by Thomas Day

Electrical News

In late November, Brammo and Best Buy dropped the price of the all-electric Enertia from $11,995 to $7,995. The price cuts were the result of “advances in engineering and production,” according to Craig Bramsher, the company’s founder and CEO. With the alternative energy vehicle federal tax credit the Brammo will cost you about $7,195.

Brammo was also in the news when Wired contributing editor, Mathew Honan, attempted to cross the country on the electric motorcycle in 25 days. However, the days he selected were in the middle of November and December. His blog tag line is, “One idiot, 3,800 miles, & an electric motorcycle with a 42-mile range. What could possibly go wrong?”

Honan had planned a fuel budget of $11.57 for the trip, based on Georgia Power rates for electricity. On November 21, he took off from Portland, OR and made it to Roseberg, OR before being hit from behind by a 20-year-old woman driving an Audi A4. He was riding in the rain, traveling a short section of I5, which was not in his plan for the trip due to the Brammo’s limited range at its 60mph top speed. The driver was charged with driving without a license and “improper lane change.” Honan is recovering and plans to keep on being an electric motorcyclist; avoiding night riding and busy interstate highways for a while.

On a macro-news level, IDTechEx produced an industry report, “Electric Vehicles 2010-2020,” that evaluates the economic future of electric vehicles in the world market. The report covers vehicles from heavy industrial to mobile robots, forecasting the trends for these vehicles and their economic impact. 90% of the world’s electric vehicles are manufactured in China, primarily for use in China. China mines and manufactures 95% of the materials used in hybrid car batteries, motors, and key control circuit electronics. By 2020, EV sales will increase 69% to 49 million units and amount to 60% of the total vehicle market. Even more important, the value of the EV market will outpace internal combustion engines in the next ten years.

Two Guys, One Desert Race

Radek Burkat (Pinkbike developer) and Andrew Krynen (mountain biker) take on the most dangerous race in the world, the Baja 1,000. Even better (for us), they filmed the race and put it on the web. The Road to Baja was inspired by Dana Brown’s Dust to Glory. “Just two regular guys going down to Mexico to race the Baja 1000” on a used KTM 525 and they produced a one hour documentary to prove they were there. In three episodes, the two riders and a cinematographer/friend Ambrose Weingart started documenting the preparation to the race in late 2008.

He’s Back!

Eric Buell lasted less than a month with the HD organization before leaving The Company to start his own motorcycle race shop. Buell announced that his company will provide “race-use-only Buell motorcycle parts and race preparation services for Buell® 1125R-based race-use-only motorcycles.” The new company will be based in East Troy, WI.

On-Road Motorcycles 41% Down

The industry’s magazine, Power Sports Business, reported that overall sales of motorcycles and scooters were down 41% with 360,000 lower unit sales for 2009. BMW was the least affected motorcycle manufacturer with a 22% sales decline. The sunshine states of North Carolina, California, Utah, and Oregon led the downturn with sales drops of 66.7%, 65.7%, and 64.1%. Like the housing boom, motorcycle dealerships are suffering the results of a burst bubble. Florida led the volume sales decline selling 17,500 fewer units in 2009 than the previous year. Power Sports speculated that a 30% dealer loss in California is “not out of the question.” Off-road motorcycle sales were down 33.2%.

HD on the Dole

HDFS, Harley’s financing arm, is one of the companies that accepted TALF (Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility) federal funds as part of the $562 million bailout government aid available late last year. The recession and high-risk loan strategies put HDFS deep into the red and the TALF funds are hoped to put a bandage on the company’s hemorrhaging bottom line. 2009 was a particularly bad year for HD, posting a full-year net loss of $55.1 million and a 23% drop in net revenues while closing operations for Buell Motorcycles and recent purchase MV Agusta.

news118Metzler’s Chicken Strip Gauge

The new Metzeler Sportec M5 Interact tire is a high-tech sportbike tire includes a “new lean indicator which offers riders visual confirmation of the maximum level of the tyre’s usage: riders can verify which of the 5-stage markings were contacted while riding.” Or, other riders can see how little of the tire is being used and determine the rider’s skill accordingly. Thanks for the heads-up, Richard.

A Convertible Motorcycle?

The new Panther ( build-a-bike design comes with a 6-year, 60,000 mile, fully transferable warranty. It’s impossible to describe this odd-looking motorcycle in a few hundred words, so I recommend you look for yourself. Its $37-82k price tag is in the usual custom motorcycle territory, but nothing else about the Panther is familiar.

Lead-Free Kids’ Toys

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted unanimously (5-0) last month to extend a stay of enforcement on testing and certification of many regulated children’s products, which includes youth model-motorcycles and ATVs. While enforcement of specific CPSC testing requirements has been stayed, the products must still comply with all applicable rules and bans.

Heavy Duty Theft

Well-equipped thieves ripped off a 4-ton statue outside of Timpanogos Harley-Davidson in Lindon, Utah. The police assume the thieves used a crane or back-hoe to haul away the $100,000 old-time speed racer sculpture. Theives also made off with the granite plinth..

Wally Szczech Retires

Wally Szczech retired at 80, after 40 years as a truck driver and 23 years with Twin Cities Motorcycle Escort. Wally’s last professional ride was a funeral procession from in St. Paul’s Eastern Heights Lutheran Church to a nearby cemetery. Wally is planning to retire riding around the country on his side-hack Goldwing with his dog. Go Wally!

AMA Motorcycle Legislation Alerts

A Pennsylvania bill would permit individuals to file complaints against owner/operators of noisy motor vehicles. A judge would issue a search warrant allowing the police “to inspect the motor vehicle and take appropriate action.”

A Missouri bill would “permit adults 21 years of age or older to make their own decisions regarding motorcycle helmet use.” Another Missouri bill would make “dangerous stunt” riding a misdemeanor for a first offence and a felony for subsequent offenders.

An administrative law judge has rescinded a BLM decision to open two OHV trails in the Mojave Desert. The decision upholds an appeal brought by the Center for Biological Diversity, which argued the plan to open two routes in the Rand Mountain Management Area of Kerns County was flawed.

The Twin Cities Trail Rider Dirt Bike club has submitted a Grant-In-Aid (GIA) with the DNR for money to maintain the trail system.Your comments to the DNR would be appreciated.

Ridley and Harley Settle

Ridley Motorcycle Company and Harley-Davidson settled their lawsuit over the trade name “Auto-Glide.” Ridley has agreed to discontinue use of the Auto-Glide name, although the terms of the settlement won’t be disclosed to the public.

Minnesota Roads Safer in 2009

Minnesota: 2009’s preliminary traffic death count of 403 marks another significant drop in annual road fatalities, representing a eight percent drop from the 455 deaths in 2008. The state projects a final death number of around 420, which would be the fewest number of fatalities since 356 were reported in1944.

The preliminary 51 motorcyclist deaths represent a sharp decline (29 percent) from 72 rider deaths in 2008, which was a 24-year high. The drop in rider deaths is especially significant as ridership is at an all-time high.

The most critical stat to determine road safety is the death rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT). The Department of Public Safety estimates the 2009 VMT will be 0.75, which would be the lowest ever for Minnesota. In 2008, the state VMT fatality rate was 0.79 (less than one death per 100 million VMT) – among the lowest in the nation – and down from a rate of 5.52 in 1966.

The 403-fatality count includes motorists (298), motorcyclists (51); pedestrians (36), bicyclists (9), ATV riders (3), farm equipment operators (3), commercial bus passengers/drivers (2), and a road maintenance vehicle occupant. Distracted, impaired driving, not using a seat belt and speeding are expected to be the primary contributing factors of the 2009 fatal crashes and serious injuries.

Lucky 13?

The ACEM, the European Motorcycle Industry, ran a cartoon promotion called Lucky 13 for much of 2009 ( Much of the program was an attempt to highlight roadway risk awareness. According to the ACEM, the cartoons “proved to be a useful tool for the training of young or unexperienced (sic) riders.” The Lucky 13 cartoon motorcycle character looks suspiciously idiotic. I wonder who that message is aimed at?

Polaris Buys swissauto

Polaris purchased swissauito Powersports for the Burgdorf, Switzerland company’s “expertise in designing and developing high-performance and high-efficiency engines and innovative vehicles.” Polaris has a history of working with swissauto; the four-stroke Weber engine used in several Polaris snowmobile is s swissauto design. The motorcycle component to the acquisition is apparent from swissauto’s successful history developing winning World Motorcycle GP engines.

“Swissauto has industry leading powertrain design and development capabilities and a strong understanding of turbo-charging and high-performance engines,” said Polaris Chief Executive Officer, Scott Wine. “This acquisition directly supports our stated objectives to be the best in powersports and a global market leader.”

Ducati in Uptown

This coming spring Ducati Minneapolis will open in the Lynlake Uptown district of Minneapolis in the historic Ekland Bros. bus manufacturing building (2800 Lyndale Avenue, Minneapolis). Silverback Performance will move from St. Paul to bring their personnel, reputation, and equipment to the new facility.

MSF and DoD Joint Venture

“DoD has engaged the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) to conduct four focus groups for the Defense Safety Oversight Council (DSOC) PMV Task Force.” The Department of Defense is hoping to identify effective and “aggressive countermeasures” to combat the rising number of motorcycle fatalities and injuries in the “dominant motorcycling culture in the military that is statistically at highest risk, primarily sport bike riders.”

2010 NHTSA Recalls

Aprilia RSV4, RSV4-R manufactured 07/2 to 10/30/09: Faulty engine connecting rods cause unexpected engine failure and possible loss of control.


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