Mongol Motorcycle Gang Member Found Guilty of Killing Hells Angels SF Chaper President

A member of the Mongols motorcycle gang was found guilty and could face life in prison for murdering the San Francisco chapter president of the Hells Angels.

Christopher Bryan Ablett, also known as “Stoney,” was convicted this week of multiple felonies which include murder in the aid of racketeering, by a federal jury in San Francisco.

A member of the Modesto chapter of the Mongols, Ablett had been charged with the gang-related murder of Mark “Papa” Guardado back on Sept. 2, 2008, during a scuffle in the San Francisco Mission district.

Witnesses said a fight broke out between the bikers during which Ablett stabbed Guardado four times – and then shot him twice.

According to Ablett’s testimony, the killing was done in self-defense, but jurors were not convinced and found the killing came as a result of Ablett’s desire to enhance his status with the Mongols.

Ablett is set to face sentencing on May 15 of this year.

VIDEO:Mark “Papa” Guardado’s family and friends talk about who he was and footage from the Hells Angel procession. Guardado’s family and friends asked that their faces not be shown.


Ariel Leader Bike Find of the Day

The Ariel Leader was an attempt by the British motorcycle manufacturer to take on the popularity of the Lambretta.

Ariel hoped that they could make a bike reminiscent of a scooter but which featured “motorcycle” performance characteristics.

The Leader was designed by Val Page and Bernard Knight, and for the times, it represented a new concept with its 250cc two-stroke engine. That mill was  suspended in a 20 gauge steel ‘backbone’ frame made from pressings and welded down the middle.

While the Leader’s 250cc motor wasn’t considerably more powerful than the scooters it was trying to compete against, it did take over a significant share of the market segment during the early 60′s. When the streamlined bodywork proved somewhat less than appealing to buyers, Ariel introduced the  Arrow, a stripped down version of the Leader which lopped 50cc of the displacement of the original powerplant to make production costs lower and make the line more affordable.

Ariel went under in 1965, and they were the first of the British motorcycle manufacturing dynasties to bite the dust in the face of competition from Japanese makers.

  • Production – 1958-1965
  • Engine – parallel twin, two-stroke
  • Bore and Stroke – 54 x 54 mm
  • Capacity – 249cc
  • Power – 17.5bhp @ 6750rpm
  • Top Speed – 73mph

When the Leader appeared during the 1958 model year, it offered an integral fairing and windscreen and a false petrol tank which doubled as a luggage compartment. It also included decorative extras like integrated saddle bags, but that didn’t prevent buyers of traditional motorcycles from disliking the machine’s art-deco styling cues.

One major problem, production costs were too high for the market at the time which led to the stripped-down conformations of the Arrow, a line which was launched in 1960.

Ariel’s switched over their entire production effort to manufacturing the Arrow, and production of those machines reached more than 1000 a month at the peak. Riders of the Arrow quickly set to work tuning the lightweight bikes and those efforts upped the power of the Arrows.

ariel leader
ariel leader
ariel leader ad
The  leader  at  Packwood  House



Collector Motorcycle Insurance Tips

Insuring your collectible or vintage motorcycle

As for insurance for your collectible motorcycle? You should be able to get Agreed Value coverage on a classic 1959 BSA Gold Star Catalina valued at $15,000 for somewhere around $25 a month, and that gives you the whole shooting match of coverage.

You can spend a lot less, but if you plan to ride the bikes in your collection, the above pricing is a reasonable approximation of what you can expect to pay.

Harley Davidson To Bring On Non-Union Workers in April

Harley-Davidson Inc says it’s on the verge of adding non-unionized contract workers at facilities in Wisconsin due to new labor contracts that take effect in April, and the Milwaukee motorcycle maker revealed in a federal filing on Thursday that it expects to have 325 fewer unionized full-time employees in Wisconsin as of April.

The changes will come as a result of amendments made to the previous contract in had with unions and will open up opportunities for The Motor Company to use “flexible,” or contract employees who are not subject to the terms of a union agreement.

Harley-Davidson offered voluntary layoffs to unionized employees in an effort to trim the Milwaukee-area hourly workforce at the company by some 25 percent, but the company is not disclosing whether the program resulted in any takers.

The company says the move toward “a more flexible workforce” is part of a plan to transition “production costs to a more variable model.” Harley-Davidson’s global workforce numbers declined by about 300 workers in 2011 when compared with 2010 figures. According to Maripat Blankenheim, a company spokesperson, that decline in workers was due to a variety of factors. She added that the contract workers will be employed at plants for a variety of reasons which might include fill-ins in for absent workers or helping the company meet seasonal swings in demand due to the need for increased production.

What will the move save the company?

H-D said they expect to save $50 million annually beginning in 2013 due to contract changes with the Wisconsin workers. The workers set for “downsizing” are represented by the United Steelworkers and International Association of Machinists and Aerospace workers.

You Got Problems When Your Motorcycle Is Laying Down

There are a whole raft of ways you can find yourself next to a motorcycle laying on the ground, and most of them are just plain bad news. So what do you do about it?

One thing’s for sure, you don’t have to be an Olympic weightlifter to make it happen you just have to dig the words of the immortal Archimedes, to whit, “Give me a place to stand, and a lever long enough, and I will move the world.”

Powerful stuff, and you should take it to heart when faced with a downed motorcycle. It’s not about how much force is required to lift your 600-plus-pound machine, it’s about how the power you have available is applied.

We put together this list of possible calamities for your dining and dancing pleasure, and here’s hoping none of them ever befall you and your precious machine…

  1. Putting your foot into a hole when stopping.
  2. Putting your foot down on something slippery when stopping.
  3. Locking the front wheel during enthusiastic braking.
  4. Missing your driveway and sliding on the grass.
  5. Not putting the kickstand down when getting off.
  6.  Make a turn from a standstill in gravel or sand and applying a touch too much throttle.
  7. Not putting a board under the kickstand on asphalt on a hot day.
  8. Letting non-riders sit on your bike.
  9. Forgetting the bike’s in gear when you jump down on the kickstarter.
  10. Revving the engine, releasing clutch, and putting your feet on the pegs when the light turns green – but not noticing your bike’s in neutral.
  11. Losing your balance when putting your bike on the centerstand.
  12. Ignoring the sand that builds up in the spring along the side of the road
  13. Booting down your kickstand and having it bounce back up instead of staying down.
  14. Stepping off your bike while it’s running and forgetting that it’s in gear.
  15. Having a passenger catch a foot on a saddlebag while getting on the bike before you.
  16. Getting your bootlace caught on the gearshift while trying to kick down the stand
  17. Pissed off for dropping your bike in the first place, you yank off the ground with a flourish, but flip it over on the other side.
  18. Riding on wet grass with street tires
  19. Kick stand slowly burys itself in hot asphalt while you sit inside drinking cool beer.
  20. Kick stand slowly burys itself in soft ground as you walk away.
  21. Backing your bike down a plank from the bed of a pickup truck. Words of advice? Once you start down, there’s no stopping.
  22. Park facing downhill – and don’t leave the bike in gear.
  23. Park with sidestand facing up hill only to discover that the kickstand is just a little too long.
  24. Riding a short distances side-saddle – never recommended.
  25. Reach down to pick up C-note off the ground.
  26. Put ArmorAll on your tires to make them look sweet.

10 Steps for Picking Up a Downed Motorcycle

1. Hit the kill switch. Make sure the motor is off.

2. Turn the gas off using the petcock on a carburated bike if fuel is leaking.

3. Make sure the bike is in gear if you can get to it. If it is not in gear and you can’t access the shifter to put it in gear, the technique becomes more difficult because the bike could roll, but it can still be done. You’ll have to have find the balance point of the motorcycle between the two tires and leverage it as you lift.

4. Standing with your butt toward the seat, stoop down, and with your right hand grab the left grip.

5. When you grab the grip, pull it until it is as close to the tank as possible. With your left hand find something sturdy to grab hold of under the seat. Don’t grab the seat. It’s too flimsy to support the weight of your lift. Grabbing the bike by the frame is the best bet. The closer your left hand is to your body, the better.

6. Place your butt midway on the edge of the seat. This is crucial. The placement of your butt too high or too low on the seat will not give you the leverage angle. You are pushing the bike with your butt and upper legs. You will have to pull up with your arms a bit, but mostly you will be pushing the bike up with your legs.

7. You must have good traction under your feet or they will slip. If there is gravel under your feet, sweep it away with your boots. Same for grass.

8. Start pushing your butt against the seat using baby steps to force it upright. The hardest part will be the beginning. Once the bike starts to lift off the ground, you’ll gain momentum to help you execute the rest of the lift.

9. Once you have the bike up, carefully put the kickstand down and lower the bike to it. If you can’t get the kickstand with the heel of your boot, turn your body carefully toward the front of the bike and grab both grips, then put the bike on the kickstand or center stand.

10. The process is the same if the bike is on its right side. Your hands are reversed of course. It is easier to get it into gear. Remember to put the kickstand out first so that you can ease the bike onto it once it is upright.


Additional Motorcycle Insurance Coverage You Should Consider

 Whether you ride a sport bike or an American cruiser, your insurance needs can get complicated.

We’re here to help you find the right motorcycle insurance, whatever you ride…

Tips for buying your motorcycle insurance, coverage you need:

  • Collision to pay for damage caused to your vehicle in an accident with another vehicle or any stationary object.
  • Comprehensive to cover such things as fire, hail, wind, vandalism, hitting an animal, etc.
  • Towing / Pickup
  • Medical payment or personal injury protection to cover the medical bills resulting from an accident.
  • Uninsured or underinsured motorist to protect us when the other driver is at-fault and does not have coverage or assets out of which your bills can be paid.

Win A Free Motorcycle Trailer And Get Your Bikes From Here to There

I can already feel it; winter is on the way out and it’s nearly time to think about riding and traveling with your stable of motorcycles.

If you’re a dirt biker, you need to get your machines out to the wild. A custom builder? You’ll need to make sure those beautiful creations get to all the shows this season clean and ready to display.

To that end, we’re hipping you to a contest like no other – a contest where you have a chance to win a super-deluxo enclosed motorcycle trailer worth a whopping six-grand. is launching its 2012 Pro-Line Trailer Giveaway, and you can thank for giving you the inside skinny on how to win.

Raceway Media’s, a free online classified ads site for powersports machines, is giving away a 7 x 14’ Bullet V-Nose Pro-Line trailer worth over $6,000. So what do you have to do? Be 18 years or older, enter the sweepstakes by submitting an entry on and be possessed of The Luck of the Irish.

Mail-in entries are also welcome; instructions are available at

The 7 x 14’ Pro-Line trailer in question features 3/8-inch plywood walls, 3/4-inch heavy-duty plywood floors with vinyl covering, a side door and a heavy-duty rear loading ramp door. Add to that the E-Z lube axles, a dome light and roof vent and you have yourself the Cadillac of trailers, my friend.

“We’re really excited to be offering up an excellent ProLine enclosed trailer again this year,” said SprocketList President Joe Tripp. “This thing is packed with high-end features and is capable of hauling all your toys.”

The guys at offer free online classified ads dedicated to motorcycle, ATV, snowmobile and PWC enthusiasts. On their site, you can search the listings to find the equipment you’re looking for or post a free ad listing your item for sale. is part of the network, and it receives over 70 million page views and 2.8 million site visits per month. You can also see their online classifieds powering sites like AMA, Cycle News, RacerX, BikerNet and many others…

The 2012 SprocketList Sweepstakes kicks off February 18, 2012 and runs through December 31, 2012, so you’ve got some time to get in your entry. Do it. A sweet trailer would be a mighty nice post-Christmas gift for the motorcycle freak in your life…

Buying Custom Motorcycle Insurance

Custom motorcycles require the correct insurance coverage package to protect what is, after all, a significant investment on your part .

We’re here to help you find the right motorcycle insurance for your custom bike…

Tips for buying motorcycle insurance for your custom:

  • Collision to pay for damage caused to your vehicle in an accident with another vehicle or any stationary object.
  • Comprehensive to cover such things as fire, hail, wind, vandalism, hitting an animal, etc.
  • Towing / Pickup
  • Medical payment or personal injury protection to cover the medical bills resulting from an accident.
  • Uninsured or underinsured motorist to protect us when the other driver is at-fault and does not have coverage or assets out of which your bills can be paid.
  • Additional coverage to replace or repair accessories specific to your bike.

Motorcycle Time Travel With Classified Moto

The Future of Custom Motorcycles?

Indeed…and as an aside, I once rocked the muttonchops back in the day.  I miss them. My wife recently vetoed my desire to grow out my mustache, procure some wax and go for the old-school handlebar look. I was saddened by her lack of aesthetic appreciation, but as I’m determined not to upset the delicate balance of domestic life, I’ll just have to keep rocking the goatee (which has the Good Spousekeeping Seal of Approval) from now until I pass from this mortal coil.

C’est la vie.

At any rate, back to the subject at hand, this goofy ad for last-chance motorcycle and furniture purveyors, Classified Moto out of Old Virginny:

Team Ryland (husband John and wife Betsy), have been making waves building custom motorcycles and custom motorcycle home furnishings, and that’s always struck me as a wild and wonderful combination.

John Ryland takes bikes dropped off by his customers – or bikes or he finds himself – redesigns them,  and then applies his signature look while giving the bike’s guts a mechanical update. He says that while he has a definite preference for the design and engineering elements of customizing motorcycles, most of his time is spent with a wrench in hand.

And those thoroughly stylish and motorcycle-centric home furnishings?

Betsy Ryland, who also works as a jewelry designer, creates the lamps from old motorcycle parts and they’ve become a hit as well and have sold to customers all around the world.

So who’s to thank for this inspired and goofy bit of cinematic self-log-rolling? Adam Ewing did the shootin’, Devin Bousquet cut it all together, Bill Grishaw dropped the needle for the musical accompaniment  and Jeff McManus did his digital deejay thing and mixed it all into the soup.

The awesome French Foreign Legion muttonchops were provided by  actor Patrick Biedrycki and one Kristy Heilenday chipped in the dramatic gesticulation that set the whole thing in motion.

All in all, I give it two thumbs up…


Detroit, Motorcycles and the MC5

Last Friday Michael Davis (the bassist of the seminal band the MC5) died.

One of the most scintillating acts to ever take a Rock’n’Roll stage, the MC5′s Detroit performances in the late 60s are legend and their music became an anthemic soundtrack to bikers, at least in my home state of Michigan.

Their debut album, Kick Out the Jams, was the high-water mark in their career and the sonic standard for loud, fast and anarchic music of the kind which attracted the biker set of the time. The MC5′s pre-punk stance and radical politics provided a spark to the fire of the most turbulent years in our nation’s history, and the MC5 played loud and long during a real American revolution.

What did they get for their troubles? A horrible review from famous rock critic Lester Bangs, a string of broken contracts, harassment from the authorities and censorship and attempts to suppress their musical output.

The legend, and the music, has lived on and you can hear the band’s influence in punk, in heavy metal and grunge made throughout the last forty years.

Their place in rock history – and their place in American history – is both a story of redemption and a cautionary tale.

Theirs is a story of bikers, fast motorcycles, dragstrips and riots. They hung with the Panthers and got busted for pot. They were continually monitored by the FBI. They were five genuine American originals.

Former MC5 bassist, Davis, began a slow slide into oblivion after a motorcycle accident on Monday, May 8, 2006 when he was hospitalized with a laundry list of injuries – but he ultimately recovered. Davis had been riding his Harley Davidson on a Los Angeles freeway when he was unable to avoid a muffler which dropped from a vehicle into his path. He was wearing his helmet and leather jacket at the time but  still suffered a fractured spine, bruised ribs, and road rash.

This week, the motorcycle and music community lost one of their own, and that’s the way of the world…RIP


A Historical Timeline of the Harley Davidson Motor Company

  1. 1901 William S. Harley, at age 21, finishes a blueprint for an engine designed to fit a bicycle.
  2. 1903 Harley and Arthur Davidson build the first production Harley-Davidson motorcycle in 1903. It features a a 116cc engine working from a 10 x 15-foot shed on Chestnut Street in Milwaukee. That’s still the address of Harley-Davidson’s corporate office.
  3. 1904 C.H. Lang of Chicago, the very first Harley-Davidson dealer, opens for business.
  4. 1906 The Motor Company builds a new 28 by 80-foot factory at the Chestnut Street location and the company grows to six employees. The nickname “Silent Gray Fellow” is applied to an early machine as a reference to the fact that the bikes were painted dove gray, and that they were quietly reliable.
  5. 1907 William A. Davidson joins and Harley-Davidson Motor Company is incorporated. The first stock offering is shared by the Harley and Davidson brothers.
  6. 1908 Walter Davidson scores a perfect 1,000 points at the 7th Annual Federation of American Motorcyclists Endurance and Reliability Contest. Wowed by that demonstration, the City of Detroit becomes the first to buy a H-D motorcycle for its police force.
  7. 1909 Harley makes its first V-Twin. which features a displacement of almost 50 cubic inches and produces a total of seven horsepower.
  8. 1910 The now-famous ‘Bar & Shield’ logo is created in 1910 and trademarked a year later.
  9. 1911 The F-head single-cylinder engine is made and remains in service until 1929. The inlet-over-exhaust design with overhead intake valve and a “side” exhaust valve proves reliable and popular.
  10. 1912 Harley-Davidson exports its first motorcycles to Japan. Construction begins on a six-story headquarters in Milwaukee, a Parts and Accessories Department is opened and the company boasts more than 200 dealers across the United States.
  11. 1913 Bill Harley creates a race department to handle the needs of competitors and builders.
  12. 1914 The first sidecars designed specifically for H-Ds are manufactured and Harley-Davidson becomes one of the last motorcycle manufacturers to switch from leather drive belts to chain drives.
  13. 1915 H-D motorcycles upgrade their transmission systems and now feature three-speed, sliding-gear transmissions with a final and primary drive on the same side of the bike.
  14. 1917 Fully one-third of the company’s production is purchased by the Army, and to train Army mechanics the company starts the Quartermasters School. It would later become the Service School and used to provide factory-trained mechanics to dealerships.
  15. 1918 Nearly half of all H-D motorcycles manufactured are sold to the U.S. military in World War I. Corporal Roy Holtz becomes the first American soldier to enter Germany and he does it riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
  16. 1919 The 37-ci Sport model is created with its horizontally-opposed, fore-and-aft V-Twin.
  17. 1920 H-D boasts reaches the 2,000 dealer mark in 67 countries and is the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world. The factory racing team, “The Wrecking Crew,” takes a small pig as a mascot and the Harley is nicknamed a “hog” as a result.
  18. 1925 The teardrop gas tank replaces previous flat-topped versions and Joe Petrali becomes one of the first salaried “factory racers” in the world.
  19. 1928 The first twin-cam engine is created for the JD series motorcycles which makes the bikes capable of a top speed between 85 and 100 mph. A front brake is offered for the first time.
  20. 1929 The D model, with its rugged 45-cubic-inch flathead V-Twin engine, is introduced and will be sold in various configurations for the next 40 years. As the Great Depression looms, the company sells 21,000 motorcycles in 1929.
  21. 1932 The three-wheeled Servi-car starts a run of more than 4o years as the most popular utility motorcycle in history. Joe Petrali strings together five straight national championships on the dirt track and four straight hill-climb titles to dominate motorcycle racing like no one since.
  22. 1933 The Motor Company sells only 4,000 motorcycles as the Depression grinds on.
  23. 1935 The company begins to license production of its motorcycles in Japan, and the Sankyo Seiyakyo Corporation purchases tooling and starts producing Harleys. These bikes are sold as Rikuo, which translates to “King of the Road.”
  24. 1936 Harley introduces the EL, an overhead valve, 61-cubic-inch bike which earns the nickname of ‘Knucklehead’ due to the shape of its distinctive rocker-boxes. H-D also introduces an 80-cubic-inch side-valve engine.
  25. 1937 Joe Petrali sets a land-speed record of just over 136 mph on a machine powered by a streamlined Knucklehead. The first WL models are manufactured. William A. Davidson dies two days after signing an agreement which makes the company a union shop.
  26. 1938 Ben Campanale wins the Daytona 200 on a 45 cubic-inch WLDR in a race run on a 3.2-mile beach course. The Jackpine Gypsies hold the first Black Hills rally in Sturgis and that event goes on to become the most well-known annual gathering of motorcyclists in the world.
  27. 1941 United States enters World War II and the production of civilian motorcycles comes nearly to a halt.
  28. 1942 When U.S. soldiers who capture Wehrmacht motorcycles in North Africa find that the BMWs and Zundapps with their “boxer” engines are better suited to tough military duty. Harley-Davidson and Indian introduce machines with shaft drives and flat-twin motors styled after the German bikes. Walter Davidson dies.
  29. 1943 William S. Harley dies.
  30. 1945 By the end of WWII (1941-45) the company had produced almost 90,000 WLA models for military use.
  31. 1948 The company’s 61 and 74 c.i. OHV engines are updated to use aluminum heads and hydraulic valve lifters, one-piece rocker covers which resemble cake pans, and that look earns the new motor the nickname ‘Panhead.’ The Allies grab up German patents as war reparations and the small two-stroke motors built by DKW are copied by Harley-Davidson and used in the bike which will come to be known as the ‘Hummer.’
  32. 1949 Hydraulic front forks are introduced on the new Hydra-Glides.
  33. 1950 Arthur Davidson dies.
  34. 1952 Harley-Davidson creates the 45 c.i. side-valve K model to compete with the increasingly popular – and much faster – British-made twins of the time.
  35. 1953 Indian Motorcycles spirals into oblivion and leaves the field open to H-D as the only serious motorcycle manufacturer in the U.S. for the rest of the century. To compete on the race track with the British 500 cc machines dominating dirt track and road course races, the H-D racing department creates the KR from the 750cc, flat-head WR.
  36. 1955 The KR takes seven consecutive Daytona 200 wins.
  37. 1957 The Motor Company introduces the Sportster, a larger-displacement version of the K motor fitted with an OHV head. The 55 c.i. machine rivals all of the English bikes for performance and only falls shorts of the British Vincents for pure performance.
  38. 1958 The Duo-Glide comes out with hydraulic rear suspension.
  39. 1960 Harley-Davidson buys a half-interest in the Italian company Aermacchi.
  40. 1961 The Harley-Davidson Sprint becomes the first Aermacchi-created design to reach American showrooms . Short-track racers snap them up for their low center of gravity and light weight.
  41. 1964 The Servi-Car becomes the first Harley to come with an electric starter.
  42. 1965 The Duo-Glide also gets an electric starter and becomes, by virtue of that addition, the Electra-Glide.
  43. 1966 Harley updates the old Panhead motor in the quest for more power and the new engine’s rocker boxes, which some think resemble coal shovels, earn the new design the nickname “Shovelhead.” The Shovelhead motor stays in production relatively unchanged for 20 years.
  44. 1969 The introduction of the Honda CB750 Four – and the brutal competition it offers to American buyers – leads to the sale of the company to the American Machine and Foundry Company. AMF, a maker of bowling balls and bowling equipment, is crushed by the fast, sophisticated and affordable Honda. AMF management presides over a nosedive in the quality of Harleys and the “pre-AMF” tag becomes the standard by which buyers select their used H-Ds .
  45. 1970 The XR-750 is introduced to take on the Japanese competition at the track and features a motor based on a destroked Sportster powerplant. None of the H-D factory entries finish higher than fifth in that year’s Daytona 200.
  46. 1971 the FX 1200 Super Glide (using the front end of the XL series and frames and motors from the FL series) becomes the first “cruiser” motorcycle.
  47. 1973 Harley opens a new assembly plant in York, PA.
  48. 1977 One AMF-era bike, the 1977 XLCR, stands the test of time. That bike was the second major project for Willie G. Davidson,  grandson of one of the founders, but it was roundly panned by Harley customers back in 1977. A miniscule 3,100 were sold and the model was dropped from the line after a year, but you could still buy a new one off the showroom floor well into the 1980s. The FXS Low Rider is introduced.
  49. 1979 The FXEF “Fat Bob” is called “fat” because of its dual gas tanks, and “bob” for its bobbed fenders.
  50. 1980 The FLT is introduced with rubber-isolated drivetrain and an engine and five-speed transmission which are hard bolted together to reduce vibration. A Kevlar belt replaces the chain as the final drive on some H-D models. The FXWB Wide Glide is also introduced.
  51. 1981 AMF mismanagement leads Harley-Davidson to the brink of extinction as customer abandon the sinking ship and profits tumble. A group of H-D executives offers to buy the company for $75 million and AMF, knowing they were in over their heads, signs off on the deal. What follows is nothing less than a startling corporate turnaround as the new owners focus on product development modern quality control standards.
  52. 1982 The FXR/FXRS Super Glide II are released , and those models feature a rubber-isolated, five-speed powertrain which is a huge improvement over previous setups. H-D adopts just-in-time inventory systems which ultimately lowers costs and improves quality.
  53. 1983 Harley battles with the International Trade Commission and manages to get a tariff applied to the purchase of Japanese motorcycles of  more than 700 cc in displacement. The Japanese motorcycle manufacturers are forced reconfigure their motors to under 700cc for the U.S. market to avoid the tax.
  54. 1984 The 1340cc V2 Evolution engine is installed in five models, and though development of that powerplant began in the AMF era, build quality is far superior to the AMF versions  – and oil-tight. The Softail comes along and features a concealed rear suspension while managing to look like the rigid-chassis hogs of the glory days, and buyers love the change.
  55. 1987 H-D institutes an Initial Public Offering and the company’s stock is traded on the NYSE for the first time. Ticker symbol? HOG. H-D, confident that they can now compete,  petitions the ITC to kill the tariff on imported motorcycles and  that move is a sign to Japanese companies that make V-Twin cruisers that the game was on.
  56. 1988 The classic Springer front end returns on the FXSTS Springer Softail.
  57. 1990 The Motor Company introduces the FLSTF Fat Boy.
  58. 1991 The first model in the Dyna line, the FXDB Dyna Glide Sturgis, hits the market.
  59. 1992 Harley-Davidson replaces chains with drive belts on all their major model lines as drive belts provide a smoother ride than chains, last longer, and eliminate chain lubrication and adjustment hassles.
  60. 1993 H-D purchases a minority interest in Erik Buell’s Buell Motorcycle Company.
  61. 1995 Harley-Davidson models are equipped with fuel injection systems for the first time.
  62. 1997 The company opens a new 217,000 sq. ft. design center in Milwaukee and FL engine production moves to a newly purchased plant in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. A new plant in Kansas City, a big one at 330,000 sq. ft., takes over the production of the Sportster line.
  63. 1998 H-D opens its first factory overseas in Manaus, Brazil, and acquires all remaining shares of Buell.
  64. 1999 The Touring and Dyna lines are rolled out and they feature the new Twin Cam 88 motor.
  65. 2000 The characteristic sound of a Harley motor becomes the subject of a long and costly legal fight, but H-D ultimately drops its U.S. Patent Office application. A public relations nightmare, the suits are quietly settled and the company moves on to more pressing business.
  66. 2001 The VRSCA V-Rod, featuring a motor designed with input from Porsche, features fuel injection, overhead cams, and liquid cooling.
  67. 2003 Some 250,000 people descend on Milwaukee to celebrate The Motor Company’s 100th anniversary.
  68. 2006 The 2006 Dyna motorcycles are offered with a six-speed transmission and the company announces the opening of its new museum in Milwaukee to be completed in 2008.
  69. 2007 Harley upgrades the Big Twin motor  to 96 cubic inches and adds the six-speed transmission from the Dyna line to all models.
  70. 2008 The Motor Company opens the new museum in time for Harley’s 105th anniversary. It also buys MV Agusta for $109 million in the hope of putting MV’s European distribution channels to use.
  71. 2009 Keith Wandell becomes the first person in nearly 30 years to become CEO of Harley-Davidson without previous connections to The Motor Company. The US economic recession forces Harley-Davidson to discontinue the Buell line and put MV Agusta up for sale. Profits dropped 84 percent over the previous year.
  72. 2011 Harley regains the confidence of investors after painful labor and manufacturing changes are made to the company’s processes and sales make a comeback
  73. 2012 New models aimed at recapturing younger buyers like the “48″ and “72″ attract the attention of buyers looking for old school styling and modern engineering.

Related posts:

  1. Harley-Davidson Q2 2011 Results Suggest The Company Ain’t Dead Yet
  2. The Silent Grey Fellow – Bike Find of the Day – 1912 Harley-Davidson Model B Silent Grey Fellow
  3. Bike Find of the Day – 1936 Harley-Davidson EL Knucklehead

This Is Your Brain on a Motorcycle

Riding a motorcycle every day might actually keep your brain functioning at peak condition, or so says a study conducted by the University of Tokyo. The study demonstrated that riders between the age of 40 and 50 were shown to improve their levels of cognitive functioning, compared to a control group, after riding their motorcycles  daily to their workplace for a mere two months.

Scientists believe that the extra concentration needed to successfully operate a motorcycle can contribute to higher general levels of brain function, and it’s that increase in activity that’s surely a contributing factor to the appeal of the motorcycles as transportation. It’s the way a ride on a bike turns the simplest journey into a challenge to the senses that sets the motorcyclist apart from the everyday commuter. While the typical car-owning motorist is just transporting him or her self from point A to point B, the motorcyclist is actually transported into an entirely different state of consciousness .

Riding a motorcycle is all about entrance into an exclusive club where the journey actually is the destination.

Dr Ryuta Kawashima, author of Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training: How Old Is Your Brain, reported the outcome of his study of “The relationship between motorcycle riding and the human mind.”

Kawashima’s experiments involved current riders who currently rode motorcycles on a regular basis (the average age of the riders was 45) and  ex-riders who once rode regularly but had not taken a ride for 10 years or more. Kawashima asked the participants to ride on courses in different conditions while he recorded their brain activities. The eight courses included a series of curves, poor road conditions, steep hills, hair-pin turns and a variety of other challenges.

What did he find? After an analysis of the data, Kawashima found that the current riders and ex-riders used their brain in radically different ways. When the current riders rode motorcycles, specific segments of their brains (the right hemisphere of the prefrontal lobe) was activated and riders demonstrated a higher level of concentration.

His next experiment was a test of how making a habit of riding a motorcycle affects the brain.

Trial subjects were otherwise healthy people who had not ridden for 10 years or more. Over the course of a couple of months, those riders used a  motorcycle for their daily commute and in other everyday situations while Dr Kawashima and his team studied how their brains and mental health changed.

The upshot was that the use of motorcycles in everyday life improved cognitive faculties, particularly those that relate to memory and spatial reasoning capacity. An added benefit? Participants revealed on questionnaires they filled out at the end of the study that their stress levels had been reduced and their mental state changed for the better.

So why motorcycles? Shouldn’t driving a car should have the same effect as riding a motorcycle?

“There were many studies done on driving cars in the past,” Kawashima said. “A car is a comfortable machine which does not activate our brains. It only happens when going across a railway crossing or when a person jumps in front of us. By using motorcycles more in our life, we can have positive effects on our brains and minds”.

Yamaha participated in a second joint research project on the subject of the relationship between motorcycle riding and brain stimulation with Kawashima Laboratory at the Department of Functional Brain Imaging, Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer at Tohoku University.

The project began in September 2009 and ran until December 2010, and the focus of the research was on measurement and analysis of the cause and effect relationship involved in the operation of various types of vehicles and brain stimulation. The study measured changes in such stimulation over time by means of data gathered from a long-term mass survey.

The reason for Yamaha Motor’s participation in this project is pretty obvious and not a little self-serving, but further research into the relationship between motorcycle riding and brain stimulation as it relates to the “Smart Aging Society” will certainly provide some interesting results.

The second research project was divided into two time periods throughout 2009 and 2010 compared differences in the conditions of brain stimulation as they related to the type of vehicle and driving conditions. A second set of tests measuring the changes in brain stimulation over time involved a larger subject group.

Yamaha Motors provided vehicles for the research and made its test tracks and courses available for the study. What the study revealed is that what you’re thinking about while you’re riding – and your experience on the bike -  changes the physical structure of your brain.

Author Sharon Begley concurs with Kawashima’s findings. In her tome, Train Your Mind – Change Your Brain, Begley found much the same outcomes.

“The brain devotes more cortical real estate to functions that its owner uses more frequently and shrinks the space devoted to activities rarely performed,” Begley wrote. “That’s why the brains of violinists devote more space to the region that controls the digits of the fingering hand.”

And you may also get some mental and physical benefits from just thinking about going for a ride on your machine.

A 1996 experiment at Harvard Medical School by neuroscientist Alvaro Pascual-Leone had volunteers practice a simple five finger exercise on the piano over five days for a couple of hours each day. Pascual-Leone found that the brain space devoted to these finger movements grew and pushed aside areas less used.  A separate group of volunteers were asked to simply think about doing the piano exercises during that week as well, and they dedicated the same amount of “practice time.”

Pascual-Leone was somewhat take aback to discover that the region of the brain which controls piano playing finger movement expanded in the same way for volunteers who merely imagined playing the piano.

Along with the obvious benefits of riding motorcycles; like saving money (motorcycle insurance is relatively inexpensive), motorcycles take the edge off the grind of the daily commute, and that appears to make your brain a better place to be…

Buying Your First Bike? The Women’s Guide to Motorcycle Insurance

Whether you ride a sport bike or an American cruiser, your insurance needs can get complicated.
We’re here to help you find the right motorcycle insurance, whatever you ride…

Tips for buying your motorcycle insurance, coverage you need:

  • Medical payment or personal injury protection to cover the medical bills resulting from an accident.
  • Uninsured or underinsured motorist to protect us when the other driver is at-fault and does not have coverage or assets out of which your bills can be paid.
  • Collision insurance to pay for damage caused to your vehicle in an accident with another vehicle or any stationary object.
  • Comprehensive to cover damages cause by such things as fire, hail, wind, vandalism, hitting an animal.
  • Towing / Pickup

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Motorcycle History And Where the Motorcycle Is Headed Next

The motorcycle began from humble stock as the “safety” bicycle, but depending upon whose claim you wish to believe, the first motorbike was built in the late 1800′s either by Daimler (the company which would one day become Mercedes-Benz) or by Sylvester Howard Roper.

If you go for the Roper version of the story, the first real motorcycle was powered, not by a gasoline engine, but by a steam engine. Roper rode his steam-powered bike at demonstrations and races during fairs and circuses in the eastern US in 1867, and though it did generate considerable publicity, it failed to capture the imagination of the buying public. It did, however, include features which anticipated those found on many modern machines. Those lasting innovations include the twist-grip throttle.

If you’re looking for the world’s first really practical, gasoline-driven motorcycle, you’ll find it in the form of the 1885 Daimler Reitwagen.

But it wasn’t until the turn of the century that machines which could correctly be called  “motorcycles” began to appear on the scene. In 1895, a U.S. inventor,  E.J. Pennington, demonstrated his machine in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and claimed it was capable of a top speed of 58 mph. It is Pennington who is ultimately credited with coining the term “motor cycle” to describe such machines.

In 1901 English bicycle maker Royal Enfield introduced the firm’s first motorcycle, and it featured a 239 cc engine mounted in the front which drove the rear wheel via a belt system. By the early  1900′s, English bicycle maker Triumph began the initial work necessary to manufacture motorcycles, and by 1902, the company had produced its first design. Essentially a bicycle fitted with a Belgian-built engine, Triumph sales reached 500.

The Indian Motorcycle Manufacturing Company, founded by two former bicycle racers, designed the so-called “diamond framed” Indian Single in 1901 with an engine was built by Aurora in Illinois from specifications created by Indian. The resulting bike, a single, sold 500 units by 1902 and that output would rise to a high-water mark of 32,000 annually by 1913.

Led by Indian, design experimentation and innovation were moved forward by the wildly popular new sport of motorcycle racing. The demands of the track required the development of tough, fast, reliable machines, and Indian led the way.

1900-1955 Motorcycles As Industrial Output

  • 1902 – Triumph
  • 1903 – Harley-Davidson (Harley-Davidson Motor Company)
  • 1946 – Honda (The Honda Motor Company)
  • 1952 – Suzuki (Suzuki Motor Co.)
  • 1954 – Kawasaki (Kawasaki Heavy Industries)
  • 1955 – Yamaha (Yamaha Motor Corporation)

1945-1985 — The Motorcycle Boom in the US

  • 1945 – 198,000 motorcycles registered
  • 1955 – 450,000 motorcycles registered
  • 1958 – Over 500,000 motorcycles registered
  • 1962 – 646,000 motorcycles registered
  • 1965 – 1.4 million motorcycles registered
  • 1970 – 2.8 million motorcycles registered
  • 1975 – 5 million motorcycles registered
  • 1985 – 5.4 million motorcycles registered
  • 1990 – 3,650,000 million motorcycles registered
  • 1998 – 4,809,000 million motorcycles registered

Watershed Moments in the History of the Motorcycle

  • 1953 – Marlon Brando makes movie The Wild One – the birth of motorcycle cool
  • 1959 – First Japanese motorcycle manufacturer (Yamaha), takes on the U.S. market
  • 1962 – “You meet the nicest people on a Honda” ad campaign converts the masses
  • 1969 – Stock motorcycles run quarter-mile in less than 13 seconds,
  • 1970 – Easy Rider movie released – motorcycle cool redefined
  • 1972 – Motorcycle controls standardized
  • 1973 – Motorcycle Safety Foundation formed
  • 1978 – First time stock motorcycles run quarter-mile under 12 seconds
  • 1980 – First International Motorcycle Safety Conference sponsored by MSF
  • 1980 – Stock motorcycles torch the quarter-mile in less than 11 seconds
  • 1986 - “Superbike” ban proposed and summarily defeated
  • 1986 – First stock motorcycles run quarter-mile in under 10 seconds

1978-1987 – The Fall From Grace – Motorcycle Sales Decline
The original explosion of the motorcycle market coincided with the first baby boom generation.

During the postwar years of 1944-46, veterans returning from World War II were restless and seeking thrills to match their war experience. Motorcycles were the answer, and the most adventurous GIs stripped them down and hit the highways seeking speed and the adrenaline rush they found lacking in postwar America.

But it wasn’t until the 1960′s when the children of those pioneers came of age that motorcycling found its way into the public consciousness. In 1962, the most successful motorcycle ad campaign in history was created by the Honda Motor Company, and the game was on. That campaign, dubbed “You meet the nicest people on a Honda,” managed to push motorcycle sales through the roof. In a scant three-year period,  the number of registered motorcycle doubled in the United States, and five years later, that number had doubled again. After another five year stretch, registrations doubled yet again and the boom was on.

Registrations climbed from 646,000 to 5 million in just over 10 years.

During the early boom years the average motorcycle buyer was young and content with the cheap, small displacement motorcycle offerings of the Japanese. But as roads were expanded across North America, those young riders gained experience and began to lust after larger and more powerful machines. The Japanese manufacturers saw the writing on the wall, and in 1969 , Honda came out with the iconic and perfectly-timed CB750K. At 750cc, it was a “superbike” capable of astonishing speed, comfort and handling, and the release of the CB750 spurred over sales yet again. As other manufacturers followed suit in designing more powerful and comfortable bikes, the 1970′s became the Golden Age of road bikes.

As the decade came to a close the,  motorcycle industry suffered the first of many crushing hits and sales dropped drastically. The kids who had been responsible for the boom were now starting families, settling down and the motorcycle lifestyle just didn’t fit the into the picture. The second boomers stopped buying and motorcycle manufacturers went into panic mode. The bust caught motorcycle manufacturers by surprise and they had no ready answer for the disastrous conditions they suddenly faced.

At the time, the predictions for the entire industry were dire indeed and it looked like the Day the Motorcycle Died had indeed come to pass.

Very Late 1980′s – Back in the Saddle Again
While motorcycle sales were in the trench near the end of the 1980′s compared to just 10 years before, there was actually light at the end of the tunnel. The motorcycle dealerships who managed to weather the drought were in horrible shape, but two mostly-unexpected things occurred; baby boomers came back to motorcycling – and they brought their freshly-minted children with them on the trip.

Whereas they had once sought speed and handling at the expense of comfort, the boomers came back to motorcycling in search of comfort and reliability. Suddenly, what had come to be called cruisers  were in fashion with older riders. Their children, as they had before them, were on the quest for speed and adrenaline the older riders craved back in the day.

Present – Baby Boomers Rediscover the Motorcycle.
The Motorcycle dealerships and manufacturers who survived the down times found themselves once again on the cusp of success and profitability. As it now stands, the number of registered motorcycles is approaching historically high levels and every year sees a new crop of  models offered – and more importantly for the industry – sold. Participation in racing events of all stripe is climbing as well. The rebirth of the Cafe Racer culture, the popularity of sport bikes and the continued dominance of cruisers on the sales charts is a testament to the enduring appeal of the motorcycle.

Read part two…


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