Friday, June 19, 2009

To HOG or not to HOG?

I’m sitting here with my annual Harley Owners Group renewal papers in front of me, trying to decide whether to spring the $60 for another year’s membership.

hog logoI’m not much of a joiner and I’m not big on the group ride thing, so the camaraderie part of HOG membership is not a huge selling point for me. And frankly I don’t ever anticipate riding into a strange city and tracking down a HOG meeting like an alcoholic looking for AA. Call me antisocial, but that’s not in my genes.

Sure there are other benefits such as the roadside assistance (which duplicates what I already have with CAA) and preferred rates for motorcycle shipping, but in reality the only value I’d get out of renewing is a few issues of a thinly disguised Harley marketing magazine and the odd pin when I do happen to attend a signature event (which ends up in a box in a drawer with all the other assorted pins and badges collected over decades of riding).

Then I got thinking about what HOG would have to do so rejoining was a no-brainer. In my opinion, the biggest benefit an organization like HOG can  bring to its members is to be an advocate for motorcyclists with politicians and business leaders who all, at various times, take advantage of bikers because we are a small community who rarely speak with a common voice.

Places to start.
Motorcycle insurance is a largely unregulated business and consequently rates are often excessive, arbitrarily applied, and wildly inconsistent between companies. Having an organization like HOG use the power of its numbers to sort through the chaff and identify the true motorcycle-friendly insurance companies out there, and perhaps negotiate group rates, would have me back in the fold, pronto.
Legislators of all political stripes, and at all levels, seem to spend an inordinate amount of time coming up with creative ways to unfairly and unreasonably target the motorcycling community. Bill 117 here in Ontario that would prevent a parent from offering a ride to their under-14 son or daughter is but one example of many. An organization representing thousands of voices (and voters) has better access to the corridors of power than any single rider.
A very few jurisdictions take motorcycle awareness seriously. If HOG and others were more active in encouraging states and provinces to use (for example) electronic highway signage to increase motorcycle awareness among the driving public, or even to advise motorcyclists themselves of highway conditions that may be extra dangerous to two-wheelers, our safety would be improved significantly.
Certainly there’s a place for rallies and social clubs, but in my opinion we, the riding public, would be better served if our organizations spent more time tackling issues that are limiting access to our sport and our safety on the roads.

So let’s see now… how much bling can I get for that $60 I just saved?

7 comments:

  1. I'm not a HOG member either for mostly the same reasons you stated at the beginning.

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  2. Although we (Ian, Guzzisue and myself)are not Harley riders the same sentiment can be said for several one make clubs. We used to be members of the Moto Guzzi Club GB and even went to one of their rallies.Although the club magazine was fairly good many topics reappeared year after year. I realise that a club magazine is reliant on input from members and if that is not incoming.....
    We have many friends and are members of a small club and at the rallies we attend conversations can vary from topic to topic and not get stuck in a rut with talking about one make of motorcycle.

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  3. thats interesting but not surprising that bikerted's Moto Guzzi club experience seems similar to HOG.

    i agree with you canajun. but i must note re: insurance, hd and hog have links to viking/dairyland insurance, which is who i use. they are good insurance but are somehow connected to hd. so i dont think hd would be able to somehow speak/act in an unbiased manner. just my opinion. it would be great if they acted as more of a voice for all motorcyclists!!! that could be hugely powerful.

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  4. Ms. M - Interesting. I wonder if the insurance deal is only with HOG US. I haven't seen anything like that publicized by HOG Canada. Will have to do some more research on that.
    But if they already have a deal with an insurer who offers fair rates and good service, that's all I'd want anyway.

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  5. Thank yo for posting this and for all the comments ...very educational for me....Now I can make an informed decision when the time comes..

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  6. All - thanks for the comments. It seems there's a thread here that HOG (and others) could pick up on if they wanted to grow their memberships.

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  7. HOG or not HOG, a annual question, except if you jump to life membership. I like the social club aspect, as you still have all the options to say yes or no.
    As for the membership fee, that is a no brainer, as here in the UK you get a discount on any purchases of bling. By new mufflers, and you saved the membership fees for 2 years alone.
    However the handling of their brand is sometimes questionable, see my post here: When branding kills tradition
    http://roadkinguk.wordpress.com/2011/01/08/when-branding-kills-tradition/

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