Blog Archive

News Just In ...

Following a successful first season of close and exciting racing with the inaugural XR1200® Trophy championship, Harley-Davidson UK and Ireland has signed a new agreement with British Superbike Championship organisers, MSVR, to continue the one-make race series in 2011.

Priority entry opportunities have already been opened up to existing teams from this year’s series, with the majority of the 22-strong grid having already showed an interest in racing again in 2011. New riders and teams will also have the chance to find out more and get involved by signing up at the Harley-Davidson stand at Carole Nash Motorcycle Live at the NEC in Birmingham.

The championship will continue to use a standard XR1200 motorcycle with a race specification upgrade kit supplied by Harris Performance. However, some further optional upgrades are expected to be permitted next year and Dunlop wet tyres will be allowed in addition to the Sportmax D211 GP tyres that are currently used.

Further details of the 2011 series including the calendar will be revealed at an XR1200 Trophy season kick-off event on Friday 3 December*, which will be attended by most of this year’s competitors, including series victor, Jeremy McWilliams, and runner-up, Mike ‘Spike’ Edwards.

Title holder and former MotoGP star, McWilliams, will also be holding autograph signing sessions and meeting fans at the Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Live stand in Hall 2 on Saturday 4 December at 11-11.30am and 14.15-14.45pm.

“We’re delighted to be able to announce our continuation of the XR1200 Trophy in 2011,” says Harley-Davidson UK & Ireland Marketing Manager, Jessica Tideswell. “Our first year was great fun, the dealers and teams provided fantastic feedback, we got great TV exposure with British Eurosport and met motorcyclists at events who had never previously considered Harley-Davidson as a brand.

“Most importantly though, our main objective was to prove that Harley can provide a great opportunity to just enjoy riding. Every rider who took part in the series – including experienced racers like Guy Martin and Niall Mackenzie – came back from riding the XR1200 race bike with huge smiles on their faces.”

Harris Performance Ian Mcleod echoes the sentiments, saying “It’s brilliant news that the XR1200 Trophy is running in 2011 and we’re really pleased to be involved. It’s been a great project to work on and very gratifying to see the results. We’ve worked with Harley-Davidson to provide a level playing field for cost-effective racing and the results on track showed that we created a successful partnership.”

BSB Race Director Stuart Higgs adds “The XR1200 Trophy definitely added a point of difference to BSB proceedings in 2010 and we hope that the new agreement means that we can continue attracting new audiences in 2011. The sound of more than 20 Harley-Davidson bikes thundering around a race track is unmistakable and has provided a fantastic spectacle for viewers. Having witnessed ambitious teenagers trying to take on legends like McWilliams this year, we’re interested to see what excitement the 2011 entries has in store!

Dunlop Motorsport Manager Pat Walsh agrees that the series has plenty more action in store. “2010 was a fantastic start to the series, but it was also a big learning curve for many of the riders and teams. That showed in the increasing competitiveness at the later events in the calendar. Another winter of testing is likely to add to the excitement and we’re really please to be continuing the relationship with Harley-Davidson into 2011.”
Whatever next? A web redesign ... oh yes: that's why my head hurts. Well, that and three days of spreadsheets, after which a bit of HTML coding counts as light relief.

... well, we could leave you hanging for too long with the digital preview and no prospect of the paper copy: it'll be on the shelves on the 14th, but in your letterboxes sooner than that.

Sorry, was in Stratford-on-Avon recently and some of it must've rubbed off ... though not much, obviously.

Where is American-V 42?

Sitting in my out-tray, while the one of the biggest news stories of our own history takes shape.

Simply put, we've gone about as far as we can as a bi-monthly publication and we're looking very seriously into the viability of going monthly, because of impending and imminent changes to the distribution channel, and I needed to get my head round that without requiring the services of men with long sleeved jackets.

You're all bright people and there's merit in explaining the thought process in exactly the same way as we approach a motorcycle, so if you're sitting comfortably?

Why now? 
Because WH Smiths – the country's leading newsagents – are changing a few ground rules and we need to make sure we can accommodate them. It will cost us money to stay in WH Smiths, in the form of a promotion across a number of issues, and we need to make sure we can cover that with increased sales.

We've had high level discussions with our distributors and we know that we can – we've actually increased our year-on-year sales through WH Smiths, which is very encouraging – and have put things in place to increase availability across the independent sector too, but the thing that keeps coming up is frequency.

The cynical among us – and I have been that cynic in the past – might construe that we are trying to squeeze more money out of our existing and loyal readers but the reality is actually simpler: too many potential readers have no idea that the magazine exists, or just don't see it on the shelves of their newsagents. They are the people whose attention we need to grab: we don't so much want to sell more magazines as much as sell magazines to more people.

Why monthly?

To be more visible on the newsagents shelves. So that on the first Thursday of the month, every month, you will be sure of a new issue of American-V being on the shelf: no wondering whether one is due this month or the next. And equally importantly, so that on the previous day there will have been the old issue keeping its place warm – unless they've all been sold – as opposed to bi-monthlies which are typically removed from the shelves after six weeks.

We've looked at eight and ten issues a year, but frankly that just gets messy because it's almost impossible to let people know when to expect it to hit the shelves, and confusion is the last thing we need – quite apart from the havoc it'd wreak on subscriptions.

It will make events coverage more timely, and it will reduce the percentage of events coverage in any single issue because while we will cover more events: more events in total, but fewer pages per issue.

It will give us twice as many editorial pages per year, because we're not looking at reducing the number of pages in each issue. We will lose the perfect binding – the spine – in favour of staples for a couple of reasons, notably centre spreads and cover-mount opportunities.

We will also be able to consider putting American-V into supermarkets, because it's almost impossible – rather than just bloody expensive – to put a bi-monthly on their shelves.

How will we manage it?

Not alone. I considered cloning myself, but one of me is more than enough to inflict on the world. There will need to be other people involved to cope with the increased workload, and with different disciplines. We're talking to freelancers and to potential partners with complimentary skill-sets.

There will be no question of compromising editorial depth, photography or print quality. The advantage we've got compared to when we started is that we can show potential investors/partners what American-V actually is, rather than a vague business plan of what we hope it might become. And don't worry about what we'll fill it with because there's so much out there queueing to get in that we've got assured quality feature material for the foreseeable future: it will be great to finally get the space to commit it to paper.

It means we'll have more space for tech, for classics, for roadtests and for customs; we'll have space for dealer features, could even bring back classified ads – which work a lot better on monthlies – iof there's demand.

Is there a choice?

Yes, we could stay bi-monthly, but we'd still need to think about investment, and the return would be slower, so the deal would be less attractive.

We could come out of the newstrade completely – get into direct distribution again – but that would be a lot more risky, and I'm not sure we've got enough momentum to be able to make that work: again, the magazines that have worked using that model have been monthlies, because you really need to have built up that momentum to carry your through the transitional phase.

Exciting times, and your comments are very welcome.

Okay, I know the magazine is called American-V but I’m going to indulge myself for a moment and talk about some of the bikes in the World Championship of Custom Bike Building that are not built around Milwaukee’s best known export.

After last year’s winning bike which used Honda internals in a one-off crank case, Dave Cook has gone more conventional for 2010 and built one of his long and low bikes around an 850cc Norton twin.

Another builder to go down the Norton twin route is Austrian shop Blech & Druber, whose bike is the polar opposite in design terms. While the look may be traditional chopper, long forks and a high neck, the materials are more up-to-date with liberal use of stainless steel and aluminium.

The British flag is also being flown by Seattle’s Speed Shop Design’s Beezerker, which, as the name suggests, has BSA 650 unit construction motor. The deceptively simple looking bike is one that needs to be studied in-depth before the true level of craftsmanship and detailing can be appreciated.

One bike that started people scratching their heads at the European Championship of Custom Bike Building, and which continues to do so at the World Championship, is the Hungarian built Simson. The art deco influenced bike takes its name from the four-stroke, single cylinder motor that no one outside of Germany ever seems to have heard of.

I’ll finish up by trying to get things slightly back on track with the JRL Cycles’ Lucky 7. If you think of several V-twins joined together in a circle you can get an idea of what a Rotec aero engine looks like and that’s what powers this bike. The seven-cylinder bike may look unrideable but it is and I’ve seen. Even more bizarre is the version on the Procharger display, outside the show hall, which has had a supercharger bolted to the engine.

At the 2010 World Championship of Custom Bike Building the awards have already started being handed out. While the big winner doesn’t get announced until the last day of the show, the industry sponsors at the event have been busy with the goodie bag.

In order for the World Championship to happen every year it requires sponsors and each year those companies that put their collective hands into their pockets also have an opportunity to choose their pick of the bikes entered in the show, a kind of thank you from the event organisers. Officially known as the ‘Partner Pick of Excellence Awards’, they are, if you like, a bonus set of bragging rights.

While I’m not going to list the whole sixteen builders and the bikes they took the honours with, I will fly the flag for the home team by telling you that Shaw Harley-Davidson’s True Strike II was selected by Harley-Davidson as its Partner Pick bike.

The big question is now that Shaw Harley-Davidson has taken one prize can the boys from Eastbourne do the double and lift the trophy in the Modified Harley-Davidson class?

The World Championship of Custom Bike Building (WCBB) is just that, unlike baseball’s World Series where there only ever seems to be US teams competing, the WCBB does what it says on the tin. A large part of the reason for this global participation is the affiliation of custom shows around the world. Shows whose prize funds include bike freight to Sturgis to compete in the WCBB.

Just clarify the point about international competition, from where I’m sat I can see bikes from Russia, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Spain, England and many other countries.

What is most interesting about this mix of nationalities is the diversity of styling it delivers. Without wanting to sound disrespectful to the host nation, it is easy to spot the US-built bikes, simply because many of them are following existing trends and not setting new ones.

The choice of engine is one area where the European entrants are willing to have some fun, but as this is American-V I’ll not go into depth about the various non V-twin choices, but I will point out that the only two bikes to use V-Rod Revolution engines are both from Europe; Odyssey Motorcycles X-Rod and Krugger’s Venom. The latter really pushes the boundary of custom design with a ride height that can be raised or lowered without altering the suspension travel. Then just to be really clever he’s added two sets of foot controls; forwards for when the bike’s up and rearsets for when it’s down and racing on the salt flats.

A V-twin engine is normally a pretty simple affair, right? Well that’s what I thought until I saw Thunderstruck, built by Mark Daily, on display at the World Championship.

The starting point for his build was an Indian Power Plus motor. Okay so nothing out of the ordinary about that unless you count the bank of Keihin sports bike carbs on the wrong side of the motor. Now as you all know, Indians have the carb on the left side but not this one. Looking closer I realised that the inlet doesn’t run to the inside of the V between the cylinders either. Oh no. On this bike the inlet runs to where you expect to find the exhaust and obviously the exhaust is where you’d normally find the manifold for the carb.

My first thought was that the heads had been reversed, as other people have done on H-D motors in the past. I was wrong, the heads are the right way round but the engine has been configured to use the exhaust ports as inlets and the inlet ports as exhausts.

There’s some very clever people out there.

You can call me Mr Lucky. Well how else would you describe someone who gets paid to fly out to the States to go to the 70th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally?

Well that’s me. I’m in the fortunate position of being here to cover the AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building, kind of goes with the territory of being the editor of AMD magazine I guess.

As I’m sitting here writing this the bikes are starting to roll in ready for the show, there’s expected to be around 80 by the time it opens. And it’s safe to say that no matter what your preferred style of custom build is, it’s represented; bobbers, Swedish style choppers, salt flats racers, the list goes on and on …

The highlights so far include a reversed bike with the steering at the rear and a fat tyre at the front driven by an arrangement of chains and shafts, the crazy Italian slick-tyred bike that won the European Championship and an understated but very fat Exile inspired offering from Glasgow.
Back to work for me now …
Major anti-climax at Harley-Davidson, at least as far as the publicly announced 2011 range is concerned: one new Sportster model, the return of the Softail Deluxe and Electra Glide Classic with 103-inch motors in the Tourers and a new range of colours.

The official news, range by range is that the Sportster SuperLow is a revamped Sportster with different ergonomics and radial tyres for the 21st Century, designed to be more super-nimble for the competent rider. It will join the 883 Iron, 883R, the Forty-Eight, Nightster and the XR1200X ...

The Dyna range gets nothing much more than a repaint, with new White Hot Denim for the Fat Bob, but more interesting three flamed paint schemes for the Wide Glide based on Vivid Black - as current - but also Chrome Yellow and the new Sedona Orange. The Street Bob and Super Glide Custom get the Michelin Scorcher tyres and new colours ...

The Softails are joined by the returning Deluxe, the second year for the Fat Boy Special in a range of monochromatic hues, including the new White Hot Denim,; the Rocker C is more obviously embraced into the family and together with all telescopic forked Softails gets ABS as standard for 2011. Which means the Cross Bones doesn't. Sorry Martin: no 103-inch option announced yet ...

The water Hogs have lost the original V-Rod leaving them as a duo: the Muscle, which is on the receiving end of new graphics, and the Night Rod Special, which this year is hurtling towards a bright new dawn with a Chrome Yellow among other vibrant schemes, and with ghost flames ...

The Touring models don't get a 103-inch option so much as lose the 96-inch on everything but the Road King Classic, which will give the new frame, introduced last year some extra work to do. The Road King Classic can be specified with a 103, but it's not compulsory. All models also get a new ergonomically designed, and one inch lower saddle. We lose the Electra Glide Standard, but gain a reintroduced Classic ...

We lose the CVO Dyna but keep the Convertible Softail which joins an Ultra, a Street Glide and a Road Glide. And that, which apart from prices (up) and the full range of colours (extensive) rounds it up nicely for now.

Now the hard work of getting into the minutae starts ... Nurse? The screens!
It's worth noting that a lot of things we've taken for granted for years have subtly been eroded. we no longer operate to the spirit but to the letter of the law, and that combined with the 'ignorance is no defence' caveat, beloved of the prosecution council, means that you've got to have your wits about you more than ever.

If you think you have got a month's grace to tax your vehicle before you're in trouble, think again: you never did beyond an informal postal delay and now the DVLA will fine you if your vehicle is not currently taxed, even if you can tax it retrospectively to the beginning of the month and thereby ensure continuity of the service, and there would seem to be no right of appeal.

If you've got a bike that is SORN'd, and you are expecting to get a reminder off DVLA to tell you when it's expired, don't hold your breath: they're not obliged to do so, apparently, and of course you threw away the confirmation letter when it landed. Be aware that a failure to keep SORN up to date will lead to a fine equivalent to a year's roadtax, and there would seem to be no right of appeal.

And don't assume that the whizzy new computerised MOT system has your details correct. While you're in checking the status of your vehicles - and I recommend you do it, and do it today - you'd be advised to check the MoT status using the site hooked into the central database used by DVLA and the police. If it's wrong, you will be unable to tax your vehicle on-line so go to your original test station with the certificate, they will resend the data and that will bring it up to date. I daren't imagine what would happen in a roadside check situation - quite apart from giving the police legitimate grounds to stop you - but I suspect it would be messy.

To check everything you need to know, follow the links below:

To check the road tax/SORN status of a vehicle - you'll need reg number and manufacturer.

To check the MoT status and history - you will need your V5 or an MoT certificate

Sadly there isn't access to the existing centralised insurance database to make sure that's held accurately, but by the time we've finished with the buggers there will be.
The patches have arrived, and they look brilliant: a fitting addition to the stunning badge and available now from our e-shop or the next issue of the magazine.
We've been very naughty children and have been seeing what those nice people at Honda have put together in the misguided belief that they were building the world's first factory chopper, and comparing that to Victory's most radical custom model: the 106/6 Vegas Jackpot.

You can guess what our verdict might be, but being entirely objective about it, how does the new American Motorcycle stack up against the most creative custom bike from a company held up by many as the one to beat?

You might be surprised by what we found.

Find out all in AmV42: out on the second Thursday in August ... err, actually the fourth Thursday in August: it all went pear-shaped.
This isn't a definitive list, or an idea of the models that we might get over here, but the 2010 model range as certified for California 2011 has a much reduced 883 range, a 103ci option on the Heritage Softail and most of the Tourers.

883cc Sportster:
Iron, Superlow

1200cc Sportster:
1200 Custom, 1200 Low, Forty-Eight, Nightster, XR1200X

1250cc VR:
Night Rod Special, Muscle

1584cc/96ci Softail:
Cross Bones, Fat Boy, Fat Boy Special/Low, Fat Boy Shrine, Heritage Classic, Softail Classic Shrine, Softail Deluxe

1584cc/96ci Rocker:
Rocker C

1584cc/96ci Dyna:
Street Bob, Super Glide Custom, Fat Bob, Wide Glide

1584cc/96ci Tourer:
Road King, Road King Classic, Street Glide, Electra Glide Classic, Electra Glide Ultra Classic, Road Glide Custom, Road Glide Ultra, Road King Shrine,

1688cc/103ci Softail:
Heritage Classic 103

1688cc/103ci Tourer:
Road King Classic 103, Electra Glide Classic103, Street Glide 103, Electra Glide Ultra 103, Electra Glide Ultra Classic103, Road Glide Ultra 103, Road King Police, Electra Glide Police, Escort, Road King 103, Road King 103 Shrine,

Tri Glide Ultra, Street Glide Trike

1802cc/110ci Softail:
CVO Softail Convertible

1802cc/110ci Dyna:
CVO Dyna

1802cc/110ci Tourer:
CVO Street Glide, CVO Road Glide Ultra, CVO Ultra Classic

And that's it, as far as I can ascertain from the certification sheets. There's no new Night Train based on the Rocker platform, no 103-inch Dynas and nothing massively adventurous, just an evolution of the 2010 range.
Hey look at this: it's only taken six years, and they'll be followed by patches in a few weeks.

Resplendent in red white and blue, we're really pleased how well they've come out, and their top-hat fixings look like they'll keep them secure. And we're going to have to re-order soon, the rate at which they're going - and that's before we've put them in the mag!

Only £3.50 each including P&P: see and follow links to e-shop for more details.
Organisers of this year's Bulldog Bash bike and music show - which takes place at Shakespeare County Raceway, near Stratford-upon-Avon, 12th to 15th of August - have welcomed moves to end the massive stop and search operation and reduction of the police presence at the event.

The assistant chief constable of Warwickshire, Bill Holland has told local people that there will be no road closures or road blocks this year after huge operations caused chaos for villagers and showgoers at the past two events. Mr Holland said this year's operation would be "intelligence-led" but people going to the show would no longer be funnelled into a lay-by near the site to be searched.

A spokesman for the bash said:" We welcome a return to sensible policing. The huge operations over the last two years have cost Warwickshire taxpayers a million pounds, resulted in just a handful of arrests and have caused chaos for showgoers and villagers. They also discouraged bash visitors from going out into the local area and boosting the economy. "Local people considered - and we agreed - that these operations were unnecessary. We welcome a return to the type of policing that worked well for the first twenty years of the show. We look forward to working closely with the local police as we have done every year to ensure another safe and successful bash."

The organisers are pleased to announce a fantastic new format for the 24th annual Bulldog Bash, following a multi-million pound investment in on-site infrastructure. The owners of the Bulldog's Long Marston site have been busy all winter implementing new roads and upgrading the site drainage to ensure that the event is ready for the next decade of party goers. Key attractions such as the monster funfair will be relocated in light of the improvements to hard-standing and the trader's retail village is to be improved. Visitors can expect a few welcome surprises as Bulldog 24 features a huge, brand new, outdoor sound stage, along side an all new, non stop, entertainment format in the massive main stage marquee to keep hardy visitors up until dawn - Entertainment on the main stage kicks off on Thursday evening at 6pm (See  for full music listings).

Custom show applications are coming in thick and fast, and spaces are limited - organisers require a full spec sheet, a short covering letter detailing why the bike should be considered and a couple of good photos - upload your bike via the Bulldog website or post applications to Custom Show, HAMC London, 3-5 Dawson St, Hackney, London E2 8JU - a full list of classes can be seen on-line.

RWYB (Run Wot You Brung) Drag racing will be the main attraction for speed freaks, thanks to Shakespeare County Raceway's superb facilities and drag strip surface that is second to none in Europe. Track times are between 9:30 am to 5:00 pm on Friday and Saturday, 9.30 to 1.00pm on Sunday. All bikes must pass scrutineering; which begins at 8:30am Friday and continues throughout the RWYB sessions. The costs for RWYB are just £10 per day Friday, Saturday and Sunday; giving unlimited runs within the days sessions.

After each timed run, riders are presented witha 'Certificate of Speed' giving important information, like reaction times to the green light, timing data from start to finish, alongside opponents times and speeds. And if that's not enough there are some fantastic trophies and prize money for the fastest runs in each of the following classes - American, British, European, Buell, Jap 500cc, Jap 1000cc, Jap Unlimited, Trike, Classic, Ladies and Non Road Legal - which will be presented on Saturday evening on the Main Stage.

For those less inclined to participate in the RWYB, top stunt professionals will be performing exhibition displays all weekend, from formation wheelies and doughnuts, to top fuel dragsters screaming down the strip, funny cars, Nitrous Harleys, Eric Teboul's hydrogen peroxide-fuelled rocket bike and Sikorsky powered Fireforce Jet Cars, all ensure a non stop weekend of top class drag strip action.

Ticket are only £50 per person until June 30th 2010, after which the gate price of £55 applies - book on-line via the website or send a cheque or postal order for £50 per person, plus a first class postage paid SEA, to: The Bulldog Bash 2010, Ticket office, PO Box 5026, East Reading, RG6 1QZ

Cheques should be made payable to: Bulldog Bash Ltd

Full music listings and detailed overview of each band can be found by
following the links below -

*       Main Stage -

*       Area 81 rock club -

Competitors for the RWYB Drag Racing should be aware of the following checklist
*       Drivers licence for signing on
*       Motorcycle leathers, gloves and helmet (jeans & trainers not permitted).
*       All Motorcycles must be clean and not dropping oil or fluids
*       All motorcycles must have an adequate chain guard.
Just days after announcing Ozzy Osbourne, the Buffalo Chip has outdone themselves with Bob Dylan. Nothing much more to say, except Bob Dylan! How much bigger can you get?

Wonder if Elton John was busy ...
... and that's a hell of a line-up to top, as it already includes ZZ Top, Kid Rock, Motley Crue, The Doobie Brothers and The Scorpions.

"In addition to being the largest music festival of its kind, this year's Buffalo Chip lineup during Sturgis Rally Week 2010 not only achieves raucous proportions but offers visitors a high-octane and complete biker experience. With Rally Week celebrating its 70th Anniversary, the Chip has kicked into high gear and is ready to knock the chaps off of the tens of thousands of bikers that will be making their yearly pilgrimage to Sturgis' premier entertainment venue and motorcycle travel destination.
Poised and ready to offer their visitors the complete biker experience, the Legendary Buffalo Chip has rounded up an enormous selection of biker-centric fun and festivities in addition to their unrivaled music lineup.
Providing visitors a barrage of world-class entertainment, art, vendors, food, amenities, charitable efforts and countless memories, the Legendary Buffalo Chip offers its guests the undisputed ultimate Sturgis experience. From the Guns of Freedom which offers guests the opportunity to fire over 65 models of machine guns to the Legendary Buffalo Chip's Freedom Celebration including The American Pride Ride and a special tribute to our American Veterans and Active Duty Military; the Legendary Buffalo Chip offers the complete package.
This year's Legendary Buffalo Chip Sturgis experience also includes Michael Lichter's 10th Annual Motorcycles as Art exhibit. Entitled "Eternal Combustion-30 in the Wind", this year's exhibit will focus on the explosion of interest and passion for custom motorcycles and will feature the works of 15 pairs of custom builders.
Celebrities, the nation's top bike builders and riders looking to ride for charity are also encouraged to take part in the 3rd annual Legends Ride ®. This historic and beautiful ride takes riders from Deadwood to the Legendary Buffalo Chip through the Black Hills of South Dakota and benefits the Children's Home of the Black Hills as well as the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame.
"For Sturgis' 70th Anniversary we really wanted to out-do ourselves this year," explains Buffalo Chip owner, Rod Woodruff. "We wanted to not only provide visitors with a large and varied selection of cool things to do, but also provide them with the nation's foremost biker music festival - with this line-up I think we've officially accomplished that."
A Snapshot of the main feature bikes in American-V 41: on sale Thursday

Here's a taster of what's in American-V 41: on sale Thursday

Be mindful that while you might have thought that roadworthy condition could be seen as legal tyres, safe brakes, correctly adjusted swing-arm and steering, the authorities believe it's nowhere near as important as a little round piece of paper to say you've paid for the right to expect well-maintained roads (sic)

They might be right in that many insurance companies will say in their small print that their liability extends only to roadworthy vehicles, making an untaxed vehicle into an uninsured vehicle, and driving without insurance is a heinous crime to the boys in hi-vis caps for very good reason.

It's time to shut this loophole exploited by insurance companies, but the DVLA need to get their house in order too.

It shouldn't be a problem if the vehicle is untaxed if there is still an ability to get tax to cover the time of the offence, or there is valid and genuine paperwork that can be produced to prove recent transfer of ownership and there is a valid reason for the delay with a full audit trail.

It wouldn't be so bad if the DVLA themselves didn't allow you to tax a vehicle at any point of a month, right up until midnight on the last day - which I use occasionally, in case I need to put one of the bikes on the road rather than SORN it - as was the case with the Victory and the Shovelhead when juggling bikes for Talgarth - rather than get buried in more bloody paperwork.

As long as DVLA continue to work on calendar months, that will be a difficult thing to change, but there is no practical reason any more why tax couldn't run from date purchase for six or twelve months - tax discs could be printed 'on the fly' on security paper printed at DVLA and posted, as per on-line roadtax, with Post Offices able to issue temporary ones to cover the interim. It would suit motorcyclists very well - as we've got the ability to store them off the road - as well as people buying vehicles mid-month, no longer needing to pay anything up to four weeks road tax for a time before you bought it, if you need to put it on the road straight away.

And - so bloody obvious that it's hard to believe it isn't already done - give Post Office Counters access to the central insurance/MoT record so they can confirm the status of any vehicle in the same way as the on-line system, actually closing off the potential for fraud with falsified documents.

It's hardly a data protection issue: hell, anyone can check the MoT status and history of a vehicle if they have the logbook, how complicated can it be? Just plug Post Office Counters into the Direct.Gov system and authorise them to confirm the authenticity of the V5C, which is the only thing that the on-line service cannot do ... and, in fact, the vehicle check on the car that brought all this up tells me I can tax it at a post office without a V5C anyway, so why the hell can't I do it on-line!!!

The solution to getting uninsured drivers off the road isn't straightforward, because it needs the flexibility to take a range of circumstances into account in a way that can't be exploited by the those who know how to work round the system, but the current system is a sledgehamnmer to crack a nut. It is infinitely better than something that the last government was debating, which is that all vehicles are taxed all the time, whether on the road or stored, which I suspect would mean anything issued registration number and would therefore even include boxes of bits and is tantamount to a tax on ownership.
Just for a change, I thought I'd start with the cover and work forwards ... okay, so I'm really really pleased with the cover, and had to show someone!

That's the good news. The bad news, is that I'm deferring publication for a week because we're waiting for parts from the US for the long term Fat Bob, and we've not seen the Vision yet, due to technicalities with SVA and the revised lighting rig that will give it amber indicators that are far enough apart to satisfy VOSA's requirements.

But, I can tell you that we've got a couple of Street Bobs - a quickspin on the 2010 model and a heavily reworked former 88-incher - a roadtest on the XL883N Iron, a race report from Oulton Park's inaugural round of the Henderson XR1200 Trophy, an XR1200 Cafe Racer, a classic bitsa Bobber that'll make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, a quick round-up of three of the official dealer-based builders who are pushing the boundaries from within the Harley network, S&S upgrades, a hatful of disparate events and news, reviews, the Righteous Brothers and a host of other stuff.

Oh, and the announcement of sew-on patches and enamel metal pin-badges!

Can't wait?

Sadly you'll have to, but only for an extra week.

PS. The eagle eyed among you might have spotted that the small pics running across the bottom are from AmV39. Well done. What did you expect at this early stage?

Team American-V at Thundersprint 2010: my fastest lap to date and still a long way off the pace: I really need to ride the Buell more so I can deal with the understeer (well, compared to a Fat Bob) so I'll be able to take that first ninety-degree bend at higher speeds rather than running wide.

Loads more where this cam...e from, and we'll post some of it when time allows.
Just for the benefit of the RSS feed off our email signature, and for those who haven't already been bombarded enough on Twitter and Facebook, check out the XR1200 Series Blog for Hazel Jackson's race report and the results from the inaugural round of the Henderson XR1200 Trophy at Oulton Park.
It's hard no know what to put where in terms of interactive content, but we have put a discussion board - a simple forum - onto the American-V Magazine Facebook page with a few simple topics to start the ball rolling.

Facebook Discussion Board
A little something for all fans of Harley-Davidson's evergreen (orange?) XR from Gary Inman at Sideburn Magazine.

"There are another seven UK Short Track races this year, but if you only make it to one make sure it’s Amman Valley on May 29-30.

This is the first joint race between the UK Short Trackers and the European MEFO Sport racers. That means there will be the cut-throat semi-pros on their modern DTX (modified 450 MX) bikes, the slightly less bloodthirsty Thunderbike class full of framers and modified street bikes, PLUS the All-American Twin Class over from Europe. These are all big, fast, powerful V-twins. There are 1200 Sportsters in dirt track frames, modified XR1000s and XR750s. They’re going to haul on the Welsh 500-metre oval.

Everyone involved wants it to be a festival of flat track culture, so anyone who turns up on a street tracker, or even with one on a trailer or in a van gets in half-price. There’ll be prizes for the best of show, best budget build, best engineering and best paint.

There are two days of racing. Well, a night and a day. The Euro round and All-American twins are on Saturday night. Plenty of UK racers will enter the Euro race. Saturday’s racing starts at 7pm.
Plus there will be a bar in a marquee and food on-site, plus camping available.

Sunday’s racing starts at 1pm. This is a full UK meet with added crazy Euros ensuring it will be, we reckon, the biggest flat track race ever held outside America.

Adults £10 per day or £18 for weekend including camping. OAPS £8 per day or £14 for the weekend, Children (12 to 15) £3 per day or £5 for weekend, Under-12s go free."
Readers' Rides with a difference: you do all the work and we let you.

You've got to be on Facebook - because there aren't many other opportunities to let you post your own pics - but that does mean it'll be a familiar interface to most.

See The American-V Bike Park for more details.
Who else but Confederate? Not so much breaking the mould as reinventing it, and the most creative use of the S&S X-Wedge Motor seen to date, with Confederate's trademark integrated powertrain.

Just a quickie - you'll lose enough time dribbling over the pics in the link, if this sort of thing floats your boat - so I'll leave you to it.

I've gone all light-headed, but am really pleased to see a return to form from Matt Chambers' crew, now returned to their beloved New Orleans.

Thanks to Cyril Huze for the heads-up.
Took a while, granted, but as things are returning to normality after deadline, so the long term blog is taking shape. We've picked up the Fat Bob, got it up to the 1,000 miles and are awaiting the parts from the first upgrade ... some of which are probably in a holding pattern in the skies above the Atlantic waiting for the dust to settle.

See American-V Long Termers and Staff Bikes Blog for more details
A little more in-depth than the snapshot to give you a better idea of the look and feel of the magazine, and including all advertising. On sale now!

Don't forget this is running until May 3rd: the sun is out and there's a Fat Boy for someone at the end of it. What's not to like?

See for full details.
Due any day now, full preview will be available when I get a moment.

Again, double-clicking on the flipping pages will take it full-screen.

Profuse apologies, but we're running a little more than a week late: I'm waiting to hear exactly how much more than a week right now. Million and one reasons why, all valid, but it all comes down to me needing to get ahead of the game and stay there so that I've got the ability to cover weather, family, availability of bikes and computer crises with little more than a waved wand ... although, in fairness, any two of those would have been resolvable, just not all four.

I'm expecting office copies to be with me on Wednesday, so any new subs and advance orders will be going out then, and any existing ones should already be winging their way by then, because they go straight from the printers.

Those headaches have had a knock-on impact on maintaining the blogs too, which I'm updating currently, while continuing to chase computer problems around so I can get the on-line preview sorted out. If I ever meet the idiot at Apple who decided it would be a good idea to hi-jack one of the most popular typefaces in the design world for a bit of the new interface, thereby throwing a spanner of monumental proportions into the works, I'll mark him for life with a capital D in Helvetica Neue 103 Extended Oblique in the middle of his forehead. Pillock!

Still, onwards and upwards. No-one said it would be easy.

In the meantime, have the cover to be going on with. The website will be updated by Wednesday: just winning that battle at the moment.
I don't normally get too heavily involved in this stuff, but there's a massive movement on-line to boycott Esso and BP fuel stations in an attempt to bring prices at the pumps down, and I'm tired of getting my email box clogged up with them.

It's a well-meaning campaign, with a laudable goal, but sadly this won't do diddly: most people already buy on price - and with 5p as litre and more between service stations, that's plain silly at more than 20p a gallon (I remember holding out to save a couple of pence per gallon, riding around on fumes) - so those wonderful benevolent supermarkets are already getting a massive amount of trade at the expense of the big fuel companies, who could well supply it to them in the first place somewhere down the line. I don't know whether there is still an argument raging as to the quality of the fuel from supermarkets, or indeed whether there was ever any foundation to it in the first place.

It's the tax on fuel that needs to be sorted out, and until that happens we're destined to have high fuel prices regardless of what the oil companies do.

The government increases the taxation percentage under the auspices of encouraging a greener lifestyle: it presupposes that people use their vehicles by choice and will use them less if they can't afford the fuel, but with a piss-poor public transport system and out of town shopping, housing and employment (different directions out of town, obviously), they are promoting an infrastructure where workers need personal transport to be able to survive. Yes, some of us do use vehicles for pleasure: the remains of the UK tourism industry relies on that: and the increased cost of fuel will impact them, as well as any industry that needs to transport goods, the hauliers and ... well, basically everyone not living in a self-sufficient commune.

For the rest of us, the message is simple: high fuel tax costs jobs.

If you want to do something constructive, remember that we're in an election year. This needs to be an election issue as part of an overall clarification of the tax package. Move to get the government to set taxation on fuel at an absolute figure, not a percentage. That figure then needs to be transparent because currently it is hidden behind BS: 1p a litre more with this budget, 2p a litre last April based on the pump price, where it gets lost in a complicated tax structure.

If the chancellor - whoever the next one is - puts up duty, it should be on that base figure (and enshrined in law) and we can hold them to account for that.

What we then need to know is whether VAT is charged on that duty - apparently it currently is, so you pay 17.5% on top of the fuel companies' take plus the duty - and there are moves to suggest that is illegal. It's certainly immoral, and is not transparent. Give us the unspun information and let us decide if it's fair. Currently it doesn't seem like it is, which is why people are justifiably angry, and every delay in publishing the figures feeds that dissent.

Then we'll know what the fuel companies are making and can concentrate on making them accountable for their costs.
Amanda's been out playing with the Police again, this time on their most intensive course taken by our local force's chief motorcycle instructor, organised with the county council, and has seen a massive improvement to her riding.

To make that all the more impressive, it was undertaken in the pouring rain on a bike that she'd only ridden once before - the previous day on the way down from Preston Harley-Davidson, who made the V-Rod Muscle demonstrator available to her at short notice.

More details on the lessons she learned and the course itself - as well as how she fell in love with the V-Rod Muscle, but probably very little about getting hideously lost in Preston when she took it back - in American-V 40, out in mid-April ... yes, we are running a week late, and if some of the promised bikes don't turn up soon, that might have to be deferred again.
You're going to hear it somewhere, so you may as well get it here: as-yet unsubstantiated rumours of a private equity giant, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, being interested in buying Harley-Davidson are running round the web, with doom-mongers and the disaffected having a field day.

There's a lot of parallels being drawn between how the family-owned business was absorbed into the evil AMF empire and what a potential new owner might do to The Motor Company, but before clarifying a few details, it's worth reminding people that these are UNSUBSTANTIATED RUMOURS at this point.

Clarifying a few details?

Harley-Davidson went into the AMF deal because they needed AMF's money to turn the small - in global terms - manufacturer producing 15,575 motorcycles (excluding the Italian models), into one producing more than 50,000 in a dozen years. There were some major changes in production methods to accommodate this, and changing the source of some of the components to off-shore suppliers, both of which didn't go down too well with some, but the company that the management bought back in the 1980s was a stronger and more viable one than went into the AMF deal, and was the foundation of the Motor Company we know today. They are cited as the days when quality suffered, which can be seen in retrospect as growing pains, but in that time period, the XR750 was created, the FLHT frame was developed and much of the development of  Evolution engine was done. Rubber-mounting was introduced together with belt drives, 5-speed gearboxes and a range of motorcycles of infinitely more variety than the two FLs, two XLs and the Servicar that were produced in 1969.

And there's no saying how much of the passion of that original management buyout group remains in the higher ranks today: business strategies have changed since 1981 and the company has grown massively in the thirty years since buyback: against that background, how much difference would a change in ownership have?

There is a worst case scenario, which is that squabbling money men cream off the profits, but anyone with an idea of the history of motorcycle manufacturing the in the USA will know how that story ends, and there is a positive story with regards to the recent influence of Private Equity in the US Motorcycle industry, in terms of the passion that is driving Harley's long time rival, Indian, forwards.

Until the dust settles, and either Harley-Davidson or Kohlberg Kravis Roberts breaks their silence, there's little point in speculating as to what is happening behind closed, but there is every reason to be confident as to Harley-Davidson's future.

It might even be a positive next stage in The Motor Company's evolution.
The FLSTC's facelift model might not have been as radical as the Street Bob's – but it underlines the Heritage of Harley's Softail soft tourer beautifully.

We found:
  • It's an excellent alternative to the Road King Classic for the more traditional rider.
  • Its QD removable screen almost gives you two bikes for the price of one.
  • The QD removable pillion seat is irrelevant without a QD backrest.
  • The smooth-running Twin Cam 96B motor is strong and economical in stock trim.
  • The new half-round footboards reduce the cornering clearance, or else the frame has been stiffened improving the bike handling.
  • It's a proper comfortable two-up motorcycle, with almost as much consideration given to a pillion as the rider.
  • If you don't get your head round how the self-cancelling indicators work, you can get in a knot.
  • The wide-band whitewalls, new dash, increased use of distressed leather and the new footboards make for a natural and logical progression for the Heritage Softail that will be welcomed by existing owners and makes it more attractive to new ones.
  • Fitting the massive leather faced, preformed backed panniers to a QD system, along with a QD backrest, would make the bike even more attractive to a broader market sector - and would make it easier to clean.
For more details, see American-V issue 39: on sale in all good newsagents and most WH Smiths with a strong motorcycle section, by mail order or in a digital on-line form.
The time to be a new broom in an established company like Harley-Davidson is not at a time of a recession, charged with discontinuing a brand that turned out to have far more, and more passionate support than Harley could have imagined, and set against poor performance figures - indeed the first posted quarterly loss in sixteen years.

But then you've got to wonder whether beleaguered Keith E Wandell was brought in as a hatchet man with the unenviable job of taking the slings and arrows while Harley repositions itself for the Twenteens, and ready to bale when things start to look up, leaving a bright, time-served Harley insider to take the company out of recession with a clean slate as the saviour of The Motor Company.

If so, the following report from the Associated Press will be water off a duck's back - I'd be thick-skinned enough to take that for $6.4m - but if this was a long term career choice, I'd guess that he'll be getting wistful for his lower profile past right now - and for a more sympathetic press when his remuneration package was filed.


NEW YORK, NY – March 12, 2010 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – The CEO of Harley-Davidson Inc., who took over the motorcycle maker part way through 2009, received a pay package valued at $6.4 million during his first eight months on the job, according to a regulatory filing.

Keith E. Wandell received a base salary of $650,025 from his start date of May 1 through the end of 2009, according to proxy a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. He received a bonus of $780,030 and stock and option awards valued at $4.9 million at the time they were issued.

He also received other compensation worth $22,515, which includes a cash payment of $19,733 instead of perquisites.

Wandell, 60, replaced James L. Ziemer, who retired last year after 40 years with Harley-Davidson and four years as its CEO. Before taking over Harley, Wandell was chief operating officer of the car battery and building ventilation systems maker Johnson Controls Inc.

During his final four months as CEO, Ziemer received a pay package valued at $2.9 million. That includes a base salary of $455,144, a bonus of the same amount and stock and options valued at $1.9 million when they were granted.

He received other compensation worth $44,221, including $14,800 in cash instead of perks and $22,521 in contributions to a deferred compensation plan.

The Milwaukee-based motorcycle maker has hit hard times recently as consumers put off buying its high-end bikes. The company ended the fourth quarter with a loss $218.7 million, its first quarterly loss in 16 years.

The company has been laying off workers, closed factories and shuttered or sold unwanted brands.
The AP’s total pay calculations include executives’ salary, bonus, incentives, perks, above-market returns on deferred compensation and the estimated value of stock options and awards granted during the year.

The calculations don’t include changes in the present value of pension benefits, and they sometimes differ from the totals companies list in the summary compensation table of proxy statements filed with the SEC.

SOURCE: The Associated Press
There's never been a better time to trade-up to a Harley-Davidson, with  between £300 and £900 above the book trade-in price on any 500cc+ motorcycle – whether a Harley or not – against almost any 2010 model if you order before the 30th March 2010: the Sportster Iron, XR1200X and CVO models aren't included in the offer. THIS HAS NOW BEEN EXTENDED TO 30 APRIL 2010

The actual figure will depend on the bike traded-in and the Harley selected - you're not going to get an extra £900 on a CB500 against an 883 Sportster - but it brings a surprisingly affordable range of bikes within even closer reach; or else it might provide that last push for those looking to upgrade their existing Harley. Either way, visit to book a free test ride online to help you decide which model is right for you: it will be too early to be entered in to the draw to win a bike, but roadtests aren't rationed.

“This is a great opportunity for riders who have always wanted to own a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, as well as those wanting to upgrade for a different ride,” says Stuart Farrell, Managing Director, Harley-Davidson UK, Ireland and MEA.

Visit your nearest Harley-Davidson dealership to find out how much additional trade-in allowance you could receive for your current motorcycle, and to find your local dealer, see

Terms & Conditions apply: see dealer for full details
So says Alan Cathcart, writing in world renowned trade journal AMD this month.

The first bid, for the manufacturing rights and tooling for the 1125cc Helicon-engined models, which they would have produced under the Can-Am name alongside the 3-wheeled Spyder - and which can easily be seen as an opportunity to protect jobs at their Austrian subsidiary, Rotax - was turned down, and was followed up by a second to buy Buell, retaining the branding and even the East Troy production facility.

The purchase of Buell itself would again have focussed on the 1125 models, and it's suggested that the plant would either have been downsized with closure of the XB lines, but the spare capacity possibly used to move Spyder production to within the US national borders to give it a "Made in the USA" tag that wouldn't hurt its American sales.

Either move would have saved Harley-Davidson millions of dollars in the closure of the marque, and it's said that some Harley-Davidson stockholders are said to be questioning that decision, adding their voices to the world's Buelligans whose dismay at the loss of a bike they were passionate about has not done Harley-Davidson's reputation any favours with new markets and the younger riders who they are currently trying to court.

Cathcart adds that Harley's CFO, John Olin, has revealed that Buell wasn't separately accounted for on Harley-Davidson's books, which is cited as a possible reason why Harley chose to close rather than to sell Buell, but I can't imagine Harley not knowing exactly what Buell's profitability was at any point since they bought the company from Erik Buell, and while it might have taken a while to have surgically separated a deeply entrenched Buell from H-D's accounts, I don't think it would have cost anything like the quoted £125m that Harley set aside to close Buell.

My money is still on Harley resurrecting the marque - or at least keeping its options open to do so when the economy stabilises: they've spent way too much money not to have bigger plans.

The suggestion that they wouldn't sell to Bombardier to protect the reputations of senior management, in the event that BRP achieved what Harley failed to do, might have more credence if it was a couple of million dollars at stake and the entire board was implicated - as would the decision to buy exclusive rights to the engine of a bike that they had no intention of building again, as a leaving present for Erik - but we're talking about $125 million at a time of financial crisis, and that is at the conservative end of the figures bandied around. How much is the reputation of a board member worth? I'd argue that it's much less than the value of a brand, prioviding that brand has a future.

If Harley-Davidson are planning to resurrect Buell - and you might notice that no Buell branding has been dropped in any corporate context - they're playing a dangerous game and really need to calm the market down before the decision in October, which is seen as anything from a pragmatic calculated business decision to an act of corporate vandalism, threatens to de-rail Harley's own recovery.

Some of the above is educated speculation, but one thing isn't open to interpretation: Harley does need new blood like every other motorcycle manufacturer in the world, and they either need something like Buell as it existed or an entry level range of motorcycles that will introduce the next generation of riders to motorcycles generally, and the Harley-Davidson brand specifically, which could be another use of the Buell brand ... although I still reckon an enlarged XR brand and single-cylinder model based on XL/XB technology would be the better route to getting to a younger audience.

But hey! It's not my money.
Having a busy week: checked out Craig Jones' stunt XR1200 in Northants; had a gander round the 8-Ball Vision that will be our second long term test bike for the summer, and hurtled round Berkshire/Oxfordshire on a couple of Thames Valley Harley-Davidson's 100+HP Stage IV specials: that blew the cobswebs away!
We put one of the new Indian Chiefs – a 2009/2010 model from the Kings Mountain factory – through its paces in American-V 39 and came away very impressed with both the bike and the company's attitude to getting it right, and consigning almost sixty years of false hopes and heroic failures to history.

We concluded:

  • Its high price was justified by the sheer quality of materials and engineering: from the double-stitched leather to the steel, whether chromed, painted or powder-coated.
  • The twin Brembo front brakes were reassuringly capable.
  • The Powerplus 105 engine is strong, and looks stunning.
  • It reintroduces a sense of exclusive exotica to American-made motorcycles in the UK, using a different business model to Harley-Davidson.
  • The minimal vibration of the hand-build, unbalanced, solid-mounted motor isn't a barrier to using the motor properly: smoother and more sophisticated than the Gilroy Powerplus 100 but more character than Harley's Twin Cam 96B.
  • The QD system for the rack, backrest and panniers is very well designed, allowing the bike to run undressed without any aesthetic compromise.
  • It could be improved by self-cancelling indicators with more visible tell-tales, and a fuel gauge.
  • The same switchgear as previous generation Victorys – including a trigger to control the digital element of the clever speedo – will be more familiar to recent converts to American motorcycles than Harley's traditional switch clusters.
For more details, and the chequered history of Indian from their days as America's dominant motorcycle manufacturer to the present day, see American-V issue 39: on sale in all good newsagents and most WH Smiths with a strong motorcycle section, by mail order or in a digital on-line form.
 The XR1200 makes headlines again, providing the vehicle to take US Daredevil, Seth Onslow, into the record books as the longest distance jumped on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle: a distance of 56 metres – or 183.7ft.This broke his previous record of 53.34m/175ft that had stood for a few minutes, which had shattered the ten year record of Bubba Blackwell who had jumped 157ft in Las Vegas in 1999, breaking the record established by Evel Knievel in 1975.

Don't go looking for any of these in the Guinness Book of Records, because there isn't one that specifically identifies a make of motorcycle: maybe Guinness is sensitive about letting commercial interests and branding detract from the honour of the achievement ;-)

There is no mention of the modifications made to the XR1200 used, which looks like it was stripped for weight savings, but I'm sure that any aftermarket suppliers will be quick to capitalise on the opportunity if it arises.

Next up to the plate will be Evel Knievel's son, Robbie, who will be attempting to jump 16 London buses in May, at Battersea Power Station, exactly 35 years after his father failed to clear 13 buses in a career threatening crash. Robbie normally jumps using a Honda CR500, but for this monumental tribute to his father, he will be swapping that for an iconic XR-750, as used by Evel.

It might not be relevent for the street right now, but I'm still holding out for the Erik Buell Racing project being and R&D and PR exercise for the time being, and Harley's reluctance to drop the Buell tag from so much of their corporate stuff suggests they haven't finished with the brand. In any event, we wish Erik Buell every success in continuing to demonstrate to the world that there's more to life than following the herd.

Based on the 1125R and 1125RR, the 1190RR brings engine displacement close to the AMA American Superbike (ASB) class limit for twins and the WSB limit overall. Although it is not currently approved for AMA ASB class racing, this bike can be raced in many classes around the world and should add new excitement racing against other premium street-based twin roadracers. The 1190RR models are constructed at Erik Buell Racing's shop from new 1125Rs with a complete kit of Superbike-level components. Engines are completely disassembled and blueprinted, with top-shelf internal parts added to deliver reliable performance at the extreme rev ranges required for a twin-cylinder bike to compete at these power levels.

The chassis is completely updated with the finest components, as well as all the details for adjustability and comfort requested by the top test riders who have been involved over its development.

Test riding of the 1125RR by Alex Barros, Jeremy McWilliams, Chris Ulrich, Taylor Knapp, Cory West, and more – plus the 1190 motor and a winter of further engine and CFD development – means EBR can finally deliver an exotic American racing motorcycle that will deliver world-class track performance and excitement for sponsors and fans.

Erik Buell Racing
Could this be the show that the UK has been waiting for, for so long?

After years of many people trying to stage a proper national custom bike show with varying degrees of success, for as long as most of us can remember, it looks like the Ace Cafe Motorcycle and Custom Show, currently on at the Alexandra Palace in North London, might have finally got the balance right.

With an accessible location, free parking, good public transport access as well as shuttle buses from the Ace Cafe, full halls, excellent support from the trade and the UK round of the AMD World Championship of Bike Building, it's as good an inaugural event as I can remember, and the numbers of visitors on Friday was promising.

Only complaint we picked up on was the price of the food concessions, which is out of the hands of the organisers and a common gripe, and we wish them well with the party this evening at the Ace Cafe itself, and hope the show provides the shot in the arm required by the industry right now.
I was going to post this before AmV39 came out,
but somehow didn't.

Still, it's hardly current, and having waited 57 years to see it – it's said to have come from 1953, which seems a little late to me – a couple of extra weeks won't hurt.
Don't quite know how this slipped under the radar – although arriving on deadline might have something to do with it – but Harley have announced their 2010 CVO Electra Glide Ultra in Black, with a capital B.

Fully trimmed with their new Gloss Black Rumble collection from P&A forming part of the 185 specifically chosen unique black parts as well as a handlebar-mounted Garmin Zumo SatNav, it comes with the black and chrome 110-inch Screamin' Eagle motor, 6-speed Cruise Drive transmission and ABS braking, and is dripping with the usual CVO touches from a spectacularly sinister Crimson Mist Black / Dark Slate and Flame graphics to 'Contrast Chrome' wheels and a dual control heated leather seat.

Reading through the specs, this is taking Dark Custom to new heights, and don't let the lack of chrome leave you with the impression that it's not going to stand out – and as as one of just 999 numbered editions it's unlikely to be fighting with another one for attention.

If you've got £29,690 burning a hole in your pocket, and want to enjoy the twin benefits of high status and low profile, Harley have just created your bike.

Harley-Davidson's Website
A comment from a reader, Lofty, in our longtermers blog has rekindled the thought-process running through the editorial in AmV38, referring to the idea of a range of Harley big singles based round the Blast motor.

Lofty reminded me of Mac Motorcycles' concept, that they were going to base around the semi-Sportster lump, and revisiting their website has filled me an evangelical zeal demanding that I include it within the main blog.

Top right is what would have been Mac's "Spud" – a simple streetfighter cum bar-hopper – one of four models that would have ticked a few boxes for many, I'm sure.

It remains to be seen whether they'll continue with an alternative powerplant: Yamaha's XT660 has been suggested, but Mac seem pretty committed to an air-cooled thumper single.

Sadly they have been turned down by Harley in terms of the Motor Company supplying Blast motors, which is a great shame: I would have thought it would have presented an ideal opportunity for Harley to test the water without committing to producing a new range of their own ... but then that might work out better for Mac in the long run, because if Harley saw a future opportunity, they could provide serious competition for the small team from Upton-on-Severn, who are continuing to work with the like of Harris and Parker Tanks, and working with a second-hand Blast motor.
Click to book your test ride.

From Harley-Davidson UK Press Release:

To mark the roll out of its market-leading online test ride booking system, Harley-Davidson UK and Ireland are offering motorcyclists the opportunity to win a motorcycle worth more than £15,000.

All riders who take a free demo ride at an authorised dealership between Friday 9th April and Monday 3rd May will be entered into a free prize draw for a new-for-2010 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy Special motorcycle.

Customers can book demo rides online using the booking system which was successfully trialled last year as part of the Judgement Days campaign to encourage riders to challenge their preconceptions of Harley-Davidson and its motorcycles. More than 3,000 test rides were booked online during the campaign in 2009 and this will increase dramatically in 2010 now that the booking facility is available for all 365 days of the year.

As a permanent fixture on the website, online booking enables motorcyclists to view available bikes at each dealership and complete a test ride booking right the way through to confirming a date and time slot. The booking details are then confirmed to the customer on email. It’s designed to put the customer first and allows riders to book the test ride they want, when they want it from the comfort of their home or work.

The system presents information on the current Harley-Davidson range in a simple and uncomplicated way, while operating 24/7 to cater for motorcyclists who are unable to visit a dealership to make a booking or find it inconvenient to take a call from a dealer during work hours.

All motorcyclists – even those who have never previously contemplated riding a Harley – can enjoy a free, no-obligation test ride of a variety of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, including models from the new 2010 range. Highlights include the Electra Glide® Ultra Limited touring machine, factory custom, chopper-style Dyna Wide Glide, the race-inspired XR1200X and of course the Fat Boy Special - the latest incarnation of the legendary Fat Boy.

“There are many preconceptions about Harley-Davidson motorcycles, particularly among riders who have never tried them,” says Stuart Farrell, Harley-Davidson Managing Director for the UK and Ireland. “Some riders may still hold those preconceptions after completing a test ride, but they’ll never know until they try it.

“The huge response to last year’s four-week demo ride campaign proved that UK and Irish motorcyclists do want to take advantage of free, no obligation test rides on our bikes and they do want the option of a fast and uncomplicated booking system that’s available whenever they want it. So, we listened to our customers and provided the facility all year round.”

For further information or to book a test ride please visit
Motorcyclists booking a test ride must have held a full motorcycle licence for a minimum of 12 months. Details of which models are available at each dealership will be available to view at
In the interests of objective journalism, I've just contacted Honda's press office with a request to swing a leg across the Fury: I've got to know if its road manners will save it from consigned to history as a heroic failure. I don't hold out much hope of getting one, unless they are utterly convinced that it will win me over.

Despite my obvious preferences, I will endeavour to be wholly objective - as indeed were the earlier comments that might preclude my invitation to their next Christmas buffet: I want it to be good, because it will broaden the market, and there's no reason why it shouldn't be if they've done their homework right. Sadly the evidence of the bike at standstill isn't encouraging. Watch this space ...
To be fair, it wasn't really hiding - in fact it got its dealer launch over the weekend, but it's not the sort of thing we're big on attending. But then we found ourselves at Fowlers in Bristol today and there were four of them!

First impressions ... errrr ... brave move by Honda but frankly I'm unimpressed. Didn't think the build quality was up to much - very much below expectations for Honda - cosmetically it seemed like a parody of a proper chopper and there were more things to point at and wince than to congratulate them on.

To be honest, if someone had told me it was made by a Chinese manufacturer rather than at an American plant of a Japanese maker, I wouldn't have been surprised. Welding looked scruffy in places, the yokes seemed weedy for a 250cc cruiser and there were too many angles working against each other for my tastes.

Didn't like the quality of the castings - wheels or kickstand - didn't like the plastic mudguards, didn't like the dash, didn't like the height of the back end, which I sincerely hope was kicked so high to accommodate a rider and pillion, at which point it would have settled down to something a lot more sensible.

But I especially didn't like the price tag: £12k plus for a 1300cc factory chopper? MCN, in their infinite wisdom, have suggested it's a rival for the Rocker C and as such is relatively cheap, but having now seen one, they're so wide of the mark that they should hang their heads in shame. It's got too much of the finish of the now defunct plain Rocker – rough finished where it should be smooth or polished – and it doesn't hold a candle to the Rocker's finish - metal or paint. It doesn't stand close comparison to the new Wide Glide which is cheaper, bigger, better looking, will have a higher residual value and is the real deal.

Its nearest rival, I'd suggest, is the plain finish 1737cc 8-Ball Vegas, which is a better bike in every respect on face value, and is three quarters of the price.

It's reckoned that Honda will only be bringing 300 of them into the country initially, and it might find a market on a degree of exclusivity, but only among the clinically insane unless it gives a good account of itself on the road. Sitting on it, the steering is certainly very neutral for such a radical headstock, and there's a chance it's going to deliver on the road, but we're not aware of any dealer demonstrators being made available. We'll have to see if Honda will let us play with a press fleet demonstrator after that critique, if they've got one: we're more than willing to put one through its paces, and I'm still prepared to be wooed by its sophistication and style, but it had better be brilliant to make up for its apparent shortcomings.

To be honest, I'd far rather play with their DN-01 production concept bike with its auto gearbox and radical styling, but while that's a V-twin, it's from one of Honda's Japanese plants and so doesn't qualify for the magazine.