2014 Indian Chief to be unveiled at Sturgis Rally

by on July 23, 2013
in Other 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 Other 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 www.struthersbros.com.



Bike shopping? Try a side-by-side comparison

by on July 1, 2011
in Other 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 www.findthebest.com 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 Motorcycle.com, CycleWorld.com, 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 FindtheBest.com 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 :)



And another thing: two bikes NOT for learners

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, Other 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.