by Gus Breilandnewslogo

Minnesota’s Norton Motorcycle Co. now Viper Motorcycle Co.
Norton Motorcycle Co., Golden Valley, Minnesota has changed its name to Viper Motorcycle Co. Viper has released all trademark rights to the Norton brand in exchange for an undisclosed amount of cash and an end to all existing and pending litigation. The company had obtained the rights to manufacture and sell motorcycle products using the Norton brand and trademarks from Global Coin in 2002. Later that year, a court judgment said that Global Coin held unencumbered rights to the Norton brand.

NHTSA warns “Super Spoke” wheels may fail catastrophically
The AMA (www.AMADirectlink.com) reported that The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) has gathered preliminary information indicating that the “Super Spoke” wheels produced by American Wire Wheel, Inc. can fail catastrophically, leading to the possibility of serious injury.

The ODI has documented 11 cases of spoke-related failure with these wheels. Rider’s report the failures happen so quickly that there was no time to stop before the wheel collapsed.

There are an estimated 2,000-4,000 potentially defective Super Spoke wheels on the road today. ODI advises owners of these wheels to carefully check their wheels each and every time they ride. Here are some things to watch for:

Loose spokes and/or spokes with cracking or flaking chrome (which may indicate a spoke is loose). Tires that will not maintain air pressure. Unusual sounds from the wheels while riding. Motorcycle instability that feels as though a tire is losing air, yet tire pressures are OK.

Unfortunately, while continual checking of motorcycle wheels is a good general practice, ODI cautions that it may not prevent a wheel failure. If any of these conditions exist, the motorcycle should not be ridden again until the wheels can be carefully inspected. If the wheels are found to be failing, they should be removed before the motorcycle is ridden again.

Harley-Davidson Profit Solid
CHICAGO (Reuters) – Harley-Davidson Inc. said on April 16th, 2003, its quarterly profit surged 55 percent on solid demand for its motorcycles despite a sputtering U.S. economy, and it raised production targets for the year. But skepticism about whether consumers will rein in discretionary spending kept the company’s stock in check.

Harley-Davidson’s shares were down following an initial jump of more than 5 percent. Investors, accustomed to upward revisions in Harley-Davidson’s production plans, punished the stock in January after the Milwaukee-based manufacturer failed to raise its output target for the first time in 16 quarters. The shares are down about 13 percent from their January peak.

The U.S. king of motorcycle makers, citing dealer confidence about the year ahead, said it now expects to produce 290,000 Harley-Davidson brand motorcycles in 2003, 1,000 units more than its previous target.

Harley-Davidson Chief Financial Officer James Ziemer said demand for the company’s motorcycles is still outstripping supply, straining capacity. Those bottlenecks will clear when a new factory comes on line later this year, enabling the company to raise production, he said.

“Motorcycles are being sold at a premium (price). Parts and accessories and general merchandise are selling at all-time-high growth rates. The floor traffic is there,” the CFO said.

UBS Warburg analyst Robin Farley noted U.S. retail registrations for the company’s motorcycles fell 3 percent during the quarter, the first decline since 1994 and a sign that consumer demand may be waning. “We believe it is a weak indicator,” Farley said in a research note. UBS Warburg added to their pessimism about Harley Davidson’s investment stability by downgrading their recommendation from ‘buy’ to ‘neutral’ on April 17th, 2003.

Revenue from Harley-Davidson motorcycles was $876.5 million, up more than 17 percent from a year ago. Shipments in the first quarter totaled 70,608 units, up 9 percent. Parts and accessories revenue rose almost 22 percent to $159.8 million, while revenue from apparel and collectibles jumped 34 percent to $56.5 million, boosted by strong sales of products commemorating the company’s 100th anniversary.

Buell Motorcycles Hosts 2003 Buell National BattleTrax Series
Buell Motorcycle Company invites riders to participate in the 2003 Buell National BattleTrax Series, a free motorcycle event that challenges riders to compete in a controlled environment and rewards skill and consistency. The National BattleTrax Series, which kicked off March 8 during Daytona Bike Week, showcases Buell’s motorcycles – the Lightning XB9S and Firebolt XB9R.

“Buell motorcycles have always emphasized the importance of mass centralization and frame rigidity, and low unsprung weight, which gives riders improved handling and agility,” says Erik Buell, chairman and chief technical officer. “BattleTrax is a great way to showcase these performance attributes, which provide benefits in any type of riding.”

BattleTrax is a closed-course motorcycle event involving a well-marked, circuitous route on a paved surface. The event is designed for all experience levels, giving every rider an opportunity to test their skills. Riders travel the course – one at a time – as efficiently as they can. An electronic timer monitors each rider?s performance. The course, laced with twists and turns, is guaranteed to test riders? skills and produce ear-to-ear grins.

The winner of each regional event – determined by a timed bracket-style format – will receive a trip to Las Vegas to compete for the national championship on July 16, 2003. Buell Motorcycle Company will provide each winner with round trip airfare to Las Vegas and two nights hotel accommodation, along with a special Buell prize. The national champion will receive the Buell National BattleTrax Series Championship trophy and bragging rights for a lifetime.

The 10-event national series continues this spring and summer giving riders the chance to test their motorcycles and themselves.

Participants need to bring their motorcycle, full-face helmet, appropriate riding gear and a valid motorcycle driver’s license. Riders must be at least 21 years of age to participate. See the following schedule or visit www.battletrax.com for a complete list of Buell National BattleTrax cities and event details.

Region–Date/Time–Location Address

Minneapolis/ May 31 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Minnesota State Fairgrounds 265 Snelling Avenue No. St. Paul, MN 55108

Milwaukee, Wis. June 8 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Wisconsin State Fair Park 8100 W. Greenfield Ave. West Allis, WI 53214

AMA warns of proposed cuts to rider safety programs

The AMA warns motorcycle and all-terrain vehicle riders nationwide that cash-strapped states may try to raid funds earmarked for rider safety programs to balance their budgets. In fact, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) has already asked her state’s Legislature to eliminate Michigan’s Motorcycle Safety Education Program and the Off-Road Vehicle Safety Education Program. She eliminated the programs from her proposed Fiscal 2004 state budget, which was recently sent to lawmakers for consideration.

“Michigan motorcyclists and ATV riders must act now to prevent the loss of these valuable programs,” said Imre Szauter, AMA legislative affairs specialist. “And riders in other states need to keep a close watch on their lawmakers to be sure that their safety programs aren’t threatened as well. We understand that several states are considering cutting their motorcycle safety programs as part of their efforts to balance their budgets.”

In Michigan, the AMA urges motorcyclists and ATV riders to contact the governor and their state lawmakers to tell them that the safety programs are self-supporting – paid for through fees collected from motorcyclists and ATV riders. And since the governor’s proposal would eliminate the fees collected to support the programs, the state would see no money savings.

1-900-Harley
In another “Harley Davidson Logo On Everything” moment. HD has teamed up with Motorola to provide you bad bikers with a HD branded cell phone. Now you can get your investment banker on the horn while you are “leavin’ it all behind” on the open road. The HD Motorola V60I comes in 2 different styles (leather and chrome of course) and includes the ability to have ring tones in the biker tune favorites such as “Free Ride”, “Born to be Wild”, “Low Rider”, “Devil Went Down to Georgia” and more. I am only disappointed that “Big Bottom” and “Like a Virgin” are not in the repertoire. It will be cute to see “Snake” get a call from his “Old Lady” reminding him to bring home milk and eggs.

M.M.M.

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