Archive for the ‘Motorcycles in the Media’ Category

Ever since motorcycles have existed, famous people have been riding them. In the beginning, most where maverick actors, or daredevil personalities, who used the motorcycle as a way of expressing themselves, and standing out in a crowd. Many actually loved motorcycles, and their passion grew into their trademark.

Over the years, celebrities who were not part of the movie or TV industry started using motorcycles to create an image of themselves. Only just recently, Republican 2012 Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman came into the news, using promotional material of him on a motorcycle. There is very little doubt that Jon Huntsman is a passionate motorcycle rider, there are plenty of photos of him circulating on the internet from before he became really famous. But is the use of him riding a motorcycle beneficial to us?

But what do motorcycle riding celebrities bring to the motorcycle world? Is it a good thing, or a bad thing?

There is no correct answer for that. Some are positive, some are not. I would say that you can divide famous bikers into two categories; the true riders, and the image riders.

True Riders:

True riders are those people that really love motorcycles. They ride on every occasion they get, and are very much like you and me (except richer and famous). These are people who have been riding since the first motorcycles were produced. Passionate bikers like T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia), or even Royalties like the King Albert II of Belgium, King Juan Carlos of Spain, King Abdullah II of Jordan (as was his father King Hussein) or the recent-in-the-news Prince William of England, are all known for their love for motorcycles. Famous chefs like Jaime Oliver, Gordon Ramsay and Alton Brown are known not only for their food skills, but also for their motorcycles.

You can not imagine people like Jay Leno without a motorcycle, or at least talking about them. Even the corporate world has them; Malcolm Forbes is famous for his motorcycles, and he even started a motorcycle gang called Capitalist Tools. Jacques Nasser, former CEO of Ford was a keen biker, as is the current CEO of Volkswagen. Apple CEO & founder, Steve Jobs for a long time was seen riding around California on his BMW motorcycle. All groups of life, all professions, have famous people, and for some of them, they ride motorcycles. Actors, musicians, sports people, politicians, TV personalities and corporate big wigs.

But what do all theses people bring to the motorcycle world? The answer for that one is quite simple, they bring a certain amount of respect. The biker image, mostly thanks to Hollywood, has been negative. Bikers are seen in movies as trouble; riding fast, fighting, nonconformist and loud people. Hollywood’s image of a motorcycle rider is that of gangs, killers and troublemakers. But when A-list people take to their bikes, it presents some counter image. If they ride motorcycles and they are respected people in their community or profession, then maybe bikers are not that bad after all.

Maybe using an actor/actress or musician as a role model is not so good. After all, acting is not seen as a respectable profession. But seeing politicians like Jon Huntsman, Ann Richards, Mary Peters, Gabrielle Giffords and Ben Nighthorse Campbell riding motorcycles, despite the fact that they are politicians, gives bikers a degree of respect and conformity. Seeing Fortune 100 CEOs ride motorcycles shows a certain responsibility that you and me can never match. But unfortunately, not all famous people are real bikers, and therefore are responsible riders.

Image Riders

The image riders are famous people who ride motorcycles because it’s good for their image, or at least they think so. Motorcycles are not a passion, but a tool. It’s often these people who have accidents because they were not able to control their bike and make the headlines. Usually, they are in the acting or music business. Names like David Hasselhof or Arnold Schwartzenegger make big headlines when they crash, and it’s never good headlines. Arnold went off his motorcycle, and then they discovered that he didn’t even have a motorcycle endorsement. How can anyone take motorcycles riders serious when the Governator is riding around on a motorcycle without a valid license? Hasselhof blew off his motorcycle with his girlfriend after a wind gust hit him. Most bikers know how to control a motorcycle in heavy wind, but apparently Hasslehof had problems.

Some, unfortunately often musicians, ride a motorcycle badly, sometimes without proper protection, or under influence, and that deters from the image of bikers to the non-biker world.

Of course real bikers have accidents too. Big names like Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves, Adrian Brody, Lauren Hutton and Liam Neeson all had accidents, but that’s motorcycles for you. Motorcycles are dangerous, but they all went back to riding their bikes. They ride with proper protection, and all know how to ride.

So motorcycle riding celebs can bring a better image to the motorcycle world, while image riders detract. Having an accident on a motorcycle when they are famous, and if they’re not wearing a helmet and other safety gear, or DUI, sets a bad image. It also sets a bad example for impressionable people (often youngsters) who will emulate their idol. If their idol doesn’t ride with a helmet, why should they?

Motorcycle riding celebrities have a responsibility, and should set an example. Show the world how it’s done properly. That will build goodwill with non-motorcycle riding people.

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Motus MST

Motus MST

The North American motorcycle market is enormous, and every manufacturer in the world understands that. Japanese and European manufacturers are all vying for a top spot in the market. But the USA has only one real major manufacturer, Harley-Davidson, and some other smaller ones, like Indian and Victory, that compete in Harley’s dominant position, that of the cruiser market.

Although the US has smaller sportsbike builders, none have arrived on the scene to compete directly with the Hondas, Yamahas, Suzukis, Ducatis, Aprilias and BMWs of this world. That is until this month.

During the Daytona BikeWeek, the new Motus MST was unveiled officially. Still in prototype phase, the MST is a “comfortable” sportsbike made for touring. The motorcycle was designed from the ground up, and sports a lively V4 1650 cc engine, using direct injection technology. This means that the motorcycle will be fast, and the ride smooth. Good performance and low vibes are essential for touring. Some 161 horsepower, 25% less emission and 10% more power than comparable bikes are impressive numbers. But what’s more important in an era of higher and higher gas prices, is that fuel consumption will be low.

 But is the US sportstouring market big enough for their own US based manufacturer, especially considering that the majority of motorcycles sold are cruisers?

The answer would be a hesitant YES. North America is geographically vast, with miles and miles of roads. Riding them on a cruiser is fun, but if you’ve got to go a long distance, riding on a cruiser is not that comfortable. Riding a fully dressed motorcycle like the Honda Goldwing or BMW K1600 GTL is obviously one nice way, but at a very high cost.

Enter the Motus MST. In the tradition of (amongst other) the Ducati ST or Moto-Guzzi Norge, the Motus is made to ride in comfort, but with a high performance. The bike should be able to eat up miles and miles of asphalt, and once you hit the twisties, pure fun.

Add to that a design that makes maintenance a breeze, the bike should sell well. Throw into the hat the fact that people feel it’s their patriotic duty to buy national products, the bike once it’s on sale next year could do very well. There is enough space in the crowded marketplace for an American built sportsbike, particularly in North America.

The biggest question will be the price. But to be successful, Motus will need to sell a lot to keep the price reasonable. And to do that, they will need to compete in Europe. And that is a totally different story.

 For more info:  Motus

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The Ducati motorcycle Tom Cruise rides in those annoying ESPN commercials isn’t really a big, bad Ducati. It’s just an Aprilia sportbike disguised as one. Wes Siler of Hell for Leather Magazine explains why. Read more

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The Harbortown bobber DVD is from the award winning directors of the movies “Choppertown” and “Brittown”. This fabrication documentary took over two years to make and it follows the building of a ’69 bobber owned by Scott DiLalla. Featuring Irish Rick, Earl Kane, J-Bird and Dennis Goodson, the movie chronicles the crew as they work on the motorcycle and share their personal stories.

Along with an interesting ground up build, it’s also loaded with tons of helpful tips for anyone who wants to learn how to build their own bike. It’s far better than the staged ‘reality’ TV shows, this movie shows real people doing what they do best, without all the drama.

You can almost share in the excitement the first time Scott fires up the bike to take it for its maiden spin. It’s exhilarating when everything works just the way it’s supposed to with nothing going wrong, as it so often does.

Even if you have no interest in building your own bike, this is a great movie to just get an inside look at what building a bike is really all about, it also has a great soundtrack by The Lords of Altamont. The DVD has a run time of over two hours.

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For three years, documentary filmmaker Bengt Löfgren, followed the riders, mechanics and fans in the glorious world of Ice Speedway. Icy Riders is a film about dreams, ambition and aging during what might become the last season of the legendary ice speedway rider Posa Serenius. The result became a warm and intimate road movie that rolls from rural Sweden to freezing cold Siberia. Brought to you by the folks at One World Studios Ltd. in association with Tussilago Films.

Runtime: over 2 hours!
Filed under best Motorcycle DVD, best motorcycle movie category.

Available at choppertown.com

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For anyone who was disappointed to hear of Harley-Davidson’s decision to discontinue the Buell sportbike brand you’ll be glad to hear that Buell sportbikes will go on…sort of. Erik Buell will leave Harley-Davidson to establish Erik Buell Racing, a company specializing in the production of race only motorcycles and parts.

“I’m looking forward to helping Buell racers keep their bikes flying”, said Erik Buell. “We’ve got some exciting race development projects in the works and it will mean a lot to me personally to see Buell racers competing for wins and championships in the 2010 season and beyond.”

While you won’t be able to go out and purchase a new street bike, you will still be able to enjoy the Buell brand’s racing team. Erik Buell will be the head of Erik Buell Racing based out of the East Troy Wisconsin factory and backed up by Harley-Davidson.

Many of the workers, who thought they would be losing a job, will stay on to continue with the production of the racing bikes. Erik Buell will supply the parts and preparation services as well as production of the Buell 1125R race only bike.

You can still get a Buell streetbike, while supplies remain, at existing dealers. After they are gone the only Buell bikes will be strictly for racing.

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An emotional Eric Buell announced that Buell motorcycles will no longer be built. Known as a trend setter in motorcycle advancements, the Buell brand has been making motorcycles for over a quarter of a century.

Harley Davidson recently announced they were discontinuing all production of Buell motorcycles and accessories. A press release quoted CEO Keith Wandell as saying: “The fact is we must focus both our effort and our investment on the Harley-Davidson brand, as we believe this provides an optimal path to sustained, meaningful long-term growth” after the recent release of HD’s third quarter earnings report which showed a drop of income of 84%.

180 Buell employees are expected to be out of a job by December 18, 2009. The assembly line in East Troy Wisconsin has built over 135,000 motorcycles during their 25 years in business.

If you are in the market for a Buell motorcycle you might still be in luck. All remaining inventory will be sold through regular dealer networks. Harley Davidson has committed to providing parts and service for all Buell motorcycles sold, including all warranty work.

This decision seems to come at an odd time considering the new product introductions and recent racing success Buell has had such as the 2009 AMA Pro Racing Sport Bike Racing Championship.

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