The winds of change have caught me, again. This time, they are blowing in the same direction I'm traveling. MMM has a new editor, is taking a new direction, and will look a lot different in the future. I discovered, a little late, that I'm not doing the All the News that Fits column, beginning the first issue of this year. I am not sad, upset, or sorry. It's a hard column to write and it might be obvious from the tone I take to the news that I'm tired of doing it. Most motorcycle "news" is pretty much corporate drivel and about as believable as White House press reports (no matter who is in the White House). So, when Harley, BMW, Ducati, Honda, or whoever dumps some of their gruel into the press hopper, I grind it up a little before redistributing it. What Americans appear to want is "happy talk" and I rarely believe happy talk coming from anyone. Especially me.
With the deadline pressure off, I might find that looking at the news and reporting it from my pissed off perspective is fun. We'll see. Whatever happens, it will be happening here from now on. Thanks for watching!
KTM Buys Husky
After a brief (6 years) and confusing off-road adventure, BMW decided to return
to paved civilization and put Husqvarna Motorcycles S.R.L up for sale. The buyer
is, semi-surprisingly, KTM CEO Stefan Pierer's investment company, Pierer
Industrie AG. If you're old enough to remember the vintage-yearss enduro and
motorcross battles between Penton (KTM's original US importer) and Husqvarna,
this is a confusing turn of events for both brands. Relatively speaking, Husky
had a pretty good year in 2012, producing 10,751 motorcycles, up 15.8%.
Obviously, that wasn't good enough for the 100,000-unit-sales BMW mothership.
Presumably, the new conglomerate will be something like
"KTM/Husaberg/Husqvarna." Pierer and his company
successfully took KTM from bankruptcy court to the all-purpose off-road-to-roadracer
juggernaut that it is today. Fans of the Swedish-turned-Italian brand
(production moved to Varese, Italy during the period when Cagiva owned
Husky), can only hope this is a good move for the historic off-road motorcycle
company and not an opportunity for KTM to eliminate EU competition in that
Minnesota Motorcycle Road Guard Certificate
The state is in the final stages of officially recognizing one of the
least-loved motorcycle behaviors; pirate parades. The newly semi-deputized
Motorcycle Road Guards will have the authority to hold up productive traffic so
that miles of slow moving parade participants can crawl through cities and towns
emitting volumes of noise and air pollution and solidifying general public
opinion into a unified "I hate motorcycles" atmosphere for every solitary
motorcyclist who happens to follow the parade route for weeks afterwards. Way to
go Minnesota legislature!
Commuting Wastes Time & Money, Who Knew?
In an amazing demonstration of how long it takes for a few dozen PhD's to screw
in a light bulb, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) published the
results of their annual Urban Mobility Report (UMR) to the amazement of the
barely-conscious major media. It turns out (wait for it) that Americans blew an
average of $818 each sitting in traffic in 2011. And that was a "good year," due
to the traffic reduction effects of the 2nd Great Depression. On average,
Americans allow an hour for what ought to be a 20 minute commute for a grand
total of $121B in wasted time and energy costs.
Bill Eisele, a TTI
researcher and report co-author noted, “As bad
as traffic jams are, it’s even more frustrating that you can’t depend on traffic
jams being consistent from day-to-day. This unreliable travel is costly for
commuters and truck drivers moving goods.” A secondary cost of slow-moving
traffic is the estimated 380 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2
) per auto
commuter contributed to the atmosphere (for a grand total of 56 billion pounds
If US motorcyclists weren't wasting political energy and clout on divisive
issues like opposing helmet laws and jacking-up right-of-way violation
penalties, we could offer a solution to congestion in a substantial number of
urban areas with lane-sharing and lane-splitting. A 2012 Belgian consultancy
Transport & Mobility Leuven study found that 10% percent of cars were replaced
by motorcycles commuting time for all vehicles decreased by 40% and total
emissions were reduced by 6%. That study claimed that a 25% shift from cars to
motorcycles would eliminate congestion. It has been estimated that with
lane-sharing and filtering introduced into the formula, if only 1% of freeway
traffic swapped their cages for motorcycles and scooters, traffic congestion
would be significantly reduced.
CHP Defines and Recommends Lane Splitting
After years of rumor and inuendo, The California Highway Patrol has published a
lane-splitting guide and initiated a public awareness campaign to educate riders
and drivers about the long-accepted, commute-time-busting practice (http://www.chp.ca.gov/programs/lanesplitguide.html.
If nothing else positive comes from this information, the clinically and
chronically uninformed will
Here They Come (and There We Go?)
The Autonomous Vehicle Act of 2012 (B-931), introduced by Councilwoman
Mary M. Cheh
, would allow self-driving cars to allowed to operate on
Washington, D.C., roads The bill provides for vehicle designation for
registration, titling and operation permit purposes, and establish safe
operating protocols for such vehicles. Autonomous vehicles are the hot issue all
over the EU and Japan and are expected to begin to displace piloted cars and
trucks in the next decade or two. Obviously, motorcycles are incompatible with
computer-controlled traffic systems.
Legislative Foolishness Around the Nation
Florida State Rep. Ritch Workman wants to eliminate the state's motorcycle
handlebar height restriction ("no higher than the top of the shoulders of the
person operating the motorcycle while properly seated upon the motorcycle").
Ohio's State Senator John Kasich sponsored a bill that changed the maximum
height of motorcycle handlebars from 15 inches above the operator’s seat to no
higher than the operator's shoulder height. Kasich's bill also created a
“cab-enclosed motorcycle” classification for two- or three-wheeled vehicles
having an occupant compartment top that is either permanent or removable.
Kentucky State Rep. Kelly Flood wants to label motorcyclists "vulnerable users
of a public roadway" to add "enhanced penalties" for anyone convicted of, or
pleading guilty to, a collision resulting in serious injury or death to a
vulnerable roadway user. (I wonder if there will be a Special Olympics for
"vulnerable roadway users?" Are old motorcyclists "venerable vulnerable roadway
users?") Rhode Island, Missouri, and New York all have proposed legislation that
would enhance penalties for motor vehicle violations at intersections and
right-of-way violations that result in serious bodily injury or death.
Maine State Rep. Paulette Beaudoin is trying to require helmets for "all
motorcycle operators and passengers" in that state. State senators in Nebraska
(Dave Bloomfield) and New York (Michael Nozzolio) are trying to repeal those
states' helmet laws. The Virginia legislature sidelined it's attempted repeal of
the state's helmet law after opposition from the Virginia State Police, local
chiefs of police, fire chiefs, volunteer rescue squads,
New York Senator William J. Larkin is attempting to outlaw wheelies, stoppies,
and any airborne motorcycle activity.
New York Assembly Member Thomas J. Abinanti wants to prohibit any passenger
vehicle (including motorcycles) from "idling its engine more than three
consecutive minutes under certain conditions when the vehicle is stopped."
As always, MMM applauds these fine states and officials for having resolved all
of their states' critical economic, environmental, and criminal problems,
resulting in lots of spare time to spend on these inconsequential motorcycle
Crazy People Scoff at Common Sense
Refugees from MMM dominated the Watertown, SD, 2013 Groundhog Road Enduro in
mid-January. Off-roading promoter and all-around-tough-guy Lee Bruns and the
rest of the STFU M/C hosted this frosty inaugural event. Either the reputations
of the Minnesota contingent frightened off the locals or common sense kept them
near their fireplaces and far away from their motorcycles, because "no locals"
turned out to suffer the event. Lee's description of the weather was "Ice, wind,
snow. No fun. " Bruce Mike, MMM's editor won. Rick Ashton took second. Former
Sev Pearman took third. Only 1-point
separated 1st and 2nd!
The riders were polled at halftime and they unanimously decided to call it a
Total miles driven to/from event: 425
Total motorcycle miles ridden: 27
Satisfaction derived from staying home and warm: Priceless
In case you're a slave to fashion, but adverse to actually getting dirty or
riding a real motorcycle the folks at Barbour have produced exactly what you
need: a MacGrain Waxed Jacket that is a replica of the 1964 ISDT team jacket
Steve McQueen wore for that event. The key feature of this reissue is the
"mud-splattered design made of rubber compounded mud, made to match the mud
marks on Steve's original jacket." (Personally, I'd rather have a replica of the
jacket Bruce Mike wore at the 2013 Groundhog Road Enduro, with an ice-coated
design made to match the frozen slabs of ice on his event-winning gear.)
A 250CC Triumph?
Triumph is building a new manufacturing site in facility in Narasapur, India,
near the city of Bangalore where the company expects to be producing 250,000
bikes per year by 2015 and double that number when production is fully
operational and the company's Asian marketing and distribution are up to speed.
The new facility's first products will be twin-cylinder 250cc motorcycles.
Making Enemies and Spreading the Love
Sportbike gangbangers, Hector Martinez and Paige Hernandez, and at least 100 of
their biker buddies put on a demonstration of arrogance and vandalism in late
January when the wild bunch shut down L.A.'s I10 freeway traffic for about ten
minutes. As rush hour traffic backed up for miles, Martinez proposed to
Hernandez and the the pair's punk friends stunted, smoked up the California air
with colorful burnouts, and generally made nuisances of themselves. While some
of us imagine the wonderful future for motorcycles as a practical vehicle, these
zombies do their damnedest to make sure that 99.999% of the population hate
motorcycles and motorcyclists. Good job, douchebags.
Sidesaddle That Bike
The Indonesian town of Lhokseumawe has banned female passengers from straddling
motor bikes, as passengers or riders. “We want to save women from things that
will cause them to violate Shariah law. We wish to honor women with this ban,
because they are delicate creatures,” said Lhokseumawe mayor Suaidi Yahya.
The loony mayor said an aspect of the law is to discourage women from wearing
pants. “It will be easier for women to avoid straddling motorcycles if all of
them wear skirts.” Sounds like a plan to convince all of the smart people in
Lhokseumawe to move somewhere else. A lot of the Midwest and most of the South tried that tactic and the braindrain those places suffered as a result created the Teatards.
Making Up for Lost Time by Losing Time
The "good years" of slightly lowered Minnesota motorcycle death rates are over,
which might be a sign that we're experiencing some economic recovery or just a
side-effect of last year's mild winter and early spring. Whatever the cause, in
2012 Minnesota cycle fatalities were up 26%, for a total of 53 motorcyclist
deaths; compared to 2011'S 42 deaths. The state has a record-high 230,000
registered two-wheelers and approx. 400,000 licensed operators (7.5% of the
NTSA Motorcycle Recalls
Triumph 2011-2012 Daytona 675, Street Triple, and 2012
Thunderbird and Thunderbird Storm motorcycles : Wheel bearings of poor
quality could fail unexpectedly, increasing the risk of a motorcycle crash.
Triumph will notify owners, and dealers will replace the affected bearings free
Continental Tire ContiMotion motorcycle tires, size 180/60R16 M/C 74H:
Sold as replacement equipment for Honda GoldWing 1800 motorcycles, some of these
tires may experience uneven wear, groove cracking, and belt lift. This could
result in a loss of inflation pressure. Continental Tire will notify owners and
reimburse customers for the affected tires.
Triumph 2013 Trophy motorcycles: These motorcycles were produced with a
label bearing incorrect tire data, which could cause users to install incorrect
replacement tires, increasing the risk of personal injury. None of the affected
motorcycles have been sold to consumers and they will be repaired prior to sale.