Wednesday, January 04, 2006

From the vintage classics to the new Harley legends

So the harsh fact that 2006 is well and truly here has probably settled in with most by now. I don't know about you but I didn't ruin one check from writing the wrong year on it.

Of course I do 99.9% of my bill payments online, but it still feels good to make claim to the feat, regardless of why it came about.

On a personal note, and this is a blog after all so its sort of expected to have a few of those, I'm quickly approaching my one year anniversary of having a motorcycle and license. Time just flew by and for a while there it looked like I'd put close to ten thousand miles on the odometer, but hurricanes along with a wet winter will probably see me closer to six thousand by the time the first twelve months are celebrated.

Another bright side to the New Year is a full calendar of biking events to look forward to, plan the visit and nearly equally as fun as the first two, actually go. Daytona and Sturgis bike rallies, motorcycle shows and a growing number of bike nights as the weather turns to spring.

As it's just a touch too far and the cross country trek is reserved for Sturgis, I unfortunately won't be making it to Ohio in July for the American Motorcyclist Association's Vintage Motorcycle Days 2006 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. It's a shame too since MV Agusta will be celebrated at the show as the 'featured Marquee' leading the display of all the other classic bikes when it opens July 28th.

As in previous years, AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days will kick off a ten-day celebration of motorcycling at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, concluding with the AMA Honda Super Cycle Weekend presented by Dunlop Tire the following weekend, August 4-6.

And if you think there are more bikers turning up at these events, you're probably not far wrong. Honda's CEO pointed out in a year end speech that the companies' 2005 motorcycle sales increased 16% to a total of 12.5 million units worldwide. I'm sure it won't be long before the other motorcycle manufacturer's post their own numbers and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that not only will 2005 be a record breaking year, but the expectations for 2006 are for even higher numbers.

Indeed, according to the Irvine, Calif.-based Motorcycle Industry Council, 1.1 million cycles of all kinds were sold in the United States in 2004. Early indications are that in 2005, the figure could inch closer to eclipsing a record set in 1973, when 1.5 million cycles were sold. Sales are up dramatically from 1995, when only 309,000 cycles were sold.

It's not just the big corporate names that are hoping for a busy year either. MSNBC recently reported about the growing number of custom bike builders springing up around the country.

Although the top seven commercial bike builder's account for 91 percent of all cycles sold in the United States, custom chopper builders have generated big dollars, said Mike Mount, director of communications for the Motorcycle Industry Council.

"The volume of custom motorcycles may not be high, but the economic value is high," Mount said. "These cycles can typically run from $15,000 to however much you want to spend. Unlike most people who buy cycles to ride, many people who buy custom cycles buy them as art. That has been good for custom bike builders."

There is the fear that there's too much interest, too quickly, with too many people opening custom bike shops hoping to take advantage of the growing interest. The article not only interviews some high profile people in the industry but also has some interesting statistics from the Motorcycle Industry Council.

For example, according to the most recent Motorcycle Industry Council data, for 2003, the median age for motorcycle riders is 41. Median income is $55,850. The largest portion of riders, about 30 percent hold professional or technical jobs. Another 18 percent are enlisted in the military. About 12 percent are mechanics or craftsmen, and 11 percent are business managers or proprietors. The remainders are laborers, service workers, salespeople, clerical workers and farmers.

Read the article in it's entirety at MSNBC.

Forget about everyone else..what about my recent ride?
As I mentioned at the very end of the last blog on Bikers Diaries, after all the time spent with the girlfriends friends in New York, I was in need of some male-bonding time that should be done firmly from the saddle of a Harley Davidson. Fortunately, my riding buddy wasted away his New Years Eve weekend working around his house and had the same itch to get out and travel some asphalt.

It was a beautiful day in South Florida with an expected high of just under eighty degrees. We jumped on the bikes and headed over to Denises Kitchen for breakfast and decide where to go. He didn't want to spend too long riding around so a quick ride over to Holiday Park out by the Everglades was the final decision.

Just as we were wrapping up an older guy walked up, leaned over to my buddy and asked, "Is that your Harley outside?"

"I guess it is?" my buddy replied, not sure what the question was getting at.

"Does it have one of those heavy duty Harley batteries in it?" We both looked at the guy, not knowing what he was talking about. "Because you left your lights on!"


One thankfully started Harley and twenty minutes later we'd ridden south on I-95 and headed out west on I-595. My buddy had never gone south along Knob Hill Road from I-595 and really loved the wide road that winds through the countryside of Davie, Cooper City and into Pembroke Pines. I'm only detailing my little route here because I know you can keep a secret and as much as I'd encourage you to try it, don't mention it to anyone else.

We wanted to take Sterling all the way west to Hwy 27 which goes by the entrance to Holiday Park, but a dike and the road ending had us turning around and looking for a way over. Right there on the side of this little used side road were a pair of the shiniest looking hi-gloss dress shoes you'd wear to a wedding. I guess someones not getting his deposit back.

A quick stop at Holiday Park and we re-traced our route along Sterling back up Knob Hill, deciding to make our way back along the city streets instead of I-595. I'm glad this was my buddy's decision since the midday traffic was out in full force and there seems to be a traffic light every quarter of a mile when you ride Knob Hill north of the freeway.

While getting gas, I noticed he'd left his lights on again and when it was my turn to use the restroom the water was still running in the sink. What's the age you put people in a home and do they allow motorcycles?

This quick ride had turned out to be an all morning event with our stomachs letting us know it was already time for lunch. You're never far away from a Hooters in South Florida and the fresh air and worked up an appettite for wings! Since I'd been out a little longer than everyone concerned first planned, so I called and invited the girlfriend to join us.

By the time we finished lunch, wandered back to his place and parked the bikes it was 1.30 in afternoon. A nice impromptu trip that put over a hundred miles on the odometer and had some good laughs.

Not a speedy ride but definitely a fun one that'll be remembered with a smile.

1 comment:

Gymi said...

Congrats one the one year in the saddle. Your killing me with all the riding in the warm Florida sun stories. We haven't seen the sun for more than fifteen minutes here in Michigan in the last three weeks. No kidding, it has been overcast for that long. Keep on with the riding stories, if I can't ride, at least I can live vicariously through you.

Later, Gymi