Tag Archives: President Donald Trump

Putin rides Ural as thousands protest

While 50,000 protested against anti-democratic Moscow council elections, Russian leader Vladimir Putin was riding a Ural sidecar to a bike show.

You can guess which event the Russian TV news led with …

The above “Boss” video is from the Russia Insight supposedly “independent” YouTube channel that has “no affiliation to any government, organisation or company”.

Putin was riding with the Night Wolves Motorcycle Club to their 10th annual Shadow of Babylon international bike show and it looks like he stalls it as he stops.

Meanwhile, about 50,000 people were protesting in the nation’s capital over the Kremlin’s ban on opposition party candidates running in this year’s city council exec elections.

In a not-so-subtle swipe at the protestors, Putin tells the assembled motorcyclist crowd: “I am very happy that such manly and cool lads set an example for the young people in our country and show them how one should treat Russia.”

Putin club associations

Validimir Putin with the Night Wolves
Validimir Putin with the Night Wolves

Putin has had associations with the Night Wolves for some years and it is believed the club is even funded  by the government.

In 2014, the Night Wolves rode to the Ukraine to support pro-Russian protests against the new government and deliver “humanitarian aid” to protestors.

Putin has ridden his Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic and Trike with Night Wolves on several, occasions and is a close friend of their leader Alexander Zaldostanov, nicknamed “The Surgeon”.

In 2013, Putin personally decorated Zaldostanov with a state honour after the group helped restore a monument symbolic of Soviet war heroism in the southern city of Volgograd.

In 2011, Putin led a column of the bikers on his Harley at a rally held on a former Soviet warship in the Russian Black Sea port city of Novorossiisk. The club’s aim is to “spread Russian influence around the world”.

Playing politics

Will riders really boycott Harley-Davidson? Trump intimacy
Bikers for Trump

Putin is not the only world leader playing politics with motorcycle associations.

While President Donald Trump says he has never ridden nor wanted to ride a motorcycle, last year he entertained members of the “Bikers for Trump” supporters group at his posh golf club in New Jersey.

He tweeted about the event: “I guarantee you everybody that ever bought a Harley-Davidson voted for Trump. I don’t know if you know that. I would have to — they call them bikers for Trump. There’s hundreds.”

At the time he was calling for a boycott on Harley-Davidson because it made some some bikes overseas for world markets.

Interestingly, the New York Times reported that the founder of “Bikers for Trump” sells pro-Trump T-shirts made in Haiti because American-made products cost $8 more.

Another controversial politician with a motorcycle penchant is Indonesian President Joko Widodo who locks up political opponents.

He “starred” in this pre-election promotional video last year.

Are we sensing a common theme here?

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Trump’s trade wars bite Harley-Davidson

President Donald Trump’s trade wars are hitting Harley-Davidson hard with a 22% bite in profits to $US426m after a 8.4% drop in international sales in the last quarter.

The Milwaukee company now expects to ship about 212,000 to 217,000 bikes in 2019, compared with their original estimate of 217,000 to 222,000.

Last year Harley opened a factory in Thailand to make motorcycles specifically for the European and Asian markets to avoid the hefty tariffs on US-made products in the trade wars sparked by Trump.

However, there have been delays in the necessary regulatory approvals to ship Thailand-built motorcycles to the European Union.

They have now been approved, so the results may pick up in the latter half of the year.

In Australia, Harley sales were down 19.4% in the first half of the year, yet the brand has returned to the top of the road bike category, leapfrogging Honda which dropped a massive 28.9%.

Tariff bite

Harley CEO and president Matt Levatich says EU tariffs will bite about $100 million out of their annual profits.

Europe imposed duties on $2.4 billion worth of American-made products after Trump levied tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from Europe in 2018.

“Europe is the big issue for the company, about a $100 million a year run rate that we are covering in order to protect our business in Europe, protect our market share, protect our volume, protect the viability of our distribution channel,” says Levatich.

When Harley announced it would open the Thai factory to avoid EU tariffs, Trump tweeted that customers should boycott the company.

Levatich says Trump’s comments “certainly didn’t help”.

“No company wants comments like that made,” he says.

Levatich has also announced that the company will roll out new products “that play very well into strong and growing segments internationally, in particular in Europe”.

That would include the recently released electric LiveWire motorcycle as Europe is one of the biggest markets for electric vehicles.

The LiveWire arrives in Australia late next year probably costing more than $A40,000.

Future growth

Despite the sales decline, Levatich is positive, saying they are now selling to a more diverse and younger customer which lays “a solid foundation for future growth”.

“The decisions and investments we’re making, within a highly dynamic and competitive global marketplace, demonstrate our intense focus to build the next generation of riders and maximise shareholder value,” he says.

He claims their US rider training participation was up, with the greatest increase among 18-34 year-olds.

Of the total US new retail sales in the last quarter, the mix of 18-34 year-olds increased 2.7%.

Tough quarter

In the past quarter, Harley ironically celebrated the sale of their five-millionth motorcycle out of their York factory while they also closed their Kansas City plant.

The 5 millionth customer was Wisconsin resident Walter Bartlett who bought a Heritage Classic.

5 millionth customer Walter Bartlett who picks up his Heritage Classic bite
5 millionth customer Walter Bartlett who picks up his Heritage Classic

In Kansas, about 800 jobs were lost when the factory closed. It had been assembling Harleys since 1997.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com