National and Regional News
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The American Coalition for Ethanol is telling fuel retailers they should require a minimum purchase of 4 gallons at blender pumps offering E15 and post signs saying that buying less than 4 gallons may violate federal law. The advice, found in the E15 & Flex Fuel Retailer Roadmap, 2016-2017 Edition, is intended to convince retailers to carry more E15 fuel (15 percent ethanol) and use blender pumps to dispense it. In 2012 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed the 4-gallon minimum purchase as part of its misfueling mitigation plan. But the agency withdrew the proposal after the AMA pointed out that motorcycle fuel tanks hold only 3-5 gallons. In addition, as much as a quart of the higher-ethanol fuel could remain in the dispenser hose after a vehicle finishes fueling, potentially damaging an engine not designed to operate on E15. Motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles are not EPA-approved to operate on ethanol blends higher than 10 percent and inadvertent misfueling with E15 is a major concern. The EPA requires that stations dispensing E10 and E15 from the same hose also provide a separate E10 pump for consumers who are not buying at least four gallons.
PENOBSCOT COUNTY, Maine – The 87,500-acre Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument was designated by President Barack Obama on Aug. 24, dashing the hopes of off-highway-vehicle recreationists who hoped the land would remain open to responsible off-highway recreation. Obama used his authority under the Antiquities Act to make the designation. The president’s action came during the same week that Elliottsville Plantation Inc. donated the land to the National Park Service. EPI is the nonprofit foundation established by Burt’s Bees co-founder Roxanne Quimby and run by her son Lucas St. Clair. Their gift of land is accompanied by an endowment of $20 million to supplement federal funds for initial park operational needs and infrastructure development at the new monument, and a pledge of another $20 million in future philanthropic support. The designation is getting pushback from people in Maine, including Republican Gov. Paul LePage, and from Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), who has been a vocal opponent of what he calls “federal land grabs” in the face of local opposition, according to a report in CQ Roll Call, a Washington, D.C.-based political news outlet.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – A federal lawsuit over loud motorcycles at rallies in Fayetteville and Fort Smith was tossed out of court because the plaintiff lacked legal standing. Ricky Holtsclaw, a former Texas police officer and self-proclaimed motorcycle-sound crusader, sued the cities and city officials for failing to enforce existing sound ordinances during the motorcycle rallies. He was seeking $500,000 from each defendant and an injunction prohibiting all motorcycle rallies until the state adopts a policy to protect residents from "the audible assault perpetuated by illegally equipped, illegally loud motorcycles." In his ruling, U.S. District Judge P.K. Holmes said that Holtsclaw failed to state a plausible claim. The judge also wrote that Holtsclaw has no claim because he was not prosecuted and only seeks to challenge the decision not to prosecute others, so he lacks legal standing in the case. Fayetteville stages the Bikes, Blues & BBQ event, and Fort Smith hosts the Steel Horse Rally.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Lane splitting by motorcyclists is legally recognized in California, now that Gov. Jerry Brown has signed A.B. 51 into law. The law defines lane splitting and authorizes the California Highway Patrol, in conjunction with motorcycle safety groups, to draft and distribute guidelines for the practice. California is the first state in the nation to formally recognize lane splitting as a practice. Several other states–including Texas, Oregon, Nevada and Washington–have considered bills during the past few years to make lane splitting legal.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A measure to extend the sunset date of Inyo County’s Off Highway Vehicle Adventure Trails pilot program cleared the state legislature and is headed to the governor for his approval. S.B. 1345, sponsored by state Sen. Tom Berryhill (R-Twain Harte), would extend a pilot program enacted by A.B. 628 in 2011. A.B. 628 established a five-year pilot program that allowed Inyo County to designate specific county streets and roads as combined-use routes for off-highway-vehicle use. These combine-use highways link existing OHV trails and trailheads or allow drivers to use the trails for easier access to goods and services in towns. The original pilot program was caught up in an extensive environmental review and public input process. As a result, only about six months’ worth of data was collected on the three combined-use routes authorized under the program. S.B. 1345 extends the original program for another three years.
SAN FRANCISCO – The federal plan that restored motorized dune vehicle access to the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area survived a challenge in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which rejected arguments from the Center for Biological Diversity that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s plan was flawed. The court’s ruling brings to a close 15 years of dispute over the rights of motorized recreation enthusiasts to use the land. The BLM’s 2013 management plan restored access to most of the Imperial Dunes areas that were closed on an interim basis in a 2001 settlement agreement. The anti-access group challenged the BLM plan, saying that the agency failed to examine air quality issues and should have obtained an “incidental take statement” from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
LAS VEGAS – The Best in the Desert race from Alamo, Nev., to Dayton, Nev., received approval to cross the Basin and Range National Monument, but competitors were not permitted to pass each other along that 35-mile stretch of the course or exceed 35 mph within the monument boundaries. Anti-access groups objected to the use of roads through the monument by racers. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management completed an assessment and announced its compromise decision shortly before the Aug. 19-20 race was scheduled to begin. The Best in the Desert race covers 643 miles across Nevada.
MAN, W.Va. – The Hatfield-McCoy Trails Regional Recreation Authority received a grant of nearly $1.4 million from the Appalachian Regional Commission for the Southern Coalfields Sustainable Tourism & Entrepreneurship Program. The money will be used to expand tourism opportunities and related businesses, as well as expanding existing trails, said U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.) in announcing the grant. Also part of the grant is a marketing effort that officials expect to result in a regional economic boost of $13 million a year, creating 225 new jobs and 50 new businesses.
IRVINE, Calif. – The Motorcycle Industry Council has announced five female entrepreneurs who are part of the PowerLily “Gas Tank” program. The women will present their business plans to powersports industry leaders on Oct. 13, during the AIMExpo in Orlando, Fla. Participants include Debra Chin of MotoChic apparel and accessories; Alisa Clickenger of Women Motorcycle Tours; Katie McKay of ModernMotoMagazine.com; Ashley Simpson of Vixen Riding Gear; and Gina Woods of Open Road Incredible Edibles, which features organic and natural artisan, handcrafted specialty confectionery bars for riders. The PowerLily “Gas Tank” program is similar to the television show “Shark Tank,” where aspiring entrepreneur-contestants make business presentations to a panel of "shark" industry leaders.
SAN FRANCISCO – Skully Inc., a startup that promised high-tech helmets with heads-up displays, closed its doors and hinted at a bankruptcy filing amid allegations in a federal lawsuit that company founders Marcus and Mitchell Weller used company funds to pay for vacations, sports cars, apartment rent and a visit to a strip club. The lawsuit, filed by a former Skully employee, accused the Weller brothers of using corporate accounts “as their personal piggy banks.” The company raised $2.4 million during a 2014 crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. Reports say those early backers, many of whom pre-ordered the $1,400 helmets, are unlikely to recoup their money or receive the Skully helmets.
NORFOLK, Va. – Websites and email addresses ending in “.motorcycles” are now available through Dominion Registries exclusively for the powersports industry. The company says the domain names are available only to verified companies and organizations in the powersports community.
RICHMOND, Va. – The state of Virginia is seeking an exemption from the U.S. EPA that would allow the sale of ethanol-free gasoline at marinas in Northern Virginia, Richmond-Petersburg and Hampton Roads. E0 currently is sold in areas of the state that are not required to sell reformulated fuel. The request passed the legislature as S.B. 557, which restricts the sale of E0 to marine recreational or commercial vehicles. The ethanol-free fuel could not be sold for use in street vehicles.
MILWAUKEE – Harley-Davidson Motor Co. introduced its first new major engine redesign since 1998, the Milwaukee-Eight. The new engine will power the company’s 2017 touring bikes and trikes. It will be available as either a 107-cubic-inch or 114-cubic-inch configuration. The Milwaukee-Eight marks just the eighth time in the company’s 113-year history that it has launched a completely redesigned version of its venerable V-twin engine.
MILWAUKEE – India-based Royal Enfield is scheduled to open its North American headquarters in Milwaukee on Sept. 10. Former Harley-Davidson executive Rod Copes has been leading the Royal Enfield expansion into the U.S. market. He told the Milwaukee Business Journal that the company hopes to position its motorcycles as urban transportation. The target market for the bikes is urban millennials. Royal Enfield North America employs about 20 people, with 10 of them at the Milwaukee office and dealership.
CANBERRA, Australia – The Australian government plans to assign a bandwidth for a national vehicle-to-vehicle communication network early in 2017, according to Wards Auto. The Australian Communications and Media Authority announced it plans to set aside the 5.9 GHZ band for its Cooperative Intelligent Transportation Systems network. Automotive industry officials said the announcement is an essential step in the development of an integrated, automated connected-driving system. The network will allow digitally-equipped vehicles to communicate with each other and with connected infrastructure.
VARESE, Italy – MV Agusta is reportedly in talks with three investors to buy Mercedes-AMG’s 25 percent stake in the company. The Italian newspaper Il Giorno says the motorcycle company has been performing poorly financially and is a strained relationship with the German car maker. MV Agusta's chief executive, Giovanni Castiglioni, holds 49 percent of the company and previously announced plans to buy back the stock held by Mercedes-AMG.
PICKERINGTON, Ohio – The American Motorcycle Hall of Fame Class of 2016 honors eight motorcycling greats, who will be inducted during a ceremony in Orlando, Fla., on Oct. 13. The Class of 2016 includes: Indian motorcycle designer and engineer Charles Franklin, racer and tuner Chris Haines, engine builder Dennis Mahan, race frame builder Jeff Cole, AMA road racing legend Miguel Duhamel, desert racer Jack Johnson, motorcycling pioneer Gloria Struck and dirt-track racer Ronnie Jones. The 2016 AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be held the first night of the American International Motorcycle Expo, which runs Oct. 13-16 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. The gala event is open to the public and, for the third consecutive year, takes place in conjunction with AIMExpo. AIMExpo brings together consumers, dealers, manufacturers, and the world press in one location for global product launches, demo rides, motorcycling seminars, and much more. Tickets to the 2016 AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be available soon at www.americanmotorcyclist.com. For updates on the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, keep an eye on www.americanmotorcyclist.com/hof, as well as the AMA's social media channels, including Facebook (www.facebook.com/AmericanMotorcyclist and www.facebook.com/AMAHallofFame) and Twitter and Instagram (@AMA_Riding).
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