My 2007 Yamaha VMax...offer around $5,000 on eBay and it's yours! Read all about it below.

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Distracted Driving Awareness

  WATCH OUT FOR DISTRACTED DRIVERS! Nothing is more threatening to us motorcycle riders than the distracted driver who now commonly occupies our streets, roadways and highways. Driving mobile phone users and

Motorcycles are still cool so why is the industry hurting?

  WHERE ARE THE NEW RIDERS? Motorcycle sales are down, motorcyclists are getting older, and people have all kinds of non-motorcycle related pursuits fighting for their hard-earned, after-tax dollars. Industry

Harley-Davidson’s Workhorse Bagger – The Electra Glide Ultra

  THE ELECTRA GLIDE…ONE OF MY FAVORITE BIKES — Back in 2004, I bought a brand new Electra Glide Classic from San Diego Harley-Davidson. Me and “the Glide” as I named

The Beaulieu Brothers Ride the American Southwest

  BEAULIEU BROTHERS RIDE…Big blue skies, breathtaking natural scenery, John Wayne’s wild west and the rich history of Route 66…Read on… BBR2016 had me riding my Chieftain out of San

Explore Cambodia on a motorcycle…Enduro style.

  AMAZING KINGDOM OF CAMBODIA…See this amazing country from the seat of an Enduro Motorcycle.  The Kingdom of Cambodia was a powerful and prosperous empire that flourished and dominated almost

Romania and Eastern Europe on a Motorcycle

  DREAM RIDE ROMANIA! Imagine riding one of the most exciting roads in the world…the Transfagarasan Highway in Romania. The country of Romania in Eastern Europe is home to the

Marc’s Magnum Ride to Sturgis75

  STURGIS! The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally…you gotta see it to believe it! Imagine this, Sturgis, South Dakota, a small, quiet mid-western town of 6,500 people, growing to a metropolis of

The American Wall of Death Thrill Show

  Hell Riders, Motor Maniacs, Thrills, Chills and Spills…This is one heck of a carnival-style biker ride! Imagine if you will…trick riding around the country riding in a wooden silo

Destination Sturgis? You got to see these places!

  The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally…truly a “WOW” experience. Imagine if you will, Sturgis, South Dakota, a small, quiet mid-western town of 6,500 people, growing to a metropolis of party-ready bikers

RoadTest: The 2016 Indian Roadmaster.

  Is this the new Cadillac of touring motorcycles, the 2016 Indian Roadmaster? Here’s my take on this luxury touring dresser. It’s basically the same ride as the 2015 model

The Amazing Yamaha VMax.

 

MOTORCYCLE MARC’S CUSTOM 2007 Yamaha VMax . For sale! Only $5,000 on eBay. (eBay Item #183256836304)

Hey, gotta make room for my next bike project so my beloved Custom MadMax VMax has to go.

First custom bike aficionado to send me around $5,000 U.S. via PayPal gets to own this cool Yamaha VMax powerhouse of a bike. There’s only 12,350 miles on her. She’s a beauty I tell yas. Here’s the eBay link for ya...Motorcycle Marc’s VMAX on eBay.

 

Before the Ape Hanger Bars…My MadMax VMaxBobberLo Project…lowered 2″ with Progressive springs and shocks. New Delkevic Mufflers and Pipes…great sound! Added 14 inch forward brake and gear change controls. Cut off front fender for a clean bobber look. Added engine T-Boost with switch…opens at 3,000 rpm, 6,000 rpm or you can keep it turned off…Added custom LED taillight. New Dunlop fatties front and rear.

 

Added 12 inch Ape Hangers for additional bobber-style coolness. (El Diablo Brand Bars) Click image to view additional details on eBay…

 

Here’s what I’ve done to this cool ride…

Superb condition, runs smooth, looks great, handles great, full of power with the classic and famous 1200cc VMax motor. Maintained perfectly, upgraded where needed and comes with top-grade accessories. Shines like new…Only 12,350 miles.

Custom Notes:
12 inch, 7/8 Ape Hangers (El Diablo Brand)
Delkevic Mufflers & Pipes for awesome sound
Billet Aluminum Forward Controls – 14 inches forward (FC9 Refined Cycle Brand)
Lowered 2 inches front & back with Progressive Springs & Shocks
K&N Air Filter
T-Boost Instal with Switch – kicks in at 3,000 rpm, 6,000 rpm or keep it off. Your choice.
Custom LED Rear Taillight
.
Maintenance Notes:
Hydraulic clutch system flushed
Rebuilt clutch master cylinder
New braided steel clutch hose
New steering head bearings
New Fork Seals
New Temperature Sensor
Cooling system flushed
New Dunlop Tires front & rear
Recent Carb Clean, replaced O-Rings and Needle Valve
.
Condition Overall:
Excellent showroom custom style. Cool flames on faux-tank, comfortable forward foot controls, 12 inch Ape Hangers improve handling compared to short OEM bars in my opinion. Bike serviced regularly per OEM shop manual. Garage kept. Never dropped or in any accidents.

Super cool red flames design on the faux gas tank. Added modern K&N Air Filter.

 

Even the dashboard looks cool on my VMAX.

 

Introduced in 1985, I’ve wanted to own this first generation muscle-bobber for years. The VMAX became a “cult bike” right from the start and I joined that cult.

 

A real creative muscle bike original…my buddy’s OEM 1985 Yamaha VMax. Click image to review one of the first media articles on this amazing bike. #TopSpeedReview

 

The Second Generation VMAX…introduced in 2010…BIG MadMax-style of a bike.

The 2016 Yamaha VMax included major upgrades and improvements…making it even more kick-ass powerful. FYI – the VMax bikes are not for amateur riders. These bikes are serious muscle bikes. Read up on this ride from #TopSpeedReview. PhotoSource: YamahaMotorcycles

 

The Bottom Line.

My 2007 Yamaha VMax bike has been a labor of love…a dream bike for me. The first generation VMax from 1985 to 2009 was a true rider’s ride. A motorcyclist’s dream of a powerhouse with a 1200cc motor kicking out some 130+ horsepower. I hope you too can enjoy this motorcycle as much as I have had...#RideSafeOutThere. 

 

Motorcycle Marc’s 2007 Custom Yamaha VMax…a 1200cc powerhouse of a cool bobber-style ride. Click image to see more info on eBay…it’s for sale for only $5,000 U.S.

 

Ride Safe Out There

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Motorcycle Marc – I’m a motoblogger, some say a motorcycle industry influencer, ambassador and sponsor. I prefer to ride motorcycles but when I can’t ride I blog about it. Since 2009, I’ve developed a strong, dedicated following of thousands of gearheads, motorheads, biker-wannabes and 2-wheeled adventurers who love motorcycles and everything motorcycle-related. Welcome to my world – Marc J. Beaulieu (MJB)

Note: Copyrights and Trademarks are the property of their owners. No infringement ever intended. Some of the material for this blog was gathered from numerous articles and websites available in the public domain. Manufacturer Names, Logos, Photos/Images, Websites, Links and Model Information are Registered Trademarks of the Manufacturer and/or Organizations represented. Also, note that specifications and any information in this blog is subject to change without notice. No representation of accuracy is made.

Distracted Driving Awareness

 

WATCH OUT FOR DISTRACTED DRIVERS!

Nothing is more threatening to us motorcycle riders than the distracted driver who now commonly occupies our streets, roadways and highways. Driving mobile phone users and habitual texters have become a real menace to all motorcycle riders and cagers alike. 3,477 people were killed and over 421,000 injured in 2015, according to the latest government data.

The distracted driver problem is getting worse in my opinion and this deadly practice must simply, somehow, be stopped.

 

TEXTING - 252X367-MJB-05-14-14-iStock_000020486275Small

Menace is defined in Webster’s dictionary as a person or thing that is likely to cause harm; a threat of harm and/or danger. Someone who causes trouble or annoyance…a dangerous or threatening person…”. Yet,  while the dangers of distracted driving, especially texting and driving, are clear, people are still doing it.

Like drugged or drunk drivers, distracted drivers have become a clear and present danger to us all.

I estimate that almost half the drivers I see on California highways seem to be on cell phones, smart phones, texting and/or even checking the internet while driving. It’s a roadway crisis!— MJB

I put tens of thousands of miles on my 2 and 4-wheel vehicles each year and I’m frankly shocked at the number of distracted drivers out there. I even see big rig operators on their cell phones on a regular basis. How insane is this?

Young and old, everyone seems to be doing it! Driver inattention seems to have become a “normal” roadway practice. It’s an addiction as far as I can tell and it appears to be getting worse. According to  New Jersey’s Attorney General’s Office, 53% of crashes in that state labeled “driver inattention” as a contributing factor. Yes, that’s over half of all accidents in Jersey. I suspect this to be a typical statistic in all states across the country.

 

Law Enforcement Cannot Solve The Distracted Driver Problem Without Our Help.

Look-it, I like cops. They do amazing work keeping us safe under the toughest of circumstances. Having them spend valuable life-saving time chasing cell phone use violators is a complete waste of their talent and bravery. Weekend crackdowns, ticket campaigns and checkpoints targeting motorists who are using handheld devices while driving are simply not effective. These actions, while they sound good and even appear worthy, do nothing to curtail this dangerous practice beyond the time period in question.

 

Low-level fines of $100 to $500 on motorists violating the distracted cell phone laws are not working.

Yes, you can add court costs and various fees to increase the penalty but let’s be honest!  These low-level fines have done nothing to stop texting and driving for example. Click here for an example of what I’m talking about…Killer Texter fined only $500!

Now, a $2,500 fine, that’s a meaningful pocketbook pain point. Add loss of a drivers license for 6 to 12 months and you’ll really get people’s attention. And, if you kill someone due to your reckless use of a mobile device while driving, vehicular manslaughter/murder charge at minimum is a must.

Drugged. Drunk. Distracted Drivers…all should be treated as harshly as a DUI sentence in my book. 

 

PLEASE! STOP TEXTING & DRIVING. IT'S JUST NOT WORTH IT!

NICE HIGHWAY SIGN AND THE MESSAGE IS GOOD BUT GUESS WHAT? NO ONE IS READING IT. IT’S JUST NOT WORKING!

 

So, where do we go from here? Here’s my 2-cents.

 

1. I’m no lawyer but I gotta tell yas. Those inflicting pain and misery because of an accident caused by the use of their mobile device need to be at minimum, charged with reckless driving.

Plus, prosecutors should charge offenders with vehicular assault when an accident occurs from such reckless driving. Suspending driving privileges for 12 months should also be part of the legal package.

 

2. Employers must enforce laws that prohibit on-the-job cell phone use while employees are driving on business. Employees should fear the possibility of getting fired should they be caught using their smart phones or laptops while driving on business. In other words, employees engaging in a clearly dangerous workplace behavior and breaking the law should be disciplined…up to and including, being fired for breaking company risk management and safety rules. And, employers, you corporate liability and deep pockets are sure to attract a big lawsuit should one of your employees crash and kill due to being driving distracted on the job.

 

3. Adults need to be better role models to teen drivers. A recent survey, found that 77% of teens say adults tell them not to text and drive yet, do it themselves all the time. Is this nuts or what? Please, it’s time to lead by example people.

 

Better take the pledge before it's to late!

TAKE THE PLEDGE BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE! Click on image for more information.

4. Take The Pledge.

No text message, email, website or video is worth the risk of endangering my life or the lives of others on the road. I pledge to never text and drive and take action to educate others about the dangers of texting while driving. No text is worth the risk. It can wait!”

I like this attempt by AT&T to get the word out. I have taken the pledge…will you?

 

5. Become an advocate. Yes, you need to get involved. Your safe motoring life actually depends on it. If you’re a motorcyclist, there’s no excuse. You must do something against distracted driving. It is literally a threat to our sport and passion.This problem will not go away on its own…we must all play a part.

 

6. Use advanced technology to prevent texting, emailing, or web access while a vehicle is in motion…any motion.

Best I figure, only widespread use of technology that prevents mobile smart phones from working while inside a vehicle will bring any meaningful solution to this deadly problem.

Texting and driving is now a part of people’s psyche…a bad habit stuck in the consciousness of today’s drivers. While tougher laws and large fines should act as a deterrent for the responsible among us, the irresponsible will continue to use their smart phones while driving and as a result, continue to cause accidents.

 

Phone scrambling technology using GPS to disable texting and/or phone calls while a vehicle is in motion.

The technology is available…we just need laws to implement it. I am now convinced that society has no choice but to vote in the mandatory use of this phone scrambling technology less we want distracted driving accidents to continue to wreck the lives of innocent people. Check out one of the leading companies offering such a product, CogoSense Company.

 

7. Join the American Motorcyclists Association and help them work with the NHTSA.

The AMA has taken on the cause of distracted drivers as well and your AMA membership matters towards moving this cause forward. Click here for the AMA’s latest news item on the issue. Click here for the official statement from the AMA regarding their position on the inattentive operation of vehicles.

 

So, what is the government doing about this distracted driving crisis?

TEXTING KILLS-ISTOCK-209x200 BLOGFOOTER

Click image to access online driver training from the pros at Atlantic Tranining.com.

You need to know that the U.S. Department of Transportation, through the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), is trying to help the cause by leading the effort to stop texting and cell phone use behind the wheel. They have held two national distracted driving summits, banned texting and cell phone use for commercial drivers, encouraged states to adopt tough laws, and launched several campaigns to raise public awareness on the issue.

 

Driver training is a key component…but it’s not enough.

As a motorcyclist, I do appreciate the efforts of the NHTSA but fact is, as you have just read throughout this blog post…we have a long way to go before distracted drivers are stopped from menacing users of our roadways. Check out their website and judge for yourself how the government is assisting the cause. Bottom line, you and me need to get involved and help keep the roads safe. No government body can do it for us.

So, as we enter another exciting season of motorcycling, we should all make sure that we have good health insurance and life insurance since there is surely to be more accidents on the highways and byways of this great land due to distracted drivers. The texting and driving problem is that bad I tell yas. Five seconds and it could all be over.

 

The Bottom Line: Don’t Drive Distracted…ever! If you must use your phone while driving, find a safe place to pull off the road before you make your call or send your text. The life you save may well be your own. 

Ride Safe Out There.

 

Remember, Don't Text & Drive. Be Safe!

    Remember, Don’t Text & Drive. Be Safe!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note: Copyrights and Trademarks are the property of their owners. No infringement ever intended. Please see footer of this website for more information.

Motorcycle Sales – How can manufacturers and dealers recruit more riders?

 

AN INDUSTRY IN TRANSITION – The motorcycle business…manufacturers, distributors, suppliers and after-market players are all struggling according to recent media reports and various financial reports. Future sales forecasts by the big manufacturers (OEMs) are weak. So, what’s a motorbike manufacturer and their distributors to do? Here are my thoughts…

 

Sales Basic#1 – Target the already licensed population.

The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that there are near 8 million Americans who have a motorcycle license but don’t own a bike.

In California alone, the country’s largest motorcycle market, there are more licensed motorcyclists without a motorcycle than there are licensed riders who currently own one. According to a 2014 Motorcycle Industry Counsel Survey, 1.7 million Californians held licenses to operate motorcycles but only 847,937 motorcycles were registered in the state. I suspect a similar correlation exists today in 2018.

Think about this for a moment…8,000,000 licensed-qualified prospects want to ride and the industry is struggling to sell them bikes? Basic observation: The industry’s traditional marketing and sales model is obviously outdated and nowhere near as effective as it should be given the pool of ready-to-ride licensed holders.

OEMs are making great bikes that people want to ride but they are perceived as just too expensive so are avoided. I agree the price to ride value equation has gotten out of whack but I believe the real problem is bad communication from OEMs and dealerships on the  value of motorcycle ownership.

Goal: Identify the licensees by zip code, create campaigns to show them some love, provide attractive reasons to motivate them to visit dealerships and twist some throttle.

Sales Basic #2 – Go International faster!

Today’s marketplace is worldwide and the OEMs know it. Harley-Davidson executed against its long-term objective to build the next generation of Harley-Davidson riders globally in 2017 adding 57 new international dealer points. The company also maintained its number one 601+cc motorcycle market share position in countries including the U.S., Canada, Japan, Australia and India for 2017.

 

 

Marketing Basics #1 – Manufacturers…suggest you all give serious consideration to the following actions.

> Strategy – Re-think your overall marketing strategy. Adopt an “experience marketing” mindset. 

OEMs have got to do more to increase awareness of the motorcycling experience.

A more robust and effective media advertising and rider engagement strategy is required by manufacturers. One that compliments and enhances the marketing efforts of their dealers. There’s so much excitement and fun to motorcycles! Every facet of the rider experience is amazing in my book and that has got to be better communicated to a wider group of aspiring riders.

When was the last time you saw a 30 second TV commercial showing a group of riders enjoying a ride together down a scenic mountain road or parking their motorcycles in front of their favorite breakfast diner on a weekend morning?

 

> Invest in “Experience Marketing”.

OEMs and dealerships need to begin proactively championing motorcycling as part of the great outdoors that can be enjoyed by the entire family. The kids overtime, with early exposure to positive motorcycle experiences, will themselves likely be buyers of bikes as they get older and introduce the sport to their children. I highly recommend OEMs at least double their marketing and sales budgets to promote motorcycling as a recreational outdoor experience that can be enjoyed by the whole family.

 

> Positioning & Promotion – The open road…guess what, it still matters.

Exploration, travel and adventure is part of the human experience in all age groups. Millennials love travel and adventure. There’s no better way to experience the rawness of it all than from the seat of a motorcycle.

 

Get on the open road this summer…Explore America on two or three wheels. Click image for the Top 15 motorcycle roads in the U.S..

> Influence Marketing 101 – Get your lobbyists to “lobby” harder and faster.

Lobbyists play a major role in an organized attempt to influence legislators. Every topic  from transportation infrastructure and planning to making lands available for enduro riding to keeping the EPA off our backs are areas lobbyists can help the motorcycle industry. Can anyone even name an OEM lobbyist?

Imagine if you will, a strong motorcycle lobby at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC?

 

> Influence Marketing 102 – Lobby aggressively against distracted driving. 

How much time, money and effort are OEMs allocating to curtailing this dangerous cager habit? I believe the distracted driver epidemic is scaring away a significant amount of new riders from enjoying the great sport of motorcycling? Best I can tell, OEMs have had their heads in the sand on this issue.

Because motorcycles are wide open, we riders find ourselves at an increased risk of injury in the event of an accident…that risk is compounded significantly when you add distracted drivers. What are OEMs doing about distracted driving? Does anyone know? Please add your info in the comments section at the end of this post. 

 

Manufacturing Basic #1 – OEMs must decrease manufacturing costs!

MSRPs are too high for today’s and tomorrow’s financially challenged prospect customer. Keep increasing MSRPs annually and you will lose more potential riders to other recreational alternatives. Basic observation: Your operating cost structure is contributing, even killing local dealership sales before bikes even hit the dealer’s showroom floor. Simplify your offerings…decrease complexity…Do what you must to reposition your costs. Only a minority of potential riders want technical dashboard complexity, Picasso caliber paint work and/or opera level speakers, let alone pay for it. Many just want to ride quality motorcycles.

 

Motorcycle Dealers – My 2-cents advice for you.

> Training – Review your customer experience training budgets. 

Are they realistic or even sufficient to develop a more customer sensitive motorcycle dealership visit experience.

I have visited hundreds of motorcycle and powersports dealership in many different parts of the world during my riding lifetime. Today, I rarely go on rides without making a stop or two at dealerships. Some visits are pleasant some not so much. For example:

Basic dealership visitor etiquette, such as just being polite and offering a welcoming smile, seems to occur only 50% of the time. While powersports dealership employee attitudes have come a long way over the years, still too many exhibit a negative/bad attitude in my opinion. It’s as if they don’t understand the impact of great customer experiences on their employer’s bottom line.

I admire motorcycle dealers like San Diego Harley-Davidson and motorcycle repair shops like Ron Bishop Motorcycles in Escondido, California. They take customer satisfaction very seriously, and invest in well-trained team members. From all I’ve seen and have experienced, they commonly go beyond just “satisfying” customers. They actually go all out to make potential customers feel at home when visiting their businesses. They even thank people for “dropping by” and visiting.

Still, as they say, you’re only as good as your last customer facing performance. In a world of online reviews and social media, the only way to grow profitably is to consistently exceed the expectations of all customers — men, women, minorities. Dealerships won’t be selling many motorcycles, services and accessories for long if they don’t.

 

Declutter your Showrooms

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The dealership motorcycle showroom lineup…works for experienced motorbike pros like me…the new rider? Feels intimidated with so much choice. ImageSource: SDHD

 

> Diversity & Inclusion

Motorcycle dealerships, especially powersports-oriented dealers, must develop new marketing and sales approaches that will attract women and minority riders. There’s simply too much business opportunity with these two groups to not make them a developmental priority going forward.

 

The Bottom Line

There are an estimated 9.0 million motorcycles registered in the U.S. today, according to the Statistical Portal. The Motorcycle Industry Council estimates that the percentage of U.S. households with at least one bike has settled around 6.8% since 2008. Harley-Davidson wants to add 2.0 million new riders over the next decade…what do the other OEMs want to do?

OEMs have a responsibility to elevate the visibility of riding. They have the responsibility for working hand-in-hand with their dealers to create family-friendly riding opportunities.  They have a responsibility to train their dealers to be more customer friendly. They have the responsibility to promote safe riding conditions on streets, roads and highways everywhere. They have a responsibility to lower manufacturing costs so that they can bring bikes to market that people can justify buying.

Dealers have the responsibility for bringing the fun back into buying new motorcycles. Yes, OEMs and dealerships…The future of motorcycling is in your hands.

Me, I will continue to promote the great sport of motorcycling with my thousands of social media followers in the hopes that someone somewhere will be inspired to get on a bike and ride.

 

Ride Safe Out There…

 

 

 

About Motorcycle Marc – I’m a motoblogger, some say a motorcycle evangelist, an industry influencer, ambassador and sponsor. I prefer to ride motorcycles but when I can’t ride I blog about it. Since 2009, I’ve developed a strong, dedicated following of thousands of gearheads, motorheads, biker-wannabes and 2-wheeled adventurers who love motorcycles and everything motorcycle-related. Welcome to my world – Marc J. Beaulieu (MJB)

Note: Copyrights and Trademarks are the property of their owners. No infringement ever intended. Some of the material for this blog was gathered from numerous articles and websites available in the public domain. Manufacturer Names, Logos, Photos/Images, Websites, Links and Model Information are Registered Trademarks of the Manufacturer and/or Organizations represented. Also, note that specifications and any information in this blog is subject to change without notice. No representation of accuracy is made.

 

Motorcycles are still cool so why is the industry hurting?

 

WHERE ARE THE NEW RIDERS? Motorcycle sales are down, motorcyclists are getting older, and people have all kinds of non-motorcycle related pursuits fighting for their hard-earned, after-tax dollars. Industry distributors, suppliers and after-market players are all struggling according to numerous media reports and a review of various OEM financial reports. Future sales forecasts by the big manufacturers are weak. Many are working towards lower inventories to ensure they are not producing more bikes than their “current” marketplace can support. So, what’s up?

Here’s my 2-cents on this issue…

 

The 45+ Demographic –  As is the case with many expensive recreational product offerings such as ATVs, RVs, side-by-sides, boats and motorcycles, personal income levels and interest rates play a huge role in customer demand. In other words, you got to be able to afford your recreational pursuits.

The American Motorcyclist Association indicates the average age of today’s motorcycle rider is 48. Nearly 40% of motorcycles in the U.S. have owners in the 50+ age range. Average household income of a motorcycle owner is above $85,000. This is $30,000 higher than the average household income of $55,000 in the U.S. Basic observation: A disappearing pool of customers (with the money to buy their ever increasingly expensive products) is clearly evident to OEMs and has been so for the past decade.  Despite the evidence, OEMs have been slow to control their selling costs and even more slow to invest in developing other target demographics such as women riders and minorities.

 

The Aging Rider – Baby Boomer on 2 wheels. – Almost singularly drove the success of the Harley-Davidson Motor Company in the 80s, 90s and early 2000s…but today, they are “aging out” of the motorcycle marketplace.

 

Product Sticker Shock – It’s no wonder first-time buyers and young people aren’t buying a lot of new motorcycles. Many are loaded with college debt and/or  automobile debt and/or raising young families. In California and other expensive states, a good number of the under 35 crowd can barely afford to leave the comfort of their family’s homes.

OEMs have failed to address the economic reality plaguing this demographic. Best I can tell, young people actually like the idea of participating in adventures and going on roadtrips but view bikes as too expensive a vehicle for it.

 

Remember the simple minibikes of the 60s & 70s? You could buy them for less than $250 from the Sears Catalog. These bikes got a lot of us riding early.

 

Not building new motorcycles that young people can afford has been a clear strategic miss by the OEMs in my opinion. For example, the Harley-Davidson Street 500 MSRP is $6,899 plus an estimated 25% for various state and dealerhip charges. Now, your talking almost $9,000 out the dealership door.

Indian’s new Scout Sixty is a really cool ride but at MSRP $8,999 plus an estimated 25% of OEM “disclaimer” fees and you are now looking at $11,249 out the door.

Yamaha Cruisers don’t fare much better with the Bolt Cruiser MSRP at $7,999 + 25% = $10,000.

 

2018 HD Street 500 – nice bike! First time buyers and young buyers on my blog tell me they would see this Street 500 as much nicer at $6,899 out the dealership door instead of $6,899 MSRP plus various fees. ImageSource: HDMedia

 

Just 1 in 5 new motorcycle purchases (only 20%) are coming from first-time bike buyers according to marketing expert, Brandon Gaille. Basic observation: Smart competitors have taken notice. Sources tell me that India’s Royal Enfield is getting ready to launch new U.S. bikes in the 500cc and 750cc range for under $7,900 out the door by 2019. Japan’s world famous Honda Super Cub, with engines at 50cc and 110cc, is being launched now in Japan for an out the door price estimated to be $2,500. A U.S. and Canada introduction is expected for 2019.

 

Used MotorcyclesThe real price to ride value today…comes from used motorcycles. Bikes are so well built that one can consider any pre-owned motorcycle with less than 10,000 miles and less than 10 years old basically like new in my opinion. Riders are saving thousands of dollars by buying good used bikes from Motorcycle Trader, EBay and other sources.

And, for all those fortunate few that can afford/want to pay $40,000 to $50,000 for a new, top of the line Tourer, there’s as many potential such buyers chosing to hang back waiting for a pre-owned, low-mileage Tourer selling for $22,000 to $29,000. Basic observation: Dealers need to display more used bikes up front as viable ride options…don’t hide them in the back of the showroom as outcasts. I’m hearing used bikes are selling so you might as well prioritize them for sale on the showroom floor.

 

Industry Leadership – Looking around the motorcycle industry, OEM leadership is predominantly male. One is hard-pressed to find many female executives among the C-suite decision-making ranks. So it’s no surprise that female riders have not received top level support from OEMs and their distributors. Key point – The industry cannot hope to capture the hearts and minds of new riders without more diversity in its leadership ranks.

 

The Motorcycle Industry C-Suite…a male dominated business looking for ways to attract more female riders and other enthusiasts? Clearly, the industry requires new thinking from women and minorities to lead tomorrow’s new sales success.The motorcycle business cannot afford to favor one group over another going forward.

 

Depending on which statistics you look at, women riders make up between 9% and 14% of the motorcycling population. Gen X women, those born between 1961 and 1981 are currently between 30 and 55 years of age. They appear to be well educated, more confident, more independent and many have good paying jobs. Yes, they got debt and other obligations but so does everyone in this demographic age group.

As a business person, it seems odd to me that women and minorities are so under-represented across the sport of motorcycling given how long motorcycles have been around.

Also, women continue to be promoted not as serious riders and/or passengers but mainly as sexy ornaments to motorcycles and the motorcycle lifestyle. This is a clear marketing target customer miss by OEMs in my opinion given today’s business climate of diversity, inclusion and harrassment. Basic observation: Diversity and inclusion of women and minorities matters. Big time support and respect is a must going forward if OEMs have any hope in developing this major, important group of future riders.

 

Marketing as a Discipline – does not appear to be a strong, well-funded business competence amongst OEMs. Basic observation: Where are the powerful, executive level, revenue-driving, motorcycle-riding CMOs leading the charge on “experience marketing” initiatives?

 

Marketing as an Investment – There appears to be enthusiasm for various motorcycle racing segments, a few celebrity endorsements, some money to assist local dealership promotions but little investment by OEMs in the creation of new rider engagements and experiences. The industry’s use of the broad media overall seems to be inadequate for more demand creation. When was the last time you saw a cool television commercial showing a happy motorcycling family outing, for example.

 

OEM BizTip – It’s all about the customer…not the dealers, not the suppliers, not even the shareholders. Motorcycle manufacturers must build affordable bikes for a broader spectrum of the population in order to re-energize sales.

 

Basic observation: OEMs need to pivot and invest in more “experience marketing” strategies and plans that are totally customer specific…not dealership specific or feel good engineering specific. OEMs and dealerships need to move beyond Saturday morning coffee and donuts and/or bikini-clad babes washing bikes to attract new riders. It’s about the experience around “the ride” for everyone!

 

New Rider Prospects – They’re everywhere! Yes! The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that there are near 8 million Americans who have a motorcycle license but don’t own a bike. Where are the sophisticated marketing campaigns and initiatives aimed at converting these 8 million motorcycle-licensed holders that don’t own a bike?

In California, the country’s largest motorcycle market, there are more licensed motorcyclists without a motorcycle than there are licensed riders who currently own one. According to a 2014 Motorcycle Industry Counsel Survey, 1.7 million Californians held licenses to operate motorcycles but only 847,937 motorcycles were registered in the state. I suspect a similar correlation exists today in 2018.

Think about this for a moment…millions of licensed-qualified prospects want to ride and the industry is struggling to sell them bikes? Basic observation: The industry’s traditional marketing and sales model is obviously outdated and nowhere near as effective as it should be…My spin on it…OEMs are making great bikes that people want to ride but they are just too expensive given the weak marketing communication efforts around their overall value. In other words, they have allowed the price-to-ride-value equation to get out of whack.

 

International Sales – are in motion by OEMs in the U.S.. –  Global sales will play a major role in the financial success of American motorcycle manufacturers if they are able to adapt and build for the international rider. Basic Observation: Dramatically increase your efforts here to optimize your profits and shareholder value.

 

The Bottom Line

There are an estimated 9.0 million motorcycles registered in the U.S. today, according to the Statistical Portal. The Motorcycle Industry Council estimates that the percentage of U.S. households with at least one bike has settled around 6.8% since 2008. Harley-Davidson wants to add 2.0 million new riders over the next decade…what do the other OEMs want to do?

While the industry and and its participants may rise and fall together, I’m placing the responsibility for the industry’s success today and in the future 100% on the OEMs and their current distribution model. Like many traditional business models, they must change and significantly improved the customer experience to ensure a profitable future in the U.S. and abroad.

OEMs have a responsibility for elevating the visibility of riding. They have the responsibility for working hand-in-hand with their dealers to create family-friendly riding opportunities.  They have a responsibility to train their dealers to be more customer friendly. They have the responsibility to promote safe riding conditions on streets, roads and highways everywhere. They have a responsibility to lower manufacturing costs so that they can bring bikes to market that people can justify buying.

Dealers have the responsibility for bringing the fun back into buying new motorcycles. Yes, OEMs and dealerships…The future of motorcycling is in your hands.

 

Rode out from San Diego, CA to Monument Valley, Utah in 2016…660 miles one way just for the fun of it. – June 2016

 

Me, I will continue to promote the great sport of motorcycling with my thousands of social media followers in the hopes that someone somewhere will be inspired to get on a bike and ride.

Coming soon…In Part 2 of this topic, I will provide my 2-cent advice on how motorcycle manufacturers, dealerships and others…can get back on track towards recruiting more riders and selling more bikes. Stay tuned…

 

Ride Safe Out There,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Motorcycle Marc – I’m a motoblogger, some say a motorcycle evangelist, an industry influencer, ambassador and sponsor. I prefer to ride motorcycles but when I can’t ride I blog about it. Since 2009, I’ve developed a strong, dedicated following of thousands of gearheads, motorheads, biker-wannabes and 2-wheeled adventurers who love motorcycles and everything motorcycle-related. Welcome to my world – Marc J. Beaulieu (MJB)

About Give-A-Shift – The Future of Motorcycling – Roundtable Discussion  This initiative is being championed by motorcycle industry pro, Robert Pandya. I got to give credit where credit is due…his document inspired me to write this blog post. Mr. Pandya recently brought together a number of key motorcycle advocates and industry participants to discuss the realities impacting today’s motorcycle industry. The resulting roundtable report offers some good thoughts and ideas. Click here to read it or click on the Give-A-Shift Banner located in the right side banners of this blog.

Note: Copyrights and Trademarks are the property of their owners. No infringement ever intended. Some of the material for this blog was gathered from numerous articles and websites available in the public domain. Manufacturer Names, Logos, Photos/Images, Websites, Links and Model Information are Registered Trademarks of the Manufacturer and/or Organizations represented. Also, note that specifications and any information in this blog is subject to change without notice. No representation of accuracy is made.

 

Harley-Davidson’s Workhorse Bagger – The Electra Glide Ultra

 

THE ELECTRA GLIDE…ONE OF MY FAVORITE BIKES — Back in 2004, I bought a brand new Electra Glide Classic from San Diego Harley-Davidson. Me and “the Glide” as I named it, have explored a lot of North America over the years. No problem rain or shine, wind or hail, hot or cold…My experienced conclusion, the Electra Glide model is one heck of a reliable workhorse touring machine.

 

BBR2005 – California’s Sierra Mountains Ride.. On my 2004 FLHTC.

 

Forward to 2017, Christmas Week, in the dead of winter in San Diego, California. My brother, Roch Beaulieu, the other half of the Beaulieu Brothers Ride Team, and I picked up an Electra Glide Ultra from Eagle Rider Motorcycle Rentals located at San Diego Harley-Davidson. We purchased the “other rider” insurance option from Eagle Rider so that we could both ride this Ultra throughout San Diego county for several days.

Riding conditions: 75 degrees Fahrenheit, sunny blue skies, little to no wind, curvy back country roads and miles on SoCal’s famous freeways. Darn near perfect riding conditions.

 

Here are our riding observations.

 

Early morning pickup of the 2017 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra at the EagleRider Rental location at San Diego Harley-Davidson – Morena location.

 

The Milwaukee Eight Engine – 107ci of power pleasure.

There’s a lot of power out of this 1754cc motor. It’s perfect for two-up riding no matter the highway terrain and it’s a really cool-running/heat managing motor. Throttle response is crisp and acceleration is quick. No problem passing or getting out of traffic trouble with this powerplant.

The 6-speed transmission is smooth and easy. And, unlike many other brands, you can actually find Neutral with just a minor flick of the big toe.

I wrote about the new Milwaukee Eight motor when it first came to the market in late 2016…click here for a quick review of that post. I was very impressed with the motor then and continue to consider it one of the best V-Twin engines on the market today.

 

The 107ci Milwaukee Eight engine powering the Electra Glide Ultra, with its Six Speed transmission, is impressive on many fronts. PhotoSource: HDmedia

 

Handling, Control and Comfort

Suspension on the 2017 Ultra is tight and solid making the handling of this 894 pound bagger relatively easy for the experienced rider. As noted earlier, there’s a lot of passing power. The front and rear suspension is very responsive. Braking from the ABS Brembo brakes offers superior stopping control.

The two-up seat has a deep bucket and narrow neck saddle to provide rider back support and a wide passenger area with back and armrests for comfort on longer rides. We did note that the seating position and leg room was comfortable for six footers like us but found the rider’s saddle a little too deep and ball-crunching-tight-fitting for our big biker butts.

The Batwing fairing and fairing leg protectors offered excellent protection from wind and flying road grit. The lower fairings are vented which provided us with welcomed cooling during our sunny rides.

The TourPak offers plenty of cargo space. In fact, cargo capacity is one of the largest available on any Tourer at 4.7 cubic feet (133.1 liters, 35.2 U.S. gallons). You can easily fit two full-face helmets, chaps, jackets and more in the trunk and saddlebags. This is a big deal for long-distance adventure road warriors like my brother and me. The new Honda Goldwing for example, offers only 110.0 liters of cargo space (29.1 U.S. gallons, 3.9 cubic feet) according to press reports.

 

Blue skies and warm weather by 10:00 am on December 27th…roadtesting the Ultra near the mountain town of Julian, California. Perfect riding day in San Diego County…in winter!

 

Dashboard View and Usability

We’ve always liked the clean, easy-to-see dashboard design of Harley-Davidson’s Batwing fairing with one exception…the standard 4.3 inch touchscreen.

There’s an optional 6.5 inch touchscreen available and we recommend you request this option in order to more easily view all the excellent screen features. The infotainment system, BOOM Box included, is impressive in its overall offering but we both found the standard touchscreen just a tad too small.

 

Dashboard design is clean but do note the standard-sized touch-screen on this rental…go for the larger option for more ease of use we say.

 

The Harley-Davidson Ultra —it’s a Classic alright.

I’ve been riding and owning Harley’s since the mid 1980s. Yes, a lot of competition has come and gone over the years and yes, they are expensive out the dealership door given all the many riding options and financial challenges/responsibilities facing riders today. However, there’s never been a better built, better handling and more powerful Harley-Davidson ride out there. You can even get a 114ci or 117ci if you so desire. Click on the image below for more information.

 

2018 Electra Glide Ultra Classic – Click image for more info on this FLHTCU model. PhotoSource: HDmedia

 

The Bottom Line

The Electra Glide Ultra is your classic Harley-Davidson touring motorcycle…lots of power, great handling and beautiful looks fender to fender. At MSRP $24,249 for the new 2018 model, it offers one of the best overall price-out-the-door to ride experience values on the market.

The Ultra is appropriately named…it is an ultra comfortable, fully-loaded Tourer. One of the best handling big bikes on the road today and perfect for racking up the miles. Make sure you ride one soon.

 

Ride Safe Out There,

Beaulieu Brothers…we ride! Photo: Del Mar, California – BBR2017 – December 26, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About EagleRider Motorcycle Rentals

EagleRider Motorcycle Rentals is the world’s largest motorcycle rental company renting an estimated 100,000 motorcycles per year. The company has rental offices in 68 cities around the world. EagleRider formed a new partnership with Harley-Davidson Motorcycles in 2017. The new arrangement prioritizes the rental of Harley-Davidson motorcycles and offers rental pickup and drop-off points at some of Harley’s 700+ dealerships.

Consider joining Club EagleRider to access special riding deals and other membership advantages. Note that Motorcycle Marc’s Blog has an affiliated relationship with EagleRider where commission may be paid on motorcycle rentals.

About Harley-Davidson in San Diego, California

SDHD began operations in 1915. New York Myke Shelby bought the dealership in 1993 and over the years, turned it into one of the top rider destinations in southern California. Today, Ty Miller & and NY Myke’s daughter, Jen Milller, run the place keeping customers at the forefront of everything they do. Under their leadership, SDHD has become one of the biggest, baddest and best Harley-Davidson dealerships in the world.

Note: Copyrights and Trademarks are the property of their owners. No infringement ever intended. Some of the material for this blog was gathered from numerous articles and websites available in the public domain. Manufacturer Names, Logos, Photos/Images, Websites, Links and Model Information are Registered Trademarks of the Manufacturer and/or Organizations represented. Also, note that specifications and any information in this blog is subject to change without notice. No representation of accuracy is made.

Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

 

RIDER SAFETY MATTERS…Special note to those of us lucky enough to ride all year long.

 

“Motorcycling…is not of itself, inherently dangerous. Riding a motorcycle is however, extremely unforgiving of inattention, ignorance, incompetence or stupidity.”

Not sure who came up with the above quote and observation but I gotta tell yas…after 45 years of motorcycle riding experience, I could not of said it better myself. Unfortunately, we must add an additional warning to this observation today. No matter how good and safe a rider you are, there’s a distracted driver out there who could snuff you out.

 

Research from the Ad Council shows that people are convinced that being distracted while driving is dangerous, yet they are still doing it. 

 

The good folks at the Ad Council are doing all they can to help educate our addicted-to-smartphones population. A big thanks goes to them for their efforts but in the end, it is “you” the driver and rider who needs to take responsibility for your safety and the safety of others on the roads. It is clear by now that no entity, private or public, is able to curtail distracted roadkills in any significant numbers.

 

Then, there’s the “Buzzed While Driving” crowd…how stupid are these people?

According to the Ad Council, someone is killed every 51 minutes in the U.S due to an alcohol-related car accident.

 

“There’s this incredible feeling you get when riding buzzed…Especially when you crash…such as flesh being torn from your limbs as bones are being broken, crushed and dismembered from your body.” —From the Ride Smart Ride Sober Campaign

 

Start with “The Pledge”…I will not text and drive.

Come on people, we all know that distracted driving is dangerous. So how do we effectively deal with this roadkill habit?

Distracted driving is a dangerous epidemic on America’s roadways. In 2015, there were 3,477 people killed and an estimated additional 391,000 injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

 

Thank you for taking the Pledge. Thank you for refusing to Text and Drive.

 

Hey Drivers…looking twice for motorcyclists is one of the best safety actions you can make while driving your vehicle. 

 

 

The Bottom Line

Distracted drivers are unable to focus their full attention on the road. As noted earlier, they are the leading cause of most crashes per the NHTSA. They are a menace to themselves, their passengers, other drivers and killers of motorcyclists. 

 

 

Only you can prevent motorcycle accidents so ride safely and look out for the distracted driver. 

Me, I gave up riding motorcycles during commute hours years ago in southern California as I witnessed the driving while distracted epidemic take hold. The riding risk-to-reward ratio during commute times is simply not “worth it” to me.

 

Ride Safe Out There,

Thank You for reading my blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Motorcycle Marc – I’m just a motoblogger, some say a motorcycle industry influencer, ambassador and sponsor. Since 2009, I’ve developed a strong, dedicated following of gearheads, motorheads, biker-wannabes and 2-wheeled adventurers who love motorcycles and everything motorcycle-related. Welcome to my world – Marc J. Beaulieu (MJB)

Note: Copyrights and Trademarks are the property of their owners. No infringement ever intended. Some of the material for this blog was gathered from numerous articles and websites available in the public domain. Manufacturer Names, Logos, Photos/Images, Websites and Model Information are Registered Trademarks of the Manufacturer and/or Organizations represented. Also, note that specifications and any information in this blog is subject to change without notice. No representation of accuracy is made.

The 2018 Star Venture from Yamaha…smooth runner!

 

BIG NEW BAGGER HITS THE MARKET – I just roadtested the new big luxury bagger from Yamaha Motorcycles. Here are my quick impressions of the Star Venture.

Comfort, convenience and sporty performance…Yes, a big sporty tourer!

The Star Venture comes equipped with with two drive modes. The touring mode gives you a smooth throttle and power response. The sport mode, well you better hang on, it offers  noticeable acceleration delivery and demands you pay attention to handling this big bike  with confidence off the line and around corners.

Seats, backrest and grips come with a heated feature for comfort in colder weather. Front fairing has an electronic, adjustable windscreen of course. Air management around the bike is excellent and made easier with plenty of vents.

These types of luxury baggers are made for comfortable, long-distance two-up riding. I did not test the bike with a passenger but from all I could see, the 17-inch wide passenger seat, backrest and appropriately placed rear floorboards would provide state of the art comfort for a passenger.

The Star Venture even comes with a reverse gear for parking ease and convenience. Yamaha’s “Sure-Park” system makes for easy maneuvering even when this 963 pounder  is fully loaded.

 

There’s a new bagger in town…the 2018 Yamaha Star Venture. You got to give it a go. Photo Credit: Yamaha Motorcycles

 

Dashboard infotainment system delivers everything you need.

The Star Venture’s infotainment system is full of logically organized features including GPS navigation, a communications suite, audio package, vehicle health control info, external device connectors and there’s even a CB radio option. All key features are easily readable on a 7-inch, color LCD screen and managed effortlessly from the easy touch handlebar-controlled command center. This said, there are a ton of options here and it would likely take me thousands of miles to master it all. Click here for more information.

 

Big dashboard of the Star Venture. Easy to read 7-inch screen. Easy access to controls.

 

1854cc V-Twin motor offers excellent power…126 pound-feet of power.

Yamaha has done a great job with this all newly designed 1,854cc (113ci) motor. It’s a 48 degree V-Twin that sounds really tight and smooth. In fact, it’s actually a very quiet motor given the power it puts out. Literally, little to no mechanical engine noise. Superb engineering I must say.

The engine is pushed forward through a 6-speed transmission which gear shifts real smooth and is specifically designed for long-distance touring. A compact oil-cooler directly in front of the motor, inside the down tubes, attempts to keep the Star Venture’s V-Twin  engine temperature cool.

Engine exhaust sound is nice and throaty…delivered via two twin mufflers.

 

Yamaha has developed a really nice big V-Twin motor for the Star Venture. 1,854cc (113ci and 126 lb-ft of torque). Photo Credit: Yamaha Motorcycles

 

Engine air-cooling ducts…they’re huge!

The two huge vertical air-cooling ducts don’t seem to fit the otherwise cool and sporty look of this bagger. In fact, I am not a fan of ’em. While they might be successful in directing air towards cooling the engine and even parts of the rider, they are too big and bulky looking for my tastes.

 

Vertical air-cooling ducts straddling each side of the Star Venture’s front end…are HUGE! And, I’m not so sure they were effective in re-directing heat. This is a V-Twin afterall and it throws off quite a bit of heat.

 

Lots of storage space…

You can easily store two full-face helmets with lots of room to spare in the top trunk. The top trunk, saddlebags and fairing compartments hold more stuff than the new 2018 Goldwing which offers only 29.1 gallons (110 liters) of storage space according to recent press releases.

 

37.3 gallons (141.2 liters) of volume across the saddlebags, trunk and fairing compartments. All storage locks electronically.

 

My Bottom Line

All things considered, this is a very impressive long-distance tourer offering excellent, sporty handling characteristics. Acceleration is quick. The chassis is stable and very responsive. Shifting was easy no matter the gear. Comfort…may be the best seat to handlebar configuration in its class.

I was not impressed with the bike’s engine heat management set up. The engine runs hot in my opinion. In fact, it reminds me of the engine heat issue I had on my original 2004 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide.

Custom cool look-wise…the vertical air ducts are too big…they just don’t look good in my opinion. And, I’m not sure they even work as designed for air control and direction around that big V-Twin engine. But hey, I would not hold this against the Star Venture. It’s a heck of a luxury bagger for the money.

The Star Venture offers a Transcontinental Option Package that comes with special features such as LED fog lamps, additional storage compartments for the passenger and an alarmed security system and more. For an extra $2,000 you get an impressive array of additional upgrades.

My bottom line, the Yamaha Star Venture offers a lot of bagger advantages for its MSRP price range of $24,999 – $26,999. You got to try it.

The 2018 Star Venture. A good-lookin’ bagger from Yamaha Motorcycles. Suggest streamlining/downsizing the vertical air ducts up front to make next year’s model custom-cool looking. Click image for more information from Yamaha Motors. Photo Credit: Yamaha Motorcycles

 

 

Ride Safe Out There.

Thank you for reading my blog folks. — MJB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Motorcycle Marc – I’m a motoblogger, some say a motorcycle industry influencer, ambassador and sponsor. I prefer to ride motorcycles but when I can’t ride I blog about it. Since 2009, I’ve developed a strong, dedicated following of thousands of gearheads, motorheads, biker-wannabes and 2-wheeled adventurers who love motorcycles and everything motorcycle-related. Welcome to my world – Marc J. Beaulieu (MJB)

Note: Copyrights and Trademarks are the property of their owners. No infringement ever intended. Some of the material for this blog was gathered from numerous articles and websites available in the public domain. Manufacturer Names, Logos, Photos/Images, Websites, Links and Model Information are Registered Trademarks of the Manufacturer and/or Organizations represented. Also, note that specifications and any information in this blog is subject to change without notice. No representation of accuracy is made.

Harley-Davidson FLHR Road King

 

HARLEY-DAVIDSON ROAD KING – …one of my favorite baggers.

The Road King model was introduced to the Harley-Davidson lineup back in 1994 with the gear-driven, one cam 1340cc Evolution V-Twin motor (EVOs). The bike caught my attention immediately as a cool looking combination cruiser and touring machine. It also caught the attention of many Fire Departments and Police Departments all over the world…they love the Road King. It’s a great all-around HOG.

EVO motors were retired in 1998 and the engine went full Twin Cam 88 (1447cc) in 1999 housing two chain-driven cams and two valves per cylinder. In 2000, a 95ci big-bore kit was offered that took displacement to 1550cc…big power for the day.

 

Riders demanded even more power.

Harley-Davidson’s marketing gurus and dealers noticed consumer demand increasing for engine power so they introduced the Twin Cam 96ci (1584cc) in 2004. By 2012, the engine had grown to 103ci with a displacement of 1690cc.

Here we are, 23 years after its introduction and the FLHR Road King motor, the Milwaukee Eight, pushes out 107ci with a whopping displacement of 1746cc. As you’ll note in this blog post, the Road King continues to be one of Harley-Davidson’s classic rides. Read on…

 

Good-lookin’ Harley-Davidson lines and profile come standard with the new 2017 FLHR Road King. This is the FLHR Road King I road tested courtesy of San Diego Harley-Davidson.

 

Truth be known, I’m an old school biker. I love the stripped down, sexy nostalgic style of the Road King touring bagger-cruiser look. It’s a work of classic mechanical art presented with a modern technological touch as far as I’m concerned.

 

The Road King’s stability, smoothness & handling is impressive!

I tend to have a sporty, fun temperament no matter the ride I’m on so stable, smooth handling is what I go for on motorcycles. My body position is typically cruiser-style, straight back up with feet forward. This riding approach fits the Road King perfectly for me. The Harley-Davidson Road King is no crotch rocket but it’s one of the best handling bagger-cruisers on the market today. I’ve ridden Harleys most of my riding career and I got to admit, the Road King is one of my favorite rides.

 

King of the Road…the Harley-Davidson Road King. Powered by the Milwaukee Eight 107ci engine (111.4 ft. lb. & 1746cc). Ride courtesy of San Diego Harley-Davidson. Click image for more information from SDHD on this black Road King.

 

Also for 2017, Harley-Davidson introduced the Road King Special.

This ride is super cool in my opinion. It’s got larger wheels, lower seat and is even 10 pounds lighter. Note the signature new headlight profile.

This is a dark, bad-ass looking Harley. Minimal chrome accentuates can be found around the engine but you have to look hard to see it…Hint: See lower rocker boxes, pushrod tubes and tappet blocks.

 

Just look at this 2017 Road King Special…blacked-out from its front headlight and front forks back to the 107ci Milwaukee Eight engine to the headers and pipes. Note the stripped-down styling, mini-ape handlebars, 19-inch front wheel and stretched saddlebags. Rear wheel is 18 inches compared to 16 inches in the standard FLHR. Seat height is 26.4 inches compared to 28 inches on the standard Road King…It’s a beautifully slammed profile. Photo: HDmedia

 

The Road King is Harley-Davidson’s base level Touring Model (FL).

It’s the perfect motorcycle for motorcycle purists like me. I don’t need a stereo, GPS or any fancy infotainment stuff. My butt and back do appreciate that the 2017 Road King has new and improved front and rear suspension and I just love twisting the throttle on that 111.4 ft. pd of torque out of that Milwaukee Eight motor. And yes, I’ll take a standard FLHR windshield with that ride.

 

San Diego Harley-Davidson has an excellent selection of Road Kings and Road King Specials on their show room floor. Click image to pay them a visit online. Better still, visit one of their showrooms and test ride a Road King for yourself.

 

The Bottom Line

The SDHD Road King road tested for this blog post came powered by the sporty 107ci Milwaukee Eight engine. It’s a powerhouse, high-displacement motor (1746cc) that is quick off the starting line and will even spin the rear tire changing from 1st to 2nd gear should you want it to. It’s one hell of an impressively fast and smooth motor.

The Harley-Davidson Road King (FLHP model) is used by over 3,500 U.S. police and fire departments in 45 countries. If the Road King is good enough for our first responder heroes, it’s good enough for me. Great ride!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Motorcycle Marc – I’m a motoblogger, some say a motorcycle industry influencer, ambassador and sponsor. I prefer to ride motorcycles but when I can’t ride I blog about it. Since 2009, I’ve developed a strong, dedicated following of thousands of gearheads, motorheads, biker-wannabes and 2-wheeled adventurers who love motorcycles and everything motorcycle-related. Welcome to my world – Marc J. Beaulieu (MJB)

 

 

FYI – The vivid black Harley-Davidson Road King road tested for this blog post was equipped with a new set of Michelin Scorcher 31 tires. Click banner to read my complete tire test and if you want to save $40 on a new set of Michelin Scorcher tires for your Harley-Davidson, click on the Michelin banner in my post.

 

 

Note: Copyrights and Trademarks are the property of their owners. No infringement ever intended. Some of the material for this blog was gathered from numerous articles and websites available in the public domain. Manufacturer Names, Logos, Photos/Images, Websites, Links and Model Information are Registered Trademarks of the Manufacturer and/or Organizations represented. Also, note that specifications and any information in this blog is subject to change without notice. No representation of accuracy is made.

 

Review: Indian’s Thunder Stroke 111 Motor

 

UPDATE: THUNDER STROKE 116ci Stage 3 Big Bore Kit available for 2017 and later Indian Thunder Stroke motors. Selling for $1,999,99. 

This takes your current Thunder Stroke 111ci to a whopping 116ci (1901cc).

The powerplant pros at Indian Motorcycles say the new kit will deliver 20% more horsepower and 15% more torque…all without sacrificing engine reliability. Of course, dealer installation cost is required and for an extra mandatory $1,500 or so depending on your dealer, you’ll need to upgrade to a Stage 1 Exhaust, Air Cleaner and Exhaust Tips. Total estimated cost for your extra 20% horsepower = $3.499.99. 

 

116ci = 1901cc…this brings to life big time power! PhotoCredit: Indian Motorcycles

 

Special Note: This big bore kit will not work on pre-2017 Indian Thunder Stroke engines or with Stock Exhaust or Stock Intake . It also will not work with Stage 2 Cam motors. Installation does not void warranty according to Indian Motorcycles. This Stage 3 Kit meets EPA and CARB emission limits but “Non-competition street use may violate federal noise limits” so double check your options with your Indian dealer. Click TS116 for more information. See “Comments” section at the end of this post for fan feedback.

 

Below is my original post on the TS111 published in August of 2016.

INDIAN’S THUNDER STROKE MOTOR – The Thunder Stroke 111 has been on the market since 2014 so I figured it’s time to take a closer look at this VTwin engine.

The TS111 resembles the Indian Chief motor look of the 40s and early 50s. It’s a nice piece of modern mechanical engineering. It’s about as far advanced as one can take the traditional air-cooled, internal combustion V-Twin engine.

At 111 cubic inches, this 49-degree V-Twin motor (1811cc) puts out an estimated 78 hp @ 4510 rpm and pushes out a whopping 119.2 ft-lbs of torque according to data from the Indian Motor Company. For those of you not familiar with these types of gearhead stats, you can use the term “torque monster” with confidence to describe it.

 

Old-style classic inspiration

Looking at the early Indian Chief motors, it is easy to see the retro-look resemblance. I personally like the big slanted fins, the fat pushrod tubes, tapered cylinders and downtube exhaust pipes design of that 1940s era.

 

720x480 - OldIndianChief - S88A8563

EARLY INDIAN CHIEF ENGINE. Circa. 1940s, early 1950s.

 

Let’s look inside…

I was able to take some nice cut-away photos of the Thunder Stroke 111 while visiting the Indian Motor Company booth in Sturgis this past August 2015. Additionally, the good folks at Indian Motorcycles sent me some of their CAD design images so that I could share an insiders view of the engine with all my blog fans and followers.

 

TS111 - Full-LefttSide-View-591x480-

THERE’S A HUGE MULTI-PLATE WET CLUTCH IN THIS MOTOR.

 

Cool CAD designs. I’ve added some tech notes for reference.

 

0-CAD TS111 -A - 401X398

It’s not often you get to see what the engineers saw on their computer screens when they were designing this motor.

Imagine their excitement when asked to take a clean sheet of paper/screen and come up with a modern air-cooled V-Twin for new Indian motorcycles back in 2011. Oh, and it’s got to ready for testing and production in 24 months.

 

 

The Thunder Stroke is a fuel-injected 4-stroke 49 degree V-Twin engine with serious displacement at 111 cubic inches (1811cc).

The engine has a forged single-pin transverse crankshaft that transfers power from the big pistons (3.89 in./101 mm) during their their big 4.45 in/113 mm stroke.

Note the 2-valves per cylinder shown in the diagrams here and the three camshafts driving the parallel pushrods which in turn, bring the hydraulic lifters to life. We’re talking a really cramped mechanical design around them three camshafts.

 

The 111 is the most innovative interpretation of a V-Twin motor I seen in years.

 

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As you can see in this post, the motor design of Indian’s Thunder Stroke is modern and innovative.

Big kudos to the engineers at Polaris’s Indian brand for bringing this new V-Twin to market I say.

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Durability and Reliability…tested for over 1,000,000 miles according to the factory.

As indicated earlier in this post, the Thunder Stroke’s monster displacement of 111 cubic inches (1811 cc) is said to deliver 119 ft-lb of torque. The engine tops out at 5500 rpm, and delivers its power through a six-speed overdrive transmission. Compression ratio is high for your basic air and oil cooled engine at 9.5:1.

The new design, which has undergone over one million miles of testing, has a forged single-pin transverse crankshaft to transfer power from the 3.89-in diameter pistons during their 4.45-in stroke.

 

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NOTE THE HELICAL TEETH GEARS ON LEFT SIDE. The right side lower casting area houses the primary drive and 3-camshafts.

 

The TS111 is an overhead valve engine, with two valves per cylinder controlled by a triple camshaft driving parallel pushrods which activate hydraulic lifters. Yes, you read correctly…this motor has three cams that drive four pushrods that open and close two intake and exhaust valves per head.

As you can see, the design is rather cramped near the crankshaft. The motor has big cylinder outlines and multi-directional cooling fins to optimize engine cooling.

 

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PUSHRODS AND LIFTERS IN THE CYLINDER CUT-OUT.

 

The engine is connected to a six-speed overdrive constant-mesh transmission. Sixth gear turns 3.37 times faster than first gear, leading to an easily controllable transmission that will allow a rider to remain within the power band of the engine under most riding conditions. The clutch is a multiple-plate wet design to provide smooth clutch action without undue slippage.

 

See the following interesting YouTube videos for additional perspective.

Indian’s introduction video…check out this video

Here’s a factory look from the team at MotoGraphic.

 

Rider feedback.

My recent social media call for riders with 50,000+ miles on the Thunder Stroke 111 did not uncover such a riding pro but I did find one happy owner with just over 37,000 miles. Here is his quote:

“I have put 37,209 miles on Chieftain #873 since January of ’14 and it has been utterly reliable. I just returned from a month-long ramble across the country of over 4,000 miles, in all kinds of weather and extreme temperatures; I never once had any concern about making it home. I’ve had no clacking, no belt problems, no oil leaks, no rough running. I have put two front and three rear tires on it. Problems, such as they have been, are mostly little electronic glitches in the bike’s sophisticated electronics suite. I’ve replaced three headlight bulbs (commonly available H-4s). It has been the best bike, of many, that I have ever owned. That has been my experience with Chieftain #873.” — Randall… Source: Indian Motorcycle Forum – IndianMotorcycles.net

 

The Bottom Line.

There’s no doubt this is one powerful, sweet motorcycle engine…a real good looker. It even looks good in a naked Indian Chief frame as shown in my Sturgis Rally photo below.

 

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THE 111 FITS REAL TIGHT INSIDE THE INDIAN CHIEF FRAME. FYI: Black dots in image to protect the innocent Sturgis Rally partiers visiting the Indian Motorcycle booth.

 

The Thunder Stroke is a modern version of a truly classic motor. Only time and hundreds of thousands of road miles will tell if this motor has true reliability and staying power. My motorbike experience tells me that the odds of having a superior, long-lasting motor here with the TS111 are very good. Only time and millions of riding miles will tell.

Best I can tell, the Thunder Stroke 111 engine is the new standard for V-Twin motors on the market today.

 

Motorcycle Marc

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Ride Safe Out There. — Motorcycle Marc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note to Indian Motorcycle Co. 

I gotta ask the creative minds at Indian Motorcycles.

Could an innovative, water-cooled crankshaft in-line four be coming in the future?

Stay tuned folks. My bet is that more innovation and excitement will be coming from the Polaris motorcycle companies in the future.

 

Note: Engine photos taken during my 2015 visit to the Indian Motorcycles display in Sturgis, South Dakota. CAD images and Classic Indian Chief images from Indian Motorcycles’ PR Pros. Copyrights and Trademarks are the property of their owners. No infringement ever intended. See footer of this blog/website for more information. Ride Safe Out There.

Roadtest: Street Glide Special…with Milwaukee Eight Motor

 

STREET GLIDE SPECIAL – There’s a great handling, powerful and sleek lookin’ bagger.

We motorcycle riders live in a great time…There’s an affordability price point for everyone and a riding style design for every 2-wheeler and 3-wheeler out there. The marketplace is flush with pre-owned bikes and the new bikes are technologically outstanding. Choices have never been better. Yes, it’s a wonderful time to be a motorcycle enthusiast/biker.

My latest adventure put me on a new 2017 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special.

 

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Picked up this beauty of a bagger from San Diego Harley-Davidson.

 

Imagine if you will…

…riding a new Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special with a brand new 45-degree V-Twin engine from the Motor Company. The first new engine design since the world famous Twin Cam motor of 1999.

The Milwaukee Eight is the most powerful Harley-Davidson engine ever put out by the craftsmen and craftswomen at the factory. The 107ci Milwaukee Eight motor is one impressive engine as you will see in this post.

P.S. There’s also a 114ci version (1,870cc) but that’s for a CVO model blog post in the future.

 

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Stripped down bagger style. Slammed suspension. Talk about sexy curb appeal! The 2017 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special is one good looker.

 

First things first…let’s talk big new motor.

The Milwaukee Eight is a totally new motor from Harley-Davidson. Here are my observations.

 

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Faster Throttle Response. Faster and super smooth. Quick to the touch with crisp throttle action. Very impressive rev ranges too.

Cooler-running engine. In fact, engine coolness operation exceeded my expectations. Significantly less heat transmitted from the heads and exhaust components. Excellent heat management away from the rider.

More power. 92.5 hp out of the factory!  More torque at 111 ft.pd…10% more torque than the Twin Cam 103 and 110. Displacement is serious at 1,750cc. Lots of power…can easily handle two-up riding.

Better sound. You’ll notice less mechanical noise from the internal components of this new motor and a much crisper, richer exhaust note out of the pipes.

More speed. Harley-Davidson engineers claim 3-bike lengths faster from 0-60, 2-bike lengths quicker in top gear 60-80 mph. I was very impressed by the acceleration and speed of this bagger.

Easy Gear Shiftin’. Smooth gearing, easy shifter feel…And, easy to get into Neutral.

Rubber mounted & counter balanced. Engine vibration is minimal on the Milwaukee Eight but there’s enough to keep the “Harley feel” of vibration alive.

Harley-Davidson uses a single counter-rotating internal balancer that literally cancels 75% of the engine’s primary shake. The genius of HD manufacturing here is that the “Harley shakin'” while subdued, can still be felt…love this!

RPM at idle. This was one of the first things I noticed when I picked up the Street Glide. Idle rpm has been cut from the normal/regular 1000 rpm down to 850 rpm. Makes for less heat at idle.

 

“Overall Feel”. In summary, this is a powerhouse motor. The Milwaukee Eight provides faster throttle response, more torque, better sound, runs cooler and it is smooth…really, really smooth.

 

Chassis, Suspension and Braking Observations

If ever there was a world-class feel to a motorcycle ride, the 2017 Street Glide Special offers it.

Front and rear suspension are all new. Control is felt directly throughout your body no matter the acceleration, speed or road condition. Ride is considered “sporty bagger plush” in my opinion.

Harley-Davidson uses dual bending valve fork technology in the new 49mm forks on this Street Glide. Fork travel is 4.6 inches so there’s plenty of room for the unanticipated pot hole.

The front suspension is by ShowaThe rear suspension features dual shock absorbers with 15% to 30% more pre-load adjustment than on prior Street Glide models. Shocks are hydraulically adjustable with a single knob – no tools necessary.

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Superb Brakes. Harley-Davidson teamed up with Brembo Brakes to bring to life a superb, stopping response experience.

These high-end brakes work excellently in corners and work to help you stop quicker whenever you want to.

The braking system on the Street Glide Special is the best I’ve felt to date from Harley-Davidson. The Brembo calipers, stainless steel discs and braking components are world class. The braking with ABS, is responsive and just plain tight.

 

Overall, the new chassis, suspension design and brakes means better control at low speeds and a better highway grip sensation at higher speeds. Quite the impressive riding technology combination I must say. Very good rider control and very comfortable.

 

Honorable Mention…the InfoSystem…GPS & Boom Box

For those of you that like to listen to music while riding or to follow GPS directions when out on the road, you are gonna like this “Boom Box” infosystem. We are talking big, full color touch screen navigation that is easy to use…big ass speakers for big sound and switches/controls that are located where you intuitively expect them to be.

The music sound system is impressive. In fact, it’s better sounding than my home theater system. The Boom Box Owner’s Manual is a must read however in order to learn how to work it all to your liking.

 

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The 2017 Street Glide Special. Hangin’ by the Beach in Del Mar, California.

 

My bottom line…

Run to your nearest Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Dealer to schedule a test ride. The Street Glide Special is an awesome, hot-rod looking, sporty bagger that handles really well. It’s got massive torque and more power than you expect. If you live in SoCal, visit San Diego Harley-Davidson…they’ll take good care of you.

 

Ride Safe Out There.

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Happy Holidays everyone. – Motorcycle Marc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Harley-Davidson Motor Company – Since 1903, the Harley-Davidson Motor Company has fulfilled dreams of personal freedom with cruiser, touring and custom motorcycles, riding experiences, biker events and everything in between. For more information, visit www.h-d.com.

About Harley-Davidson in San Diego, California

SDHD began operations in 1915. New York Myke Shelby bought the dealership in 1993 and over the years, turned it into one of the top rider destinations in southern California. Today, Ty Miller & and NY Myke’s daughter, Jen Milller, run the place keeping customers at the forefront of everything they do. Under their leadership, SDHD has become one of the biggest, baddest and best Harley-Davidson dealerships in the world.

About Motorcycle Marc – I’m a just a motoblogger, some say a motorcycle industry influencer. Since 2009, I’ve developed a strong, dedicated following of gearheads, motorheads, biker-wannabes and 2-wheeled adventurers who love motorcycles and everything motorcycle-related. Welcome to my world – Marc J. Beaulieu (MJB)

 

Note: Copyrights and Trademarks are the property of their owners. No infringement ever intended. Manufacturer Names, Logos, Photos/Images, Websites and Model Information are Registered Trademarks of the Manufacturer. Also, note that specifications and any information in this blog is subject to change without notice. No representation of accuracy is made.