Daytona Wins BikeWeek Trademark Case

Daytona area businesses can continue to use Daytona Beach Bike Week without paying a royalty fee

The Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Cobb Cole law firm earned a hard fought victory on behalf of the City of Daytona Beach and the surrounding communities yesterday. United States District Court Judge Mary Scriven issued an order prohibiting one local company and two apparently related New York companies from claiming exclusive ownership of the term “Daytona Beach Bike Week” and threatening others with prosecution if they did not pay for the use of the name.

Ironically, the co-plantiff in this case, Good Sports, is on the other side of the fence in Sturgis South Dakota where the company owner sits on the board of SMRi, (Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Inc) a group that says it owns the trademark to the term “Sturgis” in conjunction with motorcycles and motorcycle events, and has threatened litigation against local businesses in the Black Hills, many who have used the mark for years, unless they pay SMRi a licensing fee.

SMRi is opposed by a group of local businesses in the Black Hills headed up by Rushmore Photo and Gifts.  More after the poll

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Daytona Regional Chamber Chairman of the Board, Thomas J. Leek, who is also a partner with Cobb Cole, enthusiastically endorsed the decision, “In our minds this was always a fight to protect our business community, our City, and the greater community at large, and specifically to fight off the Defendants’ attempt to take something that wasn’t theirs … and then charge people for using it. This ruling ensures that the mark will remain the property of the City of Daytona Beach and the community at large, for all local businesses and distributors to use in perpetuity. This is a significant milestone in that it will live as a warning to future trademark squatters, and provide protection for all to continue to enjoy the use the mark.”

The Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce has acted as managers of Bike Week in Daytona Beach since 1988, marking the formation of its Bike Week Festival Task Force. Comprised of over 30 individuals representing a variety of organizations and disciplines from both the public and private sectors, the Task Force acts as stewards of the event and performs many duties and functions geared toward improving the quality of the event and overall experience of Bike Week visitors.

Good Sports owner Jerry Berkowitz Inc sits on the board that controls who is allowed to sell merchandise using the Sturgis name. However, Berkowitz says that Daytona Bike Week is not a trademark and isn't owned by anyone

Bike Week Festival Task Force Co-Chairman Bob Coleman was also relieved to hear the news, “This has certainly been a long road but we are delighted that the court has chosen to make a strong statement denying any claim of ownership to what has always been a term freely used by our businesses. This should be a timely relief of a burden hanging over those businesses planning for the 2012 event.”

Owners Spending More on New Motorcycles, Including Parts and Accessories

Overall motorcycle customer satisfaction has increased notably from 2010, driven by marked improvements in the sales experience, the products, and cost of ownership, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 U.S. Motorcycle Competitive InformationStudySM released today.

The study, now in its 14th year, measures owner satisfaction with new motorcycles in six major factors of the overall ownership experience: product; build quality; cost of ownership; sales; service; and warranty.

Among the factors, satisfaction with the sales experience has improved most, increasing to 856 (on a 1,000-point scale) in 2011 from 838 in 2010. Satisfaction with the product and cost of ownership also improves significantly, compared with 2010.

The study also finds that motorcycle build quality improves to 122 problems per 100 motorcycles (PP100) from an average of 133 PP100 in 2010. One-half of owners say they have experienced zero problems with their new motorcycle, and among these owners, satisfaction with build quality averages 963. However, among owners who say they experienced two problems with their motorcycle, satisfaction with build quality declines considerably to an average 871.

[polldaddy poll=5766312] Among the five problem categories examined in the study, problems with engines account for the greatest proportion of problems experienced (27%), although the incidence of engine-related problems has improved slightly in 2011—a decline of 5 PP100 from 2010. Problems with excessive heat from engine, unusual engine noises, and excessive engine vibration account for 51 percent of all engine-related problems reported.

Issues with fit/finish comprise the second-largest proportion of problems, followed by problems with braking/ride.

“The increase in overall satisfaction and the improvements in five of the six factors are very positive news for the industry, which is still trying to fully recover from the blow the economy has delivered in recent years,” said Brent Gruber, senior manager of the powersports and commercial vehicle practice at J.D. Power and Associates. “Improving the quality of motorcycles, as well as the sales and service experience, certainly positions the manufacturers and their dealerships well for market recovery.”

According to Gruber, motorcycle owners are already showing signs that they are willing to spend again. Customers spent considerably more for their motorcycle in 2011, compared with 2010. The average owner-reported price paid in 2011 is $16,125, nearly $2,000 higher than in 2010. On average, owners spend an additional $1,340 on parts and accessories and $439 on riding gear—also considerably more than in 2010.

“As satisfaction increases, so does owner loyalty and advocacy,” said Gruber. “Manufacturers that focus on delivering high quality and superior service now will experience a long-term positive financial impact from their efforts.”

The study finds that as satisfaction increases, the likelihood that an owner will repurchase their motorcycle brand and recommend their brand to others also increases. Among owners with high levels of satisfaction (scores averaging 900 or higher), 97 percent say they are willing to recommend their motorcycle brand to others and 81 percent indicate intent to repurchase the same brand for their next motorcycle. In contrast, among owners who are less satisfied (scores averaging 700 or less), only 43 percent say they are willing to recommend their brand to others and 31 percent indicate repurchase intent.

The 2011 U.S. Motorcycle CompetitiveInformationStudy is based on responses from 8,123 owners who purchased their new motorcycle between September 2010 and May 2011. The study was fielded between September and October 2011.


History’s Mystery. Where is The Harley Elvis Gave Up To Pricilla in 1971

Admittedly we didn’t do a lot of research into this, but last night at an auction in Texas, the official 1972 divorce papers between Elvis and Pricilla Presley hidden away for nearly 20 years, came to the block and were purchased by an unnamed buyer for 8,963.

The 12-page agreement signed by both Elvis and Pricilla, granted Priscilla ownership of a 1971 Mercedes Benz, a ’69 Cadillac El Dorado and a ’71 Harley-Davidson motorcycle in addition to $100,000 in cash and half the income from the sale of their three houses in California.

There’s one thing in all this we can’t help but wonder about.  Where is that bike?  If you know, leave a comment.  We’d like to talk to the current owner.

The King split with Pricilla in 1972. 4 short years later, he was dead.

Play By The Rules Senator Lautenberg

Power. n. “The energy or motive force by which a physical system or machine is operated;” or “A person, group, or nation having great influence or control over others.”

In 1887 the English Catholic historian Lord Acton said, ““Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”

I wonder if Senator Frank Lautenberg, has ever heard of Lord Acton. By all measure, Senator Lautenberg is a great man. Serving in his 5th term in the US Senate, he is firmly entrenched in the D.C. power base.

I don’t know the distinguished Gentleman from New Jersey. Aside from his relentless attack on personal liberty and individual choice, I know very little about his politics in general.

However, yesterday, December 12, 2011 Sen. Lautenberg used his position and influence in the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee to introduce legislation which (if successful) will eventually allow the Federal government to mandate motorcycle safety gear and punish the states who do not comply. All in the name of “The government knows what’s best for you.”

Politicians such as Lautenberg believe people do not own themselves. They believe that people, in whole or in part, are the property of the U.S. Congress, or owned by God, who has given divine power to the U.S. Congress to manage them.

They believe an election affirmed their moral and mental superiority above the ordinary men and women who elected them.

The great irony is even as they Lord over us, they go to great lengths to highlight their humble beginnings and lowly economic childhood, constantly polishing it as a beauty queen would her crown.

Sen. Lautenberg, whose parents came through Ellis Island as immigrants, and who after high school, served in the Army, finished college on the GI Bill and became mega wealthy after a successful business startup, is a bona-fide rags to riches success story. I’m not diminishing his accomplishments.

What’s got my drawers in a wad is how easily Sen. Lautenberg brushes aside the Constitution and it’s fragile guarantees of individual and personal liberty.

Since I’m a trusting person, I’m going to assume that Lautenberg believes that what he’s doing is the best thing for me. I’m going to assume that he has the best of intentions.

But someone should remind the Senator that the road to Hell is paved with “good intentions.”

I suggest he re-read the Senate Oath. “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”

I don’t read any exceptions for “good intentions.”

On his Senate website Lautenberg is described this way, “In a place that is often plagued with gridlock and inertia, Senator Lautenberg has always been someone who bucked the rules, stood up for what he believed, and persisted in making a difference.”

That may be true Senator, but I’d like to challenge you to take a step back, put aside your personal beliefs, and play this one by the rules.

The rules as written by our Founding Fathers, the ones you took an oath to defend.

Tell us what you think

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Victory’s New Hard-Ball

The custom bagger movement has gained enough traction over the past few years that manufacturers are sitting up and taking notice.  While Harley-Davidson has yet to fully embrace the trend, Victory showed it’s nimble enough to come out with a mid-season offering that has is sure to create a buzz on the street when the bike hits the dealerships in early 2012.

The Hard-Ball takes the Victory High Ball concept a step further by blacking out almost every part on the bike, with the exception of the primary cover,  clutch and brake levers and a sliver of chrome on the engine fins and lower fork legs.  Both “Balls” share the same 65.7 wheelbase, low platform frame.  (26.5″)  Both cradle the same 4-stroke 106″(1731 cc) / 6-speed 50˚ EFI V-Twin with dual 45 mm throttle bodies.  Both have the same height-adjustable ape hangers.  What makes the Hardball a  bad ass custom bagger are the flat black paint, red pinstripes and two large hard bags which appear to be the same ones used in on the Cross Country line.  Specs are posted below the video.[polldaddy poll=5757508]

AMA Announces It’s Choice For 2011 Motorcyclist of the Year

The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA)  has designated AMA member and motorcycle activist Nancy Sabater as its Motorcyclist of the Year.   Awarded annually, the AMA Motorcyclist of the Year designation recognizes the person or persons who the AMA believes had the most profound impact on the world of motorcycling in the previous 12 months.

Sabater, a motorcyclist from Charlotte Hall, Md., earned the distinction for her grassroots advocacy in 2011 to save youth motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) from a misguided federal law that would have banned their sale on Jan. 1, 2012. The victory over the “lead law” was sealed when President Obama signed legislation overturning the ban on Aug. 12, 2011, ending a three-year battle to save youth riding for future generations.

“A number of partners had a hand in our victory over this misguided law — the motorcycle industry, race promoters, parts distributors and others,” said AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman. “But it’s Nancy and those like her — the individual enthusiasts — who truly put the rubber to the road, gave our cause a face in the crowd and brought this victory home. They were the most influential motorcyclists of 2011, and AMA member and grassroots activist Nancy Sabater is the AMA Motorcyclist of the Year for her stellar work on behalf of families and kids.”

The issue arose in 2009 shortly after Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008. The law followed reports that inexpensive imported children’s toys were testing high for lead content, which presents serious exposure risks for children.

However, the CPSIA was written with such sweeping language that it banned the making, importing, distributing or selling of any product intended for children 12 and under that contained more than a trace amount of lead. This ensnared kids’ dirtbikes and ATVs because trace levels of lead can be found in parts such as brake calipers and battery terminals. It did not matter that those parts were extremely unlikely to end up in kids’ mouths.  (more after the poll)

[polldaddy poll=5756677]  Fixing the lead law hinged on the support of thousands of individual motorcyclists, such as Sabater, who was involved in numerous efforts to generate support to repeal the law. For Sabater, these included two initiatives that preceded the fix itself: the AMA Family Capitol Hill Climb on May 26, 2011 — which brought families together on Capitol Hill to lobby their lawmakers — and a number of videos Sabater produced of well-known racers and motocross industry personalities speaking out against the lead law.

“This victory is something that demonstrates the fruits of our labors,” Sabater said. “Something really happened here. We effected change. We showed these kids that if you want something hard enough and you work hard enough, that you can get results. Who knows what battles we’ll fight next, in D.C., for the AMA, for the rights of motorcyclists? This was a victory on many levels.”

The full story of the lead law victory and Sabater’s involvement is detailed in the January 2012 issue of American Motorcyclist.


Big Bear Choppers Finished

Whether it’s a weak economy, bad management or uncooperative lenders is yet to be determined. The only thing for certain now is that the California custom manufacturer Big Bear Choppers, is filing bankruptcy and customers who have paid deposits or paid in full for bikes are demanding answers, according to a report in the Big Bear Grizzly.

From $18 Million a year in revenue to bankruptcy, Big Bear Choppers ends its ride

Disgruntled customers are lining up to demand the owners of BBC come clean. Pavel Meshcheryakov from Russia ordered two bike kits in June 2011, making full payment for $56,000. In November, Michael Forbes, marketing stopped responding to Meshcheryakov’s emails and letters.

A note on the front door at Big Bear Choppers says the company will re-open Nov. 28th after Thanksgiving, but that did not happen.

The owners, Mona and Kevin Alsop have said they will file for bankruptcy.

The Alsops have also declined to make any further statements to the press, saying their lawyer has advised them to remain silent.

Recently BBC appeared on the television show Bloomberg The Mentor saying it needed a half million dollar investment to keep it afloat.

BBC will default on a $147,000 loan (3.5% interest) from Big Bear Lake’s Improvement Agency and the First Mountain Bank’s loan of $147,000.

The company began it’s death spiral in 2009 when a bad weld on a frame caused a front fender assembly to fail, resulting in injury to an owner whose leg was amputated, and later sued the company.

At it’s zenith, Big Bear Choppers raked in $18 million dollars a year in revenue from manufacture of custom choppers, parts and accessories.

The actual number of customers who have paid for or made deposits on bikes has not been revealed at this time.

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Motorcycle Travel Advisory

As a result of experiencing road conditions and other travel hazards, I must recommend to all readers; that for their own safety and the safety of their possessions, that they should avoid travelling any of the roads in the State of Alabama for the foreseeable future.

Safety is a paramount concern whenever a rider slings a leg across their motorcycle for a ride. There are many components to actual safe riding. Some of those various components reside with the rider. But, some do not. The road conditions in a particular State may, on average, either contribute to rider safety or it may prove a distinct hazard.

Infrastructure maintenance takes two distinct forms. One is a proactive approach to maintenance and the other is a reactive approach to maintenance.

If a State is far down the scale to being merely a reactive maintenance of infrastructure, then not only is the time and money required to move themselves back into a positive position extremely high; it is highly unlikely, that in any near term a State can marshal the resources necessary to move that measurement needle back to a proactive state.

Think of the old sayings: “An ounce of medicine is worth a pound of cure”. Or “Pay me a little now or a whole lot more later….your choice”.

Sometimes; as has been witnessed in the State of Alabama, the repairs themselves represent a monumental hazard to motorcycle riders. One example is the placement of massive smooth 1” thick steel plates to cover up damaged holes in bridges or other concrete structures.  Even with adequate warning the type of hazard that is present, in addition to any amount of moisture on a smooth steel plate, is only surpassed by icy road conditions. Yet, these are the type of repairs seen throughout the State of Alabama.

Conversations with senior Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) officials assured me that they are trying to make up for lost time in repairs and referred me to anticipated projects in 2012 and 2013. Of course, by the time those projects are addressed other areas have been neglected and are in disrepair. It is thus a vicious cycle.

Having travelled all over these United States and many of the Provinces of Canada, Alabama stands out as the most egregious offender in the area of infrastructure maintenance.  Alabama has shifted priorities from infrastructure maintenance to adding to their Highway Patrol force.

All we at U.S. Rider News can do is place you on notice. As the Editor says at the end of his dialog for each issue of the magazine “Ride Safe”…….we must understand the components to those two words. They are far greater in magnitude than our “cage driving” friends. The skills and attention to environment necessarily approach those of a good airplane pilot.

As a pilot, I learned as rule number 1, the ultimate safe operation of my craft was MY responsibility.

 John Turner
U.S Rider News Contributing Writer

Honda Recalls 126,000 Gold Wings

Honda is recalling over 100,000 Goldwings due to a potential rear brake problem

HONDA is recalling 2001-2010 and 2012 GL1800 GoldWing motorcycle because of a brake problem.  Information released under Honda’s recall # S03 and NHTSA recall Number: 11V567000 indicates there is a possibility under the right conditions that the combined braking system’s secondary master cylinder may cause the rear brake to drag.

Unexpected braking increases the risk of a crash and riding the motorcycle with the rear brake dragging may generate enough heat to cause the rear brake to catch fire, creating a dangerous and potential fatal situation.  Honda will notify owners of these bikes and inspect the secondary master cylinder and replace it free of charge if necessary.  The recall will begin January 4, 2012, but owners can contact Honda customer service at 866-784-1870, or the NHTSA Vehicle Safety hotline at 888-327-4236

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