by Thomas Day

Harley Buys MV Agusta

On July 11th, Harley-Davidson agreed to purchase MV Agusta Group for $109 million. MV will continue to operate from their Varese, Italy headquarters and MV Agusta Group Chairman, Claudio Castiglioni will retain that position and “play a major role in product development.” Castiglioni’s family owns 95% of MV’s stock. Harley is paying for the purchase with “euro-denominated debt.” The purchase is intended to increase HD’s Euro presence.

In a research note, UBS analyst, Robin Farley wrote that while the “goal of the deal may be to bring sports-oriented products to market,” it may be less than successful at expanding Harley’s market share. “We believe this transaction could be neutral to possibly slightly dilutive to Harley earnings near-term as we believe MV Agusta operates at a loss.”

Motorcycles in the US and the World

From the AMA News & Notes: June 10-11 in Lillehammer, Norway, the International Transport Forum of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) met to discuss the motorcycle safety scene. This group of high-level transportation officials discussed a “tiered approach to motorcycle safety training,” “general training of all drivers to watch for motorcycles,” “training for road planners,” “better braking systems,” and an appeal to the motorcycle industry to “promote and market responsible motorcycling.”

Among other less motorcycle-friendly agencies, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety was also on hand. This is the group that has suggested banning or restricting sport bikes from public roads.

“Quite often these types of meetings occur in the vacuum of academia, devoid of the opinions and perspective of the people most impacted by the topics discussed,” said Moreland. “This meeting was particularly significant because the real-world perspective of riders was given equal weight and our input was recognized on a global stage.”

On May 6-7 the Federal Highway Administration’s Motorcyclist Advisory Council (MAC) met for their second-quarter meeting in Crystal City, Virginia. The commission provided recommendations including encouraging the use of motorcycles as a form of congestion relief.

The AMA said, “Of special significance was the creation and approval of the 2008 Motorcyclist Road Conditions Survey. The purpose of the survey is to better communicate to the MAC, road construction engineers, and transportation safety officials the specific needs of motorcyclists that should be considered when developing new roadways or altering existing routes.” Riders are encouraged to complete the MAC’s motorcycle 10-minute survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/MACMembersHighwaySurvey.

Just in Time for Sturgis

The Minnesota Legislature has passed a bill that requires all license plates to be, “displayed horizontally with the identifying numbers and letters facing outward from the vehicle, and mounted in the upright position.” Buried in the general transportation bill, legislators addressed concerns about the display of license plates initially voiced by the State Patrol. Effective August 1, section 43 of House File 3800 clarifies plate orientation and mounting and sticker placement. To read the exact language, go to: www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/bin/bldbill.php?bill=H3800.4.html&session=ls85. Custom owners be advised. Note this legislation applies to trailers as well.

Senate Introduces Health Insurance Bill for Motorcyclists

AMA Action Alert: U.S. Senator, Susan Collins (R-ME) and U.S. Senator, Russ Feingold (D-WI) recently introduced S. 616, “The HIPAA Recreational Injury Technical Correction Act.” Identical legislation passed the full Senate in the 108th Congress and obtained 177 bi-partisan co-sponsors in the House. S. 616 aims at ending health care discrimination for individuals participating in legal transportation and recreational activities like motorcycling, snowmobiling, skiing, horseback riding, and all-terrain vehicle riding. . .

AMA Provides SPLTesting Equipment

Minnesota off-road organizations might consider taking advantage of the AMA Government Relations Department’s sound testing kit program. The AMA has provided kits to Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition, Cycle Conservation Club of Michigan, Boise Ridge Riders, the Doublin Gap MX Park, and the Stoney Lonesome Motorcycle Club for the purpose of educating “off-highway vehicle users about the sound levels of their machines before they faced possible citations for excessive sound levels.” This proactive tactic has the added benefit of lowering the irritation factor between motorcyclists and other public land users.

The kit contains “a sound meter, tachometer, instructional DVD and manual, spark arrester probe, personal protective equipment and a certificate for a free annual recalibration of the meter from the meter supplier.” For more information on the sound meter grand program, contact Royce Wood at (614) 856-1900, ext. 1225, or by e-mail at rwood@ama-cycle.org.

AMA Sells Pro Racing

Daytona Motorsports Group (DMG) has purchased much of the AMA Pro Racing properties. “DMG will own the sanctioning, promotional and management rights to AMA Pro Racing. The sale does not include the rights to the AMA Supercross and AMA Arenacross Series, which are held by Live Nation and will continue to be sanctioned by the AMA.”

Vintage Motorcycle Days in Ohio

AMA Press Release: The AMA’s Vintage Motorcycle Days, celebrating its 16th year, are set for July 25-27 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. The event includes “three bike shows, North America’s largest motorcycle swap meet, stunt shows, plus a full slate of American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association competition including road racing, motocross, cross country, flat track and trials.”

This year’s “Marque of the Year” is Triumph and motorsports’ artist, Tom Fritz, has created a painting to celebrate Triumph and Gene Romero, the brand’s motorcycle racing legend. Romero, nicknamed “Burrito” in his prime during the 1960s and ‘70s, ripped up dirt ovals and the Daytona International Speedway, which he won in 1975.

Seven-time AMA Grand National Enduro Champion, Bill Baird will be co-grand marshal. “In the 1960s, Bill Baird won the AMA Grand National Enduro Championship seven straight years on 500cc Triumph T100 twins before retiring from active competition in 1968,” said AMA Director of Special Events, Will Stoner. “He went on to serve on the AMA Board of Directors and has been inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame; and we couldn’t be more pleased to have him join us as a co-grand marshal.”

One of the highlights of the swap meet will be Craig Vetter’s Rickman-framed, Kawasaki-powered vintage race bike. “In 1976, Vetter took the Rickman to Daytona and put those tires to the test; scoring third behind Lang Hindle and Mike Baldwin in the Café Class. The bike was retired shortly after. In 1998, it was donated to the AMA’s Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum.”

Other AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days activities include:

• Motorcycle demo rides provided by Triumph, BMW, Buell, Can-Am Spyder, Harley-Davidson, Kawasaki, KTM, Kymco USA, Moto Guzzi and Vectrix.

• A special display by the North American Laverda Owners Club, featuring Laverda founder, Piero Laverda.

Million Mile Ride Does Three Million

The world-wide Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.) sped past the club’s inaugural Million Mile Monday target on June 30th, putting down more than three million miles in a 4-hour period. “It blows me away. What started out as a simple, fun idea turned into something very special. Our members really gave it legs—make that miles. What a blessing to be enjoying this beautiful country on American iron right before the 4th of July. Now that’s freedom. Can’t wait till next year!” said Benny Suggs, Senior Director of H.O.G. Operations.

Sturgis and You Here it comes; the 68th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City, August 2-9, 2008. The usual Sturgis activities are joined by the second annual Women’s Day held on Thursday, August 7, 2008. Women’s Day events include “demo rides; as well as seminars focused on teaching women how to customize their motorcycle and how on pick up a fallen motorcycle.”

According to an H-D press release, “women represent nearly 12 percent of new Harley-Davidson motorcycle purchases.” As a preview for Sturgis, women (and men) can obtain a copy of the H-D promo booklet, We Ride, “a basic overview on what a new rider or a woman interested in riding needs to know about getting into the sport.” You can download We Ride at www.harley-davidson.com/womenriders, pick one up at any H-D dealership, or order on by calling 1-800-LUV2RIDE.

Aprilia’s Automatic Mana

Way back when, Honda tried to introduce us to an automatic transmission motorcycle. The Hondamatic died a lonely death. Now, Aprilia is hoping to avoid a historical repeat while bringing the 850 Mana to market. It’s here and for $9,899 you can have a 7-speed Sportgear manual or an automatic transmission with three selectable mappings (touring, sport, and rain). The Mana is powered by a green, 90° V-twin with EFI and a catalytic exhaust; pushing the bike under the Euro 3 emission limits.

The Italian manufacturer is betting that its reputation for technical prowess will overcome motorcyclists’ traditional resistance to auto-shifting. The scooter craze (and their automatic transmission history) is also on Aprilia’s side.

Michigan “No-Helmet Law”

Michigan House Bill 4749 allows for “adult helmet choice for Michigan motorcycle operators 21 years of age or older who have completed a motorcycle safety course, have had a motorcycle endorsement for at least two years, and have at least $20,000 in first-party medical benefits.” The law requires a valid ‘no helmet’ permit, costing $100 for one year or $200 for three years. Non-residents are exempt. The bill was delivered to Governor, Jennifer Granholm for signature into law.

Minnesota Motorcycle Visual Arts Events

Evel Knievel and the Minnesota Fringe Festival butt heads on August 2nd through 8th when the FTF Works’ inaugural production, Herocycle (an original multidisciplinary play) comes to Minneapolis’ Red Eye Theater. “Five local theater artists, including alumni from the Margolis-Brown Theater Company, embark on a theatrical exploration of the motorcycle stunt icon from the 1970s employing text, expressionistic movement, opera, and various aerial apparatuses. To create the script, the artists assembled found text from diverse sources including interviews, biographies, online blog posts, and sports commentary from some of Knievel’s televised jumps,” claims the press release for this experimental presentation. Hi-res Images, Video Trailer, & More at: http://www.ftfworks.org/

M.M.M.

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