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Leaders of the Pack  by Deborah Tirico
Jesse James in Monster Garage
I was about 8 years old when my neighbor, a cute 16 year old with a DA haircut and tight pants, gave me a ride on his brand new Vespa.  Holding tight to his waist with the wind in my face, I knew I would always love motorcycles. It is a certain type of spirit that is drawn to speed on two wheels…one with a passion for adventure and a love of freedom and the open road.

Cruising Culture
In 1903, the same year Henry Ford incorporated the Ford Motor Co. and the Wright brothers first flew, William Harley and his friends Arthur and Walter Davidson launched the Harley-Davidson Motor Company. They gave their bike a quality engine, so it could prove itself in races, but planned to manufacture it as a transport vehicle.  By the 1960s "the hog," as it affectionately came to be called, scored seven consecutive victories at the Daytona 200. In 1969, the movie Easy Rider gave rise to the “Harley” as an American icon.

Today the company sells heavyweight (over 750 cc) motorcycles designed for cruising. They are known to be heavily customized and gave rise to the chopper-style of bikes popular today.  Harley-Davidson enjoys a loyal brand community which keeps active through clubs, events, and a museum.

Custom Choppers
Jesse James, a descendant of the outlaw himself, was made famous by customizing motorcycles … actually chopping them and reassembling them in distinctive styles. On the Discovery Channel’s “Motorcycle Mania” Jesse James provided a behind-the-scenes look into his world. The success of the program prompted the network to cast him in his own show, “Monster Garage.”
“Puppy”.  It revolutionized transport
in post-war Italy and went on to sell
in the hundreds of thousands. The
Cucciolo laid the basis for Ducati’s later spectacular success in the field of two-wheeled vehicles and racing.

In 1952 the company introduced their 65TS cycle and Cruiser, a four-stroke motor scooter and the rest is history. By the 60s Ducati had earned its place in motorcycling history by producing the then fastest 250
Jesse James in Monster Garage

Long before any actual West Coast
Choppers customs had been sold,
West Coast Choppers was selling
t-shirts and stickers with the company's logo, packaging the accoutrements of the chopper lifestyle. Even after the company began building custom choppers, 60% of revenue still comes from sales of WCC-branded marketing such as clothing, beverages and tools. Yearly sales of  12–15 motorcycles at prices of US $150,000 each actually lose money for the company, but are critical to attracting positive attention. Who rides a West Coast Chopper? Shaquille O'Neal, Kid Rock, Keanu Reeves.

The Need for Speed
The name Ducati is synonymous for speed. After WWII, Bruno Cavalieri Ducati founded Ducati Motor
Company with his two brothers. As Managing Director, Bruno successfully acquired the patent for the production of a micro-engine which was attached to a bicycle frame and the product was called “Cucciolo” or
Ducati 175 Cruiser, 1952
Harley Davidson
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cc road bike available. In the 1970s Ducati began producing large-displacement L-twin (i.e. a 90° V-twin) motorcycles and soon became known for their speed and racing ability.  In 1973, Ducati released an L-twin engine with the trademark desmodromic valve design, demonstrating prowess in engine innovation.

Ducati rejoined Grand Prix motorcycle racing in 2003, after a 30 year absence and on September 23, 2007, Casey Stoner clinched his and Ducati's first Grand Prix World Championship.

Scooting Around
Vespa, an Italian line of motor scooters is one of the items on my personal bucket list.  I can totally see myself putting down the street to the grocer in my senior citizen community.

From their inception, Vespa scooters have been known for their painted, pressed steel unibody which combines a complete cowling for the engine (enclosing the engine mechanism and concealing dirt or grease), a flat floorboard (providing foot protection), and a prominent front fairing (providing wind protection) into a structural unit. In my opinion it is these features which make the scooter suitable for women in skirts.

The Vespa has evolved from a single model motor scooter in 1946 to a full line of scooters and one of seven companies today owned by Piaggio, Europe's largest manufacturer of two-wheeled vehicles.

As gasoline hovers at between $3-$4  a gallon for regular, evidence seems to suggest the gas-sipping scooter is on its way toward becoming a mainstream transportation option for city dwellers.  

These four companies have developed brands that are recognizable to more than just the motorcycle enthusiast. Each one has developed a brand-loyal community and indeed a culture around their distinctive products and innovative marketing. They are truly leaders of the pack.
West Coast Choppers
ducati logo.jpg