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From Electric to World Leader in Trouble

By Bill Bish, Editor Ride-On Magazine with images from the Bob T. Collection

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 is brought to you by Aid to Injured Motorcyclists (A.I.M.) and the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM), and is sponsored by the Law Offices of Richard M. Lester. If you’ve been involved in any kind of accident, call us at 1-(800) ON-A-BIKE or visit


Compiled & Edited by Bill Bish,
National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM)

Final Sturgis Motorcycle Rally figures indicate a slight decrease in overall attendance, but including a third fatality reported on Sunday, traffic deaths were the lowest since 2014 when two motorcyclists died. Four people died in traffic crashes during the Rally last year.

Accidents were also down this year, with 52 injury crashes reported, down from 56; 41 non-injury crashes compared with 50 in 2018, according to the state Department of Public Safety.

The number of vehicles counted entering Sturgis, South Dakota during the 10 days of the 79th annual Sturgis Rally, from Friday, August 2 through Sunday, August 11, was down 1.2% from 505,969 in 2018 to 499,654 this year, according to the state Department of Transportation, which has been counting since 1990.

The record vehicle count was 604,441 for seven days -- Monday through Sunday -- of the Rally in 2000, the 60th anniversary, according to DOT figures. The record attendance, by head count, was an estimated 738,000 in 2015, the 75th anniversary, according to Rally officials.


An ongoing trade war continues to escalate, and with motorcycles once again caught in the crosshairs, whatever the outcome the cost of motorcycles is likely to go up. Trade tensions between the European Union (EU) and the United States involving ongoing disputes regarding aircraft subsidies has led the Trump Administration to respond with $11 billion in proposed EU tariffs, including many motorcycles imported from countries in the EU.

The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has proposed 100% duties on motorcycles 500-700cc, as well as “parts and accessories for motorcycles (including mopeds).” (HTS subheadings 8711.40.30 and 8714.10.00).

The retaliatory tariffs could have far-reaching consequences for European-based motorcycle manufacturers, including Ducati, BMW, Husqvarna, KTM, Triumph and Vespa.

As of now, the product list is “preliminary”, and riders are urged to make their voices heard.

The Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) has announced a broad, long-term initiative to bring more people into the world of motorcycling.

“It’s clear the industry needs to reach and inspire new customers. While many of us, with our individual businesses, have taken steps to grow ridership, we also should be working together, and the MIC wants to help make that happen,” said Paul Vitrano, MIC board chair and senior assistant general counsel at Indian Motorcycle and Polaris Inc. “To help us fully understand the barriers to entry, and to create an inclusive strategic plan to conquer those barriers that will be available to all stakeholders, we have partnered with a team of researchers and strategists to bring fresh perspectives to this challenge and opportunity.”

To initiate this strategic plan, the MIC has hired consulting firm ?Centauric LLC? to lead the first phase of this initiative. “Centauric has committed an impressive multi-disciplinary team of behavioral scientists, engineers, and business consultants, and takes a unique approach to problem-solving. We are excited to be working with them on this critical initiative,” Vitrano said.

“This is not designed to be a quick fix, nor is it just about sales,” said Chuck Boderman, MIC vice chair, and vice president, motorcycle division, American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “It’s about showing people how motorcycles can fit into and enrich their lives, no matter where they live, what they do, what their hobbies are, or how old or young they are. This will take time, so we are committed to building a campaign that takes the long view… and how united as one, we can attract new riders to motorcycling.”


“In about ten years it will probably not be possible to buy a motorcycle with an internal combustion engine in most, if not all, European countries,” warns Dolf Willigers of the Federation of European Motorcyclists' Associations (FEMA).

Based upon information gathered during Sustainable Energy Week in Brussels, consisting of three days of presentations about how to make our society more sustainable; “When you think about future transport, think electric. Not biofuels, not hydrogen, certainly not carbon-based fuels, but electric battery-powered vehicles is what we can expect.”

Transport is seen as a big contributor to the greenhouse effect. According to the EFA, the European Environment Agency, road transport emits nearly 21% of the EU’s total emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas. Both the European Union and countries inside and outside the EU want ‘climate-neutral’ transport in 2050. “This looks far away,” says Willigers, “but remember that cars, the largest part of the vehicles, in Europe have an average lifespan of about twenty years. To have all cars on the road emission free in 2050 means that cars that do emit CO2 should no longer be on the market after 2030. Now it suddenly gets closer.” According to Williger, in just over ten years, there should be a complete transition from cars with a (carbon-based fuel) internal combustion engine to battery-electric powered cars.

Already the governments of Denmark, Germany, Ireland, India, Israel, Netherlands and Sweden have announced that they will ban the sale of new ‘carbon-fueled’ cars from 2030. France, China and the UK have announced to stop the sale of new cars with an internal combustion engine from 2040. On the other hand, Norway wants to ban the sale of these cars already from 2025. “Indeed, I’m talking about cars, not about motorcycles,” Williger explains, “But let’s be realistic: when the sale cars with an internal combustion engine will be stopped after 2030, in one country (the Netherlands) also the sale of mopeds with an internal combustion engine, how big will the chance be that an exception will be made for motorcycles?”

England and Wales could make hands-free cellphone devices illegal for drivers, after research showed that it is no safer than using a hand-held phone, which would include a ban on comm systems for motorcyclists.

The Commons Select Committee has said that the Government should consider extending the law against using a mobile phone while driving and has called for a public consultation on the issue by the end of 2019. The Committee also recommended increasing the penalty for using a hand-held device and wants the police to do more to enforce the law.

Smart helmets and other communication systems are gaining in popularity for riders, as having access to our phones at all times has become a social and often professional requirement, and in recent years the industry has been booming with increasingly versatile devices.

The committee’s recommendation is based on a study that determined these systems are as distracting as using a handheld device, and whether behind the wheel or behind the handlebars, your attention is divided. According to the National Safety Council, drivers on the phone miss up to 50% of what’s happening in their surroundings while taking a call and their field of view is dramatically narrowed down, so chances are, a similar proportion applies to riders.

If such a ban is imposed in the UK, it could spark discussions of similar bans in the rest of Europe and perhaps the rest of the world.


Although India has a national helmet law, as of August 5 the highly urbanized city of Bengaluru will begin implementing a “No helmet, no fuel” policy that means any motorcycle rider, including their passenger, will not be allowed to buy fuel at any gas station within the city limits if they are NOT wearing their helmets.

"The Bengaluru Traffic Police has spoken with petrol pump owners across the city seeking their cooperation to enforce the 'No Helmet, No Fuel' initiative,” Bengaluru City Additional Traffic Commissioner P. Harishekaran told News18. “This is being done purely for the interest, safety, and security of people.”

Bengaluru is not the first city to take such a step, as on June 1, 2019, the State of Uttar Pradesh, which has a population of 200-million, enacted a “No helmet, no fuel” policy and also prohibits motorcycle riders from using the expressway if they are not wearing their helmets.

The Ministry of Defense has suspended a soldier for the first time because of his role in the world of motorcycle clubs, threatening Sergeant Major Maurice Vissers with removal from his job with the Ministry for being “involved in a prohibited motorcycle gang.”

Vissers is not a member of a forbidden club, but is vice president of the Veterans MC, a military motorcycle club in the Netherlands to which many soldiers and former soldiers are affiliated, but he stands accused of having contacts with the Hells Angels as the clubs maintain friendly ties.

Earlier this year, the Ministry of Defense announced in a statement regarding the behavior of Defense employees that security clearances will be withdrawn if they have contact with a criminal organization or are "involved in outlaw motorcycle gangs such as Satudarah, Hells Angels, No Surrender or the Bandidos." Where the Ministry previously discouraged its staff from becoming members of ‘1% clubs’, action is now being taken against soldiers who, for example, have a child or a partner in a prohibited motorcycle club, labeling them a security risk.

Despite having no criminal record and no other security issues, the Ministry of Defense has given the soldier a choice: leave the motorcycle club or Defense.


The Moscow Times has reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin recently attended a biker show organized by the Night Wolves motorcycle club in annexed Crimea, and state television showed Putin at the handlebars of a Ural motorcycle without a helmet on.

At least two people have filed complaints with the authorities on the basis that Putin had violated Russian law by not wearing a helmet, and a Russian lawyer has requested the traffic police fine Putin $15 over the infraction.

“Putin is violating [the law] again,” said Regional legislator Oleg Khomutinnikov in a complaint to Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office, writing on Facebook; “So what, the violations are minor. But does that make them non-violations?”

Oscar-nominated actor Peter Fonda, who became a counterculture icon when he co-wrote, produced and starred in seminal 1969 road movie “Easy Rider” fifty years ago, died August 16 of lung cancer at age 79.

The son of Hollywood legend Henry Fonda, he appeared in numerous biker movies, including “The Wild Angels” (1966), “Ghost Rider” (2007) and “Wild Hogs” (2007).

Fonda earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay for Easy Rider, which was added to the National Film Registry in 1998, having been deemed “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”

In 1991, Peter Fonda attended the National Coalition of Motorcyclists’ 6th annual NCOM Convention to receive the Silver Spoke Award for Entertainment; “In Appreciation For Improving The Image Of Motorcycling.”

He was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2002, not only for his work on Easy Rider but also for his motorcycle-related charity work, including the Love Ride.

His interest in motorcycles was the direct result of rebelling against the elder Fonda; "My father didn’t want me to," he once told the L.A. Times newspaper. "It was like, in your face. As soon as I could, I bought a Harley. That was the beginning. Loved it. Never have stopped."

QUOTABLE QUOTE: “I have always maintained that society has no business dictating morality.”
~ Peter Fonda (1940-2019)

Join the Cantina, Quick! Touch her.
Join the Cantina, Quick! Touch her.

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