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Monday 15 November 2021

Comment by Editor-in-Chief, Robin Bradley

Reasons to Be Cheerful - Parts I, II and III

For those who read my Comment piece in the last edition ('Economists Were Invented to Make Weather Forecasters Look Good' - November), well, I was half right - though that still means I was half wrong, which is no better than a coin toss really!
Last month I was writing just three days before Harley and Polaris were due to announce their Q3 Fiscals. I predicted that both would probably have done quite well - 'okay-ish' at worst - and that both should therefore start to see some stock price bounce.
Well, bad on me, but I completely omitted to discuss the logistics and supply chain issues that really are now starting to shape our industry - in OEM and aftermarket terms - and the arising issues of inflation and low inventory.
Specifically, the semiconductor issue and the fact that most analysts are starting to say that this could still be affecting trade as far out as 2023.
In the case of Polaris, the impact that supply chain issues have had on the company's progress has really held it back. The  results were not well received by investors and its share price took a dump in response. It dropped from an October high of around $132 to as low as $114, and although it has since recovered some ground, it was still languishing at the $121 mark, and at the time of writing (November) some 20% below its 2021 high of $146 in April.
In Harley's case it would appear that, as far as investors are concerned, the company is in safe hands in management terms and managing its supply chain issues better than many (including Polaris).
Indeed, to the extent that stock price fluctuations are any kind of suitable measure (which isn't very much despite my obsession), it may be that Harley is going to be allowed to step down off the Wall Street naughty step soon.

demand at near decade high

Its share price was around $35.50 at the time of its Q3 filing and promptly popped a tad to be close to $40.00 by November 1st. Even though it has fallen back a couple of bucks, it is still way healthier than its 2021 $32.00 low in February - though there is still much ground to make up before it gets close to its May 2021 high of around $52.00.
So, were my forecasts hubris or sage? A little of each. Given that Harley CEO Jochen Zeitz has not had vast swathes of low hanging fruit to prune, in the way that Keith Wandell did in 2009, then it is fair to assume that, if it is measuring anything, Harley's share price response to its Q3 Fiscals is, at least in part, as much commentary on his management team's ability to housekeep within limited wiggle room as it is on anything else.
Management of the supply chain at a time of unprecedented pressure is an achievement, but so too is the management of output pricing - the prices Harley's customers pay. Yes, there are some price surcharges, but all things considered, Harley's is a conservative approach to inflationary pressure price pass-on.
A reversal of the new model strategy showcased in the 'More Roads' (To Oblivion!) strategic plan, but by no means an abandonment of ambition. Far from it. Harley's moves in the "new model space" are to be welcomed and the management complimented for their execution.
Conversely, over at Polaris, if anything, the concern (for some time) has been whether or not its barely break-even involvement in the motorcycle sector will survive the pressures of an, apparently, worse supply chain problem. Polaris has already moved to sell at least a couple of its Scott Wine era acquisitions (GEM and Taylor Dunn), so ROI is clearly in the crosshairs as capital also comes under pressure.
While powersports dealers may be getting list, or better, and therefore maintaining good margin performance, the inventory shortage will mean less capital is being generated. While a good used market performance makes for a good dealership performance (why sell a product once when you can sell it twice or even three times), input and output price pressure is inevitably followed by the orthodox economic strategy of switching on the interest rate hosepipe to tamp down inflation.
That in turn will increase the cost of flooring (as lenders look to make more from lending against less inventory) and of other forms of capital finance as stores try to sustain operations on less cashflow.
We have not even arrived at the mid-point of this story yet, never mind being about to read the final chapter.
Ironically, and for the first time ever, all this is playing out not against a backdrop of soft demand, as would generally be the case in a recession, such as in the 2007-2009 financial crisis, but at a time when demand for motorcycles, for all Powered Two-Wheelers (PTWs) and powersports vehicles in general, is running at a near decade high.
After fears that the rebooted demographics of the 21st century and the increasing pressure on that age old favorite family pastime of burning hydrocarbons might see the sands of time for the plucky old motorcycle industry running out, along comes a pandemic no less, and in the blink of an eye we are flavor of the month again - in urban mobility, environmental and leisure pursuit terms.
If you actually stop to think about the dynamic of change that has reshaped the powersports industry landscape since March 2020, then you really couldn't have made up what has been seen.
For a year now, the primary question I have been asking here in AMD Magazine and in Europe in International Dealer News is: will it, can it sustain?
We none of us can know that for sure, but with the skids under the previously inexorable growth in demand for mass transit, and with the environmental solution, safety improvements and impending traffic management interconnectivity of "Our Product" now firmly on the horizon, our industry may, just may itself also be coming down from society's 'naughty step'.
In the years and decades to come, those with long-term skin in the game where the future of the motorcycle and wider PTW and powersports industries are concerned may, just may have finally found the ubiquitous "reasons to be cheerful." I still think Ian Drury was an underestimated genius!


RumbleOn to Acquire Freedom Powersports

Irving, Texas based RumbleOn, Inc., the NASDAQ listed (RMBL) automotive and powersports buy/sell site operator, financial services provider and, since early 2021, owner of the RideNow chain of Brick & Mortar dealerships, is on the acquisition trail again.
The company has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Freedom Powersports, including the business and powersports dealerships operated at 13 locations in Texas, Georgia and Alabama. The addition of Freedom Powersports will expand RumbleOn's national U.S. presence to over 55 locations. 

"The anticipated acquisition supports RumbleOn's growth strategy by expanding and strengthening its omnichannel offering."
Having once styled itself as a "100% online ecommerce company that aggregates and distributes pre-owned automotive and powersport vehicles to and from consumers and dealers," the acquisition of Freedom Powersports marks another stage in the seemingly inexorable process of market consolidation that has been underway for the past four or five years and sees another online E-tailer business reversing into traditional Brick & Mortar retail environments.
"We are excited about the outstanding business Kevin, Tom and the Freedom team have built and we look forward to Freedom joining the RumbleOn team. We are well aware of the benefits of adding 13 exceptional locations, representing 15 leading manufacturers to further strengthen our omnichannel offering," said Marshall Chesrown, RumbleOn's Chief Executive Officer.
"We remain confident in our ability to transform the highly fragmented powersports industry to drive efficiencies in the marketplace, and to improve the customer experience. We expect Freedom to be accretive to our performance on day one without raising equity capital to fund cash consideration."
RumbleOn now boilerplates itself as "the nation's first and only omnichannel customer experience available in powersports and the largest powersports dealer," stating that it "offers a seamless shopping experience where a customer can browse, buy, sell, trade, or get financing at any of the company's bricks-and-mortar locations or online at the click of a button."
It says that its planned acquisition growth strategy "will further strengthen its omnichannel offering." Freedom Powersports was founded in 2012 by Kevin Lackey.


The World's First Maintenance-Free Chain is Now Shipping

One of the world's oldest motorcycle chain manufacturers (founded in Italy in 1919), in September last year Regina announced the world's first motorcycle chain that eliminates the need for 1,000 km periodic and workshop service interval re-lubrication.
Initially being offered as 525 (with 520 and 530 in development), the Lombardy, Italy based manufacturer describes its High Performance Endurance (HPE) chain as a Z-Ring chain "that is the result of extensive lab and street testing to demonstrate that it has a reliable useable life that is at least equivalent, if not greater, than a traditional, regularly re-lubricated Z-Ring chain".

The 'secret sauce' is the hydrogen-free tetrahedral amorphous carbon (ta-C) coating, currently considered as the most advanced among DLC (Diamond Like Carbon) coatings. Applied on the surfaces of the bushings and the rollers of the HPE chain, it combines hardness with a low coefficient of friction.
Friction is the enemy of all transmission chain durability and reliability and reduces the efficiency of how the system is able to get the power that the engine sends to the transmission down to the tire/road interface, where it needs to be.

It is the ta-C coating that eliminates the need of periodic re-lubrication, while ensuring at least the same mileage obtained with a normal chain regularly lubricated every 500 km. It reduces energy dissipation and increases efficiency in the chain drive, eliminating lubricant spatter during operation, and therefore minimizing environmental impact.
For those who have an interest in material science, the use of ta-C is interesting. Pure carbon is present in nature only in two crystalline physical states - diamond (atoms in a tetrahedral bonding arrangement) and graphite (atoms in a hexagonal planar bonding arrangement); ta-C is a synthetic state of pure amorphous carbon in which up to 80% of the atoms are bonded to each other with a Tetrahedral arrangement - in the same way as pure diamond.
For this reason, among all DLC coatings, the physical properties of ta-C (such as hardness and coefficient of friction) are the closest to pure diamond, the hardest material on Earth.
However, a chain drive using an HPE chain does not require ta-C coated front and rear sprockets. When installing a new HPE chain, Regina strongly recommends replacing the front and rear sprockets with new steel made ones.
The company says that to guarantee its best functionality and aesthetics over time, there are three simple rules to follow - clean and re-lubricate the chain once a year (after washing the bike, after using the bike in wet conditions and/or in salty or dusty environments, and before storing the bike at the end of the riding/winter season) and check for correct chain tensioning every 3,000 km.


OptiMate Made Easy

TecMate has been designing and manufacturing OptiMate battery chargers for 27 years - the first OptiMate saw the light of day in 1994. Fast forward to 2021, and the range has expanded to 40 active models, and that's without considering the PRO Dealer range that includes BatteryMate and the OptiMate PRO.  
TecMate CEO/CTO Martin Human says that even though each model exists for a reason, the inevitable questions are "Why so many" and "What do they all do?"
"It can be a difficult question to answer," concedes Martin, "but no two users have the same needs, and most are not, or never can be expected to be battery experts.

"We've been working on a plan that explains the range from an end user perspective, but the problem - and opportunity - is that most users simply want the charger to decide what's required to keep their favorite vehicle ready to ride. However, there are users with specific needs or demands, and ones who prefer to select the charger that matches the battery or vehicle, or who prefer to have that special charger that exactly matches their specific battery platform.
"For example, some users may not have AC power where they park their favorite powersport vehicle, and professionals need a charger that can do everything in the shortest possible time!"
To reduce a complex matrix of needs and options to simpler present and understand guidance, TecMate now categorizes its charger range into six categories - categories that not only present good, better and best options, but anticipate the many variances in how a rider will want to use their charger, what they will want it to do and how, and on which battery platform or platforms. 

The TecMate BRONZE standard is its easy-to-use chargers - general "connect and forget" charging and maintenance devices.
The SILVER range are the SMARTER options that are still automatic but can also save neglected 'dead-flat' batteries.
The TecMate GOLD standard are its ADVANCED chargers with selectable modes - these are the chargers that automatically save, charge, test and maintain, with the charge rate automatically adjusted according to temperature and/or battery size.
Then there is LITHIUM - EXPERT, specifically for LFP lithium (Lithium Ferrous Phosphate) batteries - the type of lithium used in powersports batteries. OptiMate lithium chargers save, test, charge, but can maintain and also reset deep discharge protection within advanced lithium batteries.
For those who need to charge when OFF-GRID, there are the TecMate ECO-SMART products, including SOLAR and DC to DC. This includes the OptiMate Solar DUO range, which works on both lead-acid and LFP lithium batteries.
For powersports vehicle dealers there is the TecMate PRO line. These professional chargers are robust, durable and made specifically for the demands of the dealership environment, with selectable features that are designed to save time. The new OptiMate PRO-1 DUO can save, charge and test both lead-acid and lithium LFP batteries and it has a power supply mode for diagnostic battery support.


Ness Enterprises

Go Fat With Ness

Ness Enterprises' 18 x 5.5" fat factory forged front wheel kit is described as "the perfect solution when updating to a 180 mm fat tire on the front of 2020 or newer touring models."
It is made with a gloss black powder-coated forged aluminum rim (not cast) with gloss black anodized hubs and disc adapters.

It accepts factory rotors, to save even more cost, but can be upgraded to take Ness' Jagged series rotors (also available from Drag Specialties) for an additional cost.
This wheel does not work with the factory fender - it requires the purchase of an 8" wide front fender from Arlen Ness. It accepts Arlen Ness rotor adapters with factory or aftermarket rotor/disc options.


Freedom Performance Exhaust

'Bad Ass' for Beemers

From CEO and Founder Martin Arteaga, Corona, California based Freedom Performance Exhaust has the powerful BMW R18 and K 1800 cruisers and tourers in its crosshairs with these new 'Cali-Rebel' style exhausts. 

Made from 100 percent American steel, and offered in 2.5" diameter with choice of ceramic black or show chrome finishes, these upswept Sharktail slip-ons bring a touch of American 'Bad Ass' to the Bavarian Boxers.

They elevate the styling, delivering a convincing and unique upswept flourish to the well-received Beemers that just helps to plant them as open-roaders with that quintessential U.S. Highway look.



Sportster Forty-Eight Retro Race Style Front Plates

Spanish parts and accessory specialist Puig has a new aluminum front plate design for Sportster Forty-Eight models from 2017 and up.

Aluminum front plate

The Barcelona based manufacturer says "protect yourself from the wind and the cold with the Puig aluminum front plate. Made of lightweight aluminum and available in aluminun or black finish, it can serve as both windshield and number plate holder - to give a competition styling edge."
Retro style racing front plate

Puig has model-specific mounting options and hardware for a wide range of motorcycle brands and models; for the XL Forty-Eight, the kit has two anchoring points and a universal iron support.
Also seen here for the Forty-Eight is a retro style racing front plate option in high strength, lightweight, durable and impact resistant ABS, available in matte black or carbon look. It comes in two different shapes - symmetric and asymmetric - and has a German ABE approval certificate (38007). Model-specific and universal mounting kits are offered.



Aeromach Skid Plates

Collegeville, Pennsylvania based Billet Proof Designs has its popular Aeromach design skid plate/debris shield back in inventory. Manufactured in lightweight, high-strength aluminum, the proven and durable design is available for Indian Scout, FTR1200 and Victory Octane models in black or raw aluminum. Founded by Damian Ercole in 2012, Billet Proof bought the Aeromach Mfg product line in 2020.
Billet Proof Designs, USA,


Beringer Brakes Additions

Bagger Brakes Kit
Internationally respected and popular French motorcycle brakes specialist Beringer - a favorite for high performance V-twin brakes among custom bike builders worldwide - has put together a Bagger-specific brake components kit that "has the stopping power that Harley Baggers, Tourers and all heavier bikes need."

The kit consists of an oversize Beringer 'Aeronal' 400 mm (15 3/4") brake rotor, the popular 6-piston Beringer 'Aerotec' brake caliper and the adapter plate it needs.
The company says that it can be fitted on all Harley-Davidson models from 1985 to today with a minimum 19’’ rim.
Without the rotor, the caliper and adapter plate can be purchased separately and mounted on any 380 to 400 mm (15" to 15 3/4") OEM brake rotor.

Brake Rotor Bracket
This bracket allows a larger-than-stock brake rotor to be installed - going from 291 or 300 mm disc to a 320 mm disc. 

There is no need to modify the otherwise stock motorcycle, the oversize rotor and the 6-piston caliper simply mount instead of the original.

Radial Caliper
Beringer offers an adaptor bracket to replace the original axial caliper with a radial caliper. You will have the choice between a 4-piston radial caliper with 108 mm center distance or a 6-piston radial caliper with 130 mm center distance. This bracket fits all discs, Beringer or other brands, from 291 mm to 330 mm.



NCCR Rotax/Buell 'Helicon' SuperSingle

It has been nearly 30 years since Ducati's legendary but limited-production Supermono demonstrated the potential of converting a V-twin engine into a balanced single-cylinder - and now Swedish company NCCR is performing the same trick on the Rotax-made Buell Helicon engine.
The Helicon was the basis of the final generation of original Buell machines, including the 2007-on 1125R and 1125CR, and went on to form the basis of the Erik Buell Racing 1190 models that emerged from the ashes after Harley-Davidson closed Buell in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, with power ranging from 146 hp to 185 hp. By turning it into a single, with an initial capacity choice of 562 cc or 595 cc, depending on whether it's based on the 1125 or 1190 Helicon, NCCR expects around 70 hp, with the option to increase that to 90 hp with a planned big bore kit to raise capacity to 660 cc - 700 cc.

Why build a single from a V-twin? The answer today is the same one that Ducati explored in its 1992 Supermono: the unused cylinder forms the basis of a balancer mechanism to eliminate the usual single-cylinder vibes. In simplified terms, the piston and cylinder are removed and the conrod is bolted to a pivoting balance weight mounted in a new casting that bolts on where the cylinder should sit.
It's a balance system that worked not only on the original Supermono, but more recently on BMW's parallel twin models, which have a rocking balancer below the crankshaft.
The NCCR engine isn't simply a Ducati Supermono copy, though. The initials stand for Northern Classic, Custom and Race, and NCCR was EBR's European partner. The company also looks after the original EBR WSB race bikes, as well as EBRs that competed at Macau and the IoM TT.
To create the first SuperSingle, NCCR has opted to remove the V-twin's front cylinder, where Ducati sliced off the rear one. The result is a backward-leaning single-cylinder with a reverse cylinder head - intake at the front, exhaust at the rear. It's an unusual layout, but not unique; Honda's Moto3 race bikes use the same rear-leaning, reverse head idea, as do certain Yamaha motocross bikes and BMW's single-cylinder G310 models. However, there's little reason that the same kit of conversion parts couldn't be used to remove the rear cylinder and keep the front one if the layout works better for some applications.
Jens Krüper, co-founder of NCCR, explains: "The SuperSingle concept gives us some great opportunities, like positioning the working cylinder front or rear, depending on which weight distribution you are looking for. Modern standing Enduro riding styles always generate bad rear wheel traction, that's why we use the rear cylinder position for our first build now. It also gives us excellent packaging possibilities to protect other components like the radiator and the exhaust system.
"Imagine how reliable that engine will be - three litres of oil plus a clutch and gearbox that can easily handle more than double of the power we're aiming on. The Helicon is a very reliable and long-term proven engine platform. The engines are fairly cheap to find, and last but not least, we have more than a decade of experience with it."
NCCR is initially building the engine into a 'travel enduro' demonstrator, but also envisages a future for the engine in a Sound of Singles race machine using the big bore version of the Helicon based unit.
Birgit Krüper, CEO at NCCR, explains that the company will make the engines available along with chassis kits, and may even offer complete machines: "We see a clear business opportunity in developing the SuperSingle engine concept. In times when most bikes get heavier and heavier and have more and more technology on board, a light and simple but rugged and reliable set-up will have its market. With making engine and chassis components available, we plan to support cost- friendly individual bike builds."

Monday 8 November 2021

Comment by Editor-in-Chief, Robin Bradley

Economists Were Invented to Make Weather Forecasters Look Good

It's happened again. I find myself needing to write this piece and send it to press the week before both Polaris and Harley are due to unveil their quarterly results (Q2) and trying to figure if I dare to speculate on what you'll likely already know by the time you read this.

The digital edition of AMD will have gone 'live' a couple of days before they report, but even so, moments such as these are a high wire act for magazine folk - with no safety!
If I were a betting man (which, stocks and shares aside, by and large I am not), then my money would be on both manufacturers having had pretty good second quarters. In the case of Harley, I'd expect to be seeing more evidence that CEO Jochen Zeitz' Hardwire corporate strategy (son of Rewire, first of its name) continues to produce results, and in the case of Polaris, its strong position in the still burgeoning Off-Road market (SxS/UTV especially) should inject some excitement into the performance of its shares.
Harley should also see some Wall Street bounce. At the time of writing (Mid October), Harley (HOG) is trading at around the $36.90 mark, having been as low as $32 YTD in early February and as high as $52 in mid-May 2021.
Polaris Industries (PII) is trading at the $130 mark, having come into 2021 at $95 in early January, peaking at around $146 in late April.

Hubris or Sage?

Volatility in the Harley share price is something we have come to expect these past five years, but Polaris seemed to be a lot more stable. But with analysts having not liked Polaris' broader powersports portfolio in the context of tariffs (which is a paradox, if you ask me), or appreciating being blindsided by long-term (and very successful) former CEO Scott Wine's decision to slide up the greasy pole a few notches to the CEO job at Case New Holland.
Having guided Polaris' turnover from the $2bn mark when he took over - just as the 2007-2009 financial crisis wrecked both Polaris' and Harley's balance sheets and share prices - to $9bn at the time of his decision to move on, CNH marked a considerable leap up that pole. CNH is a $28bn turnover conglomerate, though is itself only one wheel on the juggernaut that is Fiat Chrysler, which in turn is just one part of the Agnelli family's Fiat Industrial Group.
In terms of Jochen Zeitz, his Puma sneakers to major fashion label and luxury goods brand background saw his greasy pole performance play out in Germany (at Puma) and then at parent company Kering in France (owner of Puma, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent etc).
So, Scott Wine has taken his formative experience in the powersports industry to try to apply it to altogether bigger boys (and girls) toys. Zeitz has gone from the large to the smaller in turnover terms - from the overpriced luxury goods market to the urm, well - you know what I'm saying!
Even though it is still only 18 months or so since Zeitz stepped into the CEO chair at Harley, he had been a non-executive director since 2007 and, as a very wealthy man in his own right, he has very quickly been able to bring some of his experience in expensive products and lifestyle brands to Harley.
The maintenance of MSRP, the restoration of scarcity and, above all, the rebuilding of brand desirability have his career hallmarks stamped all over his Rewire/Hardwire process. Sooner or later, analysts will like enough of what they are seeing to reboot Harley's share price. Then, there is no reason why Harley should not enter a new era of convincingly strong Wall Street performance.
It may take some years before Harley is able to restore the S&P 500 upper quartile status that Zeitz' predecessor Matt Levatich was so concerned to try to protect. In the meantime, dividends should continue to remain strong, and, for now at least, the spectre of hostile take-over that had haunted Harley for much of the past decade does seem to have receded (how's that for a hostage to fortune!).
The Rewire/Hardwire process has seen some brutal housekeeping implemented at Harley - though nothing compared to the severe haircut that Keith Wandell inflicted back in 2009. The consensus is that while that worked - adios Buell and MV Agusta - it had long-term impact. The trimming of those other brands and product lines, and the thousand other cuts, did protect the balance sheet, but also resulted in the death of ambition; it bought the company time, but it was not used well.
In Zeitz' case though, there have been no big slices of low hanging fruit to be cut away. Instead, his approach has been more subtly strategic. Despite the effects on the dealer network, the mid-stream new model development course changes and the terminated careers, it is one that has made sense.
The Hardwire strategy is allowing Harley to bring a renewed sense of brand status and integrity along for the ride, and, so far, the model range buttons that his management team have pushed, and the management structure rebuild itself, already has started to yield results.
Personally, I particularly like what Harley has done with its LiveWire conundrum, and with Serial 1, even if Stacyc appears vulnerable. As regular readers will know, I had long been an advocate of taking the Bar 'n Shield back to its real roots, indeed to the real roots of 'American Motorcycling' in general and getting jiggy in the ADV space, and bowing out of so-called entry level pricing, but making sure that the new products (Sportster 1200 Custom, LiveWire One and the Pan America) had profitable but still competitive MRSPs is a great deal more logical than anything that was in the 'More Roads to Oblivion' plan.
Indeed, sustaining a better and more profitable pricing and ROI profile, in reasonable volume opportunity developed markets, and doing so while also Chasing Down the Dragon in China (without compromising either brand values or American and European price-points), is 'all good' as far as I can tell.

News Briefs


Indian Motorcycle was in 14th spot in Germany in market share terms (1.44%) for the first nine months of 2021, with 1,372 units sold. It does not yet have a model placing in the list of Germany's Top 50 bestsellers.

Vancouver, B.C., Canada based Damon Motors has announced that it will build a cleantech manufacturing and R&D plant in Surrey, B.C. The state-of-the-art, 110,000 sq ft facility is being developed to serve as ground zero for production of Damon's flagship HyperSport, "the world's smartest, safest, fully electric motorcycle."

The Top Mountain Crosspoint motorcycle museum that was gutted by fire in January 2021 is well on the way to a complete rebuild with more than 250 new exhibits planned for a re-opening in November 2021. The highest motorcycle museum in Europe, it sits some 2,200 m (7,200 feet) up at the top of the Timmelsjoch, a high mountain pass that creates a link through the Ötztal Alps along the border between Austria and Italy. Some 200 plus vintage motorcycles were destroyed in the fire, including a significant collection of rare Indian motorcycles.

A 68-year-old Fargo, Nd., man, the son of a former Harley and Indian dealer, recently won the Motorcycle Cannonball - dubbed the world's toughest antique motorcycle endurance run - on a 1911 Harley-Davidson. Dave Currier rode the 3,700-mile, 16-day, 11-State indirect route from Michigan to South Padre Island, Texas, on a bike that had the original engine - including the cylinder, crankcase and carburetor - and rock-hard seat!

Triumph Motorcycles and The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride (DGR) have renewed their partnership for five more years. Described as "one of the world's largest and most stylish charity motorcycle fundraising events," and focused primarily on men's health issues, Triumph has been collaborating with the DGR for eight years, and in 2019 some 116,00 riders raised $6m "by riding dapper together in an amazing 104 countries across the world." A 2020 "Ride Solo Together" pandemic-driven reimagining of the event saw 65,300 riders from 171 countries and 2,531 locations riding solo together, all connected together through social media, for a $4.1m total raised. In 2021 the event moved from September to May.

The name of the Belgium based manufacturer formerly known as Bullit Motorcycles has been changed. The owners decided that a new, future-facing corporate identity was required, one that feels more contemporary to take them in new directions and into new markets. The answer? Say hello to Bluroc Motorcycles. At present, the retro modern brand specializes in small displacement Naked style and Scrambler models, selling mostly in the UK, Netherlands, France, Germany, Belgium and Portugal.

The People's Republic of Montana has become the latest U.S. state to legalize Lane Splitting (Lane Filtering). The practice is restricted to passing stationary or slow moving traffic at 20 mph - in the same direction of travel. Montana is the third state to legalize the practise after California and Utah.

Canadian electric snowmobile and PWC manufacturer Taiga has added former Arctic Cat, John Deere, ODG/ARGO, Hayes and Case/CNH executive Doug Braswell as its new VP of Electrification Operations. The company has also announced the departure of COO Bernard Leblanc, and further expansion at its Shawinigan, Québec production facility.

Two high-profile Southern California Harley dealerships have been sold to Rami Yanni and Wise Auto Group, continuing a series of acquisitions for Wise. Orange County H-D in Irvine and Coronado Beach H-D were both owned by veteran H-D dealership owner Mark Smith, but they now become a part of the growing Wise Auto Group family. In June it was announced that Yanni and Wise were purchasing Victorville H-D. The group also owns Death Valley H-D, H-D of Yuba City, Redwood H-D in Eureka, California and Reno H-D, plus 14 automotive dealerships in total.

Sources: AMD, IDN, FT, Reuters, PSB, MPN, BDN, MCN, AP, Bloomberg, MSNW, Electrek,,,, Cycle World,


APVs Could Account for 45% of U.S. Light Vehicle Sales by 2035

While they currently represent just 5% of all U.S. light vehicle sales, new market research by SEMA suggests that sales of alternative power vehicles (APVs) are expected to reach 45% by 2035.
Eighteen of the top 20 global automakers (which together represented around 90% of new car registrations worldwide in 2020) plan to widen their portfolio of APV models and scale up their production of electric vehicles. 

However, three-quarters of Americans say they still prefer gas or diesel and have concerns about charging infrastructure, driving range and price. Also, APVs remain a niche market for the specialty-equipment industry, accounting for just 1% of specialty-equipment retail sales in 2020 ($0.42 billion).
Filled with an in-depth outlook on the landscape of alternative power and electrification in the United States, the “Emerging Trends: Electrification, Alternative Power and Advanced Technology” report helps companies understand potential implications for the specialty-equipment industry and how advanced technologies are becoming part of the new vehicle ecosystem. 

Among the key findings, there are currently said to be 4.1 million alternative power vehicles on U.S. roads today. This represents 1% of light vehicles in operation.
While sales are starting to grow, significant hurdles are said to remain around range, charging and electrical power generation in the shift towards more electrified vehicles. "As sales of electric and other alternative energy vehicles increase in coming years, it will take a while for current vehicles to cycle out of operation. The average age of a vehicle today is just over 12 years.
"Alternative power currently represents a very small share of the specialty aftermarket sales, but will be more important as their presence grows. Automakers continue to integrate vehicles with advanced technology to increase safety and comfort on the road. This opens potential growth opportunities for the aftermarket industry in older vehicles.
"While 58% of drivers want more safety features, 86% say they are afraid of fully autonomous vehicles. They cite safety and liability as their biggest concerns."

Zodiac International

Zodiac International Additions

RBW-Skull Ride Mode Selector for Throttle By Wire Models
This easy to install Ride By Wire accessory allows the rider to change throttle response through five different performance modes with just a turn of the skull handlebar-mounted switch. It works with stock EFI-tuning but also with flashed tuning, piggyback EFI tuners, Diag4Bike, Thundermax and PowerVision. 

The five different modes are designed to cater for most riding styles and circumstances. The standard mode makes no change to throttle response - everything remains exactly as it was pre-install; 'Easy-Rider' is the lazy-ride mode - smooth and relaxed, perfect for city use, it reduces engine temperature and fuel consumption; 'Storm' mode is the rain setting - it ensures 100% stress reducing safe riding in adverse weather conditions; 'Freedom' sports mode offers a sporty and comfortable ride, capable of catapulting you out of corners with maximum speed combined with maximum comfort; finally, 'Anarchy' mode is the race or track mode for experienced riders who want all the power right away.
The RBW-Skull is plug-and-play and can be installed in 10-20 minutes. It is available in black or chrome and in throttle or clutch side versions for 2008-present.

Vity's Billet Instrument Housings


Designed and made in Italy by Matteo Vity, these instrument housings are designed to take stock instruments. They are rake-adjustable to give the best view and are available in black or silver anodized for 2015 to present Road Glides and 2018 to present FXLR and FXLRS Low Riders. They only fit with Vity's adjustable risers.

Vity's Adjustable Risers

Vity's risers are 10 inch (25.4 cm) high, precision machined billet aluminum, with an adjustable head and one-piece top clamp for use with handlebars that are 1" in diameter at the riser mounts. They come complete with M12-1.5x70 mm riser bolts.

Zodiac Giga Nuts

Zodiac sprocket lock nuts are the cure for a loose front pulley or front sprocket nut. These high tensile strength nuts are a versatile built-in lock plate design that can also be secured in several additional places by an easy drilling and tapping operation. They fit 1993 to present Sportster, 1993-2010 air cooled Buell, 1993-2000 FXR, 1993-2005 Dyna, 1993-2006 Softail, 1993-2006 Touring, 2006-2017 Dyna, 2007 to present Softail, 2007 to present Touring and 2009 to present Trike models.


NAMZ Custom Cycle Products

Top-of-the-Line Wiring and Clamps

Making it easy for its dealers to "do it right," Oreland, Pennsylvania based NAMZ Custom Cycle Products' USA made, top-of-the-line 25 ft hose wire spools are sold in the most common sizes of 1/4", 5/16" and 3/8". 

They are manufactured using Thermoid brand reinforced rubber hose that is braided with 100% brass, copper and stainless materials "for the NEW or old school look your customer is after."

"In addition to our braided fuel and oil hoses, our selection of colored hose clamps will fit over most manufacturers' rubber or braided hoses. The NHC-C, B, S or N106 kits are designed for use on NAMZ 1/4″ and 5/16″ stainless or copper braided fuel line.
"Our NHC-C, B, S or N206 kits are designed for use on NAMZ 3/8″ stainless or copper braided oil line. Sold in six-packs and available in a variety of finishes such as brass, copper, stainless, chrome and black."

This year NAMZ is celebrating 21 years in business, providing "world class" electrical components, LED lighting (Letric brand), Badlands lighting modules, wiring harnesses and installation supplies.
NAMZ and Badlands products are available through Drag Specialties, Parts Unlimited, Tucker, Mid-USA, J&P Cycles, V-Twin, Parts Canada, Parts Europe, Custom Chrome Europe, Motorcycle Storehouse, W&W, Zodiac, Rollies Speed Shop and Performance Cycle Wholesale Limited, or directly from the company's website.


Novigo Designs

NoviStretch - Stretching the Life of the Harley's Paint Job

Nashville, TN, based Novigo Designs' NoviStretch stretch-to-fit protective covers have been developed specifically for Harley-Davidson applications, are the only American-made product of its kind, and offer one-of-a-kind protection for Harley paint jobs.
Created with breathable, durable fabric, they protect Harley touring motorcycles equipped with Batwing fairings and factory hard saddlebags.

"When developing NoviStretch, we wanted to make sure the fairing mask was made of a material that would protect the front of the motorcycle and fit tight so that it would not rub, chaff or damage the paint even at high speeds," said Andrew Holeman, owner and creator of NoviStretch. 

"Whether the paint is factory or custom, bikes are way too expensive and too much of an investment not to care for the paint. So we created an easy, affordable and patented way to protect from everything - from bugs to boot scuffs - that requires no hardware to install and won't eat up space in the bags when not in use."
NoviStretch fairing masks are made in America and have a stretch fit design for H-D Batwing fairings from 1969 to present and select aftermarket fairings.

Novistretch lid covers fit all 1994 to current Touring series hard saddlebags and have the same quick installation and removal, with a washable and compact size and one-year manufacturer's warranty.
NoviStretch performance protective covers are distributed by Mid-USA Motorcycle Parts and available online from the manufacturer.



Drag Specialties

Drag Specialties Additions

Laced Wheels

Described as a great OEM replacement, these gloss black rims and steel hubs "provide sharp contrast with the 40 chrome spokes and are offered for tube-type tires in both the CMV and SMV valve style. They come fully assembled and trued with bearings installed and end play set. The CMV front wheel measures 21" by 2.15" and fits '84 to '96 FXST, '93 to '96 FXDWG, and '84 to '86 single-disc FXWG (replaces OEM #43671-84). The SMV rear wheel measures 16" by 3" and fits '86 to '96 FXST/FLST, '86 to '94 FXR, and '91 to '96 FXD/FXDWG (replaces OEM #40975-86). The wheels use OEM mounting hardware and are designed to use OEM style rotors, pulleys and sprockets.

Tapered Backrest Pads for Round Sissy Bars 


Available from Drag Specialties Seats, these tapered backrest pads are made of high-grade black vinyl on a black powder-coated backing plate. The pads measure 3 1/2" wide across the top, 4¾" wide along the bottom, 5¾" high and include all the necessary mounting hardware. Available in Double Diamond stitch pattern with black, silver or red thread.  

Premium Full Synthetic Oil for Indians


This 100% fully synthetic four stroke oil is specifically engineered to improve clutch performance and provide you with superior engine protection. This oil was produced as a multi-fill lubricant for Indian Motorcycle motors and is suitable for both air and liquid-cooled motorcycles. It comes in both 15W-60 and 20W-40 weights and meets the API CI-4/SL and JASO-MA standards. The oil is made in the U.S.A. and comes in 1-quart bottles with 12 bottles per case.

M-8 Bolt Cover Kits


Containing "beautifully designed pieces to cover the raw OEM bolt heads on the engine, these bolt covers come in either a black or chrome finish." Made in ABS material, they attach using silicon (not included in the kit) and fit all 2017 to 2021 M-Eight models.  

M-8 Soft-Ride Driver Footpegs


These vibration-isolating large diameter driver footpegs (available in chrome or black finish) have a hollow core, with long-lasting neoprene rubber insert cleats isolastically mounted on a special chrome socket-head bolt. They fit M-Eight Softail and Live Wire models.  


Corbin Saddles

Solo and Pillions for 2022 Chief

Corbin Saddles (Hollister, California) has added to its range of seat options for Indian Motorcycle models with a "classically styled" solo seat for the newest Indian Chief.
"Providing maximum rider comfort combined with classy looks and a range of custom options, it accepts our removable backrest for a total of 13 inches of vertical back support. Our sculpted seating position gives maximized body contact and provides touring quality comfort. The optimized seat platform offers an ergonomic position for a more integrated feeling with the bike."

For passengers, Corbin offers two easily mounted pillion options. The 50s pillion keeps a clean, low profile built up with the company's exclusive Comfort Cell foam to provide good mid-range comfort. The Corbin Touring pillion is built wider and thicker with a dished seating platform to provide maximum weight distribution and support. Both come upholstered to match the Corbin solo for a totally integrated look.
"The Classic solo saddle and backrest provide excellent support for riding while the shaping in the nose allows for ground reach at stop signs. We've designed our saddle to place the rider in the sweet spot on the bike for the best feeling of control. The optimized seating area helps you stay firmly planted in the bike without sliding in the saddle.
"Our #BR model backrests have removable finishing plates on the rear available in a range of styles. The standard plate is an ABS leather look, but we can also provide one with a carbon fiber look or primer and ready for custom paint. For just a little extra, we can provide the finishing plate on the backrest prepainted gloss black."

'Gambler' Saddle for 2022 Indian Chief Models
Corbin's 'Gambler' saddle offers a sleek, sporty appearance and low profile design and features a comfortable driver's position with a clean pillion seating area to provide a "flawless" profile.
Built up of Corbin Comfort Cell foam, that allows a low saddle while retaining comfort, the sculpted seating is said to disperse the rider's weight ergonomically and gives lasting support while still providing good ground reach at stop signs. 'Gambler' provides over five inches of vertical back support in the rider position. 

"This is a good choice for riders that often ride solo or have passengers along for short to medium range trips. All our saddles come standard with genuine leather seating in your choice of textures and colors. We use genuine leather in all of our saddle models because it provides a perch that will breathe with your body and break in along with the foam shape.
"All in all, the saddle will conform to the body and provide a personalized fit upon break-in. Just be sure to care for your saddle properly with a quality leather conditioner like our saddle cream. Your leather saddle will break in gracefully and develop a unique character of its own, just like a good leather jacket."


Magnum Shielding

Magnum Indian Motorcycle Handlebar Installation Kits

Upstate New York based brake line and control cable specialist Magnum Shielding has introduced handlebar installation kits specific for most 2015+ ABS and non-ABS Indian motorcycles - including Scout and Chief models with 10" to 16" ape hanger style handlebars and 2020+ Challenger models with 16" to 18" ape hanger style handlebars.
These kits alleviate the problems that occur when locating the components needed for handlebar swaps on Indian motorcycles.
Magnum's kits are available in the premium Designer Series with three Signature braids, STERLING CHROMITE II, BLACK PEARL and KARBONFIBR, and have matching chrome or black chrome plated fittings. 

The KARBONFIBR braid is created from metallic wire with distinct black tone colors, blended and interwoven to mimic the distinct look of carbon fiber. Kits are also offered in the XR Stainless product line with three color combinations allowing the customer to find something that will suit their taste.
Choices include clear coated stainless steel braid line with chrome fittings, and a black coated line with either chrome or black chrome plated fittings. The fittings used in all kits are highly polished before plating.
Magnum Shielding says that it ensures that the clutch cable and brake lines included in the kits "provide a precise fitment. Be confident that the quality construction uses fittings and tube assemblies that are specifically selected for trouble-free installations, while providing professional looking results."  


Each kit includes everything for a handlebar replacement - DOT brake lines, a clutch cable, copper crush washers and any necessary hardware.
Also available for selected Indian Motorcycle applications, Magnum Shielding's premium brake lines incorporate PTFE tubing, braided with DuPont Kevlar aramid fiber reinforcement - a Signature Magnum braid - and a crystal-clear PVC outer jacket that will never discolor.
Aramid fiber reinforcement greatly reduces line expansion for the ultimate in high performance braking, a real benefit for your customers.
XR DOT brake lines are produced in-house at Magnum's manufacturing facility and use an enhanced construction of heavy gauge stainless steel embedded in a tough, abrasion-resistant nylon outer jacket for superior durability and safe riding.
"All Magnum brake line coatings offer exceptional protection for paint and chrome and every brake line is pressure tested and fully DOT FMVSS-106 compliant.
"Our premium Designer and economical XR clutch cables are a low effort, high-efficiency design that provides excellent quality, fitment, construction and endurance. Regardless of whether it's the premium Designer Series or the cost-effective XR Stainless product line, Magnum's handlebar installation kits for Indian motorcycles offer a great fit and finish, outstanding quality, DOT compliance and ease of installation, making these products the best choice for handlebar changes."


Andreani Group

Fork Tube Removal Kit

Ever cursed the suspension manufacturer for that small grub screw they use to secure the fork inner tube to the axle clamp? They do so, of course, to try to avoid unwanted unscrewing of such components. For many operators though, it just makes the disassembly of the fork tube from the fork bottom way more difficult than it should be, making servicing or replacing the cartridge difficult.


Based on the combined decades of experience at the track and with working on street bikes, the specialist suspension engineers at the Andreani Group have come up with a special fork grub screw removal kit to allow them to do it in an easy, safer and more professional way.
The kit (code 04.K01.000) is among the hundreds of specialty tools and accessories available from Andreani Group that make the life of the suspension service tech easier and saving time (and therefore money) for the rider.


The kit contains a beater, two hollow mills (#10 and #12) that allow removal of the grub screw without damaging its head, three torx to remove the grub screw and three drills (#3, 4 and 5) to clean the fork tube.
In addition, Andreani Group offers service technicians access to the widest possible range of precision-made professional grade wrenches and equipment, such as the fork tube removal kit (composed of the universal tool and of a wide selection of adaptors in 35 to 50 mm diameters), all designed for fork tube removal without the risk of damage.
It is available as a single tool or as part of the special 1003/ST package, which is designed for owners of the Andreani Group's 'Universal Toolbox'.


Tuesday 2 November 2021


EU Drops Punitive Harley Tariffs

The process of tariff dispute resolution between the United States and the European Union that was set in play back in June has now concluded with a comprehensive agreement to terminate the imposition of tariffs on a range of products, including exports to USA and Harley-Davidson motorcycle exports to the European Union.

In a statement issued on October 30th, based on outcomes at the latest G20 summit held in Rome, Italy, Harley has stated that it extends its thanks "to the U.S. Administration for reaching a solution to the 232-tariff dispute."

Jochen Zeitz, Chairman, President and CEO

Jochen Zeitz, Chairman, President and CEO of Harley-Davidson is quoted as saying that the news was a "big win for Harley-Davidson and our customers, employees and dealers in Europe. Our thanks go out to President Biden, Secretary Raimundo and the U.S. Administration for their efforts in this negotiation. 

"We are excited that this brings an end to a conflict that was not of our making, and in which Harley-Davidson had no place. This is an important course correction in U.S./EU trade relations that will allow us to further Harley-Davidson's position as the most desirable motorcycle brand in the world."
The company went on to state that it "remains committed to free and fair trade and is focused on remaining globally competitive in the interests of all its stakeholders, ensuring its customers around the world have access to its products."