by Thomas Day

2 Wheel Wednesday Ends
Yarusso Brothers Italian Restaurant cancelled 2 Wheel Wednesday in May. The restaurant’s announcement read, “We at Yarusso’s have come to a decision to cancel 2 Wheel Wednesdays indefinitely. We appreciate all the support and have enjoyed the past eleven years, but we feel this is in the best interest for our business.” This event has been a bikers’ staple of the area for slightly more than a decade. For eleven years, only interrupted when the restaurant was damaged by fire in 2009, Yarusso’s offered free pasta on the first Wednesday of the month for anyone who rode a motorcycle to the restaurant. When asked for details on the cancellation, Annette Yarusso emailed MMM, “Times are changing.” The last 2 Wheel Wednesday, May 4, drew several “clubs,” all wearing colors, making noise and attracting a strong police presence. One rider suffered “sudden cardiac arrest” as he was leaving. One of Yarusso’s staff provided CPR until the paramedics took over.

Gerbing Comes Home
According to Lexington, NC’s Dispatch, Gerbing’s Heated Clothing is moving production to Stoneville, NC. Citing rising production costs, delivery time, and loss of product control, Gerbing is moving its heated clothing back from China to the US. The company is moving into an 88,000 square-foot facility with a $1.2 million investment and assistance from state and local incentives. Production is planned to begin in June. Gerbing manufactures all of Harley-Davidson’s heated riding gear. The Tumwater, Washington company has hinted that they could move their headquarters to North Carolina.

Heroic BMW
Last month, we reported that Hero Motors had severed ties with Honda. Turns out, that freed the company to look for other business linkages. In mid-May Hero signed a 5-year deal with BMW to make the German company’s gearboxes for both domestic (Indian) and worldwide BMW distribution. BMW Motorrad’s current German supplier, Getrag, will lose that work as soon as Hero Motors is up to product speed. Hero’s manufacturing output has been growing at 70% per year and the company has several similar contracts with other companies. For example, in 2009, Canada’s Bombardier Recreational Products signed a $250-million deal to use Hero transmissions for its all-terrain vehicles, motorcycles and snowmobiles.

What Is Hip?
According to Buzzfeed.com, Minnesota is the nation’s “hippest” state, based on the most irrational measure since the invention of television ratings. “Although Minnesota has less than 1/3rd the population of New York State, it leads the nation in searches for the term ‘hipster.’” Apparently, not knowing what “hipster” means is some sort of indication of hip-ness. I wonder which state is the “smartest” or the “cutest?” So, while we are still waiting for spring, we can feel better about ourselves because we are what is hip.

Sideways License Plates Are Back
Per MN Statute 169.79 VEHICLE REGISTRATION; DISPLAYING LICENSE PLATES, Section 168.12 (4):
“(i) A personalized vertical motorcycle plate may be issued upon payment of an additional payment of $100. The vertical plate must have not more than four identification characters, cannot be a duplication of any current or reserved license plate, and must meet the requirements in paragraph (d)”

Prices Sailing, Mileage Becomes A Big Deal?
In a race to being the highest price gas station, Suncoast Energys, a station near the Orlando International Airport, charged $5.69 a gallon for regular gasoline and $5.79 for premium in late April. At the same time, most Orlando service stations were charging an average of $3.78 per gallon. MSNBC projected fuel costs would approach $4 per gallon this summer and . . . they were right. My neighborhood station was advertising $3.99 regular and $4.11 premium in the second week of June. Sooner or later, someone is going to start thinking about motorcycles with great fuel economy.

Harley Enters the Hoka Hey Fray
Harley Davidson has added $50,000 in contingency prizes to the top Harley Owners Group finishers in the 2011 Hoka Hey Challenge. The Second Annual Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge begins in Phoenix, Arizona and ends in Nova Scotia, travelling more than 10,000 miles through 48 US states and several Canadian Provinces.

Steve Piehl, Harley-Davidson’s Director of Customer Experience said, “The Hoka Hey Challenge is a perfect match for the superior touring experience and capabilities of Harley-Davidson motorcycles and the long-distance adventuring aspirations of many of our H.O.G. members.” Harley’s participation should remedy some of the organizational snags that made last year’s event controversial.

To be eligible, a contestant must be a member of H.O.G. when the event starts, be sporting H.O.G. emblems on both riding gear and the bike throughout the event, be the rider (not the passengers), and meet all eligibility requirements for the event.

73-110 Years of Indian History Moves to Wisconsin
In an odd announcement, following Polaris Industries’ purchase of the assets of Indian Motorcycle, the company produced a press release promoting the company’s 110th Anniversary party on Saturday, May 14, at the company’s “exclusive” Southern California Dealership, Indian Motorcycle Los Angeles in Harbor City, CA. According to the press release, “Indian Motorcycle Los Angeles is located under the same roof as California Harley-Davidson” (a definition of “exclusive” that is somewhat uncommon).

The “100 years” part is also unusual, since the original Indian Motorcycle Company produced motorcycles from 1901 to 1953 (52 years), bankrupted and reappeared as re-branded Royal Enfields from 1955-1960, bankrupted and the brand disappeared until the 1970s, when the brand labeled a collection of Italian mini-bikes, bankrupted again in 1977, reappeared with lots of noise but very little product in 1999, died in 2003, was resurrected almost still-born in 2006, and was absorbed into Polaris in 2011. The only thing that seems to be around 110 years old is the logo. The total functional business years for bits of the logo (Remember the original, politically-incorrect logo?) are more like 73 years.

The newest version of the Indian is actually going to be American-made (the last version was made in Mexico). According to Polaris’ Marlys Knutsen, “Victory and Indian Motorcycles will be built in Spirit Lake, Iowa and their engines will be manufactured in Osceola, Wisconsin, the same location they have been manufactured since Victory started production in 1998.”

France Is Cracking Down
When French roadway fatality numbers took a turn for the worse, the French government took drastic measures. Speed radar warning signs are going down and speeding (50kph over the limit) penalties are going up (Hefty fine, three months prison, six driving license points and your motorcycle/car confiscated). Radar warning detectors are illegal. Drunk driving and cell phone use while driving penalties are increasing. Motorcycle license plate sizes will be increased to facilitate identification. Riders must wear yellow or orange fluorescent jackets at all times. Licensing changes include requiring motorcyclists to take mandatory training if they can’t prove recent experience on over-600cc motorcycles.

US Motorcycle Deaths Fall Slightly
Not as impressive as the 16% drop in 2009, but motorcycle deaths dropped 2% in 2010. Unfortunately, the fatality numbers began to climb at the end of the 2010 data collection/riding season. There are still economic factors involved in the drop in fatalities, but some states produced substantial improvements in road deaths. Oregon, for example, is projected to have reduced fatalities by 27%, credited to increased enforcement of motorcycle licenses and a strong and independent safety-training program. Texas deaths were down 16% and Oklahoma 30% for undetermined reasons. New York, Michigan and Wisconsin posted large fatality increases. Helmet use was down in all states, regardless of helmet laws.

The increased availability of anti-lock brakes may have something to do with the improved numbers. One study found a 37% improvement in fatality results from motorcycles with anti-lock brakes, which can now be found on more than 60 models. BMW announced that all of its models would come with standard-issue ABS brakes in 2012.
The same study found that helmets also reduce crash fatalities by 37%. Contrary to popular belief, that study found an “insignificant” crash and fatality difference between trained and untrained riders and noted a 10% increase in crashes in states that required training for under-21-riders. The MSF has declined comment on the study’s conclusions.

India’s Helmet Law
India has the world’s highest motorcycle fatality rates. In an effort to lower the death rate, Noida, an area in Northern part of India, ordered fuel stations not to sell gas to riders without helmets. The stations ignored the order and life goes on in Noida, until it doesn’t.

Sales Up, Deliveries Down?
After suffering the worst downturn in 25 years, motorcycle dealers are optimistically looking to the future. Customers are browsing the stores and gas prices and the improving economy are driving interest in motorcycles upward. The catch is, Japan’s production is significantly down. The earthquakes, tsunami and nuclear power plant meltdowns have had an effect on Japanese supplier output. Yamaha USA is now anticipating no 2011 product shipments, including the new highly anticipated Super Ténéré. Pre-ordered bikes with an April delivery date are now looking at October or November. Some Kawasaki dealers are saying that any product not in the pipeline will be put off for a year. Honda has pushed out delivery of CBR250R orders to sometime in June. Even the European manufacturers were caught with their production down and their parts supply lines cut as BMW, Triumph and Ducati dealers are having similar issues in obtaining current product.

Locally, Leo’s South Sales Manager, Mike Bedeaux, said Leo’s hasn’t been affected since their 2011 inventory orders were in the pipeline before the Japanese natural and nuclear catastrophe. He did say the economy and Leo’s sales were up. As an example, Leo’s received one of the hard-to-find TU250X Suzuki’s in late April. Delano Sports Center’s Tim Solien said DSC was in good shape with their Yamaha, KTM and Ducati inventory, but they didn’t pre-sell the Super Ténéré and he couldn’t comment on that product’s delivery issues.

Tousley Motorsports’ Sales Manager, David Glassman, was more informative about inventory issues and the local motorcycle sales situation. “This year, bike sales are up, especially in the 250cc category” and scooters are selling strongly. Tousley has seen delays in Yamaha and Honda product. In particular, Honda’s new CBR250R ABS has been impossible to find. He confirmed that the pre-ordered Super Ténéré won’t be delivered until late this fall or early winter. He said Suzuki product is even harder to come by, “You can’t get current stock from those guys to save your soul . . . Hayubusas are on permanent backorder.” However, Suzuki, Yamaha, and Honda have “a lot of (2009 and 2010) stuff sitting around” and all three of the Japanese Big Four that Tousley sells are pushing those bikes with dealer discounts, financing and dealer and customer spiffs. Glassman said big bikes sales have been soft for the last two years, with large sportbikes and big cruiser sales down dramatically. Two of the hardest to sell small motorcycles from the last three years, the Honda CRF230L and the Yamaha WR250X, are beginning to move, but there is still inventory from 2008 in the pipeline. And of course, the cold, wet “spring” weather hasn’t helped at all.

NHTSA June Motorcycle Recalls
Ducati 2010-2011 Multistrada 1200, 2011 Diavel: Electronic lock doesn’t unlock steering allowing the engine to be started with the steering still locked. It could result in a situation where the motorcycle’s engine might start while the steering lock is still engaged. A rider could start the motorcycle and attempt to ride away while the steering is still locked.

MV Agusta 2010 F4: The upper fixture points may not be sufficiently robust, which may result in the sub-frame cracking and failing, local to the fixture points, during use. The stability of a rider and passenger could be compromised, thereby causing the risk of a crash. A reinforcement support kit for the rear sub-frame will be installed by dealers free-of-charge.

MMM

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