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2009

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Harley-Davidson has instructed its dealers not to talk about how sales have been throughout the recession, but the news that 36 dealerships have closed in the past year, and more closures are expected in 2011, speaks for itself on how sales have been. On a conference call with analysts CFO John Olin said, “This contraction was expected and in-line with our desire to modestly consolidate our U.S. dealer network in response to lower overall volume since the economic downturn took hold,” which is a very glossed over way of saying that American brand has become too bloated over the past years, and needs to go on a diet.

Harley-Davidson expects to ship between 221,000 & 228,000 motorcycles worldwide in 2011, which is up 8% over last year’s figure, but still pales in comparison to the numbers the Milwaukee brand was posting before the economic collapse (303,479 in 2008). Since 2006, sales at Harley-Davdison have continued to slide, but the most dramatic affect was in 2010, where sales were down 30% compared to before the recession (over 36% in the domestic market).

Besides the Rossi-Ducati situation, how Casey Stoner will fare with HRC’s 2011 bike is on everyone’s mind, not least of all Jorge Lorenzo’s, who was just quoted as saying Stoner, not Rossi, would be his main competition in 2011. Stoner’s rookie MotoGP season showed flashes of brilliance, ruined repeatedly by a Michelin front tire that was not up to the demands Stoner placed on it.

Back on a Honda, Stoner will have the magnificent Bridgestone front tire without the Ducati’s temperament to manage at every corner, plus several years’ experience and a world title in his pocket since that rookie season. Given what Stoner got out of the Ducati, he should be very dangerous indeed on HRC’s final 800cc bike.”

BMW Motorrad continues to shine in this down economy, as the company has reported a 7.8% worldwide sales increase compared to November of last year. For the rest of 2010, BMW’s sales have increased every month compared to last year’s figures, from January to November. In the same time period, BMW Motorrad sold 94,283 units internationally, up 15% from the 81,946 units sold during the same duration last year.

While it isn’t saying much that sales are improving over the devastating numbers from 2009, the motorcycle industry is still considered to be down by roughly 11%, which makes BMW still an outlier from the industry norm.

While the limited-production EBR 1190RS certainly is exciting to think about, and the Buellisti are already counting down the days until Erik Buell re-enters the street bike market, what has us chomping at the bit is the fact that in 2009 Spanish design firm Edda Design was commissioned by Buell to revamp the 1125CR street bike; and with the result they came up with, we wouldn’t mind seeing life breathed back into that project, just like the Barracuda.

More bad news for BMW owners as the German manufacturer has also released a recall notice for a number of its K-bikes. A problem with the front-wheel bearing could lead the bearing’s corrosion, which would affect the movement of the linkage lever. BMW has not said how many motorcycles this recall will affect, but the issue spans the 2004 to 2010 model years of the following bikes: K1200GT, K1200R, K1200S, K1300GT, K1300R, & K1300S.

According to the NHTSA, motorcycle deaths in the United States dropped by 16% in 2009 compared to the number of deaths in 2008. With 4,462 deaths in 2009 and 5,312 deaths in 2008, this makes for the first time motorcycle death tolls have dropped in the past decade; however federal officials are reluctant to call this a victory in rider safety.

“While we are pleased that the number of motorcycling fatalities dropped dramatically in 2009, a one-year drop isn’t a trend. We need to determine why, and ensure that the decline continues,” said Ed Moreland, AMA Senior Vice President for Government Relations.

Missing three races because of a mystery illness, Casey Stoner put any critics he had from his sudden departure in 2009 to bed with his masterful race at Phillip Island. Racing in front of his home crowd, Stoner slid around the Australian course to a decisive victory, in what we called one of the top races of 2009. Making the moment even more special for Australian fans, and Ducatisti alike, was the special race livery that Stoner ran for his home race. Hoping to commemorate that race and Stoner’s contributions to the Marlboro Ducati team (Stoner is leaving Ducati for HRC next year), a French Ducati dealership in Moulins-lès-Metz has decided to sell a limited number of Casey Stoner Ducati 1198S Phillip Island replicas.

Part of being a motorcycle enthusiast in the United States means waking up at odd hours to catch live coverage of your favorite racing series. Whether it be MotoGP, WSBK, or AMA, every racing Sunday is more like Easter Sunday as we hunt through the channel listings looking for our beloved sport on the television, sometimes finding the disappointment that the coverage has been pushed far back into the week as far as Wednesday.

For the motorcycle racing fanatics, this sort of Easter egg hunt is a ritual intrinsically tied to our love of two-wheeled racing. Thankfully, 2009 provided us some worthy racing treasures for all our efforts, and it is in this post we celebrate those moments.

We saw a lot of great videos this past year. Some were funny, some were clever, and some were the epitome of motorcycle racing. Our top-picks pull from all of these genres, but we have to admit, the selection pool was limited by what was still available at the time of this writing.

Some of the biggest pieces of footage this year came from the WSBK and MotoGP racing series; unfortunately, the rights holders for these videos don’t feel like sharing the clips beyond their original air-dates. We’ll leave the issue about how this hurts the sport and motorcycle racing enthusiasts aside for today, so continue on past the jump for some great videos despite this situation.