by Thomas Day

Training Or Helmets? According to US Transportation Secretary, Mary Peters, the federal money currently used for motorcycle training and awareness would be better spent by promoting motorcycle helmets. In violation of federal law barring the Transportation Department from lobbying for, or against, specific state laws, she testified before the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee Transportation Subcommittee in early March, asking that body to allow states to make this change in funding. The AMA and other motorcycling organizations are actively lobbying to prevent this change in federal spending. “AMA also expressed concern that Peters’ proposal could contradict sections of transportation bills passed in 1998 and 2005 that ban the use of federal motorcycle safety funds to lobby state legislatures in favor of mandatory helmet laws and could effectively reverse those bans.

Ed Moreland, AMA Vice President for Government Relations, expressed the concerns of his organization, “Helmet use is certainly one part of a comprehensive approach to motorcycle safety, but this step is a direct raid on funds that were appropriated by Congress to address the specific safety concerns of the motorcyclists’ rights community. Furthermore, the use of motorcycle helmets is already advocated in existing motorcycle safety initiatives.”

“Funding for rider-training courses is frequently under threat in cash-strapped states, and cutting the same-size pie into thinner slices is not the comprehensive, thoughtful, national motorcycle safety strategy we need.”

The AMA Hands Over It’s Professional Racing Series The AMA has been searching for a way to unload management of its racing events for a while. In March, the organization announced it was turning the “sanctioning, promotional and management rights for its AMA Pro Racing properties to the Daytona Motorsports Group (DMG).” The agreement does not include AMA Supercross and AMA Arenacross.

“We are honored to be working with the Daytona Motorsports Group,” said AMA President and CEO, Rob Dingman. “This group of individuals has supported the AMA and motorcycle racing for decades. There isn’t a better-resourced or more qualified entity in which to entrust the future of AMA Pro Racing.”

New York Cops Ignore Federal HOV Regulations The following statement began a recent AMA News Release, “In one of the most outrageous acts the American Motorcyclist Association has seen in years, the New York City Transportation Department defiantly refuses to change its rules so that they comply with federal law to allow motorcycles to use high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) lanes.” The New York City Department of Transportation’s statement regarding HOV lane use is, “The existing bus and taxi high occupancy vehicle lane (HOV) into the Queens-Midtown Tunnel is open for any motorists who have three or more persons in their vehicle (HOV 3+) . . . The New York City Police Department will be enforcing the HOV 3+ restrictions. There are no exemptions for motorcycles in an HOV lane. Motorcycle riders must obey the same rules as other motorists and have the required number of passengers.”

Apparently, any motorcycle capable of carrying 3 or more rider-plus-passengers is welcome in the New York City HOV lanes. Those always friendly New York City Police Department officers are the primary opponents of motorcycles in the HOV lanes.

Imre Szauter, AMA legislative affairs specialist, said, “Because the New York City Transportation Department refuses to change its rules, every American motorcyclist faces tickets and fines when riding in New York City HOV lanes. This is outrageous and totally unacceptable.”

A local rider, Karen Perrine, spent months fighting her way through the New York court system before the New York Department of Motor Vehicles Appeals Board overturned her HOV lane violation and removed the conviction from her driving record. “When I opened the envelope from the Appeals Board I felt some satisfaction in having the conviction reversed, but it’s been extremely unfair to me that I have had to sit for over a year and a half with the points from this ticket on my driver’s license, while I waited for a decision from the Appeals Board,” Perrine says. “I was not breaking the law.

New York isn’t the first city to violate federal HOV laws. Phoenix and Pittsburgh has issued tickets for riding in these lanes and their citations were also dismissed in court.

Go High-Viz! The Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center’s 2008 campaign is all about visibility (viz-ability?). Check out the site, http://www.highviz.org/, where you will find discussions on subjects like “Top 10 High-Viz Tips,” “10 More High-Viz Tips,” and “‘Be a Perfect 10’ Rate Your Own Visibility on a Scale of 1-10.” (Somebody is watching Letterman way too much. Ed.) The site has lots of comparisons of motorcycle visibility and invisibility, gear recommendations, traffic visibility tactics, and pictures of local riders in their fashionable HiViz riding gear. Check it you, you might learn something.

Paris-to-Dakar Comes to the Americas South America, that is. In 2009, the 30th annual Dakar Rally will be held in Argentina and Chile. Since the 2008 event was cancelled due to Mauritanian al Qaeda terrorist threats, the Dakar Rally organizers decided to move the event to a “safer” location. So far, they haven’t said if the event will be renamed and they have said “Dakar is not leaving Africa” for good. (I suspect some Dakar residents will be disappointed, since Dakar has been one seriously nasty place to live for a while.) The 9,000 kilo South American version of the race will happen from January 3 to the 18th, beginning in Buenos Aires. Check out http://www.dakar.com/2009/DAK/presentation/us/r3_5-le-parcours.html for the route. There will be 6,000 kilometers of special sections in the South American race.

Rally director, Etienne Lavigne said, “The Dakar is visiting South America, it’s not quitting Africa. The cancellation of Dakar 2008 cost us tens of millions of euros, but we did well to err on the side of caution because three weeks later there was another attack in the centre of Nouakchott . . In Argentina and Chile, we are guaranteed to find the ingredients that make up the spirit of the Dakar.

“Nomadic test par excellence, with 21 African countries so far visited, the Dakar has as its mandate the exploration of the world’s deserts.”

“In the future, the world’s biggest rally will also be taken across other oceans to be staged in other continents,” he added.

Honda Motorcycles No Longer Made In The USA Beginning in the Spring of 2009, the Honda Marysville plant will discontinue production of motorcycles. A Honda news release said, “All motorcycle production from the Marysville Motorcycle Plant and the historic Hamamatsu factory in Japan will be consolidated in 2009 at a new motorcycle plant in Kumamoto, Japan.”

Honda claims that “there will be no layoffs of the 450 full-time associates the plant employs.” The workers “will be absorbed into the Honda auto plant in various capacities.” (Yikes! Ed.) Ed Miller, spokesman for Honda of America said, “They will become part of the auto team. But the closure is a year away so we will have time to make good decisions for everyone as to where exactly they will go.”

“The market for motorcycles of all types is very competitive. We need to produce higher tech motorcycles and the plants where they are built need to be higher tech as well and closer to research and development . . .

“The main motorcycle market is not in the U.S. So the integrated expertise for motorcycles resides in Japan.”

Daytona Bike Week The 2008 Daytona Bike Week was its usual success, with thousands of spectators and bikers swarming Daytona and the events. Mat Mladin, riding for Makita Suzuki, racked up his 64th Superbike national win at the Speedway. Suzuki’s Ben Spies followed Mladin to the podium and Graves Yamaha’s Jason DiSalvo filled out the 3rd place. Suzuki’s Aaron Yates topped the Superstock class and Honda’s Neil Hodgson wrapped up the Formula Xtreme 200. At the Daytona Municipal Stadium, Jake Johnson was the first rider ever to win the Daytona double. At the Supercross, Kevin Windham, riding for Honda/Torco Racing, pulled off his 2nd win of the season on a half-flooded racetrack. Davi Millsaps followed Windham to the checkered flag on a Honda Red Bull Racing CRF450R.

One of the most exciting rides in the history ofroad racing was wiped out by the AMA officials when Miguel Duhamel, who had led the Daytona 200 from the first corner, left the race near the end of the first lap with a failed clutch. AMA officials first ruled that he could re-enter the race with his backup bike, but on the 57th lap, after Duhamel had worked his way from dead last to 5th place, the AMA reversed that decision and black-flagged Duhamel’s Honda from the track. He was disqualified from the race after a 56-lap race from behind that spectators will never forget.

Josh Hayes, also on a Honda, was focused on his own drama during the Dayton 200. He led for 53 laps, finishing in the lead, only to be disqualified for “a claimed technical infraction.” Hayes and his team put on a demonstration of technique, concentration, and perfect pit stops. His monster lead could have only been overcome by the AMA bureaucrats.

Dunlop Tires were on the motorcycles of every single winner at Daytona. Take that Cheng Shin!

Know Your Customers Before You Pull A Machete An armed robber underestimated his victims in an Australian biker bar. He ended up “hog-tied” (pun probablyintended) and hospitalized. The robber and accomplice interrupted a meeting of 50+ members of the Southern Cross Cruiser Club in a western Sydney suburban bar. The wanna-be-bandits were wearing ski masks and brandishing machetes.

“One robber escaped by leaping over a balcony, while the other tried to flee through a service entrance, the club’s president, who identified himself only as ‘Jester,’ told Australian Broadcasting Corp.”

“We caught him at the fence and crash-tackled him and hog-tied him to the ground and waited for the police to get there,” Jester said.

“I don’t think he did his homework very well,” Jester said. “He picked the wrong night.” ?The demoralized bandit spent a night in a local hospital. The police caught the other suspect hiding near the scene. ?

Recalls: Harley-Davidson 2005-2007 FLHP, FLHPI, FLHTP, FLHTPI, FLHPE, FLHPEI (w/ABS): Abrasion of the brake lines and hoses causes brake fluid leaks and loss of brake function. Dealers will install brake line retention and clutch cable positioning devices to prevent abrasion.

Hyosung 2005-2007 GT650 AND GV650: Fuel tank cap gaskets prevent proper tank ventilation causing engine stalling.

Kawasaki 2008 Ninja EX250J8F: Taillight bulbs fail prematurely.

M.M.M.

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