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

The Mint 400: Fear and Loathing Part II

As a native Las Vegan, a child of the 70’s 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 70’s. 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 images I have ever seen. Mix in the

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

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 WORCS Series to Lucas Oils Short Course Racing to

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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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Second Thoughts About First Impressions: V-Strom Is V-Strong 

2018 Suzuki V-Strom XT1000 Product Review

by Scot Harden

Photos: by Simon Cudby

Scot and Greg 2

It’s no secret we live in an age of information overload which means first impressions are more important than ever. Everyday we make judgements based on our initial response to a given stimulus; those important first few seconds where we formulate an opinion based on a first reaction. We rely on this more so today than at any other time, almost by necessity. First impressions save us time, and if we are any good at all we are usually pretty much on target in the end. The only problem with first impressions is that over time companies evolve, people change, products develop and yet we stick to our first impression along with the built in biases that come along with them. Take the 2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000XT for example, I formed my first impression about Suzuki’s V-Strom line long ago. And to sum it up I viewed the V-Strom as an “econo-adventure” or “adventure-light” motorcycle. A motorcycle styled as an adventure but in reality just another street bike with an upright seating position and a high front fender;

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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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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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