Monday, February 5, 2018

Will wonders never cease?

SO, HD is closing it's not that old factory in Kansas City.

Sales are not just down, but way down.  Further, Polaris Industries (former makers of Victory) and current of Indian, even worse. 

Of course, there are multiple reasons for these drops in numbers, part of which is having little to no market for a viable entry level MC.  Of course at one time HD had the Buell Blast(?! huh) 500 but that was never a serious motorcycle and apart from many going to MC training courses, the public greeted it with luke warm water and didn't really like the bike.  I looked seriously (okay maybe semi) at buying one for my PHX digs but after riding several examples I found the bike to be shakier than a paint mixer, terribly underpowered with quirky handling, so so brakes and generally poor quality control went into the makings of the bike.

Okay so kiss Buell goodbye.  How about the India made Street models.  How popular (or not) are they?  Well I don't have any scientific answer to that puzzle but I can tell you I have seen one (count 'em 1) on the road in 3 years, and it was from PQ loaded with some touring gear in company with a Big Twin.  The fact that a woman was riding the Street just goes to show that women are certainly buoying up some of the lost sales to new comers.  Just as I predicted in the late 70's and early 80's. Just not near enough.

The other factor is cost.  HD and Indian are both priced at the higher end of the market attracting and aimed at affluent buyers.  Of course those people are now often in their sixties and up, and simply put, won't be around much longer.  Most of my riding friends are in this age category.  I myself am 63 (well I decided last year I would start counting backwards, so in that vein I'm actually now 61)

Who can afford a BMW at 30K plus, or a Gold Wing same, or an HD or any one of a number of bikes priced in the mid teens and several going into the 30's!  Again, only the guy that has no alimony payments, a secure corporate job and has several suits in his closet, next to the MC gear.

I've often felt I would rather have half a used trials bike, dualie, sports tourer, vintage stuff and more used... for the cost of a new Wing or Decker.

THEN there is the whole issue of what exactly Motorcycles are to the N.A. market?  Basic transportation on the lines of China or India or VietNam...?


Bikers on this side of the pond even differ greatly from Europe. 

Here for the most part, we are "posers" while at least the posers over there, attend GP races in the tens if not hundreds of thousands. Hard enduros, rally bikes like the whole PD thing, and pay substantially more both in licensing and purchase of their bikes.

They are serious riders. That plus the long time regulations limiting displacement/horsepower and graduated licensing have fostered a 'move up' market. 

I was just having a conversation this past week on lane splitting/filtering, call it what you want and over here we have a single state that allows it. (CA)

In Europe and Asia, it's not just common but a necessity to keep traffic moving.  I've ridden round-abouts with a dozen exits, and lane split in Athens, Budapest and Spain and many others... try doing that here and you will have a dozen auto drivers on their cell phone calling 911 for Pete's sake!

Sometimes I'm of the feeling that I should have moved 'over there', how different my riding experiences would have been.  Weekly local MX races, MOTO GP, the Alps, Dolomites and Pyrenees...

Who knows.  I arrived in Canada as a Hungarian refugee and certainly wasn't keen on growing up behind the Iron Curtain! 

WE have some of the best riding in the world.  Period!  Canada and the USA are VAST countries with a massive variety of terrain, weather and wonders to explore.  Yet most riders I know rarely venture out of their neighborhoods.  No wonder they soon tire of riding and hop in the Volvo 'cuz it's a lot easier to grocery shop.

I feel very fortunate that I had parents that didn't have a problem with me riding a bike. 

Growing up in the sixties, there were few bikes out
there.  The Brits were on their collective last gasps, the Japs invading with cute and practical little bikes like the two Passports in my house, were just gathering steam.  It's been an exciting 50 years for moi!

I'm sure we will never see that again in this part of the world.  Eventually motorbikes will be outlawed or redundant. 

As a last note... I was reading that HD was going to pursue two new and distinctive avenues moving ahead. 

One... they are going to phase out their current dealerships for high end auto oriented combinations stores which has already gotten underway. Don't think so?  Remember when they dropped many of the HD shops that kept the brand going through the lean years, in favor of cookie cutter image stores?

The second, they are going to put an electric bike on the market within a year.

Stop laughing you! 

Can't you see the future... eventually, maybe even in my lifetime, we will see sports bikes and cruisers with nearly a hundred kilometer range and charging stations for bikes everywhere including the Sahara. 









You read it here first folks...

the Doc.


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