Thursday, June 21, 2007

"Harley Lifestyle"

The new Harley shop is open, and it's time to celebrate. 54,000 square feet.

They've come a long way since Bob Blazier had a poorly-lit, greasy little Harley shop down on Chinden. (Not at the most recent location - it used to be a waterbed store.)

The new Harley shop is much more than a place to buy a motorcycle, or a part, or get your hog fixed.

According to the website, the new showroom "is a wonderland of audio/visual Harley-Davidson stimulation. The store is wired with a Boze [sic] sound-system and flat screen televisions abound. The 'Buell Experience Center' plays continuous Buell racing footage and the 'Design Center' features on-screen displays that let you see how accessories will look on your bike before you buy! 'This entire showroom is dedicated to the customer experience,' exclaims owner Dave Thomas, 'It's designed to make owning a Harley easier, more accessible, and more fun.'

"To increase the fun-factor, the new dealership also includes a customer lounge, 'The Kickstand,' that comes complete with an outdoor picnic area, fireplace, big screen TV, pool table, and customer putting green! The lounge, itself is three-times larger than Harley-Davidson recommends for a store this size."

Is that "The Harley Lifestyle" in 2007? Watching videos of people riding motorcycles on HDTV (Harley-Definition)? Billiards on the Harley pool table? Harley golf balls? Hangin' out at the 3-times-as-big-as-recommended Harley Lounge, talking about riding motorcycles?

In an article in the daily newspaper, customer Becky Godfrey says they visited the old store at least once a week. "It's more of a family thing. We'll see who is down there, if anyone wants to go for a ride. If we don't get down there once a week, we feel like we're neglecting the family."

Yep, the times they are a-changin'.

Back in the day, you went to the shop to get your bike fixed, or to get a part, so you could ride. Riding was what defined the "Harley Lifestyle." If you wanted to hang out at the shop for awhile, more likely than not you'd have to move a grease-blackened cardboard box full of pistons and rods, random bolts and washers, and maybe a carburetor or manifold off the stool before sitting down. Just set it on the grease-blackened counter, or on the pile of similar greasy parts boxes already sitting in the corner. If you had clean clothes on, it was best not to touch anything. Now that was a Harley shop!

On the local TV news, they were recently interviewing one of the local owners about their new Harley boutique. He said something like, "Harley-Davidson is the only brand logo that people have tattooed on their skin."

Which begs the question - is there a tattoo chair at the new facility?

Another question. Are you just a "poser" if you don't have the tattoo, or wear Harley bluejeans, or play Harley Pool, eat Harley barbecue, and watch Harley TV? Do you have to do all that stuff to truly embrace the "Harley Lifestyle," or can you just ride?

Idaho Statesman article
High Desert HD website

Monday, June 4, 2007

Safety - Is it on your mind?

Chuc Coulter of Boise wrote a letter to the Idaho Statesman. It appeared in print on June 3, and went like this:

"The month of May was proclaimed by Gov. Butch Otter to be Motorcycle Awareness Month ... You probably saw and heard the media messages ... Look out for motorcycles, avoid collisions, prevent injuries and deaths.

"And what happens during the month of May? We have motorcyclists going out riding and killing themselves and their passengers. What have we learned? Maybe it's not the other motorists who need to be looking out for motorcyclists. Maybe what we learned is that motorcyclists need to learn to ride responsibly and safely."

Well-said, Chuc! I agree 100%.

Chuc is doubtlessly responding to these stories:

- Driver John Patrick Brown, 42, of Boise, and passenger Andrea Louise McGuier, 24, of Nampa, both died from blunt force trauma after the motorcycle they were riding hit some construction equipment on a closed section of Cloverdale Road.

- Investigators say Jeffrey Rand [deceased], 25, was driving a 2004 Kawasaki motorcycle at a high rate of speed at 6:49 p.m. when he lost control of his motorcycle and hit a guardrail just off the eastbound lanes of I-84 near the Broadway Avenue interchange.

- A 26-year-old Nampa man died in a motorcycle accident in rural Canyon County. [He] was riding in a group of four motorcyclists on Map Rock Road about a half mile west of Highway 45 when he lost control of the vehicle and crashed at about 3:30 p.m., according to the Canyon County Sheriff's Office.

If I could talk common-sense to my fellow motorcyclists, here's what I'd say. (Unfortunately, how "common-sense oriented" is a guy who's riding a motorcycle with his do-rag instead of a helmet, or with backwards baseball-cap, shorts, and flip-flops?)

It's convenient to blame the other guy for motorcycle accidents. And indeed, we hope all roadway users are paying attention, and have the skills necessary to avoid accidents. But consider...
- Almost half (46%) of fatal motorcycle crashes are single-vehicle.
- 32% of fatally injured motorcycle operators were legally intoxicated.

Whenever the topic of motorcycle safety comes up in public, the topic of helmets invariably follows.

You might think it's nobody else's business, whether or not you wear a helmet.

WRONG! If you ride on public roads, you subject yourself to the rules and regulations governing that use, including speed limits, seat belts, and helmets.

I'm glad that here in Idaho, we adults are treated as such, and get to choose whether or not to wear a helmet. But please realize that it's not cast in stone. Us old-timers know that helmets have been required in the past... and can again be required in the future. The law can change, and if there's enough public outcry, or pressure from the Feds, the law will change. Don't become a statistic for mandatory helmets! Every unhelmeted motorcycle fatality is ammunition for the nannies.

Of course, if you go out there and mash your unhelmeted head, and it doesn't kill you but rather turns you into a Medicaid-supported, diaper-wearing vegetable, eating dinner through a tube, that's even worse. Because then the nannies can point out how you've become a burden to the state. And taxes are everybody's business.

My advice... exercise your right to choose by being responsible and choosing to wear a helmet. Furthermore, choose to devote 100% of your skilled, trained, un-distracted, un-impaired attention to riding, when engaged in that enjoyable pastime. The stakes are too high to do otherwise.