Motorcycling in America – 1969

Life In America
1969– The median family income is $9,400. Richard Nixon becomes president. Nell Armstrong lands on the moon. An estimated 450,000 turn up for the Woodstock music festival. The Beatles perform for the last time. The seminal motorcycle movie, Easy Rider, is released. The first Wendy’s opens. The Plymouth Roadrunner is Car of the Year, and with the hemi option will run $4,000. Gas is up to $.35 per gallon.

Number One Motorcycle Trend For 1969:
The Honda CB750/4 goes on sale. Though not laden with advanced technology, this motorcycle, with its 750ccs of displacement, four cylinders and $1495 price, creates the framework that will define Japanese motorcycles into the next century.

European Brands
Montesa Cota 250. Bultaco Matador, Sherpa-T, Campera MkII, El Bandido MkII. Triumph Tiger 650. Husqvarna 400 Cross, Sportsman 360C Enduro. Royal Enfield Stage II 750 Interceptor. Dunstall Triumph 750 Twin. CZ 360 &250 Motocross. BSA Rocket III. Jawa 402 Gelandesport. Greeves 380 & 250 Griffon. Puch 125 Dalesmen Trials & Motocross. Moto-Guzzi 750 Ambassador. Ossa Pioneer 250.

Asian Brands
Suzuki T350 Rebel, T-125 Stinger, TS-250 Savage. Kawasaki 500 H1 Mach III, G31M Centurion. Honda CB750/4, CL350, SL350, SL90. Yamaha Y-100 L5 Trailmaster. Bridgestone 100 TMX.

American Brands
Harley-Davidson XLCH Sportster.

Mert Lawwill is Grand National Champ.

European Motocross racing finally comes to US with the Inter-AM series.

Yamaha withdraws from international GP racing.

Mike Hailwood announces retirement.

Yvon Duhamel becomes first to break 150 mph barrier at Daytona.

Other Issues
It’s an incredible year for motorcycles. Preceding the Honda CB750/4 is the Suzuki TS-250 Savage, “the best dual-purpose bike ever tested,” the Kawasaki 500 Mach III. “a racer in disguise,” and the BSA Rocket III, “the fastest tourer available.”

Harley-Davidson merges with AMF.

Wal-Phillips of England, offers perimeter disc brake kit for $70.

Contrary to earlier predictions, the industry is expected to sell 700,000 units, 200,000 more than previously thought. Almost every distributor reports being out of inventory.

Wards Automotive Report declares that motorcycles are no longer a novelty, but rather a mainstream product category.

News from Second 2010 Ducati Dealer Meeting

Ducati logo Ducati North America (DNA) recently held its second dealer meeting of 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada, to convey a message of commitment to the North American market. An earlier meeting in spring was held as a way to assure Ducati’s dealer network that the company was still stable even in the midst of the Great Recession. This time it was more focused on what is planned for operations on this side of the Atlantic and DNA itself. After all, the company leadership has just changed hands; now in charge is Ducati Motor Holding Vice-President of Sales Cristiano Silei, who takes over as CEO of DNA.

The primary purpose of having this meeting, according to Silei, is to demonstrate that Ducati is listening to the North American market and will be responsive to it. He also wants to make sure that DNA members have access to the same resources as the Italian HQ. Another resource which will see augmentation is the DNA headquarters in Cupertino, California; the office will see a 10% increase in staff over the next few months. The apparel department will be expanded too as more dealers have signed on to the Ducati apparel and accessories programs, and stocking will now be handled through Ducati’s regional business managers as opposed to a single central source as has been previously organized. Ducati's Cristiano Silei at far left at Shanghai opening

Other changes include a new program to help Ducati dealers with their accessories stocking and keeping it up to date with current models. A new program will allow all dealers to exchange 5% of their accessory orders two times per annum. Ducati has signed up with ADP Lightspeed to handle a continent-wide parts location service allowing all North American dealers to locate parts anywhere in the network. Silei also informed the audience that three new lines will be added to the spring/summer apparel collection to be unveiled this November.

Further changes will see Ducati return to an annual ordering process, but dealers will be able to make quarterly adjustments. And, in response to the continuing economic crisis, Ducati will be giving dealers more margin on motorcycle sales and allow longer flooring terms. That flexibility should help some of those struggling with stagnating or declining sales. Fortunately, Ducati has launched some very exciting models recently and this has kept customers coming in and spending money.

CEO Silei is brining some much needed help to a segment of a market which has suffered a great deal lately – the motorcycle industry. Ducati is not the small company it seems to be, though, and they have a vast support network on which to rely. As of now, North American Ducati dealers will be able to make use of some of those exceptionally useful resources to improve their stability and assist them in these very trying economic times. The future looks very red…

Written by J.C. Current, Courtesy of

American Honda Listens and Imports CB1000R

2011 Honda CB1000R The 2010 EICMA show in Milan might have taken place in the nation of Italy far across the Atlantic Ocean, but the US motorcycle market seems to have been a primary story of the event. There were either new announcements or confirmations of rumors concerning some new models from many different marques which would finally land on the shores of the US or North America. This American Honda news actually came a week after the EICMA news that the CBR250R is US-bound, but it does have connections to the Milan show in at least two ways; the CB1000R is designed and manufactured in Italy and it first broke cover at the 2007 EICMA show there. For the first time, after beginning production in 2008 primarily for the European market, the 2011 CB1000R will be in dealer showrooms throughout the US.

The CB1000R became a replacement for the rather popular (in Europe) CB900F Hornet/919 in the Honda line-up. It is powered by a modified version of the 998cc liquid-cooled inline-four fuel-injected engine sold in the 2007 CBR1000RR (Fireblade outside US), which has been tuned for around 125 HP and 74 lb/ft of torque with a meaty 2011 Honda CB1000R low and mid-range as a naked bike should have. The chassis is a single backbone design allowing for rigid construction, thin-walled for light weight, and comes with a nicely-sculpted single-sided swingarm out back. All of this is held up with suspension which is directly sportbike-derived and exceptionally adjustable. Twin front discs are grabbed with radially-mounted calipers allowing for hard charging in the corners with confidence.

The stance and stylistic Transformers-like headlight convey a certain image of power with hooligan-esque leanings and a touch of modern art at heart. While it may not be pleasing to everyone’s eye, the 2011 Honda CBR1000R will satisfy a very deep need for a powerful standard motorcycle reminiscent of the 1969 CB750KO with modern running gear. One important question remains – how much will it cost? Building motorcycles in Italy is not cheap…

Written by J.C. Current, Courtesy of

Lane Splitting, You must have a death wish


Lane splitting, a two-wheeled vehicle moving between lanes of vehicles that are proceeding in the same direction. Some people will tell you that Lane splitting is guaranteed by the 1st and 14th Amendments of the Constitution of the United States. Some may say that you save on gas and reduce green house gasses; others will say that lane splitting reduces traffic. Find the one reason that works for you and keep it close to your heart, nurture it, care for it, take real good care of it. Better yet make a sign, walk up and down the street with this sign to let the world know how YOU feel about lane splitting.

Let a postulate a sequence of possible events that could happen. The sun is out, bright sunny day and you merge onto the freeway. You get about 300 yards and you hit the wall of cars, all you see for the next few miles is bumper to bumper traffic. You pull out and hit the white line, you are lane splitting. Now look above and find the reason that works for you, if your reason is not there get some white out and cover up one of the above reasons and write your own on the computer screen. Anyway back to our scenario, you are lane splitting and getting to where you need to go. You are making good time passing by all these happy drivers who are stuck in traffic and cannot lane split, they have to wait in line with everyone else. Now one of these happy drivers decides that this is not fair and creeps over far enough to block your way. You are on your toes and slow down switch lanes to get around this obstacle in your way. Unfortunately for you the car that you cut in front of did not see you coming and clips your rear tire. Hopefully you were not going to fast as you do a face plant, hopefully you have real good insurance, and hopefully you wore a helmet unless you felt the need to express your 1st and 14th amendment rights. No matter how careful you are there is one thing you cannot control, the driver in the other car.

Think long and hard before you choose to lane split, was it (look above for your reason) really worth what could happen to you.

Written by John Campbell, Courtesy of

Current Motor Expands Electric Motorcycle Market

Current Motor Company logoElectric scooter and motorcycle companies all over the United States – and nations all over the world – are finding their products in demand more and more. Of course, at this point in the development of the industry, the profits are not exactly rolling in for everyone. Most such companies are relying on so-called “angel” investors and other venture capitalists to keep them afloat. There exist many bright lights in the industry, however, which are seeing sales continue to rise as the electric vehicle industry gains more and more exposure. And, with all the energy invested in the industry, the technology is constantly marching forward. One new company –started just this October – is hoping to get in on the ground floor of this ever expanding industry segment, Current Motor Company.

Current Motor is a start-up based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with intentions to get in early on the relatively young new mode of transport and become a serious contender vying for a sizeable share of electric vehicle customers. The company manufacturers three different models of what are, essentially, electric scooters. The range of each of the vehicles is between 50 and 60 miles on a single charge, obviously dependent on driving conditions. At present it takes around 40 hours to build one machine, and the expectation is that 300 will be built next year. But, that is projected to improve, and the number produced to significantly increase, as the company expands and automates more of the process.  And, they are ambitious for growth. Current Motor Lineup

One way Current Motor believes the company can compete is on price. With the average MSRP of many presently available offerings ranging between $8,000 and $10,000, Current’s three models sell for $5,999 to $7,499 – a significant savings. The additional federal and state rebate programs will reduce that further still.

There are no illusions at Current Motor, though, and the road ahead will not be easy. At least the company has some serious Detroit backing in GM’s Vice-Chairman Bob Lutz, so the hometown support is solid. The next step is putting their vehicles out in the market. Current Motor President Peter Scott is looking to be a big part of the industry, so expect to hear much more about this new Detroit electric motorcycle company very soon.

Written by J.C. Current, Courtesy of