Cycling Deaths Spike

The MN Department of Public Safety says 37 motorcyclists had been killed on state roads by mid July – more than double the number for the same seven-and-a-half-month time period in 2014.

To July 22, 201 people lost their lives in traffic crashes, a 21 percent increase over the same period in 2014.

The DPS says the 361 people who died on Minnesota roads in 2014 signified the lowest number of fatalities since 1944.

Motorcycle Task Force Appointments

MN Department of Public Safety Commissioner Mona Dohman has reappointed, Frank Ernst, Charles Fletcher, Natonia Johnson, Mark Koon, Dwight Smith, Jon Smith, Susan Tabor, Tim Walker, and Geoffrey Wyatt, and appointed new members Debra Heisick, Meredith McQuaid, Shane Murphy, Monte Ohlrogge, Bob Swenson, and David Weeres to the Motorcycle Safety Advisory Task Force. Their appointments run through June 30, 2017.

The Motorcycle Safety Advisory Task Force, which advises and provides input to the DPS on motorcycle safety issues and operation of the Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Program, is set to focus on three areas: motorcycle rider training, motorcycle rider testing and licensing, and public information and media relations.

Polaris to Build Electric in Iowa

Polaris intends to soon begin production of performance oriented electric Victory motorcycles at its assembly facility in Spirit Lake, Iowa. You’ll recall Polaris began partnering with Brammo in 2011 and ultimately purchased the motorcycle portion of the company in early 2015.

Steve Menneto, Vice President of Motorcycles for Polaris Industries Inc., all but confirmed the production plan in a recent interview with Cycle News.

Menneto says there are currently three assembly lines in Spirit Lake – a separate Indian Chief line, a separate Indian Scout line, and a separate Victory line. A fourth line would be added, but presents additional logistical issues since the existing three already run through a double shift.

“One of the great challenges we have at Spirit Lake is that we employ a high percentage of the local working community. So when we look to expand our shifts we have to spread the radius to find people to staff them,” Menneto said. “We’re now running buses from 40 miles out to draw on a further pool of partners.”

“Brammo will allow us to explore the opportunities in an electric powertrain for motorcycles, and we think it’s going to be an important area as we go forward,’ Menneto said. “Volume-wise it’s not so big right now, but where we want to go with it in the Victory line is that we want it to be more performance focused. It’s not about basic transportation from A to B with an electric motorcycle – we don’t want to do that with our brands. It’s much more about having fun with an electric motorcycle.”

Other highlights of the interview:

– The engine powering the Victory Project 156 Pikes Peak bike serves as a prototype for a new production engine that, Menneto said, could “potentially” find its way into a “mid-size bike, almost 1200cc” bike in 2016 as an early release 2017 model.

– Polaris intends to go AMA Flat Track racing with the Indian brand in “late 2016 or early 2017.”

Bid on Erik Buell

Racing Assets

The assets of Erik Buell Racing (EBR) are expected to be going up for auction any day now as this issue of MMM goes to press.

EBR is based in a 54,000 square-foot facility in East Troy, Wis. The entire business, including the brand as well as a substantial inventory of tooling, components and completed bikes, will be included in the bidding.

Buell, in an interview with Powersports Business, says he’s hopeful that whichever investor purchases the company will make it an ongoing business, picking up the production line where it ended in April when the company filed for receivership.

“Fundamentally it’s turnkey,” Buell told the trade magazine. “We could literally be shipping bikes out of the building the same day somebody turns the switch back on. Bikes and engines are lined up on the production line, sitting there with plastic covers over them.”

Dungey Picks Up ESPY

Supercross Champion and Belle Plaine native Ryan Dungey was last month awarded an ESPN ESPY (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly) Award for Best Male Action Sports Athlete.

Dungey was up for the award against Minnesota-born snocross racer Tucker Hibbert, skateboarder Nyjah Huston, snowboarder Mark McMorris and freestyle motocrosser Josh Sheehan. Each candidate was selected by a panel, voting was done online.

Hibbert congratulated his fellow Minnesotan with a “#MNproud” tweet.

Lane-Splitting Still Not Legal in California

California legislation that would make it clear that motorcyclists can split lanes of traffic has been tabled for the year, several weeks after it passed the Assembly with bipartisan support.

Lane splitting is illegal in every state but California, which does not expressly allow or prohibit the practice. Rider groups say the bill is too restrictive in its guidelines.

Assemblyman Bill Quirk, D-Hayward says he will continue to work with stakeholders to resubmit the bill in 2016.

Your Feel Good Story of the Day …

Worthington resident Denny Anderson, a Vietnam veteran, recently donated his Yamaha V Star 650 touring cruiser to a serviceman from Indiana.

Once an avid rider who says he “just wasn’t into it any more,” Anderson had the bike listed on the Nobles County Swap Facebook page.

A woman named Toni quickly made contact, telling Anderson that she wanted to purchase the bike for her husband currently deployed in Afghanistan. There was a problem, though – Toni had mistakenly utilized the Nobles County swap site rather than that of her local Noblesville, Ind.

When the phone call ended with the realization that they didn’t live in close enough vicinity to complete the transaction, Denny said he could hear the disappointment in Toni’s voice, and he also felt some pangs of remorse.

So Anderson called Toni back and said he was giving the motorcycle to her husband, Isaiah, and would arrange for it to be transported to Indiana at his own expense.

“I told her to consider it a gift from one vet to another,” he said, shrugging off the idea that his gesture deserves any sort of recognition. “Sure, I can buy stuff, but there’s nothing I really need, and how long does that last? I’ll remember this the rest of my life.”

All Anderson asked of Toni was that once her husband returns home, she send him a photo of the two of them on the back of the motorcycle. – Worthington Daily Globe



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