The “Black World” of Harley-Davidson secrets is behind the walls of the 370,000 square-foot Willie G Davidson Product Development Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Ten years ago, a youngster right out of design school began work with the Motor Company just like another kid did in 1963. And we know how well that turned out.
Back in 2010, a young man named Ben McGinley was an industrial design student at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. There he was recognised for his graduation project, the “Mosquito .45” urban commuter motorcycle. From his Linkedin profile it says he was an Industrial Designer in the greater Milwaukee area. So now let’s recount his surprising design journey from joining Harley-Davidson and culminating this year in August at the Model Year 2020 Dealer Meeting in Milwaukee.
In 2012, the “Streetfighter Concept” story is posted online with Ben’s two drawings penned in 2010 and a clay model from a later year. You can even see the gestations of the 2014 Project LiveWire and the 2019 FXDR 114’s rear fender, swing arm and style along with the legal number plate holders.
Also interesting and on the web post is in the Streetfighter’s drawing, we see the first rendition of the Harley Modular 975 engine while the later clay model has a V-Rod engine.
Obviously back in 2012, Harley was toying with a new streetfighter frame for the V-Rod but ended up going with the Modular 975/1250 engine.
In 2013, Ben is on YouTube wth Kirk Rasmussen (Harley Manager of Styling) and Ben McGinley a “Designer” both discussing the styling and inspiration behind the new Twin-Cam 103 Harley-Davidson Breakout. I can see here that his early days at Harley were well spent.
In 2014, Ben is called the “Boy Wonder” for his inventive motorcycle designs as the “Lead Designer” under Kirk Rasmussen for Project LiveWire. That year he also contributed to the design of the 2014 Low Rider.
In 2015, we find Ben on YouTube introducing the the re-designed 2016 Sportster Forty-Eight. He says “Riders have long since complained about the lack of suspension with Harley. Here’s our answer,” 43mm front forks and shortened rake with a 28 degrees compared to a standard Sportster’s 30 degrees. This makes for a tighter turning circle and more agility at low speeds further emphasising the “urban” moniker for the Forty-Eight.
In 2016, Ben picked up where he left off, this time with the Roadster 1200 saying “The wheels were inspired by classic laced wheels, and are the most intricate cast wheel we’ve ever created.
The interlacing spokes shoot outward toward opposite sides of the wheel, creating a dramatic visual effect. These wheels are also very light for their size, which contributes to the Roadster’s handling performance … The seat’s profile flows into the very short rear fender … The cover features a series of pads inspired by an armoured leather jacket, and the rear of the seat is designed as a passenger pillion, to give the Roadster added versatility.”
In 2017 and 2018, Ben was busy on the Milwaukee Eight engine integration and its 2018 Softail architecture. Ben was the “Design Lead” on the Fat Bob and Breakout Softails. Then in October with the completion of the Dyna/Softail update, Ben move up to be the Harley-Davidson “Design Manager, Electric Vehicles” where he now oversees the entire electric vehicle portfolio including the halo and crown-jewel bike, the 2020 LiveWire.
Since 2012, Ben McGinley has been the Lead or contributing Designer for over 20 Harleys and accessory programs. What his CV and current job description don’t reveal today in their secrecy, is perhaps what will be his greatest achievement with the release of the LiveWire, Streetfighter 975 and Custom 1250.
Winter and the Weather
Winter is now truly here. Ride safety is paramount in these times with shorter daylight and weather conditions always needing a constant watch. Proper clothing and a closer look at your bike and tyres are mandatory before any ride. Even little things can get you in trouble or just late. Your bike security system alarm may give you an early warning of the Key FOB battery failure with a single beep when you pick your bike off the kickstand. Certainly every two years it’s time to invest in some preventative maintenance, I bought four no-name CR2032s from K-Mart for $5. Save the old dying battery in your pannier for a mate when their FOB dies. Charge him for a cup of coffee.
Even your bike’s 12VDC battery needs to be on a modern electrical trickle charger or tender. Cold is the enemy of all electrical stuff. Just ask a Tesla owner in Canada. Tyre pressure should not be overlooked either. For all these winter things, ask a mate or your dealer.
But for the weather forecast there is really only one source, the Australia Bureau of Meteorology or BOM. While BOM is the source; commercial apps deliver the basic info in more useful and readable displays. On your home computer go to bom.gov.au. It is easy to navigate. Click on all the buttons and names to see where they take you. You will be surprised how good it is.
For the most accurate weekly and even hourly forecast you can’t beat BOM’s “MetEye” which is only availably at www.bom.gov.au/australia/meteye. The most important trick is knowing it first comes up on the “Wind Forecasts.” Above the Wind line is the “Rainfall Forecasts.” You can look ahead by the hour or day, up to a week in advance. Believe me, with MetEye it’s very accurate for the current day and even three days out.
Working from home “Weatherzone” is my second choice and I use both just before a ride. It is also available from the App Store and Google Play and is rated 4.5 stars with 296K likes! I opted for the paid version which is ad free. It is really good but as with all apps with too much information you have to learn to use it.
When riding on your bike, you need a smart phone weather app. The “BOM Weather” app is just okay but there are so many better apps because they display the weather in a more biker friendly way. Again Weatherzone is great. But for realtime hourly rain warning and forecasts, I depend on “Rain Parrot.” It displays your nearest radar map with a unique direction cone telling whether the rain is coming your way and how long until it hits you. If you have only one weather app, Rain Parrot is the one to get!