Classic Indian Chief motorcycle ready to roll
The revived brand, already for sale in 16 other states, clears California's tough emissions standards. But it arrives during the worst motorcycle market in decades.
The classic Indian Chief motorcycle, prized for its fanciful fenders and an American heritage different from its much bigger rival, Harley-Davidson, is back and finally ready to roll in California.
First built in 1922 and in and out of production ever since, the Chief has been ridden over the years by actor Steve McQueen and other renegades possessing fame and fortune. Now it has been overhauled for the modern era.
Although motorcycle sales are down nationwide, the Chief is already a sought-after ride in 16 other states where it has been on sale since early this year.
The Chief just hasn't been available on the West Coast. But that's about to change this spring with the 2010 Chief, selling for $26,000 plus. This month the latest incarnation of the 108-year-old Indian brand announced the names of two of its five planned California dealerships -- one in Harbor City and the other in Fresno.
"We know California is going to be a great market for us," said Steve Heese, president of the new Indian Motorcycle in Kings Mountain, N.C.
It's just taking a long time for it to get to California.
Heese said the delay was caused by the state's emission requirements and a lengthy search for the right dealers. California, which accounts for 10% of all U.S. motorcycle sales, has tougher emissions standards than the rest of the country.
For a company to sell motorcycles in the state, California's Air Resources Board must provide an additional emissions certification to the one issued by the Environmental Protection Agency that allows a manufacturer's products to be sold in other states.
Indian secured its California emissions clearance only last week. Heese is confident that the motorcycles will arrive well before the planned April openings of California Harley-Davidson Indian Motorcycle Los Angeles in Harbor City and Indian Motorcycle Fresno, based out of a car dealership, Herwaldt Subaru.
"I can't wait to get these new Indians so I can put them on the lot and buy a new one myself," said Matt Herwaldt, 30, general manager of Indian Motorcycle Fresno. He owns a Harley but is "blown away by the quality, fit and finish of the new Indian. It's the Bentley of motorcycles."
The Fresno dealer plans to have bikes at its showroom this month and will start selling them in April.
Indian was picky in selecting its dealers. From 3,500 inquiries worldwide, it has selected 22 North American dealers, with plans to open about 110 overall. The company said it received more than 30 inquiries from California, where the company plans to open three more dealerships -- one each in Orange County, San Diego and Northern California.
Quality control has been important to the new Indian, which said it has had to work hard to prove it is different from the previous owner of the Indian brand, California Motorcycle Co. in Gilroy. That company operated from 1999 to 2003, when it closed down; the 12,000 motorcycles it produced were known for their myriad problems, most notably an overheating engine, falling-off parts and cheap chrome and paint.
Although there has been a lot of enthusiasm for the new Indian, some buyers are critical. John White of Seattle said he spent $38,000 to buy one of the first Indian Chiefs made in Kings Mountain and had been disappointed. "It's an overpriced bike with many bugs that I hope Indian will work out," White said.
Stephen Julius and Steve Heese purchased the Indian brand in 2004, having had success reviving well-known, but bankrupt, luxury boat brands Chris-Craft and Reva.
Financed in part with venture capital and mostly with their own money, Julius and Heese spent four years learning the brand and the mistakes of its predecessors, building its production plant and developing the new Chief. Although that timing has landed the company in the worst motorcycle market in decades, it's paid off in enthusiast response.
"The Kings Mountain Indian is a very refined machine," said Robert Malachowski, who heads the Southern California chapter of the Iron Indian Riders Assn. A lifelong Indian motorcycle fan, he owns four Gilroy Indians and has had a deposit down on the top-of-the-line Vintage model of the Indian Chief since 2008.
"My only problem with the Kings Mountain machine is that as soon as I get one I know my Gilroy '99 will get pushed farther back in the garage," said Malachowski, a Hollywood producer. "Overall, it's just a more finished motorcycle."
Mark Ruffalo, president of the dealership formerly known as California Harley-Davidson in Harbor City, had the same reaction after seeing the bike for the first time at the Laughlin, Nev., motorcycle rally in April.
Ruffalo said he watched bikers respond favorably to its high-quality paint and leather work, as well as the chromed and entirely overhauled Powerplus 105 engine, at which point he approached the company and asked to be a dealer.
Ruffalo has been a Harley-Davidson dealer since 1976. "Indian fits nicely," he said, because, like Harley-Davidson, it is well-known and will need little marketing. Even so, Ruffalo was careful to get Harley-Davidson's blessing before finalizing the deal with Indian.
Priced at the high end of the motorcycle market, Indian is direct competition for Harley's premium, custom vehicles.
Harley-Davidson Inc. has not commented on its revitalized rival, and the company said its practice was not to comment on its competitors. The Milwaukee company reported Oct. 15 that its worldwide retail sales for the first three quarters of 2009 fell 22.9% from the same period in 2008, while its U.S. market share grew to 54% from 44.5% in the last year.
The company reported net income of $163.6 million in that nine-month period of 2009, down 71.6% from the year-earlier period. It said the income drop partly reflected lower motorcycle shipments and the effect of the economy on its retail and wholesale loan business. As a public company, Harley-Davidson's financial data is released quarterly. Indian is privately held and does not release similar information.
Indian and Harley-Davidson are long-standing combatants, dating to the manufacturers' earliest days. Indian began in Springfield, Mass., in 1901 and endured until 1953, when it went bankrupt and later was revived. Harley-Davidson started in Milwaukee in 1903 and continues today.
"They were such different companies," said Tod Rafferty, an author who has written books about both manufacturers. "Indian was a very engineering-oriented, racing organization. The neat thing about the whole Indian versus Harley-Davidson conflict was that they made each other better over the years."
Whether that will happen again is hard to know, Rafferty said. "It's such a competitive business now with the Germans, Italians and Japanese all building great motorcycles."
(reprinted from the LA Times)
There are some things you can’t buy on Sundays in Indiana: alcohol, cars, and motorcycles. But a local businessman, along with a state senator, are working for change.
There are some things you can’t buy on Sundays in Indiana: alcohol, cars, and motorcycles.
One local Harley Davidson dealer thinks the law against buying motorcycles is ridiculous, and he's teaming up with a state senator to change it.
Mark Forszt owns four Harley stores throughout the state, including one in Valparaiso and one in Michigan City.
He says the law is hurting his business, and that it makes no sense. On Sundays, he's open for business, and he can sell you everything you'd ever need to put a bike together yourself. He just can't actually sell you the bike.
Forszt says he knows his customers, and he knows how they buy.
"Sometimes they love their motorcycle more than they do their family," he said. “If a person walks in here on a Sunday and sees the motorcycle that really turns him on, he wants to buy it,” said Forszt.
Bike sales are down, on average, 27 percent from a year ago at this time at his four stores. Forszt says if he didn't have to put up orange tags on every bike that declare bike sales aren't allowed on Sunday, his overall sales numbers would be up.
“It's a huge loss to the state in terms of sales tax revenue. I'm not saying we would not have lost any sales if we could sell on Sunday, but I’m sure that we wouldn't be down as far as we are,” said Forszt.
Forszt contacted state Senator Ed Charbonneau, framing the issue as a way to help small business. When you add up all the sales tax, it’s also a way to help the state of Indiana, home to some 300 motorcycle dealerships, said Charbonneau.
“If every one of those dealerships sold one motorcycle a Sunday, or even one a month, that's a pretty sizable infusion of cash into the state coffers,” says Senator Charbonneau.
The bill to change the law has been drafted and filed, but until something changes, the Sunday choices in this store will be limited.
It is a class D misdemeanor to sell a motorcycle on Sunday.
What dealers like Forszt complain about is you could sell a bike through a newspaper, CraigsList, or eBay on Sunday, but in a store it's illegal.
Forszt and Senator Charbonneau are optimistic about the bill passing. They're hoping come January 5th, the bill moves through the system without controversy.
(reprinted from WNDU.com)
Anti-noise group raises ruckus over Harley riders
A national group opposed to noise pollution has blasted Harley-Davidson riders who ride loud bikes, saying they're bullies who ruin the quality of life for others and inflict senseless pain on our ears.
Noise Free America also says the Wisconsin Legislature has won its "Noisy Dozen" award for a resolution declaring Harley as the state's official motorcycle.
The resolution, Assembly Bill 596, is scheduled for a committee hearing Thursday at noon. Twenty legislators are sponsors of the bill that would require the Wisconsin Blue Book to list Harley-Davidson as the state's honorary bike.
Noise Free America says the legislation is offensive to its ears.
"Instead of honoring noise terrorism, our representatives should protect us from the awful noise of Harley riders," said George Atwood, a Noise Free America member from Milton.
The group, based in Albany, N.Y., says it has 50 chapters and several thousand members. Two years ago, it gave the Noisy Dozen award to Madison city officials for turning a deaf ear to noise complaints, including loud parties and train horns.
Now the group has turned up the volume on Harley-Davidson riders, rather than motorcyclists in general.
"Harley is more than a motorcycle," Atwood said. "It is a state of mind, an idea, an emotion, a brand cult. Unfortunately, the Harley cult has come to represent disorder and noise."
Atwood says the throaty roar of an unmuffled bike might bug him more than it would some people, but that doesn't excuse offensive, lawless behavior.
"People don't have to look at Harleys, but they can't avoid hearing them," he said.
"The noise stresses people. It ruins the quality of life in our neighborhoods, and it frightens and intimidates people. It leads to hearing loss, higher medical costs, lost productivity and loss of peace of mind," Atwood said.
But judging from the thousands of people who lined the streets to watch Harley-Davidson's 105th anniversary bike parade in 2008, the noise couldn't have been too bad, according to Harley enthusiasts.
And the image of Harley riders as lawless hooligans stems largely from Hollywood movies.
"Wow. I didn't know I was that bad," said Jeff Haig, a retired police chief and member of the Kettle Moraine Harley-Davidson Owners Group.
Haig said the sound of an unmuffled bike offends him, too, and it gives other motorcyclists a bad name.
"There's no question that some people go way over the top," he said. "Personally, I have a set of Screaming Eagle mufflers on my bike that are made by Harley and are a little louder. But they're street legal and have a nice mellow tone. I think most of us are aware of the noise issue and try to find some balance."
Harley-Davidson motorcycles comply with federal and international noise regulations unless the bikes are modified by their owners.
The company has coined phrases such as "throttle down through town" and "thanks for the rumble, not the roar," which encourage bike-rally participants to ride respectfully in residential neighborhoods.
"We are extremely committed to educating riders on the benefits of riding with respect," said Harley spokeswoman Amanda Lee.
Milwaukee police officers use their discretion in ticketing motorcyclists with loud exhaust pipes, according to police spokeswoman Anne Schwartz, who said the number of citations issued was not immediately available.
"We have concentrated our efforts on the loud music violations (Operation Bass Busters), which have generated the most complaints to the MPD and to aldermen regarding noise," she said.
Legislators say they have no remorse about nominating Harley-Davidson as the state's official motorcycle, putting it in the same league as the state song, ballad, dance, beverage, tree, flower, bird, insect and animal.
Harley is one of Wisconsin's largest private employers, and its activities bring thousands of tourists here.
"When I hear loud motorcycle pipes, I think of people having fun and I think of jobs," said State Sen. Jeff Plale (D-South Milwaukee), a resolution sponsor.
Noise Free America's complaints are "ridiculous in the extreme," according to Plale.
"I am proud to accept their Dirty Dozen award, and I look forward to hanging it on my wall," he said.
(reprinted from the Journal Sentinel Online)
Harley Davidson Touring Motorcycle Fuel Tank Mount Recall – Over 111,000 Units Affected
The National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHTSA) has announced a safety recall for 2009 and 2010 Harley-Davidson touring models including CVOs and Trikes. Under certain crash conditions the front gas tank mounts on these models may fail possibly causing the gas tank to rupture thus spilling gas. Left and right side braces need to be added to the frame and tank mounts.
Harley-Davidson is recalling certain model year 2009 and 2010 touring family motorcycles, including CVO touring and trike products, manufactured from June 6, 2008 through November 19, 2009. The front fuel tank mounts may distort in reaction to severe frame damage from a frontal collision. This condition may cause a fuel leak at the weld of the front bracket to the tunnel. A fuel leak in the presence of an ignition source may result in a fire, which could lead to injury or death to the rider.
Dealers will install a left and right brace, which are intended to reduce front mount distortion during certain crash conditions. This repair will be performed free of charge. The safety recall is expected to begin on or about December 14, 2009. Owners may contact their local Harley-Davidson dealer or Harley-Davidson at 414-343-4056.
American Honda Announces Five Additional 2010 Models
American Honda Motor Company's Powersports Division announced today its fourth release of 2010 models. The release of these five on-road machines follows the earlier announcements of Honda's 2010 powersports lineup.
"These five street bikes add even more excitement to our lineup for 2010," said Powersports Press Manager Bill Savino. "Four of these bikes are new V-twins that dramatically expand our line of cruisers. The Sabre, Stateline, Interstate and Shadow RS V-twins unveil new styling and functional variations for Honda buyers, and we're excited about the new opportunities these machines present. The ST1300 continues to extend its reputation for long-haul performance with a sporting flair and it remains a popular choice among riders who live for the open road. This 2010 model year is shaping up very well, with lots of exciting options for Honda fans."
More detailed information and images of Honda's model line can be found on www.powersports.honda.com or see your local Honda powersports dealer.
Sometimes you just want to wear your aggression on your sleeve, and that's why the new Sabre is ready to do your talking for you. The Sabre's muscular pro-street style provides a classic ride, with ergonomics to match. Add an impressive 1300cc V-twin engine complete with Honda's sophisticated Programmed Fuel Injection, and you'll be rolling down the meanest streets with a bike that's as tough as it looks: the 2010 Sabre. Also available with Anti Lock Braking, the Sabre comes in Black and Candy Red. In dealerships-March; ABS model April. MSRP: $11,799.00; ABS model $12,799.00.
Featuring long, low lines that embody what cruising is all about, the Stateline blends two worlds of motorcycling style: traditional looks plus progressive elements. The deeply valanced fenders arc downward in classic retro style, yet the all-new rolling chassis and overall lines bring a fresh look to the class. Add to that the deep throaty rumble of a big V-twin engine with Honda's Programmed Fuel Injection and that classic big V power pulse, and you have a machine that's the perfect choice for cruising-any time you want. The Stateline is available with or without ABS in Black and Candy Dark Red. In dealerships-February; ABS model March. MSRP: $11,699.00; ABS model $12,699.00
When you're aboard one of the coolest rides around, sometimes you just don't want the ride to end. So for those who enjoy their long rides in high style, Honda introduces the new Interstate. Along with good looks and a big V-twin engine with Honda's Programmed Fuel Injection, the stylish hard leather bags offer ample room for a long getaway, with a traditional windscreen and floorboards delivering all-day riding comfort for those extra-long hauls. Available in Black and Pearl Blue. In dealerships-February. MSRP: $12,749.00
Here's rolling proof that classic ideas never go out of style: the 2010 Honda ShadowÂ® RS. This agile and responsive V-twin roadster has clean, crisp lines and a standard riding ergonomics. The Shadow RS's higher pegs enhanced ground clearance, and its thoroughly modern liquid-cooled 745cc V-twin engine with Honda's sophisticated Programmed Fuel Injection adds to the riding pleasure. Savor the open road aboard the Honda Shadow RS. Available in Metallic Gray and Pearl White. In dealerships-March. MSRP: $7,799.00
Long distance adventure is best experienced aboard a machine that's keenly in tune with your riding senses. For years, the Honda ST1300 has answered the call of the open road by setting the standard for power and handling in a package that's the perfect fit for crisscrossing the USA, or just enjoying a long weekend on the road. Equipped with a powerful 1261cc V-4 engine and Honda's sophisticated Programmed Fuel Injection, plus full-coverage bodywork, three-way adjustable rider's seat, motor-driven adjustable windscreen, dual saddlebags and more, the ST1300 remains the choice of dedicated long-haul riders. The ST is available with and without ABS in Black. In dealerships-March. MSRP: TBD
(From a press release issued by American Honda...)
MADISON, Wis. — Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson would become the official Wisconsin motorcycle under a bill proposed in the Legislature.
Milwaukee Democratic Rep. Leon Young says the idea came from a family member of Sgt. Jeremy Vrooman, who was killed last year while serving in Iraq.
Young argues in a letter to his colleagues that the long and storied history of Harley-Davidson in Wisconsin makes it appropriate to honor it with the distinction of being the official state motorcycle.
William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson built the first Harley-Davidson motorcycle in 1903 in Milwaukee. The company was incorporated four years later and remains based in Milwaukee.
Wisconsin doesn't have an official motorcycle, but it does have an official song, insect, dog, dance, and tartan.
Harley-Davidson extends official status; naming rights on Sportsman Motorcycle series
Harley-Davidson Motor Company has extended both its official program with NHRA and its title sponsorship of the NHRA Harley-Davidson Sportsman Motorcycle Series through the 2012 season. Harley-Davidson, the only major U.S.-based manufacturer of motorcycles, became the official motorcycle of NHRA and title sponsor of the popular NHRA Harley-Davidson Sportsman Motorcycle Series in 2006.
“When we first signed this deal three years ago, it was the first of its kind for Harley-Davidson,” said Gary Darcy, senior vice president of sales and marketing, NHRA. “Since that time, Harley-Davidson’s interactive display at NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series events have become a destination attraction for our fans. It allows Harley-Davidson to engage NHRA fans and provide them the opportunity to be a part of the Harley-Davidson experience.”
Harley-Davidson first entered NHRA in 2004 with the Screamin’ Eagle/Vance & Hines team. Since that time, Harley-Davidson and the Screamin’ Eagle/Vance & Hines team have claimed four NHRA Full Throttle world championships, including three consecutive with rider Andrew Hines (2004-‘06) and last season’s title with Eddie Krawiec.
“We’re proud to continue our relationship with the NHRA as its Official Motorcycle and excited to maintain our outreach to its diverse and dedicated fan base,” said Harley-Davidson Racing Manager Anne Paluso. “Harley-Davidson’s multiple championships in NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle racing are part of a long and proud history of motorcycle racing and performance. Our official sponsorship enables us to tell that story and provide a taste of the Harley-Davidson experience to NHRA fans.”
Since 2007, Harley-Davidson’s interactive display in Nitro Alley, NHRA’s fan interactive area on-site at NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series events, has been one of the featured attractions for fans of all ages. The display engages NHRA fans into the Harley-Davidson experience through product displays, fun activities for all ages, and a special dyno-drag racing simulator using V-Rod motorcycles.
As part of the agreement, NHRA and Harley-Davidson will continue to partner in giving away a Harley-Davidson Motorcycle at select events on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series tour.
The NHRA Harley-Davidson Sportsman Motorcycle Series is contested in four of NHRA’s seven divisions within the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. The sponsorship provides Harley-Davidson with the opportunity to extend its brand across the country through NHRA’s sportsman racing community.
(story from NHRA.com)
Harley-Davidson announces plans for Women Riders Month 2010
MILWAUKEE (November 5, 2009) - Today Harley-Davidson announced plans to commemorate the 2nd Annual Women Riders Month in May 2010 by hosting women riders in its hometown of Milwaukee, Wis., on May 22 and 23, 2010. Women Riders Month is designed to celebrate the millions of women who have already grabbed life by the handlebars, as well as inspire more women to experience the freedom of the open road.
During the two day event, the Motor Company has planned a series of activities for women including demo rides at the Harley-Davidson Museum, new product displays and an opportunity to meet and speak with Karen Davidson, great granddaughter of one of the Motor Company founders. On Saturday, an independent ride featuring several stops throughout the city of Milwaukee and surrounding areas will give riders a taste of Wisconsin. An organized ride later that day will land at an evening block party featuring live entertainment.
“We are very excited to build upon the successful Women Riders Month events we hosted this past year in New York City and Milwaukee,” said Leslie Prevish, women’s outreach manager, Harley-Davidson Motor Company. “Of course, we’re especially thrilled about the opportunity to welcome female riders from across the country to our hometown.”
The Women Riders Month event in Milwaukee is open to riders of all brands of motorcycles and non-riders alike – women are encouraged to bring friends to join them in the various activities. A full schedule of activities and registration for the Women Riders Month 2010 event will be announced in early 2010 at www.harley-davidson.com/womenriders.
For more information about Women Riders Month or Harley-Davidson Motor Company, visit www.harley-davidson.com/womenriders.
Harley-Davidson Motor Company, the only major U.S.-based motorcycle manufacturer, produces heavyweight motorcycles and a complete line of motorcycle parts, accessories and general merchandise. For more information, visit Harley-Davidson's Web site at www.harley-davidson.com.
(from a press release from the Harley-Davidson Motor Company)
Viper Motorcycle Company Launches Branding Campaign With Motorcycle Displays and Prepares for Formal Launch of Their 2010 Diamondback Motorcycle
Viper Motorcycle Company (OTCBB: VPWI), a wholly owned subsidiary of Viper Powersports Inc., is pleased to announce the release of the 2010 Viper Diamondback 152. 2010 models are a continued result of ongoing development and a joint venture effort with Ilmor Engineering. Product availability will be limited as we move into 2010 and prepare for a formal industry wide launch.
Terry Nesbitt, President of Viper, stated, "The first 2010 models are ready for release and will be shipped immediately to key dealers such as Rick Fairless's Stroker's Dallas, Eddie Trotta's Thunder Cycle, Low Country Customs, Ronnie's Harley Davidson, Creagers Cycle Center, Extreme Customs, Victory of Grand Rapids and more."
Nesbitt added, "In an ongoing effort to increase our exposure and add overall value to the Viper brand, we are announcing an innovative merchandising campaign designed to give Viper motorcycles their own space, enabling our brand identity to grow. We are providing to our dealers a branded motorcycle showroom display stand. The high performance 2010 Diamondback Super Cruiser has no equal and will be appropriately displayed. As we move forward preparing for a formal launch, including additional models and large scale production, we will continue to make available to our dealers the best and most effective merchandising tools available in order to increase value in the Viper brand."
Viper Powersports designs, manufactures and markets a line of premium American V-Twin Super Cruiser motorcycles, V-Twin aftermarket engines and other related aftermarket products through an independent dealer network. Joint venture partner Ilmor Engineering (www.ilmor.com) provides technical developmental support for the proprietary 152 cubic inch Viper V-Twin engine, utilizing their 25 years of engine design expertise, ensuring Viper's long term success as America's newest domestic OEM of motorcycles. Viper Powersports and Viper Motorcycle Company's websites are www.viperpowersports.com and www.vipermotorcycle.com.
The foregoing material may contain forward-looking statements. We caution that such statements may be subject to uncertainties and that actual results could differ materially from the foregoing statements. Readers accordingly should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements which do not reflect anticipated or unanticipated events or circumstances occurring after the date of these forward-looking statements.
International Motorcycle Shows adds Daytona Bike Week to Schedule
The Cycle World International Motorcycle Shows will cruise into Ocean Center in conjunction with the 69th Annual Daytona Bike Week Wednesday, March 3 to Saturday, March 6. The final stop on this 12-city motorcycle extravaganza will offer free admission to all attendees, all show days.
"We are pleased to be returning to Ocean Center after a five year hiatus as part of historic Daytona Bike Week," said Group Show Director Jeff D'Entremont. "Daytona Bike Week is legendary amongst the biking community and we are thrilled to be able to bring all that the International Motorcycle Shows can offer to bike week attendees for free this year - making it the perfect place to host the final stop on our tour."
This hot spot for two wheeled rides will showcase the latest streetbikes, tricked-out customs, accessories and more. From gear heads to new riders, the International Motorcycle Show is the perfect place for the public to immerse themselves in the bike culture, talk to experts, test out the latest gear and more. Additionally, this motorcycle extravaganza will pack Ocean Center with high-energy entertainment.
From New York to Seattle, this motorcycle extravaganza is an all access pass to the world of motorcycling. The show will be open to the public Wednesday, March 3 through Saturday, March 6, at Ocean Center, located at 101 North Atlantic Avenue, in Daytona Beach. Show hours are Wednesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission to the event is free for all attendees. For more information, call (800) 331-5706, or visit the Cycle World Internetional Motorcycle Show's website..www.motorcycleshows.com/motorcycleshows
(From a press release issued by International Motorcycle Shows)
Indian Motorcycles’ resurrection will get national TV exposure with an appearance on Good Morning America.
Kings Mountain, NC— On Monday, Nov. 9, 2009, ABC News will film a feature on Indian Motorcycle Company, highlighting the revival of this historic brand amid America’s struggling automotive and motorcycle manufacturing industry.
Good Morning America’s Bill Weir will ride a 2010 Indian Chief as he joins Indian Motorcycle on a trip through the North Carolina mountains to Deal’s Gap, the famed “Tail of the Dragon” hailed by many as the best motorcycling road in the USA. Motorcycle historian Dale Walksler will ride a vintage 1944 Indian Chief and provide expert commentary on American motorcycling history.
Good Morning America is ABC’s morning news and talk show produced live from Time Square in New York City. On the air since 1975, the Good Morning America is among the top viewed shows in morning television, and has won several Emmy awards.
Good Morning America’s weekend anchor, Bill Weir is an Emmy-winning reporter who travels the world to uncover breaking news and global trends. He was among the first reporters on the scene during Hurricane Katrina, and was the lead reporter in ABC's coverage of the war in Iraq. Weir's domestic reporting tends to focus on innovative ways to solve many of America's biggest problems.
As America's first motorcycle company, Indian Motorcycle began producing motorcycles in 1901, and paved the way early on for many other American motorcycle manufacturers to flourish during the earliest part of the 20th century. Once our country's largest motorcycle producer, the Indian Motorcycle Company became defunct shortly after World War II. The iconic brand resumed production in 2008 and has since released seven models including the 2010 Chief Dark Horse and 2010 Limited Edition Chief Bomber.
(From a press release issued by Indian Motorcycle...)
Maggie Valley – On Monday, the Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley will participate in a special broadcast with Good Morning America, as the show's co-host Bill Weir travels to Western North Carolina to ride the famed "Tail of the Dragon" aboard the new incarnation of the Indian Motorcycle.
Weir's segment for good morning America will showcase the reincarnation of the new Indian Motorcycle Company. Wheels Through Time will be participating in the broadcast in various capacities. Museum curator, Dale Walksler, will be on hand to provide expert commentary on American motorcycle history related to the Indian company, highlighting both the birth of the company, as well as Indian's demise in the late 40s and early 50s. Walksler will also be aboard a genuine 1944 Indian Chief motorcycle, to ride the famed "Tail of the Dragon," a stretch of U.S. highway 129 with 318 curves in 11 miles, with Weir. Along with the test ride of the new Indian motorcycle, Weir will also highlight the significance of the "Tail of the Dragon" to state tourism and local economies.
The new Indian Motorcycle Company, located in Kings Mountain, N.C. is the brainchild of the company's chairman Stephen Julius. After buying the company in 2004, Julius unleashed his plans to bring a high-quality, engineered Indian motorcycle back to the market. The company has poured millions into research and development of these new machines, and promises to provide the American public with a motorcycle that fits their needs.
For more information visit www.WheelsThroughTime.com.
Harley-Davidson Recruits American Supermodel Marisa Miller to Salute U.S. Military Personnel During the Month of November
- Miller to be Featured in Special Harley-Davidson 'Military Appreciation Month' Campaign -
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Today Marisa Miller announced that she has expanded her relationship with Harley-Davidson to salute active and retired U.S. military personnel during the month of November, as part of the Motor Company's first-ever "Military Appreciation Month" campaign.
Miller will be featured alongside Harley-Davidson motorcycles inmilitary-themed creative, including print and digital ads, posters, postcards and calendars throughout the month of November. Miller first worked with the Motor Company in 2008 to help launch the Harley-Davidson VRSCF V-Rod Muscle motorcycle.
"I'm honored to help the Motor Company salute the brave men and women who keep our country free," said Miller. "My grandfather is a veteran, and I've had the unique opportunity to meet several service men and women during recent USO tours, so the military holds a special place in my heart. I hope other Americans will join me and Harley-Davidson in saluting these real life heroes during the month of November."
Modern Take on Nostalgic Military Imagery The Military Appreciation Month campaign pays tribute to nostalgic military imagery through photorealism. The ads and other creative materials feature Miller wearing uniforms representing all five branches of the military next to military-styled Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
The campaign will be featured in a number of executions, including:
- Advertorials in service branch magazines
- Print ads in several national publications
- Banner advertising
- Exclusive posters, postcards and calendars available at local Harley-Davidson dealerships throughout the U.S.
- A special section of the Harley-Davidson Web site - www.harley-davidson.com/thankyou -- where you can create an electronic postcard with artwork of Miller and Harley-Davidson motorcycles along with a personal message of gratitude that you can send to an active or retired member of the U.S. military
- A promotion with Maxim magazine that will offer the opportunity for
- one active or retired military personnel member to win a new Harley-Davidson motorcycle - personally delivered by Miller
"We're excited to have Marisa's support to help us during our first-ever Military Appreciation Month," said Dino Bernacchi, Harley-Davidson's director of Advertising and Promotions. "We're certain she'll be helpful in encouraging other Americans to join us in recognizing and thanking those who serve our country."
For more information about Harley-Davidson's Military Appreciation Month, visit www.harley-davidson.com/thankyou.
Born in the coastal city of Santa Cruz, California, Marisa first appeared in the 2002 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, securing her position within the modeling industry. As a result, clients such as Victoria's Secret hired the blond bombshell to endorse their brands. Other companies followed suit, and soon Marisa began appearing in publicity campaigns for the likes of Tommy Hilfiger, J. Crew, Victoria's Secret, Andrew Marc, True Religion Jeans, Remington, NFL and Guitar Hero to name a few. Marisa has graced the covers of magazines like Vogue, Esquire, Shape, Cosmo, Maxim, Sports Illustrated and Ocean Drive and has appeared on talk shows such as David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel, and Ellen. For more information visit www.marisamiller.com.
(story from Reuters)
Why the surge in motorcycle deaths? Federally funded L.A. study seeks answers
The first major study of motorcycle crashes in nearly 30 years is underway in Los Angeles, as researchers attempt to pinpoint why resultant fatalities have soared over the last decade to constitute 14% of all roadway deaths, despite the fact that motorcycles account for less than 1% of vehicle miles traveled.
There are plenty of theories to explain the increase: The number of motorcycles on the road increased from 3.9 million in 1998 to 7.1 million in 2007; motorcycles are more powerful than they used to be; riders are older, now averaging 41 years of age; and many states have repealed their helmet laws.
But there are no clear answers.
The last in-depth investigation of motorcycle crashes in the U.S. — the Hurt study — was conducted through USC and released in 1981. Efforts to update that information have been stymied by funding issues.
Earlier this month, a new study was greenlighted by the U.S. Department of Transportation, but it’s a scaled-down version of what was originally planned, and a leading industry-backed safety group says the sample size will be too small to properly resolve the questions.
The National Transportation Safety Board originally recommended that the study include a sample size of 900 to 1,200 crashes. The Hurt study examined 900 crashes. But researchers at Oklahoma State University, tapped to conduct the new study, said use of such a large sample would cost $10 million to $12 million, far exceeding the federal government’s $4.2-million estimate.
As of Oct. 1, the study was moving forward with a sample size of 300 crashes.
“The motorcycle crash rate for injuries and deaths has increased every year for the past 10 years, so it was critical to get this study underway,” said Cathy St. Denis, spokeswoman for the Federal Highway Administration. "It will be one of the most comprehensive studies to be done in years and will help prevent future crashes."
The $3.1-million study includes $2 million from the highway reauthorization bill, $500,000 from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, $500,000 from individual states and $100,000 from the American Motorcyclist Assn.
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation, a nonprofit group that develops rider training courses used by most states and is funded by major manufacturers such as Honda and Harley-Davidson, had offered $2.8 million in 2007 for a study if it included a sample size of 900 crashes.
The group refused to contribute to the scaled-down study because it “will not provide adequate sampling to achieve appropriate statistical significance and may not provide new insights," the organization said in a statement Tuesday. “This limited study will likely lend only a minimal degree of validation to the major, already known contributing motorcycle crash factors.”
There are about 100,000 motorcycle crashes in the U.S. each year, 5,290 of which resulted in death in 2008, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. According to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, which draws heavily on findings from the 1981 Hurt study, major crash factors include rider error, such as overbraking and running wide in a curve; and alcohol involvement.
So far, data from 53 crashes have been gathered as part of the study’s pilot, which kicked off in L.A. last December to test data collection procedures and which concluded earlier this year. That crash data will be included in the official study of 300 crashes, which is also taking place in Los Angeles.
Preliminary results from the study will be available in a year, according to Oklahoma State’s Alan Tree. Final results won’t be available until at least 2013.
(reprinted from the L.A. Times - Story by: Susan Carpenter October 14, 2009)
(picture from L.A. Times)
Los Angeles, CA (CNS) - The smell of roughhewn leather and motorcycle exhaust hangs heavy in the air with the newest series from truTV.
"Full Throttle Saloon" focuses on the Sturgis, S.D., tavern of the same name, renowned as the "world's largest biker bar." The hour-long series, which will first air on Nov. 10, follows the business decisions faced by Throttle owner Michael Ballard as he provides entertainment, liquor and more for the array of bikers attending the yearly two-week Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
One of the main features of the series is Ballard's money woes in operating The Throttle, which is only open for business once a year for the two week period during the rally. His problems are exacerbated by the financial restraints of the economic recession, which in turn affects the rally's turnout. The regular predicaments linger as well, with gangs, weather, local law enforcement and the handling of the rally's musical performers providing difficulties.
The behind-the-scenes format of "Full Throttle Saloon" allows viewers the chance to see all the planning and stress involved in the management of the rally. But the process isn't all bad, as Ballard and company work tirelessly to make the 69th anniversary of the rally as memorable as ever for the Harley Davidson-loving crowd.
Ballard's Full Throttle Saloon is a 30-acre establishment that functions not only as an indoor/outdoor bar but also contains several outdoor stages, a burn-out pit, a tattoo parlor, zip lines, a wrestling ring, restaurants, shops and hundreds of cabins with plentiful parking for its biker clientele.
"Full Throttle Saloon" is executive-produced by Arthur Smith, Kent Weed and Frank Sinton of A. Smith & Co.; Jesse James Dupree of Mighty Loud Entertainment; and Arnold Rifkin of Cheyenne Enterprises.
Now in its 17th year on the air, truTV has a lineup that includes shows such as "The Smoking Gun: World's Dumbest?" and "Forensic Files."
Learn more about The Full Throttle Saloon
More about truTV
Judge will not shorten prison term for Lane
Victim's family wanted sentence to help cause
A judge refused to shorten imprisoned celebrity motorcycle builder Billy Lane's six-year sentence despite his attorneys' claim his fatal crash victim's family thought he could do more good outside of prison, electronic court records show.
Attorneys for Lane, 39, filed a motion last week asking Brevard Circuit Judge Robert Burger to give victim Gerald Morelock's family another chance to say what kind of punishment he should receive and to reduce Lane's sentence if he saw fit.
Lane was sentenced in August to six years in prison after pleading no contest to one count of vehicular homicide for crashing his pickup truck head-on into 56-year-old Morelock's motorcycle while speeding past slow traffic in a no-pass zone on Sept. 4, 2006.
Throughout the course of the case, Morelock's brother, Byron Morelock, and nephew, Sean Morelock, declined to recommend a punishment. But they asked the judge during sentencing to impose a sentence that would use Lane's celebrity status to help save the lives of young people through a foundation they plan to create in Morelock's name.
But defense lawyers Greg Eisenmenger and Robert Berry claimed in their motion that intense media and public scrutiny caused Morelock's brother and nephew to be "vague" at Lane's sentencing about their belief that Lane would better be able to benefit society if he were not incarcerated.
Burger denied the motion without a hearing.
Contacted by phone Friday, Byron Morelock said he and his son continue to push through with plans for their foundation.
"We regret this whole thing happened and both of our families got hurt in this situation and have to go on. Nothing really good came out of it for anybody," he said. "I'm sure my brother would hope that people learn something from this and all drive carefully."
(reprinted from FloridaToday.com)
Recipient takes first production International® LoneStar® Harley-Davidson™ Special Edition on the road for charity during Truck Driver Appreciation Week and asks fellow drivers for support
Chris Hawker, a successful owner-operator truck driver and Harley-Davidson® motorcycle owner doesn`t just drive. He rides.
While his garage has plenty of room for his black and silver 2003 Harley-Davidson® 100th Anniversary Edition FXSTD Softail® Deuce™ motorcycle, he`ll undoubtedly have to build a bigger garage to store his latest Harley-Davidson related collectible - the first production unit of the International® LoneStar® Harley-Davidson™ Special Edition truck.
At an event last Friday at the Harley-Davidson Museum® in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Hawker was presented the keys to the vehicle in a ceremony recognizing him as a true ambassador of both the International truck and Harley-Davidson motorcycle brands.
"The International LoneStar Harley-Davidson Special Edition is one of the coolest-looking trucks I`ve ever seen," said Chris. "When I first caught wind of this truck, I knew I had to have one."
With deep black paint and contrasting silver and orange striping, the attention-grabbing, chrome-laden big rig truck is one-of-a-kind. Unveiled to the public for the first time at the Mid-America Trucking Show earlier in the year, the Harley-Davidson Special Edition takes the International LoneStar to the next level through a combination of LoneStar originality and Harley-Davidson authenticity.
Hawker has been a truck driver for more than 20 years and typically hauls food products from New York to Florida, having logged more than two million accident-free miles.
Earlier this year, Hawker entered his local International truck dealership in Erie, Pennsylvania, seeking information on a new International LoneStar. "Chris came in and expressed interest in a LoneStar before the Harley-Davidson Special Edition was even announced," said Randy Leighton, sales manager, Five Star International. "As a fellow motorcycle guy and Harley owner myself, we got to talking about motorcycles. Once I heard about the Harley edition, I called him and told him we have a `dream truck` coming out - he couldn`t get to the dealership fast enough!"
Design teams from International and Harley-Davidson collaborated to create a heavy-duty on-highway tractor with distinct design elements directly from Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
"Custom has always been an important word in Harley-Davidson`s brand language," said Willie G. Davidson, senior vice president & chief styling officer, Harley-Davidson. "We wanted the design impact of this new LoneStar Harley-Davidson to have a `wow` factor equal to our motorcycles."
"Knowing the passion that customers have for both brands, we`re proud to get this vehicle out in the hands of enthusiastic customers like Chris," said Jim Hebe, Navistar senior vice president, North American sales operations. "Combining the bold look of the International LoneStar with the attitude of Harley-Davidson delivers a winning product for our customers."
"Drive for Jobs"
The delivery of International LoneStar Harley-Davidson Special Edition marked the starting point in Chris Hawker`s maiden voyage and the launch of Navistar`s
"Drive for Jobs" program. For each mile that Chris Hawker drives in his new LoneStar Harley-Davidson Special Edition, Navistar will make a donation to the American Trucking Associations` GetTrucking.com, a driver recruitment initiative which includes training returning military personnel for careers in the trucking industry. While the current U.S. economic recession has driven up unemployment rates in numerous industries, trucking included, the trucking industry has and
will continue to face driver shortages in the near future.
As Chris began his journey to Jacksonville, Florida, an "all-points bulletin" was distributed at the delivery event in Milwaukee. The "A.P.B." was used to encourage anyone who saw Chris driving the LoneStar to sign up for the opportunity to win prizes and make a donation to the "Drive for Jobs" program.
All of these events will lead up to Truck Driver Appreciation Week from November 1-7, culminating with a check donation to the ATA`s GetTrucking.com initiative. Navistar supported this charity earlier this year with a $15,000 donation generated from proceeds from DVD sales of Drive and Deliver, the documentary Navistar developed to celebrate the lives of truck drivers and the contributions they make to society. "We appreciate Navistar`s support for the ATA`s GetTrucking initiative," said Bill Graves, ATA president and CEO. "The men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces are ideal candidates to become trucking industry professionals - they have all the motivation and tools necessary to move successfully from the military into our industry."
To learn more about the International LoneStar Harley-Davidson Special Edition,
go to www.internationaltrucks.com/lonestarhd.
Motorcycle makers cutting staff and product lines as sales plunge
The biggest drops come in cruisers and sport bikes. Sales of scooters also fall sharply.
A year ago, it looked as if fuel-sipping motorcycles might be the option for motorists facing increasing gas prices. This year, little seems to be working for bike makers.
Sales of motorcycles plummeted 37.3% in the third quarter from the same period a year earlier, with the biggest drops coming in cruisers and sport bikes, two of the industry's biggest product lines, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council. Sales of scooters, which were gaining a year ago, also have fallen sharply.
The council, which doesn't release revenue figures of the mostly privately held member manufacturers, said overall sales of bikes fell to 136,876 in the quarter from 218,242 in the previous year's quarter.
The only bright spot was that sales were dropping at a slower pace: The number of bikes sold in the second quarter fell 53.5% from the same period a year earlier. Historically, the second and third quarters are strongest for the industry because the weather is warm throughout the country and buyers are gearing up to ride.
Industry leaders tried to put a good face on the numbers, saying the sales climate was "challenging" or "tough." But they also called it "painful."
"Every category is down, and it keeps going down," said analyst Don Brown of Irvine. "It's not the old, 'Let's get out there and sell more' that works anymore. . . . People just don't have the money."
Despite a federal stimulus that allows new bike buyers to write off the sales tax, companies are cutting staff and other expenses.
Last week, publicly held Harley-Davidson Inc. reported an 84% drop in quarterly earnings to $26.5 million. The company said it was getting out of the sport bike business, shutting down the longtime Buell line and selling its MV Agusta operation, a high-end Italian brand it bought last year.
Already this year, the Milwaukee manufacturer joined the likes of Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha, Suzuki and Victory in laying off employees, reducing production and lowering prices to help dealers shrink swollen inventories.
Even high-end motorcycles have been hit. Confederate Motor Co., the Alabama maker of the $92,000 Wraith, expects to sell 30 bikes this year, down from 37 last year, company founder Matt Chambers said.
His affluent clients aren't as affected by the economy, he said, but with the deep recession, "it was very fashionable to not be buying a high-end luxury product like ours."
Many manufacturers have introduced programs to add value to their products.
Twice in the last year, for instance, Harley-Davidson operated a "ride free" program, which allowed buyers of new Sportsters to get credit for the original retail price of the bikes on trade-ins for more expensive models. Yamaha Motor Co. introduced its Pro Yamaha initiative, directing dealers to be more informed about products and follow up with customers to ensure that they were happy.
Ducati North America, which has seen a 30% quarterly drop in sales, began giving its customers one year of free scheduled maintenance. And Victory Motorcycles, which suffered a 56% decline in sales in the July-to-September period, began offering a five-year warranty to show "significant confidence to buyers," said Mark Blackwell, Victory's vice president.
"We haven't laid everybody off. We haven't totally stopped advertising. We've kept up the product development because we're positioning this business for when the market stabilizes and grows," he said.
Blackwell predicted that the market wouldn't begin to stabilize until at least next spring and that growth wouldn't come until later.
Harley-Davidson and Victory Motorcycles, a division of Polaris in Minnesota, hope to stem U.S. losses, in part, by growing overseas sales. Harley is pursuing emerging markets such as India and China; Victory is going after Europe, where motorcycle sales haven't fallen as much as in the U.S.
For 14 years, through 2006, U.S. motorcycle sales had increased every year. Sales started to drop in 2007, but still topped the 1-million mark.
Last year, as gasoline prices pushed toward $5 per gallon, fuel-efficient two-wheelers got a boost. Despite the worsening economy, street bike sales were down only 3.3% for the year, and scooters had their best year ever, posting a 41.5% gain from the previous year, the Motorcycle Industry Council said.
"Last year, with gas prices, we could sell scooters without a whole lot of work," said Kevin Andrews, Vespa's North American brand manager. "With the economy, we're talking about operational cost."
The cost of owning and operating a car, for instance, is $750 a month, Andrews said, citing American Automobile Assn. data. But owning and operating a scooter costs less than $300. It's a message Vespa is promoting through advertising with its dealers and on its website. Still, scooter sales are down 62% through the first three quarters, but, he said, the declines slowed in August.
"We had a period of constant increases, and I think the industry grew complacent," industry analyst Brown said. "Then the economy hit hard, and it's only gotten worse."
Confederate Motor's Chambers expects his sales to increase next year, thanks in part to a strategy most manufacturers are using: making lower-priced bikes.
Manufacturers also are coming up with ways to help buyers finance purchases.
Since April, Piaggio Group Americas, which sells Vespa scooters, has offered 7.9%, 36-month loans. And Harley-Davidson Financial Services, aided by $300 million in notes placed with Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. this year and a stronger financial market recently, should support any funding needs throughout 2010, Harley spokesman Bob Klein said.
Most manufacturers, meantime, are scaling back on advertising, and long-standing enthusiast publications are finding the advertising climate "harsh," with revenue down sharply, said Larry Little, senior vice president of Cycle World magazine. "Everybody's fighting for survival up and down the food chain."
Yamaha spokesman Bob Starr said his company had to be "very focused on where, when, how and why we're advertising."
Yamaha experimented this year with low-cost viral marketing on the Internet. This summer the company produced three YouTube videos featuring some of its biggest names in racing. Each of the videos have been viewed more than 100,000 times. Whether they sold any bikes is another issue.
"Did somebody come in to a dealership and say, 'I saw this video . . . and it was so funny I'm going to buy a bike?' It's hard to say," Starr said.
Sport bike sales are down 51% so far this year.
With the riding season over for much of the country, summer 2010 can't come fast enough for the industry.
(from the Los Angeles Times)
Laguna Woods city manager apologizes to 9/11 motorcyclists
Council members said city manager overreacted to ride organizers
The Orange County Register
LAGUNA WOODS, CALIFORNIA - City Manager Leslie Keane offered an apology to the organizer of a 9/11 memorial motorcycle ride after more than 60 riders and supporters showed up to Wednesday’s City Council meeting to protest her actions following the event.
Some council members, including Mayor Bob Ring, said the city manager overreacted to one of the participants holding traffic at a red light for more than 100 riders at the intersection of El Toro Road and Moulton Parkway. Keane and other council members also said the event can ride through the city next year provided it is done safely.
“Inappropriate things were said, and I think they were said on both sides, and I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize for my part in that,” Keane told a packed council chamber. “I am hopeful that we can move forward and if this ride comes to our city again that we can cooperate in making it a successful and safe ride.”
Organizer Gary Biggerstaff, a veteran Long Beach firefighter, said afterwards the apology was necessary.
“I don’t know that her heart has changed, but her words have changed,” said Biggerstaff.
He still asked that Keane, nevertheless, contact the agencies she complained to after the ride, contending the event’s reputation is damaged.
“What’s at stake here is the good name of this ride I’ve spent the better part of six years building up,” Biggerstaff told the council.
Biggerstaff started the 40-mile ride, billed on the Web as the Remember 9/11 Ride, which has grown to roughly 600 participants, as a tribute to those who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. This year is the ride’s fifth year going from Cook’s Corner in Orange County’s Trabuco Canyon and finishing at Biggerstaff’s home in Long Beach for a memorial service.
The conflict between Biggerstaff and Laguna Woods City Manager Leslie Keane began when one rider stopped at the intersection of El Toro Road and Moulton Parkway and held traffic to allow roughly 100 riders to pass, according to Biggerstaff.
Biggerstaff said he was contacted in early October by the Orange County Sherriff’s Department to cooperate in an investigation to identify the rider, using red-light camera images from the intersection.
“I had nothing to do with it,” said Biggerstaff. “The rider was at least a mile behind me.”
He said he did not condone the rider’s actions, but could not help it since he was at the front of the pack.
Keane said she wanted him to identify the culprit who broke the law at the red light. In her initial emails to Biggerstaff, Keane said she was concerned for public safety and that the riders acted above the law.
“You cheapened their sacrifice and made a mockery of it,” Keane said in an email referring to victims of 9/11. “Think carefully about what all fringe groups who break the law, including the one that caused the tragic and infamous 9/11 event, say to justify their actions, they have a higher calling, their friends and comrades have died trying to protect their ideals and values. And before you call me un-American for linking you with the terrorists, of course I don’t think that. But think about what you did and what you are now saying to justify it.”
However Biggerstaff said he took the necessary steps to ensure safety before the ride.
In addition to providing the riders with a flyer advising them to obey traffic signals, Biggerstaff said he contacted all law enforcement agencies in five areas that the ride passed through one month in advance, including Laguna Woods. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department declined to send an officer to patrol the light and the city did not require the ride to obtain a parade permit beforehand.
“We didn’t send a car out because we only have one police car in the town,” Keane said.
Sheriff’s Lt. Bill Griffin said there was no need for police at the light.
“We’ve never had a problem before,” Griffin said, “so we didn’t send someone.”
After Biggerstaff found out about the investigation, he began exchanging emails with Keane to arrange a meeting to discuss the situation. Biggerstaff advised her to ticket the perpetrator and apologized for the incident.
When Biggerstaff could not provide the identity of the individuals, he said Keane made it clear that she would not allow anyone involved with the ride to pass through Laguna Woods next year.
Biggerstaff said he was contacted by several Long Beach authorities and city officials and authorities in Orange County, each of whom told him they’d been contacted by Keane or heard about her complaint. He was called in to address the conflict by Assistant Fire Chief Ken Portolan at the behest of Long Beach City Manager Patrick West.
West said although he knew Keane was upset, he said the event was not city sponsored and so he will be taking no action.
“It’s a group of private citizens who happen to be sworn officers who do a memorial ride to be patriotic,” West said.
Biggerstaff said the ride and his reputation were damaged because of Keane’s contact with city officials.
“She has drug my name through the mud,” he said.
He takes special issue with Keane for contacting his employer, the Long Beach City Fire Department, since he participated as a private citizen during the ride.
“To go out and put a wedge between us and our employer, city manager and our mayor is despicable,” said fellow organizer and firefighter Rich Brandt.
Councilwoman Cynthia Conners said the organizers could circulate word of Keane’s apology to various public agencies.
Keane now says she will work with Biggerstaff to make the ride safer next year.
“I really am interested in trying to find a way to resolve this situation, so that the event can go forward, in a safe manner in the future,” Keane said in an email to Biggerstaff Tuesday. “I think you had good intentions and that someone else caused this situation.”
Biggerstaff said he did not know what will happen for next year’s ride, and perhaps if he makes it an official ride with participant registration, he will consider setting up designated road guards and intersections.
As of now, Griffin said the investigation is closed and he does not anticipate issuing a ticket to anyone.
But next year is a different story.
“I don’t know, we’ll just have to work with them,” Griffin said.
(reprinted from the October 22, 2009 Orange County Register)