Harley-Davidson Financial Services to issue refunds to Massachusetts customers

HDFSHarley-Davidson Financial Services, a division of Harley-Davidson Inc., will pay $228,000 to more than 600 consumers in Massachusetts after the Milwaukee-based financing company allegedly failed to issue proper refunds to consumers under the terms of its motorcycle finance agreements, according to a press release from Massachusetts’ Attorney General Martha Coakley.

In exchange for special loan terms, borrowers pay optional enrollment fees and when the loans are paid off early, consumers can receive a pro-rated refund of the fees. Typically, the refunds are given back to the borrowers at the dealership that helped to arrange the loan, but when dealerships go out of business borrowers have had trouble getting the refunds, according to the press release.

Under the terms of the agreement hammered out through the Massachusetts attorney general’s office, the finance company will reimburse the money owed to the borrowers and pay $25,000 to the Commonwealth for the cost of the investigation. The notices and payments are expected to be mailed out in early July, according to the press release.

The problem was isolated to consumers in Massachusetts.

Long Strange Trip for Indian

Editor Scott Cochran –  It occurs to me what a long, strange trip its been.

indian

Harley and Indian enjoy a level of devotion unrivaled in the motorcycle industry.

But, at least I’m still riding.

Ok…I stole that first line from the Grateful Dead’s song, “Truckin.” Written by the band and released in 1970, that song defined a generation and the psychedelic culture of the 70’s.

“Truckin” reached #37 in 1971 and was the only chart success the Dead achieved until “Touch of Grey” was released in 1987 and eventually broke into the top ten.

The story of the Grateful Dead and their music, does have some direct correlation to motorcycling. The leader, Jerry Garcia was a Harley rider as well as Ron “Pig Pen “ McKernan. Their first manager, G.H. “Hank” Harrison was also a motorcycle rider.

In the beginning (1965) the band even used the name “The Warlocks” which was also adopted by a motorcycle club that founded in 1967. The Dead eventually changed their name, not because of the MC, but because of another band in the area was also using the name Warlocks.

The Grateful Dead played over 2,000 concerts (Guinness Record) during their career, and by many estimates played to more than 25 million people, (600,000 at one show!) more than any other band.

But, by the measure of commercial / popular music, radio play the band never sold enough records to be considered wildly successful.

But its fans, The Dead Heads, were the reason for the band’s longevity and the money making machine it eventually became.

A hard-core group of fans, who will stick with you through thick and thin are worth their weight in LSD, (not that I would know what LSD is worth…)

And that’s where I’m going with this months ramble…. Fans.

Harley-Davidson, like it or not, has enjoyed (through the years) the loyalty of a group of customers unequaled by any other motorcycle manufacturer.

The reason, I believe, is not based in the machines, anymore than the Grateful Dead’s rabid fan base was because of the music.

The reason thousands of people followed the Dead around the country and tens of thousands of people inked the Bar and Shield onto their skin is…The Culture.

It’s what the brand said about them. Who the customer wanted to be and who the customer wanted to be identified with.

Whenever you see a “Dead Head sticker on a Cadillac” even though that vehicle is the symbol of the Right-wing upper-middle-class American bourgeoisie (Don Henley’s words) you can be sure the owner is someone who wants to be associated with the 70’s counter-culture movement. Someone who sees themselves as a “hippie” stuck in a white collar world.

The same (sort of) thing when you see a Harley-Davidson bumper stickers on a Honda Prius.

Until recently, Harley-Davidson could lay claim to being the only motorcycle brand with enough heritage to satisfy the owner who wanted something more than just a motorcycle. Today Harley-Davidson’s dominance in that space is being challenged by a revived Indian Motorcycle.

Looking back to 2008, it would have made more sense for HD to buy the intellectual property rights to their old nemesis Indian, instead of spending $109 million dollars on MV Agusta.

I’m guessing it would have been a better investment than the Italian motorcycle maker turned out to be. (not to manufacture Indian motorcycles but to keep anyone else from doing it) But, you can’t prove a negative so speculation is useless.

The common belief is that healthy competition is good for everyone involved.

Competition breeds innovation and prevents companies from becoming stagnant by relying on outdated manufacturing processes and market assumptions.

Indian is certainly bringing new ideas to the heavyweight cruiser market. Their five (5) year bumper to bumper warranty is the first (I know of) in the industry and has convinced many tire kickers to take the plunge, even though there may not be a dealer near them.

Once Indian has established dealers in most major metropolitan areas, the turf wars will really heat up, and it will be interesting to watch the brands as they compete for one another’s customers.

Or….maybe they’ll be able to increase the pie for both brands and sell more motorcycles overall than either would have been able to do alone.

I hope that’s the case.

It’s been a long strange trip for the brand that started in 1901 as Hendee Mfg Co. in Springfield Massachusetts.

And I’m not alone in thinking that Polaris is the last company who has any chance to revive the brand to its glory days.

But if the resurrection is to be successful, Indian will have to find a way to connect with enthusiast who values the intangibles as much as a reliable motorcycle.

The dealers will have a lot of that responsibility on them. They must work hard to foster a “community” of owners and realize their mission is more than just moving units out the door. Their mission must be to establish and nurture the “culture” of Indian motorcycle ownership.

If they do that, and Polaris commits to staying in for the long haul, then maybe, just maybe the pie will increase and we’ll introduce the Zen of motorcycling to a whole new generation.

Until next month, ride safe, and always take the road less traveled.

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Go-Daddy Founder Plans To Take Over The Harley World

GoDaddy Founder plans to build the largest HD store in the world in Arizona.

Everything Bob Parsons does is big.  From hunting big game in Africa, to outrageous and over the top Super Bowl commercials.   So it’s no surprise that once the big-daddy of internet domain names got into the motorcycle dealership business, he was going to eventually take on the status quo.

Yesterday it was announced that Parsons intends to build the “worlds largest” Harley-Davidson dealership in Scottsdale Arizona, at the Scottsdale Airpark, and relocating HD of Scottsdale from its current location to the new building.  According to GM Justin Johnson, the new dealership will be 146,000 square foot, eclipsing Destination Daytona by 37,000 square feet and Las Vegas HD by 42,000 square feet.

Harley-Davidson of Scottsdale is one of three motorcycle dealerships owned by billionaire GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons. That includes Go AZ Motorcycles in Scottsdale, with nine brands, and Southern Thunder Harley-Davidson in Southaven, Miss.

Parsons, a motorcycle enthusiast, also founded Spooky Fast Customs, which builds custom bikes.

The proposed two-story Scottsdale dealership would be built on 4.28 acres northeast of the existing 26,000-square-foot dealership that opened in 1998 at Hayden Road and Northsight Boulevard.  The closed Airpark Chrysler dealership would be torn down to make way for the new building.

In 2012 we interviewed Bob Parsons for our “I’m a Rider” feature.  Bob-Parsons-Go-Daddyhttps://www.google.com/url?

The complete story is at AZ Central.com

When Licensing Deals Don’t Make Sense

Successful brands often seek out ways to expand their profits by licensing their name to be used on other unrelated products.  Motorcycle companies are no different.   So it’s no surprise that a company that’s been around as long as Harley-Davidson (est. 1903) would have licensed it’s name and logo on a few products that are unrelated to motorcycling.

A few years ago, the brand sold “Harley Barbies” and they were a big hit.  A few of those are floating around Ebayland and selling for more than the original price tag.

HD hot road

There are, however, some products that we’re sure the brand managers didn’t quite think out.   Here are a couple that have us scratching our collective heads over.

1. HOT ROAD cologne….or specifically, “EAU DE TOILETTE.”   First off, what biker ever used the phrase, “eau de toilette” and lived to tell about it?    Picture this;  You walk past a line of bikes parked outside a road house bar, somewhere along a lonely stretch of highway in southern Arizona or New Mexico.  The place smells of sweat, leather urine, grease and stale beer.  You sit down at the bar and order a beer.  A big hairy biker wearing a dirty, patch covered leather vest, no shirt  sits down beside you.  You catch a whiff of something different..something exotic.  Something hot… “Excuse me sir” you say, turning to the grizzled road veteran. “Is that “Hot Road, eau de toilette you’re wearing?”      They find you 3 days later, stuffed in the men’s toilet, smelling of sweat, grease, stale beer and urine.

ducatiBut, on the other hand, if you’re on a Ducati, then you’ll probably be wearing this fragrance.

scooter_juice_packThen there is the Harley-Davidson wine cooler.  Another product that we’re thinking was way ahead of its’ time.  Produced in the mid-1980′s, these sophisticated drinks for the softer side of the hard-core Harley rider never quite caught on.  Imagine a similar scenario from the previous example where you walk into that same bar, and order a Harley-Davidson “wine cooler.”  We’re pretty sure there’s a toilet stall, stale beer, sweat and urine in your immediate future.

 

What products did we miss?  Comment in the section below and if they’re weird, we’ll add them to the story.

beer saddlebags

 

Tennessee Dealership Facing Stiff Opposition from Residents

HDCS-LogoHarley-Davidson of Cool Springs wants to invest several million dollarsto build a new store in a new location but the local homeowners association is fighting the plan tooth and nail.
In this report by WZTV in Nashville, the owners of Cool Springs HD want to build a new dealership on 8 acres and install an amphitheater and become a “destination” dealership and that’s what nearby residents say they don’t want to happen.

 NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather

Why You Shouldn’t Allow Anyone To Test Drive Your Bike

There’s a bike thief on the loose who is using Craigslist to steal motorcycles from unsuspecting sellers and police are warning the suspect is armed and has shot at least one victim in the leg.   Police now have a photo of the suspect and are asking for your help to catch him.  Police hope enough people will share his image on social media that someone will recognize him and report him to the authorities.

Share this photo on your social media feed and help catch this dangerous bike thief before he hurts someone else

Share this photo on your social media feed and help catch this dangerous bike thief before he hurts someone else

The latest theft took place in Gallatin Tennessee on Feb 19th when the suspect and an accomplice showed up at a residence on Stonehouse Drive when the victim advertised the sale of a 2005 Harley-Davidson Road Glide on Craigslist.

The suspect took the vehicle on a test drive but never returned.  Another person, who had been hiding in the suspect’s 2004-05 black GMC Yukon or Denali, got into the driver’s seat and fled the victim’s residence.

Police say the same suspect is involved in three other Craigslist thefts dating back to earlier 2013 in Gallatin, Bowling Green KY and Lafayette, TN.

In Bowling Green the suspect shot the owner of the stolen motorcycle after he refused to allow him to take the bike for a test drive.

flash-meIf you’re selling your bike online, Police recommend not showing the bike at your home and don’t take it to a parking lot, or other deserted location to show the vehicle, and don’t go alone.  Police say that thieves and con artists will use excuses such as “I don’t get off work until 9pm” or they’ll ask you to meet them in a parking lot of a motorcycle dealer but “after hours” hoping you won’t realize the business is closed.

The best way to deter thieves is to suggest meeting in the parking lot of the local fire department or police station, or a local shopping center where a sheriff’s department substation is located.  Also, never allow anyone to test drive the motorcycle if you have the slightest suspicion they’re not legitimate.  Ask to keep their driver’s license and make sure the photo matches and they have more than one form of identification.

If you have any information, contact Gallatin Tennessee Police Department at 615-452-1313.

Police are looking for the man who took this 2005 Harley Davidson motorcycle for a test drive last month and never returned. / Source: Gallatin Police Department

Police are looking for the man who took this 2005 Harley Davidson motorcycle for a test drive last month and never returned. / Source: Gallatin Police Department

Indian Ink; Wearing the Brand

In honor of Tat Tuesday, (also known as Fat Tuesday) we wanted to bring you this story of a unique tattoo.

Lonnie Hannah has been riding Harley-Davidson’s for a long time and he’s been a loyal customer. But, his connection with Indian motorcycles goes back longer to when his father built an Indian from spare parts. Now Lonnie, (who started working for the new Indian motorcycle company) is getting the ink to show he’s ready to change brands.

Yes, this is a promotional video from Indian, but that doesn’t change the fact that it looks like the Harley/Indian rivalry is back, in a big way. Is the market big enough for both? What do you think?

Harley-Davidson Motor Company Named Official Motorcycle of Bike Week

harley-davidson-rais_600x0wDaytona Beach, FL –According to the Daytona Beach Chamber of Commerce,  If you’re not on a Harley during  Bike Week 2014,, then you’re not official.  But, that’s somewhat old news as Harley-Davidson has been the “official” sponsor for 26 consecutive years.   Daytona Beach Bike Week this Friday March 7th  and runs through March 16th

This year Harley has combined their corporate footprint at the Speedway.  

After several years with our displays split between Beach Street and Daytona International Speedway, we’re consolidating into one action-packed display at the Speedway to make it easier for our fans to experience everything we have in one easy-to-access location,” said Paul James, Harley-Davidson Director of North America Customer Experience. “And on Saturday March 8, we’ll be electrifying our display with an exciting special announcement at 1 p.m. that our fans will not want to miss.”

Harley-Davidson’s display at Daytona International Speedway will be open from Saturday, March 8 to Saturday, March 15, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, with free motorcycle parking and a wide range of displays and activities including 2014 model year motorcycles, Genuine Motor Accessories, Harley-Davidson MotorClothes, the Fit Shop, H-D1 customization, a Women’s Area, Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) motorcycle raffle, H-D Visa, Willie G. and H.O.G. merchandise, beverages, musical entertainment and more. Harley-Davidson will be a stop on the AMSOIL Treasure Hunt map, also located at the Official Harley-Davidson tent at the Daytona International Speedway (H.O.G. tent on their footprint) where riders may get their passport stamped .

Harley-Davidson Motor Company produces heavyweight custom, cruiser and touring motorcycles and offers a complete line of Harley-Davidson motorcycle parts, accessories, riding gear and apparel, and general merchandise. For more information, visit harley-davidson.com.

Additional information on Bike Week in Daytona Beach can be found by downloading the Official Bike Week iPhone App and also on the Official Daytona Bike Week Website at www.officialbikeweek.com  featuring the largest online resource for attendees and designed to offer a litany of choices of activity.

For information on any aspect of Bike Week 2014, contact the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce at 386-255-0981.

Harley-Davidson Recalls 436 TriGlide Trikes For Manufacturing Defect;Could Affect Braking

imageHarley-Davidson Motor Company (Harley-Davidson) is recalling certain model year 2014 Trike motorcycles manufactured July 24, 2013, through September 2, 2013. Due to an incorrectly machined part, the motorcycle may have an excessive steering angle allowing the inner fairing to contact the rear brake fluid reservoir resulting in a loss of brake fluid. Additionally, the steering damper may be damaged.

Loss of brake fluid from the rear reservoir would reduce brake performance. Steering damper damage could reduce the rider’s ability to control the motorcycle. Either condition increases the risk of a crash.

Harley-Davidson will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the trikes and replace the fork stem bracket, as necessary, free of charge. The recall is expected to in late November 2013. Owners may contact Harley-Davidson at 1-800-258-2464. Harley-Davidson’s recall number is 0152.

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

HARLEY-DAVIDSON RELEASES TWO NEW WATER COOLED MODELS IN MILAN

(note* at the time we received this press release, the links are not yet active)

Harley Street Production ShootMILAN (Nov. 4, 2013) – Harley-Davidson (NYSE: HOG) is continuing its monumental ride, which began with the introduction of Project RUSHMORE in August, by revealing two new Dark Custom™ motorcycles designed for young urban riders around the world.

 The Harley-Davidson Street™ 750 and Street™ 500 motorcycles – the first all-new platform from Harley-Davidson in 13 years – are built for urban environments with all-new liquid-cooled Revolution X™ powertrains, nimble agility and the sound and look that lets everyone know they are genuine Harley-Davidson.

 “These are the newest motorcycles to join our Dark Custom lineup, which helped make us the number-one selling brand to young adults in the U.S. for the past five years,” said Matt Levatich, President and Chief Operating Officer, Harley-Davidson Motor Company. “Both the Street 750 and Street 500 were designed with thousands of hours of input from young adults in cities around the world. This input guided both the attitude and capabilities of these motorcycles. They are proof that being customer-led continues to be a core driver of our product development process.”

 Urban, Authentic Harley-Davidson

The Street 750 and Street 500 from Harley-Davidson are built for an urban environment. Each motorcycle features the new Revolution X engine, designed to match the demands of stop-and-go traffic with nimble agility, while delivering instant throttle response to escape city gridlock. 

 The Revolution X engine will be housed in a new, narrow and lean chassis built for agility, with a super-low seat height, new suspension and broad handlebar sweep that provides confidence and maneuverability when managing tight turns and fast moves. Both signature Dark Custom motorcycles feature a premium, minimalist style that serves as a blank canvas for riders to customize.

 “These new bikes are leaner, yet still have a mean streak – they’re the real deal, made of real steel.” said Mark-Hans Richer, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Harley-Davidson Motor Company. “They’re designed to handle the abuses of urban environments and provide authentic opportunities to customize.”

 The Harley-Davidson Street 750 and Street 500 will be rolling into dealerships in select markets starting in 2014. More information is available at www.h-d.com/street.

 Video of the Harley-Davidson Street platform reveal in Milan, including an in-depth walk-through of the motorcycles, details on their design, and a Q&A with Richer will be available athttp://www.youtube.com/HarleyDavidson.