Honda anniversary ad

by on October 20, 2013
in Brands

Somehow in all the pre-launch book excitement, I managed to miss the fact that Honda celebrated its 65th Anniversary this year. I recently came across their 2-minute ad which brilliantly avoids the “names and dates on a timeline” cliche and instead celebrates the importance of imagination and their contributions to innovation.

What do YOU think?



2014 Indian Chief to be unveiled at Sturgis Rally

by on July 23, 2013
in Brands

indianIt’s only fitting that the much-anticipated 2014 Indian Chief motorcycle would be unveiled at the Sturgis Rally this August – it was a local Indian motorcycle club, the Jackpine Gypsies, that started the Sturgis Rally back in 1936. (You ARE much-anticipating this reveal, aren’t you? I actually *am* – I’ve always loved the “fully dressed” look of the Chief and hope that the latest incarnation retains some of its historic style elements.)

And, true to the heritage of the Indian Motorcycle, the Chief will be the first model to be unveiled in the new model year as the brand cointinues to emerge under the stewardship of Polaris Industries, which acquired it in 2011. First introduced in 1922, the Indian Chief is historically Indian’s most popular selling model and is widely regarded as one of the most iconic motorcycles ever produced.

The re-styled and re-engineered Chief, powered by Polaris’s ThunderStroke 111 engine, will be unveiled at the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum located at the corner of Junction and Main Streets, on Saturday, August 3 at 8 p.m. . The event is free of charge and features live music, celebrity appearances featuring Mike Wolfe of American Pickers, interviews with Indian Motorcycle team members, a multimedia tribute to Indian Motorcycle’s history and more.

Other Rally events centered around Indian Motorcycles include displays, demo rides, and, on August 9, Indian Motorcycle Night at the Buffalo Chip.

While Indian’s history hasn’t been continuous these past few decades, the industry will be watching -and Indian enthusiasts will be waiting a bit breathlessly – to gauge the level of commitment Polaris is willing to make to the brand.

The 2014 Indian Chief will be built at Polaris’s Spirit Lake, Iowa production facility with a starting MSRP of $18,999.

Struthers Bros.: Best Motorcycle Shop, and dinner rides!

by on July 16, 2013
in Brands

struthersJust a quick post to say congratulations to Struthers Brothers Kawasaki Suzuki Triumph at 5191 NW 2nd Ave., for being voted Best Motorcycle Shop in Des Moines in a recent poll conducted by Cityview! In addition to carrying a variety of motorcycle brands, Struthers Bros. also carries apparel, parts and gear, and has an extensive selection of pre-owned bikes of many makes and models. They also carry Midland USA communication and helmet-cam equipment. 

Struthers also hosts dinner rides throughout the riding season. Remaining dates and locations are:

Saturday August 10– Dinner Ride to Checkerboard in Pleasantville
Saturday August 24– Dinner Ride to Community Tap in Fort Dodge
Saturday September 7– Dinner Ride to Country House in Colo

All dinner rides leave promptly at 4:30 pm from the Struthers Bros. parking lot.

The dealership is also hosting the Ride Against Diabetes on Sunday August 25 from 12:30 pm – 3:30 pm. Cost is $25 per person. Click here for the flyer shared on their Facebook page! While you’re at it, be sure to “Like” Struthers Brothers on Facebook and visit their website at



Bike shopping? Try a side-by-side comparison

by on July 1, 2011
in Brands

If you’ve poked around here much, you might have stumbled across my Short Rider Grid comparing seat heights of various cruisers. Of course, there’s more to choosing a bike than seat height, and now there’s a good resource for those researching a bike purchase. The motorcycle comparison tool built by lets you view a variety of specs and features on different bikes in a side-by-side view. The screen shot above gives you an idea of what the results look like, though there’s a lot more to it than what’s shown. (See a full sample comparison of an HD Heritage Softail Classic and a Yamaha Roadstar Silverado.)

Kyle Espinola of FindtheBest tells me that their research team built the comparison by first determining what data should be included, then populating the data fields with data directly from the manufacturer or government databases.

The comparison also includes “expert ratings,” which are weighted averages of industry sources, including,, and Motorcyclist Magazine.

“(Users) can also give their own reviews on the product at the bottom of each listing, (and) can also add/edit listings. Every add/edit is quality checked by our staff and then sent live,”  Kyle said.

He notes that the FindtheBest team also adds bulk entries at different times – for example, a major addition will take place when more of the 2012 bikes are out.

Bikes aren’t the only things you can compare at FindtheBest – the site has created a “one-stop shop” of comparisons covering a broad range of interests, allowing users to find and review both objective data and user reviews all in the same spot. You can read a little more about the site in a December, 2010 write-up on the blog Mashable.

Disclaimer: Although invited me to take a look at their motorcycle comparison tool, they did not compensate me for writing about it. They *did* add my blog to their blog comparison tool, but only after I was too lazy to add it myself :)



MoCo news: Sweetening the pot

by on January 9, 2010
in Brands

Yes yes, I know, not every rider longs for a Harley. But for those who do, HD is sweetening the pot this month (yes, the month of January) with a special offer for owners of other brands. Just take your competing brand bike in for a trade, and they’ll give you an extra $500 over your trade-in. (Roads covered in ice? Here’s a tip – you can probably ask your dealer if they’ll pick up your trade-in.) Here’s the link for complete info on the HD website.

And, if you think you might want to own an HD but don’t know which model is for you, check out this new “build your bike” app on the MoCo’s Facebook page that will help you figure it all out.  Hey if nothing else it’s a way to kill a few minutes while you’re waiting for the snow to melt.

Finally, just a quick plug for one of the things I like best about the Harley brand – the community of riders. Once you do get that dream bike, be sure to join your local Harley Owners Group (HOG) chapter. You’ll find an instant family of fellow riders eager to lead (or follow) you down the road.

Harley catalog features rider mosaic

by on August 19, 2009
in Brands

Earlier this year, the folks at Harley Davidson invited riders to submit photos of themselves and their bikes, enjoying the road and the ride. They used these photos to create a mosaic design for their 2010 new-model catalog, and provided a link to the mosaic online so those who submitted photos can find themselves in the design. Be sure to browse the online version!

HD Rider Mosaic

Your ride photos needed for HD catalog photo mosaic

by on May 11, 2009
in Brands

It may not be the cover of the Rolling Stone, but still pretty cool: Harley Davidson is looking for 10,000 HD owners to be featured in a photo mosaic on the cover of their 2010 Motorcycle Catalog.  Riders around the world are invited to pick a favorite photo of themselves with their bike or of a riding experience (rallies, events, etc.) and upload it to the mosaic through the Harley-Davidson website. Of course, you must be the owner of the photo to upload it – you can’t upload someone else’s personal or professional work.

Here’s the submission link with complete details:

And another thing: two bikes NOT for learners

by on April 30, 2009
in Beginning Riders, Brands

As a follow-up to this week’s post about good bikes for beginners, I wanted to point out that I had read recently where someone recommended the automatic-shifting Ridley as a “great first bike.”

I respectfully disagree, for the simple reasons that it’s expensive and doesn’t teach you all the necessary skills.

Sure you don’t have to learn to manage the clutch, but what if you decide someday that you want a different bike? You certainly couldn’t test-ride anything if you haven’t mastered shifting.  And, if you were in a situation where you were needed to ride someone else’s bike, you’d be useless. Learning to shift is part of the challenge of learning to ride, and you should tackle the challenge. Besides, I can’t imagine shelling out that kind of money, or taking on that kind of loan, for a “first bike.”  

Same for custom choppers – choppers are engineered quite differently from, other bikes, including the learner bikes they use in the MSF courses. For one thing, the turning radius is drastically different. Why put unnecessary obstacles in your way when you are still learning how to manage operating the bike, riding defensively, moving through traffic, etc.?  Plus, again, the cost is extraordinary compared to a basic small-cc bike, especially if you don’t know whether riding is “for you” just yet.

Of course, once you are riding comfortably you can have any bike you want, and can adjust your riding skills accordingly.

Best beginner bikes – start small, move up

by on April 28, 2009
in Beginning Riders, Brands

With women now comprising just over 12 percent of the new-bike market, it means that more gals are thinking about learning to ride. (After all, who doesn’t dream of being a free-spirited biker chick?) If that’s you, or your wife or girlfriend, one of the first questions to come up is most certainly going to be: “What kind of bike is best for learners?” (See my “No B.S. Guide to Learning to Ride” for more common questions.)

While it’s true that some women will be comfortable managing a bigger bike right from the start, it’s more likely they’re facing quite a bit of uncertainty or even fear.

For that reason, I recommend learning to ride on a smaller bike, i.e. a Honda Rebel or Yamaha Virago (125 and 250cc, respectively), preferably used so you don’t shell out a lot of money only to find you don’t enjoy riding. 

A woman who might be able to readily maneuver more bike at slow speeds, or one who’s more confident going into the task of learning, might start out on a 600 Honda VLX or the Yamaha 650 V-Star. These are a little more powerful and you might keep them a few more seasons than the smaller Rebel or Virago. 

All of these are readily available in the used market.

Once you feel comfortable riding, you’ll notice that highway speeds feel like “work” on a small (250cc) bike. At that point, you’re probably ready to move up to something a little bigger. You can easily sell the learner bike and move up to the Honda Shadows, Yamaha V-Stars, Harley Sportsters, etc. in the 650-883 range. Suzuki also makes comparable bikes in its Boulevard line – I’m not as familiar with them, but the older Suzuki 800 Intruder is also a great “move-up” bike. Eventually you may move up yet again into the largest classes, but I know many women who have ridden comfortably for years on these mid-range machines.

The advantages of this graduated method are several: 

  • You get used to the manual operation of the bike without feeling like you can’t maneuver it easily (such as into and out of parking spaces or through large crowds).
  • It’s easier to pick up a smaller bike via the proper method if you drop it.
  • And speakng of drops, it’s less heart-breaking to drop a small used learner bike (likely to happen when you’re a new rider) than it is to drop your ultimate dream bike.
  • It’s much easier to pass the licensing test on a smaller-cc bike.
  • You probably won’t have a financed bike to “get out from under” if you decide you don’t want to continue riding.

I’ve said it often: women learn differently from men – they are more studious and often more cautious. If you want to learn to ride and want to make it as un-intimidating as possible, start small and work your way up to the larger bikes.

Harley-Davidson Announces National Film Contest Winner

by on December 15, 2008
in Brands

Victoria Sampson of Shadow Hills, Calif. was selected as the Grand Prize Winner in Harley Davidson’s Bikes, Camera, Action! film contest. Here’s her winning entry (if embed doesn’t work, check out the YouTube wide-screen version):

Ms. Sampson was honored at the premiere party for her film, Her Need for Speed, which took place December 11 in Los Angeles. An HD spokesperson said her film stood out for the quality and creativity of the content as well as the success she had in capturing the empowerment inherent to women riders.

In addition to the premiere party, Sampson received $5,000 in cash, a new High Definition video camera and a Harley-Davidson leather jacket. Already a rider, Sampson will also have the opportunity to fine tune her riding skills with a gift certificate for a 5-day bike rental through Harley-Davidson’s Authorized Rentals.

“We know there are thousands of women dreaming of hitting the open road,” said the emcee of the evening, Karen Davidson, great-granddaughter of one of the Harley-Davidson founders. “The Bikes, Camera, Action! films captured the powerful visual of women embracing their independence and we hope they will inspire those still dreaming to take life by the handlebars.”

Melissa Kosar of Orange, Calif. and Marta Masferrer of New York City were selected as First Prize Winners, each receiving $1,500 to use toward their next project, a Harley-Davidson leather jacket and the opportunity to learn to ride through Rider’s Edge(R), Harley-Davidson’s rider training program.

Dozens of female film makers answered the contest’s challenge, to create original short films that capture the freedom and control that riding offers women. The three prize-winning films can be viewed at

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