All Posts By

Ujjwal Dey

How Harley-Davidson Came to Make Beer

By | General Posts

by Elena Gorgan from https://www.autoevolution.com/

Throughout its 117-year history, Harley-Davidson often turned to merchandising to boost sales, expand its reach and draw in new segments of the public. Some novelty items were hits and misses, while others fared decently – but not a single one was as successful as the Harley-Davidson Beer.

We’ve already discussed some of the most surprising items Harley sold that you (probably) didn’t know about, and mentioned beer as well. Indeed, one of the most iconic motorcycle makers in the world once sold beers by the four- or six-pack as an official product. In fact, it did so for many years, between 1984 and 2000, and then again in 2018, as a limited-edition for the 5-year anniversary known as the Ride Home.

The association between bikes and beer isn’t surprising. After all, it’s a known fact that bikers prefer beer over wine or even hard liquor, and a can of beer seems more at home in the hand of a biker than anywhere else. As for how Harley itself came up with the idea of stamping the HD name on it, it turns out it went beyond the desire to make some extra cash.

Sure, when it was first launched in 1984, at the Daytona Bike Week, it was a novelty item meant to draw on the Harley name for a boost in profit. The cans were made to resemble oil cans, painted in the colors of a chopper (silver and black), but the beer inside was of the generic type. It was a pure marketing move: take a bland, generic beverage and repackage it in order to sell it as a novelty for more money.

By 1987, though, Harley bosses had understood that, even if their beer would sell either way, it would sell even better if it was a quality product. That’s when the Harley-Davidson Heavy Beer was officially born – and introduced at the same Daytona Bike Week event. Made in partnership with Pabst Brewing Co. and packaged inside a can in silver and orange, with the writing “Daytona 1987,” it was a standalone product that spoke of Harley’s commitment to delivering excellence to the riders.

It also spoke of the company’s desire to take merchandising one step further, by delivering something rival companies couldn’t. Or, as Clyde Fessler, Harley-Davidson marketing executive at the time, explained to the Orlando Sentinel upon launch: when your biggest property is your name, you make sure you don’t put it to shame.

“It’s the best beer brewed in Wisconsin,” Fessler boasted, saying the Heavy Beer was thought of as “anti-light beer.”

“The strongest thing we have is our name,” he continued. “To middle America, Harley Davidson is what the Jaguar name is to the yuppies. We sell 30,000 bikes a year, but 2.5 million T-shirts. We wanted to do something the Japanese couldn’t do. Could you see yourself drinking ‘Suzuki beer?’”

Harley continued making limited-edition beer until 2000, for each Daytona Bike Week edition and other HD-sponsored events. As with other novelty items, cans sold out faster than hot cakes, but sellers would often tell the media that they hardly ever saw buyers drink it. To this day, a can of Harley-Davidson beer is a collectible, whether empty or still unopened.

In 2018, for the 5-year anniversary known as the Ride Home or HarleyMania, Harley-Davidson brought back its beer from the dead. This time, it was a one hundred percent homemade product, in the sense that Harley partnered with 3 breweries from hometown Milwaukee to deliver the same taste bikers had come to love in Heavy Beer.

Good City Brewing, Third Space Brewing, and Milwaukee Brewing Co. used all-Wisconsin malts in creating the beer, which was described as “super balanced and drinkable.” It was made widely available at the event, at $7.99 to $8.99 a four-pack. Like with every other edition of the Harley Beer, demand was so high they had to ask buyers to cut back on orders.

The Orlando Sentinel described the 1987 Daytona beer upon launch as having “a thick head, full aroma and a heavy, European-style body” with a “rich [taste]: a slight malt sweetness at first, a strong taste of hops and a sharp, almost bitter finish.” You can still find unopened cans from that year and later on on eBay and beer-dedicated websites, though drinking them after all these years is probably not a good idea.

Upcoming BMW R18 cruiser spied undisguised ahead of 3rd April debut

By | General Posts

by Pradeep Shah from https://www.financialexpress.com

The upcoming BMW R18 will draw power from a 1,800cc, boxer-twin engine that is the biggest motor ever produced by BMW for any of its mass production motorcycles.

BMW R18 is all set for its global debut on the 3rd of April. Ahead of the official unveiling, the full-sized cruiser has been snapped completely undisguised, image courtesy MCN. Starting off with the front, the upcoming BMW R18 cruiser will get a rounded headlamp with chrome bezel. The rounded rear view mirrors are also chrome plated and so are the brake and clutch levers. The R18 gets a large windscreen up front that not only will serve the purpose but gels well with the overall design language. The motorcycle also gets soft-box panniers with buckles and the turn indicators have quite an interesting shape too. The pictures also reveal the instrument cluster of the cruiser, which will be a single piece analogue unit with a small digital readout.

Speaking of powertrain, the upcoming BMW R18 will draw power from a 1,800cc, boxer-twin engine that will be good for developing respective power and torque outputs of 91hp and 158Nm. This is the biggest engine ever produced by BMW for any of its mass production motorcycles. The bike is expected to get multiple riding modes along with a traction control system and cruise control as well. Braking will be taken care of with the help of dual discs up front along with a single disc at the rear. A dual-channel ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System) will be offered as standard equipment.

Apart from a cruiser, BMW will also be coming up with an R18 touring model that will get a more fancy equipment list and loads of other features. The upcoming BMW R18 will rub shoulders against the likes of the cruisers from Indian Motorcycle and Harley-Davidson. Expect India launch to take place by the end of this year or early 2021.

From eardrum bursting motorcycle roar to soft music

By | General Posts

by Fadhli Ishak from https://www.nst.com.my/

KUALA LUMPUR: MotoGP rider Franco Morbidelli, who is used to scorching speeds around the world’s racing tracks, including Sepang, has slowed down to a stop — following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Morbidelli, a member of the Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing Team (SRT), has yet to twist a throttle this season.

The 2018 MotoGP rookie of the Year is now spending his time at home, under lockdown in Italy.

Instead of listening to the eardrum bursting roar of motorcycles’ engines, Morbidelli now tunes into soft music.

He is keeping himself occupied with a new hobby, playing musical instruments, while doing his best to remain physically fit.

“I am trying to stay in shape but without leaving my house. I can go running if I stay within the land boundaries of my household. I am doing that but not much more,” said Morbidelli.

“I have some musical instruments and I am trying to learn to play them. It’s not easy, I need to practise a lot. Maybe by the end of this thing (lockdown) I will be able to play the harmonica and cajon.”

Cajon is a box-shaped, percussive instrument which originated in Peru.

“We should try to enjoy the time that we now have at home and get the maximum from it. We can do things at home that we usually don’t have time to do.”

The MotoGP second, third and fourth rounds in Thailand, Argentina and the United States have been postponed to later this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

1949 Harley-Davidson Police Servi-Car Let Officers Ride and Shoot

By | General Posts

by Daniel Patrascu from https://www.autoevolution.com

Ever since before the start of the second world war, at a time when the world was fighting for its survival during what became known as the Great Depression, and well into the 1970s, the American motorcycle landscape was dominated by a three-wheeled contraption called the Servi-Car.

Produced by Harley-Davidson from 1932 to 1974, the Servi-Car is the forefather of the current Tri Glide Ultra and the Freewheeler trikes, but despite being made in great numbers, they’re not so easy to come by in current times.

From time to time, such machines do pop up on auction sites and elsewhere, but generally they come in the form of custom builds that kind of ruin the initial purpose of the trike. Not the same can be said about the example we have here.

This 1949 Servi-Car was, like many others of its kind, used by a police department. In this case we’re talking about the one in Oakland, California. Despite having underwent a rebuild, needed because of its age, it remains fitted with pretty much all the hardware it had back when it was in the force.

Aside for the mandatory red lights and a siren, it also features a 750 cc side-valve engine with large cooling fins to avoid overheating when on patrol, a left-hand throttle that allowed police officers to draw their weapons with the right hand, and a lockable box at the rear to store items needed for police work.

Just as it was back during its glory days, the trike has the rear wheels spaced apart just enough to be able to ride in the tracks made in the snow by a car.

Given the way it was rebuilt, and the fact that it is an original police Servi-Car, this particular one managed to fetch an impressive amount at a recent RM Sotheby’s auction: $54,000.

3 Surprising Items Harley-Davidson Sold That You Didn’t Know About

By | General Posts

by Elena Gorgan from https://www.autoevolution.com

Harley-Davidson may arguably not be the best or most affordable motorcycle maker in the world, but it is a strong contender for the title of most recognizable brand out there. Throughout its 117-year history, it is not without hit and misses, though.

Today, Harley sells a wide array of bike-related merchandise, from clothes and footwear, to accessories and other assorted riding gear. It also puts its name on other, perhaps more surprising stuff, like home decorations, holiday décor, garden gnomes (biker style!), and the usual range of cups, mugs and drinkware.

This is nothing compared to some efforts the company has made in the past to become more relatable, more popular and to effectively shake off that bad biker boy image and / or association with Hells Angels criminal activity. Here are three of the most surprising and strangest items Harley sold under the Harley-Davidson name, of which you may or may not have known about.

You think of Harleys and you immediately see a leather-clad biker. Whether that biker is male or female isn’t even of relevance, because he or she will be wearing black leather from head to toe, perhaps with studs, fringes or the occasional chain.

Yes, this is an over-generalization of the image of the Harley rider, but it’s meant to serve a point. The last thing on your mind when you think of a Harley biker is the image of a man in a suit with a necktie.

Back in the ‘90s, HD was struggling, both financially and image-wise. In an appeal to expand its reach to include new segments of the market, it started selling ties. These sold until the early 2000s and were discontinued following tepid response. You can still find them on eBay, though: they sell for anything between $10 for a used one and $40 for a 2-pack with the original tags still on.

The ties came with comic book-inspired patterns, or variations on the HD logo, or even in patriotic colors with the bald eagle. Some were funny, others quirky, and many just tacky. Only someone with a vivid personality and a strong sense of humor could have pulled them off, even in the funky ‘90s fashion.

Harley-Davidson Beef Jerky

In 2007, Harley-Davidson and ConAgra Foods announced a partnership that would mark the bike maker’s first and only foray into the food market: beef jerky. Starting from the premise that bikers too get hungry and are reluctant to cut their rides short just so they can grab a bite, the Harley-Davidson Beef Jerky came to be.

“Harley riders live for the time they spend on their motorcycles, and beef jerky is a convenient food for the open road,” Tom Parsons, Harley-Davidson acting general manager of General Merchandise at the time, said. “It’s a great way for riders to grab a snack and keep on rolling.”

Selling at $5.99, it came in three flavors (Original, Teriyaki and Pepper) and became so popular that dealers would include it in the purchase of a new bike.

Harley-Davidson Cigarettes

Back in the day, smoking was the “cool” thing to do. Before its health effects were fully revealed and the war against the tobacco industry started, smoking was everywhere, from music and movies, to ads, magazines and, perhaps more importantly, a fixture to the image of the Harley biker.

So, at the start of the ‘80s, Harley-Davidson decided to sell Harley cigarettes, as part of a limited-time partnership with Lorillard Tobacco Company. The decision was perhaps prompted by a 1985 Lorillard study that showed that, while people had a positive image of the Harley bike, they had a negative one of the Hells Angels members who rode it.

The goal was, as with the other two items on this short list, to broaden the Harley appeal, present a softer and more relatable image, and capitalize on the existing Harley image. The cigarettes were a hit among the bikers, but it’s not known if they helped Harley reach that stated goal.

In the early 1990s, Harley and Lorillard had a major falling out, which saw both companies sue and countersue each other. By then, the image of the good Harley biker was on the rise, so the maker wanted to distance itself from the tobacco war that had started. In court documents unsealed years later, it was revealed that its biggest concern was that cigarette ads would appeal to minors, and it would get dragged into tobacco litigation.

Lorillard was granted the right to sell the cigarettes until 2001, but in 1998, decided to rebrand them as Maverick. The Harley-Davidson Cigarette officially died then. Empty packs are still sold as collectibles online, if you’re the nostalgic type.

In addition to these three items, Harley also sold lampshades, beer, table sets and novelty phones – shaped like Hogs, of course.

Ducati sells over 53,000 bikes in 2019

By | General Posts

by Express Drives Desk from https://www.financialexpress.com

Panigale, Multistrada biggest contributors to growth

The Panigale and the Multistrada are said to have played an instrumental role in helping Ducati sell more than 53,000 motorcycles worldwide in 2019.

Ducati Motor Holding has announced that in 2019, the brand sold 53,186 motorcycles. Recoding a margin growth of 0.3% when assessing against 53,004 units sold in 2018. For the fifth consecutive year, Ducati has sold more than 50,000 units within a calendar year. Globally, the 500cc above segment for motorcycles has seen a growth of 1.4%.

However, while sales volume saw marginal growth, Ducati’s revenue saw further positive growth. The company’s turnover at the end of 2019 stood at €716 million (~Rs 57.7 billion) with an operating profit of € 52 million which is higher than € 49 million it secured in 2018. Ducati says that it recorded a turnover per bike figure which with about € 13,500 / motorcycle shows the highest value in the history of the company.

The Italian superbike manufacturer claims that the Panigale superbike and the Multistrada adventure tourer motorcycles were instrumental in helping Ducati achieve these numbers. The Panigale has been the best selling super sports bike in the world for the second consecutive year and currently holds a massive market share of 25%. The Multistrada 950S and the 1260 Enduro being added to the range, the ADV family saw its best sales performance till date since it was first introduced back in 2003.

Currently, there are 1,655 employees that work directly under Ducati Motor Holding. The Italian superbike maker has its presence in over 90 countries one of which is in India. Ducati India sells multiple variations of the Panigale, Supersports, Multistrada, Monster, Diavel, Scrambler and the Hypermotard motorcycles.

Coronavirus Delays Voxan Motors’ Electric Motorcycle Speed Record Attempt

By | General Posts

by Sebastian Blanco from https://www.forbes.com/

It’s a specific category, but the Venturi Group’s Voxan Motors is working to create the fastest electric motorcycle in the world. Well, the fastest electric motorcycle “propelled by the action of one wheel in contact with the ground, partially streamlined, under 300 kg,” according to the team website.

That specific record is currently held by Jim Hoogerhyde, who rode a Lightning SB220 electric bike to 203.566 mph in 2013, according to Jalopnik. Voxan has set a target of 205 mph for its attempt but the date of the record attempt has been pushed back.

The new world speed record attempt was supposed to happen in July 2020 at the Salar de Uyuni salt flats in Bolivia, but that has been indefinitely postponed due to the cornoavirus. The Venturi Group, which is based in Monaco, issued a statement today saying that it is following the health directives issued by the Monegasque Government and that: “The development teams responsible for the Voxan Wattman motorcycle, which has just completed its initial on-track testing, are now confined to their homes.” Without being able to get together to work on the bike, the team can’t fine-tune the machine on-track, leading to the postponement.

“The health and safety of my teams is paramount. In view of the current health crisis, I have put in place the necessary measures. All of my staff, whether they are attached to Venturi North America (Columbus, Ohio) or to the headquarters in Monaco, are now working from home,” said Gildo Pastor, president of Venturi Group, in a statement. “We will establish a new calendar of operations as soon as the health situation allows it, and announce the new operational arrangements for this project, which is very important to me personally.”

The bike Voxan was (is) going to use to try and set the new speed record is a tweaked version of its Wattman, originally introduced in 2013. The normal Wattman bike is capable of accelerating from zero to 62 miles per hour in 3.4 seconds thanks to its 203-horsepower all-electric powertrain that produces 147.5 pound-feet of torque. Voxan’s high-performance version of the Wattman has been upgraded to produce 367 horsepower in order to hit that 205 mile-per-hour target.

The Venturi Group acquired Voxan in 2010 and shifted the brand’s focus to use electric motors. Both versions of the Wattman (on-road and high-performance) were designed by Venturi’s long-serving lead designer, Sacha Lakic.

The speed record attempt, whenever it happens, is likely to still be driven by Max Biaggi, a two-time World Superbike champion (2010 and 2012). He officially retired from racing in 2012, but has raced a few times since then.

Harley-Davidson faces proxy fight with investor Impala

By | General Posts

by Svea Herbst-Bayliss from https://www.reuters.com

The $2.8 billion hedge fund run by Robert Bishop, which owns 1.9 million Harley shares, or 1.2% of the company, has nominated former auto industry executive Brent Dewar and Leo Hindery, Jr., who has public board experience, as directors to Harley’s nine-member board.

BOSTON: Harley-Davidson Inc faces a battle with one of its investors after Impala Asset Management said on Wednesday it will try to install two directors at America’s oldest and best-known motorcycle maker.

The $2.8 billion hedge fund run by Robert Bishop, which owns 1.9 million Harley shares, or 1.2% of the company, has nominated former auto industry executive Brent Dewar and Leo Hindery, Jr., who has public board experience, as directors to Harley’s nine member board.

Harley has rejected the two men, saying in a filing that they would not bring fresh skills and declining to settle with Impala when the hedge fund first approached the company about new nominations to the board.

Impala has criticized the company for losing market share and the board for being slow fixing poor returns. It also pushed for the ouster of former CEO Matt Levatich in January.

“Impala approached the Board and advocated for the removal of then-CEO Levatich and a modest refresh of the Board itself. We believed then, and still believe, that the Company underperformed its potential under Mr. Levatich and that the Board should have taken action on its own,” the hedge fund said in a filing.

Harley tapped long-time board member Jochen Zeitz as interim CEO on Feb. 28.

A German passport holder, Zeitz’s appointment came just days before U.S. President Donald Trump banned some travel from Europe amid the spread of the coronavirus that has sent markets reeling and killed more than 8,700 people so far.

The motorcycle maker said in a statement on Wednesday an employee in one of its manufacturing facilities in Wisconsin had tested positive for the coronavirus, and that it would shut majority of the production at its facilities in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin starting March 18 through March 29.

Automakers Ford Motor Co , General Motors Co and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV also confirmed they will shut down U.S. plants to stop the virus’ spread.

Meanwhile, like other Harley executives, Zeitz is working remotely and is communicating by video. In one sent to the company’s dealers and seen by Reuters, he said he is “hitting the ground running.”

A company spokeswoman said Zeitz is “in the process of moving to Milwaukee,” where Harley is headquartered. She declined to offer more details.

Zeitz, a former CEO of German apparel and footwear maker Puma, has lead a push for sustainability at Harley and was a force behind The Live Wire, the company’s first production of an electric bike.

Suzuki Celebrates 100th Anniversary

By | General Posts

from https://auto.ndtv.com

Michio Suzuki founded the Suzuki Loom Manufacturing Company in March 15,1920, and over the years expanded its business from looms to motorcycles, automobiles, outboard motors, and ATVs.

Suzuki Motor Corporation is celebrating its 100th anniversary this month. Currently the third-largest manufacture in Japan, it was on this day, March 15, in 1920, when Michio Suzuki founded the Suzuki Loom Manufacturing Company. Over the years, the company expanded its business from looms to motorcycles, automobiles, outboard motors, and ATVs, and right now, it has 35 production facilities in 23 countries and 133 distributors in 192 countries. To celebrate its centenary, the company has created a new website that walks us through the biggest highlights, iconic launches, and achivements of the company, over the last century.

While Michio Suzuki founded the Suzuki Loom Manufacturing Company 1920, it also started 11 years before that in 1909 with Suzuki Loom Works in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. Later, in 1920, it was recognised, incorporated and capitalized at 500,000 Yen, which is approximately ₹ 3.42 lakh as per current exchange rates. However, it was 32 years later, in 1952, that Suzuki entered the world of motor vehicles with the launch of the Power Free 36 cc, 2-stroke motorised bicycle, and two years later changed the company’s name to Suzuki Motor Company.

In March 1955, the automaker introduced its first motorcycle, the Suzuki Colleda 125 cc 4-stroke bike, and the same year, in October, the company debuted its first four-wheeler Suzulight. The car was powered by a 360 cc engine and was in production from 1955 to 1969. In 1961 the company also introduced pick-up trucks and vans under the brand, which were called Suzulight Carry. It was manufactured at the company’s new plant in Toyokawa, Aichi Prefecture, Japan. The Carry brand name is still used by the company for its light commercial vehicles, that is also sold in India as Super Carry.

In 1962, Suzuki won the 50cc-class championship in the Isle of Man TT race, and in 63′ Mitsuo Ito won the title again for Suzuki and became the first Japanese rider to win the Isle of Man TT in the 50 cc class. In 1965, the company started making outboard motors and launched D55 5.5hp, 2-cylinder motor. Two years later, in 1967, the company opened its first motorcycle plant outside Japan, in Thailand. 1970 was again a milestone year for the company for that is when the company launched the Jimny, a small 4×4 SUV powered by a 360 cc twin-cylinder engine, and in 1975 Suzuki begins its first overseas car production with the assembly of the Jimny LJ50 4×4 car in Pakistan. In 1972, the Suzuki GT380 371cc, twin-cylinder motorcycle made its debut. The company ended the decade with yet another iconic model, the Suzuki Alto hatchback, in 1979, which was powered by a 550 cc 2-cylinder motor.

In 1981, the Suzuki GSX 1100S Katana was launched, a 4-cylinder motorcycle which was also introduced in the global markets. And a year later, in 1982, Suzuki entered a joint venture with Maruti Udyog Ltd, which later became Maruti Suzuki India, currently India’s largest car manufacturer. In 1983 the company started production of Suzuki cars in India, with the Maruti 800, and the same year, Suzuki introduced RG250 250cc, twin-cylinder sportbike. In 1985, the company GSX-R750 750 cc motorcycle. In 1990, Suzuki signed yet another basic agreement on a joint venture for car production in Hungary, marking its entry into Easter Europe. In 1993, the company officially became Suzuki Motor Corporation. Subsequently, we saw the launch of some important models like – the Wagon R in 1993, the Suzuki GSX 1300R Hayabusa in 1999, and, in 2004 the company’s popular Swift hatchback. In 2017, the company opened its new manufacturing facility in India, in Gujarat, and a new motorcycle plant in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, Japan.