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South African riders in Grand Prix motorcycle racing’s elite class

By | General Posts

by James Richardson from https://www.thesouthafrican.com/

Later this month Brad Binder will become the fifth South African rider in the history Grand Prix motorcycle racing’s elite class, here we look at those that went before.

Formerly classified as the 500cc class before it was transformed to MotoGP, Grand Prix motorcycle racing has not been an environment inhabited by South Africans very often.

Before 2020, just four South African riders had made it into the elite class with all three competing during the 500cc era.

SA riders in Grand Prix motorcycle racing’s elite class

Here we will only look at riders who have reached either the 500cc class or MotoGP.

1 Paddy Driver

The first South African to reach the premier class, Driver competed on the Grand Prix motorcycle racing circuit from 1959 to 1965. His best result came in his final year on the circuit when he rode a Matchless to a third-place finish in the 500cc world championship behind Mike Hailwood and Giacomo Agostini.

Having lined up in two Formula One Grand Prix Driver is part of a very small club of men who have raced in both the Grand Prix motorcycle World Championship and Formula One. That group also includes legends John Surtees, Mike Hailwood and Johnny Cecotto.

2 Alan North

North made his Grand Prix motorcycle racing in the elite class when in the 1975 season riding for Yamaha.

The Durban-born racer spent three seasons in the 500cc class scoring nine world championship points in that time. He won his only Grand Prix race in 1977 when he claimed the 350 cc 1977 Nations Grand Prix at Imola

3 Jon Ekerold

SA riders in Grand Prix motorcycle racing’s elite class 

Prior to Brad Binder’s 2016 Moto3 championship, Ekerold was the last South African to win a world title in Grand Prix motrocycle racing claiming the 1980 350cc championship as a privateer. Without the benefit of a motorcycle manufacturer’s support Ekerold defeated Kawasaki factory racing team rider Anton Mang to win world championship.

Ekerold appeared on the 500cc circuit in three seasons, racing in eight Grand Prix in the elite class.

His best race finish in the 500cc class came in his debut on the elite division’s grid in the 1976 Isle of Man TT where he placed sixth.

4 Kork Ballington

A contemporary of Ekerold, Hugh Neville “Kork” Ballington was born in what would become Harare in Zimbabwe but raced under the South African flag winning four Grand Prix motorcycle World Championships.

Ballington raced in the elite class in three seasons including the 1982 season when both he and Ekerold raced in the elite class. That would be the last time until 2020 that a South African rider took up a place on the grid in the elite class.

He finished on the podium twice in the 1981 season claiming third place at both the Dutch TT and the Finish Grand Prix.

In 1978 and 1979 Ballington won both the 250cc and 350cc championships, making him the most successful South African rider in terms of championships on the circuit.

5 Brad Binder

The 2016 Moto3 champion makes the step up to MotoGP as South Africa’s first representative at the pinnacle of Grand Prix motorcycle racing since the 1980s.

Binder’s younger brother Darryn is also a racer and joined Red Bull KTM’s Moto3 team in 2018.

The MotoGP season gets underway in Jerez later this month and will see Binder compete for Red Bull KTM alongside the best riders in the world. He will be the first South African rider to compete in the championship since it became the MotoGP.

Motorcycle policy shift stresses mentorship

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by Scott Prater from https://csmng.com

FORT CARSON, Colo. — Due to a recent increase in accidents and mishaps, Fort Carson active-duty, military-member motorcyclists must obtain a Fort Carson Motorcycle License, through their unit motorcycle mentor, to ride legally on or off post.

The policy, which affects military personnel only, is effective immediately, though military police and access-control-point personnel won’t begin enforcing the policy until July 15. Military members who are new to the installation will have a 30-day grace period to obtain the new license.

Though the new policy may seem stringent to some at first, it does follow Army regulation, and the process for obtaining the new license is fairly simple.

As part of the policy, most units on post are assigned a motorcycle mentor, who assists riders in obtaining the required rider training and filing the proper paperwork to earn their Fort Carson Motorcycle License.

“This new policy is designed to provide more mentorship to our motorcycle riders,” said Derrick Merriwether, safety specialist, 4th Infantry Division. “We’re training them to the best of our ability to ensure that they are safe on the roads. That’s what this is all about. When a rider joins the program, their unit motorcycle mentor will check the rider’s bike, check their personal protective equipment and their level of experience. Then the mentor will work with the rider to be better prepared for the road.”

All riders seeking a Fort Carson motorcycle license must hold a state issued driver’s license with a motorcycle endorsement, and must pass the post’s Basic Rider Course, hosted regularly by experienced instructors at the Fort Carson Motorcycle Training Range.

“This really affects the new Soldiers — the (privates) through (specialists) — who buy these brand-new vehicles but are not very experienced riders,” Merriwether said. “The policy allows the command to see a rider’s exact proficiency on the motorcycle and then provides that all-important mentorship and knowledge.”

Motorcycle riding is inherently riskier than driving an automobile. Riders have no vehicle protective structure surrounding them, and are less visible to other motorists, so they must maintain awareness of other drivers, obstacles and potential escape paths to help mitigate that risk.

Maj. Chris Horton, the 4th Infantry Division motorcycle mentor, has been riding for roughly two decades and recounts a harrowing experience that occurred early in his riding days.

“I thought I was an experienced rider,” he said. “And after taking a basic rider course, I thought I knew everything I needed to know. I was as confident as I could be … then I had an accident.”

Horton’s description of the incident indicates it could have happened to any rider.

“A vehicle stopped suddenly in front of me,” he said. “I swerved to avoid it, but I ended up driving down into a roadside ditch, where my foot peg caught the side of the hill. I was able to repair the bike, but I injured my shoulder pretty badly and ended up needing surgery to repair it years later.”

In the rider courses at Fort Carson, mentors and instructors teach the best techniques for swerving, something Horton said would have helped him avoid his accident. Mentors also teach braking technique, obstacle avoidance, counter steering and finding escape paths.

“From the time a rider notices a hazard, it takes four seconds for him or her to execute a maneuver,” Horton said. “Executing a maneuver is a skill, and these are skills that can be learned and practiced.”

Skill development is a key part of the mentorship program. That’s why the new Fort Carson policy also requires riders to complete mandatory progressive training.

“We have two advanced courses at Fort Carson, the Basic Rider Course II and the Advanced Sportbike Course,” Horton said. “Required courses can be taken on or off post, but keep in mind that Fort Carson motorcycle training courses are provided to active duty military members at no cost to the service member.”

Early this week, several riders completed the Basic Rider Course at the Fort Carson Motorcycle Training Range on the post’s north side, near the railhead. Horton was on hand to mentor and teach along with other instructors.

Sgt. 1st Class Garret Pool, senior targeting NCO, Division Artillery, 4th Inf. Div., said he purchased a new bike in the last year and picked up motorcycle riding at the urging of friends.

“This has been helpful, even just the familiarization part,” he said. “I’ve learned some important new techniques, and I learned some things I already knew, but was performing sloppy. I’m not as proficient as I’d like to be, but I’m getting more familiar. We’re practicing things I’ve never thought about before, and I can see how they’ll be useful on the road. It’s obvious these instructors are extremely knowledgeable.”

Fort Carson motorcycle licenses are valid for five years. Riders can find more information about the new policy, reporting procedures, licensure and training requirements from their unit motorcycle mentor.

MMA & Princeton PD Team Up for Voluntary Sound Check

By | General Posts

Your Massachusetts Motorcycle Association is teaming up with the Princeton Police Department to conduct a Voluntary Motorcycle Sound Emissions Check at the Thomas Prince School on Route 62 in Princeton, Massachusetts on July 11, 2020 beginning at 11 AM.

This is a “no enforcement” and no cost awareness event aimed at educating riders and the public regarding the realities and implications of Motorcycle Exhaust emissions, specifically regarding sound levels.

On Tuesday, June 9, your Massachusetts Motorcycle Association was invited to participate in the Princeton Select Board meeting to address growing and continuing concerns among Residents concerning the problems of Motorcycle Sound Emissions and reckless riding in and around the town of Princeton.

Alerted by a MassMotorcycle member to the concerns, numerous potential approaches to tackling what is perceived as an invasion of residents rights to a safe and peaceful weekend were being discussed including Motorcycle Original Equipment Exhaust Enforcement, Traffic Restrictions for Motorcyclists, and other options. Your MassMotorcycle Association immediately contacted the Chief of Police, Michele Powers, to discuss the concerns and approaches. Chief Powers in turn discussed the MassMotorcycle feedback with the Select Board resulting in the invitation to speak with the Select Board at the June 9th Meeting.

In 2009, in response to similar concerns at the time and numerous town warrants and Legislative Bills aimed at addressing the issue, your MassMotorcycle Association created the “When in Town, Throttle Down!©” program to address a wealth of misinformation concerning Motorcycle Exhaust and Sound Issues, specifically aimed at education and awareness of “What’s the Noise about Noise?” The resulting program included a Voluntary Sound Check program, including investing in Sound Testing Equipment and Training. This program has been used with great affect around the Commonwealth in the following 11 years and the “noise” has significantly quieted down since.

This program has since also been used successfully in numerous towns across the Commonwealth, in other States around the Country, and education sessions have been given at regional and national conferences such as the ABATE of Oklahoma S.M.I.L.E. and Motorcycle Riders Foundation Meeting of the Minds.

To be conducted by the MMA in conjunction with the Princeton Police, the Voluntary Sound Check planned for July 11th will be a “no enforcement” awareness-only event. All riders are invited to stop by for a few minutes for a free bottle of water while they learn about the issues concerning Motorcycle Exhaust Sound Emissions, the legal limits of those emissions, whether their motorcycles are within them, and how to potentially control them. The testing takes only a few short moments – far less time than it will take to finish a bottle of water.

A motorcycle that legally passes these tests may still be perceived by some to be “too loud” depending on how the rider operates the motorcycle. Riders are aware that simple modifications regarding RPM control mitigates the motorcycles’ impact and sound emissions levels upon the public. All testing will be conducted according to Registry of Motor Vehicles stationary noise level standards defined by the Code of Massachusetts Regulations.

Non-riders are also invited to stop by to witness the testing and participate in the program.

Your MMA thanks the Princeton Police Department, Chief Powers, and the Princeton Select Board for inviting riders and the public to participate in this event.

For more information, please contact Chairman@MassMotorcycle.org or visit www.MassMotorcycle.org.

Harley-Davidson Launches Training Program with Personal Coaches for Beginners

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

In September of 2019, Harley-Davidson announced an ambitious plan to have 1 million more riders on the road by the year 2027. That would be 4 million people riding Harley motorcycles, up from the 3 million recorded three years ago, in 2017.

To do that, the company announced a range of new bikes being prepared for the future, including the now obviously not that successful electric LiveWire. But having new bikes that can be ridden means of course nothing if people do not know how to ride them.

The company already has a training program it calls Riding Academy New Rider Course, but that doesn’t allow for personalized sessions. That’s why a new program was announced on June 30, dedicated to beginners who need a personal trainer.

Called Learn to Ride, the program is now open and availble to access at Harley dealers and allows for personal coaching sessions with trainers, either individually or as a group of up to four people. Each session lasts 90 minutes, and free rides are being given on a Harley-Davidson Street 500 motorcycle, specially equipped for beginners, on a practice course.

“For riders that always wanted to learn but couldn’t fit a multi-day course into their schedule or prefer to learn in private session, this program is what they have been waiting for,” the Milwaukee bike maker said in a statement when announcing the program.

“Sessions can be scheduled 1-on-1 or as a private party with up to 4 participants. This program is a great option for spouses, friends, and individuals to finally learn and fulfill their dreams of riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.”

If you plan to become a Harley rider, or just plan on using these guys as tools into learning the tricks of the trade and then move on to something else, you can head over to this link and get more info.

Ladies of Harley will still celebrate even though Female Ride Day moved to August

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from https://medicinehatnews.com

International Female Ride Day was scheduled for this Saturday, and while COVID-19 has pushed the date all the way back to Aug. 22, the local Ladies of Harley motorcycle group will still be celebrating this weekend with a safely-distanced ladies’ ride.

The trip is scheduled to begin at Badlands Harley Davidson at noon and will take roughly two hours with a socially-distanced pit stop planned for Echo Dale Park.

Anyone attending is encouraged to park at least six feet away from other bikes.

Motorcycle parade at veterans home shows heroes that even though they are isolated, they are not alone

By | General Posts

by Chris Best from https://www.wkrg.com

BAY MINETTE, Ala. (WKRG) — Veterans at the William F. Green State Veterans Home may be isolated, but they are not alone. 150 motorcycle riders wanted to send that message loudly this Saturday. They lined up and paraded around the home on their bikes, honking their horns and revving their engines.

Signs leading up to the home read “Heroes work and live here.” These bikers wanted to make sure that heroism is recognized. Just the day before the riders honored the heroes it was announced a 3rd employee at the facility tested positive for COVID-19. The state announced it would be ramping up testing at all state-run veterans homes as well. So far none of the residents of the home have tested positive. But there have been cases at other state homes.

The veterans have been isolated since the COVID-19 outbreak. Long-term care facilities are particularly high risk. Nursing homes across the country have become hot zones for the virus. The veterans are not able to see their friends, families or others who regularly come to visit them. The Patriot Guard Riders, Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association and American Legion Riders are among several of the groups that normally visit the heroes to raise their spirits. Unable to do that, they got together to plan the parade.

Employees in scrubs and masks came outside to wave at the bikers. Another stood in salute. The bikers circled the facility, some of the veterans able to come to their windows and see the excitement. And those who couldn’t certainly heard it.

Seattle’s motorcycle clubs ride free (but socially distanced)

By | General Posts

Nick “Double Tap” Ziehe of Cretin Motorcycle Club stands for a portrait at the crew’s clubhouse in Seattle’s Interbay neighborhood, April 20, 2020.

by Agueda Pacheco Flores from https://crosscut.com

Coronavirus has scooter, moped and motorcycle enthusiasts rolling with caution.

Long before he was president of the Cretins Motorcycle Club, Nick Ziehe was just a kid growing up in Renton, fascinated by his dad doing a complete overhaul of a Honda CB350.

The bike was a vintage racer, but one his father heavily modified. Ziehe recalls his dad plopping him on the seat of this “odd” looking bike for short rides on backroads around Lake Washington. In high school, when his friends were getting their first cars, Ziehe got his first bike, which he rebuilt with his dad.

Today, Ziehe, 48, works at Boeing as a manufacturing engineer, and for the past five years has led the Ballard-based Cretins Motorcycle Club (aka Cretins MC Seattle), which he joined 10 years ago. Among members, Ziehe is known as “Double Tap.” The club’s preferred bikes are vintage cafe racers, with an aesthetic hearkening to 1960s London.

The glue that holds the Cretins together is the love of riding. Spring usually marks the beginning of the riding season, when members take group rides and share the feeling of the road rolling out under their feet. But this spring is different.

The global coronavirus pandemic put the group’s planned March 28 spring opener ride on hold. The annual Taco Dash (a fundraiser involving minibikes, silly games and homemade tacos) scheduled for May 2, is up in the air. And the customary, rain or shine, Thursday night dive bar meet-ups (Cretin Nights) have gone virtual, from vroom-vroom to Zoom.

Washington is home to an abundance of motorcycle, moped and scooter clubs. In addition to the Cretins there are dozens of groups, including Jewish riding club The Tribe, the Moped Army’s Seattle branch, Los Gatos Gordos and women-only riding groups. According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commision, as of last year there were 237,976 registered motorcycles (this includes mopeds and scooters) in Washington, accounting for 3% of all vehicles registered in the state. Additionally, there are 429,238 people licensed to drive motorcycles.

For many, the longer, warmer days of spring signal a return to the road. Bikers start rolling motorcycles out of garages, and groups convene for scenic rides along highways lined with pines and miles of ocean coast. But Gov. Jay Inslee did not include motorcycle rides on the list of acceptable public activities during the coronavirus stay-at-home order.

“It’s not legally prohibited, but it’s a terrible idea at the moment,” Mike Faulk, Inslee’s press secretary, says by email. “People should limit travel to limit exposure and transmission. This is a legitimate crisis. Adventure can wait.”

Despite the rebellious reputation of motorcycle riders, the Cretins aren’t rule breakers.

“The motorcycle thing is obviously kind of a sticking point for us because we can’t go and ride together,” Ziehe says. “At the same time it’s the human aspect…. I want to make sure that my buddy is good and everything is copacetic. But I can do that online.”

While group rides are off the table, for now, Ziehe and other members still go out for solo rides along desolate stretches of roads to avoid people and practice social distancing as much as they can. A bonus: With traffic significantly down, the roads are more wide open than ever.

“It’s easy for me to hit a backroad and just get lost,” says Ziehe, who now lives in Maple Valley. “Riding a motorcycle is so therapeutic — it’s not like driving a car.”

For bikers, going on rides offers a kind of solitude that people who are socially distancing might not be able to achieve while visiting a park and working hard to stay 6 feet away from the dozens of other people trying to grab their own bit of sunshine.

“You got the wind blowing across you, and you can relax and take everything in,” Ziehe says. “It’s a good way to de-stress from everything that’s going on around you.”

But some bikers are rebels with a cause.

Last week, Doug Davis, president of local Jewish motorcycle club, The Tribe, rode with a small caravan of eight people from Bellevue to Anacortes.

“The truth of the matter is because everybody is homebound and we have a lot of retired and semiretired people, we are riding much more,” says Davis, 66. “If you ask most of us what the number one thing they want to be doing, it’s usually going to be motorcycle riding. You’re out on the road — just you and nature.”

Not all members of The Tribe have chosen to go on rides. But a subgroup of the Bellevue-based posse of mostly 60-somethings have gone out at least twice a week for the past five weeks. And while the group of riders, who primarily own Harley Davidsons, are in an age group that’s considered more vulnerable to coronavirus, Davis says they’re doing everything they can to stay safe.

By Washington state law, motorcyclists are required to wear helmets, which can range from half helmets to full head coverage. Some helmets have face shields; riders in The Tribe who don’t have a face shield wear cloth face masks. (As is customary in biker culture, they also wear leather gloves.) They stay 6 feet apart while on their feet and when out on the road at upwards of 60 miles per hour, they keep two bike lengths between them.

And The Tribe isn’t the only local group that’s taking their chances on the newly empty roads.

Alex Sokolowski owns Magic Touch Mopeds, a full service garage in Seattle specifically for mopeds. He says his business currently has a steady influx of customers, but it’s not nearly as busy as it usually is around this time of year. And when customers do call in for an appointment, some get cold feet when the time comes to drop off their bike.

“We’ve definitely taken a hit because mopeds are generally a social thing,” Sokolowski explains. “Even if you don’t have any problems, the first thing you would want to do when you get your bike running is go visit the moped shop to show it off.”

Sokolowski is also the president of the Moped Army’s Seattle branch, which has 25 active members. As of now, official club business is indefinitely postponed. But some in the moped community, including Sokolowski, meet up for “social distance rides” on Sundays and “moped Mondays.”

“We’ll ride out and then disband at the end of the ride,” Sokolowski says. “Which is different from the way we usually do moped Monday.”

Because the moped’s engines are smaller than those in motorcycles, riders go for shorter distances. And especially now, they are avoiding winding roads.

“It’s obviously not the time you would want to have any sort of incident and visit the ER,” Sokolowski says. Additionally, he says, no one in the club who’s gone out for a ride has exhibited symptoms of the virus. (The CDC cautions that even asymptomatic people can spread the coronavirus.)

“Everybody that I know has been taking the quarantine pretty seriously, and has put a lot of thought into making the decision to go out and socially distance with our moped rides,” he says.

One event still in question is the annual “Mods and Rockers” ride, a June tradition that nods to the historic rivalry between Mods (scooter riders) and Rockers (motorcyclists). Legend has it the two subcultures battled it out on the beaches of Brighton, U.K., in 1964, in a fight that lasted two days. But these days the event is cause for friendly celebration of the two-wheeled lifestyle.

“The Cretins are great. I’ve partied with them many times,” Sokolowski says of the “rocker” club. “They’ve opened their clubhouse to us before and we’ve hosted parties there in the past.”

More than 80 riders on scooters, motorcycles and mopeds usually gather for Mods and Rockers — the mods starting their engines on one side of town, the rockers on the other. After meeting in the middle, the squads join forces and ride to a bar and afterparty.

Ziehe hopes the stay-at-home order isn’t extended into June, so that the Mods and Rockers can take to the road for the commemorative ride.

“We’re just holding out to make that decision to pull the plug on all of our events,” he says. “We’re not the only ones waiting and getting antsy.”

Regardless of the rules, Ziehe expects there will probably still be some riders who say, “I’m going to put on my leathers,” and do a solo ride on June 1 to honor the clash of cultures. But it isn’t the same.

“It’s such a group dynamic; that’s what makes it — that belonging,” Ziehe adds. “You’re never going to get the feeling [elsewhere] like when you’re actually at an event or riding with your fellow riders. You can’t replace it.”

BMW’s most ‘avid motorcycle rider’ is a woman. She’s also in charge of the company

By | General Posts

from https://www.ksro.com

BMW(NEW YORK) — Trudy Hardy is no stranger to motorcycles.

Hardy, a licensed street rider for 20 years and former executive at British carmaker MINI, now sells the “2-wheeled side of life” as vice president of Motorrad of the Americas, BMW’s motorcycle division. Her position puts her in charge of motorcycle operations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil and she oversees the brand’s 150 U.S. stores.

Few women hold high-level executive roles in the motorcycle industry even as the number of female riders has jumped to 19% in 2018 up from 10% a decade ago.

Hardy, who was appointed to the position last July, views women as an important part of Motorrad’s business, which has been primarily men in the 45 to 55 age group.

“We’re broadening the range [of bikes] we have … ones that have lower ride height or adjustable suspensions,” she told ABC News at Motorrad’s U.S. headquarters in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey. “Women need to be comfortable on the bikes they choose.”

She added, “We want to expand our audiences. There’s a lot of untapped potential for us.”

Last week BMW unveiled the R 18, a retro-styled bike geared toward the U.S. market and Motorrad’s first entry in the cruiser segment. The bike’s ergonomic design allows for relaxed riding and optimum control, making it appealing to women. Motorrad’s entry-level bikes, the G 310 GS and G 310 R, were also built and priced to attract female riders, according to the company.

Genevieve Schmitt, founder of Women Riders Now, an online magazine, said women are the fastest-growing demographic in motorcycles versus young men and baby boomers.

“It seems to be exponentially growing,” she told ABC News.

There are two reasons women are turning to bikes, she said: more gear in women’s sizes and the rise of female enthusiast groups on social media. She has also noticed an emphasis on female-focused advertising when there are women executives in the industry.

“I was personally very excited to see BMW choose a woman for that leadership position,” she said, referring to Hardy. “BMW tends to be seen as a conservative company. She was the most qualified candidate — for sure.”

Mark Hoyer, editor-in-chief of Cycle World magazine, pointed out that there has been an increase in ride events and tours marketed directly at women, such as Babes Ride Out and The Suffragists Centennial Motorcycle Ride. Harley-Davidson has also led the charge on getting more women excited about bikes by hosting “Women-only Garage Parties,” a concept it piloted in 2006 with its dealer network.

“The industry has evolved significantly in the last 10 years,” he told ABC News. “It tended to be more masculine … an old time, chest-pounding culture.”

More women are signing up for safety training and the proliferation of online groups and platforms has encouraged women to take up motorcycling, said Andria Yu, director of communications at the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC). Women riders spend an average of $574 a year on tires, routine repairs, maintenance, replacement parts, modifying equipment and accessories compared to $497 that men spend, according to the 2018 Motorcycle Industry Council Owner Survey. Female entrepreneurs are also filling a much-needed void in the industry by manufacturing gear cut specifically for women, Yu noted.

Yu, a former journalist, started riding in 2001 to save money on her long commute to work and was soon hooked.

“I just found riding to be so much fun,” she said.

Hardy’s team of 50 U.S. employees includes 14 women, some of whom are avid riders. But knowing how to ride “is not a prerequisite to work here,” she said. “It’s not for everybody and I never push it on someone who does not feel comfortable on two wheels.”

For Hardy, being on a motorcycle “is an escape mechanism,” she said. “I love the feeling of really being in control.”

But convincing Americans to embrace Motorrad’s “make life a ride” slogan has been a challenge for the brand and industry leader Harley-Davidson. Motorrad delivered 175,162 bikes globally in 2019, an increase of 5.8% from 2018. BMW, however, acknowledged that 2019 was a “difficult market environment” for the brand, with sales in the U.S. and Canada totaling 15,116 units. Harley-Davidson’s U.S. bike sales in 2019 fell for a fifth straight year and the company recorded its lowest global motorcycle shipments in a decade. The COVID-19 pandemic will also likely put a serious dent in industry sales with the closure of manufacturing plants and dealerships.

Hoyer said the decline in motorcycling could partly be attributed to the high barriers of entry and associated costs. The used market now accounts for 70% of motorcycle transactions, according to Hoyer.

“You’re not giving up much when you buy used,” he said. “They’re affordable and the safety and stability control have improved immeasurably.”

He added, “Bikes, like Harley-Davidsons, have traditionally held their value.”

Schmitt said industry sales never really bounced back from the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009.

“Young people have so many enthusiast options available to them now,” she said. “They live differently than their parents and grandparents.”

Hardy conceded that Motorrad’s demographic has been “aging a bit” and her focus now is bringing younger riders into the brand and “targeting the right person with the right bike.” The BMW name has also presented its own challenges.

“We have this perception that we’re expensive to own — we need to overcome this,” she said. “We have some very affordable and attainable bikes that have a lot of safety equipment on them that our competitors do not.”

Hoyer noted that Motorrad’s string of recent products has helped it take market share away from competitors like Honda and Royal Enfield and buck the downward sales trend.

“Motorrad has done an excellent job of embracing its own history,” he said. “The Heritage line has been very successful.”

Hardy said her top goals this year as head of Motorrad USA are to create more passionate riders and to get back on her own bike. She even launched a training program for all BMW staffers who want to get a motorcycle license.

“This should be the most fun place to work in the BMW Group family,” she said.

Harley-Davidson to hold virtual annual meeting, acting CEO says More Roads plan is working

By | General Posts

by Margaret Naczek from https://www.bizjournals.com

Amid the instability of the COVID-19 pandemic, Harley-Davidson Inc.’s acting president and CEO Jochen Zeitz reflected back on the advancements made in the More Roads to Harley-Davidson strategy in 2019.

2020 already was a pivotal year in the company’s strategic plan to grow more riders and expand dealership reach, but the year became a lot more crucial as the Harley-Davidson (NYSE: HOG) looks to also overcome the difficulties during a pandemic.

With concerns over public health and travel restrictions, Harley-Davidson organized its 2020 annual shareholders meeting to be conducted virtually via a live audio webcast on May 21, 2020. The annual meeting will elect nine directors to the board, approve the compensation of the company’s executive officers, approve amendments to the company’s restated articles of incorporation, approve the company’s 2020 incentive stock plan and ratify the selection of Ernst & Young LLP as Harley-Davidson’s independent registered public accounting firm.

“As we embark on our next chapter and seek new leadership, we are steadfast in our belief that we have both much to be proud of and much to look forward to,” Zeitz said in his letter to shareholders.

On Feb. 28, Harley-Davidson announced former CEO Matt Levatich had stepped down and Zeitz would assume the role of acting president and CEO. The company is currently engaged in a search for new CEO.

In his letter to shareholders, Zeitz shared some of the company’s accomplishments in 2019. While U.S. motorcycle sales continue to decline over consecutive quarters, Zeitz noted that in 2019 the rate of decline significantly tempered.

“After four years of accelerating declines, such improvement was supported by our More Roads actions, notably in how we’re Amplifying our Brand and delivering on our New Products catalysts for growth,” Zeitz said in the letter.
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Some other company milestones included the launch of the first Harley-Davidson electric motorcycle, the LiveWire, the introduction of Reflex Defensive Rider System, the acquisition of StaCyc and the launch of the company’s IRONe two-wheelers for children.

In its efforts to continue to grow new riders, Zeitz noted that in 2019, 75% of people who purchased Harley-Davidson products on Amazon were new to the company. Harley-Davidson dealerships that participated in company consulting engagements also saw a nearly 6% increase in motorcycle retail sales compared with dealers not in the program, Zeitz said. Internationally, Harley-Davidson also added 27 new dealerships.

“In 2019, we also continued to manage our business to address current market conditions across the globe. We expanded our Thailand plant to serve the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) markets and increase customer access with more competitive prices, and we continued our work to mitigate the bulk of the impact of recent EU and China tariffs,” Zeitz said.

Zeitz said the company now expects the impact of tariffs to be significantly less in 2020 compared with 2019. According to its annual report filed in February, Harley-Davidson expects the impact of recent EU and China tariffs to be approximately $35 million, which is down significantly from the 2019 impact of $97.9 million.

Zeitz also stated that in 2019, Harley-Davidson finished with 3.1 million riders in the U.S., 55,000 more total riders than 2018. Throughout 2019, the company saw 527,000 new people join the brand.

“The number of people who continue to join Harley-Davidson each year is a testament to the power of our brand and our strengthened capabilities. We are becoming a company that excels at and exists to not only build great bikes, but to build riders,” Zeitz said in the letter.

Zeitz said that in 2020, the company will expand its focus from heavyweight motorcycle shipments to revenue from motorcycles and related products.

“This measure best reflects our comprehensive efforts to expand into new product segments and foster a customer-creation culture,” he said, “one that is laser-focused on our riders and fans who are passionate about our great brand.”

New York City’s motorcycle community is riding to save lives

By | General Posts

from https://www.wmay.com/

The orders were straightforward and immediate: pick up the supplies, ride through the streets of New York City and make the deliveries.

There would be no detours, no diversions. The clock was ticking.

On March 21, Ryan Snelson and three other motorcycle riders geared up, divided up the supplies and took off from Montauk, New York, to meet their receivers in Tribeca and Queens. The supplies strapped to their bikes would help protect the doctors, nurses and other health care professionals battling the deadly novel coronavirus pandemic. New York City hospitals were running out of personal protective equipment (PPE) as the number of sick grew each day. The masks, gloves and gowns Snelson and his crew were in possession of could save patients’ — and doctors’ — lives.

Snelson, a longtime biker, took action against the virus the only way he knew how: by calling on his fellow bikers to join him in the cause.

“We’re just regular people who have bikes and have regular jobs in the city,” he told ABC News. “The motorcycle community is very active in New York.”

Snelson was intrigued after learning about Masks for Docs, a grassroots campaign that was started two weeks ago by Chad Loder, a computer security researcher and entrepreneur in the Los Angeles area. Masks for Docs, which is in the process of being recognized as a 501 (c) charity organization, connects people who have PPE with hospitals and health clinics around the country. Donors and receivers fill out an online questionnaire and Masks for Docs then shares the info with its local volunteer chapters to verify the applicants and distribute the supplies quickly to the requisite facilities.

“We’re getting photos from doctors and nurses who are wearing trash bags and bandanas [for protection],” Loder told ABC News. “We’ve had hospitals say they cannot accept donations but doctors are privately reaching out to us. We have to move faster than the virus.”

Individuals can donate surgical, construction and N95 masks, hand sanitizers, hazmat suits, disposable scrubs, face shields and gowns on the Masks for Docs site. Loder said local chapters are given guidance on acceptable donations as well as safety precautions when picking up and dropping off the PPE.

More than 60 riders have joined the New York “moto squad,” according to Snelson, and supplies have been delivered to all five New York City boroughs as well as northern New Jersey.

“It all happened so fast,” Snelson noted. “We’re figuring it out as we go … and we can start and stop based on our schedules.”

Meredith Balkus, who joined Snelson on the group’s first mission, recalled how eerie and still the city’s streets were that Saturday night, a “surreal” experience for the riders involved, she said.

“When this opportunity came up I was so excited,” she told ABC News. “We all understand the gravity of the situation and it’s really rewarding to help doctors who are on the front lines. It’s really dire in New York and there’s a lot of hunger out there to help.”

At least 776 New Yorkers have died from COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, and more than half of New York state’s cases, or 33,768, are in the city. Nearly 8,500 state residents are currently hospitalized. In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio warned Sunday in an interview on CNN that hospitals have only one week’s worth of medical supplies.

Snelson said his team is cognizant of the infection risks and closely adheres to the safety guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We are so smart every step of the way,” added Balkus. “We’re wearing a full face helmet and a mask underneath. We always stay six feet apart from each other.”

Moto squad’s riders will do whatever it takes to stop the outbreak and slow down the rate of transmission, Snelson said.

“The motorcycle community will help — always,” he said.