The Word On...

The Word On...

October 27, 2016 3:40pm

Harley-Davidson Sale?

In July, rumors swirled around Wall Street that Harley-Davidson was a candidate for a hostile takeover by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), one of the largest private equity firms in the world. The rumor saw H-D’s stock gain 20 percent in a single day. Many were skeptical, as a similar scenario played out six years prior with no sale going through, which led to an investigation by the US Securities Exchange Commission into possible stock price manipulation. Rumors popped up again in September, with H-D denying knowledge of a takeover bid. The sale of H-D is still very much up in the air. But, if Harley did decide to sell, what would there options be? Revzilla spoke with financial columnist Tom Byrne about the possibility of a sale and what it could mean. Here’s a sample:

Tom brought up the idea of Harley being purchased by another vehicle manufacturer. He pointed out that Suzuki is in talks with Toyota about some kind of sharing or partnership agreement. What about Harley and Suzuki joining forces, then?

“I do not believe it would ever happen. H-D is in no position to acquire anyone so I doubt the Suzuki idea would fly,” he said. “Harley could partner with another company to reduce costs and/or improve technology, but they’ve tried that. Aermacchi, and more recently, Porsche come to mind.”

What if a third party formed a parent company combining Suzuki and Harley? Imagine them operating separately, but allied under one roof. This would take a massive amount of capital or leverage and it would require a pretty hefty dose of both business acumen and motorcycle industry knowledge, but it could be very lucrative if done correctly. Would customers accept such a move? Unlikely, for quite a few reasons. I doubt there is a PE firm with the track record or chutzpah to take on so much exposure. Tom furthered my doubt with a different point.

“I doubt the Japanese would let a PE firm buy one of their major companies,” he said. Partnerships like Toyota and GM or Ford and Mazda are about the limit of what the Japanese government allows, he pointed out.

The full story is worth checking out.

Indy Car Driver Issued Autonomous License

In early October, Sam Schmidt was issued the nation’s first autonomous vehicle restricted driver’s license. A former Indy Racing League driver, Schmidt has been a quadriplegic since a crash in 2000 at Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando left him paralyzed from the waist down. The process actually started in 2013, when Arrow Electronics approached Schmidt to work to create a Semi-Autonomous (SAM) car that could be driven at high speeds by quadriplegic race drivers only using head movements. A year later, Schmidt was driving the car at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and reached a speed of 97 mph. Earlier this month, Schmidt received the license from Nevada Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison, and then went for a drive in his modified black Corvette Z06. More from Sports Illustrated:

In 2015, the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles began working with Schmidt and Arrow to ensure that Nevada’s road regulations could be modified to legally allow Schmidt to drive the SAM car on public roads under restricted conditions.

“It’s been a privilege to work with the forward-looking officials in my home state of Nevada and with the great engineering team at Arrow Electronics to safely and responsibly advance autonomous vehicle technology,” Schmidt said. “I can’t even begin to explain just how much this provisional driver’s license, and the mobility and independence it represents, mean to me.”

Arrow Chairman, President and CEO Mike Long said he hopes the SAM car will continue to inspire to “innovate and dream big” in the same way Schmidt has.

Australians Know How to Throw a Dirt Track Party

If you’re a regular reader of this column, you may remember the small feature we ran last year on the amazing dirt track event, Dust Hustle, which according to their page is "a flat track fun day open to all the weird, wonderful, and woefully unsuitable motorcycles that could possibly be ridden on the dirt," put on by Australian motorbike shop Ellaspede. After running the feature, I received an email from Hughan Seary, the online and marketing manager at Ellaspede, thanking us for running the video. It was no problem for us, I said, the event looked amazing and the video was awesome. Well, I had forgotten all about it until receiving another email from Hughan earlier this week with highlights and photos to their 2016 event. As Jason Weigandt wrote about in a recent ReduX column, events like these are the reason most of us buy bikes. So, enjoy the video and photos below, and if you live in Australia, put this event on the calendar for next year.

History of the Pit Stop

Today, Formula One pit stops are rather rudimentary. Barring a major mistake, they are completed in less than three seconds—sometimes fewer than two. Although they have become rather routine, they still play a major role in the outcome of a race, with every team striving for perfection. The pit stop has a long history in F1, as Red Bull recently examined in their 45-mintue documentary “The History of the Pit Stop.” It’s worth checking out if you have the time. You can watch it for free on Red Bull TV.

Check out the full film here.
Check out the full film here.

Bike Lock To Release Odor, Make Thieves Puke

Ask Jeeves—or Goggle or Bing, whichever you prefer—“number of bike thefts per year” and you’ll immediately see headlines like: “Bike thefts remain number one campus crime.” And: “Bikes Being Stolen At An Alarming Rate in Boulder.” And: “Bicycle Theft Rises 5.1% in Florida Each Year.” As someone who has had a bike or two stolen, I can tell you how much it blew to walk out of the beer store library in college only to find an empty lock. Not matter the lock, most thieves can probably break it. So what can you, a proud bike owner, do? Daniel Idzkowski, creator of the SkunkLock, is hoping to solve your problem. According to the video below, SkunkLock contains some sort of pressurized mystery gas—the recipe to which Idzkowski has not yet revealed—and once a thief cuts into the lock, it will engulf them with a noxious cloud. "The chemicals are so disgusting they induce vomit in the majority of cases, and elicit an instinctive response to run away immediately," the Indiegogo page claims. Well, then, that should stop thieve(s) in their tracks…..

SkunkLock has already exceed their goal of raising $20,000 ($31,291 as of this writing). So, some people must be interested.


The National Basketball Association (NBA) will broadcast one game per week in virtual reality during the 2016-17 season, NBA Digital announced last week. The first custom broadcast will debut today when the Sacramento Kings play the San Antonio Spurs. Per Fortune, the “NBA will stream the game in 180-degrees, in which viewers can turn their heads to follow the action, while a graphical display of the game’s statistics will be streamed in another 180-degrees to accompany the broadcast.” Initially it will be hard to view, as you have to have access to NBA League Pass, the NBA’s video subscription service, and Samsung Gear VR headset as well as the appropriate Samsung smartphone. As VR technology improves, it will become easier to view the games. More from Fortune:

The NBA is partnering with virtual reality startup NextVR, which will be doing a lot of the production legwork, such as setting up a broadcasting truck outside the arena and filming the game. NextVR will work with NBA producers on how the game will be presented, and the NBA will have dedicated announcers and sideline reporters who will narrate the game.

The VR production is a significant step up from last year, when the NBA filmed a 180-degree version of last season’s opening game between the Golden State Warriors and the New Orleans Pelicans. Marsilio did not say how many viewers watched last season’s opening game using a VR headset, but remarks, “It was modest, but we were encouraged by it.”

Since then, the NBA has privately experimented with “maybe around a dozen” more 360 broadcasts to learn how to make the games more compelling to viewers, according to Marsilio. During the first live broadcast, for example, the NBA discovered through tracking viewers that many people were not watching the whole game and seemed to lose interest as the game progressed.

Danny MacAskill Is Back!!!!!

You’ve probably seen videos of Danny MacAskill, the Red Bull sponsored, Scottish-born trials cyclist. His stuff is pretty sick and racks up millions of views on YouTube. (His “Imaginate” video alone has 59 million-plus views.) His new film “Wee Day Out” explores the rural landscape around Edinburgh and features Danny leaping onto a single train track, turning a hay bale into a giant unicycle, riding over a cottage, and disappearing into a six-foot puddle. It’s insane.

Red Bull also released behind the scenes footage from four of the sequences, which is worth checking out.


Hay Bale

Case Front Flip

The Puddle

Football Coach Goes Too Far

Just when you thought over zealous, nut job sports parents and coaches couldn’t get any worse, this story pops up. A youth football team in Rhode Island has been banned from their league after an 18-year-old was sent into play as a coaches’ decision. The league is for 13 and 14 year olds!!!!! Luckily one of the officials realized what was happening and removed the player from the game. The coach has been fired for his decision.

“If I was there, that would never ever happen because safety of these kids is more important to me than anything,” team founder Alexandria Diaz said to WJAR in Rhode Island. “That’s not how I run my program. It hurts me, it hurts the community, (and) it hurts the children because a lot has been ripped from them.”

Note to all parents out there: CHILL THE EFF OUT. IT’S JUST A GAME!

He looks a tad bit bigger from the other players, no?
He looks a tad bit bigger from the other players, no?

I'll let SVP take it from here:

Smage Trailer

You probably remember the Smage Brothers—Phil and Pat—for their amazing skills on trial bikes. Oh, they were also on some show called America’s Got Talent. I heard it’s pretty big. Anyhow, MotoSport released the trailer for the upcoming “Then and Now” movie featuring Phil absolutely ripping in the woods of Montana. The full video drops on November 3.

Sleep Burnout

So, apparently the guy in the truck fell asleep (passed out?) and proceeded to use the car in front of him as a brake. The truck—apparently in gear with the driver's foot on the gas—then pulls the most massive burnout I’ve ever seen while some good samaritans try and break his window to wake him up. I guess there are worse things that could happen when you fall asleep at the wheel.