Thursday, January 05, 2006

What a way to start the year!

It's a hectic start to the year. I optimistically wrote about all the motorcycle related things to do in 2006 and it already seems like everything's kicking into high gear with plans finalized and events to go to.

Two friends have mentioned that they're attending the V-Twin Expo in Cincinnati Ohio at the beginning of February. One of them I expected to go, while other recently decided to sell advertising in a motorcycle magazine and suddenly found herself with a mini-vacation!

We'll see how good of a friend she really is if she brings back some publicity material on the new model being debuted at the show by Viper Motorcycles. They're going to introduce the companys second model, the Diablo Power Cruiser as well as its own line of proprietary engines, ranging from 115 to 152 cubic inches. There are some impressive specifications on the website, but no pictures or prices. The latter is important since the company bills itself as 'a leading designer and manufacturer of Super Cruiser motorcycles with cutting edge technology for the affluent enthusiast'.


The Diablo's older brother - The Diablo Super Cruiser

Viper has certainly been making a lot of noise over the last six months with news making items like keeping the manufacturing of certain parts close to home and signing a contract to purchase a 32,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility on 4 acres located in Monticello, MN. The company is saying some good things about their new line of proprietary engines; all billet construction, big bore/short stroke and supposedly produce 30% less heat than the competitive air-cooled v-twin.

Maybe though, the Viper Company might want to refocus their target demographic. One could read the 'affluent enthusiast' as being in the over forty male category, which is the same group that's not doing so well on the roads of New Hampshire. news carried a story today about the New Hampshire authorities reporting a spike in motorcycle fatalities. Official numbers show that 27 riders were killed in 2004 and 42 in 2005. Rather than have the knee-jerk reaction of bringing in helmet laws, the authorities are looking to improving the states motorcycle safety program, which isn't currently mandatory for licensing. It is noted that New Hampshire does not require adult motorcycle operators or passengers to wear helmets. Riders under age 18 are required to wear helmets.

"In any of these endeavors, it's like trying to turn a huge ocean liner," said Peter Thomson, head of the state Highway Safety Agency. "You can't just take a right turn. It takes time to change course and maneuver."

The numbers are interesting for proponents of Motorcycle safety courses, such as the writer of this blog, Biker Diaries. One of the 27 people killed in 2004 and two of the 42 killed last year took the formal motorcycle riding course, with twenty-two of the 42 fatalities last year being 40 or older. The age of the two fatalities that took the safety course weren't mentioned, but it would be interesting to see if they were also in the over 40 group. And unless I'm reading the article wrong, the two fatalities in 2005 who took the safety course were the first to happen in the last ten years of offering them, 'from 1990 to 2005, 23,000 riders have taken motorcycle education courses, and only two have been involved in fatal crashes'.

Either way, this news story will surely kick the helmet debate into full gear and we're only on the fifth day of the New Year. Needles to say, according the authorities in New Hampshire the last thing an 'affluent enthusiast' needs is the power Viper Motorcycles is touting, especially if they happen to be over forty.

Three good things appear to come from the article: The powers that be in New Hampshire are doing the right thing and trying to find a cure for motorcycle fatalities by preventing them in the first place, motorcycle dealers seem to be promoting the safety courses and the numbers are re-enforcing how a course can help. Only two out of the forty two fatalities had attended the safety course. This means a lot of other riders who also took the course got themselves out of a traffic situation that could've been a lot more deadly than it turned out.

Che who?
I had a polite disagreement with one of the people we were hanging out with while in New York recently. She liked the movie 'Motorcycle Diaries' and I felt that apart from the first quarter of the film which actually had them riding the motorcycle, it really wasn't that interesting. She of course empathized with his sensitivity toward the suffering of the common man who were put down by rich capitalists, ignoring the fact that Che Guevara would go onto order or even personally murder many of the 'common men' in Cuba after the revolution.

All the media hype around the movie, and of course the man Che Guevara, is obviously enough to get Subcomandante Marcos, a leader in the Zapatista Guerilla movement riding across Mexico on a motorcycle. Supposedly unarmed and alone, his six month journey isn't to run for office but "to listen to the simple and humble people who struggle." They don't mention what kind of motorcycle he's riding on the website but Che rode a 1939 500cc Norton nicknamed La Poderosa II (meaning "the mighty one"), and if the revolutionary leader feels he needs to follow the script, shouldn't he follow it correctly?

If we were to nitpick the motorcycle should be borrowed (it was Che's travelling companion's in real life) and I don't remember any livestock such as the chicken Subcomandante Marcos is taking on his journey even being in the movie. Maybe the chicken didn't have a good enough agent.

It seems that riders like my fellow blogger Gymi may have a welcomed distraction during these long, cold months of weather inflicted non-riding. The Bay City Times reported that the Alden B. Dow Museum will have the Motorcycle exhibit Designs Through Time: Motorcycles Past, Present and Future showing from January 14th through April 2nd.

The exhibit showcases everything from vintage designs right up to the latest and greatest, and encompasses the history of motorcycle design, technology and artistry.

"I'm thrilled to have it in Michigan because we've never been here," said Dick Daley, the Florida man who created the "Designs Through Time" display. "I think this is the biggest exhibit we've ever done from a size standpoint. I think there's going to be between 60-70 bikes there."

Some of the memorable bikes to be included are a vintage BMW with a Steib sidecar, a custom trike, custom choppers, a new BMW, vintage Harley-Davidsons, a Harley-Davidson V-Rod, Indian Four, 1953 Indian Chief, 1073 Yamaha MX3601, 1969 BSA Lightning, 1967 BSA Hornef, vintage and new Ducatis, MV Augustas, vintage Hodakas, other vintage Indians and more.

It was interesting to read Dick Daley saying they've had the same people come back to the exhibit three or four times. I wonder if they stare longingly and make motorcycle noises?

1 comment:

Gymi said...

Thanks again for the tip on the bike exhibit Laurence. Even though I am only an hour and a half from Midland, you gave me the first news of this event. There has been no ads on the radio or television. Nor have I read anything in the paper about it. Although the International Motorcycle Show is in town this weekend, and I am looking forward to a little motorcycle fix. It's funny that I get news from South Florida about an exhibition taking place in my neck of the woods. good job Laurence.

Later Gymi