Roadbook

Commentary, Opinions and Reviews on Life, Motorcycles, and the World at Large.

THE NEVADA 200 TRAIL RIDE

DOES IT GET ANY BETTER? 
Scot Harden and Daryl Folks lay out a ride that is pure heaven.

We here at Dirt Bike have been totally spoiled when it comes to bucket-list trail rides. There have been numerous intros led by Malcolm Smith, the Six Days of Michigan, the Colorado 500, the Soboba Trail Ride, FMF’s Baja Del Mar event, Brian Farnsworth’s Prescott Trail Ride and Cameron Steele’s Beach Bash. We’ve been to invite-only events, on group rides, dual-sport adventures and hundreds of “select group” events ranging from riding with Dick Burleson in the UP, riding with Bill Gusse at his Illinois farm, and riding with Dave Coombs in the hills of Blackwater and Loretta Lynn’s ranch in Tennessee.

But, at the top of the heap, one ride always brings a smile to our weath.ered mandibles—the Nevada 200. It was an invitation-only ride that came together when Casey Folks and Scot early ’70s. He dragged Casey to the very secluded outpost, and the two friends went play riding. They decided then and there that no matter what, they would meet every year and ride. They started inviting close friends, and now 35 years later, it’s on the calendar as one

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Time to GoMotorcycling

The following is from the March Issue of Dealernews

Our industry is tripping over itself these days to find solutions to the challenge of remaining relevant in a rapidly changing social and economic environment. We are looking under every rock; throwing program after program together, all in an attempt to find new riders; drive customers to dealerships, attract the attention of younger audiences. The MIC, AMA, IMS, Harley Davidson and even grassroots efforts like my Plus 1 Rider Initiative are doing their best to shake things up and turn the tide of declining ridership. While all should be commended, I realize now more than ever that something is seriously missing. What’s missing you say? An overall strategic plan! The more I think about it, the more I realize that what’s needed now more than ever is an overall strategic plan for promoting motorcycling; a plan that ties everything together; a plan that applies structure to the programs and campaigns that our industry currently supports, a well-defined campaign that allows our industry to speak with a collective voice. Without it I’m afraid we’re pissing in the wind, diluting our efforts with token efforts and falling far short of the critical mass

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Playing By The Rules

The following is from the July issue of Upshift

Back when I first started riding the sky was the limit as far as where you could ride off-road. This was pre-BLM, pre-public land closures, pre-endangered species, back when you could ride almost anywhere without looking over your shoulder for a park ranger or BLM agent patrolling the area. 

It’s a much different world today. An alphabet soup of state and federal agencies regulate not only where, but also when and what we can ride. From national parks and forests to federal preserves, wilderness areas and vast tracks of public land, rules and regulations have been established that clearly define the limits of motorized off-road recreation. And while some long for the good old days of unlimited access, frankly I’m happy we’ve set some boundaries. The simple truth is we need to protect our natural resources from ourselves. Sadly, not all of us are good stewards of our public lands. 

Case in point, the Mojave Preserve. As most already know, the Mojave Preserve is one of my favorite places to ride. I've been riding there since before it was federally protected and before it was closed to unlimited off-road use.  Most thought it

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Politics, Religion and Electric Motorcycles

The following is from Issue #25 June 2019 of Cycle News Magazine

Judging from some of the feedback I received on last month’s issue on electric motorcycles it’s pretty clear no other topic in all of motorcycling draws more angst or ire. It's the third rail of any conversation regarding the future of motorcycles and especially motorcycle racing. And just like religion and politics a topic best not discussed amongst friends. However, at the risk of poking the bear one more time, I want to share a few more thoughts on electric motorcycles with the hope of shifting the focus of the conversation and possibly shedding some of the baggage that surrounds them.  

The majority of my career in motorcycling has been spent helping bring new motorcycles to market for OEM’s like KTM and Husqvarna. I also spent 6 years doing the same for an electric motorcycle manufacturer, where I developed a clear understanding of the technology; it’s benefits and limitations. In the process, I heard every objection imaginable by the press, dealers, and consumers. Even my close friends and industry colleagues looked at me like I had grown a third eye when they learned I was working for an

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The Mint 400: Fear and Loathing Part II

The following is from the February 2019 issue of Dealernews

As a native Las Vegan, a child of the ’70s and an avid off-road motorcyclist Hunter S. Thompson’s cult classic “Fear and Loathing” spoke to me in a very direct and highly personal way. In many ways, it embodied my life up to that point because it touched on three topics near and dear to my heart. Las Vegas, the Mint 400 and ….uh…er....uh…. well nevermind about the third. It was after all the ’70s. In any case, the book was highly inspirational and for me, validation that I lived in a world of endless possibilities and all I had to do was conjure the appropriate dream. Deeply connected to that dream for me was The Mint 400. Growing up in Las Vegas the race was well known to practically everyone, even the average Joe on the street which is why in 1972 at 16 years of age, my riding buddies and I rode our dirt bikes out to the old Mint Gun Club to watch our heroes compete. The site of JN Roberts mauling his Husky at speed through silt beds 3-4 feet deep was one of the most awe-inspiring

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UTV Market Update: Racing's Impact on the Bottom Line

The following is from the February issue of Dealernews

While improving economic news is trickling in from around the country regarding new unit sales and dealers are feeling a re-newed sense of optimism and confidence about what 2019 holds in store; one segment that continues to shine for many dealers is UTV sales. And while this news isn’t particularly earth shattering it is rather interesting to hear that when questioned about their business’s primary focus most dealers still respond, “I’m a motorcycle dealer”. Well kudos for your loyalty and for carrying the torch for the two wheeled industry but a deeper dive will quickly demonstrate just what a huge impact UTVs have had on the bottom line of most powersports dealers over the past five years. 

2018 BITD Unlimited Class Champ

By definition UTVs are “utility” vehicles and in truth the majority of sales still lie in the recreational, agricultural, commercial and special use case categories. However, another area that deserves special focus and the subject of this article is UTV sales for racing applications. Across the country from short course racing to long distance off-road racing UTV racing has grown from an interesting sideshow to center stage in many racing series and organizations.  From the

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Article as it appeared in AIMExpo Issue of Dealernews -                          

Back in January I wrote an op-ed for American Motorcyclist magazine regarding the downward trend in new motorcyle sales, the need for bringing new riders into the sport, our faliure to engage millenials combined with a simple yet powerful message on how to turn the tide. The Plus 1 Rider Initiative is based on a simple premise: The best hope for reversing the trend in declining ridership lies within ourselves, the existing motorcycling community including both individual motorcyclists  and businesses engaging with non-riders on a highly personal, one-to-one basis. Later I wrote an article for Dealernews offering suggestions to motorcycle dealers on how to integrate the Plus 1 Rider Initiative into their sales strategy. I went on to offer a number of tips and suggestions on how to activate Plus 1 Rider at the dealership level. Everything from offering special coupons or certificates to existing customers who bring in new buyers/riders, hosting a special movie night or other open house promotions for non-riders to running a month-long contest in which current customers enter a prize drawing every

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The following is from the January 2018 issue of American Motorcyclist.

Saving Our Passion, One New Rider At A Time

The news isn’t good. The motorcycle business is in a rut.

New motorcycle sales are down. The industry is suffering at almost every level. The current demographic is aging. We aren’t attracting new blood to the sport like we used to and, in many areas of popular culture and modern life, we are becoming less relevant.

You might ask, “So what does it matter to me? Why should I care? I still ride and enjoy it.”

That’s understandable. After all, most motorcyclists are individualists. Given the current state of technology and great new OEM product offerings—as well as the wide range of racing activities going on around the world and the competition in the marketplace competing for your consumer dollars -- there’s probably never been a better time to be a motorcycling enthusiast. It’s supply and demand, and with less demand and more supply, the consumers have the edge.

So why, then, should you care if the industry is experiencing a downturn?

Here’s why: The future of motorcycling depends on numbers.

Without new buyers, there is no reason for OEMs

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Why Hasn't an American Won Dakar?

(A Brief History of U.S. Involvement in the World’s Toughest Race and What it Will Take For An American to Win)

Ever wondered why an American motorcycle racer has never won Dakar? Do you want answers? Well, you’ve come to the right place---that is, if you have a few minutes to spare. For a country that invented desert racing and developed more desert racing superstars over the years than any other country on the planet it takes a little time to explain why an American has never stood on the top step of the podium at Dakar. It’s actually a little embarrassing as European riders who barely have an ounce of desert anywhere to be found in their own backyards dominate the sport, and yet, we have desert practically everywhere we look here in the western U.S. and still can’t buy a win. We’ve developed riders like Danny Hamel, Larry Roeseler, Ty Davis, Johnnie Campbell, Destry Abbott, Kurt Caselli and a dozen other desert heroes all who literally were born with sand and cactus in their blood. With so much raw talent we should have won Dakar by now, you’d think? The answer isn’t as simple as it first appears.

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Motorcyclist Op-Ed: Time to Retire the Antiquities Act
(as it appeared in their Sept 2017 Issue)

by Scot Harden

Screen Shot 2017 08 24 at 8.43.45 PM

Question: For off road motorcycle enthusiasts, outdoor recreation lovers in general and states rights proponents what year in U.S. history could easily be argued as the single most detrimental from a public policy perspective?

Answer: 1906, the year the Antiquities Act was passed allowing the President of the United States to unilaterally set aside public land, without public comment or input, as conservation land otherwise known as the “National Monuments Act”.

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Sales Training in Marrakesh by Scot Harden

Marrakesah at day

In 1987 I rode my first rally, The Rally de Atlas in Morocco. My teammates were Danny LaPorte and Dan Smith. We rode for the French Husqvarna importer Marcel Seurrat with sponsorship from Foltene, a French shampoo company. It was a great adventure, my first experience at raid rallies, and it led to me riding several other rallies in North and South Africa, South America and Europe and ultimately Dakar. I could write a book about the experience and maybe someday I will but for some reason today I was reminded about the art of the sale and it took me back to Marrakesh in May, 1987.

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 Nuviz Product Review: by Scot Harden:

nuviz Product

I recently attended the US product launch for Nuviz’s new Head Up Display (HUD) device. Head Up Display (HUD) devices have long been rumored for motorcycle riding applications with some false starts and no-shows already logged by other HUD start-ups so its nice to see HUD technology for motorcycles finally delivered to the marketplace. Nuviz is based in Finland and staffed by a team of passionate motorcycle enthusiasts and tech engineers. They’ve taken full advantage of the large pool of talented and experienced former Nokia techs and engineers who, due to recent cutbacks by Nokia, have been freed up to turn their talents to the development of more important technologies. And from our perspective, what could be more important than technologies that enhance the sport of motorcycling? So what exactly is a Nuviz? Well, think of it as your motorcycle’s dashboard, GPS, communications/entertainment system and Go Pro all rolled into one device. All this utility and functionality is now available by command through a translucent display mounted on the chin bar just above the rider’s lower right field of vision. HUD technology has been used for years in jet fighters and more recently

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Top 10 Desert Racers Of All Time

I recently came across a couple of lists for the “Top 10 Desert Racers of All Time” and naturally they caught my attention. Like everyone else I read the lists and found areas of agreement and disagreement. Picking a Top 10 isn’t an easy thing to do because there is always going to be room for debate. It’s hard to compare riders from different eras, the overall level competition faced and each rider’s impact on the sport. When someone says “best desert racer of all time” it means something very special to me. “Desert Racing” is about racing a motorcycle across the desert faster than anyone else. It’s about lining up for a bomb run and once the banner drops twisting the throttle longer and harder than anyone else is willing to for as long as it takes. Its about pounding mile after mile, hour after hour sometimes night and day across some of the toughest terrain on the planet and risking everything just to be the first rider to see the lights of La Paz or the finish line of a long hare and hound. It certainly isn’t about the money. After giving it some thought I decided to

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It's About The Ride

The following is from the April Issue of Dealernews

What’s the quickest way to kill your love affair with motorcycling? Answer: Get a job in the motorcycle industry. I'm sure you've heard this before, and it would almost be funny except for the fact that in far too many cases it's true. As a lifelong member of this industry, I've witnessed this malady impact friends and associates over and over again. Guys and gals who’s love for motorcycling was their primary motivation for pursuing a career in the motorcycle industry; a burning desire to combine a hobby with livelihood and in the process create a lifestyle that kept them connected 24/7 to the sport they love.  What sounds like a great plan upfront far too often doesn’t seem to pan out in the end. Why? Well, the answer is complicated, there are as many reasons as there are number of individuals employed in the Powersports business. Certainly, our industry isn't immune from the same pressures and demands every other chosen field of business holds. Too much work, too few resources and the modern-day workplace condition of the continually moving goal line all conspire and compete for the one commodity that everyone

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This is my story on the Mojave Preserve as it appeared in Upshift Online

All Photos by: Simon Cudby

Words by: Scot Harden

mojave upshift cover shot pic

Over the years I’ve developed a strong affection for the portion of the California desert now referred to as the Mojave National Preserve; an almost spiritual connection to being in its domain. I can’t explain it or point to a specific cause, all I know is I just love being there. My first visit to this corner of the desert was in the spring of 1973(long before it was a National Park) while on an exploration ride with riding buddies Casey Folks, Jack Johnson and Max Switzer. Back then whenever there was a break in the racing calendar we would go on day rides south out of Las Vegas into this remote and relatively unknown area. At 17, these rides were my first introduction to long-distance “adventure” riding. A typical ride usually lasted from dawn to dusk and covered well over 250 miles. Since we all rode Husky two-strokes back then we would carry 2-cycle oil to mix with gas (where we could find it in various small towns and outposts along the way). And even that

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