaller than Kawi’s Ninja 250R. People will recognize it as being more diminutive than a 600-class machine, but not by much.

I had the chance to road test the Quannon earlier this year. I stand 5’9″ and found the ergonomics quite hospitable. At a standstill I was comfortably flat-footed with bent knees. Once underway, the clip-on-like handlebars and slightly rear-set foot pegs supplied equal comfort with a sporty feel.

The bike has an extremely short first gear (something I also noticed during a recent test of the India-made 160cc TVS Apache RTR) but a quick shift out and through the next four gears supplied more than enough forward thrust to propel me confidently down the 55 mph county roads on which I was riding.

Twisting the throttle to stop, the speedometer showed a top speed of 68 mph in normal riding position; in full tuck I saw an indicated 72 mph.

I’m confident this little runabout could be a big hit with consumers looking for a simple yet flashy intra-city commuter. And, aside from the forthcoming TVS and some untested New Asian units, KYMCO will pretty much have the market cornered.

I often hear from old timers who say “It’s a lot more fun to travel quickly on a slow bike than slow on a fast bike.” I couldn’t agree more.

Engine Type…149.3cc air-cooled four-stroke four-valve
Bore/Stroke…..62×49.5
Ignition….Electric
Gearbox…5 Speed
Chassis…Steel
Front Suspension…Telescopic forks
Rear Suspension…Mono shock
Front Brake…Single disc
Rear Brake…Single disc
Front Wheel/Tire…110/80-17
Rear Wheel/Tire…140/70-17
Dimensions (LxWxH) …81”x28.5”x46.2”
Seat Height…31.5 in.
Wheelbase……53.3 in.
Fuel Capacity…3.6 gals.
Estimated MPG…70-75 MPG
Weight…299 lbs.
Available Colors…Blue/Graphite or Red/Graphite
Warranty…Two Years

Lane Splitting … Legal By Opinion

December 8, 2008

The Contra Costa Times in California features a Q&A column titled Queen of the Road. Today, questioned by a reader, “the Queen” delved into figuring out what is legal when lane splitting in California.

“In California, lane splitting is legal as long as it’s done safely,” Sgt. Trent Cross of the California Highway Patrol answered. “If the lane splitting was done in an unsafe manner in an officer’s opinion, based on his or her training and experience, he or she could issue a citation.”

Hmmm, an officer’s “opinion” … that’s a word that often proves pesky to anyone attempting to defend against a citation.

According to the CHP Web site: “Lane splitting by motorcycles is permissible but must be done in a safe and prudent manner.”

Again, who is to say what is safe and prudent?

The Queen also queried the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Ray Ochs, director of training for the MSF, says the organization supports the practice if it is legal and can be done safely

“Do it when you have an escape area where you can swerve right or left if you need to,” Ochs told the Queen. “In higher-speed traffic it’s not appropriate, and it should be done at the speed at which traffic is traveling.”

It’s no wonder other states haven’t legalized the act of lane splitting. The rules on the books in California aren’t exactly definitive.

Nevertheless, chances are that this guy’s maneuvers aren’t legal in most urban environments:

Roland Sands and Art

December 8, 2008

Admittedly I’ve got a moto-fetish and the Cycle World International Motorcycle Show stop in Long Beach always leaves me satisfied. Well, I’ve also got a thing for art and design —  namely outsider art/low-brow art, whatever you wanna call it. You know it when you see it. —  and this year’s IMS brought the two together in a pretty remarkable way.
Smack in the middle of the show was a display called Architects of Inspiration. It was a collaboration between Roland Sands Design, Toyota Trucks and progressive arts juggernaut, Upper Playground. Now I’m not quite sure what the press materials tell me it was, but my interpretation is this. A number of great artists were called upon to create art using RSD’s bikes and Toyota’s trucks as inspiration.

What they came up with was pretty cool. I particularly dug the work from tattoo artist Mister Cartoon and the Sam Flores piece. I took a coupla (semi-OK) pictures. Scroll down to check them out.

You gotta love Roland Sands. I think the dude is just brilliant. Lest the ass-waxing fest end here I’ll add that I can’t think of a more progressive, out-there designer in the powersports industry. There’s some pure geniuses, but he’s in a whole different league.

Here’s the entire stable of artists involved:

* Sam Flores
* N8 Van Dyke
* Saber One
* Estevan Oriol
* Mr. Cartoon
* Jeff Decker (bronze sculptor)
* Roland Sands and the Smokin? Seagulls crew (friends of RSD)
* Jona Cerwinske
* Karl Dreshen
* Tom Clark (pinstriping)

MV Agusta’s Massimo Tamburini to Retire

December 3, 2008

This is straight from MV’s site as of today, Dec. 3:

MV Agusta Design Chief Massimo Tamburini will retire from the company, effective Dec. 31, 2008. Tamburini has been with Cagiva since early 1985 and has headed up MV Agusta’s engineering and design center, Centro Ricerche Cagiva, in San Marino for over 13 years, where he and the staff designed what are widely regarded as world-class, premium, high-performance

Tamburini and great mood lighting

Tamburini and great mood lighting

sport motorcycles, including the legendary F4.

“I have dedicated a significant part of my career in motorcycle design to Cagiva and MV Agusta and am immensely proud of the beautiful and thrilling motorcycles we have created,” said Tamburini. “While my decision to retire was extremely difficult to make, I am confident the highly-talented designers and engineers in San Marino will continue the tradition of excellence that is the hallmark of MV Agusta. I have been privileged to realize so many dreams during my years with Cagiva and MV Agusta and look forward to seeing more great things yet to come from the company,” Tamburini said.

Tamburini plans to pursue design interests outside the motorcycle field and to spend more time on his other outside interests.

“Massimo Tamburini is one of the legends of the motorcycle industry and leaves a great legacy at MV Agusta,” said Claudio Castiglioni, MV Agusta Chairman and Director of Motorcycle Research and Development. “The capabilities he built at MV Agusta’s design center are outstanding and his legacy and vision will now be carried forward by the team he assembled and mentored over many years. While we will miss his presence, we respect his decision to retire and wish him all the best for the future,” Castiglioni said.

Wonder if this has anything to do with Harley-Davidson’s purchase of the legendary Italian brand? I’d love to have seen a collaboration between Tamburini and Willie G.

Scootering and scooters — the Vespa Way

December 2, 2008

OK, so I’m a sucker for anything Vespa. With that said, Vespa USA’s new Web site is pretty interesting.vespapic11
It features a pretty cool section called Community Rides, which features user-generated ride maps. I haven’t had a chance to check out all the local So Cal routes, but did notice that a couple of them are suggestions on navigating Los Angeles’ — and by Los Angeles, I mean the West Side — infamous gridlock. These routes are almost as useful and interesting as any number of suggested rides through mountainous twisties.

There’s also a powerful dealer locator that not only lists dealers by zip code or city, but also Google Maps each dealership for the viewer’s pleasure.vespapic21

Beginners can follow the “Six easy steps to getting on the road with my Vespa” and other advice on owning and maintaining a Vespa.

But the kicker for me, because I’m an admitted Vespa geek and scooter nut, is the Heritage and History page. Here you can view a timeline of the history of these Italian beauties, view old advertising copy and see a little about this bike my all-time favorite Vespa model.

mod-1965-lrg_beevnsp2

Piaggio has really kicked into high gear its growth plan for the U.S. For more info on its brands read here, here and here.

Monday Scoot alert!

December 1, 2008

A variety of scooter bits and pieces from across the Web world. As a former Mod and a lifetime scooterist, these stories are near and dear to my smartly-dressed heart, especially this one coming from the BBC regarding the scooter ridden by Jimmy (Phil Daniels) in Quadrophenia.

You killed me scooter, Mr. Postman!

You killed me scooter, Mr. Postman!

The auction house Bonhams announced that the Lambretta Li 150 Series 3 went for £36,000 at auction. (That’s about $54,000 in U.S. greenbacks.) It had a list price of £20,000 to £25,000 so that’s a pretty nice closing price I’d say. Turns out a guy named Paul Marsh rescued the scoot from somebody’s yard in Portsmouth, in the U.K.

From the BBC:

Earlier, Stephanie Connell, of Bonhams, said: “We have a few items from Quadrophenia come through the auction house but a scooter is very rare.

“It has been fully restored and is in great condition. We are expecting a lot of interest.

———

And in other scooter news there’s this … thing. Not even sure what to say about it other than, eh, yeah. Interesting. For every taste there’s a style or something like that. Anyway, be sure to check out the little opening video on the Web site for the company called CustomScooter or some such. It features a rider inexplicably cruising this scooter through an office with the Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker” playing in the background.

Uh, yeah.

Uh, yeah.