2011 Husqvarna TC450 Prototype Revealed

Husqvarna Motorcycles has taken a big step in the dirt bike market ever since being acquired by BMW Motorrad. The combination of the two thus far has been mostly the application of the German’s purchasing power, marketing and production and refining techniques. The world has been waiting for a blend of the two manufacturers’ dirt bikes, and it’s finally happened with a prototype TC450 motocross machine. During our trip to the factory in Varese, Italy to ride the TE630, Husky reps promised a joint-effort bike very soon, and here it is. Husqvarna reports that the same platform will serve a TXC450 cross country and TE450 dual sport dirt bike.

It’s being called a 450/Open class machine, which may indicate the possibility for another big-bore machine, perhaps something along the lines of previous European open-classers like the 505/525/550. Just how close are the prototypes to being complete? Husky says the bike will be released later this year.

Read Entire Article

Source [Motorcycle USA]

Harley-Davidson moves into the heart of Sturgis for 2010 rally

April 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Events

MILWAUKEE (April 19, 2010) – Harley-Davidson will move its 2010 rally experience to two all-new locations in the heart of Sturgis, S.D., where the Motor Company will celebrate the 70th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally with customers and motorcycle enthusiasts August 6-14, 2010.

The Harley-Davidson Road Tour with the newly released 2011 Harley-Davidson® motorcycles, Genuine Motor Accessories, MotorClothes® merchandise and H.O.G.® members-only pin stop will run from Friday, Aug. 6 through Saturday, Aug. 14 at the intersection of Lazelle and 3rd streets in downtown Sturgis. All Harley-Davidson activities in Sturgis are free of charge.

Harley-Davidson demo rides for 2011 motorcycles will be available in Sturgis at a location near Interstate 90 at Exit 30. More details on the exact location, dates and hours of demo rides and other Harley-Davidson activities in Sturgis will follow in the coming weeks.

“Right smack in the middle of Sturgis seems like the ideal place for Harley-Davidson to spend the week,” said Steve Piehl, Harley-Davidson Director, Consumer Events Marketing. “We recently made a similar move to an outdoor rally experience for Daytona Bike Week this year and it was extremely popular. We listen closely to our customers and believe that they will love the new Sturgis locations for our Road Tour activities, demo rides and H.O.G. pin stop.”

In recent years, most Harley-Davidson activities for the Sturgis Rally had been located in Rapid City, S.D. at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. “We really enjoyed working with the staff at the Civic Center in Rapid City and have been very pleased with the service and facility over the years,” Piehl said. “We feel that our move to Sturgis will give us the opportunity to reach significantly more rally attendees than we could in Rapid City.”

For the most up-to-date information on Harley-Davidson events at the 2010 Sturgis Rally, please visit the Experience section at www.harley-davidson.com/sturgis.

Harley-Davidson Motor Company, the only major U.S.-based motorcycle manufacturer, produces heavyweight motorcycles and a complete line of motorcycle parts, accessories and general merchandise. For more information, visit Harley-Davidson’s Web site at www.harley-davidson.com.

Source [Harley-Davidson]

Shooting Victim rides a Honda CBR600 F4 into the afterlife.

April 28, 2010 by  
Filed under Odd Stories

We debated whether or not we should create a new category in WordPress for this story. Since we  hope that we will not see another kooky story like this one for a while we decided against it. For now we will just post it under Odd Stories.

David Morales Colón, the dead gentlemen in the picture to your left, was shot to death last Thursday and apparently his family thought he would rather be a atop his Repsol-liveried Honda CBR600 F4 versus lying horizontal in a coffin.

So what bike would you like to ride into the afterlife on?

Source [AutoBlog , Primera Homa]

Great-Grandson of William Davidson named Vice President of the Harley-Davidson Museum

MILWAUKEE, Wis. (April 23, 2010) –Harley-Davidson today announced that Bill Davidson, Vice President of Core Customer Marketing and great-grandson of Company co-founder, William A. Davidson, has been named Vice President of the Harley-Davidson Museum and Factory Tours. The Museum’s current leader, Stacey Watson, is taking on a newly elevated role leading marketing for all Harley-Davidson customer segments across North America. These new roles begin June 1st.

“Bill and Stacey are passionate leaders with dynamic backgrounds in marketing and customer outreach,” said Mark-Hans Richer, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. “A guy like Bill Davidson running our Museum is a natural next phase for this important business. He’s spent his career – probably since he could walk – deeply focused on strengthening Harley-Davidson’s relationships with our riders around the world.”

Davidson has been with Harley-Davidson for more than 26 years in various leadership positions throughout Marketing. “Harley-Davidson is in my blood,” said Davidson. “The Museum is not only the story of Harley-Davidson – it’s the story of America, told through the lens of an iconic company. I’m excited and honored to share that story and continue to build the Harley-Davidson legacy with everyone who visits the Museum from around the world.”

The Museum opened in July 2008, under the leadership of Watson. She was instrumental in the design, development, construction and launch of the Museum, which has become a highly regarded and awarded destination for hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world.

“I am proud of what we accomplished together at the Museum to create a world-class destination right here in Milwaukee,” said Watson, “and I am thrilled to continue strengthening the Company’s focus on customers in my new role.”

Reaching customers in new demographic segments is one of the Company’s highest priorities. In her new role as Senior Director, Consumer Segment Marketing, Watson will be responsible for directing the marketing strategy for all core and outreach consumer segments within North America, with a special focus on Women, Young Adults and Diverse markets. Watson joined Harley-Davidson in 1996, and has held roles in York Vehicle Operations in York, Pa., Buell Motorcycle Company, New Business Development and Harley-Davidson Europe.

About the Harley-Davidson Museum

The Harley-Davidson Museum is located at 400 West Canal Street in Milwaukee and provides a glimpse of American history and culture like you’ve never seen it before – through the lens of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The Museum is open year-round (10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Mon-Wed and Fri-Sun, and 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Thurs) and parking is free. For more information on the Museum’s galleries, exhibits, special events, tickets, and more, visit www.h-dmuseum.com.

Source [Harley-Davidson Press Release]

2010 Arizona Bike Week Review

April 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Events

Like most everything else, major motorcycle rallies have been hit by hard times. Numbers are down, people are grumpy and most of us can’t even remember what a leisure dollar is, much less spend one. But somehow, somewhere out in a blooming Arizona desert, somebody threw a party and for a few days in April everyone forgot they weren’t supposed to be having fun.

The 14th annual Arizona Bike Week, held this year from April 9 through April 18, included five warm-up “pre-rally” days that kicked off the event with signature rides, dealer hosted parties and biker queen pageant eliminations. It was a prelude to the main event, Cyclefest, which opened its doors April 14.

Read Entire Review

Source [Motorcycle USA]

Harley-Davidson is making no promises to their employees.

The road to recovery for Harley-Davidson seems to still have some potholes in it.  In a recent question and answer session between Harley-Davidson management, shareholders, and employees, Harley-Davidson’s CEO Wandell said that the company still faces challenges from the still struggling economy and that he can make no guarantees when it comes to the job security of its employees.

“I wish to God I could stand in front of everybody and say that you’re going to be guaranteed a job for life,” Wandell said. “We’d all be great friends and pat each other on the back and walk into the sunset together. You know what? Life isn’t that simple.”

“I will come to work every day, roll up my sleeves, work next to you on the line, whatever has to happen to ensure that we are a great company,” Wandell said. “But I’m not going to tell people something that isn’t true.”

A member of the United of the United Steelworkers Union, Deborah Evans, claims that unionized production workers “aren’t feeling the love” from Harley-Davidson’s Management.

The situation with Harley-Davidson is eerily similar to what American Car manufacturers have had to deal with during the Great Recession. It will no doubt be interesting to see how this story plays out.

Source [The Business Journal of Milwaukee]

2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200 Review

For 2010, Italian motorcycle manufacturer Ducati has released the successor to its tried-and-true motorcycling Swiss Army knife: The 2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200. Despite using the same name as before, the new generation machine expands upon its original concept by utilizing a multitude of imaginative technologies that we’ve never seen on a Ducati, or any other production street bike. This allows it to achieve higher levels of performance, comfort and, above all, practicality. To discover some of its potential, Ducati invited MotoUSA to ride the new machine in one of Mother Nature’s most rugged, diverse, and ultimately magnificent proving grounds: The Canary Island’s Lanzarote, located west of the Moroccan coast.

The Concept

For Ducati the new Multistrada represents a changing of the guard within the walls of its Borgo Panigale factory. It’s a much more broadly-focused motorcycle, designed for use by all types of riders. From zigzagging through canyons, to touring cross-country, jetting across the city or the occasional mild off-road escapade, the new Multistrada is designed to do it all.

Read Entire Review at Motorcycle USA

Source [Motorcycle USA]

2010 Honda VT1300 Cruisers First Ride

Honda Motorcycles deems the mid-sized cruiser demographic so important that within the last year it has produced four different models in this range. The forebear was the Fury, the company’s first production chopper, which attempted to break the staid reputation of its cruiser motorcycles with a big-wheeled, raked-out, high-necked ride. Since its early release last April, Honda claims that over the last year it has been the best selling ‘factory-custom’ in the US.

The Japanese manufacturer’s 2010 VT1300 Series continues in that vein, as the new trio deviates from the 2009 VTXs with more custom-styling influences. The frame on the new VT1300 bikes is more open in the head space so the engine isn’t packaged so tightly, the streamline tank is racier and is styled more like the Fury’s, the bars are more pulled-back in custom bike fashion, and the old solo pipes are now dualies blended together beneath an encompassing heat shield. The bodywork, from its fenders, air filter and battery covers, have been infused with edgier styling by adding angular designs on the covers and stronger lines throughout. The VT1300 Series motorcycles are also longer and lower than ever before.

Read Entire Review

Source [Motorcycle USA]

Victory Motorcycle sales increase 83% during first quarter

First Quarter Highlights:

–Sales grew 16% to $361.7 million from last year’s first quarter

–Net income increased 127% to $0.59 per diluted share, representing a first quarter record for Polaris

–Gross margin percentage for the first quarter 2010 increased 170 basis points to 26.2% due to lower product cost, higher selling prices and favorable currency movements

–Raising guidance for full year 2010 earnings to a range of $3.48 to $3.60 per diluted share, a 14% to 18% increase over full year 2009 on expected full year 2010 sales growth of 8 % to 11%

–The Polaris Board of Directors has approved the regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.40 per share payable May 17, 2010 to shareholders of record as of May 3, 2010

Polaris Industries Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!pii/quotes/nls/pii (PII 64.85, +4.96, +8.28%) today reported record first quarter net income of $19.8 million, or $0.59 per diluted share for the quarter ended March 31, 2010. By comparison, 2009 first quarter net income was $8.5 million, or $0.26 per diluted share, which included an $0.18 per diluted share non-cash impairment charge on the Company’s investment in KTM. Sales for the first quarter 2010 totaled $361.7 million, an increase of 16 percent from last year’s first quarter sales of $312.0 million.

“Our first quarter results demonstrate that the investments we made throughout the economic downturn have prepared us well to accelerate growth in 2010. Our first quarter sales and earnings growth exceeded our expectations driven by solid execution of our long-term strategy, which includes successfully developing and marketing innovative new products and improving operational efficiencies across our business,” commented Scott Wine, Polaris’ Chief Executive Officer. “Total Company retail sales to consumers in North America grew nine percent during the first quarter, as we saw strong demand for our Off-Road vehicles and Victory motorcycles. Our international sales to customers outside of North America grew 41 percent in the quarter, with surprising strength in Europe and several developing markets. Polaris achieved strong market share improvements in ORV and Victory Motorcycles as our retail sales performance was notably stronger than overall industry retail sales, which remained weak through most of the first quarter.”

Wine continued, “Profitable growth is an important objective for Polaris, and we leveraged operational excellence to ensure that margin expansion accompanied our strong 16 percent organic growth in the quarter. The gross margin expansion realized during the quarter was the result of a number of operational initiatives including the utilization of our world-class engineering team to reduce product costs and our Max Velocity Program, which is enabling us to work with our dealers to drive retail sales and market share growth more efficiently.”

Wine concluded, “While we still have concerns about the strength of the economic recovery and our core powersports industry, I am confident in the ability of this Polaris team to capitalize on our investments in the development of innovative, high quality products, our international expansion efforts and the many exciting new market adjacencies that we are pursuing. We fully expect to deliver consistent long-term, sustainable growth and profitability for all stakeholders.”

2010 Business Outlook

Based on Polaris’ performance during the 2010 first quarter and expectations for the remainder of the year, the Company is increasing its full year sales and earnings guidance for 2010. The Company now expects full year 2010 earnings to be in the range of $3.48 to $3.60 per diluted share, an increase of between 14 and 18 percent when compared to earnings of $3.05 per diluted share for the full year 2009. Sales for the full year 2010 are now expected to grow in the range of 8 to 11 percent. For the second quarter of 2010, the Company expects total sales to increase in the range of 14 to 17 percent primarily due to continued strength in ORV, Victory motorcycles and international retail sales to consumers. Second quarter 2010 earnings are expected to be in the range of $0.63 to $0.67 per diluted share, an increase of 19 to 26 percent, compared to earnings of $0.53 per diluted share for the second quarter of 2009.

First Quarter Performance Summary

(in thousands except per share data)

Three Months ended March 31,

Product line Sales                  2010             2009             Change

Off-Road Vehicles                   $250,403      $   215,461      16   %

Snowmobiles                            5,554            8,166        -32  %

On-Road/Victory Motorcycles             25,353           13,836       83   %

Parts, Garments & Accessories           80,398           74,561       8    %

Total Sales                         $   361,708      $   312,024      16   %

Gross profit                        $   94,914       $   76,434       +24  %

Gross profit as a % of sales            26.2    %        24.5    %    +170 bpts

Operating expenses                  $   67,234       $   58,047       +16  %

Operating expenses as a % of sales      18.6    %        18.6    %    —

Operating Income                    $   31,936       $   22,791       +40  %

Operating Income as a % of sales        8.8     %        7.3     %    +150 bpts

Net income                          $   19,771       $   8,458        +134 %

Net income as a % of sales              5.5     %        2.7     %    +280 bpts

Diluted net income per share        $   0.59         $   0.26         +127 %

Off-Road vehicles (“ORV’) sales during the first quarter 2010, which includes sales of both core ATVs (all-terrain vehicles) and RANGER(TM) side-by-side vehicles, increased 16 percent from the first quarter 2009. This increase reflects significant market share gains for both ATVs and side-by-sides driven by new product offerings including the recently introduced RANGER RZR 4, the Company’s first 4-seat sport side-by-side. The Company’s increase in ORV retail sales and market share also benefited from the success of its go-to-market business model called Max Velocity Program (“MVP”), which is currently in place with approximately 50 percent of the North American ORV dealer volume. North American retail sales to consumers for ORVs increased nearly 20 percent for the 2010 first quarter from the first quarter last year, with side-by-side vehicle retail sales increasing significantly while core ATV retail sales were about flat. Retail sales trends improved sequentially each month during the first quarter of 2010. North American dealer inventories of ORVs were down significantly during the 2010 first quarter, declining 34 percent when compared to 2009 first quarter levels. Sales of ORV to customers outside of North America increased over 40 percent in the first quarter 2010 when compared to the first quarter 2009, due to market share gains in both ATVs and side-by-side vehicles, positive mix benefit as more higher priced side-by-side vehicles were sold, higher selling prices and positive currency benefit from the weaker US dollar.

Snowmobile sales totaled $5.6 million for the 2010 first quarter compared to $8.2 million for the first quarter of 2009. The first quarter is historically a seasonally low quarter for snowmobile shipments. The decrease in sales was primarily the result of timing of shipments in the 2010 first quarter compared to the first quarter last year. Season-end North American dealer inventories of snowmobiles at March 31, 2010 are at acceptable levels. During the quarter the Company introduced 11 new model year 2011 snowmobiles with industry-leading innovation and technology including additional models with the award winning PRO-RIDE(TM) progressive rear suspension, reduced vehicle weight, improved durability and increased horsepower.

Sales of the On-Road division, which primarily consists of Victory motorcycles, increased 83 percent during the first quarter of 2010 when compared to the same period in 2009. This marks the 2nd straight quarter of market share gains and retail sales growth for Victory and reflects the acceptance of the new model year 2010 motorcycles including the new Cross Country(TM) and Cross Roads(TM) touring models. The heavyweight cruiser and touring motorcycle industry remained weak during the quarter, but Victory continued to benefit from aggressive and innovative efforts to accelerate growth. Victory motorcycles had strong retail sales during the 2010 first quarter, increasing in the mid-teens percent range in North America compared to the first quarter last year, resulting in market share gains for the quarter. North American dealer inventory of Victory motorcycles declined 25 percent in the 2010 first quarter compared to 2009 comparable levels. During the 2010 first quarter, Polaris added additional dealers for its electric powered low emission vehicle, the Polaris Breeze(TM), to further penetrate the master planned community market segment.

Parts, Garments, and Accessories (“PG&A”) sales increased eight percent during the first quarter 2010 compared to the same period last year primarily due to increased RANGER(TM) side-by-side vehicle related PG&A sales.

Gross profit as a percentage of sales was 26.2 percent for the first quarter of 2010, an increase of 170 basis points from 24.5 percent for the first quarter of 2009. Gross profit dollars increased 24 percent to $94.9 million for the first quarter of 2010 compared to $76.4 million for the first quarter of 2009. The increase in gross profit dollars and the 170 basis points increase in the gross profit margin percentage in the first quarter 2010 resulted primarily from continued product cost reduction efforts, higher selling prices and favorable currency movements compared to the first quarter of last year.

Operating expenses for the first quarter 2010 increased 16 percent to $67.2 million or 18.6 percent of sales compared to $58.0 million or 18.6 percent of sales for the first quarter of 2009. Operating expenses in absolute dollars for the first quarter 2010 increased primarily due to the increase in incentive compensation plan expenses that were temporarily reduced last year during the extremely uncertain economic environment and the current higher stock price and higher expected profitability for 2010.

Income from financial services was $4.3 million during first quarter 2010 compared to $4.4 million in the first quarter of 2009.

The non-cash Impairment charge on securities held for sale was $0.0 for the first quarter 2010. In the first quarter 2009 the Company recorded a $9.0 million, pretax, or $0.18 per diluted share impairment charge on securities held for sale. During the first quarter 2009, the Company determined that the decline in the market value of the KTM shares owned by the Company was other than temporary and therefore recorded the decrease in the fair value of the investment as a charge to the income statement as of March 31, 2009.

Financial position and cash flow

Net cash provided by operating activities totaled $3.8 million for the first quarter ended March 31, 2010, a significant improvement from cash used for operating activities totaling $33.1 million in the first quarter of 2009. Higher net income and lower working capital requirements for the 2010 first quarter compared to the first quarter last year are the primary reasons for the increased cash provided by operating activities. Borrowings under the credit agreement were $200.0 million at March 31, 2010 compared to $244.0 million at March 31, 2009. Cash and cash equivalents improved to $124.4 million at March 31, 2010 compared to $17.9 million for the same period last year. The Company’s debt-to-total capital ratio was 48 percent at March 31, 2010, compared to 64 percent at the same time last year.

Dividend declared

The Polaris Board of Directors has authorized the payment of a regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.40 per share payable May 17, 2010 to shareholders of record as of May 3, 2010.

Conference Call and Webcast Presentation

Today at 9:00 AM (CT) Polaris Industries Inc. will host a conference call and webcast to discuss Polaris’ 2010 first quarter earnings results released this morning. The call will be hosted by Scott Wine, CEO, Bennett Morgan, President and COO, and Mike Malone, Vice President Finance and CFO. A slide presentation and link to the audio webcast will be posted on the Investor Relations page of the Polaris web site at www.polarisindustries.com/irhome approximately 30 minutes before the conference call begins.

To listen to the conference call by phone, dial 800-374-6475 in the U.S. and Canada, or 973-200-3967 Internationally. The Conference ID is #50080804.

A replay of the conference call will be available approximately two hours after the call for a one-week period by accessing the same link on our website, or by dialing 800-642-1687 in the U.S. and Canada, or 706-645-9291 Internationally.

About Polaris

With annual 2009 sales of $1.6 billion, Polaris designs, engineers, manufactures and markets off-road vehicles (ORVs), including all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and the Polaris RANGER(TM), snowmobiles and Victory motorcycles for recreational and utility use and has recently introduced a new on-road electric powered neighborhood vehicle.

Polaris is a recognized leader in the snowmobile industry; and one of the largest manufacturers of ORVs in the world. Victory motorcycles, established in 1998 and representing the first all-new American-made motorcycle from a major company in nearly 60 years, are making in-roads into the cruiser and touring motorcycle marketplace. Polaris also enhances the riding experience with a complete line of Pure Polaris apparel, accessories and parts, available at Polaris dealerships.

Polaris Industries Inc. trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “PII”, and the Company is included in the S&P Small-Cap 600 stock price index.

Information about the complete line of Polaris products, apparel and vehicle accessories is available from authorized Polaris dealers or anytime from the Polaris homepage at www.polarisindustries.com.

Except for historical information contained herein, the matters set forth in this news release, including management’s expectations regarding 2010 sales, shipments, net income, net income per share and cash flow, are forward-looking statements that involve certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those forward-looking statements. Potential risks and uncertainties include such factors as product offerings, promotional activities and pricing strategies by competitors; warranty expenses; foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations; effects of the KTM relationship; environmental and product safety regulatory activity; effects of weather; commodity costs; uninsured product liability claims; uncertainty in the retail and wholesale credit markets; changes in tax policy and overall economic conditions, including inflation, consumer confidence and spending and relationships with dealers and suppliers. Investors are also directed to consider other risks and uncertainties discussed in documents filed by the Company with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Company does not undertake any duty to any person to provide updates to its forward-looking statements.

Source [Polaris]

‘The Scorpions’ to perform Aug 13th at Sturgis Rally.

April 21, 2010 by  
Filed under Events

The German band will fill the Aug. 13 slot during the Sturgis rally, according to Rod Woodruff, campground owner.

“I think they’re giants,” Woodruff said. The band has sold more than 100 million albums, and it will be bringing its Get Your Sting and Blackout World Tour 2010 to the Black Hills. The band has announced they will retire after this tour, making their performance at the Buffalo Chip the last opportunity most will have to see them live, Woodruff said.

The Scorpions are know for hits “Rock You Like A Hurricane,” “No One Like You,” “Send Me an Angel,” “Still Loving You” and Wind of Change.”

“These are honest people who make honest music,” Woodruff said.

Woodruff said he thinks the band is a good fit for the crowd at the campground because the Scorpions expressed an interest in being able to connect with the audience.

“They want to relate and feel the buzz,” Woodruff said.

The band recently released a new album, “Sting in The Tail.” It will likely be their last studio album before retirement.

“They’re not living in the past. The best is yet to come,” Woodruff said.

Scorpions join Motley Crue, Dave Mason, Tesla, Creedence Clearwater Revisited, The Guess Who, ZZ Top, Orianthi, Kid Rock, Jason Aldean, Disturbed, Williams & Ree and The Doobie Brothers for the 2010 lineup.

Tickets are on sale at www.buffalochip.com.

Source [Rapid City Journal]

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