Thursday, March 15, 2018

Harley invest in Alta Motors to lure the younger generation of riders

Milwaukee, WI (March 15, 2018) BSB  — Shortly after revealing plans to market its first electric motorcycle, Harley-Davidson has announced an investment in an electric bike startup as part of its plans to modernize and electrify its range of two-wheeled machines. The Wisconsin-based motorcycle maker will invest in Silicon Valley-based Alta Motors, headed by Tesla co-co-founders, which has been working on electric motorcycle tech for the past few years.

Electric Motorcycle

The impetus for such a move, of course, is the rapidly changing motorcycle market. The big bikes that have sustained Harley sales for decades are waning in popularity, and the motorcycle maker has found itself trying to woo a generation that isn't as interested in big, heavy and expensive motorcycles -- but could be in the market for affordable, easy-to-use and compact zero-emissions urban motorcycles if presented with such an option.

"Earlier this year, as part of our 10-year strategy, we reiterated our commitment to build the next generation of Harley-Davidson riders in part by aggressively investing in electric vehicle (EV) technology," said Harley-Davidson President and CEO Matt Levatich. "Alta has demonstrated innovation and expertise in EV, and their objectives align closely with ours. We each have strengths and capabilities that will be mutually beneficial as we work together to develop cutting-edge electric motorcycles."

Alta's current expertise isn't in road bikes -- the EV startup has been focusing on off-road motorcycles -- but it's the battery and electric motor technology that's crucial for Harley-Davidson. After all, it's really the motorcycle's propulsion method that is at stake; on everything else, Harley-Davidson already has plenty of expertise.

"Riders are just beginning to understand the combined benefits of EV today, and our technology continues to progress," said Alta Motors chief product officer and co-founder, Marc Fenigstein. "We believe electric motorcycles are the future, and that American companies have an opportunity to lead that future. It's incredibly exciting that Harley-Davidson, synonymous with motorcycle leadership, shares that vision and we're thrilled to collaborate with them."

Harley-Davidson is focusing on something else besides electric powertrain as a part of transforming its model range: ease of use. Most of its lineup for the past couple of decades has been heavier and aimed at leisure riding, rather than everyday mobility (as tends to be the case in markets like Europe). Harley-Davison now views "twist-and-go" operation, one free from operating the clutch and gears, as the future of motorcycles in general, as part of revamping a motorcycle's basic appeal to customers.

SOURCE: Auto Week

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Police watching MC's in Daytona for Bike Week

Daytona Beach, Florida (March 14, 2018) BSB  — More motorcycle clubs are in town for Bike Week but the Volusia County sheriff said police will come down on them “like white on rice” if they break the law. Sheriff Mike Chitwood said he has seen an increase in motorcycle clubs coming to Bike Week in Daytona Beach.

To prevent violence, the Sheriff’s Office has taken a proactive approach and shifted the focus of its motorcycle theft task force that operated during the event for years. The team now monitors local, national and international motorcycle clubs.

“I would say that it seemed when I first got here in 2006, it was high, and then we hit a period where there was a lull, there was a period where we knocked their club house out of Daytona Beach,” Chitwood said.

In August 2007, Daytona Beach police and FBI raided and busted up the Outlaws motorcycle club’s clubhouse on Beach Street. The Outlaws MC tried making a comeback but Daytona Beach police and code enforcement has made it difficult for them to set up house in other locations in the city.

“Daytona is a national run for most motorcycle clubs during Bike Week,” Capri said. “Meaning that most motorcycle clubs require their members to be here.” Daytona Beach police detectives have met with several of the motorcycle clubs and laid down the rules of the city to them, Capri said.

“Our number one goal is public safety,” Capri said. “We’ve met with them and told them they can have their fun but we’ve let them know that if they cause problems, we’ll be on them. They’ve been receptive to our rules.”

Monday, March 12, 2018

Harley goes after the Millennial Market

Milwaukee,WI (March 11, 2018) BSB — Coming fresh off the announcement of a disastrous quarterly loss and a factory closure, Milwaukee-based motorcycle company Harley-Davidson did what came naturally: they threw a party.

But unlike company anniversary bashes of years past, this event shunned aging-superstar rock concerts and vainglorious parades as the 115-year old manufacturer set about the business of attracting its next generation of customers – attempting to retake their place as the iconic purveyor of cool amongst today’s fickle millennials.

The Flat-Out Friday Event: Harley is going after the younger crowd

Knowing that fashionable young consumers have an aversion to overt marketing, Harley-Davidson has artfully thrown their sponsorship behind Mama Tried, an independent custom motorcycle show and its adjoining Flat-Out Friday event, an indoor flat-track race held in the company’s hometown this past February.

“Mama Tried” references a wistful Merle Haggard song, which gives the show just enough outlaw vibe to attract young, male hipster motorcyclists… and the girls that love them.

Notably absent were the leather-fringe-and-concho-wearing crowd from Harley’s heyday in the early 2000’s, when dealerships held long waiting lists of buyers and Harley-Davidson was a household synonym for cool. With those folks rapidly aging out of their riding years, the motor company now has its sights set firmly on the young, the hip and the multicultural.

An Evil Knievel halftime show delights fans including Willie G. Davidson

The four-day event began with a number of gatherings emanating from the downtown Harley-Davidson Museum campus. Burn barrels warded off the cold around a hay-baled mini bike racecourse in the museum’s courtyard, while spectators huddled inside the facility’s Motor restaurant, nursing Pabst tallboys.

A quarter-mile south at the boutique Iron Horse hotel, young bike builders sipped barrel-aged bourbon in the moto/industrial decorated lobby. A quarter-mile further on the same street, the Fuel CafĂ© was four-deep at the bar – filled with smoke from an exuberant tire burnout within the motorcycle-themed restaurant.

It’s there that I spotted three young guys sneaking one of the mini bikes from the museum races through the crowded tavern. Within a minute it was up on the end of the bar; helmeted-rider aboard and engine revving.

Racers staging for the Hooligan Class

What I anticipated would be a slow victory lap around the oval bar top became a full-on jump and perfectly-nailed landing, narrowly splitting the cheering throng of onlookers. Instantly uploaded to social media, it’s the kind of viral hooliganism that Harley is now happy to outsource.

These are the young people that Harley hopes to attract and develop into the next generation of motorcycle lifestylers.

The sell-job may not be as daunting as it seems. Motorcycles have always been the province of youth, and Harley has remained effortlessly hip from generation to generation. The problem has always been in the product gap; the company’s emphasis on large, expensive touring bikes has disproportionately targeted the interstate wanderlust of baby-boomers at the expense of the excitable youth market.

The company’s new emphasis is being put on its Street, Sportster and Softail model lineups amidst a consolidation of their production line following a January announcement to close its Kansas City assembly plant by the fall of 2019. 

They even had some Mini Bike races just for entertainment 

Compared with the larger bikes, the Street is a more urban-friendly motorcycle which now occupies the entry-level position in the company’s catalog. Still, as Flat-Out Friday demonstrated, the Street in the right hands can be flung around a short track and pull crowd-pleasing wheelies.

Harley’s flirtations with entry-level, youth-targeted bikes go back decades. In 1948, Harley offered the Hummer, a single-cylinder 125cc adaptation of the German DKW from patents obtained through war reparations. In 1960, Harley purchased a controlling interest in Italian company Aermacchi, which provided the motorcycle maker with single-cylinder bikes from 90cc to 350cc until it was spun-off in 1978.

More recently, wholly-owned subsidiary Buell motorcycles developed lightweight Harley-powered sports bikes that provided valuable research and development but were a poor fit for the company’s existing dealer network and image.

Racing action at Flat-Out Friday

Following the closure of the Buell division in 2009, Harley flailed to expand market share. Repeating history, it bought Italian motorcycle manufacturer MV Agusta in 2008, only to invest millions in the company before selling it back to the previous owner at a loss in 2010.

The company claimed a desire to re-focus on the Harley-Davidson brand, but as recently as June of 2017 it was reportedly moving towards a purchase of Ducati before owner Volkswagen withdrew it from sale. Last week, Harley invested an undisclosed amount in California-based, electric motorcycle-maker Alta.

Friday’s race took place at Milwaukee’s BMO Harris/Bradley Center Arena, home to the city’s professional basketball and hockey teams. Sprayed with Dr. Pepper syrup for adhesion, the concrete floor nonetheless offered its fair share of spills and innocuous crashes, eliciting cheers from the crowd.

Harley livestreamed the event on the web, using telegenic X-Games host Dianna Dahlgren and interviews with social media personalities like Larry the Enticer and hooligan racer Mark “The Rusty Butcher” Atkins.

A Harley-Davidson 45ci on display at the Mamma Tried event

Eleven race classes competed, but only half of those were truly competitive. The rest ranged from mini bikes to mopeds, and an outrageous “inappropriate” class which pitted a wheeled-snowmobile against a dirt bike rider in a giraffe suit. 

It’s fun and unintimidating stuff that makes you think “Hey, I could to that!”– exactly the impression Harley wants you to take away about motorcycling.

Reincarnating Harley’s successful flat-track racing history provides the shot of adrenalin the brand desperately needs to reach younger riders. The Flat-Out Friday schedule has now grown to a second Milwaukee date, as well as satellite races in La Crosse, Wisconsin and Cleveland, Ohio.

Taking a cue from another of Harley’s proxy media darlings –The Race of Gentlemen – Harley will host field games and a beach race this August at the company’s 115th Anniversary celebration in Milwaukee. It’s an attempt to shift the focus back more on motorcycle riding, and less on partying.

The weekend culminated in the invitational Mama Tried motorcycle show. Held at the 25,000 square-foot Eagles Club ballroom, the 1920’s revivalist architecture provided an elegant, gothic backdrop for the multi-marque custom and classic motorcycles displayed on its hardwood floor.

Harley-Davidson has embraced custom culture like no other motorcycle manufacturer, which provides for a vibrant aftermarket and a network of boutique builders. Vendors filled the anterooms of the facility’s lower levels, offering clever T-shirts and stickers that touted their brand. For many, building a Harley is just as important as riding one.

The Mamma Tried event plays heavy on Vintage Harley-Davidson motorcycles among others

Mama Tried is a well-curated event that deftly balances public access with insider cool – a recipe its main sponsor knows all too well. The show has outgrown its two-previous warehouse loft locales within four years, and by the turnout for this event it looks to be on a similar track. By noon the ballroom exhibition became so crowded that it was nearly impossible to photograph the bikes.

All of which could be described as a champagne problem for Harley-Davidson. Now faced with the potential of retaliatory overseas tariffs which could turn the manufacturer’s plan for European market expansion on its head, the iconic motorcycle maker needs to grow its next generation of customer in its very own backyard. It’s first move towards that goal was to reclaim cool.

STORY: William Hall 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Jack Daniel's and Indian Motorcycle Unveil A Scout Bobber Motorcycle

Minneapolis, MN (March 8, 2018) BSB— Indian Motorcycle, America’s first motorcycle company, and Jack Daniel’s, America’s first registered distillery, today introduced the Jack Daniel’s® Limited Edition Indian® Scout® Bobber. For the third straight year, the two iconic American brands have joined forces with Klock Werks Kustom Cycles of Mitchell, SD to celebrate their shared values with an ultra-premium, limited-edition motorcycle. This year, they looked to the Jack Daniel’s Fire Brigade and their impressive gold and black firetrucks for design inspiration.                                                                    

Jack Daniel’s® is the only distillery in the world with its own fire brigade, which is staffed entirely by employee volunteers. The Jack Daniel’s Fire Brigade is an impressive showcase of the company’s commitment to quality and a remarkable symbol for the passion and dedication shared by Jack Daniel’s employees. The employees at Indian Motorcycle share that same passion for their craft and developed this bike as a tribute to the people who are committed to keeping their community’s safe, the state-certified firefighters of Jack Daniel’s, as well as firefighters and EMS professionals everywhere.

The Jack Daniel’s Limited Edition Indian Scout Bobber maintains the low-slung, blacked-out and stripped-down attitude of the Scout Bobber, but also boasts several ultra-premium, custom features that create a truly unique motorcycle. As a nod to the “Old No. 7 Brand”, only 177 of these bikes will be built globally, making anyone who owns one a member of an extremely exclusive club.

“Our partnership with Jack Daniel’s celebrates American craftsmanship of the highest order,” said Steve Menneto, President – Indian Motorcycle. “This year’s limited-edition bike draws inspiration from the incredible story of Jack Daniel’s Fire Brigade, while honoring the passion and dedication of firefighters and emergency medical responders who serve our country.”                                                                                             

Each of the 177 individually-numbered motorcycles are accented with Jack Daniel’s Fire Brigade themes.  The bike has subtle two-tone matte black paint, a first for Indian Motorcycle, and is covered in real 24-karat gold graphics on the tank and fenders. The 24-karat gold carries through to the Fire Brigade emblem on the tank and the “Bottles and Throttles Don’t Mix” emblem on the front fender.  Other custom details include a perforated genuine leather seat with “Jack Daniel’s” embroidery and custom grips, pegs, and shift levers inspired by the “Old No. 7 Brand.” Premium gloss black finishes on the fender struts, hand control levers, engine valve covers, and exhaust tips, while a gold colored Indian Scout badge further showcases the attention to detail given in the design of this limited-edition bike. Also unique is a one-of-a-kind Montana Silversmith badge that’s individually numbered and coated with real 24-karat gold. In addition to the bike’s custom accents, it also features chopped fenders, bar-end mirrors, vented exhaust shields, knobby tires and a sleek headlight nacelle.

“The public’s response to the motorcycles that Indian Motorcycle and Jack Daniel’s have collaborated on has vastly exceeded our expectations year-over-year,” said Greg Luehrs, Director of Events and Sponsorships for Jack Daniel’s. “In celebration of this great partnership and our own Jack Daniel’s Fire Brigade, we are delighted to deliver a bike that honors firefighters and EMS first responders while also reinforcing the message that ‘Bottles and Throttles Don’t Mix.’”

To celebrate the hard work, commitment, and bravery of all firefighters and EMS first responders, Indian Motorcycle and Jack Daniel’s are hosting a sweepstakes only open to these service members. Participants can enter to win bike #001 at a variety of events this year, including Daytona Bike Week (March 9-18), Fire Department Instructor’s Conference (April 23-28), Sturgis Motorcycle Rally (Aug. 3-12), and Red Knights Motorcycle Club International Convention (Aug. 16-19). The winner will be announced in September.

The Jack Daniel’s® Limited Edition Indian® Scout® Bobber will be available globally for order starting 12 p.m. EST on March 13. To reserve one, visit or call an Indian Motorcycle dealership. The 2016 Jack Daniel’s Limited Edition Indian Springfield and Chief Vintage models sold out in less than 8 hours, while the 2017 Jack Daniel’s Limited Edition Indian Chieftain sold out in less than 10 minutes.

Each bike will come with a commemorative fireman’s axe, which will be engraved with the owner’s name, motorcycle number (#001-#177) and VIN.  Pricing starts at $16,999 in the U.S. and $20,999 in Canada. Each bike also comes with a two-year unlimited mileage factory warranty and free membership in the Indian Motorcycle Riders Group™ for one year. Each bike will be built to order with delivery starting in August 2018.

SOURCE: Firehouse

About Indian Motorcycle

Indian Motorcycle is America’s first motorcycle company. Founded in 1901, Indian Motorcycle has won the hearts of motorcyclists around the world and earned distinction as one of America’s most legendary and iconic brands through unrivaled racing dominance, engineering prowess and countless innovations and industry firsts. Today that heritage and passion is reignited under new brand stewardship. To learn more, please visit

About Jack Daniels

Officially registered by the U.S. government in 1866 and based in Lynchburg, Tenn., the Jack Daniel Distillery, Lem Motlow, proprietor, is the first registered distillery in the United States and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Jack Daniel’s is the maker of the world-famous Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey, Gentleman Jack Rare Tennessee Whiskey, Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Tennessee Whiskey, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire, Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Select and Jack Daniel’s Country Cocktails. Jack Daniel’s encourages its friends to drink responsibly and reminds bikers that Bottles and Throttles Don’t Mix.