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What's it gonna take?

The motorcycle industry showed signs of life in 2013. It wasn’t exactly the euphoria of pre-2008 days, but most of those I’ve spoken with answered the question, “How’s biz?” with a cautious “It’s OK.” Faint praise, but far better than the expletives that greeted that question a year ago.

One of the major signs of encouragement was the host of new models that hit the showrooms. Not just “bold new graphics,” but actual new models, and new engineering has surfaced. It’s as if the OEMs finally realized, “Hey, if the market is going to get off its collective butt, we’d better offer something worth having.”

For example, Honda led the new model invasion with several 500cc variants, the CTX1300 (the world’s largest scooter, in my opinion) the reintroduction of the Valkyrie, and everyone’s favorite, the Grom.

Most of the media buzz, however, was reserved for Indian and Harley-Davidson. The Polaris reinvention of the Indian motorcycle was a bona fide success from a marketing and press review perspective. The real indicator will be the sales numbers yet to come. Waiting patiently for the Indian uprising to subside, Harley-Davidson then released its “Project Rushmore” models, featuring liquid-cooled heads. Continuing its somewhat pathological aversion to showcasing real advances, they downplayed this significant bit of engineering; may the gods forbid that they do anything to offend the old guard! (psst, Harley, the old guard is mostly…dead!)
It was nice to see these, and several other, new entries, but I don’t see this collective fare doing much to kickstart the marketplace. Oh, bikes will be sold, but not in numbers large enough to affect CPR on the sales charts. So, just where will industry help come from?

I have a thought about this —whoa, there’s a shocker!— but I’d prefer to hear what you have to say first . So, tell me, what’s it going to take to make motorcycle sales healthy once again?


# Bob Gussenhoven 2014-01-09 15:31
Well, I am one of the multitude of thousands not buying new bikes these days and for me it has to do with confidence in the market and government. (probably like most)
It seems like everything I'm interested in is laden with high tech gadgetry that I don't want or need. Harley? Don't get me started!
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# PJA 2014-01-09 20:55
If the industry is going to be saved, it's by you and me. The regular Joe's who share our love for riding. We need to go RIDE and tell our stories. Invite others to join us. Post the pictures of our little adventures. Encourage newbies to take an MSF course.

It's passion that started this game and that's what we need to fuel.
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# Barry Matherly 2014-01-09 22:47
I think we need young high energy riders. When I was a kid in the 70s I had posters of Bob Hannah and Marty Smith, their bike and every bike that caught my eye. My friends did too. I think the industry better spend some real cash to attract young people. Build and subsidize motorcycle parks, with scramble areas, road tracks and motocross tracks. Provide bikes and gear to rent cheap, and lessons by people with a passion for bikes and kids. Ski resorts do this, golf courses do this. The Apple Store does it. Honda has the cash, the entry models and the market presence. We need an affordable "little league" to get kids early.
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# Adam Owens 2014-01-10 09:27
That's a great idea! I agree 100%
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