by Thomas Day

Bimbo Injures Biker and Might Receive Slap on the Hand
On October 7th, 20-year-old Amanda Elizabeth Manzanares set out without insurance and with a restricted instructional permit and, according to her “defense,” tired, off of her prescribed medications, and uncomfortable as a driver. According to Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman she was also preoccupied with what the police described as a series of text message exchanges and cell phone calls made moments before the collision. On April 19, Manzanares was charged with “felony texting and driving.” While Manzanares was allegedly playing with her cell phone, she crossed the centerline and ran head-on into a motorcyclist, causing severe injuries that have burdened the motorcyclist with more than $500,000 in medical costs.

I suppose the police and state government have made themselves feel good by banning drivers from reading, composing, or sending texts and emails while the vehicle is in motion, but I want to know why cell service providers aren’t required to terminate any cell phone conversation from a device in motion? Seems like a pretty phony way to “protect the public,” when technology could address this problem simply and absolutely.

Polaris Digests Indian
Polaris acquired the rights to the Indian marque from the British private equity firm, Stellican. At the moment, it is unclear what Polaris/Victory hopes to do with the once-iconic American motorcycle brand. The Polaris press release stated, “Indian will operate as an autonomous business unit, building upon the potent combination of Polaris’ engineering acumen and innovative technology with Indian’s premium brand, iconic design and rich American heritage.” Since 1953, the primary “American heritage” the Indian brand has represented has been the brand’s uncanny ability to separate the not-so-bright from their trust funds.

About the same time, Polaris announced it would keep some engine building operations in Osceola. Polaris CEO, Scott Wine, said, “While we have outperformed our original volume projections, the Osceola team has executed flawlessly and continues to produce world-class, quality products. In order to meet escalating demand while maintaining our focus on quality, keeping some engine capability and output in Osceola was an obvious choice.” That’s good to hear. Usually when a US facility exceeds executive ROI projects, the facility is closed early and moved to China.

The Big Dog Rolls Over
One of the last decades best examples of high-priced garage candy and financial services excess, Big Dog, declared bankruptcy in April. The new owner, Intrust Bank, owns the last of the significant Big Dog assets and the old owner, Sheldon Coleman Jr. created BDM Performance Products and, with 22 ex-Big Dog employees, will supply parts, accessories and gear for the 25,000 strays manufactured by the old company. Big Dog dealers have been informed of the company’s closing and that “any claims and debts” (read “warranties”) dissolved in the bankruptcy.

Make Mine Steam Powered, one of the hottest DIY sites on the web, had a short article examining the next, hottest (literally) thing in motorcycles; steam power. One severely strange and frightening example is the Hudspith Steam Bicycle, by Geoff Hudspith. The inventor described his creation as, “the engine is a horizontal single-cylinder, double-acting one of my own design. The bore is 1-3/8” and the stroke is 1-1/4”, giving about ¼-hp, depending on the pressure of the steam.” I suspect this doesn’t have the Big Four quaking in their alternative-powered boots, but Harley might have a competitor creeping up its tailpipe.

History freaks might note that steam motorcycles are in all of our backgrounds, since the Michaux-Perreaux steam bicycle is credited as “the first motorcycle.” The French-designed velocipede appeared in 1868.

Check Your Tires
The gentle folks at Dunlop remind us that the beginning of riding season coincides with critical tire inspections. Mike Manning, Dunlop Motorcycle Tires Product Manager, provided the following advice:

“Begin your springtime inspection by checking the tire sidewalls for signs of cracking, indicators that it could be time for replacements. Never apply tire sidewall treatments or dressings, which can actually accelerate tire cracking. Even if your tires look okay, this may be a great time to replace them.

“For showery springtime riding, it’s especially important to be aware that worn tires decrease the ability to dissipate water. Worn tires also decrease handling and become more susceptible to punctures, so always replace worn tires before they reach the tread-depth indicators (1/32 of an inch) inside the tread grooves. Be sure to check several points around the tire, including the center tread, as this portion of the tire is especially vital for water evacuation.
“Summer brings heat, and with it elevated road temperatures. Heat is the enemy of tires, so in the heat of summer it is especially important to check tire pressures frequently to ensure proper inflation. Underinflated tires generate additional heat by flexing more than they should, while a properly inflated tire runs cooler.”

Dunlop added the following tips:

Before setting out, especially on long rides, be sure to check your motorcycle’s load limit in the owner’s manual against the total weight of rider and passenger with riding gear, plus all cargo. Exceeding that limit could lead to sudden tire failure and can seriously compromise your safety.

Maintaining the correct air pressures is crucial to the tires’ rolling efficiency, steering, grip, wear and load-carrying capabilities

For every 4-psi a tire is underinflated, you lose 80 pounds of load-carrying capacity. Remember, the air in your tires helps carry all of the load including your motorcycle, you, your passenger and all your cargo, so check cold air pressures as often as possible with a high-quality air-pressure gauge, and have it calibrated at least once a year. Checking tire pressures is the most important tire maintenance function you can perform.

Auto Check-In
For those of you who wander into the wilderness, leaving behind folks who worry about you, Google Latitude may be the solution to having to check-in. Latitude is a phone app that works with Android, iPhone, Blackberry, Nokia, Windows Mobile, and other smart phones. According to Google’s information page, “Google Latitude is a location-aware mobile app developed by Google. Latitude allows a mobile phone user to allow certain people to view their current location. Via their own Google Account, the user’s cell phone location is mapped on Google Maps. The user can control the accuracy and details of what each of the other users can see an exact location can be allowed, or it can be limited to identifying the city only.” Keep your marriage intact without having to actually talk to your spouse. What could be better than that?

SWIGZ: The Fastest E-Bike in the World
On April 10, the Pro Racing Electric Superbike set the bar for the “world’s fastest electric motorcycle” at 190.6 mph. The previous records were near 170 mph, so SWIGZ kicked the pace up to a new level. The 240 horsepower electric superbike received an additional booster battery pack of six lithium-ion polymer cells that pushed the supply capacity beyond 500A.

Team owner Chip Yates was unsatisfied with the under-200mph result, “All our models of the bike’s performance as well as the data collected from today’s runs put our top speed on a one-mile course at over 200 mph, but unfortunately I was unable to go full throttle for the whole one-mile run due to a high speed buffeting that caused some weaving of the bike similar to what slowed us a bit at Auto Club Speedway in January and February,” explained Yates. “We made some aerodynamic changes to improve the buffeting but then suffered failures of both our main charger, and our backup battery charger due to high voltage spikes coming from a rented generator we were using in our pits. With no way to recharge our batteries, I was only able to make two runs. I’m disappointed about not reaching 200 mph today, but I know we can do it next time out and for now, I have to be happy with establishing our superbike as the fastest electric motorcycle in the world.”

Motorcycle Legislation Watch
Massachusetts House Bill 2179 would increase the penalties for vehicle operators who violate the right-of-way of another roadway user, resulting in serious bodily injury or death. Violators pleading or found guilty of a covered offense would be financially responsible to that injured person or persons, or their estate, for out of pocket medical or funeral expenses and actual lost wages in excess of what might otherwise be covered by the injured person’s liability insurance. They would also be responsible to the injured person’s insurers who may be obligated to pay such medical expenses. Massachusetts House Bill 895 would prohibit a city or town from adopting an ordinance, by-law or rule or regulation banning the use of motorcycles on any public way.

Michigan Senate Bill 291 would permit adult motorcycle operators and passengers who have held a motorcycle endorsement for at least two years or who have completed a motorcycle safety course approved by the state to make their own decision regarding motorcycle helmet use.

North Carolina House Bill 381 would prevent law enforcement agencies from establishing patterns for vehicle stops at checking stations based on a particular type of vehicle.

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) has introduced language that would exempt youth off-highway vehicles (OHVs) from the lead law that effectively bans the machines at the end of 2011.

Minnesota Senate Bill S.F. No. 1041 and house Bill HF1283 were introduced, hopefully, to ease the restrictions on licensing motorcycles intended for off-road use only. MMM suggests you write your legislator if you support this bill.

TT3D: Closer to the Edge
Watch for the new Isle of Man TT documentary, TT3D: Closer to the Edge, coming to our local theaters on April 22. The film follows the “People’s Champion”, Guy Martin, 15-time winner John McGuinness, “local boy” Conor Cummins, and up-and-coming phenom Ian Hutchinson in the chase for the 2010 Isle of Man trophy. It’s Faster all over again, with technological kick in the pants from filmmaker Richard De Aragues. This time, it’s in 3-freakin’-D. Check out the trailer, then call your local theater and threaten to boycott them forever if they don’t show it.

NHTSA June Motorcycle Recalls
E-Ton 1999-2010 50cc and 150cc, Beamer I, Beamer II, beamer III, and model year 2007-2010 50cc and 150cc Matrix motorcycles: The engine on/off switch should be located on the right side handlebar. The high/low beam light switch should be located on the left handlebar. These switch locations are reversed on the models listed above. The vehicles, therefore, fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 213, “Motorcycle Controls and Displays.”


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