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#312 Sturgis, People and Their Funny Ways

An 88-year-old rides cross-country to remember the war, how to mess with the law in Sturgis, and other recent events.

E. Bruce Heilman, an 88-year-old veteran of the Battle of Okinawa and chancellor of the University of Richmond, Virginia, is embarking on a 6,000-mile motorcycle ride across America to help raise public awareness about the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II that will be commemorated throughout the United States this summer. Heilman says he is undaunted by the prospect of riding solo for long distances with 1,000 pounds of bike and gear.
I admire his spirit, and also hail the accomplishments of what is often called the “Greatest Generation,” but seriously Dr. Heilman, at your age if you’re not “daunted” by the prospect of herding a combined 1,000 pounds of motorcycle and luggage 6,000 miles in the summer heat, you ought to be.

The Sturgis Rider News is a blog published by the famed Buffalo Chip Campground near Sturgis. In a recent issue a hypothetical scene is set of a rider enjoying a glorious ride through the beautiful Black Hills when he’s suddenly pulled over by The Man. It seems the rider’s handlebars are at shoulder height, which is a fineable offense in the state of South Dakota.
“After that experience, maybe you ride through Sturgis with your handlebars loosened, so you can quickly lower them beneath your shoulders when you see the heat,” suggests the blogger. “Or, even worse, you permanently install them at an uncomfortable level, just to avoid these types of hassles in the future.”
Well, duh! Of course that’s what any thinking rider would do: they’d loosen their handlebars to avoid hassles with lawmen and their bogus laws. Though being out in traffic with deliberately unfastened handlebars never occurred to us here at Canadian Biker, it seems such an obvious solution now that it’s been brought to our attention. But wait, there’s an update:
“After July 1, you won’t have to worry about anyone getting up in your business about where you hang your hands,” says SRN. “That’s because South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard just signed Senate Bill 85, effectively abolishing [the law] stating no one may operate a motorcycle on a public street or highway with the handlebar grips positioned at or above shoulder height.”
So, unpack your special handlebar tool all of you folks heading into the Black Hills this summer for the Sturgis Rally’s 75th anniversary—you won’t need it.

Some 16 million motorcycles were sold in India last year, and about 60 per cent in the 100-125cc class. Very likely, these are the sorts of numbers that inspired Yamaha to launch its new 125cc family-use motorcycle, Saluto, in India where it will retail for 52,000 Indian rupees or $825 US or (if you prefer) $1,010.212 Canadian. No, that’s not a typo. Economy and practicality are the chief concerns of many families in India, where millions still struggle with very low annual average incomes. The Saluto is intended to cater to the needs of the Indian market by offering exceptional fuel economy and the passenger capacity—motorcycles are often the only vehicles owned by Indian families. Thus the new Saluto’s suspension, footrests and seat are setup to enhance comfort, says Yamaha. But it’s not only about practicality: the Saluto also has a resin tank cover which “adds to the motorcycle’s dynamic styling.”

Erik Buell is once again out of the production motorcycle business, perhaps this time for good. The former Harley engineer who once launched a thousand Buell-branded bikes under the Harley-Davidson umbrella—before the parent company decided to cut its loses and halt production of the Buell line in 2009—announced in April that his most recent incarnation, Erik Buell Racing, is now in receivership.
For many years, Buell has doggedly pursued the marriage of centralized mass, stiff chassis and V-Twin power, and EBR’s new 1190X model was highly touted by a fawning American press. But ultimately the world just never seemed ready for a large production run of $40,000 hand built sportbikes, no matter how good they might have been.
Erik Buell Racing was the successor to Harley-owned Buell Motorcycles and its demise leaves a reported 126 employees out of work and EBR with more than $20 million in outstanding liabilities.

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