A Look Back at 2011

After selecting actor and former California Governor ARNOLD SCHWARZNEGGER as the Motorcyclist of the Year for 2010, the AMA makes a less controversial decision for 2011, choosing soccer mom and motorcycle activist Nancy Sabater as it’s choice of the person who had the biggest impact on motorcycling in 2011.

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, A well respected member of the Congressional Motorcycle Caucus was shot in January outside a Tucson Arizona grocery store during a public appearance. At the time the Congresswoman was not given much hope, but has since made an almost miraculous recovery.

NEW YORK based t-shirt company Joe Cool surprised everyone in Daytona when it acquired the trademark for the term, “Daytona Bike Week.” Yosef Amar spent just $100 on the paperwork. Amar claims he should control the name since he’s been making t-shirts for Daytona Bike Week since 1987.

Paris Hilton became a biker chic in 2011. Well, not really, but the hospitality empire heiress did lend her name , and cash to the Barcelona Spain MotoGP team SuperMartxe VIP. Yea, we didn’t get it either.

Seven Las Vegas PD motorcycle officers lost all their swagger but amped up their geekiness when they hopped on electric motorcycles paid for by a $50k grant from the Consumer electronics Association. With a top speed of 50 mph, the electric horsemen won’t be chasing any casino robbers.

And speaking of casino robberies, the Dumbest Biker Award goes to Anthony Michael Carleo. You’ll remember him as the 29 year old who robbed the Bellagio in December 2010 using a sportbike as his getaway ride. Vegas police nabbed Carleo in February and recovered most of the 1.5 million dollar stolen. Other than his inability to keep his mouth shut, Carleo stupidly chose to grab the high denomination chips, rendering his take all but impossible to fence.
And, speaking of silent motorcycles,

Citing safety concerns for pedestrians and cyclists, Congress banned silent vehicles but exempted motorcycles, as if that made any sense. Advocates for the blind welcomed the new law but was just as puzzled by the motorcycle exemption. Congress gave the auto industry 18 months to come up with minimum noise standards for electric cars.

Another one that didn’t make sense to us was the revelation that Paul Teutul Sr. has been taking steroids. Seriously? You mean old guys have to take synthetic drugs to build muscles like 20 year olds? It seems Sr. was found in the little black book of customers belonging to dentist James M. D’Amico who pled guilty to writing scripts for steroids and human growth hormone. The Feds say Sr bought over $50,000 worth of steroid prescriptions from D’Amico and Robert G. Carlson, a Sarasota, Fla., physician who pleaded guilty in Albany to insurance fraud in a related case.  Sr to appear on 2012 Celeb Apprentice

The Little Sturgis Rally in Sturgis Kentucky threw up the white flag and surrendered in it’s legal battle with the Sturgis South Dakota Chamber of Commerce. The two were at odds over the Kentucky rally’s use of the word “Sturgis.” Citing a drop in attendance and revenue, and a $60,000 operational loss for 2010, The Sturgis Chamber voted to cancel the annual July event. Over it’s existence, the Little Sturgis Rally raised in excess of $2 million dollars for local charities. A few months later a new group of local investors and business owners formed a committee and launched the Kentucky Bikefest at the Union County Fairgrounds on the traditional July week normally reserved for the Little Sturgis Bike Rally. The members of the two groups are not affiliated.  Sturgis Rally Trademarked: Should You Care?

Speaking of electric bikes, just 23 days deep in 2011, Chip Yates showed that electric bikes can compete against gasoline powered motorcycles for short races. Yates took second in the superstock expert class hitting a top speed of 158 mph at the AutoClub Speedway.

Sparks were flying between Jesse James and Kat Von D in January when they announced they were considering taking the next step in their relationship. You’ll remember Kat as the tattoo inkster who was the “other woman” in Jesse’s life while he was married to Hollywood actress Sandra Bullock. Turns out that there was more to this fairy tail (sic) than was told at the time. In November, Kat Von D revealed on her Facebook page that Jesse had been cheating on her with nineteen different women! Wow, we really didn’t see that one coming.

Just when we thought we could count on the world getting back to normal, the New York chapter of the Hells Angels gets all pissy and  “clubs” the wooden bench outside it’s 3rd Street MC headquarters. It seems a few pesky NY tourists thought the bench was open to anyone who needed to rest their arse. Since they hadn’t formally requested to be a “hang around” the HA took swift and decisive action by installing a auto theft “club” device to prevent anyone without a key or a pair of snippers (to cut the wire ties holding it on) from using the bench. Some observers say the tourists were, in reality, undercover cops sent in to see if the HA would open a can of whoop ass on the bench bums, thereby giving NY’s finest another reason throw a SWAT party at the clubhouse. So, who’s laughing now Serpico?

Things got a little testy in Virginia Beach Virginia when Republican Chris Stolle authored a bill in the State House that would ban

This is how you deal with tourists who sit on your bench, you club ‘em.

children under 8 years of age from riding as a passenger on a motorcycle. Motorcycle rights groups cried foul, saying that more children are killed in bicycle wrecks than motorcycle accidents. Stolle, (whose name does not rhyme with the well known vodka) said he just trying to head off an epidemic before it happened. Actually, he didn’t say that, but it sounds so much more intelligent than what he actually said. Give us a break we’re trying to help the guy out here.

New Jersey residents were finally given the ability to legally purchase a motorcycle on Sunday when one of the last vestiges of the State’s Blue Laws was revised. The day after the ban was lifted, all three Japanese manufacturers posted “Screw Riding, Let’s Shop” on their Facebook Pages. (OK…we made that last part up, but that would’ve been cool if they had.)

The Georgia State Patrol again proved the scientific validity of the Milgram experiment by blindly following the authority of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in its blatant disregard for the US Constitution when it set up motorcycle only” checkpoints on interstate weigh stations during Bike Week. The GSP received a taxpayer funded $70,000 grant for the project. Oh, what does that have to do with the Milgram experiment? Click the link.  It’s pretty interesting stuff.  Pimping the Georgia State Patrol

About a month later over 300 motorcyclists showed up to support ABATE of Georgia’s protest ride on the State Capitol, the largest gathering in several years.  See the photos

In 2010, HD management said it would have to cut $54 million in waste in its Wisconsin facilities or it would move somewhere else. Later that year HD agreed to stay put and everyone involved breathed a sigh of relief. Which is why no one was surprised when the company received more concessions from its two unions at the Kansas City MO plant when those labor contracts came up for renegotiation in 2011.

Big Dog Motorcycles, having gone through drastic cuts, downsizing and round after round of layoff, was finally put to sleep by the company’s bankers. Its demise was denied by the remaining management even as the company’s founder Sheldon Coleman confirmed the news to Rick Fairless. But, in a strange twist of corporate card shuffling, Coleman announced the formation of BDM Performance Products to provide parts and accessories for existing Big Dog motorcycles. But, would not honor existing warranties. A short time later, S&S Cycles announced it would honor the warranty on all BD models with it’s engines installed. The company’s PR stock soared after the announcement.

We hate stereotypes as much as the next guy, but you gotta wonder what James “Bubba” Stewart was thinking when he and a friend scored some red/blue emergency lights and thought it would be a gas to go out and (posing as undercover cops) pull over unsuspecting motorists. We’re pretty sure he wasn’t thinking any of the motorists would turn out to be off duty Florida Highway Patrol officers, but guess what? Yes he did and yes they were. There is no truth to the rumor that Stewart uttered, “Watch this shit” right before he turned the blue lights on the off duty cops.

All jokes aside, former Wisconsin lawmaker Dave Zien, who earned the moniker as Million Mile Dave for having racked up that number of motorcycle miles in his lifetime, was almost killed in March when an SUV overturned on the interstate in front of him. Zien was severely injured and doctors were forced to amputate part of his left leg. Although wheelchair bound, Zien recovered enough to attend a June session of the Wisconsin State Legislature where he made news after a confrontation with a “Solidarity Singer” in the rotunda.

Score one for loud bikers. A Federal judge ordered the New Hampshire Citizens Against Loud Motorcycles to pay $8,807 in legal fees to the attorney representing the local Harley-Davidson dealer. NHCALM failed in its attempt to force the town of North Hampton NH to enforce an overly restrictive noise ordinance. Seacoast HD successfully petitioned the court for a restraining order preventing the ordinance from being enforced.

And speaking of Harley-Davidson (forgive the clumsy segue) Wisconsin becomes the first state in the union to provide free advertising to the Bar and Shield. Lawmakers approved an orange/ black and grey HD branded Share The Road state license plate for cars, light trucks and motor homes. You just can’t buy that kind of advertising folks, and it didn’t cost the Motor Company a dime. Brilliant!

Arguably the biggest news of the year came out of Minnesota when Polaris bought the intellectual property rights to the struggling Indian marquee for an undisclosed amount of money. Stellican Limited and Novator Partners LLP had invested huge sums in the iconic brand hoping to duplicate the success it had with Chris Craft boats. Soon after purchasing Indian in 2006, Stelican spent millions on a new plant in North Carolina. Unfortunately for the investors, the economy blew a gasket and the high end luxury lifestyle purchaser evaporated. After taking control, Polaris immediately moved production to Minnesota. Indian released a couple of new year / same design models but has said very little about its future plans.

Sarah Palin appeared on the motorcycle press radar in May when she attended the 23rd annual Rolling Thunder Demonstration Ride in Washington D.C. Palin told reporters that she was there to support the troops but we’re not sure how riding on the back of another woman’s motorcycle helps….uh..wait….scratch that… forget the reason…it’s ok…really. Palin used the opportunity to kick off her short

Why is it ok for two chicks to ride together but if two guys do it, they’re branded as bona fide members of the Village People?

lived One Nation bus tour in advance of her short lived bid for the Republican nomination for President which she never actually committed to. Now, about that ride..

Rushmore Photo and Gifts opened up a can of stinky poo when it openly challenged the validity of the trademark term Sturgis that was granted to the Sturgis Chamber of Commerce and acquired by the private group Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Inc. The two groups sent out conflicting press releases in the month leading up to the August rally. RPG claims the Chamber knowingly committed fraud by claiming “exclusive” use of the word Sturgis for 5 years prior to the application.

A cardboard replica of a Harley-Davidson Road King was crowned the fastest boat on the water at the annual Glen Ellyn Illinois Cardboard Boat Regatta. It was a slow news day so we had to post something.

Motorcycle notables Don Emde and daredevil Robert Craig Evel Knievel was inducted into the Sturgis Motorcycle Hall of Fame. Other inductees include 85 year old Gloria Tramontin Struck, a still active and still riding member of the Motor Maids.

In August President Obama signed H.B. 2715 that exempts OHV’s from the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008. This act effectively banned selling dirt bikes or ATV’s to children under 12 because certain parts contain too much lead. The Act was designed for toys that children might have their mouths on, or otherwise ingest. Even though the absurdity of the law garnered widespread bipartisan support for it’s repeal, Congress took 3 years to get this bill to the President’s desk.

Notable deaths in 2011 were former AMA Grand National Chairman Gary Nixon, 70 and the President of MV Agusta Motor SpA Claudio Castiglioni, at age 64.

And speaking of dying, we’re wondering if that’s what two members of the Mongols MC had in mind when they crashed a party at Hells Angels Clubhouse in Sturgis SD during the annual summer rally. The two clubs have been “at war” for years so it didn’t take someone with the skill of Nostrodamous to predict how that was going to turn out. Both Mongols were stabbed in the fight, and two members of the Hells Angels were arrested for simple assault. (* Ed note: I wonder if the Mongols were just looking for the public bench like the one at the NY clubhouse.)

Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford likes to ride his Harley-Davidson on stage for the final song of the set, cranking the throttle while whipping the crowd into a heavy metal frenzy. Time For A Trike For Halford? Unfortunately for Halford, in the heat of the moment, he forgot to put the kickstand down and dropped the bike like a newbie at bike night. The aging rocker was helped up by his crew members and the bike was stood back up and Halford defiantly gave the finger to the gods of gravity, all to the screaming approval of his fans. You gotta love Rock and Roll.  YouTube Video 

A 21 year old college student at Utah State University was riding his motorcycle on campus when he was struck by and pinned under a BMW. Brandon Wright’s motorcycle caught fire and would have burned him alive were it not for the heroic efforts of a half dozen bystanders who lifted the car and pulled Wright to safety. Watch the Dramatic Video 

Well, that’s about all we remember from 2011.  If you know something we missed, tell us in the comment section below and you can show the world how you’re smarter than we are!

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