Posts Tagged ‘Kawasaki’

Get This Bike and Help Andrew Trevitt

March 4, 2009
One of the many, many items up for grabs in a fund-raising auction benefitting moto-journo Andrew Trevitt.

One of the many, many items up for grabs in a fund-raising auction benefitting moto-journo Andrew Trevitt.

OK. When I first heard about what happened to Sport Rider editor Andrew Trevitt I had a very familiar “there but for the grace of god …” moments. It’s one I have anytime I read a report about a rider going down as the result of a bike/car accident, something that happens with alarming frequency unfortunately. It’s a bald, scary fact that the things that separate me (and you) from eternity (or else) are a driver’s attention span or my riding skills. This is something I keep in the forefront of my thoughts anytime I hit the road on two or four wheels. My heart goes out to Andrew and his family.

Andrew survived his accident but not without some horrific injuries. And as a tribute to his character and a testament to the close-knit nature of the motorcycle industry, Kawasaki has put together a huge auction in Daytona to raise money for him. There is also an eBay auction. Andrew’s currently undergoing extensive rehabilitation and has already run a marathon of medical procedures. Check out the details of the auction over at, including information on this custom V-twin and other items up for grab. There is also a link to the blog Andrew is keeping during his recuperation.

God speed Andrew.

Do You Want To Sell Your Dealership?

February 9, 2009

Groups Plan To Purchase Up To 40 Dealerships in 2009

If you’re considering the sale of your dealership, your chances of success might be improving. It looks like there is new money coming into the market with an eye to rolling up dealerships into operating groups

Long-time industry pro, Bill Shenk, is the point man for three groups, and his PowerHouse Dealer Services company has been retained to find and evaluate acquisition opportunities for these buyers.

The three buyers plan to purchase collectively up to 30 metric motorcycle

Bill Shenk

Bill Shenk

dealers and 10 Harley-Davidson dealerships in 2009 with more acquisitions planned for 2010, Shenk told me. The three groups did over $100 million in retail powersports business in 2008, he said.

Shenk wouldn’t tell me the names of the three groups or the money behind the groups. He did tell me that all three groups “are very liquid,” already have “successful OEM/powersports relations and operations,” so they can purchase and close on deals quickly.

The buyers, Shenk said, are prepared to acquire the dealership businesses and their real estate, providing a nice opportunity for owners to cash out of the business completely.

It’s easy for interested dealers to participate, Shenk says. “There are no listing frees, marketing fees, selling fees or other requirements or constraints placed on potential sellers,” he told me, “other than the standard confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements at the time of discussions.”

While the buyers will look at individual dealerships and groups, Shenk said they are limiting their purchases to businesses that have at least one of these franchises: Harley-Davidson, Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, and Suzuki. Dealerships can carry other franchises, but they most have one of these five major lines to be considered, Shenk emphasized. (more…)

Consumer Reports Tests Two-Wheelers

February 5, 2009

As scooter and small-displacement motorcycle sales spiked last summer, the crew over at Consumer Reports took a look at the number of new and returning riders climbing back on two-wheels and figured it was time to start testing scooters and motorcycles for the first time since 1981.

Dealernews talked with OEMs to learn what they think of the out-of-the-industry coverage. Click here to read the responses.

Want to see a video about how Consumer Reports tested six scooters and two motorcycles for the magazine’s March issue? Click here.

Hot Off The Press At

January 30, 2009

Honda’s worldwide sales of motorcycles and ATVs for the nine-month period ended Dec. 31, 2008, totaled 8.11 million units, up 16.7 percent from 6.95 million units during the same nine-month period in 2007. In North America – including the U.S., Canada and Mexico – the company wholesaled 248,000 units, down from 303,000 units. Motorcycles accounted for 143,000 units, down from 157,000 units; ATVs accounted for 105,000 units, down from 146,000 units.

Polaris CEO Scott Wine says 2009 will be a challenging year, and the OEM expects sales to decline 15 to 23 percent compared to 2008. “Retail sales trends for each of the industries and geographic markets in which Polaris competes are expected to remain soft for much, if not all, of 2009,” Wine says. “As a result, we will be more conservative with our production and shipment expectations for 2009.”

Arctic Cat says the OEM is focused on multiple efforts to rescale its business in the current economic climate. Actions include streamlining production operations from three production lines to two; a planned company-wide shutdown; the elimination of approximately 100 positions, or 7 percent of its 1,400 employees; the elimination of the dealer incentive trip; suspending regular quarterly cash dividends; a salary reduction of 5 percent for all officers; selective compensation and benefit adjustments; reduced vacation accrual; a hiring freeze; and lowering operating expenses by 10 to 15 percent through greater efficiencies in lean manufacturing and global low-cost sourcing.

KTM believes the economic environment for the automotive and motorcycle industry in particular could continue to worsen in the United States and Europe, and the company is responding to the scenario by scaling back production by up to 20 percent from last year and continuing to implement ongoing improvements and cost-cutting measures.

Japan’s four major motorcycle manufacturers produced 1.22 million units in 2008, down 26.8 percent from 1.68 million units produced in 2007. Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha together shipped 372,362 units to the United States in 2008, down 18.2 percent from 455,139 units shipped in 2007.

Visit to read more about these and other powersports-related topics.

Signs of the Times

January 23, 2009

Kawasaki, Harley-Davidson, Polaris, Feb. 10 CPSC Deadline

One of the strengths of the Internet is its flexibility. You can put up a story or an ad today and take it down or change an hour later. But, as some web site operators are finding out, there’s a downside, too. Advertisers can pull out on a moment’s notice, unlike their commitments to print publications that require lengthy production lead times. And that’s what Kawasaki is doing.

In a cost cutting measure, Kawi canceled its entire online media program effective, Jan. 21, 2009. The move was caused by “severe economic conditions,” the company said in an email announcement sent to its web site partners. Kawi’s motorcycle and associated product sales in the U.S. are down “over 33%,” the company said in its notice. No telling how long Kawi’s Internet cutback will last.

Harley-Davidson announced its 2008 earnings today and they were about as bad as expected: Revenue for the year was down 2.3 percent, dropping from $5.73 billion in 2007 to $5.59 last year. Earnings were down a whopping $279.1 million, or 29.8 percent, to $654.7 million. The fourth quarter, ended Dec. 31, 2008, was brutal. Net income for the quarter was $77.8 million, down from $186.1 million in the same period of 2007. Wholesale shipments for the year were off 8.2 percent, dropping from 330,619 in 2007 to 303,479 last year.

See the complete report at

H-D said it’s going to push its marketing efforts to strengthen its brand; it’s going to seeking additional funding for HD Financial Services, and it’s going to cut costs. Cutting costs means dropping 1,100 jobs over the next two years. The Milwaukee folks are hoping the additional funding comes from sources like you—they’ve already approached Washington for a piece of the bailout money. That’s certainly an unpleasant scenario. And pushing the brand? That’s not clear, but it will be interesting to talk with Harley dealers when they come back from the company’s current dealer meeting in Washington.

Investors obviously are unhappy. One analyst, Joe Hovorka of Raymond James, dropped his 2009 estimate of earnings per share to less than a buck—98 cents, down from $1.65. He gives HOG an Underperform rating, which means he expects it to do worse than the S&P 500 or its sector over the next six to 12 months and says investors should sell. In mid-day trading today, HOG was off 81 cents at $11.59.

Polaris Industries said it’s cutting its workforce by 460 positions, including some 160 employees and 300 contractors. The cutback includes a reduction in the build of the company’s popular Ranger side by side (SSV) vehicle in Roseau, Minn.

This ties in with recent research by a leading security analyst who follows the powersports industry. Tim Conder, and analyst with Wachovia Capital Markets, said a recent survey of Polaris dealers indicates that the Polaris SSV segment is beginning to slow down. He sees industry wide SSV sales finishing down 5%—10% for 2008 and dropping 10% 20% this year.


If you’re a dealer and carry kid’s machines, ATVs and/or dirt bikes, you know that the OEMs are in an uproar over the latest regulatory move by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

A provision in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act that became law last year limits the amount of lead (600 parts per million) in manufactured products for children. Under the law, products exceeding this limit cannot lawfully be sold in the U.S. after Feb. 10, 2009. That’s like two weeks from now. Manufacturers will need to test and certify to those levels.

But here’s the real kicker: the new Feb. 10 lead limit applies to TOTAL lead content in the product, not just in the paint. That COULD include lead in metal parts, such as brakes and engine parts that are ACCESSIBLE to a child. Unfortunately, no one is quite sure what “accessible” means.

Any dealer machine inventory contains several different types of products: Current (2009), non-current, older/discontinued models, and used stuff. Some of the current models of some of the OEMs will be certified by Feb. 10, but some won’t. Many non-currents won’t be certified, and none of the discontinued and used machines will be certified for sale.

That’s why OEMs are telling their dealers to dump as much of the old stuff as possible by the Feb. 10 deadline.

Oh, and one more thing: The lead restriction applies to lots of other things being sold in dealerships: toys, apparel, etc. It’s causing a lot of anguish among OEMs and dealers.

We’ll have more about the Polaris and the CPSC stories next week. JD

Contact me with news tips and story ideas
at 952/893-6876 or Thanks

Confirmed: Kawasaki Out of MotoGP

January 9, 2009

It’s official: Kawasaki said today, Jan. 9, that it will not take part in the 2009 MotoGP season.

Click here to read why.

Kawasaki’s decision follows Honda’s decision to leave AMA Pro Racing’s road racing series and Formula 1, and Suzuki’s decision to leave the World Rally Championship (WRC).

No word yet as to whether Kawasaki factory riders, American John Hopkins and Italian Marco Melandri, will pick up new rides for the upcoming MotoGP season.


Kawasaki Leaving MotoGP?

January 8, 2009

Kyodo News International and the AFP news service both are reporting that

Anthony West in action in Catalunya /

Anthony West in action in Catalunya /

Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. is considering withdrawing from MotoGP racing to cut down on expenses amid the global economic slowdown.

While the OEM has yet to formally comment on the matter, a Kawasaki official, speaking on condition of anonymity, reportedly told AFP “The issue is under consideration.”

Kawasaki entered MotoGP in 2002. Kawasaki, Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki and Ducati participated in the series during the 2008 season.

Honda previously announced that it would not participate in the 2009 AMA Superbike series.

Forget Ice Fishing, I Want to Ride

January 8, 2009

The AMA Racing Ice Race Grand Championship takes place Feb. 14-15 at the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort in Mount Pleasant, Mich.

Living in Minnesota, I’m aware that racing motorcycles on ice is a favorite pastime for many riders residing in the Snowbelt. However, the bikes typically used for ice racing tend to be converted motocross or supermotos.

Someone needs to tell that to these guys:

Kawasaki – Made in the USA

January 6, 2009

Kawasaki operates six businesses in the United States, two of which pertain to consumer products:kmm1 Kawasaki Motor Corp USA (KMC), the sales unit, and Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corp. USA (KMM), the production unit.

KMM, a sister company and supplier to Irvine, Calif.-based KMC, has operations in Lincoln, Neb., and Maryville, Mo. KMM builds all of Kawasaki’s ATVs, Jet Ski personal watercraft and Mule utility vehicles.

Here’s what I learned during a visit to the Lincoln site.

Kawasaki became the first foreign vehicle manufacturer to enter the U.S. The consumer products manufacturing facility in Lincoln, located on 335 acres, opened in 1974 as a 286,000 sq. ft. plant.
At the time, the company was producing motorcycle and personal watercraft stateside, cranking out about 50,000 units annually during those first few years.

pwctops21 pwchullprep3 pwcengineplacement

Today, an estimated 1,000 workers produce about 120,000 vehicles each year at the nearly 1.3 million sq. ft. facility. Production operations include fiberglass molding, fabrication, welding, rim forming, painting and assembly. The site also produces wheels sold to BRP, Honda, Polaris and Suzuki.

welding atv_engines atvframe

Bruce Spilker, a KMM production supervisor, says the three ATV assembly lines in Lincoln produce about 100 units daily while the personal watercraft assembly line kicks out about 120 boats per day. Each production line is capable of mixed model production. Production schedules come monthly from KMC. A recently completed fourth assembly line, formerly dedicated to motorcycle assembly, produces Mule utility vehicles.

atvchassis bodyplacement wheelattachment

KMM’s Maryville plant opened in 1989 for production of general-purpose engines. Employing more than 600 workers, the facility has grown to more than 700,000 sq. ft. on 113.7 acres and produces about 500,000 units annually. Workers complete die-casting, injection molding, machining, painting and assembly.

atvfinished testing2 finishedproduct1

Both the Lincoln and Maryville plants operate on a “just in time” supply method, which eliminates massive amounts of warehousing and over-ordering of parts.

Click here to learn more about powersports manufacturers’ operations in the U.S.

KYMCO Quannon – Small Bike, Big Fun

December 8, 2008

KYMCO’s recently introduced Quannon 150 sportbike (MSRP $3,449) is destined for U.S. dealerships during the second quarter of 2009 as an early-release 2010 model.

The bike, released for Euro markets last year, is powered by a 149.3cc air-cooled four-stroke four-valve kymco_quannon150 engine producing 14 hp. Physically, it’s not much smaller than Kawi’s Ninja 250R. People will recognize it as being more diminutive than a 600-class machine, but not by much.

I had the chance to road test the Quannon earlier this year. I stand 5’9″ and found the ergonomics quite hospitable. At a standstill I was comfortably flat-footed with bent knees. Once underway, the clip-on-like handlebars and slightly rear-set foot pegs supplied equal comfort with a sporty feel.

The bike has an extremely short first gear (something I also noticed during a recent test of the India-made 160cc TVS Apache RTR) but a quick shift out and through the next four gears supplied more than enough forward thrust to propel me confidently down the 55 mph county roads on which I was riding.

Twisting the throttle to stop, the speedometer showed a top speed of 68 mph in normal riding position; in full tuck I saw an indicated 72 mph.

I’m confident this little runabout could be a big hit with consumers looking for a simple yet flashy intra-city commuter. And, aside from the forthcoming TVS and some untested New Asian units, KYMCO will pretty much have the market cornered.

I often hear from old timers who say “It’s a lot more fun to travel quickly on a slow bike than slow on a fast bike.” I couldn’t agree more.

Engine Type…149.3cc air-cooled four-stroke four-valve
Gearbox…5 Speed
Front Suspension…Telescopic forks
Rear Suspension…Mono shock
Front Brake…Single disc
Rear Brake…Single disc
Front Wheel/Tire…110/80-17
Rear Wheel/Tire…140/70-17
Dimensions (LxWxH) …81”x28.5”x46.2”
Seat Height…31.5 in.
Wheelbase……53.3 in.
Fuel Capacity…3.6 gals.
Estimated MPG…70-75 MPG
Weight…299 lbs.
Available Colors…Blue/Graphite or Red/Graphite
Warranty…Two Years