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    • Next season, MotoGP will showcase electric bikes and have signed up Italian mfg Energica to supply bikes for teams.

      Thoughts? Races initially in Europe. Will people stay to watch?

      Would you ride one?

    • flei

      I don't know how popular E-racers will be at this time; they are new and represent change, which people are resistant to. However, I think they are the future. I am personally really excited about electric motos! I tested a ZeroDS and it was a lot of fun; great torque and acceleration, and I like the quiet and low maintenance. I don't own one yet, as the range is still not what I need. I ride just for recreation and want at least a 200 mile range. But they are getting close so I am saving up!

    • The civilian version will only go about 50 miles in sport mode. Eco modes get you closer to 100 but even then, you're waiting for a LONG time while it charges.

      I rode a BMW C-Evolution for a couple of days. It was great. I never realized how much I could hear listening to my Sena. Plus, it's quick (again, Dynamic Mode). Less storage than the C models (650's) but definitely more fun.

    • Chris

      Last Saturday I rode my bicycle up the spectacular Mt. Umunhum climb with its new twisty road. Some guy on a beautiful electric bike kept whizzing by me in one direction and then the other. As I was sweating like a pig, I think he was rubbing in how much better his ride was.

      I was having trouble telling what bike he was riding, but I guessed it was Victory's Empulse TT. It looked so awesomely sweet to ride. 😛

      As a side note, they hired a damn good photographer, no?

    • cvdavis

      They're the future but the batteries will have to get lighter and last longer. Just a matter of time :) Not sure what bikers will say though instead of braaaaaap!

    • I saw that. I’m curious how it will be received by their customers. Buell and the V-Rod didn’t go over particularly well.

    • gorudy

      What happened with Buell and V-Rod? I guess the thing is that HD has to do something or they will slowly die right?

    • I meant to say, the Victory is really a Brammo which was acquired by Cummins recently. They also seem to have pivoted away from mfg of motorcycles to supplier of power systems used in a variety of industries-which is too bad since theirs was one of the first to market-Zero being their competition.

    • Chris
      Chris MacAskill

      Harley's turnaround from near-death is one of the most amazing business stories I've ever heard. If I remember correctly, they, along with Coke, became the best-performing stock in America for a 20-year run at one time. However, the V-Rod story really surprised me. Here's how I remember it:

      Motorcycle companies were collapsing in the 70s with the introduction of Japanese bikes. They were faster, lighter, better engineered, and cheaper. I'll never forget when the Honda 750 4-cylinder came out, it created a sensation. Oh, and the Kawasaki 500 3-cylinder bike that could go 0-60 in 4.0 seconds.  😁

      I was in high school and you couldn't be seen around a Harley. They were dinosaurs for old people and Hells Angels. Ewww. Even beloved British brands like Triumph, the essence of coolness, BSA and Indian, were closing.

      Harley got acquired by the conglomerate AMF in the 70s and was squeaking out a profit, but the Japanese bikes had taken over the market and Harley was down to 6% market share. AMF thought the right strategy was to make Japanese-like bikes, so Harley made a two-stroke dirt bike to fight the Japanese using their own strategy. It wasn't working and they were discontinued. AMF tried to sell Harley.

      The grandson of Davidson loved classic Harleys and was going on rides with groups who shared his passion. He noticed that they liked Harleys because they weren't the tinny Japanese designs. They had a deep, throaty sound. They had chrome and leather and black. They felt substantial, like a real man's bike. You could customize them endlessly to make your bike uniquely yours. The v-twin engines made an asymmetric sound like the galloping of a horse.

      So he figured out a way to buy the company from AMF for something like $81 million through some leveraged buyout with the remaining Harley execs. They refocused on classic Harleys and set to work fixing the leaking seals, yada. There were dark days and it didn't look like it would work as they laid off employees and watched sales decline.

      Coke's chairman had a mantra: be different or be damned. Harley seemed to adopt the mantra I used to hear in Silicon Valley: if you can't beat your competition on one playing field, change the playing field.

      When Harley got their act together with manufacturing quality control, ironically using Japanese methods, they were able to show there was an enormous market for authentic leather and chrome rides. And they were able to cash in on sales of genuine Harley add-ons like leather jackets and all manner of chrome customizations.

      They went upscale in price and against all odds, 40% of their buyers became white collar weekend warriors who wanted to express their badass selves.

      An encroaching problem was the EPA's emission guidelines. That's where the V-Rod came in. It's hard to engineer an air-cooled engine with the tight tolerances needed to make them really efficient. They get hot at intersections when no air is flowing by. With Harleys, the rear cylinder is shielded from the wind even while moving by the front cylinder, and what air does get through is warmed by the front cylinder.

      So Harley got together with Porsche and designed the V-Rod engine, a thing of beauty and masterpiece of design. I thought Harley guys would love it, but no. Water-cooled engines deaden the sound they love so much. It wasn't black? I don't know.

      A guy on ADVrider, HogWild, chose the V-Rod engine for his sidecar rig to race Dakar, and invited me to be the sidecar monkey for the race. I was in IronMan shape at the time and maybe could have done it, but I had to work. Here's a pic of his rig with that magnificent engine:

    • Dudley Perkins had a great collection of motorcycles from the beginning through modern times while walking up the stairs to the showroom. The history is remarkable. Dudley Perkins sold in December or January and is now SF Harley Davidson. Not sure the collection is still in place.

      I hope they continue their success but like other brands, people aren’t eaxctly flocking to motorcycling. Fair bit of interest in electrics but not a lot of sales. Someone said earlier that range was a factor and it’s hard to argue with that-heck, 20% of the battery to go 8 miles on the freeway means you need to find a place to charge every couple of days and it means Santa Cruz is out of the question unless you can charge (C-Evolution).

    • gorudy

      awesome post. There's probably a whole bunch more amazing sub-stories involved with that.

      How close were you to accepting the offer to ride with Hogwild?

    • gorudy

      Good point. I see a future where younger riders explore the world on bikes but not on ones they own.

      Eagle Rider has been successful at running this business model. Combine that with airbnb and there's a lot of opportunity to explore without the burden of ownership.

    • Chris

      I wasn't too close to being the sidecar monkey because I'm 6'4" 185 pounds and I figured someone shorter could do better.

      But I was close to going to photograph it. It tied with my business (SmugMug) and I love action photography. I shot from a heli once before and it was epic.

    • Rudy, not sure bikes are like cars with respect to rentals. ER and Dubbelju have done a great job in the rental market. I’m not sure how they feel about new riders tho.

      Most of what they rent are $20k or there about. Maybe less for the Triumphs.

    • gorudy

      yea good point. Eagle Rider requires "valid driver’s license from your home country with the proper class or endorsement permitting you to ride the motorcycle, or equivalent of the motorcycle, you are renting."

      On the other end of the spectrum here's what Scoot in SF requires for their $3 scooter rentals.

    • I think the key is “take the insurance”.

      The biggest problem is the seat height. Most BMWs are around 32” inseam. So tippy toe for a loaded GS is dicey at best.

    • Energica has something called the SS9 they claim gets between 125 and 175 miles to a charge. Haven’t seen much about it yet though seems to be hinting at where they are going. It’s a nice looking and more naked bike. Not sure how they are getting greater range but this is definitely better and going in the right direction.

      Our shop ride was about 145 miles for me. I wonder if I could have done just the lunch portion of it? That would have been an easy hundred...

    • one more before she goes to her new home in NYC.

    You've been invited!