Archive for the HOG Category

My Harley-Davidson Tri Glide Ultra experience

Posted in Harley-Davidson, HOG with tags , on February 4, 2014 by bleiglass

In 2014, Harley-Davidson re-launched in Europe the sale of tricycles, the Tri Glide Ultra, and I had the chance to test drive it. Yes, I say drive, as I quickly learned that you do not ride it.

On a motorcycle, you engage the clutch with your left hand, change gears with your left foot and accelerate with your right hand. Fine, but here the Tri Glide Ultra similarities with its 2 wheel motorcycle equivalent stop. Yes, they share the same 103ci big V-twin, but on the Tri Glide you do not feel that this engine is big and heavy, as you never have to hold its weight, its just sits there as any other engine would between your legs. Yes, they share hundreds of pages of the Genuine Motor Parts and Accessories catalogue, but you do not feel them. For example, the seats on the Tri Glide are always levelled, so its shape is less relevant. The position of the footpegs is not really important, as with some excercise you could cut your toenails while driving. Basically you sit in a small cabriolet with the fuel tank and engine between your legs.


You have to forget how to ride a motorcycle, best is you do not know how to ride a motorcycle, as otherwise you are doomed. No countersteering, you have to pull and push the handlebar like a trucks steering wheel, and forget all your advanced riding knowledge about road positioning, the only position is with the front wheel in the middle of the road. Keep your feet all the time on the floorboards, or you end up driving over your own heels – the 2 back wheels are where you put your foot on the ground.


It is a completely different driving sensation, and without wanting to be disrespectful, its best compared to like driving the Harley-Davidson golf cart or a John Deere lawnmower – quickly. It does not matter if its 3 or 4 wheels, and it does not compare to a 3 wheel Piaggio MP3, as the Piaggio frame leans into the curve like a proper motorcycle.

Its a interesting balancing act Harley-Davidson is trying with this Tri-Glide, and if they sell sufficient numbers in Europe they will succeed. The potential buyers have the same profiles as motorcycle dudes and enjoy similar aspects of life and values. They are keen to be part of the Harley family and culture, fitting well into being a member of HOG and a HOG Chapter, as they enjoy the same social aspects of Club Nights, rallies and parties.


But the Tri-Glide needs to sell in numbers, so “Tri-Glide only” driving groups can form, as the riding styles and characteristics are worlds apart. Nobody wants to be the odd one out, but we need to find common grounds as we share the same interests once the engines are switches off. Integration will be a interesting process.


Happy New year 2013!

Posted in 110th Anniversary, Harley-Davidson, HOG, Road King with tags , , on December 31, 2012 by bleiglass

Always a safe ride, may our path cross…


A Facebook ride to St. Tropez

Posted in Harley-Davidson, HOG with tags , , on December 11, 2012 by bleiglass

Some may reject social networks like Facebook, others do embrace it blindly, my position is somewhere in-between, positive and proactive, but aware of the dangers and the non-erasable implications.


Riding actively a Harley-Davidson with my Hogsback Chapter, the season 2013 is pretty much planed. Myself now a “Road Marshal”, entitled to lead rides, the fun continues on a different level.

But being active on Facebook and blogs, resulted me in also making completely different friends over the last 3 years, Facebook “friend”, riders sharing a passion, but never meeting in real life.

On all continents Facebook “friends” pop up, and with some, the dialogue intensifies, the hyphen on “friends” disappears and communication moves out of the public space into the private, and eventually we actually meet.

One such virtual person was Gary France, who rode 21.000 miles coast to coast in the US, and while travelling published a brilliant daily blog, for all of us to follow him and participate in his adventure. I wrote about him a couple of times here, just search for Gary France, and some posts will come up, like this one on Betty Boop.


On Gary’s blog, first called Gary’s USA Tour, now sensibly called “Flies In Your Teeth“, my comments lead to replies, private messages and then many missed efforts to meet at international HOG rallies. Gary actually lives just 50 miles away from me, and we tried to meet in Croatia and Portugal, but finally meet on a Guildford HD-dealership event back in 2011. And again in 2012 at SOFER. Not really intensive, but continuous. I am very much looking forward to the book he wrote on his epic trip.


Now, Gary has a friend, for me he is still a “friend” in hyphen, Ian Solley, who builds bikes in his free time. Beautiful bikes, his blog is called 7 Ages Custom Motorcycles, worthwhile to check it out. But we never got closer then a short shake of hands while I was riding away, and a blurry GoPro picture. Ian is the one on the right with the striped helmet… I hope.


This will all change now, and I am back to the title of this post: A Facebook ride to St. Tropez.

Ian posted the plan for a 8 day ride to St.Tropez, in Facebook they call it “event”, and mentioned they still had space for more participants. I typed into Facebook: “On your St. Tropez trip: one space left for a fluent french speaking German from Guildford?”, hit the ENTER key and the rest is history, we leave end of April 2013.

Until now the whole trip to St. Tropez and back is organised via Facebook. We are a group of 13, and to find out individual preferences, a question with votes is posted. Quickly we know how the cookie should crumble.


Tasks are assigned, routes and destinations discussed, all online, all via Facebook. I think the first time we will meet as a group is right before we board the ferry. But until then, all main points will have been raised, discussed and agreed in principle. Or not.

Going on a ride with chapter buddies, you know what you are in for. After some rides, we know our strength and weaknesses, and which button better not to push. But this is a whole new experience, as we are just Facebook “friends of friends”, and the online person, the personae acting out on Facebook, will never be 100% to the real life person with whom you are going to share your time, fun and farts for 8 days, 24/7. A real adventure, powered by Facebook.

I am very excited about my first Facebook ride, leaving in 4 month with 12 Facebook “friend”, confident to come back with 12 real life friends.

To be continued…

Form 10-K (NYSE: HOG)

Posted in Harley-Davidson, HOG with tags , on October 25, 2012 by bleiglass

We all like to browse through Harley-Davidson brochures and catalogues, letting our imagination run wild with us on new Road King or Fat Boy, or dressed in the latest (of course tight) leathers. Its all about living the dream, revealing true colours.

Having spend a great part of my life in the investment industry, I sickly enjoy browsing through a quite different brochure. It has no colourful pictures, is printed in plain black and white, mostly in small fonts so it is hard to read. Its called: the FORM 10-K.

Listed companies in the US has to disclose this set of financial information, so does Harley-Davidson, Inc., which in 2006 had its NYSE ticker symbol changed from HDI to HOG. In the 10-K its not just about the balance sheet numbers or P&L, but it is also about assets and liabilities in a wider sense: what did they achieve, how did they achieve this, and what are potential problems facing the future. The 10-K may not be as heavy as the Genuine Motor Parts and Accessories Catalogue with over 825 pages, but still, the 2012 edition of the 10-K for 2011 has 144 pages, and some interesting facts are hidden here.

Every Thing You Always Wanted to Know About Harley-Davidson * But Were Afraid to Ask

In this and some future posts, I will look at some of the numbers and facts disclosed, and being openly opinionated, add my 2 cents to them.

How many motorbikes does Harley-Davidson sell? Worldwide? In Europe? What’s the Market share, is it increasing or dying away? Already on page 5 you find the first answers. Note that some graphs are rearranged screenshots, other self generated, and footnotes have been removed. But they are all based on numbers from the 10-K, a report not generated by any marketing department, but the accounting and legal department, as false, incomplete or misleading statements in a 10-K can prove very costly.

Now this all looks reassuring, Harley-Davidson could increase its market share year by year, and increase units sold in Europe above 2009 level. But how good is good? How did it look in 2005? All you need is have a look in the 10-K’s of these year!

The answer: in the US the motorcycle market (and Harley-Davidson) peaked in 2006, with the biggest crash in 2009, more then halving until 2010 throughout the crisis! But in nearly every year, Harley could increase its market share.

In Europe the peak was reached 2 year later, in 2008, but then the market crashed in 2009. Also interesting to see in the 10-K that more Buell’s were sold in Europe then the US, but never really reaching 10.000 units worldwide. Buell’s market share stayed neglectable and was no match to other sporty brands, so it was ditched.

In the last 5 years we saw a very difficult global market environment, crashing in 2009, specially in the US. But throughout, the brand was robust, and Harley-Davidson kept increasing its market share.

The authors of a 10-K do not always make it easy to read it, maybe its intentional, to discourage the “real consumer” to dig to deep to easily, as he should just enjoy the ride. For many of us Harley-Davidson is a bike and a lifestyle, and our attention is focused on 3 segments: the motorcycles, the chrome (parts and accessories) and the clothing (merchandise). I always wanted to know how much each of these 3 segments contribute to the HD revenues.

Found spread over 3 pages, this is the contribution of each of the sectors in 2011 to Total Revenues of Harley-Davidson

I thought it would be less blue and more red & green, but this feeling must be marketing induced. It also shows that we buy the original motorcycle, but do we always by the original HD Parts and Accessories? Maybe not, as some of the more expensive additional parts you buy for your bike, like your pipes from Vance & Hines or SatNav from Garmin, will keep the dealership alive, but do not add to the revenues of Harley-Davidson Inc.

To be continued…

The icing on the HOG cake

Posted in Harley-Davidson, HOG on December 5, 2011 by bleiglass

A great HOG seasons ends for me on very high notes. The first one came via Royal Mail, in form of the Winter 2011 HOG magazine. There on page 15 one of my many photographs of the season was printed:

The picture was taken some time back in May, while we visited the Hawk Conservancy Trust in Andover.

Some days later, the prize arrived, not money, not coupons, but a pin. I think you need to be a keen photographer to enjoy the moment, and I enjoyed it very much.

As if this would not have been enough, I received a heart warming Thank You from my Hogsback Chapter UK during the End of Season Party, in form of a big metal badge, for the photographic work of the last season:

What a ride, I have to say Thank You, as it was great fun for me to share many miles with my fellow members.

Intrigued by the building on the front, I found out that it is the Harley-Davidson offices in Milwaukee, 3700 West Juneau Avenue, USA. Never been there, but riding on Google Street View I took the next left…, and yes, thats the same building.

Have a safe winter.

How to stop this EU anti-biking nonsense

Posted in Harley-Davidson, HOG on September 6, 2011 by bleiglass

French Interior Minister Claude Guéant has failed to endear himself to the biking community. He is pushing draconian anti-biking laws that would insist on automatic jail for speeding, giant number plates, a ban on filtering and compulsory day-glo clothing amongst other ineffectual nonsense.

Further proposals are concerned with criminalising any modifications to factory spec bikes (eg Stage 1), and technology-based control of your bike if it decides you are not riding “correctly”. International responses have already brought many French cities to a halt – including Paris, where bikers demonstrated the impact of a ban on filtering by taking over the entire Periphique via 15,000 carefully spaced bikes.

As MAG’s ROAD magazine (Issue 36) points out, these proposed laws fail to distinguish between reasonable rider choices and the criminalisation of those who do not make them. Criminalisation is especially heinous for practices – like day-glo vests – that (unlike safety belts or airbags) have nothing to do with protecting riders. As the police system of advanced riding (Roadcraft) will tell you, safe riding comes from safe riding. You hand over your safety to other road users and politicians at your peril.

Fortunately you can now do something to help stop this nonsense. MAG member Jon Strong has prepared detailed challenges to the EU’s laziest assertions on bike design, mods and use. He has got the attention of the European Ombudsman and you can help him press the case (as well as reading it) by clicking here and requesting copies of Ref 0875/2011/jf. By actively requesting details, these bureaucrats will realise how big the opposition to their nonsense is.

If you prefer visible action, why not join a protest ride being organised nationally for 25 Sep? See how big this is becoming, further details here. Do either! Do both!


ABCD – Gary, here my picture

Posted in HOG with tags on May 1, 2011 by bleiglass

Taken as requested on the 1st of May, it includes me, and the centreline of the road.

It was taken while me and members of my Chapter rode to collect town letters for the A to Z HOG challenge.

More pictures of the day can be found here: