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Tuesday Edition

NCOM Biker News Bytes for March 2020

With News about the Industry, Bonneville and Potholes

Compiled & Edited by Bill Bish

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The 35th annual NCOM Convention in Indianapolis, scheduled for May 8-9, 2020 at the Marriott Indianapolis East, has been postponed due to the global outbreak of the deadly and highly contagious Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).


Based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and public health authorities attempting to stem the spread of COVID-19, “We are postponing the NCOM Convention and plan to reschedule it for later this summer,” according to James “Doc” Reichenbach II, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM).


The primary concern is for the health and well-being of staff, volunteers and guests of the Convention, and NCOM will continue to monitor ongoing developments and protocols for this infectious viral disease to determine the safest date to reschedule.




As worldwide headlines have been dominated by societal disruptions tied to the Coronavirus outbreak, from business and school closures to suspending professional sports, COVID-19 related cancellations and postponements have hit the motorcycling community as well, with numerous biker events, motorcycle races and even the motorcycling industry itself falling victim to the spreading contagion.


Daytona Bike Week was one of the first casualties, as Mayor Derrick Henry declared a state of emergency for the city on Friday, March 13th and called off the event, though the revocation of city-issued permits barely affected the throngs of rally-goers rolling down Main Street the last few days.


The 79th Daytona 200, however, has been postponed until Biketoberfest in October and the Daytona TT will be rescheduled.  Bans placed on large gatherings has also played havoc with other racing venues, with World Superbike, Le Mans 24-Hour and MotoGP races rescheduled, the 2020 Supercross season halted, and the Isle of Man TT road race being cancelled.


The Coronavirus is impacting many events throughout the country, but the 80th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is “still on,” as is the 97th Laconia Motorcycle Week, both months away.


Worldwide, motorcycle factories are shutting down production lines or scaling back, supply chains are jeopardized and accessories and riding gear may soon become short in supply.  This could also last for several months even after the virus has cleared, as manufacturers ramp back up, and you can expect even more announcements as the virus runs its course.


At the Box Office, even the world premiere of the latest James Bond film ‘No Time To Die’ has been delayed to November, so bike fans will have to wait to see M15 Agent 007 taking part in some spectacular stunts at the helm of a Triumph Scrambler 1200.




“We are all in this together and it is critical to keep motorcycle dealerships up and running during the COVID-19 crisis,” said the Motorcycle Industry Council in an open letter to the President and all Congressional representatives, so “This afternoon the MIC sent a letter to the White House urging that powersports manufacturing facilities, distribution centers and dealerships be allowed uninterrupted operation during emergency declarations.”


The MIC letter goes on to request citizen support; “Sharing this with our elected officials is something proactive we can do beyond maintaining social distancing,” and MIC Senior VP, Government Relations Scott Schloegel provided a template with the talking points you can send to your congressional representatives, such as;


“Motorcycles, ATVs and ROVs are used for critical daily activity including transportation, farming operations, law enforcement, emergency response for fires, remote rescue operations, and military operations. It is essential that these vehicles and related parts, safety apparel, and accessories be available, and capable of being serviced by qualified technicians.”


Ask your legislators for this simple addition to the Phase 3 legislation now under consideration.




Global motorcycle sales were a mixed bag for major manufacturers in 2019.  Despite recording sales of 60.1 million units in 2019, the global motorcycle market shrunk by 1.6 million and the forecast for 2020 isn’t clear nor sunny.


Global motorcycle sales grew to its highest level ever in 2018 with 61.7 million units sold, but last year was particularly difficult for the Indian market which experienced a 3.1-million downturn in sales.  Luckily, increases of 1.3 million units in China and 1.1 million units in Europe helped offset the disappointing performance of the world’s largest motorcycle market.


Although the Indian market shrunk by 19% between 2018 and 2019, it still reigned as the largest two-wheeler market in the world with 18.5 million in sales. China trailed close behind with 16.3 million, but the field took a sharp drop from there with Indonesia at 6.5 million, Vietnam coming in at 3.2 million, and the Philippines reporting 1.8 million.  For some perspective, the United States took the 11th spot on the list, Japan's poor performance in 2019 earned it the 15th slot, and Europe’s highest-selling country, France, ranked as low as 17th.


Vehicle type also factors into the equation with the 50cc+ scooter segment responsible for 25.8 million in sales.  Motorcycles nip at the scooter’s heels with 24.8 million units sold while trikes represent 4.7 million and mopeds bring in 4.6 million units.  Quadricycles/ATV had 600,000 units sold.


While the global moto market declined by 2.6% in 2019, the spread of Coronavirus Disease could result in further losses in 2020.




The global electric motorcycle and scooter market are forecast to grow to a value of US$14.29 Billion by 2027, growing at a robust CAGR of 7.1% over 2019 to 2027:


“Mobility has become an important component of the smart city framework of cities, and this trend shall pave way for the popularity of electric motorcycles and scooters,” according to a March 18 report by Transparency Market Research.


“The growth of the global electric motorcycle and scooter market is a function of advancements in green energy technologies.”  Some of the leading drivers of demand within the global electric motorcycle and scooter market are:

  • Lead acid batteries are being developed in abundance across the globe, and this trend has supported the growth of the global electric motorcycle and scooter market.
  • Growing traffic congestion has led several population groups to prefer two-wheelers over private cars for their daily commute. This factor, coupled with the stellar pace of manufacturing electric scooters, shall benefit market vendors.
  • The need to reduce air pollution and carbon emissions has led governments and other industries to take multiple measures and initiatives at administrative and industrial levels. Development of electric motorcycles and scooters is also a part of these initiatives.


Governments have begun providing incentives to manufacture electric vehicles, which will encourage a larger number of manufacturers towards developing resilient and performance-oriented electric vehicles.  “The leading vendors in the global electric motorcycle and scooter market are looking at tapping into the needs and requirements of the masses.”




Buckeye bikers will legally be allowed to wear earplugs while riding, under a new law signed by Governor Mike DeWine (R) in a February 21, 2020 ceremony at the Ohio Statehouse.


House Bill 129, sponsored by State Rep. Riordan McCain (R-Upper Sandusky), also allows motorcyclists to wear earphones for hearing protection, but prohibits riders from listening to music or other entertainment.  Previously, like in many other states, wearing earplugs was a minor misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $150 and points against your license.


Earplugs help prevent long-term hearing damage from wind noise, say bill proponents like ABATE of Ohio, while still allowing riders to hear emergency sirens, car horns and other important sounds on the road. The bipartisan legislation easily passed both chambers of the state legislature unanimously, and drew no public opposition.


Aid to Injured Motorcyclists (A.I.M.) Attorney for Ohio Ralph C. Buss had previously represented a truck driver referred to him by ABATE who had received a citation for wearing earplugs while riding his motorcycle, and stood to lose his Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), which helped draw attention to the need to reform the antiquated law.




The future of land speed racing at the Bonneville Salt Flats is in jeopardy!  The once 13-mile racetrack at Bonneville is now less than 8 miles due to salt erosion.  It is critically important that the U.S. Department of the Interior contributes funds toward a 10-year restoration program that will dramatically increase the amount of salt pumped onto the Bonneville salt basin, located on the Utah/Nevada border near Wendover, Utah.


This unique geologic formation has served as the backdrop for movies, commercials and photos, and is a magnet for tourists.  However, Bonneville is most well-known for its role in the history of motorsports, having served as a preeminent race venue since the early 1900s.


Help restore the Bonneville Salt Flats before it's too late by urging the Secretary of Interior to fund the Restore Bonneville program through the department’s FY 2020 budget.


The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee's report accompanying the Interior Department's FY 2020 appropriation included language expecting the Department to work with the State of Utah on the pending cooperative agreement to support Bonneville's restoration, but a final agreement to provide BLM funding has not been reached.  The Utah State Legislature agreed to contribute $5 million to restore Bonneville contingent upon outside sources of funding for the project.




A New Jersey motorcyclist has been awarded $2.65 million for extensive injuries he suffered when he hit potholes while riding on a poorly-maintained Passaic County road, lost control of his Victory cruiser and crashed into an oncoming minivan.


Roger Gates, now 67, spent six weeks in the hospital, suffered multiple fractures and underwent numerous surgeries with months of inpatient rehabilitation after the April 14, 2016 crash that left him unable to work and walking with a cane.


According to the lawsuit, the county knew the broken pavement was a recurring problem and, instead of fixing the road, simply filled the potholes with asphalt, a repair that will quickly lift out once freeze-thaw erosion takes place.  The road had already been marked in the County of Passaic’s records as being in need of repair in 2016, when Gates crashed.


According to the New Jersey Law Journal, the County of Passaic’s attorney has since moved for a new trial, and will attempt to appeal this verdict.




A wrongful death suit against the transportation company that pickup truck driver Volodymyr Zhukovskyy was working for at the time of a fatal crash with a group of bikers last year can go forward, a New Hampshire judge recently ruled, adding to the numerous lawsuits in the case.


The lawsuit was brought by Mary Lou Welch, the common-law wife of Jarheads Motorcycle Club president Albert Mazza Jr., who was killed in the head-on collision in June on U.S. 2 in Randolph, N.H. against Westfield Transport, who employed Zhukovskyy, and has since closed.


Judge Steven Houran ruled that “It is reasonable to infer that … Mr. Zhukovskyy had a reckless or vicious propensity to drive dangerously,” Houran wrote, “and Westfield knew or should have known about this propensity.”


Zhukovskyy is facing 23 criminal charges in Coos County Court including homicide for allegedly slamming into the biker pack on a two-lane highway as the Jarheads were leaving a nearby motel on their way to a charity event.



QUOTABLE QUOTE: “One who walks in another's tracks leaves no footprints.”

~ Joan Brannon (1930-2011) American actor & writer


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