St. Louis, MO
Posted - 02/27/2011 : 7:13 PM
You may have noticed in the prior entry on the simultaneous approval of both the Blast and Rider's Edge that four of the nine classes (44%) that comprised the Rider's Edge field-test were conducted in Albuquerque, NM.
The photo of what would be called the Buell Blast showing them in a training exercise was taken in mid-November and posted by The Single Cylinder Gazette on Wednesday, November 24, 1999.
However the range appears to be the very same one that appeared in the infamous marketing video sent out by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation to introduce its new curriculum iteration, the Basic RiderCourse.
That range was part of the New Mexico State Motorcycle Program. And the NMSMP was (and still is) administrated by MSF.
According to Michael Weiss, H-D Director of Business Development in that phone call to state program rider educators, David Smith and Frank Allen were the ones to contact for how Rider's Edge instructors would "bleed over" in terms of Rider's Edge and state programs. Iow, Smith and Allen were the experts on Rider's Edge instructors.
David Smith and Frank Allen were employees of MSF at the time the spy photo was taken and working on another field-test for MSF in Albuquerque at the same time-more on that in a moment. Smith has been the New Mexico state motorcycle safety program manager for several years even though, at least until a couple years ago, he also taught for Rider's Edge in Albuquerque.
For many months after the Milwaukee SMSA, Rider's Edge was a source of controversy and confusion in the rider education community. It might have reassured many in the rider ed community if they knew that MSF-employed instructors were evaluating the course and the motorcycle.
It appears that MSF was much more deeply involved than suspected with the origins of Rider's Edge if only because it was administrator of the NMSMP and employed Smith and Allen. Yet it made every effort to distance itself from Harley and Rider's Edge and would only admit that Harley had permission to use MSF's curriculum.
For example, Piper posted this on the MSF listserve on Aug 25, 2000: "Harley-Davidson and its Rider's Edge New Rider Course do not intend to "compete" with existing rider training through the state programs....From the MSF viewpoint, we're pleased at the effort Harley-Davidson is making to help us address the training capacity issue and to expose non-riders to motorcycling."
There's only one place where I discovered any admitted connection (apart from the curriculum use) between MSF and H-D and Rider's Edge: An e-mail from Albert Thornton, then chair of the SMSA, with the subject head "Chat with Tim Buche on 29 July 1999" to Ron Shepard states "Tim also indicated that the MSF will be assisting Harley-Davidson "with some research this winter" and that HD will be laying [sic- I think he meant playing] a bigger role. (???????)". After Milwaukee, Thornton may not have needed the question marks.
The question is: why did TPTB at MSF and/or H-D feel it was important to maintain an illusion of a Chinese Wall when news of a deeper involvement with MSF may have reassured nervous instructors?
Was the Blast and Rider's Edge testing also passed off as BRC field-testing?
What few readers may realize is that Albuquerque did over 70% of the 1999 BRC field-tests) for the Basic RiderCourse.[i] And those 19 sets of range exercises were conducted between the end of June and December 1999. Thirteen of them (over 68% of all the field tests) were taught by David Smith, his son Mark Smith and Frank Allen from August-December.
Iow, at the same time that Harley-Davidson was conducting the field-test for both Rider's Edge curriculum and the Buell Blast as a training bike on an MSF range in Albuquerque with MSF employees, David Smith and Frank Allen they were simultaneously conducting field tests on MSF's Basic RiderCourse.
That overlap of field-tests includes the same weekend, on the same range that the couple snapped the photo of the top-secret Buell used in training in Albuquerque.
David Smith, Mark Smith and Frank Allen in a memo to Ray Ochs dated May 19, 2000 refers to BRC field tests conducted "using normally scheduled classes". It is assumed that the same policy was followed in the fall since the class sizes were similar.
According to MSF documentation that weekend, November 19-21, there were six students in the class that was held (the photo shows five though one may be out of sight on the right hand portion of the circle).
And, according to MSF, the course that was being conducted was the curriculum that it was just developing-the Basic RiderCourse-and not the MRC:RSS, which allegedly was the curriculum Rider's Edge first adapted and field-tested-at least that was the impression the rider ed community was given.
Iow, at the exact time MSF claims it was testing the BRC, Harley claimed it was field-testing Rider's Edge on the same range with the same instructors.
My friend Thor also claims the picture shows Exercise Six from the MRC: RSS. The photo, then, should be of an MRC:RSS class in motion mid-way through the first range session. He based that on the circle on the range and assumed that the students were riding the circle-however, there's also yellow markings on the range that may or may not conform the to BRC.
But, according to BRC field-testing documentation, no MRC:RSS classes were conducted in Albuquerque in November at all. According to MSF, the only RSS that conducted in Albuquerque in the fall of 1999 was held December 17-19, 1999-almost a month after the pictures of the Blasts were taken and posted on the Internet.[ii]
Iow, if MSF-and Smith and Allen-are to be believed the photo would be of a BRC field test and not an RSS class. But Harley says it was field-testing Rider's Edge at the same time. So either Harley's Rider's Edge was the BRC from the beginning or the instructors who taught the course were confused about which iteration they were teaching that weekend.
Whatever iteration, it was conducted on the Buell Blast.
And remember that Elisabeth Piper said in her February 9, 2000 post that the Blast was currently being tested for use in the New Mexico and Pennsylvania state programs? No training occurs in Pennsylvania in the winter-but it was occurring in NM. And remember, there were only three dealerships that had Buell Blasts at that point-and one of them was in Albuquerque.
But the only MSF training being done in Albuquerque in the winter of 2000 was the BRC field test. Does this mean that at least part of the BRC field test was conducted on Buell Blasts? It's unknown.
[i] When MSF sought permission from the Oregon Department of Oregon to be approved as an alternate state program it submitted numerous documents including 74 separate supporting appendices. Number 34 is the RESLAB Component Feasibility Testing: Times and Mileage (Sept-Dec '99) and lists all the field testing done in the latter part of 1999. Other appendices reveal that no field testing had been done in 1999 prior to September and only a very few field-tests had been done in the fall of 1998 (at Eastern Kentucky State University).
[ii] Interestingly, the one RSS conducted as a control group and to compare against the BRC had 33% more students than the average test BRC course.