NCOM BIKER NEWSBYTES
Compiled & Edited by Bill Bish,
National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM)
MOTORCYCLE-RIDING CONGRESSWOMAN SHOT
In what has been described as a national tragedy, a deranged gunman opened fire during a public meeting with constituents by Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords outside a Tucson supermarket on January 8 that left six dead and more than a dozen injured including the state rep who was critically injured with a bullet wound to the head.
Giffords, 40, rides motorcycles and married an astronaut at a wedding where everything had to be biodegradable. She is a centrist three-term Democrat who champions gun rights, lists fiscal discipline as one of her top issues and was re-elected in a conservative district when Republicans took control of the House.
Before entering politics she ran the family tire business, which was founded by her grandfather in 1949. Perhaps growing up in an auto-focused family led to her love of motorcycles. She is a co-chair of the Congressional Motorcycle Caucus with Republican Walt Jones of North Carolina.
In 2009 Rep. Giffords taped a video message encouraging people to ride their motorcycles to work, saying that she likes to ride motorcycles, but also likes that they leave a smaller carbon footprint than cars. She also sided with motorcycle riders who favor state legislation to ride helmet-free, as she does.
Though early reports suggested Giffords was fatally shot, she miraculously survived being shot point-blank through the brain and her doctors are optimistic about her chances of recovery. The thoughts and prayers of America’s motorcycling community are with her and the other victims of this tragic assault.
NEW YEAR, NEW LAWS
The New Year rang in several new laws across the country affecting the motorcycle riding community, including the onerous new California anti-noise law that requires EPA-labeling for motorcycle exhausts on bikes built after 2012.
Other less volatile laws also took effect on January 1st, including another California law that requires would-be motorcyclists under 21 to complete an approved safety course before an applicant can receive an instruction permit to learn to ride. California lawmakers also passed a law to curb motorcycle thefts by outlawing possession of so-called “pigtails” which are homemade ignitions that allow a crook to start a motorcycle in as little as 20 seconds. Previously, burglary tools for the purpose of breaking into or stealing a vehicle other than a motorcycle were prohibited.
Several states have recently enacted legislation requiring the completion of a motorcycle training course before being issued a motorcycle license endorsement, and this year Connecticut and North Carolina join the growing list of states tightening restrictions on motorcycle licensure for newbie riders. In Oregon, a new training requirement went into effect to mandate safety classes for new motorcyclists under the age of 30, and the law will expand over the next few years to include all new riders regardless of age.
Already in the works for 2011, state legislatures are considering new laws to ban passengers under 8 years old in Virginia (House Bill 1850), allow Sunday motorcycle sales in Indiana (Senate Bill 108), and calls for a helmet law in Kentucky (House Bill 163). In Nebraska, Legislative Bill 62 has been filed to allow adult riders to opt out of the state’s mandatory helmet law with the completion of an approved motorcycle safety course.
EUROPE TO MANDATE ABS FOR MOTORCYCLES
A European Union Commission has presented its proposal for new framework regulation for motorcycles. It plans to mandate anti-lock braking systems (ABS) for motorcycles with more than 125cc displacement from 2017 onwards.
Although the first anti-lock braking system was installed on a motorcycle in 1988, only 16% of all newly manufactured motorcycles in Europe were equipped with ABS, and by comparison car manufacturers have made ABS standard equipment since 2004 which has contributed to a 49% overall decline in fatal car accidents in the EU.Experts regard anti-lock braking as a huge boost to safety. For example, a benefit analysis conducted for the European Commission calculates that the proposed regulation would reduce the number of fatal motorcycle accidents by more than 5,000 over a 10-year period.A study presented by Vagverket, the Swedish highways authority, in October 2009 showed that 38% of all motorcycle accidents involving personal injury and 48% of all serious and fatal accidents, could have been prevented with ABS. This active safety system allows motorcyclists to brake safely in critical situations without locking the wheels, and thus without having to fear an inevitable fall. Braking distance is also significantly reduced.
The proposal is currently passing through the EU legislative procedure but will likely be adopted next year. The regulation will come into effect from 2017.
In the U.S., the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has considered requiring ABS on new motorcycles sold in America, and will likely take up the issue in the near future.
ECONOMIC UPTICK HAS AMERICANS BUYING LEISURE PRODUCTS AGAIN
People are buying expensive leisure products again, after they held back during the recession. A new report from Milwaukee’s Robert W. Baird and Company said motorcycle sales fell by half during the downturn, and ATV sales were just 30% of what they used to be.
But Baird analyst Craig Kennison says many consumers now have a brighter outlook, in spite of high unemployment and a housing market that continues to be depressed. He said inventories for new leisure items are low, and there’s a strong demand for used goods.
Kennison said Milwaukee’s Harley-Davidson Motor Co. slashed its production during the recession - and that drove up the prices for used bikes. But now, he says more folks are buying new Harleys with the help of trade-ins.
And while it’s hard to prove, Kennison expects the same trend for cars, RV’s, and other big ticket items. He also said consumers are more confident about their personal wealth, especially after the Bush tax cuts were extended. Had Congress not acted this month, Kennison said it might have been a disaster for discretionary spending.
SURVEY SAYS; AGE UP, QUALITY DOWN
Bikers are getting older and they spend more at a motorcycle dealership they are happy with, according to a new ownership survey recently released by J.D. Power and Associates.
J.D. Power's 13th annual U.S. Motorcycle Competitive Information Study also reveals that motorcycle quality has dipped to 2008 levels, with 152 problems reported per 100 motorcycles (PPM) -- an increase of 29 PPM. One half of owners surveyed reported that most of those problems (44%) are engine related, and the study suggests that gearshift problems, clutch chatter, and insufficient engine power have the greatest impact on overall satisfaction.
The study cites a few no-brainers, like the fact that "Sales volumes and revenue of ancillary goods and services tend to be considerably higher -- by an average of $957 -- at motorcycle dealerships that provide a highly satisfying experience vs. dealerships that do not."
But the causal relationship between customer satisfaction and dollars spent is less ominous than their findings that the average rider age has risen from 40 to 49 since 2001, "an indication that many owners may soon exit the market"... combined with the study’s findings that first-time motorcycle buyers are on the decline, makes it all the more imperative that the motorcycle industry seeks to capture the interest of younger riders who might consider buying their first bike.
FEWER BUSINESSES SELLING MOTORCYCLES, PARTS & ACCESSORIES
There are 10,428 retail outlets in the United States that conduct business related to motorcycles, scooters or ATVs, down by more than 25% from 13,973 such businesses in 2009, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council.
These were the principle findings of the MIC 2010 Retail Outlet Audit, a summary of which the council sent to its members this week. The audit was completed in December 2010.
The report broke down the total by the number of retailers that sell new major-brand vehicles -- 5,134, or 49.2% -- and the number of retailers not selling new vehicles, but specializing in parts, accessories, apparel, used vehicles or service: 5,294, or 50.8%.
The MIC conducted its research by collecting information from all the manufacturers above, as well as from the trade magazines Dealernews and Motorcycle Product News. Because the study’s sources vary from year to year, the MIC warns that comparisons with previous years are subject to “considerable error.”
The report further indicates that 58.8% of the new vehicle retail outlets carry only one of the 13 major brands. Slightly less than one-fifth are dual-line outlets, and 21.9% carry three or more of the major brands. The total number of franchises distributed among the 5,134 new vehicle outlets declined 5.6% to 9,182 from 9,731 in 2009.
NO BONES ABOUT IT
Most “experts” agree that riding motorcycles helps you to FEEL younger, but can riding actually make your body healthier and more youthful?
A recent Medical College of Georgia study found that; "A daily dose of whole body vibration may help reduce the usual bone density loss that occurs with age," on top of improving muscle strength and promoting weight loss... so it would appear that pulsating power from a motorcycle engine and the rumble of the open road will help aging bones get stronger.
The extrapolation isn't entirely far-fetched, and may lead to a healthy new excuse to ride; “Honey, I’m taking my exer-cycle for a workout.”
WEIRD NEWS: CANADIAN BIKERS OUTRAGED OVER GOVERNMENT SPYING
Motorcycle operators in Quebec are outraged that the province’s automobile insurance board hired a private PR firm “to spy on us” and gather information about the group.
The insurance board decided to monitor the group of motorcyclists earlier this year after learning that a coalition of angry owners had been formed to fight huge insurance rate hikes. The public relations firm National was granted a contract to investigate the activities of the Front Commun Motocycliste, which had set up kiosks at a Quebec City motorcycle show.
“They give the impression of being organized, documented and especially very motivated,” the firm stated in its two-page report after observing the group at the bike show. The report stated that the motorcycle owners were “dynamic and aggressive in their approach” with visitors.
Members of the group were appalled to learn that the government would pay a private firm to monitor their activities. “We are outraged, flabbergasted and scandalized to learn that taxpayers’ money was used to spy on us. We are average taxpayers. We aren’t al-Qaeda,” said Éric Lessard, spokesman for the group. “The government is showing complete contempt for motorcycle owners.”
The board denied spying on the group, telling the Globe and Mail newspaper that “There was a lot of anger and we knew protest groups were being formed,” according to a spokeswoman for the automobile insurance board, Audrey Chaput. “We granted a contract to the firm National to go out and listen to what the groups were saying and to feel the pulse of the movement.”
Motorcycle owners have protested vigorously against insurance rate increases that have doubled since 2007 for owners of average-size motorcycles and more than quadrupled for owners of high-powered motorcycles considered more hazardous by the insurance board.
2011 NCOM CONVENTION IN ALBUQURQUE
Mark your calendar now for the 26th annual NCOM Convention, to be held Mother’s Day weekend, May 5-8, 2011 at the Hyatt Regency Albuquerque located at 330 Tijeras Ave NW in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
This annual gathering will draw bikers’ rights activists from across the country to discuss topics of concern to all riders, so reserve your room now for the special NCOM rate of $80.00 by calling (800) 233-1234. Airport/Hotel transportation is available.
Registration fees for the NCOM Convention are $75 including the Silver Spoke Awards Banquet on Saturday night, or $40 for the Convention only. All motorcyclists are welcome and encouraged to attend.
Meetings, seminars and group discussions will focus on legislative efforts and litigation techniques to benefit our right to ride and Freedom of the Road.
To pre-register, call the National Coalition of Motorcyclists at (800) 525-5355 or visit www.ON-A-BIKE.com.
QUOTABLE QUOTE: “Political tags - such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth - are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.”
Robert Anson Heinlein (1907-1988) American author and science fiction writer
TL Team 1-1, Satan's Playboys '69-'70
Unit VA Service Rep.
Cmdr. Combat Veterans Motorcycle Assn. MI
Member U.S Paratrooper Motorcycle Assn.
Patriot Guard Riders/Missing In America Project
"Your closest family is not always of blood ties."
Brothers then, brothers now, brothers always!
"A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government."