Friday, December 31, 2010

Top Ten (non-binding) Resolutions For 2011

Bang. Bang. Pop, bang. Must be getting close to New Year's, either that or Chechen rebels have stormed the high ground of the Brentwood Water Park...........damn crafty "ex"-commies. With a volley of light arms fire, uh, fireworks, 2010 does its disappearing act in the metaphoric rearview, and none too flippin soon if I maybe allowed. So long '10, as years go, you were not one of my all-time faves. Now don't get me wrong,  got plenty to be thankful for; the clan's in good health, the kid has stayed out of trouble (at least as far as I know, and sometimes that just has to be good enough), we opened up the Asylum and you came inside for a look-see, and it appears that this just may be the last year for American Idol.....certainly not all bad, right?

But it wasn't all gravy fellow Chromies, not at all. For far too many of us the American dream has become just that, a dream, one that bears no resemblance to our waking reality; jobs are more difficult to find than an Obama voter at a Tea Party rally, our hard earned homes aren't worth any more than the cars in the driveway, and the government, in all its "widsom", has shown all the economic acumen of a crack addled chimp with ADD. At least they make up for it with personal integrity.......right!? All the while soulless Wall Street pukes "earn" obscene bonuses, personally I think Dante missed a level of hell............"eighth floor, bankers and lawyers only please".

But we're Americans, if we've got one thing going for us; our naysayer thumping, pundit whooping, economists be damned.........I don't care what over-priced Ivy League school you went to, I'm gonna make it happen attitude. So no matter where you find yourself as 2010 draws to a close, odds are you'll be in a much better place come the same time next's what we do. And making resolutions is another. I know it's a cliche'........but like most cliche's there's usually a fair amount of truth lurking under the surface, and if not, well, they can pretty damn funny anyway. Want proof? Think Hallmark cards, malls, Pamela Anderson, and every episode of "Leave it to Beaver" you've ever're feeling me know, aren't you!?

Ahem, so here goes, in no particular order, because honestly it doesn't really matter, my Top Ten (non-binding) Resolutions for 2011..........

1) I resolve to eat better. Better steaks, better burgers, better deserts, better beers.......What did you think I was gonna say? Hey, I don't know what the deal is, but the older I get the better food tastes, and the better the food, the better get the idea. It's that texting teen in the Escalade that's gonna take me out, not an extra helping of Double Stuff Oreo's.......believe that!

2) I resolve to spend more time behind bars. No this doesn't mean I'm planning on getting jumped into the Big House Crew anytime soon, I just want some more saddle time on the Harley's. Or my KTM, even though the b**ch broke my hand last year......Riding motorcycles (any motorcycle if you must know the truth, even those cruiser clones for the clueless crowd) is one of the most enjoyable pursuits one can pursue........simply put, ain't no way to do too much riding, not possible.

3) I resolve to make a choice, Beverly Hills or the OC. I admit it, I'm hooked on the Real Housewives, not gonna lie to my fellow Chromies. Come on, Tamara, not you're average Wall Mart shopper my friends. But enough is truly enough, there's only so many hours in a crew of hotties must go. This may take some time...........don't want to be too hasty, not fair to the girls.

4) I resolve to hit the gym. Now to be honest, this one isn't much of a stretch, as I'm sort of a gym rat as it is........I know, I know, then why don't I look like it?? Damn good question.......and I'm gonna use my post workout snack time to riddle that one out. What I really wish is that all you other resolution junkies would blow off the "hitting the gym" number, keeps the post holidays throng to a manageable number........ever tried to get on a treadmill on January 1st? Not pretty...........

5) I resolve to buy a Harley Davidson XR1200X. OK, this one might be a bit of a long shot, and I'm not really sure that it actually qualifies as a bonafide "resolution", but I don't care, I want one. Harley got it right on this badboy, the Brembo brakes, Dunlop tires, fully adjustable's simply a blast (awkward Buell reference, sorry about that) to ride. I want one, I want one, I want one.

6) I resolve to make Chrome Asylum worth your time. To be honest, when I started scribbling away about my inner most two wheeled musings, I didn't think anyone would notice. But you have, and in a big way........either that, or my mother has found a way to game Google's blogspot system. That's a mother's love for ya. But this I promise........ah, resolve, you keep reading these words and I'll keep writing I need another excuse to ride motorcycles.

7) I resolve to stop offering unsolicited advice.......tomorrow. Hell that's one of the most fun about having a "bully pulpit". As a matter of fact here's some pearls for my fellow motorcycle industry guys, after the last few years we could all use some helpful tips, so here goes. An enthusiast lead company should actually be lead by enthusiasts, customers will sniff out a phony in a heartbeat (might be why sales are off?), so don't be stinky. Never confuse investors with customers, unless they are. And lastly, consultants are the last gasp hope of the truly clueless........if you need someone else to tell you what business you're in, yikes.

8) I resolve to not get my mad on every time I happen upon my fellow motorist as they text away instead of engaging in that admittedly far more boring task of........actually driving their vehicle. I know you're busy, what with updating your status, "......uh, I think I just ran over a motorcyclist, now I'm so late for Pilates, frownie!"; but if you promise to at least try to devote at least 50% of your time to not killing me and my mates, then I promise not to scream at you like a DI at a Code Pink rally.

9) I resolve to shoot more. Easy Chromies, number nine has absolutely nothing to do with number eight, so just chill, no need for 911. Fact is a lot of us motorcyclists loves our firearms too........and I'm no different. Target, trap, skeet, or just plinking, I'm up for it all. Unfortunately, it's a perishable skill, and I think I'm starting to get a little ripe.......simply not enough time at the range. Now if I only lived in a state that didn't make me feel like a criminal for just owning a gun........thank you PRK (Peoples Republic of Kalifornia)........dare to dream.

10) I resolve to find a least one that pays. Yes fellow Chromies, your humble scribe was blessed with the opportunity to find an "opportunity".........and the timing couldn't have been better, no really. Worst economy in 80 years, motorcycle industry in ruins, glut of unemployed........don't care, gonna make it happen, and happen big......I'm feeling good about this one. And if I ever want that XR in my driveway (and yes, my kid to finish school) I had better be........."nothing like the prospect of the gallows to focus ones mind"'s that for an ending quote!!

Happy New Year Chromies, see you on the flipside...............

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Kickin' It Old School

As is often the case here at the Asylum, we're gonna toss a couple of pearls in the general direction of the good folks in Milwaukee (wonder if anyone from the Motor Company actually reads these scribblings?) in the hopes of cultivating a true "open source" dialog. What the hell is "open sourcing" you ask!? Not to worry fellow Chromies, "Open Source" is just a hip tech term for taking (hopefully not stealing, that would be wrong) ideas, thoughts, concerns, and experiences from a bunch of different people (sources) and applying the best solutions to a means listening; to your customers, your partners, just about anyone that's in your "circle of trust". And it's a pretty damn good idea...........and one I thought Harley was doing all along. Silly me.

And they really were, listening that is, even as M.H.R., HD's "marketing deity", felt compelled to step up and declare that he was bravely leading the charge into this brave new "open sourced" world. Guess we all have to impress the boss, huh M.H.R.? Now refresh my memory M.H.R., you didn't have anything to do with the Aztek debacle right? Your claim to fame was the Oprah car giveaway.......too bad about that whole "tax thing", ungrateful louts!! You got plenty of press though. Say, how's Pontiac doing these days?? Forgive me....... inside industry humor.

So how we gonna kick it old school?? By kicking it of in kick starter. How cool would that be?! Come on, you know it's true, there's something almost medieval about kicking over a hulking V-Twin using only bone, muscle and tendon. The mysterious, almost zen-like technique, handed down through the ages to only the worthy few. The inherent dangers.........we've all heard the tales of broken ankles, and worse, for the unwary; "......knew a guy once that launched himself clean over the bars!" The fact is, with every kick, we demand the beast submit to our emotion, sadly, the lowly electric starter, now matter how efficient can never evoke. Think about it, a Prius and a Corvette both get you to the same place, but really, a see what I mean.

Not that all Harley models would, or should be so equipped with mystical lever of fire, because let's face it, kick starters are for the true believers among us........most folks will probably shy away. Although I'll bet a lot more women would opt for the kicker than one might's a domination thing, trust me on that. No, I'm thinking kick starters would be an option on maybe one or two models in the Sportster and Dyna lines (with an electric starter as back up, or when we're just feeling lazy). Special edition, "old school" renditions........stripped down, very little chrome, solo seats, mini-apes, laced wheels, "denim" paint, peanut tank for the Dyna............A bike so retro that it features a quick release front fender (major open source alert!, M.H.R., this one's for you). The fender's on when the bike's sold, but with a deft turn of a couple of quick release bolts and viola! instant badass bar hopping chopper. Weather turns nasty? Presto, chango, fender's back on and you're down the road! How sick is that!?!?

And the things gotta look the part, so the graphic package has to be unique (open source alert!), so let's work on a licensing deal with Coop, , if you haven't seen this man's art, what the hell are you waiting for!? Just imagine a frosty devil's head on the tank with some equally sick pin striping.......very nifty indeed. He's got the "hot rod" vibe that perfectly suits a machine so old school in design that it's sporting a kick starter. It works my friends.

So what about it Harley-Davidson? Can we sack up and walk the walk when it comes to "old school"? I say put it in the moat and see if it floats........give us the choice. I'll bet a sixer there'll be enough takers to keep the bean counters about those twin cam "pan" and "shovel" motors.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Chromies

I wanna just take a second to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas.......may you be surrounded by the people in your life that truly give you joy. And if there aren't any of those hangin' nearby........get off your butt and find some. Trust me, it's never too late! While you're at it, dip into that saddlebag and throw some love around yourself..........keeps folks off guard, and the old Karma tank pinned on full for years to come.

Chrome Asylum as only been around for less than two months, but you've already made it a success beyond anything I could have imagined...........I can't begin to thank you all enough. I'm humbled and motivated, I'll do whatever I can to keep my scribblings worthy of your interest.......but I can't do it alone, I need you guys to help me get this beast down the road. Tell me what you think; what sucks ass, what you want to hear, something cool you want to share, anything!! I won't always agree....but I will always listen. This is your site, just as much as it is mine...........don't just spectate. That ain't what the Asylum's all about........

OK, you've got stuff to do, last second gift cards and booze to buy.........and maybe, just maybe, you'll be able to sneak in a short putt on the scoot..........I'm just saying, family is great, but riding a motorcycle, now that's peace on earth!!

Late my brothers,


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Goin' Clubbing, Chrome Asylum Style

For those of you that stumbled onto this missive expecting a primer on the harvesting of baby Harp seals for fun and profit; apologies up front, chill out, put the clubs back in the bag; we're dealing with a much more controversial topic here; that of biker fashion.......a sort of "Harley crowd" version of "what not to wear". So what, no cute little pups? Not today, but relax..........they'll be featured in our next winter riding essentials article. We love the little guys, really.

Believe it or not, the "club scene" actually didn't start with the overwhelming popularity of FX's "Sons of Anarchy" cable show (which isn't all that bad, I know quite a few real club members that never miss an episode, go figure); although you could be forgiven if you thought it had. No, the stupefying proliferation of "patch clubs" has been with us for at least the past five or six years. As we've noted before in the pages of the Asylum, get two or more Harley owners together, and there's a damn good chance a "club" is gonna be bustin' out. And that's cool, just a bunch of guys getting together, riding, downing some ale, it's all good, right..............or is it?

Maybe. Maybe not. Brace yourself sunshine, it's time for a little self reflection, a heart to heart with the mug in the honest now; being a "badass", or more accurately, appearing to be a real biker that could be a badass, even if it's just on Sunday's after the grass is cut and the girlfriend says we can go for a ride (if we're not out too late), is part of why many off us go into hock, pony up the cash and stalk the good folks at the local Harley Davidson dealership..........just admit it.

Truth is, you kinda wanna ape that "One Percenter" thing; look like a genuine biker, maybe even make the baristas at Starbucks a little nervous, but you just don't know how. And trust me, from what I see on the roads, most of you haven't got a clue, unless you consider the "biker" from The Village People the last word in sinister two-wheeled gangster attire. But help is on the way, Chrome Asylum has put together a few simple tips that'll ensure you get your "thug" on, while hopefully keeping you from getting your fanny kicked should you ever accidentally get up close and personal with the real deal, like my friends in the Richmond Chapter of the HA.

First off, and this is key, if you really want to pull off the "club look", you can't look like you're trying to pull off the "club look", it's a Zen thing. Bikers, the scary ones, the ones with records, your fashion role models, don't really give much thought as to what they're wearing (with the notable exception of their colors, whole different deal there), and they never, ever, "match". So stay out of the Motorclothes department of your local Harley dealer......there's nothing there for you (except my local dealer of course, McGuire's HD have great people that will hook you up without making you look like a clown......they get it, really). Just step away. Nothing says "poser" like bar and shield logos from boot to lid. Forget it.'re gonna need at least one, and a good one at that. None of that cheap $49 Paki crap they sell at rallies, no sir, you want a made in the good ole "U.S. of A" version. Something from KO Gear or Lil Joes will do nicely. Buttons or zippers up front, zippers are better. No collars or lace sides unless you're over the age of 70......leather lined CCW interior pockets are a big street cred builder, so make sure you get them (we'll cover preferred carry weapons in an upcoming issue). Four pockets max, one should have that little hole for your shades, very handy. No fringe..........but do I really need to say that??

Once you have your vest, you'll need a hoodie to wear under it when the ride gets chilly. A pull-over or zip is fine (this is one piece of clothing where it is permissible to sport your local Harley dealers wares........but better yet, find some cool local independent shop and fly their colors, so much the better if the joint's been shut down by the Feds). Acceptable colors are black (never a mistake), red, white, or grey. But be careful with colors, they can have consequences. Oh, and while you're at it, remove the pull strings, leaving them on screams "rookie!". Another option to the hoodie would be just about any Carhartt jacket, although the longer versions might "bunch up" on ya while riding.....never pretty, massive loss of street cred. If weather allows, either a short sleeve or long sleeve t-shirt is acceptable in place of the aforementioned hoodie.

Speaking of t-shirts, ah, that would be black t-shirts of course, we at Chrome Asylum caution those of you that insist on wearing the ubiquitous "sleeveless" style. Think it through my friend, if you haven't seen the inside of a gym in the past decade, sleeveless just might not be the way to go.......triceps flapping in the wind like a hurricane warning flag ain't gonna add to your masculine mystique. Cover those chicken wings. 

You'll notice that we haven't mentioned either leather or textile motorcycle jackets, and that's because real bikers seldom wear them, and if you're actually seriously paying attention here, you probably don't know when you should, and when you shouldn't wear just leave 'em off the list entirely, you'll thank us later. Next up is gloves...........fingerless. End of story, moving on. Oh, and Harley makes a great pair (I know, I know, but this is one time you can get away with it, trust me). Look for the "Torque" model.

Pants are next, and here too, Carhartt is a no brainer, as are Levi's and Wrangler's. Stay away from ALL designer labels and "purpose built" motorcycle riding pants, major no-no. You can't appear to be giving an inch to any thoughts of personal safety, so those nifty Kevlar knees.......super gay. Not on our watch. While we're talking drawers, just a quick reminder, chain wallets are cool, just don't get too over the top with the chain itself. Stick with a conventional "link" number or maybe a "primary chain" version, just stay clear of the over the top "barbed wire" and "skull" chains..........poser. Plain black wallet is the "Bad Mother Fucker" embossed version only if you are, and even then give it a second thought. Lastly, chaps.........most of you should stay away from them. And for God's sake, don't wear them when it's hot, they're for keeping out the cold........not crash protection; remember what we told you about safety??

But what about boots you say? Glad you asked, you really don't need to wear them. That's right, next time you spy a One Percenter rolling on by, check out the footwear. Chances are, if he's younger than forty, he's sporting high top kicks, most likely Nike or Converse (that said, no running shoes or trainers of any kind, think old school, but not Vans, too "surfer dude"). Fact is, a lot of real deal guys don't wear boots. And if they do, they're apt to be a tactical style and not the harness or engineer style we see in the movies. Converse makes a great tac boot, and they're cheap too. If you're gonna go old school with the boots, do yourself a favor and check out Westco Boots.........big dollars, but made here, and worth every penny.

If you live in a state that mandates helmet use, you're kinda screwed when it comes to getting your bad on..........simply put, real bikers never wear a lid unless "the man" makes 'em. Hey, you're the one that wanted to be a tough guy! If a lid law is your reality, you're only option is to sport the smallest "peanut shell" half helmet you can find, we're talkin' novelty helmet people ( which I have to note is unsafe and should never be worn on public highways or roads, so I'm therefore NOT actually recommending using any helmet not rated at least "DOT approved"........damn, don't you just love trial lawyers!?). Sunglasses are mandatory, no designer labels.......anything from the counter at a truck stop will be just fine.

Odds and is cool, but just one tat isn't. Be committed and original with your designs. Facial hair........yes. Knives can be handy (K-Bar and Pacific Stag are nifty), as long as you can keep them in your possession, don't be stupid. Nothing on your body should ever appear "new". And please, don't be cheesy and try to "weather" your gear, you know, roll around in the dirt, drive your car over it, or worse! Just get out there and ride.

Oh yeah, patches, we did start this little adventure talking about patches; if you want to join, or start a club of your own, fine. Just be real, if you're not a One Percenter (and trust me, you're most likely not) then don't try to "patch out" to obtain badass street cred, you're not fooling anyone, frauds are easy to spot. Case in point, a little club in Danville, won't mention their name, but guys, it ain't workin'. It's OK not to be a club member..........maybe you can settle for just being a real rider? And since we've kept you from looking like some corporate bigwig who's weekend riding ensemble was thrown together by a West Hollywood stylist named Preston, you can chill out and hit the road with your buds looking for all the world like the real deal.........whether you are or not is entirely up to you. Not bad, hey Mr. Biker Man?




Friday, December 17, 2010

Top Ten Trends For 2011

With 2010 nearing its date with Dead Man's Curve, we at Chrome Asylum thought it the perfect time to introduce our very first "Top Ten" list. Historical moment, inflection point.........a big bloody deal fellow Chromies!! Why ten you ask, not nine or even a bonus eleven? Can't say, slaves to convention, lack imagination........or maybe we've snuck one too many peeks at People magazine while visiting Doc Painless the dentist. Dunno, let's just be thankful we can even count that high...........

1) We've found the bottom, and it stung like a son-of-a-bitch. The steep collapse  in new unit motorcycle sales is over; 2011 should be a year of stabilizing sales with some categories actually seeing some modest increases. ATV's and small displacement machines will do well, as will Harley Davidson. Luckily for HD, us oldsters still have a couple of bucks left to try and buy back our youth. The other OE's will lag, but all should see improvements over 2010.

2) Hybrid/Electric bikes will continue to fuel interest. No matter where you come down on this issue, these new age machines are going to continue to have an impact, especially in urban areas, and with younger riders. Expect scooters and smaller machines to be the largest sellers. Commuters and students will be the primary buyers. Long term market success of these "appliances" is dependent mostly on improving battery life.

3) Harley Davidson thinks big, goes small. The Motor Company wants youthful buyers, and it will not be denied. And hookin' 'em young (as any tobacco exec will tell you) means extending the brand. Look for a kinda "Buell Blast" machine, small frame, small displacement, and low price.......with hopefully waaaay better build quality. This could be huge, and you got the scoop at the Asylum my brother.

4) This land is your land, this land is the Fed's land. Look for even more battles over land closure, with more losses than wins unfortunately. The Peoples Republic of Kalifornia could be especially vulnerable with the second coming of Governor Moonbeam. The loonie left wants the public off of public lands, for good, end of story. And if you think the "environmental" movement has anything at all to do with saving the environment; ah, I'm so pissed now, I can't even come up with a decent metaphor. Wake up!

5) Patches, we gotta have our stinking patches. Sorry to say that the seemingly endless proliferation of patch clubs will continue unabated. Used to be, there weren't many of 'em, and it was pretty, uh, difficult to become a member. And that's how it was supposed to be. But noooo, not any more.....all you need is two yahoos, a lame-ass logo, and presto!, we've got us a motorbike club.'s like everyone gets a participation ribbon. Puke.

6) This "worldwide web" thing is starting to catch on. On-line sales of parts, accessories and clothing will continue to increase at decent clip. This is especially true given the "rough go" the mom-and-pops have had with this Great Recession, simply no dough to stock the shelves. The good news for the locals is, if they make the commitment to be there for the customer, they will survive and thrive. So give that guy down the road a shot at your bidness...........hands off the mouse pal!!

7) Tricker, cheaper lids. Used to be, you'd have to spend cubic yards of coin for a good helmet. Not any more my friend. Thanks to our good friends in China (I think the only thing they don't build there is Americans.......but count on that changing too in the future) you can get an awesome lid for little more than a C-note. Watch for more "flip-up" models, Bluetooth capabilities, better light sensitive visors, and here's something I think would be especially nifty, programmable LED's in the back of the helmet that act as a second brake light via remote wireless activation..........oh yeah!!

8) Shut up, I can't hear my I-pod. Sound, as in that coming from your exhaust is going to be the issue for street riders, especially those of us that like our Harley's to have a bit more aggressive tone than say, your average Dyson vacuum (yes, I see you Mr. Metric rider jumping up in the back...."me too, me too, I like loud pipes".......whatever, you don't count). With the Governator signing Senate Bill 435 into law, which will require an EPA stamp on all exhaust systems installed on 2013 model and later motorcycles, we're entering a new era of targeted enforcement, sky high pricing for replacement systems.........and the very real prospect that this half-baked "solution" will one day be the law of the land nationally. This is the very worst of anti-motorcycling legislation........and it is a law that I never intend to obey.......who's with me!!

9) DWD will kill more of us than ever. This is an issue we've covered before here at Chrome Asylum, that of the, dare I utter it, "epidemic" of distracted driving. All jokes aside, this one is f'n scary. It was easy to target the drunks, the druggies.......and we actually made some real progress. Not that folks were any less wasted mind you, they just tended to drive less while under the influence. All in all, a pretty good thing. But this distracted driving deal is a whole different bag of whiskers.....if for no other reason than everyone does it!! Who gets to be the face on the PSA billboards; soccer moms that serve on the PTA, teach Sunday school, and donate blood every month? The local off-duty fireman that coaches little league? It's a PR nightmare......and it's coming up on your ass at an alarming clip.

10) My affection for the Motor Company will go unrequited for yet another year.......sob. Try as I might to breach the walls on Juneau Ave., Milwaukee extends a frosty shoulder....but will I relent? Hell no! At least not until they file a restraining order........come to think of it, not sure I'd want to be a part of any organization that would actually have me as a member........but then again.....

There you have it.......take notes and we'll compare in a year, if I get less than five right, I owe you a beer, more than five, and you're buyin'.........I'm thinkin' you ought to start saving your dough.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Marisa Steps Out On The Boys In Milwaukee!

Shocked, that's all I can say, completely a slack jawed, "WTF", Charlie Sheen's been arrested again!? kind of way. But there it was, as big and bold as an Enzyte girl, Harley's girl, cavorting with the Captain, making it with Marc, and practicing her True Religion, the horror! And there were others, many others......but I just couldn't bring myself  to look. Apparently dear Ms. Marisa possesses all the loyalty of a Washington lobbyist at a DC fundraiser.........hussy!!

You'd never find Progressive's "Flo" shilling for Budweiser, and I'm pretty sure that obnoxious kid that pimps E-Trade (yeah, cute my a$$, he's wolf in a Huggies suit........don't fall for it) won't be touting the virtues of Cialis anytime soon. And do you know why? It wouldn't work, that's why, it's Marketing 101 Sparky. Folks would say, "hey isn't that the (fill in the blank) from the blah, blah ad?"....then get confused, and blow the whole thing off. Not a good return on ones ad dollars.

Look, we all know we're way too cool to be influenced by any "spokesperson", no matter how persuasive or how hot. At least that's what we say, in survey after survey and study after study. So the gimmick never works right? Well, not so fast. There's a big difference between what folks say, and what they actually think or do.........come on, tell me the focus group for the Pontiac Aztec wasn't having a huge laugh at GM's expense. Really, look it up. The fact is we are influenced by certain individuals, who we deem for whatever reason; past accomplishments, looks, humor, whatever, to be credible with regard to what they're pitching. The key is credibility.........without it, the strategy is toast; maintain it, and you just might have an ad campaign that moves the goods.

This is America after all, folks should expect to get paid for their efforts. No crime, it's the foundation of who we are, and we don't mind if our spokespeeps are on the corporate dole.....we've all got bills to pay. What we don't like is to be too up front about it.......don't make it obvious that you're throwing it around "just for the money"; that we're not too thrilled about. I mean really, when it comes to our sweet Marisa.....don't we just want her all to ourselves? No sharing pal...........not gonna happen.

Not only do we value credibility and loyalty, we're lazy too. When we see someones mug in an ad, on TV, or in a magazine pimping one product or another, and then we see the same person in yet another ad hawking a completely different brand.......we get have to stop and think, we get confused........and then we blow it off and watch Sports Center. Ad campaign effectiveness? Zero.

Here's what your humble fellow Chromie would have advised the good lads in Milwaukee; "EXCLUSIVE CONTRACT". There, pretty basic, you find the person the fits the bill, sign her up, and put the creative crew to work. Get her visage in print, on the web, and most importantly out among customers......but only your customers! I'll grant the Harley folks, Marisa's one fine example of Amazonian spokesgoddess, but I think the fact that she "stepped out" (before or after signing with Harley Davidson, it doesn't matter) on the Motor Company ultimately diminishes her impact. Better to have gotten an unknown with the same, ah, "qualities" that would for all time (or at least the run of the contract) be associated with Milwaukee iron, and only Milwaukee iron. Harley's the star here, not the talent.

But that's just me, and to be honest, it's not all bad. Think about it, some Motor Company execs got to schmooze a supermodel (a great gig now matter how you get it), ad agencies made their fat fees, and some guy's got signed posters and pics at Sturgis......But maybe, just maybe, when HD had an opportunity to really be "genuine", really original, they chose a cliche' instead. Better luck next time..........

Monday, December 13, 2010

U-Turns, The Ultimate Stunt, Man

With apologies up front to Jason Britton, Kane Friesen and every other "one toy short of a happy meal" wannabe stunt junkie.....yeah, your skitching, 360 stoppies, Christ air's, 12 o'clock wheelies, and occasional femur snapping antics are truly entertaining, I'll grant you that. It takes heaps of bike control and a shocking disregard for the concept of "consequences" to do what you do.........a tip of the helmet to you all. Cool...........but not really the bomb, not a 500 pounder anyway, not even close.

Come on, you wanna really impress your riding cronies, that hot Marisa Miller clone at the bar, and maybe even yourself in the process? Try flippin' a u-turn in a 15 foot wide chunk of asphalt on a fully loaded (with a passenger bub) Harley that's a stunt my fellow Chromies!

It's true, you know it. How many times have we seen a local motorcop rip a majestic "u-ee" at some random intersection and marveled......"if only". You see a guy throw down a smooth 180 and you know he's the real deal, the kind of guy that can fix a broken primary chain on the side of the road with a spoon and wad of Double Bubble, he's the guy you don't want your girlfriend to meet........ever, he's the guy that's pulling the string on your man card at this very moment. Tell what lies you will about lap times at a local trackday, or that iron butt weekend jaunt of 5,000 miles, even break out the dyno charts..........but you know, it's the lowly u-turn that separates the wankers from the real deal riders. And you wanna know how........don't you?

Cake my friend, total cake. All you have to do is read these words, find a flat piece of hardstuff and practice.......two afternoons, and you're gonna have that CHP motormaid shaking in his patent leathers when he catches a vidi of your sick skills. We're gonna assume you've been riding your Harley for more than fifteen minutes, have your appropriate safety crap (long sleeve black t-shirt) and are pretty comfortable with the whole "making it go" process.......we good? Cool, time to flip some..........

U-turns are by nature a low speed maneuver (which is actually what really scares the poo out of folks, crazy, I know), requiring very little in the way of throttle to execute, idle pace is perfect. The great thing about mostly any model of Harley Davidson is that they possess whopping scoops of torque which make the whole process stupid easy. Once we're rolling at a walking pace, begin to turn the bars in the direction you want to go. But what about "counter steering" you say!? Doesn't apply here, the speeds are simply too low to generate the full effect........but that's OK, so don't go beating up your MSF instructor, although you can give them grief for telling you not to cover the front brake.......we'll talk about that one later.

Make sure you're moderating the clutch in the "friction zone" as this will keep you from lurching or stalling........remember dear Chromie's, if you learn nothing else from these pages, a "smooth application of the controls" should be your mantra when piloting any two wheeled contraption. With the bars turned in, lean the bike in the same direction as the turn, while weighting the outside peg.....oh wait, we're talkin' Harley's here, I mean floorboard, with your foot. I know, I know, a lot going on.....and we haven't even got to the part about what you should be doing with your head!

Which is why I want you to shut your eyes and channel the seventh grade, hanging out with your buddies, riding your BMX bike, or if you're of my generation, your Stingray. Remember how when you were  BS-ing, you'd putt around in tight circles, standing straight up on the bike, off the seat, just slamming the bike from one side to the other as turned one way, then the other, in ever tightening circles?? It's the same damn principle!! Breakthrough......just like with your bike, your body is "straight" relative to the machine, while you "push it over" (lean sharply) in the direction you want to'll work with a Heritage Classic just as it did with your Schwinn.

As they say in sports, "as goes the head, so goes the body".......same deal here, now that we're turning our bars, leaning the bike, putting weight on the outside floorboard, we're now swiveling our noodle around so that we're looking at where we want to go. The more comfy you get with the drill, the sooner you'll snap you head around..........but for now baby steps, baby steps.

Now that we're completing the u-turn, we begin to let the bike come up out of the lean, the bars are straightening out, and we're feeding out the clutch while we apply more throttle.......done! Slicker than owl snot, and not nearly as messy. How do you feel about yourself now!? Once you've mastered the "left u-ee", practice doing them going to the right as well, if for no other reason than you'll be twice as bad as the guys that didn't. Getting up close and personal with these slow speed maneuvers also comes in pretty handy at gas stations, your favorite watering hole, and especially bike rallies........oh yeah, let those posers see your mad skills; take their woman, snatch their man your heart out Jason, there's a new sheriff in town!

Friday, December 10, 2010

"Paint Shaker"....... One Cool Harley Road King!

At first glance it might not seem that trick, just another vivid black 2006 Harley Road King Classic, one of thousands, but that's where you'd be wrong my friend, because just as a quick glance in a smoke filled bar at 2am might be, shall we say "misleading" (not to mention possibly fraught with grievous consequences), Paint Shaker's true beauty only becomes obvious to those make the effort. As it should be, don't you think.

My '06 Road King (2006 FLHRCI for you purist out there, if you don't speak Harley hieroglyphics don't worry, most folks don't and I won't use them again) is my first Harley, a first among a long litany of lesser machines of my past. I say this only to anger the haters, you know, the ones that convulse in spasms of agony every time some cretin has the temerity to suggest that a Harley is actually a decent motorcycle......heaven forbid! For the record my prior motorcycle ownership included a number of Japanese sportbikes and a fair share of off-road machines as well. So I have had my share of experience on "real" motorcycles........better now haters!?

As with any "first", there was a lot to learn; this thing weighs a ton, it's easier to ride than it appears, it's not very fast, it doesn't stop very fast either, it sounds great, it's super comfortable, that headlight looks like it's four feet out in front of me.........and everywhere I go, people love it. From old couples obviously reminiscing about rides long since past, to young toughs giving me a nod and a thumbs up, folks do love HD.........ah, the bike, not me. So now that I have this thing...........I can't just leave it alone, some serious "personalization" is in order. You notice I say "personalization" and not "customization", big difference, and since I'm not building frames, bending and welding hot metal, nor applying layer after layer of eye candy lacquers.........I just don't feel comfortable even suggesting that I'm doing anything remotely comparable to the likes of Ness, Simms, or the lads at Sucker Punch Sally's......nope, that's a whole different deal.

That's not to say I didn't have a design theme in mind to guide me along the way (no mixing of eagles and skulls here buddy!), a concept to refer to, a mental two-by-four that could be applied to my brain if I began straying down some wayward design detour that would ultimately lead to gasps of ridicule rather than slack-jawed admiration. And that inspiration, my muse if you will is a badass '50 Merc coupe; black on black, fat white wall tires, slammed to the can see it huh? Way cool, I know.

Before we get into all the goodies that make up Paint Shakers DNA, let's take a quick look at what didn't change. The frame and wheels are stock, as is the five-speed transmission. Both front and rear fenders are as they were straight out of York PA, save the trim, same goes for the gas let's get to the good stuff.

One of the first things to go were the brakes, not that they weren't good (and the new generation anti-locks from Brembo are truly awesome), but I just wanted better, along with a more custom look. The solution? A set of 13 inch El Dorado drilled, fully floating discs matched up to six piston Differential Bore calipers from the good folks at Performance Machine ( were fitted up front along with braided steel brake lines and a pair of Progressive front fork springs ( to lessen the dive these new brakes might induce. Out back we installed a stock diameter El Dorado disc mated up to a four piston PM caliper. I did try to be super trick and install a six piston on the rear (overkill, I know, you can't even see it!), but it just wouldn't work right, my guess is the master cylinder would have to be changed.........but that's just a guess.

The result? Not only are the brakes a visual work of art, but two fingered stops are now a reality; worth it, worth it, worth it. Since we're focusing up front as it were, the fork tubes were dipped in a bath of chrome while the bars were replaced with Fat Bars from Harley Davidson ( and all the switch gear, reservoirs, and housings were swapped for chromed versions. Stock mirrors came off in favor of some trick billet oval numbers from the Motor Company. Lastly, the tank was fitted with a "flush mount" gas cap and guage, while the stock speedo was ditched for a sano combination tach and speedometer unit. Very nice...........and you really need to know when you're about to achieve that rod bending 5200 RPM redline........really.

While we're on the subject of speed, let's be honest a bone-stock Harley is not gonna be mistaken for anything remotely fast........I was nervous if I had a throttle happy soccer mom next to me in a Suburu, oh the shame if she nailed the holeshot. Not to worry gentle was on the way, in the form of a Screamin' Eagle 95ci big bore kit, complete with SE-203 cams, and an upgraded oil pump. Speaking of oil (no, not damn haters!), it's my firm belief that an air cooled motor deserves and oil just makes sense, I mean there ain't no other coolant in the beast fercrissake! So naturally we installed one, along with a very trick (yeah, it's stupid expensive) Roland Sands Design ( Venturi air is truly beautiful, and unlike a bunch of aftermarket air cleaners, it doesn't get in the way of your leg. The only drawback is the lame have to take the unit apart to install it.........really, Roland, really!?

Any good wrench knows a motor's gotta breathe, and Paint Shaker is no exception. So I turned to my good friend Jim Leonard at Vance and Hines ( for advice. Jim's been with V&H for years now, used to run their race efforts back when they were a factory Ducati and Yamaha superbike team. Since then Jim's been applying his massive brain to making Harley's quicker, what he doesn't know about performance exhaust ain't worth crowding your frontal lobe. After some back and forth we decided that a set of V&H True Duals mated up to a pair of Monster Oval mufflers would do the trick. Of course we would also be installing a Fuel Pak from V&H just to make sure we're wringing every last ounce of "umph" from the lump. With the good folks at McGuire Harley Davidson ( handling the tough didn't think I was gonna install the big bore kit do you, our "go fast" mods went in without a hitch.

And once again, we went yard. The improvement in both torque and horsepower is obvious, and right where it should be, your don't need any stinking dyno charts to know that you've made a giant improvement in performance. My only gripe is that I didn't do it sooner. The V&H Fuel Pak does such an awesome job that there is zero, and I mean zero, "pop" on deceleration! Pretty amazing stuff. I have to say the Monster Ovals have a very unique sound, it's cool, but it ain't a Thunder Header, so you might listen to one before you buy......I'm just saying.

Along with the motor mods we added a trick billet derby and ignition covers from NYC Choppers (, Maltese cross of course. All foot controls, shift linkage, oil hoses and bolt covers were replaced with chrome versions from HD. We also replaced the stock dipstick with a cool digital one that reads off the level and temperature..........oh yeah!

Remember our '50 Merc? In keeping with the clean lines and aggressive stance of our four wheeled inspiration, all Road King badging on the front and rear fenders was replaced with '50's era Electra Glide logos and trim. The stock seat was shown the door as well, replaced with a slick "Badlander" perch from HD. It looks great, but I think its days are numbered........I see a Le Pera ( custom leather seat in my future. The leather covered saddlebags were ditched in favor of a set of hardsided bags from HD for a much cleaner look. All reflectors and crashbars were removed because.........well, do I really have to tell you why?

Cool is cool, but you have to see and be seen.......which is why the lighting package was changed out up front with upgraded "pure white" H bulbs (fashion alert: change them all to the same color white.....mixing and matching looks crappy, trust me), and chrome "eyebrows". Out back we installed a Kuryakyn ( Panacea "blue dot" taillight and signals. These units are so trick and easy to install, not to mention way more visible than the stock lights, that I don't know why more folks aren't bolting them should, now.

So we're done right, it's built, we're good to go? Not quite yet grasshopper, there's one last critical touch, one last detail that will define Paint Shaker's very essence........the license plate. You heard me, the license plate. A bike this cool can't sport an ordinary "civilians" badge, no sir, we need authentic, and authentic we shall have courtesy of one Rod Pearman, the Tag Doctor ( Rod specializes in restoring old plates for hot rods and show cars and his work is stunning. We went for a black and yellow plate (yeah, I know to be "50's" it should be a yellow background, but I didn't want to push my luck with the CHP quite that far) and I must say it really makes the bike.

So there you have it, a profile of Paint Shaker. And just in care you're wondering, the name Paint Shaker came from the fact that the motor, when it's idling, looks just like one of those paint shakers you find at the hardware store........kinda sounds like one too. And that's why I dig it, if I have to explain that..........well, you know the rest of that cliche'. And stay tuned for a profile of my CVO Springer Softail, that baby is trick!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Bay Area's Best Motorcycle Dealers

OK, let's just start with the disclaimer; my "Bay Area's Best" is biased, subjective, unscientific, uncertified, and purely the product of one man's opinion..........mine. That is not to say it doesn't have merit, or is necessarily inaccurate, mind you. After all, I've been toiling away in retail since I was seventeen years old, the last twenty or so years in the motorcycle industry. I've had the privilege of leading the marketing and merchandising team that built the first successful national chain of motorcycle clothing and accessories stores in the country.

Part of my gig entailed doing field research, looking at our potential competition in a given market..........and trust me, I've been subjected to the very best, and the very worst of what passes for customer service both at OE dealerships and independent shops. At last count I had personally visited over 100 Harley Davidson dealerships.......I'll bet there's quite a few marketing folks in Milwaukee that haven't seen as many.

So what's my criteria for making the list? Simple, do it right. And do it right in every aspect of the business, every time a customer, or potential customer comes in contact with the staff, how satisfactory is the experience? Are the folks in the business genuine? Motorcycling is a passionate pursuit......we all know that. When I'm in a dealership, or a store, I want to know that the staff "gets me", that they share the same passion for the sport as I do. You can't train that enthusiasm, it's there, or it's not. Nothing puts off a real rider more than a know, that mall store refuge that's a "great salesman", but doesn't know crap about a motorcycle. There ought to be a law..........

So enough about criteria, who the hell made the 2010 list for cryin' out loud? Thankfully for those of you that have toughed it out this far, there are only two. Cue the flugelhorn...........

McGuire Harley Davidson, Quite simply, if you live anywhere in northern California, and you're thinking about buying a Harley, you'd be nuts not to give them first shot at your business. Mike McGuire is the real deal, not some idiot dentist (my sincere apologies to all the Dr. Painless types out there) that made a few bucks and thought...."motorcycles are cool, think I'll buy me a dealership". No way. Mike's a riders rider. Want proof? How about scoring in the top ten in the Hoka Hey's a little cross country race from Key West Florida to Homer Alaska!! Oh, and for good measure, Mike rode out to Florida to start the ordeal, and home again from Alaska for a total of somewhere around 18,000 miles! That's top ten in an event with over 700 participants......

Mike's enthusiasm for riding and all things Harley resonates throughout the business. From Brady, Rich, Dave, Harry, and the rest of the crew in Service, I've yet to find a better, more competent tech staff. I know this personally, as they've handled all the mechanical "this and that" on my Harley's for years; whether it's been recall issues, big bore kit installs, or routine maintenance, these guys get it right, the first time, every time. And for me, that's huge. Bonus, they're friendly as well.........not always a common trait in the more mechanically inclined among us. Come on, you know it's true.

Same story in Parts; John, Dave and crew have truly scary levels of knowledge and are more than willing to share it. And the best thing about that? Once they've divined what it is you need, nine times out of ten they've got the part in stock. Huge again.

While McGuire's doesn't have the biggest Motorclothes department, what they do stock is right on the money, and Shannon and Rene will get you fitted up, and I guarantee you'll have a blast the entire time. Just don't try and wear that hoodie a little too tight to show off those guns...........Shannon isn't having any of it!

Does McGuire's have the largest Harley Davidson selection in northern California? No. And it simply doesn't matter because Steve, Ryan, Kevin and Shaun (hope I spelled that last one right, sorry buddy) will find what you need pronto should it not be in stock. And they'll do it in a low key, zero pressure environment.......there's none of that shady "used car lot" crap at McGuire's. Never has been. Just straight up, fair pricing and a sincere desire to take care of the customer. It just doesn't get any better..........and yes, in the interest of total disclosure, I have purchased a couple of bikes from Mike and company, why the hell would I recommend someone I wouldn't buy from!?! Jeez.........Oh, and one last thing, Mike owns another shop, Devil Mountain, in Pittsburg, and while I haven't been a frequent customer, they've got it going on there's Mike's store after all.

Ace Motorsports, You need to get over to Ace right this minute, if for no other reason than to check out one of the coolest, most well designed dealerships in California. Seriously, it ain't big, but it's smooth.........they've even got a lounge just to chill out in and BS about motorcycles, or whatever. Oh yeah, they get it. Ace sells Ducati, Triumph and KTM and always has a pretty robust stock on hand.

Jim, Ace's GM, is a force of nature, the dude is certifiable.........truly crazed, and that's what makes the place great, there's an energy at Ace that I've found nowhere else. It's young, it's fast, and it's professional. From Jim (different guy) in Parts to the crew in Service these folks are the real deal. They love motorcycles and they love riding........simple as that.

True story, a couple of years ago the Ducati road show was at Ace for a demo ride weekend. My buddy and I rode down to ogle all the new models and maybe catch a ride (or two) on the freshest two wheel sex from Duc. I had a real "need" to experience a 1098........oh baby. Imagine my utter depression when the shiny face from corporate Ducati informs me that some clown in Oregon (figures) wadded their only 1098 just last week. No ride. Frown.

Just when I thought I 'd have to console myself with a consolation putt on a "lowly" Monster, in steps Jim. "No worries" he says, and promptly pulls a just out of the crate 1098S and says, "have a blast!" Holy crap.......if I ball this machine up, it's on him, it's on Ace, not DNA. That was huge.........I was sold on the joint right then and there. My first Duc is coming from Ace; and my second, and my third.........hey a guy can dream.

Not sold? How about this........get done with a day of riding at Carnegie SVRA, my KTM's running like crap, which lead to a crash that broke my hand.....just one of them days. Anyhow, frustrated and in a fair amount of pain, we stop by Ace on the way home. I wanted to talk to the lads in Service about the bike's mechanical "issues" to see if they could offer up some solutions. They did way more than that. The unloaded my bike (broken mit remember), took off the tank, and looked at the carb. Turns out the pilot jet was clogged up solid. They took it out, cleaned it, put my rig back together and.......and that was it. "Oh, there's no charge, glad we could help you out" Say what!?

But that's how they do it at Ace, and no, I didn't buy my KTM there, although I wish I had, nor have I purchased any motorcycles from them, they were just helping out a fellow rider. That's all........simple in task, but massive in impact. If I were purchasing a Ducati, KTM or Triumph, why would I go anywhere else? Short answer, I wouldn't. These guys have got it going on.

That's it dear "Chromies" picks for the Best of the Bay Area. Think I'm whack, got some of your own? Let me hear it.........we're all big boys (and girls) gimme your picks.......

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dear Keith, All I Want From Milwaukee Is.............

This being the holiday season and all, I figured why not take the opportunity to write a little missive to the Big Guy and let him know just what to leave under (or not) the old Festivus pole. So Keith (sorry Santa, you're so "pre-iPad") without further delay, here's my list. Did I mention that I've been especially good this year?

1) An XR1200X. This bike flippin' rocks!! I had the opportunity to take one out for an afternoon (thanks McGuire Harley Davidson crew) and have never had as much fun on a Harley. It looks great, has reasonable power and actually handles...........yeah, real brakes!! It's not mainstream HD, which makes me more than a little worried that it may not be with us long, which would be a real shame, because this machine is a credit to the engineering elves in Milwaukee. For the record, I'd like the 2010 orange bodywork please.

2) Kill the Rocker. OK, you've actually almost already granted this wish, as there's only one model left in the lineup. Big Guy, what the heck we're you smokin'!? About three years after the OCC wannabe, "bling machine" chopper fad had thankfully peaked, HD hops on the bandwagon with arguably the most hideous creation ever to emerge from the workshop. I'd like to know who was in that focus group; I'm thinking a combo of West Hollywood stylists and second rate CEO's, but that's just a guess. You were late to the party, and you brought an ugly date........time to sneak out the back door.

3) Build a $9,500 Dyna. Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled at the strides you and the elves have made reaching out and capturing younger riders (UFC sponsorship......nifty strategy my friend), but let's not spike the ball just yet. First off, it's not as if your competition has been introducing a lot of new product in the last few years (you noticed right!?), folks tend not get all twitterpaited about dusty three year old bikes tucked away in a corner. And financing? Even tougher to get than yours. Here's the deal, Harley connects with younger lads and lasses, always has......that ain't the issue. Affordability why did you bump the price of the cheapest Dyna by a grand this year!? Naughty list. Let's not have the baby Sporty be the only ticket for the cash strapped among us. Give us a real HD, with a real motor for under ten grand. You can do're the Big Guy!!

4) Try, just try, to build at least the majority of product sold with a Harley Davidson tag on it in the United States. Look, I know that those Wall Street creeps that actually run the North Pole won't let one single penny of additional profit fall from their icy grip without a fight, but it just frosts my pumpkin when I see "Made in China" right under the words "An American Legend" on the label in my jacket, or on that shiny new set of levers I just bought for the mighty "Paint Shaker" (my waaaay cool 2006 FLHRCI). The Motor Company lives and dies by its iconic American roots......the image was born here, built here, it wasn't created by Madison Avenue or a bunch of indifferent foreign laborers toiling under a dictatorship. Authenticity is a finite commodity, every time you sell "Genuine Harley Davidson", made in China, a little more of that authenticity just fades away..........until one day, a once great company is reduced to a lowly marketing firm, trading on what it used to be. Think it doesn't bug your customers? Ask 'em..........and I'm sure you have. So make the change........because Harley Davidson, of all companies, should be what it says it is.......anything else is just a lie.

5) How about a Servi-Car replica? This could be pretty damn cool, and since you folks are bringing trike production in house (wise move there Big Guy) there's no excuse not to. Imagine one done up in old HD the models that used to deliver parts to dealerships....sweet! There's really no end to the possibilities, and with all us aging boomers, my guess is the trike offering is gonna have to "diversify" anyway, let's get on it. And that one-off hot rod trike you built for Willie G.......oh hell yeah, I'd own that bad boy..........and I NEVER thought I'd want a trike.

6) Team up with Sucker Punch Sally's to build a bare bones bobber on a Dyna chassis. Dream machine. This could be one of the coolest co-branding projects in the Motor Company's history. Imagine, HD build quality with the street cred of SPS!? Look, I know you guys could do it on your own, but just this once, get out of the corporate comfort zone, bag the consultants, drop the focus groups and go with the gut. And there's nobody out there with a better gut for what's cool right this second than the crew at Sucker Punch Sally's (no secret I think they're a great group of guys). Maybe it could be another "CVO-like" addition, but not super expensive. This would go a long way in making up for that whole Rocker business.........I'm just saying.

7) Let's team up and do some great work. OK, this one's apparently a long shot, but I'd like nothing more than to be a contributing member of the HD crew. Trouble is, despite the efforts of a bunch of really great industry colleagues, as well as, some folks in Milwaukee, we haven't managed to clear the HR wall...........kinda sad. But we'll keep choppin''s the season of Festivus miracles after all!

It's up to you now Big Guy...............

Friday, December 3, 2010

Give Us A Shout.......It's Nice To Know You're Out There

Since it appears that mom isn't the only one in the "blogosphere" tuning into Chrome Asylum to get a double dose of my twisted views on motorbikes and more, I thought it might be handy to provide y'all with a way to get directly in touch with me.......just in case you'd like to keep that obscenity laced tirade between us girls, and leave the comment section free for more benign musings. It's all up to you. But if you do have some thoughts; no matter where they're coming from, I'd like to hear them. This is our forum, I'm just it's official scribe.

So, if you wanna drop me an email send it to hdesjardins3(at)yahoo(dot)com. That last bit of slight of hand is a bit of trickery to avoid getting a butt-load of spam dumped on yours truly, we'll see how that goes. Think you might want to link to Chrome Asylum? Let me know, and I'll make it happen. I also post info about upcoming articles on Twitter, just type in and you're in. Become a follower, no Kool Aide sipping required.

One last thought, I know the site is pretty vanilla right now, and it's killing me. Any of you that know my work in product development, branding and advertising will know, boring is not my style. Bear with us, we'll pimp things out a bit (where's my design team when I need 'em!?) just may take a bit.

Thanks again for reading.........stay tuned for a profile of the "Paint Shaker", you'll be glad you did. I guarantee!!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Truth About Motorcycle Accident Lawyers

Seems you can't thumb through a motorcycle rag these days without being subjected to the carefully stylized image of a leather clad attorney touting his or her nearly superhuman skills when it comes to defending "your rights". The more succinct of the ads get right to the bottom-line, "We freedom loving riders at Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe (not a real firm, or is it!?) will get you more money for your accident now!" Can't get more direct than the promise of free dough! And in the end, isn't that what we want? Isn't it? Even if we need the slithery skills of a sewer dwelling lawyer, someone has to's our right dammit!

Let's face it, all real Americans hate lawyers (their own attorney excluded of course), there are few professions viewed with such disdain........with the exception of perhaps investment bankers, and rightfully so. But why you ask? Simple, because almost without fail they ultimately destroy that which they proclaim to save. It's inevitable, like a democrat's opposition to tort reform, funny how that works.

If I get hit and crash, or even if I go down through no fault of anyone else, shouldn't I be entitled to recover some money? Maybe so, after all, we're "entitled" to just about everything else, so why not? But have you ever thought about where that huge settlement comes from? Wrong. This is one instance where the government isn't writing the check. Let's think it through Sparky.

The money comes from a number of sources, namely the motorcycle industry itself. But isn't that OK, I mean they have deep pockets right? Wrong again. The vast majority of both retailers and manufacturers in motorcycling are small businesses with hardly any pockets to speak of, let alone deep ones. In a typical claim, the lawyers go after (sue) every business, product, and person that ever had a transactional relationship with the victim (and in many cases even those that never had any dealings with the plaintiff at all).

No matter the nature of the accident, or even who's at fault, everyone gets sued, and I mean everyone. Aside from the all too obvious ethical issues this "strategy" conjures up; from a very practical perspective, what difference does it make if I sold you the pair of boots you were wearing on the day, after downing copious quantities of liquid courage, you attempted your very best Jason Britton imitation and slammed head first (uh-oh, forgot to wear a helmet....) into your neighbors parked minivan? The obvious answer, to anyone other than an attorney, is absolutely none. But I'll be named in the suit anyway, because that's the way its done.

What's even worse is, I'll probably pay, or at least my insurance company will, if for no other reason than to make the whole damn nuisance go away. And when you start adding up all those individuals and companys paying to make it "go away", that whole "sue 'em all, let a judge sort 'em out" strategy really begins to make a lot of sense....for the lawyers anyway.

The fact is, lawyers and the legal system they've created (remember, there's a good chance your favorite legislator is a damn lawyer too) drive good businesses under, and make every aspect of motorcycling more expensive. Think riding gear costs too much? Can't find a good local dealer that stocks actually stocks product? Wish there were cheaper motorcycles to buy? Wonder why your favorite riding area just closed down? Why is your insurance so expensive? Airbags on a motorcycle!? Thank your friendly neighborhood lawyer.

But you're a good American, you're not one of "them", what can you do end this cycle of economic and ethical madness? It's easy, first off , don't support the "motorcycle accident attorneys". If you're in the motorcycle industry, don't let them buy ads in your publications or sponsor your events. Whatever you do, don't let them attend your events (in my past life as the marketing head of the largest accessories retailer in motorcycling, we never took a dime from any law firm, although under the new regime I would wager that policy is sadly in danger), or support them in any fashion.  I know times are tough, but stand firm, sell ads to drug dealers, at least they're up front about their product.

As a rider, take some responsibility for your actions, every accident isn't a lottery ticket waiting to be cashed in. If you screw up, accept the consequences, and move on. Or better yet, pass up the opportunity to collect when you know you have no legitimate claim to do so, no matter what that ambulance chaser is telling you. In short, do the right thing, not the personally profitable one.

Lastly, push for common sense tort reform. The only way we can end this idiocy for good is too stop giving these bums and their clients license to game the system for their own profit. As long as folks can get something for nothing (no recourse contingency fees have to go), accident attorney's will be around to facilitate the process. The sad fact is, if we do nothing, greed enabling lawyers will eventually kill motorcycling for all of us.

Tips For Two-Up Touring

I have to confess right from the outset that most of my road riding motorcycle adventures have been of the "solo" variety; at least solo from the standpoint of me being alone in the saddle. Don't know exactly why; just always felt right. The reality is, I probably just didn't want to be responsible for another person. And trust me, when it comes to "responsibility", riding a motorcycle is on a whole different level. Everyone and their second cousin has a damn "coma story" involving a motorcycling mishap..... no way I was going to be part of that drama. Not me. I knew the risks......and was willing to take them, but to ask another to do the same?? Don't think so. Or maybe I just didn't want to buy lunch.....whatever.

The fact is, it's truly liberating never having to worry if the person "in the back" noticed that clunky shift, or how you damn near stuffed the back of that Tahoe while staring at some "Real Housewives" wannabe exiting the Safeway parking lot, or if your penchant for consuming cheeseburgers at nearly every "gas stop" was bordering on the excessive. No one's damn business! My bike never ratted me out. Adding a third to the party was just awkward, in a "this is a threesome that's never making the Forum letters column", kind of way. Just wasn't natural. This isn't to say I don't like riding with other people, I do. Sort of. Maybe I have trust issues??? No matter, we have motorcycling wisdom to inflict.........

Are you experienced? That's not just a cool Jimi Hendrix line, it's a real "no BS" assessment you need to make about both yourself and your passenger. Here's the deal, your motorcycle is gonna respond and handle in potentially unnerving ways when you've got your baby on board. At the very least, braking distances will be longer, acceleration will be slower, and low speed maneuvers that much more tricky.......all because of the extra weight (a point best not mentioned to your significant other, no matter how well intentioned). If you're not ready for a some two-up fun, say so.

While we're at it, ask your potential adventure buddy if they've actually been on a motorcycle before. Sounds like an obvious thing to do, but trust me, most bikers don't bother to enquire. If the closest thing to motorcycle riding little Betty has experienced is season two of Sons of Anarchy, you probably don't want to discover this little tidbit as you tear into a decreasing radius corner on Highway 88. Can't you just see it? You leaning in as God intended, while your terror stricken passenger using all her eighth grade gymnastic skills, throws her body in the exact opposite direction you're leaning in a heroic effort to save you both from whatever idiocy possessed you in the first place..........oh yeah, now that's fun.

While you're telling her that it's OK for bikes to lean over, let her know that she's gonna be moving backward and forward on her perch as well, maybe even clunking noodles now and then. And this too is OK. When the machine brakes, she scoots forward, when you take off from a light, she'll be sliding rearward. How much is going to be determined by your right hand and her weight (as we know, that last factoid is better left unsaid). As for you, when in doubt, remember you can't go wrong with a "smooth application of the controls".

Don't forget to clue your potential ridemate into the fact that motorcycles get hot. Really hot. Show her the areas they should avoid touching at all times. You want the ride to be memorable, but not for the third degree burns she'll be sporting on her calf for the next fifty years. And let her know the best way to "enter" and "exit" the vehicle while avoiding the aforementioned hot zones, and only when you say you're ready....parking lot tip-overs can spoil a ride every bit as much a scorched limb.

Lastly, and this one's pretty important, make sure that your passengers safety stuff is at least every bit as good as yours. Just because she's not holding the bars doesn't mean she's not gonna slam the ground just as hard as you........crashing is an equal opportunity crap storm. Make sure she's got the right gear, no paper mache' helmets and flip-flops......this is where you really get to show you care, and avoid a nasty liability lawsuit in the process. Nothing says "I love you" like a Snell rating.

So get out there, share the ride, show those close to you what it is that we love to do.........and with any luck, after a few rides, they'll buy their own bike. Is that bad? Maybe it's a sharing thing..........

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Driven to Distraction.....How The Cult Of "Busy" Is Killing Us

Sadly the carnage caused everyday on our roads by distracted drivers is starting to lose its shock value, if for no other reason than it's just all too common........seems we can't go even a day without something in the news about a hapless mother of three being obliterated at a four way stop by some idiot checking his email, or a motorcyclist being literally punted off the highway while another clueless driver fumbles with their nav system.

As motorcyclists, we're particularly at risk from distracted drivers............for all the obvious reasons. After over 30 years on the road I can tell you that in the best of circumstances motorcycles are all but invisible to the average cage pilot........and that's when they're actually looking for us! With all the stimulus at their fingertips we're lucky if today's driver can manage to divert a sliver of his precious brainpower to actually driving the vehicle. They've simply got other things to do........they're busy.

In the good old, bad old days, when you eyeballed some yahoo weaving back and forth in his lane, you naturally assumed he was drunk, or high, or both. You kept a wary eye on him, and rode on. Not any more.........what with nav systems, i-pods, smart phones, video entertainment systems, 1,000 watt stereos, and the occasional partied out waste-case, your odds at winning the bone-crusher biker lotto have gone up exponentially.

Honestly, when's the last time you rode up to a light, looked over at the car next to you and the driver wasn't texting, emailing, checking the nav, fumbling with an i-pod or just chatting on the phone. You can't remember, can you? And do you know why that is? The cult of busy, that's why.

It all started in the late 90's when for some reason being "busy" (I'll leave it to cultural anthropologists to give a proper definition) became a sort of status symbol. The busier you were, the hipper, smarter and generally cooler you were. People went out of their way to tell each other just how busy they were, that alone could keep one fairly busy. Not busy? Loser. Hell, Starbucks flourished, not because of the mediocre, overpriced coffee, but because it has become a sort "Our Lady of the Perpetually Busy", where a generation of self-absorbed Crackberry addicts could gather to confess their allegiance to all things busy.

And the worst thing??? The cult of busy has become so pervasive, that it actually does feel somehow "wrong" just to sit at a light and not check your email.........or at least Tweet your nights movie plans. I mean drivings so easy, right? There's all that down time; at lights, on the freeway, at night when there's nothing to look at.....and we're all so very busy, it just makes sense to be "productive"

Alas, we bikers are not only victims, we're becoming perpetrators as well. Touring motorcycles with nav systems, bluetooth equipped helmets, and more are just a click or glance away......soon we will be mowing down luckless pedestrians with the same gleeful abandon as our cage driving brothers. Now there's progress for you.

Unfortunately that busy train has sailed.........we've all drank the Kool-Aide, we're all busy now. The simple act of driving a car, or riding a motorcycle (let alone doing it well) will never hold the allure it once did, it's old news, so yesterday. So be wary fellow riders, the busy are all around us......they might even be us.......let's just try not to be too busy to stay alive.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sarah's My Homegirl

I love "Sarah Palin's Alaska".............there I said it, get over it, move on. I read that its debut was seen by over five million viewers (some even had college educations analysts say, though none thankfully were ivy league), a record for cable, and it's expected to be a major boost to Alaskan tourism. Whatever. Stunning mountain ranges, pristine waterfalls, float planes, and wildlife......this show's got it all. Or so I've been told.............I haven't noticed. You see, Sarah's my homegirl.

 It started at the RNC in 2008 and it's been growing faster than the Obama fueled national love affair with Mrs. P. Watching that speech I couldn't help but be reminded of that other uber sex symbol of  all things "right"..........Ronald Reagan. The wit, the warmth, the humor, the was all right there. OK, maybe she wasn't quite as sexy as the Gipper; but her ability to propel the loonie left, especially their lapdogs in the shamestream media, into fits of apoplectic, spittle producing tantrums, sealed the deal for me. Or maybe it was the photo of my lovely Sarah cradling an AR-15 like she'd been there before..........ah, no matter. My heart was hers.

Oh, I know. She's stupid. After all, haven't the "best and the brightest" from Harvard to Wall Street, to PBS, been beating on that bongo from day one? The same "best and brightest" we might want to remember, responsible for the mortgage meltdown, the financial meltdown, the auto industry takeover, titanically idiotic levels of debit, and my favorite "health care" (whatever the hell that means). Let's ponder for a moment the "she's stupid", I'm ashamed to admit is not limited to the nitwits on the left, a few of my pals on the right that should know better have slammed my girl too. Proving yet again that elitism and sycophantic snobbery is an equal opportunity parlor game.

Stupid. OK. Let's see. Born into an average family, father's a teacher of all things. No wealth or privilege........sorry Kennedy's, no trust fund to be found anywhere. She's an average student, and an above average I'm told, no cheer leading cliche's here. Damn.

Sarah goes of to college, alright, a couple of colleges if you must know. Unfortunately none of these institutions were of the ivy variety......horrors! You know the rest, marriage, kids, mayor of a small Alaskan town, Governor of the state (I know, Alaska's not a "real" state, so being Governor hardly counts). I could be wrong here, but does this seem the  life trajectory of a moron? As a matter of fact, I would submit that had this resume been that of anyone BUT Sarah Palin it would have been hailed as the American success story of the century.

Doesn't Sarah's success as a mom, small business person, and politician stand as confirmation of the ideals of the woman's movement in particular, and civil rights in general? So why the hate? I'll tell you why (aside from her unforgivable sin of not claiming Pro Choice status), the simple fact is the left has no equivalent narrative.

They have no self-made woman, no true American success stories of their own.........think about it for a minute. Nancy Pelosi, married a powerful man. Dianne Feinstein, married a powerful man. Barbara Boxer, married a powerful man. Hillary Clinton...........well, you get the idea. Seems like behind every darling Dem is.........egad, a man! More to the point, a man with a bankroll. Not exactly a vision of female empowerment.

Is Sarah Palin smart? Was Ronald Reagan smart? What is smart? Unfortunately, that's a question best left to.............ah, smart people I suppose. But what I can say is that Sarah Palin is real, she's authentic and the American people get that. She has a vision that the average person can relate to, and she can articulate that vision with a clarity not seen since..........well, since Reagan. The more the left tries to demonize and trivialize her, the more powerful she becomes. Sarah Palin is "stupid" because liberals are scared spitless, and they have no counter for her force of character.

Sarah's my homegirl not because she'd be the hottest leader in the free world, or that she loves guns and the outdoors (can you see her on a Harley.......oh mama!), or that she could kick the living crap out of any of her left leaning, concave chested, girlie-men detractors. No, Sarah's my homegirl because she's regular folks............and it's regular folks that made this country great. And that ain't stupid........

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Voices From The Asylum...... a two wheel perspective on life

I'm stoked to report that this humble jumble of words known to the world as "Chrome Asylum"  has its first official "follower".......from relative obscurity, to a "must link" in only a week......thanks mom! We here at CA promise to remain grounded regardless..........

In celebration of our one week anniversary we'd thought we'd introduce what, depending on audience response (you listening mom?),will become a regular monthly "op ed" column if you like. Generally speaking, it will speak generally on any and all matter of issues, people, products, events, trends, regulations, rumors, half truths and downright lies.........just as long as it has some remote connection to motorcycles and the whacko's that ride them, and most importantly, it interests me....ah, the staff here at CA.

So just who the *&%$ am I to be so P Diddy presumptuous as to think my observations onto all things motoland deserve your thoughtful review? Good question. Damn. For the last twenty or so years my role as marketing, e-commerce, and product guy for the "largest and fastest growing apparel and accessories retailer" (yeah, "that" company) in the motorcycle industry required that I stay on top of where the market was going, and why. It was my job, after all, to determine what Johnny Speed wanted, or thought he wanted, get it, let him know we had it, and sell him the damn thing. It's been an education to say the least, customers and the market can be brutal.....but if you just listen, well, you get the gist.

So how are we gonna kickstart this lump anyway? I really don't have a clue.......thought about a "top ten" list, and might do it down the road......apologies to Letterman and the millions that have ripped him off, but for now, I thought we'd try something a little simpler. Here goes.....

We're gonna be OK. That's it, that's all I wanted to say. Really. We're gonna be OK because despite the Great Recession, unit sales lower than a Chilean mineshaft, "it's all over" fat lady laments from the nitwits on Wall Street, and a scared spitless are still cool. Always have been, always will be. Few objects are as iconic as a motorcycle; it's real, it's dangerous, it's sex on wheels in a way unmatched in American how cool is your I-phone now!? And better yet, folks still want them.

People didn't "fall out of love with motorcycling", the youth weren't seduced away by the siren song of a Wii or Play Station (as just about every analyst would have you believe), or a hundred other "virtual" stand-ins for an actual life. We didn't wake up one morning shivering in our boxers at the inherent stupidity of sharing the roads with, well, idiots, and swear off motorcycles right then and there. So what did happen?

We ran out of dough, simple as that. Want proof? A local dealer of a certain American brand of motorcycle told me that he never realized how many bikes were purchased using home equity lines of credit, he estimated at least 25%. No wonder sales are off,  house values are at record lows too.......kinda makes sense doesn't it? And if we still had a couple of dollars in the coffee can buried in the yard we sure as hell weren't digging it up to buy a new R-1. No sir, we're hanging on to that coin like grim death because rumor has it cardboard houses lack certain weatherproofing characteristics. We simply had new and more pressing food, and bullets. Motorcycles would have to wait their turn. And that's where we are now.........waiting.

But they will be back, and back big. Yes, but back to the numbers of 2006/2007? Eventually, I have no doubt. Motorcycles have not lost their inherent desirability. If anything, because they offer an increasingly rare and unique experience....that being a visceral dose reality, not sanitized for your protection; I'd bet that as an activity (sounds so third grade recess) motorcycling will be in even greater demand in the future.

The more disconnected and unreal our world becomes the more pursuits like motorcycling make us feel grounded, part of something genuine.The best days of motorcycling done and gone? Not a chance's just getting good!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Loud Pipes Complicate Lives......and piss off the neighbors

If you happen to reside in the Peoples Republic of Kalifornia you're no doubt already painfully aware that on September 28 our lame duck governor (finally, truth in labeling), A. Schwarzenegger signed into law Senate Bill 435 which when it goes in effect January 1, 2013 will make it a crime, that's right my fellow scofflaws, a flippin' crime, " operate any motorcycle registered in the state that was built on or after Jan. 1, 2013 that doesn't have a Federal Environmental Protection Agency exhaust system sound emissions label." (American Motorcyclist, Dec. 2010).

Great, we've got houses that aren't worth as much as the cars parked in the driveway, unemployment levels higher than the backers of Prop 19, and a state government as effective as a paper condom, but the golden state's gonna make sure your i-pod induced buzz won't be disturbed by some obnoxious biker. Really..........

Yet, as forward leaning libertarian, the idea of another mindless Big Brother edict really frosts my Lily's, but we saw this one coming right..........right!? You do remember that little tussle our off-roading brothers went through in the late 80's and early 90's, those Sierra Club Nazi's were gunning (yeah, I said gunning) for anyone treading the backwoods on anything but a Vibram soled boot. And so was hatched, "less sound equals more ground", or some such slogan. And for the most part, they were right.........but here's the deal, off-road ain't the street, and on the street, sound can be the difference between life and death. Could be the reason just about every vehicle on the road comes with a handy device called a horn. Think about it. But I wander.

The fact is, there is something to that old "loud pipes save lives" cliche', as is the case with most cliche's and everything your mother ever told you. Anyone that has ever split lanes can tell you that a quick blip of the throttle can jolt that cage jockey off her phone and back into her lane quicker than you can say "Real Housewives". No doubt about it. Being heard is often a key factor in being seen, a first step in a process if you will. A process that might just keep your hind-parts out of the local OR, and that's always a good thing.

Need more proof? Wouldn't you agree that there's probably no more experienced and skilled warriors on the road than motor cops? Then how is it that a majority of local Five-O's retrofit their Harley's with aftermarket (read illegal) mufflers? Ask the officer that rides one, and they'll enlighten you, " drivers can hear me, duh!?" The fact is, lame "Doppler effect" arguments aside, louder pipes are indeed heard by drivers, at least those not blasting their ear buds at 110db's, while a silent exhaust note, on the other hand, can be deadly.

But what about those idiots that blast through Sleepy Hollow at three in the morning rapping their straight pipes like, well, idiots. Good point, and I make no excuses, it's stupid, and one of the chief reasons we're now staring down the barrel of Senate Bill 435. We weren't able to keep it together, like reasonably sober adults should. Now dad (Arnie and his mindless minions in Sacramento) has to tell us kids (riders, I mean suspects) to keep the damn racket down or we're all grounded. Should have never cranked BTO to the max on the old Pioneer..............and definitely should have been a little more judicious with the right hand. And for the record, straight pipes just don't sound good, at any volume. Sorry bro's......

But that train has sailed, and we're most likely stuck with another idiotic law that's gonna make just about everyone in the cruiser community a criminal, which come to think of it isn't such a bad thing for all those lamewad wannabe patch know who you are, with your Sons of Anarchy least now you'll have some street cred, sort of.

The obvious solution, at least to your humble scribe, is that motorcycle sound standards should be re-evaluated with an eye to a greater level of allowable db's. The current EPA standards are simply far too silent, and I don't know what the standard ought to be, that'll take some work on both sides. But the fact is we need to be heard so we can stay alive (sorry AMA but it's true). On the flip side, John Q commuter shouldn't suffer brain damage if he's stuck sitting next to one of us at a light. All I ask is little more sound, so we can maintain our ground....and not piss off the neighbors. Should be easy, right!?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sucker Punch Sally's Rocks It For Real

As we all know, there hasn't been a whole lot to cheer about in the motorbike biz over the last few years. Really good company's have disappeared taking countless jobs and dreams with them, and those that have managed to hang on have had to cut to the marrow just to stay solvent.......but we're all survivors, and there's no doubt that better days lie ahead.

One company that's managed to not only hang on,  but thrive is Sucker Punch Sallys. I gotta tell you, I really dig this company. They are the real deal. I had a chance to meet the crew in Sturgis a few years back, and they are all genuinely good people. They just flat love bikes and it shows.

But what really sets them apart are their motorcycles............the coolest, stripped down, old school, tough as nails bobbers and choppers you've ever seen. It's rock-a-billy on wheels, a bar fight waiting to happen........if you're looking for an OCC wannabe, look elsewhere, these are machines made to be and hard. The vibe is one of a kind in a world of shameless clones. And the best part? These rolling testaments to greased back hair and switchblades are totally's that for blue collar cred!?

Some night when you're channeling your inner bad-ass, key over to and marvel at the utter cool dripping off your screen.....rolling chassis, or complete machines, it's all there. But trust me on this, you best be strong're gonna want one, or two. I know my biker bucket list won't be complete until there's a Sucker Punch Sally bobber in the garage.........way to go guys!

Victory Motorcycles - Building a "There" There

If you're a current rider, and more to the point, a cruiser rider of the usual demographic, you've most likely heard of Victory Motorcycles........they're that "other" American made bike (apologies up front to Indian, but honestly, can you blame me?). From all accounts in the press, and your humble correspondent's personal experience riding the product, they build a very fine machine. As a matter of fact, "on paper" their motorcycles best the bikes from Milwaukee in almost every category; all the while delivering a styling package that is distinctive and for the most part unique, bordering on cool.

So what's the problem? Simple, there's no "there" there. What is a Victory? What does a Victory represent? Who is a Victory rider......what is unique about him or her? I'm not sure we know, and worse yet for Victory, I'm not sure they know either. It's almost as if the line of thinking in some long since forgotten marketing strategy meeting went something like this; 1) Built in the US .2) It's not a Harley. 3) It's better than a Harley. 4) Buy it. Let's break for lunch.

That's just not gonna cut it, not in the motorcycle business in general, and the cruiser segment in particular. These brands are sold mostly on emotion, not specifications (whether we want to admit it or not). Is a Harley necessarily a "better" machine, probably not. But it's certainly a better brand......and not just because it's had about a 95 year head start.

Think for just a moment of what Harley Davidson represents. It's pure Americana, iconic and cool, but why? Well, mostly because of all those positive associations with the brand over time; its history, the imagery of the product in the context of historical events like World War II, movie stars and athletes, outlaw bikers and industrial titans. It's the sheer volume of that emotional input that emphatically stamped the Harley brand into our collective subconscious. From early on the Motor Company knew that the brand was far more than the machines, and that it was the brand itself that was the prime driver when it came to selling the motorcycles, not the other way around. If a brand does not engage us on an emotional level it will not succeed in the long's a simple as that.

So what does this mean for Victory Motorcycles, are they doomed? Of course not, as a matter of fact, one could argue that there's a particularly bright potential future in store for the brand if the leadership embraces the fact that it's simply not enough to build a better mouse trap and wait for the world to beat a path to the showroom (sorry, I normally try to avoid cliche's like the plague). They have to develop and nurture the brand. Find out what Victory is and nurture to customers, better yet talk to folks that aren't, non-riders as well, you don't have to ride to know what's cool. And make no mistake......being "cool" is an imperative, not being "better". Cool will always be better.

Is there unique ground for Victory to plant the flag and say, "this is who and what we are"? Can they convey that identity in a consistent and impactful way? To both these questions, I'd say absolutely! After all, the good people at Victory have a solid platform upon which to build. The bikes are good, they are distinctive, and yes, they're built here......that's not too bad a starting point. And you've got that "spec sheet"......put that extra displacement and handling to use. The machines are hot rods.....and Americans, especially American males "get" hot's in our DNA. And it appears to be in Victory's as well.........and that's where they could make their stand. An American built muscle machine; fast, beautiful, iconic in its own right..........and best yet, cool.

Once the "hot rod" strategy is embraced, every ounce of communication effort; whether conventional advertising, promotions, PR, trade shows, product placement, rally's, etc. must relentlessly reinforce that message. Victory is a hot rod. "American. Performance."

Will they do it? Will Victory become the brand that their motorcycles so desperately need them to be? Maybe. The leadership might argue that they are already there. I would hope not. It's tough to say, change is never easy. I'll leave you with this observation, which I think is pretty telling. Search the "careers" section of the Motor Company's website and the number of postings in marketing generally exceeds all the rest. On Victory's site the most numerous postings are for engineers.........Guess we'll just have to see how it plays out.