Light at the End of the Tunnel

My lawyer has informed me that after two months of stalling, CNA Insurance has finally accepted liability for the driver who ran the stop sign and hit me.  A check for $6,700 is on the way to repair my FJR.  And now that they’ve accepted liability, that means that they’ve accepted that they’re on the hook for my larger personal injury claim for my injuries.

One more week of physical therapy, and I’m done.

Now THAT’S a Chopper!

Below, I write about the Honda Fury, and their try at making a radically designed chopper.  It doesn’t quite cut it.  Meanwhile, extreme rake excepted, the guys at Victory are getting the job done.  They’ve unveiled a new concept bike called the CORE.

Victory Chopper
Victory Chopper

It’s just a concept bike right now, but apparently it’s the basis for a new generation of naked bikes from Victory.  No compromises on this beast.  It sports heat wrapped straight pipes, hardtail frame, and instead of the little 1300cc VTX engine, it’s the full 1o6ci (1731cc) air-cooled Victory twin.

One notable difference between the Victory Vision Street and Tour production motorcycles and the CORE Concept Motorcycle is the absolute absence of bodywork on the CORE. In fact, the concept bike’s frame is the body, incorporating fuel, air-box, battery box and the entire electrical system. Maintaining the minimalist theme, the motorcycle is a rigid frame without rear suspension and features a contoured mahogany seat. The overall impression is a thin, low, sharp and purposeful motorcycle that is elemental and fierce at the same time.

I imagine that the lack of a rear suspension would make sitting on that hard seat a bit more painful than it has to be, but overall, this an Epic Win as far as I’m concerned.  In looks, at least, if not in rider comfort.

Five. Count ’em. Five.

Stellan Egelund of Sweden was commissioned by Triumph to build a cafe racer out of the…wait for it…Rocket III.  Triumph is going to make five of these motorcycles, and all five of them will be sold in Sweden.

This is what Egelund came up with.

Egelund Rocket Cafe Racer
Egelund Rocket Cafe Racer

All I can say is, that must be one hell of a cafe racer.  Going the dark custom route works really well for the Rocket, in my opinion.  It really does minimize the brutish look of the tractor engine that runs the thing, and that big ol’ radiator almost seems to disappear.  I like it a lot.

The “bear claw” is gone from the left side of the bike, too.  The air filters are fully exposed.

Those air filters exposed like that are badass.
Those air filters exposed like that are badass.

I like the looks of this bike a lot.  And with 161hp, and 160lb/ft of tourque, I bet it’s a hoot to ride, too.  I bet Triumph is charging a pretty penny for this factory custom.

And that doesn’t even include the air fare to Stockholm to buy one.

Honda Fury: All the rage of a…bunny.

All right.  I admit it.  I’m not that much of a chopper guy.  Some of them look OK, and have fantastic paint jobs.  On the whole, though, they strike me as inconvenient with their tiny little gas tanks.  And they don’t seem very maneuverable, with 70° of rake, and wheelbase as long as a Cadillac’s.  There are some functional problems with that cool chopper look. The other drawback has always been price.  Choppers are essentially custom motorcycles with a custom price tag.

Honda Vury: Right Side
Honda Fury: Right Side

But, Honda is addressing the price problem with a new factory chopper called the Fury.

The guys over at Gizmag are writing about it.

hough no-one outside Honda has ridden it yet, we’d suggest that it will be the best handling, sweetest running, most comfortable, most reliable chopper the world has yet seen, lacking just one thing – a Harley Davidson badge.

That’s not the only thing it’s lacking, but we’ll address that in a minute.  Gizmag continues…

Sketches from Honda’s trademark application for the Fury have been circulating across motorcycle news magazines around the world recently, and we’ve gotta say that the first reaction amongst the motorcyclists on the Gizmag team was … why?

The Japanese big four bike manufacturers have been chipping away at the Harley Davidson market for decades, and we thought that it had already been proven that you can build a better Harley in every respect, add more cubes and take full page adverts in all the magazines, but it still won’t be a Harley Davidson. You can even build it in America, but it still won’t be a real Harley.

Perhaps the regular winds of change and the passing of time that slowly soften and dissipate long-held, deeply-rooted, emotionally-based attitudes and prejudices within certain population groups will prove us wrong, but … we’re still wondering why now we’ve seen it.

Honda Fury: Left Side
Honda Fury: Left Side

I’m wondering, too, especially after looking at the left side of the bike.

Ick.

There’s something non-choppery, and too high-tech about that look.  The way the engine and tranny mates to the frame has a weird, science-fiction look to it.

It’s too finished, too…perfectly formed for a chopper.  Too refined, but in an unpleasantly styled way.

But that’s not the worse thing.  I mean, sure, the styling alone is enough to ensure that no Harley guy will want to touch it with a 10-foot cattle prod.  But as Steve, at BikerNewsOnline notes:

I knew it all along, this new Honda Fury that everyone’s been raving about is just another VTX. They took their VTX 1300 engine (1312cc, 52°) and slapped it on a different chassis.

And now metric fanatics are saying this is going to erode away at Harley’s market.

Yeah, right, as if the VTX ever eroded away at Harley’s market.

And there you go, in a nutshell.  Honda slapped a VTX1300 engine into a chopper frame, and then  writes it up like it’s the King Hell chopper they’ve got coming off the factory floor.  And, the Honda riders who already like the VTX will probably buy some.

But this isn’t the thin wedge of Honda’s cracking of the Harley market.  It’s just a segmentation of the already existing VTX market.

But, if you want an aggressively styled VTX, I’m sure you’ll love this.

Americans Need Need Not Apply

The dark custom movement isn’t restricted to the cruiser set, apparently. Buell is introducing a dark custom version of the XB9, right along with HD’s rollout of the Iron 883. It’s an all-black version of the Lightning, and it’s aimed for the low-priced cycle market, coming in somewhere near $8,400.

Buell Buell XB9SX CityX Black
Buell Buell XB9SX CityX Black

There’s only one catch.  It isn’t available for the US Market.  Buell is only rolling this baby out in Europe, so all American customers do is complain to their local Buell dealers, and hope that their message gets through to Buell HQ.

The Newest Dark Custom

Kelly Yahr at Harley-Davidson has emailed me again, this time with some pics of the newest Dark Custom motorcycle offering from the MoCo: The Iron 883.

It’s not a bad-looking bike:

The Iron 883
The Iron 883

Kelly writes, “Not sure if you’ve seen it yet, but I wanted to let you know that Harley-Davidson unveiled the new Iron 883 – the latest Harley-Davidson Dark Custom motorcycle. This blacked-out, stripped-down Sportster starts at just $7,899, leaving plenty of freedom for customization.”

That’s not a bad price, actually.

I’m not a big fan of the 883 Evo engine.  There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with it mechanically, but, in modern terms, an 883 twin is fairly gutless in terms of power, if you’re gonna do much two-up riding.  Not that you’d really do any of it with this bike, which is essentially a black-power-coated Nightster.  The main problem with the 883 engine is that it weighs just as much as the 1200 engine, so the smaller engine doesn’t bring any weight advantages with it.

The Iron 883 Engine
The Iron 883 Engine

In any event, according to HD:

Decked in black from fender-to-fender, the new Harley-Davidson Iron 883 brings the beat of an 883 Evolution engine backed up by a combo of gritty, old-school garage features like front fork gaiters, drag style handlebar and side-mount license plate holder.

The black powder-coated 883 cc Evolution powertrain with black covers takes the Iron 883 deep into the heart of darkness. With Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI) and performance tuning with a flat torque curve, the Iron 883 delivers plenty of power for the city scene. The pipes on the straight cut shorty dual exhaust flow the distinctive American V-Twin sound.

The black chopped rear fender with its combination stop/turn/tail lights shows more of the 150 mm rear tire and black, 13-spoke cast aluminum wheel, while the front tire also rides on a black wheel. The rest of the Iron 883 gets a darker-suited presence with black front forks and fender supports, fuel tank, oil tank cover, belt guard, drag style handlebar and mid mount foot controls.

A classic Sportster solo seat with a height of 25.3 inches fits the lone rider, while a passenger seat and a backrest in complementing black finishes can be added as accessories.

Check out more on the Iron 883 and Harley-Davidson Dark Custom motorcycles at www.harley-davidson.com/darkcustom.

It sounds exciting, if you’re interested in an 883.  I’m more attracted to the touring line, but, the 883 is a popular bike, and I suppose the Dark Custom deal is working out well for the MoCo, so this model will probably work out well for them, as well.

By the way, another note on HD marketing.  I’m a pretty small-time motorcycle blogger.  yet, somehow, HD found me, and Kelly keeps me updated on what’s happening at Harley.  And, they get some free marketing information dissemination from me.

Now, I’m an equal-opportunity motorcycle blogger.  But somehow, no one at Yamaha, Honda, Kawasaki, or Suzuki is interested in providing me with any similar content.  Even though that content would allow them to use me as a free marketing outlet for them.

What is the marketing lesson we learn from this?

Not So Fast…

I was hoping that by now, I could be looking forward to getting my fixed, and start riding again.  But nothing, apparently, is ever easy.

Last week, CNA insurance sent out the adjuster to look at the bike.  When he was done, I dropped a C-note on a towing compnay to take the FJR to North County House of Motorcycles.  They did their estimate, the adjuster agreed, and sent off the estimate to CNA, the insurer for the compnay whose driver ran into me.

So, on Friday, the shop called me and said they needed approval from me and the insurance company to make repairs.  So, I called the guy at CNA who’s handling the claim and asked him what was up.  He said, “We still haven’t decided to accept liability, so we can’t authorize any repairs.”

I started to get steamed “What do you mean you haven’t accepted liability?  How much of a liability question can there be?  I was on a divided four-lane avenue, and your guy came out of a side street, through a stop sign, and hit me from the side. You have the police report that states that your driver was at fault for the accident and was cited for failure to yield at a stop sign.”

He replied, “Did the police see the accident?”

Screw you, insurance boy.  I called my laywer.  Today, she got hold of the liability supervisor at CNA, and had a chat.  She told him that now, two months after the accident, and after authorizing an adjuster to do an estimate, it’s pretty frickin’ late in the game to be dithering over whether they are gonna accept liability or not.  It’s looking like a stall tactic.  So, if we don’t here anything from CNA by COB Friday, we’ll just file a lawsuit next week.  So the CNA guy said if they couldn’t find anything contradicting the police report by Friday, they’d accept the police report as proof of liability.

She also got my insurance company, Geico, on the phone, and gave them a heads up that if CNA didn’t authorize the repairs, we’d be going through my insurance with Geico, and that they could battle with CNA over getting the repair money.

So, I have to wait for the rest of the week now to see if the bike is going to get fixed by CNA.  If not, I have to pay my deductible for my insurance, and wait until Geico gets the money off of CNA to re-imburse me for the deductible.

As far as I can see, though, CNA is deliberately dragging their ass to put off paying for the damage their insured imposed upon me.

I am frickin’ livid.

The Butcher’s Bill

North County House of Motorcycles has presented me–and the insurance adjuster–with the estimate for the repair of my FJR.  $6,500.

At that price, I doubt the insurance company will total it.  But the adjuster said that the payment would be coming quickly, so the repairs can be completed within a week or two.

So, finally, after two months, I’ll have a motorcycle to ride again!

Gone From My Garage

The insurance adjuster finally came by today, and looked at the bike.  he said he’d wait on making an estimate until he heard what the repair shop had to say.  So, I called for a tow, and the FJR is now at North County House of Motorcycles.

I’ll have to go in first thing Monday and talk to my service writer about the damage, and the things that I know have to be repaired that aren’t obvious.

I’m still irked that it’s been six weeks since the accident, and I’m only just now getting the bike into a repair shop.  But, at least it’s there now, so finally I can see exactly what damage has been done, and if it’s fixable.

It’s All in the Marketing

You gotta hand it to Harley-Davidson, boy.  They rarely m iss a step when it comes to marketing, especially in terms of rider outreach.  I don’t know of any other company that interacts with the riding community  so seriously, and with such a keen eye towards building the brand than the MoCo does.

And they’re doing it again.

Share Your Spark: A Guide to Mentoring is a tool kit the Motor Company developed for current and aspiring riders featuring information on how to be a resource and support system to others during their motorcycling journey. The mentoring kit includes information for both potential mentors and mentees, including a DVD showcasing tips on how to become or find a mentor, stories from successful mentoring experiences, a special Share Your Spark pin and a planning and reflection guide.

Grab younger riders by hooking them up with older riders who can positively reinforce the idea that the Harley-Davidson is the best motorcycle ever!

Nobody is as successful at this as HD.  I mean, with BMW, while there are plenty of rider events in that community, the company’s attitude seems to be that, if BMW has to come looking for you, then you’re probably not the kind of person they want to associate with anyway.  Honda…well, they don’t do much at all anymore.  Not only did they cancel the Honda Hoot, their bike line-up changes at a geological pace.  It seems like all they care about selling you is a Gold Wing.

HD, though, is hyperactive in their contacts with the riding community.

Finally!

I got the call I’ve been waiting for.  The adjustors for CNA Insurance called me to assign an adjuster to my accident.  Supposedly, the adjustor will call tomorrow to set up an appointment to look at my bike.  I guess he’ll do the initial estimate, then I’ll have it carted off to North County House of Motorcycles to see where the hidden damage is.

It’s only taken six weeks…

A Tale of Two Jumps…

…And a tale of two Robbies. This past week, for the big new years celebration, Both Robbie Madison and “Kaptain” Robbie Kneivel made highly hyped motorcycle jumps in Las Vegas.

Robbie Madison’s jump was…insane.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eM1e51mxulA

Robbie Kneivel’s jump was…meh.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqCqraMxSLY

I think Robbie Kneivel irks me.  First, he didn’t jump the volcano at the Mirage.  He jumped near the volcano.  And even if he had, so what.  I’ve been to the Mirage.  I’ve seen the volcano.  It ain’t that big. Jumping it really isn’t any more impressive than what the average motocross racer does every day, and Robbie–and FOX–acted like it was just as impressive as anything Evel Kneivel ever did.

It wasn’t.

If Evel had set this deal up, he would have jumped the volcano.  And he’d have done it riding a 600-pound Harley Sportster with stock suspension, not a lightweight little motocross bike with 18 inches of suspension travel.

Robbie Madison’s jump, on the other hand…well, not even Evel could’ve coaxed a Sportster up on top of a 100-foot vertical tower.

Granted, Madison used a motocross bike, too, but at least he has the excuse that it’s pretty much the only type of bike that could’ve done it.

In the video, the FOX announcer made a big deal out of the fact that kneivel doesn’t have a speedometer on his bike.  But a speedometer really isn’t necessary for a jump that can be made at any speed between 40 and 80 miles per hour.  At the end of the day, what Robbie Kneivel did was take a motocross bike and catch 25 feet of air from ramps on a level street, and it was hyped like the most amazing event ever.

I couldn’t do either of those jumps, myself.  But then I don’t bill myself as the world’s greatest motorcycle stunt daredevil.