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Breaking news from Cyril Huze:

I'm up to my neck in deadlines, and the release from Polaris speaks for itself, but I can't see this being anything but good news for both Indian and Victory, and all of us who enjoy American motorcycles.

Both companies will presumably maintain their current course - Indian couldn't build the Vision any more than Victory could build a Chief - and it will force Harley to raise their game, because this is amounts to serious competition, especially if they sell Indians in Victory dealerships and vice versa.

It will be interesting to see what happens to their respective manufacturing bases.

The much maligned Blackline is with us, and you've really got to ride one to appreciate what Harley have managed to achieve with it!

Mechanically, it's a proper Harley for the Shovelhead generation, even if it's supposed to be aimed at youngsters trading up from Sportsters. The Dyna FXs have got some serious Softail competition.
An interesting new exhibition opens at Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry this weekend, showcasing the history of Harley-Davidson motorcycles in 34 carefully selected bikes.

From early, single-cylinder beginnings through war and racing, technologies and lifestyle, to the modern day and a room showcasing the current state of motorcycle customising, the exhibition sets out to give visitors an opportunity to see iconic motorcycles up-close and personal, nicely laid out in an exceptional space within a building that has plenty of heritage of its own, with plenty of space round each bike to really appreciate it, and the journey that Harley-Davidson as a company has made.

Each bike is set in the context of its time, to give an idea of the age it represents, with a few singled out for a full diorama treatment, notably the WLA45 and ELC Knucklehead outfit, and a 1948 Panhead that was one of the bikes taken to the Arctic by W&W Cycles – an epic voyage that is played out in a small video theatre.

See the full story in American-V 46.

The exhibition will run for six months, with some bikes - all loaned by private owners - being switched after three months, and will make an excellent destination over the summer, but make sure you allow a full day for the visit, because it's at the heart of a museum that covers all aspects of technical history from full sized steam engines down to the minutiae of the things that have shaped social and industrial history.
In the absence of an official statement from Sheldon Coleman, CEO of Big Dog Motorcycles, we can only take the comments of Mike Simmons, President of Big Dog Performance Products, at face value, when he says in a piece published by Powersports Business on April 7th:

Big Dog Motorcycles was foreclosed upon on Wednesday afternoon, and the company has closed. 

Big Dog Motorcycles, LLC has been foreclosed on, its assets seized, and it is no more. The custom motorcycle OEM has struggled to survive for about the last 18 months. Its primary lending institution had worked with the company to help keep its doors open, but ultimately decided to go forward with a foreclosure. There’s been a variety of factors that have caused a lot of companies to go out of business the last two years, mostly dealing with the economy,” Simmons said. He added that retail lending availability was a big factor in Big Dog Motorcycles’ demise. Dealers and customers will feel an effect of the closure, above and beyond the supply of bikes. There is no longer a manufacturing company to supply dealers with motorcycles. There are no warranties”
 
However, in the wake of the closure, another company has been formed. Motorcycles Enterprises LLC, doing business as BDM Performance Products, will sell parts and accessories for existing Big Dog Motorcycles, and other models’ products will be added in the future. We plan on offering parts and accessories for other American V-twins. Clothing and other apparel will likely be available in the future as well. I will act as president of Wichita, Kan.-based BDM Performance Products, and its 20 employees are all former Big Dog Employees. Initial news about Big Dog Motorcycles’ closure and about the new company will be delivered to dealers through phone calls. Later, dealers will likely receive e-mail and direct mail communication about the change.”

The vultures are circling already, accusing BDM of failing to move with the times, but at the end of the day time ran out for a company that was moving into Europe where the motorcycle market has remained strong, and introducing new models that took it to different price points and into new markets.

Having been impressed by the build, material, finish and ride quality of the three EU Homologated models I rode just a fortnight ago, I'm doubly disappointed, but I'm also more hopeful than many that the work undertaken in creating a premium line of custom motorcycles will not be wasted.

We believe that there are complete motorcycles among the inventory purchased by BDM Performance Products and that these will be available at a bargain price, which BDM's European distribution arm has been trying to secure. BDM EU are currently suggesting that they will be able to meet the warranties on these bikes, and with S&S engines and Baker Drivelines the mechanicals are covered, while BDM Performance Products, it is hoped, will be able to supply any other parts required.

As soon as the dust settles and any final decisions are made - or lists of available bikes made public - we'll let you know.

Our thoughts are with all those businesses and staff affected by this news.

If you're up to speed with the blogosphere, you will undoubtedly have heard that Big Dog Motorcycles - the world's biggest producer of factory custom motorcycles - had closed their doors for good. 

That's not actually the full story.

We've got a statement from Jos Dewit - the CEO of Big Dog Motorcycles Europe - pictured centre on the K9 Chopper a fortnight ago in Belgium, flanked by UK Distributor, Yeti Edwards of The Hogfather Motorcycles on a PitBull, and Ivan Dewit of BDME on his own Coyote: full story in AmV46 - who are closer to the source than the bar-room experts.


It reads ...

FOR IMMEDIATE PRESS RELEASE BY LEGEND MOTORCYCLE GROUP
dba BIG DOG MOTORCYCLES EUROPE

We would like to inform you regarding the latest news on BDM USA.

You may all seen blogs on the internet with rather less than accurate information in them – or at least not the full story, it is not our normal policy to react on this, but we feel obliged to our appreciated dealers and customers to give some more information.

Weeks ago BDM announced to its worldwide network of dealers that there was to be a restructuring in many departments within BDM due to the changed market circumstances.

The plan was to restructure till the end of 2011, and to enter 2012 with the new structure in place. However BDM have seen an opportunity to bring this forward and most leaks have not caught the facts. The main company has closed their activities for several reasons but created at the same time more responsibilities for the company subsidiaries.

Big Dog Motorcycles Performance Products will be the subsidiary first to be re-engineered to start manufacturing new and more parts and accessories, which is good news for all Big Dog riders who want to continue to enjoy their bikes. A core of Big Dog Motorcycles LLC remaining employees will be probably be re-hired for the new parts business. Also there is still a stock of BDM motorcycles for immediate availability. When receiving future orders Big Dog Motorcycles will restart production at the appropriate time.

It is the absolute intention that BDM will not only continue to be the manufacturers of the world's best selling production custom motorcycles, but will be able to produce more efficiently and better able to expand its horizons.

J. Dewit
CEO Big Dog Motorcycles Europe

Having been in Belgium a week before the story broke, as guests of The Hogfather Motorcycles and BDME, there was talk of that restructuring and the availability of 'off the peg' motorcycles rather than the usual full bespoke package, and there was much discussion on how that news should be phrased to avoid the negative speculation that would greet the news of discounted bikes if not handled carefully. That is why we have waited until now to make comment, checking the story against the situation as we were aware of it. 

As soon as we get an official statement from Big Dog Motorcycles in the US, we'll update you.