A Few Random Images of the SMS Open House

On Saturday, November 28, Don, Doris and the rest of the fine folks at Shreveport Motorsports held their yearly Open House. Several members of the Red River BMW Riders showed up to kick tires, tell tales, eat hot dogs and win door prizes. Our thanks to SMS for the good time.

A Cranberry Collision: A Controversial Traffic Circle Gets Eaten

Sometimes Thanksgiving is about more than turkey, dressing and family. Sometimes it's about getting newsy with a cranberry mold. If you've been following Shreveport media of late, you know that the city paid several thousand dollars at the behest of homeowners to put in a traffic circle near an area called Thrill Hill. The plan was that the traffic circle would slow motorists coming over the blind hill, some of whom the local paper reported were going ONE MILE over the speed limit. (The nerve!) The traffic circle did slow motorists down, but did so by causing large-scale vehicular carnage. The first day the traffic circle was installed, there was a wreck. The day the traffic circle was torn down, there was a wreck. Here's to good intentions gone awry and an even better cranberry mold, created by talented bike builder and cranberry traffic circle construction foreman Steve Culp. Though this has nothing whatsoever to do with BMWs or riding, we thought it would make you smile.

Jerry Sagona Heads North to St Louis

The Red River Riders are losing a member to a colder, but what has proven to be a more economically welcoming, clime. Jerry Sagona is moving to St. Louis, Mo., to take a job as the Human Resources Business Partner for ABB Reliability Services. The plant, with about 400 employees, manufactures medium voltage electrical transformers that are sold to power companies, sub-stations and industrial plants.  Jerry will be transitioning over the next few months, so will be in town on-and-off for a while until his house sells. In the meantime, he has already checked out the St. Louis BMW dealership, Gateway, and reports back that membership in their club should be a lot of fun. There will be at least one familiar face in St. Louis. BMW area representative Mark Jamroz is also over the Gateway store so will be able to update Jerry on Shreveport happenings. Though we hate to lose Jerry, we wish him the best on his move and new job!

Travelling Texas In the Fall

(Ed. note - if it's another month, it's another adventure for Red River Riders club member Drew Newcomer. Drew loves to ride and is always looking for places to do so. We all want to be like Drew when we grow up.)

By Drew T. Newcomer
The Motorcycle Sport Touring Association has been meeting in the Texas Hill Country for a fall ride nearly 20 years. The last time I made this event I was riding a Honda (and that has been some time ago!) So, when fellow BMW rider and club member Bob Mizner extended an invitation to enjoy some hospitality and join him for the Hill Country event, I had no good excuse not to go.

Heading out to Bob and his wife Barbara’s place on November 5, I rode I-20 to Texas Highway 14 where I turned north toward Hawkins, Texas. Bob lives just north of Hawkins and I cleaned up the R1150R in his garage and turned in for the night. With Bob in the lead we headed out about 8:00 am on Friday morning. Bob chose a variety of farm roads to wind us southwest where we finally intersected Highway 31. We rode 31 to Corsicana where we grabbed highway 22 west after a good hot cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll. There was not a cloud in the sky as we rode on to Meridian, Texas, on through Cranfills Gap to Hamilton where Bob left 22 to join FM 2005 which took us to Goldthwaite, Texas. In Goldthwaite we jumped on Texas Highway 16 which would take us all the way to our destination of Kerrville and the Y. O. Ranch Resort.

Bob had a treat in store for me when we arrived in Llano. A quick left on Highway 29 and one block lead us to Cooper’s Bar-b-que where large pits were manned by several chefs cooking everything from chicken to sausage to rib eyes to tenderloin. Now, Bob neglected to tell me that it is very easy to overeat when at Cooper’s. I selected some sausage, some tenderloin, and some pork ribs. Boy was I surprised when my bill totaled in the neighborhood of $21.00! The meat seemed to have enlarged from the time I picked it on the grill till the time I sat down at the table to chow down. Good thing Bob was willing to help me with this feast. Although we didn’t arrive till 2:00 pm, Cooper’s was still plenty busy and after talking to a few locals, I discovered that Cooper’s is famous in these parts and people drive long distances to sample the great fare they offer.

On very full stomachs we finished the last hour of the ride from Llano to Kerrville. We arrived at the Y. O. and checked in after “blue sky only” ride of 380 miles. Many riders had already arrived and it was nice to visit with folks that I hadn’t seen in a long time. Many attendees went out to eat Friday night, but I pleasantly declined as I was still stuffed to the gills with bar-b-que! Needless to say, I slept very well that night.  Saturday morning arrived with a brilliant sun and many riders headed to Destination Cycle, a local dealer in Kerrville.

Coffee, doughnuts, and breakfast tacos were in store for those that stopped by. After a light breakfast, I left the group behind and headed down Texas 173 to Bandera. I was greeted by some fog which was thick enough to cause me to slow down in spots. This being the first weekend of the local deer season was another reason to be especially vigilant. Bandera, known as the Cowboy Capital of the World, has grown exponentially from the first time I came here years ago. I headed west from Bandera on FM 470 to Tarpley and on to Utopia where I headed north for a few miles on FM 187 to Vanderpool. One of the most popular roads in Texas for motorcycles is FM 337 between Vanderpool and Leakey. I rode it west, liked it so much that I turned around and headed back east. I even had my photo made by a local entrepreneur who takes photos, posts them on the internet, and lets you select and purchase them if you like (yea, I bought a couple !!) After arriving in Vanderpool for the second time I turned north for a final time on 187.

There is a small, but very interesting motorcycle museum on 187 just a few miles north of Vanderpool. This was another place I had not visited in a number of years so I stopped and looked at the fifty or so motorcycles and had a burger as my breakfast was now gone.  Interestingly enough, 187 is where I had my deer encounters. I had a couple run across the road in front of me, but they were far enough ahead of me that there was no cause for alarm – deer are rampant in this part of the world and I have come closer to a few than I would like at all times of the year.

187 took me to Texas 39 where I turned east to Hunt, Ingram, and finally back to Kerrville. The weather was ideal and it would be difficult to imagine a better venue. I will not let so much time pass before I get back to the Hill Country at this time of the year.

Motorcyle Sales Blow In 3rd Quarter

If you watch TV, listen to the radio, talk to friends, glance at billboards, read magazines, newspapers, flyers, tea leaves or chicken bones you know that we in the big ol' US of A are mired in an economic slump the likes of which haven't been seen since the last big economic slump and won't be seen again until the next big economic slump. Jeepers.

What it really means is the mediagenic prophets of doom have managed to so scare people that even if their retirement/homes/jobs are safe they are too terrified to buy something as nonessential to their continued existence on earth as a motorcycle. So, gentle readers, that giant sucking sound you heard was the manufacturers' third quarter and year-to-date earnings.

Let's start with our friends, the Bavarians.  From January until September of this year, BMW Motorrad's 500cc plus segment fell by 31.5% over the previous year. European and U.S. numbers paint a dismal tale. In Europe, the Spanish market tanked the worst (off by 58.3%) with the UK the least (-8.9%). The home of BMW, Germany, was off 15.5%. The U.S. market decline was a killer, off a whopping 43% year-to-date.

As would be expected when facing less demand for product, motorcycle production at the plant in Berlin has been reduced selectively by about 22%. BMW's woes are not their burden alone, they are industry-wide.

In Japan, damage wreaked by a Godzilla-type movie monster might be preferred to skittish buyers. (At least monster damage might be covered by insurance.) Since January of 2009, Japanese manufacturers have produced 67.2% fewer over 250cc bikes for markets worldwide.  U.S. sales of the over-250cc Japanese bikes are off by 79.8%. Yes, you read that correctly, down nearly 80%.

The pain is deep and universal. The following is the manufacturer, the units produced so far this year and the percentage of the previous year. In other words, Honda's 10,364 bikes manufactured in 2009 is only 48% of what they produced last year.

Honda 10,364 48.0%
Suzuki 8,932 36.0%
Yamaha 10,281 55.7%
Kawasaki 8,727 75.3%

Kawasaki is strongest on number of motorcycles produced, but understand that these are the numbers of bikes BUILT, not the number of bikes SOLD.
These numbers courtesy of http://www.webbikeworld.com/

Meanwhile, Harley Davidson reports a Q3 loss of about 22%, which was about 8% BETTER than its Q2 numbers. Harley-Davidson Financial Services took a HUGE hit, which helped send net income tumbling by 84% in the third quarter.
Polaris says Victory cycles are off by 56% in Q3 and 53% year-to-date.  Indian Motorcycles, which post sales figures to an Etch-A-Sketch,  are offering to pay your first SIX payments if you will just take one of their motobeasts off the dealer floor.
With dismal sales and dealers dying to make deals, now is the time to buy, buy, buy.

Buell Goes Bye, Bye

Manufacturers are having to divest of those products not pulling their weight and to that end, Harley Davidson has dumped Buell. The Wisconsin motorcycle company was founded by ex-Harley Davidson engineer Erik Buell, but with H-D suffereing crushing net income losses YTD in 2009, Buell had to go.

Harley Davidson says the Buell factory will close down on December 18, but that they will continue to provide extra parts for the foreseeable future and will continue to honor all guarantees. H-D is also actively searching for a buyer for MV Augusta, the boutique Italian line they purchased just 18 months ago.

The good news for Buell afficianados is that the line won't go away entirely...word is that it will continue as Buell Racing. Teams will use the 1125R and will be supported by Harley-Davidson.

Indian Goes To the Dark Side

Since sliding back into regular production, Indian motorcycles has amassed a whopping 15 dealers nationwide. Though you may have to travel to find them, Indian is giving potential customers more to look at in 2010.

The first is called the Chief Dark Horse and is available in matte Thunder Black, Indian Red and Deep Water Blue. The dark components on the bike including the blacked out headlight, tappet blocks, suspension, engine components, exhaust system, and hand controls make the remaining chrome components stand out. MSRP is $27,999.

The second newbie is the Chief Bomber, a one-year-limited edition model inspired by the aircraft of WWII. The Bomber is available in Military Green and Silver Smoke finishes and sports pin-up girl tank artwork. The leather used on the seat and saddlebags are reminiscent of the feel and color of an old bomber jacket. MSRP is $30,999.