Archive for December, 2008

Aftermarket Industry — Strength in Numbers

December 31, 2008

Other than my pure, ridiculous love for most two-wheeled vehicles, the thing that gets me most about the motorcycle (powersports) industry is the insanely high level of ingenuity and creativity. While there is no shortage of somewhat useless gadgetry (you know it when you see) making it to market, the vast majority of products out there are nothing short of genius.

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Just take a look at the stuff that’ll be on display at Dealer Expo (also, here and here) and at the V-Twin Expo in February. The parts and bikes built by Steve Storz? Roland Sands and his dad, Perry? Bert Baker? Look at what small companies like Nash Motorcycle Co. and Biltwell Inc. are doing. How about FMF‘s long storied history? Phil Davy has turned ICON into, well, an icon. The stuff coming out of Robert Fisher’s and Nick Anglada’s garages? Crazy. Honestly, the list is mind-blowing crosses across all market niches and extends as far back as does motorcycling. My own personal favorite is Chopper Dave. His work kills me.

So considering all these aftermarket players, what happens when the economy takes a dump? Well, it looks like a bunch of them are looking to band together under the auspices of automotive industry heavyweight SEMA to protect their interests. Bikernet.com‘s Keith Ball is calling together the troops for a meeting at the V-Twin Show in Cincy. His goal is to give the aftermarket — and the attendant bodies such as vendors, dealers, clubs, etc. — a strong, unified voice in these shaky times. By banding together under SEMA, the motorcycle aftermarket industry would be able to access the advocacy group’s massive list of services. These run the gamut from business resources to market research to OEM relation services to SEMA’s massive trade show.

If you’re at all interested, the Cincy meeting happens Sunday, Feb. 8 2009 at 9 a.m. For more info contact Ball at 310-830-0630 or bandit@bikernet.com. You can also contact Ken Conte at Rise Above Consulting at  970-227-3588 or ken@riseaboveconsulting.com

Spyder Claus

December 30, 2008

Christmas may have come and gone, but here’s a little something from BRP’s marketing/PR agency. I’m starting to see more Spyders on the road, but I can’t help but wonder how many of them are being ridden by moto-journalists. I can say that none of them have been dressed up like Santa Claus. New York City gets all the fun.

What will Piaggio’s €150 Million Loan Cover?

December 28, 2008

Piaggio & C. S.p.A. recently obtained a €150 million loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB) to be earmarked for upcoming R&D activities. But which brand will be on the receiving end of this funding, Piaggio, Vespa, Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, Gilera or Derbi?

The Piaggio Group’s six brands revealed nearly a dozen concept bikes at the EICMA show in November.

The Derbi DH 2.0 is one of many recent Piaggio Group prototypes.

The Derbi DH 2.0 is one of many recent Piaggio Group prototypes.

Could the loan amount be going toward the realization of some of those models? Could it be that the funding is to be earmarked for Aprilia’s forthcoming World Superbike race effort? Is it possible Piaggio finally plans to expand its Gilera and Derbi offerings?

What about Moto Guzzi? In November, Piaggio’s Moto Guzzi subsidiary merged into the parent company in a move Piaggio leadership said will help leverage industrial, commercial and financial synergies by “rationalizing” the two companies’ technical, industrial, design and style operations.

Guzzi's operation may be a target for investment

Moto Guzzi's operation may be a target for investment.

Erected in 1921, Moto Guzzi’s production facility in Mandello del Lario, Italy, is aging and situated on a limited parcel of land between a cliff side and Lago di Lecco – the eastern arm of Lake Como. A Dealernews visit in 2007 revealed only half of the facility in use, with the remainder in a darkened state of decay.

So, maybe, the Piaggio/MotoGuzzi merger, plus the recent R&D-related loan, signals a pending revitalization of the Guzzi production process.

What are your thoughts?

Obama’s Black-And-Whites

December 27, 2008

While President-elect Barack Obama recently was escorted through Hawaii tucked safely within a convoyobamacyclecops of BMW police motorcycles, his next date with two-wheelers will include more than a dozen “Made in the USA” Harley-Davidson police motors.

Harley-Davidson of Frederick Maryland was the dealership tapped to supply bikes to the District of Columbia police for Obama’s inauguration parade.

Dealer principle Michael Vantucci delivered 12 Harley-Davidsons to the police department on Dec. 26. The 2009 FLHTP Electra Glides will be used for escort and security duty.
Vantucci’s supplied bikes have led an inaugural procession five times before. His dealership this year beat out at least seven other motorcycle dealers who bid on the $360,000 inauguration contract.

The District of Columbia police replaces 10 to 12 motorcycles a year and sells the retired bikes, with 40,000 to 50,000 miles on them, online.
BMW and Harley-Davidson are fierce competitors in the police bike market. I wrote an article about police motors earlier this year. Read it here

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Bid on Henderson’s Original ACE Drawings

December 26, 2008

Mid-America Auctions plans to place William Henderson’s original drawings for the ACE motorcycle on the block during a Jan. 10 auction in Las Vegas.
During the World War I era, a number of early manufacturers went out of business or were bought up by stronger companies. William Henderson sold his company to a German immigrant, Ignatius Schwinn. The Henderson had a fine reputation as being America’s most luxurious, elegant, and expensive four-cylinder motorcycle. Schwinn felt he had taken ownership of the “best of the best” and added it to his Excelsior Line. Despite signing a non-compete clause, Henderson soon began plans for another bike, the ACE.
Henderson began drawing the plans for his ACE and searching for investors to help finance the new factory. Production began as soon as his non-compete expired. However, money would eventually run out, and while searching for the finances needed to complete his machine, production was moved, and even discontinued a couple of times.
On Dec. 11, 1922, while Henderson was test riding the new ACE, he was struck by a car and killed. Within weeks his assistant, Arthur Lemon, completed the final drawings, and then sold the rights to Indian Motorcycle Co. Indian produced the bike as the ACE, then Indian ACE, and finally as their own brand, the Indian Four.
Henderson’s original drawings, numbering approximately 400 pieces, disappeared from view. Lost in the files of the massive Indian Company, the Henderson Ace drawings were assumed to have been destroyed in 1953, when the original Indian went out of business. Astonishingly, the new owner, Bill Melvin, found the drawings as they were being placed in a dumpster and headed for a landfill. They had sat under layers of dust in a warehouse for years.
The ACE drawings, done on a cloth material, are each signed and dated by William Henderson and Arthur Lemon. They’re still contained in the old envelopes from the Indian factory.
The auction is to be held at the South Point Hotel in Las Vegas on Jan. 10. Click HERE to see the 500 vintage, classic & special interest motorcycles to be presented for auction.

He sees you when you’re sleeping.

December 24, 2008

Not too sure about the other editors here at DN blogland, but I’ll be taking a posting break over the Christmas weekend. Unless something fantastically motorcyclish or scooterific happens this is the only thing you’ll see from me until next week.

You better watch out. I'm coming to town.

You better watch out. I'm coming to town.

We at Dealernews hope that you all have a happy holiday, however you happen to celebrate it.

Moto Guzzi V7 Classic – want one

December 23, 2008

OK, it’s already been floating around the Internets for a while but I wanted to take a moment to talk about the new Moto Guzzi V7 Classic. Since word first broke about this bike and I got to see the pics, I’ve wanted one. Now that I’ve been able to eye one up and saddle it at the Long Beach IMS stop, I want one even more.

This will be the one sold in the U.S.

This will be the one sold in the U.S.

The specs of the V7 aren’t all that impressive — 48 hp at 6,800 rpm/40 lb. ft. at 3,600 rpm — the aesthetics are. This thing thrives on its classic profile that easily recalls the V7s that preceded it. . Much like some people have a type when it comes to their love interests, I have a type when it comes to motorcycles. The V7 is my type, much like my Thruxton is my type and the old stripped- down ironhead Sportster I used to have was my type (when it ran).

This is the V7 Cafe Classic unveiled in Milan at EICMA. Of course this bike needs clip-ons.

This is the V7 Cafe Classic unveiled in Milan at EICMA. Of course this bike needs clip-ons.

I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s something about the profile of all these various machine — oh, and don’t forget Ducati’s Sport Classics — that tweaks my inner design freak. So if everything goes well and the folks over at Brandware Public Relations pull through, I’ll be testing one of these suckers when they hit Piaggio’s West Coast press fleet.

Until then, we’ve got some of the particulars from MG:

The 2009 Moto Guzzi V7 Classic is available at U.S. Moto Guzzi retailers for a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $8,490. The exclusive body color is Moon White, a lustrous pearl white accented with classic Moto Guzzi tank decals.

V7 CLASSIC
Four-stroke V 90 twin
744 cc
80 x 74 mm
9.6 : 1
35.5 kW (48 HP) at 6,800 rpm
54.7 Nm at 3,600 rpm
Weber-Marelli electronic fuel injection
Three-way catalytic converter with lambda probe5 speed
Shaft drive, ratio 16/21=1 : 1.3125
Marzocchi 40 mm telescopic front forks
Light alloy swingarm with two hydraulic shock absorbers, pre-load adjustable
5.1” / 4.65”
Floating 320 mm stainless steel disc
four piston opposed calipers of differing diameters
260 mm stainless steel disc
Spoked steel rims
2.5” x 18” / 3.5” x 17”
Metzeler Lasertec 100/90- 18 56HTL Metzeler Lasertec 130/80 -17 65HTL
86” / 31.5” / 43.9”
57”
31.7”
401.2 lbs
4.5 gallons (reserve 0.7 gallon)
*All current Moto Guzzi motorcycles include a 2 year unlimited-mileage warranty, and 24-hour roadside assistance.

KTM Enters Its First ATV in Dakar Rally

December 22, 2008

On Jan. 3, Italian Camelia Liparoti will become the first person to ride a KTM quad in the Dakar Rallyktm_dakarquad2 when she crosses the starting line in Buenos Aires, Argentina, aboard her 525 XC.

About 235 motorcycles and 30 quads are scheduled to race in the inaugural “Dakar Rally” in South America. But, while KTM will field 55 percent of the motorcycles taking part in the rally this year, the Austrian company will field only one quad – Liparoti’s.

Other brands signed to compete in the ATV division include Yamaha, Suzuki, Polaris and BRP’s Can-Am.

Stage One of the rally begins in Buenos Aires on Saturday Jan. 3. Teams and riders from 49 countries will ktm_dakarquad1then be going full throttle 5,903 miles over the legendary Argentina Pampas, into Patagonia, across the Andes mountains, and across hundreds of miles of desert and sand dunes until the completion of Stage 14 back in the Argentinean capital on Jan. 17.

Check out Dealernews.com for more about the 2009 Dakar Rally.

New Look for Indy Dealer Expo

December 21, 2008

The 2009 Dealernews International Powersports Dealer Expo in Indianapolis is going to feature an entirely new layout now that the huge Lucas Oil Stadium is up and functional, the Indiana Convention Center has been modified and the RCA Dome has been demolished.

The combination of the new multi-purpose Lucas Oil Stadium, or “The Luke”, and expanded Indiana Convention Center means Indianapolis will be able to offer nearly three quarters of a million square feet of exhibit and meeting space.   The combined new space will make the Indiana Convention Center the nation’s 16th largest. It currently is 32nd.

The revamped Indiana Convention Center is scheduled to offer 566,300 square feet of exhibit space.   Another 183,000 square feet will be in Lucas Oil Stadium, which will be connected to the center via walkway.

Dealer Expo takes place Feb. 13-16.

Check out the Dec. 20 implosion of the RCA Dome:

Hoot, We Bid you Adieu

December 19, 2008

Up to this point, we’ve reported that Honda has pulled out of  AMA Road Racing, and  announced sweeping changes to its business plan. Well, there’s another missive coming over from Honda announcing that the OE is canceling the Honda Hoot.

In Honda’s words:

American Honda announced today [Dec. 19] that the 2008 Honda Hoot will bring to a close 15 years of what has been one of the most successful motorcycle rallies in history. Over the years, almost a quarter of a million guests attended the Honda Hoot which was born in the hills of Ashville North Carolina and eventually moved to Knoxville, Tennessee. At the first event, a little over 3,000 attendees enjoyed what would grow to become one of the largest rallies in North America

The Hoot set new precedence for what a motorcycle rally should be, offering not only a wonderful opportunity to test ride new products but also focusing on family fun and growing the industry from the ground up. Based on the current economic crunch which may have significant impact on our customers during 2009, American Honda will take this time to seek out new and innovative ways to engage with our customers so that we can continue to ride together.

American Honda extends our deepest gratitude to the more than 1300 volunteers who helped make the Honda Hoot a success and to all our event sponsors, to our two host cities, Knoxville, TN and Asheville, NC, and especially to all the good people who helped make the Hoot such a great event.