Archive for the ‘OEM’ Category

Are Consumers Getting Ready To Buy Bikes?

March 3, 2010

Pent Up Demand May Be Stronger Than We Thought.
Is a Bike Rebate Program Necessary?

Is there enough pent up demand to push consumers into buying a bike this spring? Maybe so, based on what happened with the government’s appliance stimulus program this month in Minnesota and Iowa.

But it may take an exciting promotion from OEMs to prime the pump.

In the last 18 months, consumers have been busy paying down credit cards and building up savings accounts. The savings rate has been the fastest in a decade. And January was a record 16th consecutive month of declining credit card debt; it dropped $1.7 billion to $864.4 billion, according to the Federal Reserve.

Now consumers may be ready to take a break from that fiscal conservatism and spend a bit of money.

Look at what happened in Minnesota and Iowa this month:  The two states ran through almost $8 million in government appliance rebate programs in less than a day.

Minnesota consumers were so excited about the retail program launched March 2, that they flooded the state’s dedicated phone lines and swamped its website. More than 25,000 persons signed up for the $5 million program in less than two hours, and by 10 am on the first day, there was a waiting list of 10,000 persons, when the program was shut down. That’s 35,000 persons jumping on the program that offered a $200 rebate on the purchase of an energy efficient major appliance such as a refrigerator.

I really can’t believe that 35,000 Minnesotans suddenly decided they wanted a new refrigerator or washer. I wonder if it’s more a case of WANTING a new appliance, rather than NEEDING one, and using the rebate as an excuse to dig into that fat savings account. And it’s not a freebee,  give-away program.

In Minnesota, a qualifying refrigerator is going to run you more than $1,000, so a consumer is still on the hook for close to $1,000 after sales tax, even with the rebate. Minnesota’s top rebate of $200 was much higher than many other states.

An energy-efficient refrigerator qualified for only a $50 rebate in Georgia, $75 in California and $100 in New York. Nearly $300 million in rebates will be available to consumers across the country through April.

The Minnesota story was much the same in Iowa where its $2.8 million program was exhausted in the first day.

Not all consumers liked the program, though, perhaps an indication of tight cash in some regions. New York had to extend its $18.7 million program and Michigan used up only about half of its $9.5 million in the first month of its program. Because of the state’s weak economy, it’ll take an estimated four months for Michigan consumers to sign up for all of the rebate money.

More Good News

Here are another couple of bright notes for retailers: Most retail sales reports improved in February over February 2009, despite heavy snowstorms for much of the month throughout the country. (Okay, February 2008 wasn’t such a hot month and it didn’t take great numbers to beat it.)

Another positive sign: the pace of home foreclosures slowed in February; it grew only 6% for the year, the smallest annual jump in four years, and was down 2% from January.

If the recent appliance rebate program was any indication, perhaps we’ll see consumers parting with some of those savings dollars and popping for a new bike or ATV soon. Now, wouldn’t that be nice?

I wonder, though, if the OEMs will have to prime the pump a bit to get consumers excited about spending money for a bike they way they were spending for appliances.  JD

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Blogs Abuzz About H-D’s Buell Decision

October 15, 2009

Buell_logoHarley-Davidson has carved a lot of pork, and jobs, during the past year, and now the move to end production of the Buell line and sell off its recently-purchased MV Agusta business has people buzzing anew about the way the Motor Co. has chosen to streamline its operation.

Here are some thoughts gleamed from a surf through some of the social networking sites:

Gutted that Harley has pulled the plug on Buell Motorcycles. After all of Erik’s struggles and hard work developing improved product, he deserves better than that. – Kevin

No matter what you think of HD or Buell product, you have to respect Erik Buell’s independent and creative thinking. Sorry to see you go Buell. – Glenn

Victims of Hope and Change? – Robert

I feel for all those who have been laid off … but I keep thinking there is more to come from Buell. – Greg

Buell gone; MV on the block!? Whats next? Price drops on Fatboys and baggers? – Jeffery

Why didn’t they dump their latest European acquisition instead of wiping out more American jobs? As an American manufacturer, it sickens me to see HD become just another company making a profit at any cost. – Chris

A day of mourning for American Sportbikers … regardless of what you ride. Buell, you will be greatly missed! – Brittany

I am truly bummed about Buell going under. I wasn’t a die hard Buell fan but it was nice to see a company like that succeed. – Aaron

It seems that we have let another American Motorcycle Company go by the way side my friends, and what a shame! – Patrick

Learn more about H-D’s decision by clicking HERE.

H-D Props MV for Now, But What Comes Next?

October 14, 2009

MV Agusta says 85 percent of the parts used in its 2009 910R and 1078RR have been completely redesigned for its 2010 Brutale 990R (MSRP: $15,000) and 1090RR ($18,000).

I guess that’s what happens when a new parent company, in this case Harley-Davidson, injects a bit of capital into its recent acquisition.

Former Ducati CFO Enrico D’Onofrio is now managing director of the MV Agusta factory in Italy, and MV Agusta Design Chief Massimo Tamburini retired Dec. 31, 2008.

I wonder what the folks at MV, and H-D, have planned for the future.

Check out the MV factory’s 2010 Brutale presentation video:

Erpelding, Europe’s Keeper of Classic Race Bikes

September 29, 2009

Are you a racebike enthusiast? Happen to be planning a trip to the Nuerburgring in Germany?

erpeldingIf so, you may want to visit former motorcycle and auto dealer and racer Frithjor Erpelding, a man who claims to have the second largest private museum in Europe dedicated to race motorcycles. Located in the Eifel mountain hamlet of Jammelshofen, near the ‘Ring, the museum houses 200-some bikes and a half-dozen of his championship-winning race cars.

Among the units on display: AJS, Aprilia, Ariel, Bimota, BSA, CZ, Egli, Gilera, NSU, Koenig, Moto Parilla, Moto Guzzi, MV Agusta, Matchless, Maico, Triumph, Norton, Greeves, Jawa, Puch, Wanderer, Harris, BSS, Benelli, Laverda, Royal-Enfield, Harley-Davidson, Horex, Honda, Gilera, Kawasaki, Kreidler, Linto, Suzuki, Scott, Seley, Yamaha, Rickman, KTM, Ducati, Montessa, NSU, Vincent, Velocette and Zuendapp, etc.

I asked Erpelding which of the 200 units is his favorite. “The Norton,” he replied without pause. Erpelding has two Norton Manx. “The chairman of Cambridge University recently contacted me, asking if I would sell one of my Manx. I told him ‘No’. He offered Euro 100,000 and I declined. Then he offered Euro 200,000 and I again declined. Finally, I cut to the chase and told him I wouldn’t be selling the bike no matter what the price.”

MuseumBut, Erpelding is willing to sell certain units. He says he recently sold a Vincent to a collector in the United States for Euro 80,000. “He deposited the check in my bank account before even receiving the bike. I called and asked him why he trusted me, and he said, ‘I’ve heard you’re a trustworthy guy’.”

Erpelding is a fella who loves telling his stories. If you’re planning a visit, be sure to leave time to have beer at his Race Museum Bar. He’ll tell you about his run-ins with racer Agostini and Yamaha bosses; his thoughts on Triumph, MZ and KTM; his trips to Goodwood; and his days of racing Honda motorcycles and cars.

Check out Erpelding’s website, which features the full line-up of the museum’s bikes on display.

Race Replica Scoots We’re Not Getting

September 27, 2009

File this under cool stuff we’re not getting in the U.S.: Three 50cc scooters wrapped in race livery that are sure to be a hit with sportbike enthusiasts looking for alternative surface street transportation.

Inspired by Valentino Rossi and the Fiat Yamaha MotoGP racing team, the Aerox Team Yamaha Race Replica (top), powered by a liquid-cooled two-stroke 50cc engine, is wrapped in the new-for-2009 paint and graphics to match the racing livery of the YZR-M1 MotoGP bike.

The Gilera Runner Marco Simoncelli Replica (middle) is powered by a 50cc liquid-cooled two-stroke engine delivering 5.4hp and features livery similar to that of the 250cc MotoGP World Champion’s factory racebike.

The Malaguti Phantom F12R Ducati Corse Superbike (bottom), available in 50cc liquid or air-cooled two-stroke versions, is the latest in a line of scoots made available via a licensing agreement between Ducati and Malaguti. Also available: the Phantom F12R Bayliss Limited Edition and the Phantom F12R Ducati Team version.

I saw all three of these units during a recent trip to the Nuerburgring in Germany. The bikes depicted in the photos were for sale at motorcycle dealerships adjacent to the world-famous racetrack.

How Much Should the OEMs Help You?

September 4, 2009

j0386501In my editor’s note for our September issue (also my previous blog posting), I wonder whether the dealer closings are slowing — or have just begun. Evidence provided by ADP Lightspeed suggests the former. But some industry insiders fear another wave of closings in the fall.

If the overall unit decline through June, as reported by the MIC, is 42 percent, then dealers in pockets of the country are suffering even more. Such large declines combined with the scarcity in commercial credit means many franchised dealers are having trouble making payroll. And they are likely falling behind in their payments to some of their largest creditors, their OEMs. (Obviously I’m excluding the minority of dealers who buy their inventory outright — more on them later.)

This brings me to my main question: How much assistance should the OEMs provide to ailing dealers?


Rider Impressions: The Victory Hammer S

July 15, 2009

In June I picked up a 2009 Victory Hammer S from Polaris headquarters in Medina, Minn. Now, after one month and nearly 1,000 miles, it’s time I return the bike.

As a fan of all things with two-wheels, I would’ve enjoyed keeping this head-turner in my garage alongside the SV1000S, Tomos Golden Bullet moped and forthcoming two-stroke Stella scooter. Having a muscle cruiser like the Hammer helped satisfy my different moods – whereas I enjoy long, quick-paced rides on the Suzuki, I equally enjoyed implementing the Victory for shorter, inter-city jaunts. If the SV1S, in triple black livery, is my B2 stealth bomber, the Hammer S, available only in a vibrant blue with white rally stripes, was my attention-grabbing Blue Angels C-130T Hercules “Fat Albert” – heavy, but powerful and impressively agile for its size.
The bike attracted attention and garnered questions wherever I went, whether at the filling station, neighborhood grocery store or local bike night. “Go ahead and park it right out front on the sidewalk,” the owner of my favorite restaurant, Eli’s in Minneapolis, said after grilling me on the bike’s specs and my impression of the ride.VictoryHammerOverdrive

“Nice Hammer!” a guy in a pickup truck shouted to me while we were stopped at a red light. “I just bought one! I love it!”

The Hammer S represented the fourth Victory extended ride the folks at Polaris have granted me. The first bike, the V92TC, was a bit unkempt; the first year Vegas was better, but still not tuned quite right (needed more breathing, found through the parts catalog); and the Vision I rode for a few months last summer was hugely impressive in handling and performance for its size.
What’d I like about the Hammer S? I had a list of highlights I quoted to everyone who asked: The 97hp, 113 ft. lbs. of torque offers a healthy dose of acceleration, the bike’s outfitted with a smooth running carbon fiber belt, the sixth gear “overdrive” transmits a fuel-saving engine speed of 2,400 rpm at 70mph, it maneuvers surprisingly well with the big 18-incher up front and 250/40R18 Dunlop rear, and braking was impressive (stainless steel lines, front dual 300mm floating rotors with 4-piston caliper and rear single 300mm floating rotor with 2-piston caliper).VictoryHammerBelt

The list of things I didn’t like is much shorter: To garner the hardtail look, engineers placed the rear shock a bit too far forward, directly under the seat. It’s preload adjustable, but nevertheless transmitted some kidney-jarring bumps when traversing roadway irregularities.

Exclusive: FMF Working on Pipe for Ducati Streetfighter

June 19, 2009

We at Dealernews previously reported how well-known off-road exhaust specialist FMF has been planning to increase its emphasis on the on-road market with its APEX line of exhausts. Today I received a spy shot of the exhaust specialist’s latest project: a carbon fiber offering for the new Ducati Streetfighter.
“The APEX line is doing quite well in terms of market penetration, but our product for Ducati has been particularly well accepted,” FMF National Sales Manager Doug Muellner told me earlier today. I called Doug after a source sent me a covert shot of the still-in-progress pipe.

“We want the APEX line to be as well-known as our other products,” Doug told me a few months ago. “Off-roaders know the FMF name, and so we want to build the APEX name to be equally as recognizable in the sportbike market.”

FMF offers three types of sportbike pipe – the Powercore S, Powercore GP and APEX – and plans to put more energy into marketing its offerings.

The APEX exhaust comes in carbon or titanium, slip-on or full, and single and dual systems; the Powercore GP is a MotoGP-type titanium race pipe, and the Powercore S line is available in titanium and aluminum and comes with a titanium mid-pipe (if applicable).
FMF’s other new applications include product for the 2009 Ducati Monster 1100, 696, 848, 1098, 1198 and 1198S; Honda CBR1000RR and CBR600RR; Kawasaki ER-6N, Ninja 250R, Ninja 650R, ZX-6R and ZX-10R; KTM 690 SMC; Suzuki GSX-R600, GSX-R750, GSX-R1000 and Hayabusa; and Yamaha R6 and R1.

Attention Piaggio, Ducati & BRP Enthusiasts

June 12, 2009

Do you ride a Piaggio X9 500 or BV 500, Can-Am Spyder, or Ducati 1098R, 1098 Streetfighter or 1198S? If so, you may be getting some bad news in the mail from the manufacturer.

Piaggio USA, Inc. is recalling 2,428 units of its 2005-2008 X9 500 and BV 500 scooters due to a fuel hose problem; Ducati North America is recalling 732 units of its model year 2009 1098R, 1098 Streetfighter, and 1198S because of cracks that may occur in the forks; and BRP may soon begin a recall of up to 9,932 units of its model year 2008-2009 Can-Am Spyder Roadster for a steering issue.

Click here to learn more.

2009 Marks Ninja’s 25th Anniversary

June 10, 2009

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Kawasaki’s “Ninja” brand name, a name that has become globally synonymous with sport bikes.

Industry icon and Dealernews columnist Mike Vaughan led the Ninja revolution as director of marketing for Kawasaki Motor Corp., USA from 1979 to 1990. Dealernews recently talked with Vaughan to learn how the Ninja name became a mainstay in the motorcycle marketplace.

Here’s the story Vaughan has to tell:

“The Ninja, as I recall, was sort of a surprise for us, in that we hadn’t really asked for it — not that everything we had to sell was something we’d asked for, but the Ninja, or what was to become the Ninja, really bowled us over.

“In 1979, they showed us the first GPzs, and I suggested then that we call them ‘Ninja.’ The Japanese blew it off, and frankly my colleagues weren’t crazy about it either. So the name retired to a folder until the GPz900 was revealed to us (by us, I mean the guys who were on the ‘product planning’ committee).

“We probably saw the first examples of the bike maybe in late ’82. It seemed to me that this really was the Ninja, and I began campaigning for the adoption of the name. “At about the same time, we switched advertising agencies. The old agency, which had had the account for a number of years, was on my side with regard to the name. But the new agency, wanting to establish their creds, proposed calling it the …

Visit for the entire story.

1984 Ninja 900R

1984 Ninja 900R