Biker News & Biker Lifestyle

Harley-Davidson targets new riders with four very different bikes :Founder member of Hell Razors Biker’s Club dies:Government alarmed by pro-Putin Night Wolves bikers’ base

Kempton Express

A founder member of Hell Razors biker’s club, Shelly Grimley, has died on Saturday.According to a fellow biker, Drienie Prollius, details surrounding her death are still unclear.“She was a member of Hell Razors for 25 years,” Prollius told Express on Wednesday.

To celebrate this beloved biker’s life, at least 500 bikers are expected to gather at 33 High Street Food, on the corner of High and Main streets, Johannesburg on Saturday. This Portuguese restaurant was Grimley’s favourite.

“If you knew Shelly or your life was touched by her, please join us in a celebration of her life,” a Facebook post about the event read.

Guests are asked to arrive by 9am.

After the morning’s events, bikers are welcome to join a mass ride in convoy to the Hell Razors clubhouse on Dann Road, Glen Marais.

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The Slovak foreign ministry says it is “disturbing” that the Night Wolves – a Russian nationalist biker gang close to President Vladimir Putin – now have a base in Slovakia.

The base has old military vehicles and lies in Dolna Krupa, a village 70km (44 miles) from the capital Bratislava.

The Russian government calls it the Night Wolves’ “European headquarters”.

The bikers are under US sanctions, accused of providing military help for the pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine.

Slovak foreign ministry spokesman Peter Susko told the BBC that the Night Wolves’ activities would have to be “carefully monitored”.

“We think the influence of their members is harmful, especially in spreading their opinions that strive to rewrite history,” he said in a phone interview.

When asked to specify those controversial opinions he said “that Crimea is, was and will be Russian, that Stalin was a great hero, that Nato is a criminal organisation, etc”.

Slovakia is a member of both Nato and the EU. Formerly part of communist Czechoslovakia, it was an ally of Moscow during the Cold War.

A Slovak nationalist group called NV Europa, led by Jozef Hambalek, is sharing the compound with the Night Wolves.

Mr Hambalek owns the site, which was previously a pig farm, Slovak media report. Last week he threatened Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty journalists who were filming outside the base.

The Russian bikers say they are turning the site into a World War Two museum honouring Soviet units who used motorbikes.

Speaking on Tuesday, Slovak President Andrej Kiska called the Night Wolves “a tool of the regime that has been involved in the occupation of a neighbouring country” – referring to Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.

He called the bikers’ base “a serious security risk” for Slovakia.

Mr Susko told the BBC “they claim to be a club” and “they are not a government organisation, so it’s difficult to intervene through the [Russian] embassy”.

“It’s a case of clear concern that people who express views directly contrasting with the foreign policy outlook of Slovakia are trying to organise themselves on the territory of Slovakia,” he said.

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Harley-Davidson is on a path to reinvent itself after years of falling sales and trouble attracting younger riders, and it hopes to do so with a range of bikes in segments that it has never played in (at least not seriously) until now. The longtime motorcycle maker unveiled a bold new plan for reaching those younger riders this week, which includes not only new motorcycles but new approaches to selling them.

First, the new bikes: The Pan America 1250cc adventure bike, pictured above, is aimed at off-road and on-road overland travel. Slated to launch in 2020, this is a genuinely new direction for the company, aiming for the likes of BMW and others.

The new Future Streetfighter, also due in 2020, will expand the company’s lineup of middleweight street bikes with a distinctive modern design, targeting a segment largely populated by offerings from Ducati.

Next up is the retro-styled Future Custom, which remixes classic design themes with more modern elements in a relatively compact package.

Finally, Harley-Davidson reconfirmed plans to offer an electric bike, previewed four years ago by the Livewire concept that drew a lot of attention from the motorcycle community. The production version of the Livewire will go on sale in 2019, but more electric variants will be in the works in the next four years, according to the company.

“Leading the electric motorcycle market by launching Harley-Davidson’s first electric motorcycle, LiveWire, in 2019 — the first in a broad, no-clutch ‘twist-and-go’ portfolio of electric two-wheelers designed to establish the company as the leader in the electrification of the sport. LiveWire will be followed by additional models through 2022 to broaden the portfolio with lighter, smaller and even more accessible product options to inspire new riders with new ways to ride.”

The three gasoline-engined bikes will share a common architecture despite aiming at very different niches — an ambitious plan given the variety of goals of the three bikes — but all three will be aimed at attracting new riders to the brand in a way that will focus on entirely new customers looking for their first or second motorcycle. You’ve noticed by now that a traditional, chrome-heavy Harley is nowhere to be found in this product plan, signaling the company’s seriousness about mining new customer demographics.

This doesn’t mean that Harley-Davidson is ready to leave the classic touring model crowd behind, but it would like to increase the variety of bikes in its lineup.”The bold actions we are announcing today leverage Harley-Davidson’s vast capabilities and competitive firepower — our excellence in product development and manufacturing, the global appeal of the brand and, of course, our great dealer network,” said Matt Levatich, president and chief executive officer of Harley-Davidson. “Alongside our existing loyal riders, we will lead the next revolution of two-wheeled freedom to inspire future riders who have yet to even think about the thrill of riding.”

It remains to be seen whether Harley-Davidson will be able to capture significant numbers of new, younger riders as it hopes — and to overcome the image of traditional Harley-Davidson motorcycles among a younger age group that may not even be thinking about motorcycles in the first place.

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