Archive for the Motorcycle Industry News Category

www.ArtBikerWorld.com is now LIVE!!!!

Posted in American Motorcycle, ArtBiker's Thoughts, Biker News, Biker TV, Book Reviews and Author News, Build Your Own, Custom Bike Show, Custom Motorcycle, Fine Art Fridays, Harley-Davidson, Motorcycle Club, Motorcycle Event, Motorcycle Industry News, Motorcycle Rally, Motorcycle Tour and Travel, movie mondays, Outlaw Biker, Press Release, Product Reviews, Tattoosday, Uncategorized, Weekend Pass : Biker's Rights and the Law with tags , , , , , on September 29, 2009 by ArtBiker

Yes Friends!  www.ArtBikerWorld.com is now live and all the new posts are going to be at the new site.  Don’t worry if you have not been here before, everything ever done here has been ported over for your perusal.  So, please do yourself a favor and head over to the new site, add it to your favorites, bookmark the RSS Feeds, and let everyone know!

We really appreciate you reading this little blog of ours and we love you all for it… I think big things are about to happen with the new site.

Love, Respect, and Ride Safe,

ArtBiker

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Sidecars Part I

Posted in American Motorcycle, ArtBiker's Thoughts, Build Your Own, Custom Motorcycle, Harley-Davidson, Motorcycle Industry News, Uncategorized with tags on October 21, 2008 by ArtBiker

 

Today we make the leap from trikes to sidecars.  Those unusual little bikes that bring to mind a lone stranger traveling across the states with his dog in the dead of winter, or the rig that is slowly putting down a country road with an elderly woman enjoying the scenery as her driver tries to keep the bumps to a minimum.  Sidecars have a decidedly nostalgic feel to them.  Besides early America, they also bring to mind small towns in Europe where the townsfolk move at a slower pace and the beauty of life is more appreciated.

 

 

A quirky mode of transport to say the least, the sidecar is also ultimately useful.  It is stable and can be run off road as well as in the snow, it has a wonderful carrying capacity and can be used to pick up and deliver items as well as a mobile vending unit, it gives those with certain physical limitations another option in enjoying the open air of a motorcycle, and your narcoleptic buddy can ride in the car and fall asleep without you worrying that he is going to fall off the back.

 

 

I have just purchased my first sidecar rig and it serves my purposes perfectly.  It gives me a way to take my two young daughters for a ride around the block, it gives me a nice space to stash my things on my way too and from work without having to ride with overflowing saddlebags, it also gives me a place to ride and photograph the world from a unique perspective.  Besides, my Ol’ Lady rides and she can use it to get groceries and other items that she can’t carry on her two wheeler, pick up the kids from a play date, or take a couple friends for a spin to the local pub for a girl’s night out.  So for us, it was a fantastic investment.  Not that it was expensive by any stretch.  We picked up a 1975 Yamaha XS650 with an American Eagle sidecar.  Nothing fancy, nothing too shiny, nothing but a fun workhorse for us to play with.

 

 

For those of you who have never ridden a sidecar rig, and I expect that is most of us, it is a very different animal.  Yes, it is a motorcycle, but it steers like a car.  Because of the third wheel, you cannot drive the rig with the same counter steering techniques used on a two-wheeled machine.  This is really not difficult to get over, and it has not given me any trouble thus far.  The thing that is a little hard to get used to is the fact that during right hand turns the sidecar, or “chair” as it is sometimes called, will “fly.”  Now that sounds fun and all, but if you go into a right hand turn at any significant speed at all, the “flying of the chair” can cause a little squinting action.  I am working on mastering the technique now and understand that it can be an exciting and fun thing to do when you are prepared for it.  The thing that is hardest to remember is that when the car goes up in the air, you are suddenly on a two-wheeled motorcycle again and need to counter steer to keep yourself going where you want to go! 

Alas, I am still a newbie when it comes to these things, so I am probably not the best purveyor of advice.  So, I will direct you to the authority.  I just picked up a copy of “Driving a Sidecar Outfit: a manual on learning to drive a motorcycle/sidecar combination” by David Hough and published by the USCA Sidecar Safety Program, Inc.  These folks have put together this manual to be used as a guide for a sidecar safety course.  Because I cannot find a course in my area, I am simply walking myself through the exercises whenever I have a chance to get to an empty parking lot. 

I did spend some time looking at sidecars before actually taking the plunge.  There are a few companies that make fantastic products out there and I would like to share these with you.  The first is probably the best-known sidecar manufacturer out there, Ural.  In 1939 the USSR Defense Ministry decided to reverse engineer the BMW R71 motorcycle so that it could produce them in preparation for World War II.  In 1941 the first test samples rolled out of the plant and were approved by Stalin. The “new” Russian motorcycle was labeled the M-72 and put into production.  Export of the Ural began in 1953 and hit the shores of developed countries by 1960.  Eventually the company was bought from the Russian Government and became privately owned.  This happened in 1998 and allowed the company to grow, create better quality control, modernized design, and updated technology.  We are looking at a whole new Ural here.  They offer four major designs, the Retro, Tourist, Patrol, and Gear Up.  Check out their site and I am sure you will find one you like. http://www.imz-ural.com/.

 

 

If you are looking for something a little more tailor made, contact Liberty Sidecars in Seattle, Washington.  These folks put sidecars together to fit your exact specifications.  Well, they do use their own chassis and dimensions, but you can order special items like luggage racks, custom interior, tonneau cover, detachable windscreen, custom wheels, spotlight with or without turn signal, sidesteps, and more.  You may have seen one of Liberty’s sidecars in the movies… every see Wild Hogs?  Yup, William H. Macy took a spin in one of these when he lost his bike to a member of the Del Fuegos MC.  Check it all out at http://www.libertysidecars.com/.

 

 

California sidecars (http://www.californiasidecar.com/) makes a pretty cool sidecar called the Friendship III.  This little number fits two people in the car with its bench seat.  It also has 9 cubic feet of trunk storage!  What could make it any better?  Well, the Friendship III has an integrated disc brake system on the car, which improves handling during braking as well as stopping time.  Truly a state of the art hack.

 

 

Speaking of state of the art, Spalding Side Motorcycle Sidecars has some pretty trick looking chairs.  These are sleek and contemporary.  Gone are the “bullet” look of the classic cars and in are the sports car front ends; you can even order one with an air scoop on the hood.  These little numbers open up wide and the passengers step in rather than climb in, very upscale and really good looking.  Check them out at http://www.spaldingside.com/.

 

 

Sidecars, like trikes, seem to be making a comeback these days.  I can’t say they will ever replace the chopper or bagger in popularity, but I certainly think you will see more of them on the roads in the near future.  The utilitarian nature of the sidecar rig was one of the reasons I was attracted to them, but they are actually so fun to drive that I think I will keep one in the stable for a while.

 

Love, Respect, and Ride Safe,

ArtBiker

 

 

 

Trikes… part III

Posted in American Motorcycle, ArtBiker's Thoughts, Biker News, Custom Motorcycle, Motorcycle Industry News, Product Reviews, Uncategorized with tags on October 18, 2008 by ArtBiker

I have spoken about a few bike companies that specialize in trikes, but I have not mentioned them all… Here is a more complete list of OEMs in North America… again, there may be more and there are, of course, a lot of custom builders out there as well.  If you have someone to add, please do so, we would all love to know about them.

Love, Respect, and Ride Safe

ArtBiker

 

www.BoomTrikesUSA.com

www.BossHoss.com

www.CheetahTrikes.com

www.DFTTrikes.com

www.HanniganTrikes.com

www.Harley-Davidson.com

www.IronHorseTrikeworks.com

www.LVTrikes.com

www.LightningMotorcycles.com

www.MTCVoyager.com

www.mysterydesigns.com

www.RatRaceProductions.com

www.RenegadeTrikes.com

www.SantiagoChopper.com

www.sstrikes.com

www.TetraTrikes.com

www.TrikeEnvy.com

www.USTrikes.com

Cool trikes from the past… http://www.bikemenu.com/photostrikesorig.html

Trikes, Trikes (part II)

Posted in American Motorcycle, ArtBiker's Thoughts, Biker News, Custom Bike Show, Custom Motorcycle, Harley-Davidson, Motorcycle Industry News, Product Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , on October 17, 2008 by ArtBiker

 

 

 

Finally, the exciting world of custom bikes has not left the three-wheeled world alone.  We have all seen the Exile trike by Russell Mitchell and the crazy semi engine turned trike by Mr. Jesse James, but there are others out there that turn out really nice trikes for an affordable price.  Other custom builders like Covington’s cycles make the occasional trike as well as high end OEMs like Bourget Bike Works.  You can’t deny that the trike is becoming trick.

 

 

Besides the really nice kits we looked at in the last section of this blog, there are a few other builders/companies that turn out some sweet sleds.  Let’s start with Santiago Choppers.  This homegrown family business is built on five, count ‘em 5, generations of bike enthusiasts.  Alan Bernard is the man behind the scenes at this great shop in Gibsonton, Florida.  The trikes they turn out come in a softail and hardtail version.  They also make some kick ass Harley to trike conversions as well as some sweet traditional chops.  They have too many cool examples of their work to mention here, so I am going to send you directly to their site.  Enjoy! http://www.santiagochopper.com

 

 

Art Morris at Trike Envy in Sherwood, Oregon also creates some beautiful ground up customs.  These bikes remind me much of that big wheel I used to ride as a kid, long, low, and a mother of a back end.  These trikes come with HUGE rear tires.  We are talking funny car, dragster rubber.  Put yourself on one of these sleds and hang on! http://www.trikeenvy.com/

 

 

Alas, we cannot forget the trikes of yore.  Yes, those three wheeled creations that meld the world of bikes and cages, the hybrid of the VW Bug and the stretched out chopper.  Big in the 70’s, these bikes are sure to come back with a vengeance, and the company who will lead the way?  Well, it could very well be Phoenix, AZ locals, Rat Race Productions.  These guys have been turning out badass VW based trikes for over 30 years.  I know you have seen their work in magazines past, but check them out today.  They are still on the ball and at the forefront of their craft. http://www.ratraceproductions.com/

 

 

The last few posts have focused on the trike as art form and ride able machine.  As stated, I do not have any personal experience on trikes, but am hoping to get a demo machine to try out soon.  As soon as I do, I will be letting you know.  Until then, keep your feet on the pegs for a change and enjoy profilin’ on a three-wheeled machine.  Next up?  Sidecars!

 

Love, Respect, and Ride Safe,

ArtBiker

Trikes, Trikes, Trikes (part I)

Posted in American Motorcycle, ArtBiker's Thoughts, Biker News, Custom Motorcycle, Harley-Davidson, Motorcycle Industry News, Product Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on October 15, 2008 by ArtBiker

I have very little personal experience with these three-wheeled animals, unless you consider the Big Wheel I loved as a kid growing up in the desert of New Mexico.  Boy, I rode the wheels off that thing.  Anyway, I have had an eye on the adult variety of these machines for a few years now and have my own favorites.

I think it can be stated without too much dissent that the major trike manufacturers are Lehman, Motor Trike, DFT Trikes, and Boss Hoss.  Each has been in business for quite a while and turn out some beautiful products.  Motor Trike has its manufacturing plant and HQ just outside a little town called Troup in East Texas.  They have a few different models available, but I am partial to the “Trog” line.  The Trog is specifically set up for Harley Davidson models and works with the Electra Glide, Road King, Heritage, Fat Boy, and even the Deuce and V-Rod.  Motor Trike also makes kits for a variety of metric bikes and even has one for the Triumph for those interested in an English trike.  Drop them a note for more info on their various kits, conversions, and installation. http://motortrike.com/

DFT is located in Addison, Illinois and has been turning out wonderful kits for a long time now.  They have been adding new dealers all year and those include Genes H-D Repair of Smithfield, RI, Arnolds Motor Sales of Zanesville, OH, Texas Trike Werx of Belton, TX and Longbow Motorcycles in Rome, GA.  Truth is they have dealers all over the country as well as located internationally.  I suppose this lets you know their popularity.  DFT makes kits for both Harley and Honda and both sets are really good looking.  For more info on them, please be sure to check out their site at http://www.dfttrikes.com

Lehman makes the other, and perhaps most well known, trike on the market today.  They have a couple manufacturing plants with the original still residing in Alberta, Canada and the newest plant in Spearfish, South Dakota.  Mr. Lehman created the first trike for his wife because she could not take her kids on a standard bike… and the rest is history.  The brand took off and is now publicly traded on the market.  Lehman is also the only manufacturer to have a factory sponsored trike owner’s group.  But, perhaps the most impressive program that Lehman offers is the “Good Turn Trike” program.  This began in the 90’s when Lehman built a trike with special controls and components for a man who had lost his leg and could no longer ride.  This has become a regular program of the company and Lehman installs kits free of charge for customers on a case-by-case basis.  Now that is good PR.   Harleys, Victorys, and metrics accept the Lehman kits and conversions.  For more detailed info visit Lehman Trikes directly at http://www.lehmantrikes.com/

Lest we forget the Boss Hoss… this company has been making trikes for at least ten years and introduced the first V-8 powered bike in 1990.  In fact, in 2006 Boss Hoss received full vehicle approval from the European Commission making them the only globally approved V-8 motorcycle!  That is a pretty beefy achievement.  And speaking of beefy, you have not been on a muscle bike until you have been on a Chevy V-8 powered two (or three) wheeler.  Boss Hoss is famous for their crazy car like trike bodies.  They look like the back ends of a ’57 Chevy with a nice trunk and tons of space for two to ride comfortably and very, very quickly.  Check them out at http://www.bosshoss.com

Yup, it is a three-wheeled world all right and there is a lot more power out there than was available to my Big Wheel and me thirty some-odd years ago.  Check back for the next installment when we look at a few custom trikes and eventually get to sidecar hacks.

 

Love, Respect, and Ride Safe,

ArtBiker

The Future is Coming

Posted in American Motorcycle, ArtBiker's Thoughts, Biker News, Custom Motorcycle, Harley-Davidson, Motorcycle Industry News, Product Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , on October 13, 2008 by ArtBiker

Taking a queue from our Native American Brothers of yore, I have been keeping my ear to the ground.  What do I hear? A rumble.  But, there is something a bit different about this roar.  You can hear the bikes running side by side, two by two, flying down the highway as they come closer and closer.  Problem is, the engines are too in tune, the rpm’s too in time, the cadence of rubber to asphalt, too in sync.  It is almost as if the bikes are in perfect time.  One barreling forward as the other keeps time in a high and mighty wheelie, running perfectly alongside his Brother.  But that can’t be, can it? No, it is something else. I hear the future coming down the road and it is a three-wheeled world.

We all know that baggers are the hot things going right now.  I myself have been a big fan of Brian Klock of Klockwerks for about six or seven years, and I have really appreciated some of the newest works by Paul Yaffe.  Not that I wasn’t a fan before, quite the contrary, it is just that the new work he has been doing with Bagger Nation is really exciting.

It seems that as the current biker population continues to age, and as a new population of riders comes into the fold because of rising gas prices, and as those with certain physical limitations refuse to be kept back, trikes and sidecars are going to be more prevalent on the road.  As you have probably heard, the Motor Company itself has come out with their own production trike.  For Harley-Davidson to put it back into production, there has to be a market (their last trike, besides the servicar, was produced about 30 years ago). And as far as sidecars go, HD has had them available for a long, long time.

But the Factory is certainly not the only company with a foothold in this segment of three-wheeled fun.  In fact, they may not even be considered the leaders.   Depending on your point of view, there are a few industry leaders.  Everyone has his or her own opinions, and you are soon to be subject to mine.  Watch for the next few posts focusing on trikes and sidecar rigs.  And keep your ear to the ground; you can hear the rumble.

 

Love, Respect, and Ride Safe,

ArtBiker

 

American Ironhorse Overhauled

Posted in American Motorcycle, Motorcycle Industry News, Press Release, Uncategorized with tags , , on October 7, 2008 by ArtBiker

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
AMERICAN IRONHORSE UNDERGOES MAJOR OVERHAUL
Proves Commitment to Customers, Dealers and Reestablishing Brand
Fort Worth, Texas, September 15, 2008 – Since acquiring American IronHorse (“AIH”) three months ago, Scott Meyers has led the Fort Worth based motorcycle company through substantial changes designed to improve the IronHorse product, customer experience and dealer responsiveness. To achieve these goals the Company has taken the following actions:
• Key personnel have been rehired to support warranty, parts, paint, and technical departments.
• A process review is in progress to ensure quick turnarounds and top service levels for AIH’s dealers and their customers.
• A clear dealer development strategy is being implemented and AIH has made strong progress in securing top performing dealers in key markets throughout the U.S. “In addition to our loyal IronHorse riders, over these last six months, our dealer network has shown terrific support and proved their dedication to the survival of the brand”, says Scott.
• Unneeded overhead has been eliminated; this includes reducing the production facility from 224,000 square feet to 80,000 square feet.
• AIH’s supply chain is being studied and parts suppliers and assembly methods are being evaluated to ensure the highest quality at the best value.
• Product development has made substantial progress with production commencing on October 1 for special order 2009 Slammer and Texas Chopper models. These hand built originals will be available in limited quantities through the dealer network.
• New motorcycle development is also underway. A Pro Street styled prototype was debuted in Sturgis and a second will be shown at Biketoberfest in Daytona on October 16-19. Both prototypes utilize the revolutionary S&S X-Wedge 117 c.i. engine. Commenting on AIH’s product development roadmap, Jeff Long noted “We are committed to the progressive design, performance, and heritage that makes American IronHorse a premium brand in the market”.
• AIH rolled out a warranty policy that covers all new motorcycles purchased after June 4, 2008, with a full 2 year warranty coverage.
When Scott purchased AIH, the law required him to divest his former dealerships in Montana and Minnesota. While leaving the two dealerships that he built up over many years was difficult, Scott is proud that new dealers have been signed in those areas to service local American IronHorse riders. When reflecting on the first 90 days of ownership Scott commented “We have made progress in our first quarter, but we have a lot of work to do in order to achieve our goal of making American IronHorse the premier custom motorcycle company. It has been great to see the dedication of the employees and we are all committed to achieving our goal.”
ABOUT AMERICAN IRONHORSE – Established in 1995, American IronHorse designs and manufactures high end custom motorcycles with outstanding performance. Utilizing four different models, the Texas Chopper, Slammer, Bandera, and Judge, 18 base colors and unlimited graphic options, as well as 111 c.i. and 124 c.i. engines, the virtually limitless combinations allow the factory to produce one of a kind motorcycles for unique individuals. For more information visit http://www.americanironhorse.com