2016 Motorcycle Week in Review, July 1
Through the years, this week in history has seen a number of beginnings and endings come and go. On 27 June, 1985, the iconic Route 66 that connected Santa Monica, California to Chicago, Illinois, was officially relegated to the history books. Long since superseded by the national interstate system, the 2,200 mile long route was declassified and had all its road signs removed, and is now a tourist attraction and motorhead mecca for all sorts of vehicles.
The Corvette hit two milestones in this week in history as well; 30 June, 1953 saw the first Corvette roll off the GM line in Flint, Michigan. This marked the first time an American-made sports car came with an all-fiberglass body, and it launched a legacy that persists yet today. On 2 July, 1992, the 1-millionth ’Vette rolled off Chevrolet’s Bowling Green, Kentucky plant. That’s a lot of zeroes folks, and it speaks volumes for the vision of the designers over the years.
Ford closes out the history lesson with a closing of its own; the final Thunderbird rolled off the Wixom, Michigan production line on 1 July, 2005, ending a 50-year long run from its instant success back in 1955.
Continue reading to find what 2016 adds to the story.
Piaggio (RED) Scooter
On 29 June, Piaggio proudly announced to the world its collaboration with the (RED) charity that raises funds to fight malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS in developing countries like Zambia, Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya and South Africa, among others. Piaggio’s contribution to the global health effort is the (RED) Vespa model, and $150 from each sale goes directly to (RED) to press the fight against these deadly diseases, and help people in desperate need medical intervention.
Now, I’m not suggesting that you run out and buy one just to help out, but if you are already in the market for a scooter when they become available this December, do take a look at the (RED) and consider doing something that may make you feel better about yourself for a while. Wink, nudge.
Motorsports Hall of Fame Inductees
The 28th Annual Motorsports Hall of Fame of America met on 29 June in Daytona Beach, Florida, and voted to add seven new names to the list. Bob Sweikert, Gary Gabelich, Richard Childress, Chip Ganassi, Sam Posey and Dave McClelland join Everett Brashear as the inductees for this year. Mr. Brashear was already an AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer, having been inducted all the way back in 1988, and this is a well-deserved feather in the cap of a man known as one of the best dirt-track racers ever, and an all-around tough competitor.
Kymco’s Grom-like K-pipe has come under the scrutiny of the NHTSA due to a workmanship problem that has been identified in the transmission. Apparently, affected models had the shift-mechanism installed backwards. It still works, just in the reverse of the one-down, three-up pattern. The danger is that riders accustomed to the conventional shift pattern may become confused and lose control of the bike. I’m kind of shaking my head at this one. Riders reverse their shifting all the time, mainly Sport-Ohs wanting to switch to GP shifting because.....well, I’m really not sure what all the excuses are, just that most of the time it’s completely unnecessary. Kymco should have got out in front of this and just said, “Oh, that’s the GP shift option,” and charged more money for it. The factory is still trying to sort out a fix for it (really?) and owners of the 476 potentially effected models can expect info as it comes available, or contact KYMCO or the NHTSA for more information.
Drifting on a Can-Am Spyder
This next bit is not really news news, but it is good news for drifting fans and Spyder riders alike. On 28 June, Can-Am released details on its new-for-2017, Spyder F3-S that is meant to serve as the factory’s race-inspired model, and so far it looks like more fun than a barrel of monkeys. A three-cylinder Rotax engine cranks out a solid 115 horsepower and 96 pound-feet of torque, and a new Sport mode that unleashes all that power to the rear wheel, and forces the traction control to allow the wheel to slip and lay more smoke than a retreating army in the process. Expect Spyders to join Victory bikes in Youtube videos any day now.
Brexit and the MCIA
My last piece is arguably the most significant event in recent history, and it will take years before all of the side effects are known. The “Brexit” vote on 23 June saw the Pound Sterling take a nosedive amid a flurry of alarmed market reactions, and a statement from the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA). In a nutshell, the MCIA expects it to more-or-less be business as usual on the short term, and it sees bringing the decision-making body for the industry closer to home as a good thing. You could call them cautiously optimistic, since business and political savvy will play a large part in how this plays out, but the language in the official report is far from the gloom and doom being batted around so much right now.
Be Safe This Holiday Weekend
Fellow Americans, the Fourth of July weekend is upon us once again, and for many of us that means family and fun all weekend. Moderation is the key, my friends, and remember that alcohol and fireworks do not mix well, and the folks down at the police department will be on the lookout for drunk drivers, so do yourself a favor and plan ahead, have a DD or at least some cab fare.
Be safe folks, and keep it between the lines and away from drunk cagers.