Well, the monsoon is now in full swing with evening showers somewhere in the valley a common occurrence. This is also now the time to make your rain suit a permanent addition to your saddlebags. You never know when one of these storms are going to pop up, especially if you are riding across town. I know a lot of you are taking or planning trips now. Take a picture of yourself in front of a sign or landmark on your ride and email it to me with a description of where it is. We have doubled the photos in the Reader's Rides Gallery from last week. Click Here to see the new photos.
We all have those things that we want to do at some point in our lives. It can be as little as seeing your favorite artist in concert or taking a trip to Europe. Last weekend was the chance for me to cross one of those "to do" items off of my list. And the older you get, the more important crossing them off becomes. I have always wanted to tour one of the Harley-Davidson factories, and being from the Kansas City area I figured my best chance would be to take advantage of a trip to see relatives and combine it with the tour. We flew into Kansas City on Thursday night and Friday morning my Sister and I were on our way to visit the Harley-Davidson Vehicle & Powertrain Operations in Kansas City, Missouri. Even after living there for 25 years, I still think it is weird to have a "Kansas City" in Missouri. As a kid I could never figure that out. Kind of like having the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
Anyway, we arrived at the HD plant, which is located across I-29 from KCI Airport, at about 9am. Since reservations are not accepted and it is a first come basis, we were able to get into the next tour that was starting at 9:45am. The tour center features some new motorcycles for you to sit on, one of the first Vrod's made at the factory signed by Willie G. and others responsible for the bike as well as a series of displays to give you some background on the facility and give you an idea of what you are about to see. There is also a map of the United States so that you can put a pin in the City that you live. From the looks of things, not many from Arizona have made the trek to the KC factory. We were now being called for our tour. They ask you to lock up all phones, cameras and other electronic devices in a locker before the tour. Just an FYI, they do require closed toed shoes for this tour.
Before you actually hit the factory floor, there is a little introduction period with your tour guide where everyone tells where they are from and what motorcycle they ride before about a 15 minute video of the history of Harley-Davidson from 1903 to present that is actually very good, and some video of the factory that you are about to see. After the video, our guide passed out headsets that we were to wear on the tour so that we could hear what she was saying as we walked the factory floor. This was a nice touch as it was fairly noisy and I would have missed half of what she said due to the fact that there were about 14 of us single file.
I will admit, after the video I was like a kid on Christmas morning waiting to get my first look at the assembly of a new Harley-Davidson. Finally, the moment I had been waiting for. The doors opened and we were now on the floor of this huge 400,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility. Even though the tour is somewhat limited in what you can see, it still gives you a good overview of how the bike is manufactured. We started in the area where flat pieces of steel are stamped into fenders and gas tanks with giant presses. You then follow the process of how the two halves of a gas tank are put together. What amazed me most in the entire tour is all of the ergonomic machinery that helps with lifting and all of the robotics that are involved in this process. I was most amazed by the robotic welding of the gas tanks and the 3 stage robotic sanding of them to prep them for paint. I had no idea this was being done. On the other side of our path was frame construction and the line that carries parts (fenders, tanks, frames) in for powder coat and paint. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to see the paint area at all.
After getting an education on how the parts were actually constructed, we then went into the final assembly area where we were able to see part of the final assembly on the Dyna family of motorcycles. At this particular point they were putting on the rear wheel assembly. Again, there were ergonomic machines that would take the rear wheel and place it exactly where it should be so that it could be bolted to the bike. Heavy lifting was really avoided in most all areas of the factory. There were a lot of facts being thrown out in this hour walk, but I believe they said that it takes 100 minutes to assemble each Dyna motorcycle.
We then moved over to the Vrod final assembly area. Our vantage point from here was at the very start of the assembly process. This is where they would take a raw frame that only had a wiring harness in it and the computer would inscribe a VIN on the neck of the frame and attach a printout that would tell the line what the bike was to be down to color and specific model. Vrod assembly takes about 110 minutes per completed bike. Even though this was our immediate vantage point, you could see the Vrods coming to life as they meandered along the assembly line. Our next stop was a visit to the Revolution motor assembly area for the Vrod. Our vantage point was the installation of the overhead cams and chains, then on to the installation of the side and rocker covers of the motor. But as you looked back through the area you could see pistons, cases and heads as they were about to be installed.
Our final stop was the CVO assembly for the Dyna. Since these bikes are the custom version for Harley, they are hand assembled and checked out in their own area. That day they were assembling the red FXDSE Dyna Screamin' Eagle. You could see a definite difference in the way these were made versus the non SE models. Not that the others were bad, it was just that you are paying a lot more for these and they get more attention.
Overall I thought that the tour was excellent and will probably do it again the next time I go to KC. There was so much information being thrown out, it was hard to listen, digest what I was hearing and take in all of the eye candy. So another trip would be just as good. And for a guy that has a mechanical, and an inquiring mind, this experience was thoroughly enjoying. I was especially impressed with the precise ability of the robotics that were employed in the factory. They can burn perfect welds much faster and better than 6 guys. And the 3 stage sanding of the gas tanks was very impressive how they turn the tank all around to get that weld perfectly smooth.
I was also impressed with how well HD treats their employees and the focus on quality workmanship. They really try to create a family type environment with their small work groups and training methods. In some areas they don't run a mid shift so that workers can be at home with their kids in the evening hours. It appeared that everyone was happy and enjoying their work. They could even wear whatever they wanted to work. So you obviously saw a lot of different Harley shirts. One thing I don't remember seeing was a Honda or Yamaha T-Shirt. Hmmm. Probably a smart move.
One other tid bit the tour guide told us was that those that work in the paint area have to sign an agreement that they will only consume a specific diet because certain things that you eat including some meats, etc., will actually come out through your skin and contaminate the air, which could in turn compromise a paint job. So no bacon and sausage for breakfast. On weekends they can eat those forbidden foods as long as it is a set amount of hours before they return to work. She mentioned that the paint shop employees are some of the thinnest and healthiest workers at the plant. I had no idea the science was that precise.
If you are in the area and get a chance, I would highly recommend this tour no matter what type of bike you ride. If you ride a motorcycle you will thoroughly enjoy this tour. Doing this tour has elevated my enthusiasm and respect for the quality of the brand. Here are some pictures of the tour center. HD would not allow pictures in the factory. However, they sent me a couple of stock photos to share. The Vehicle and Powertrain Operations is located at 11401 N. Congress in Kansas City, MO. Tours are from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm. It is a first come first served basis. Information line is 877-883-1450. Click Here for more details.
This Week's Bike Night Events
Chesterís Harley Davidson Biker Night at the Tilted Kilt in Tempe! If you are looking for some fun on a Tuesday night, With 2 outdoor patios and plenty of excitement, This place is a good time! The Tilted Kilt is home to the best Scotch-Irish experience in Arizona, with an award-winning menu, classic pub fare, and signature Kilt items sure to please any palate, not to mention twenty four globe-spanning beers on tap! Biker Night Tuesdays also mean half-price appetizers. And, with a Tilted Kilt Biker Night Card, you receive 15% OFF your total bill. So what are you waiting for? Come on down and have a craic with Chesterís Harley-Davidson! The Tilted Kilt is located at 660 W. Warner Rd. in Tempe, AZ. Just 1.5 miles East of I-10 on Warner Rd. 480-592-0102. Click Here for Map.
Bike Night at Buffalo Wild Wings Mesa-Falcon Field. This is a great new stop for riders on the East Side. Enjoy GREAT FOOD and Live Music every Wednesday night with Soul Catcher, featuring acoustic blues and classic rock from 7pm - 10pm every Wednesday Night at Buffalo Wild Wings located at 4425 E. McKellips Rd. in Mesa, AZ, just across from Falcon Field. Special motorcycle parking in front of the patio. Choose from the extensive new menu including Wings, Chicken Tenders, Huge selection of salads, Wraps, Sandwiches, Ribs & Combos, Burgers, Desserts and Beverages. Click Here for complete menu. Bike Night specials are 50 Cent Legs all day, $2.50 Coronas & Pacificos, $1.75 Bud Light Pints, $1.75 Miller Light Pints. Sit inside and watch your favorite sporting events on over 50 TV's and 5 Giant Screen TV's or sit outside on the huge patio where there are more TV's and enjoy the evening air. Wherever you find to relax, you will be sure to have a good time, good food and good entertainment at the Buffalo Wings Wednesday Bike Night. 480-218-9464. Click Here to take a look at Buffalo Wild Wings.
Arrowhead Harley-Davidson Thursday Bike Night at Gordon Biersch Brewery at Westgate. Live Music on the patio this week 6:30 - 9:30pm!! You can also sign up for the Gordon Biersch Passport card. Get your GB Passport. Pay $20 for the card, and you will get a $20 gift certificate to redeem for food and drink. On Bike Nights you will receive double rewards to build points for free food and drink. Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant in Glendale features the best Beer Garden you will find in this State, an impressive bar area equipped with TVs and speaker system, great food, and a large outdoor patio seating. Bike night specials include: Extended Happy Hour for Riders to 8:00pm
Happy Hour includes:
$1.00 off Gordon Biersch Lagers
$2.00 off all Wines by the Glass
$4.95 Appetizer Specials: Southwest Egg rolls, Tapas, Chicken Wings, Bruschetta, Crispy Artichoke Hearts, Garlic Fries, Mini Pizza's Cheese or Pepperoni.
Try my favorite, the Gordon Biersch "Golden Export" or a sampler
of all 5 of their beers brewed on site. Plenty of motorcycle only parking. Gordon Biersch is located
at 6915 N. 95th Ave. at Westgate City Center, Loop 101 and Glendale next to the Cardinals Stadium. An easy ride
from anywhere in the Valley. 623-877-4300.
The Bike Night At The Billet Bar. Voted "BEST BIKER BAR IN PHOENIX" by New Times. There is no better place to watch all the Bikes ride down Scottsdale road than from The Billet Bar Patio. The Billet is ALWAYS packed with bikes Every Day. Stop by and take a look at the New Flamed Booths on the Paradise Patio. The new bars front and rear provide spacious seating, fresh air atmosphere, perfect temperature and courteous staff. The food is amazing and always the latest in cold libations await. You can sit at the back bar and watch your favorite TV on any of the seven big inch televisions. Play pool, listen to the latest music and socialize. The front patio seats over 75 people and is perfect for people watching on Scottsdale Rd. The Billet Bar is located on 3752 N. Scottsdale Rd. Check it out this Thursday night and all weekend long. Info: at 480-941-1876. Click Here for the New Billet Bar Page with pictures.
Every Saturday and Sunday
Harold's Cave Creek Corral Bike Weekends. This is the patio that we have all been waiting for in Cave Creek. The new 4000 Sq. Ft. patio at Harold's is finally finished complete with misters, TV's and an outdoor bar. There is plenty of room to put some tables together and hang out with your riding group for breakfast, lunch or the cold beverage of your choice. Live Music from Noon to 4pm every Saturday with Bob Bouchard, the man who plays at Greasewood every weekend. Enjoy TV's all around the patio with a walk up bar. Ride out on Sunday's and enjoy the All You Can Eat breakfast buffet for $8.99 on Sundays from 8am - Noon. Or grab one of Harold's fantastic hamburgers and watch the bikes roll by on Cave Creek Rd. from the patio. 50% Off Appetizers and $2.00 Bud/Bud Light bottles. You can also choose from their full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu every day of the week. Plenty of new motorcycle parking right in front of the patio. A great destination patio for your weekend rides. Harold's is located at 6895 E. Cave Creek Rd., in Cave Creek. 480-488-1906. There are still no tickets being given for DB violations. Just continue to keep the noise down as much as possible when riding through Carefree.
Chester's Harley-Davidson Fashion and Motorcycle Show. Are you anxious to see the latest in Harley-Wear for 2008? Great! Because there's only one Fashion Show all year that you can actually feel proud to tell the gang you've been to and that is Chester's 2008 Model Year Debut Fashion and Motorcycle Show. Be among the first to see this year's in-looks for everything chrome and leather, while enjoying appetizers, refreshments, and great music. Be among the first to see this year's in-looks for everything chrome and leather, while enjoying appetizers, refreshments, and great music. You may even LUCK out and win one of our many door prizes! It all happens Saturday, July 28th at 11am! Barry and Mrs. C. from Cyclerides.com are even going to be there as guest models to show off some of our clothes. Don't miss this year's high powered fashion show at Chester's HD located at 922 S. Country Club Dr. in Mesa, AZ. 480-894-0404.
Buddy Stubbs Harley-Davidson "Hogs and Salsa". Stop by Buddy Stubbs for the Indoor Hogs & Salsa Party. Enter your salsa or stop by to taste the entries. There will be free salsa food and a festive band. And if you think you can make some good salsa, enter the HOG Chapter Salsa Contest. To enter your "Kickbutt" Salsa email: firstname.lastname@example.org . You can also participate in the 12:30 pm museum tour with Buddy as your tour director. If pool is your game, enter the 12 Noon pool tournament. All of this takes place on Saturday, July 28th from 11am - 3pm at Buddy Stubbs HD located at 13850 N. Cave Creek Rd. in Phoenix, AZ. 602-971-3400.
Too Broke For Sturgis. Annual ABATE fundraiser in Mormon Lake. The following is taken directly from the "Too Broke" web site. Ignite your engine, twist the throttle and come up to the cool pines and celebrate the sheer joy of it all! In sixteen years, Too Broke 4 Sturgis has evolved from a simple getaway for folks that were too broke to go to Sturgis to a major annual event weekend. Hosted by ABATE of Arizona as our primary fund-raising event, Too Broke has become "a blast for everyone that attended and if you don't make Too Broke .... well it's your own fault then." You can rest assured that the money raised goes to a great cause, fighting for your motorcycling freedoms. Everyone who attends is made to feel like family, even first timers. Just like the last five Too Broke celebrations, we'll be under the stars and beneath the pines in the cool North country of Arizona. What better way to beat the heat of the Valley in July. Too Broke for Sturgis is held at the Mormon Lake Lodge Campground and Arena. The area offers shade, camping with hot showers available, first-class biker entertainment, an assortment of vendors and awesome scenery.
The Saturday Poker Run, sponsored by the ABATE of Arizona Flagstaff Chapter will take you on a tour of that awesome scenery! And don't forget about the Miss Too Broke Contest, Tattoo Contest, Poker Walk, Bike Games, Wet Tee-Shirt Contest. Too Broke is just an all-around great biker party. Click Here for Event Schedule.
Saturday, August 4th
1st Annual Wings of Hope. This poker run will be taking place in order to raise monies for our "Wings of Hope" charity fundraiser. The monies raised from this event will be given to the Mesa Police Association Officer Assistance Fund to aid families of officers that have been killed or critically injured in the line of duty. The event will be taking place on August 4, 2007 beginning at 11am and continuing until 2 am that night. There are going to be plenty of activities for all to enjoy. The poker run will begin with a 5 pm sign up at Chester's Harley Davidson and will stop at three other stops, to be determined by weeks end, and finally ending up at Buffalo Wild Wings located at 1130 W Grove Ave, Mesa. The time was selected due the the hot weather and has a perfect ending time that will allow all riders to stay and listen to our live band(s) that night. Event includes: Meet D-Back Cheerleaders, Live music all night, Meet the Miller Girls, Drawings, K-9 Demonstrations, 20% off all sales donated to charity. Call 480-844-9464 for times of events.
The Cave Creek Roadhouse has closed the doors.
Many of you have asked about the Cave Creek Roadhouse closing. The word is that one of their employees pulled out of the Roadhouse as part of a work related errand. Unfortunately, when he pulled out he did not see a motorcycle coming and caused the rider to crash, and causing serious damage to him. Possibly even paralyzing the rider. The rider sued and won. The Roadhouse insurance did not cover this so they lost the business, property, etc. Sad story on both accounts. There is no word as to whether the Roadhouse will re-open in the near future, or at all. Billy, the previous owner, is sad to see it go and wants to thank everyone for their patronage over the last couple of years. You can still ride to Cave Creek and take advantage of Harold's Lunch on the new patio and breakfast buffet.
Video Watching Tip:
You can right click on the video and click on 200% to increase the size of the video.
Animals can always create some good video. Watch to see what happens when they eat the wrong fruit from the trees. Click Here to View.
For those of you into technology, this is a look at the future. It is pretty amazing and is right around the corner. Click Here to View.
I will warn you in advance, this one is fairly graphic. It is a real scooter crash that looks like it takes place somewhere in Asia. Note that the driver of the car clearly has a red light and the scooter has a green. Click Here to View.