2012 Harley-Davidsons unveiled

It’s a big week for Harley Davidson.  Not only did they report that earnings more than doubled and sales rose in the second quarter, they’ve also unveiled their 2012 line of motorcycles.

2012 Harley-Davidson Dyna Switchback

The first high point of the new models is a brand new Dyna model, called the Switchback. It not only comes standard with the removable windshield and hard bags–that both pop off without tools–it’s also powered by the new 103ci V-Twin mill.  In addition to the more powerful engine, it’s also got new front end geometry, upgraded suspension and a low profile front tire.

A new, 10th Anniversary model of the V-rod is also part of this year’s line-up, with lots of new components, including a special exhaust and wheels.

Next, the more powerful 103ci power plant is now standard on the Softail, Touring, and most Dyna models, almost completely replacing the previous 96ci standard engine in all but a few Dyna models.

A new option generally available on the 2012 bikes is a Security Package, containing ABS brakes and a Smart Security System with a hands-free security fob. The package is a factory option for all Dyna, Softail, V-Rod, and Touring models.  It comes standard for all CVO models, the Road Glide Ultra, the Electra Glide Ultra Limited, and the Road King Classic.

And, speaking of the CVO models, Harley has rolled them out for the motorcycle press to play with, and the reports are in from Motorcycle USA, Motorcycle.com, and Cycle World. This year’s CVO models are the The CVO Softail Convertible, the CVO Street Glide, the CVO Ultra Classic Electra Glide, a new version of the CVO Road Glide Custom that is oriented more for the street, than the touring version from last year.  The CVO models all come with Harley-Davidson’s 110ci power plant. The CVO Street Glide also comes packed with a 400-watt sound system, to help you better hear your hard rock & roll music over the roar of your loud, life-saving pipes.

Yamaha FJR1300 Recall

I knew it! This is probably the fault that deadlined my FJR a few months ago. Details below:

Make: YAMAHA Model: FJR1300
Model Year: 2007
Manufacturer: YAMAHA MOTOR CORPORATION, USA Mfr’s Report Date: JAN 06, 2009
NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 09V002000 NHTSA Action Number: EA08025
Component: ELECTRICAL SYSTEM:IGNITION:SWITCH
Summary:
 YAMAHA IS RECALLING 9,300 MY 2006-2009 FJR1300 MOTORCYCLES. THE INTERNAL SWITCH WIRING COULD BECOME DISCONNECTED. IF THIS OCCURS ELECTRICAL CURRENT FLOW WILL BE STOPPED AND THE ENGINE COULD STALL.
Consequence:
 IF THE ENGINE STALLS, THE OPERATOR MAY BE UNABLE TO START OR RESTART THE ENGINE INCREASING THE RISK OF A CRASH.
Remedy:
 DEALERS WILL REPLACE THE IGNITION SWITCH FREE OF CHARGE. THE RECALL IS EXPECTED TO BEGIN ON OR BEFORE JANUARY 16, 2009. OWNERS MAY CONTACT YAMAHA AT 1-800-962-7926.
Notes:
 CUSTOMERS MAY ALSO CONTACT THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION’S VEHICLE SAFETY HOTLINE AT 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), OR GO TO HTTP://WWW.SAFERCAR.GOV .

Motus Motorcycles hits the road

Motus American Sport Tour - First Leg

Motus American Motorcycles is taking their new V-4  MST-01 (and maybe the MST-R?) bikes on the road starting July 11th.  Starting out from Birmingham, AL, they’l ride out to LA and ‘Frisco, then back through Denver and Athens, GA. While they’re in California, they’ll hit Laguna Seca for a little track fun.

Paul Crowe at The Kneeslider has more.

2012 Husqvarna Nuda 900R

The long awaited big bike from Husqvarna has been unveiled. It’s a 900cc Parallel-twin–based on the BMW F800 motor–dual sport known as the Nuda 900R.  Husqvarna claims the powerplant peak output is greater than 100HP, with 73lb-ft of torque coming in a 386lb (dry) package. Suspension and forks are top-notch Sachs and Öhlins components.

Styling owes more to Austria’s KTM than Bavaria’s BMW, although the term “styling” is used pretty loosely for duel-sports. If, indeed, it is a dual sport.  True off-roading with the Nuda will require a significant investment in skid plates to protect the exhaust and radiator, it looks like.

Motorcycle USA has more.

I’d like some tikka masala…and a Daytona 675, please

Triumph Motorcycles announced that they will be entering the Indian market in 2012. Marketwatch reports that the british brand plans to import bikes directly to India, rather than building them there. As India has a 100% tariff on imports, that’s going to make the Trumpets a bit less of bargain than they usually are.

Triumph is, however, studying the feasibility of opening a plant in-country–which seems like it would be necessary for any sort of long-term growth, considering India’s unreasonable import rates.

“India is a very important motorcycle market and Triumph has assessed it carefully before deciding to step in,” said Nick Bloor, Triumph’s chief executive. “We see it as the next step in our global business model.”

Triumph has appointed Ashish Joshi, the former head of European operations for Indian motorcycle maker Royal Enfield as its managing director for India.

Triumph currently has two manufacturing facilities in Hinckley, Leicestershire, and three in Chonburi, Thailand. It produces about 50,000 motorcycles each year, selling them in about 35 countries.

Taylor said Triumph has been getting several inquiries from prospective customers in India and plans to initially sell its motorcycles in six to eight cities in the country.

Triumph now joins the Big 4 and Harley-Davidson in India.

BMW K1600R?

Photoshop of a rumored BMW K1600R

Where would we be without new model rumors, and the photoshops that make them seem true, or, at least, plausible.

In this case, the rumor is of a coming roadster version of BMW’s new flagship sports-tourer, the K1600GT, which would be called the K1600R.  It would look something like the photoshop image here. Or not.

It sounds attractive. Still, there are some questions that would have to be answered:

But… The K1600GT starts at £15,300, a full £1800 more than the old K1300GT (which it effectively replaces, as well as superseding the mammoth K1200LT). Would it be possible to make a six-cylinder machine that could match, or even come close to, the K1300R’s £10,450 price? And would the bigger engine offer a significant advantage over the existing four? Finally, could a six-cylinder BMW out-pose and out-muscle the Ducati Diavel that’s scrambled the “big naked” market this year?

Having said that, BMW doesn’t really compete on price, much. and if they can pump up the power of the K16, the same way they did with the K13 for the S model, I can foresee a 180HP+ version making its way into the lineup as an S or R model.

I can dream, anyway.

2012 Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS

2012 Suzuki V-Strom 650

Suzuki has released the details–some of them  anyway–about the new V-Strom 650 ABS.

First of all, the ABS system is new, and is supposedly better and lighter than the old system. In addition, Suzuki has made lots of other styling changes and other tweaks.  The seat is a bit higher, although with optional lower and higher seats, you’ll have a wider range of choice and ergonomics now. The slightly smaller gas tank is also narrower between the knees.  The muffler is excitingly modern, as is the new composite resin luggage rack. The windshield is 3-position manually adjustable, too. New headlights and instrument cluster round out the redesign.

The powerplant is where some big changes come in. The displacement is still the same, but midrange power and torque has been increased with new cam profiles, and the use of single, instead of double, valve springs. Air cooling has been replaced by liquid cooling for the oil cooler. A new crankshaft and primary gear are said to smooth the engine out a bit. Fuel economy is better, too, with a claimed 10% improvement on gas mileage.

The US Market will receive the orange model shown here, as well as an all-black version.

The V-Strom has always been a highly regarded bike, and the new changes seem like an improvement to an already well-loved bike.

 

2012 Triumph Street Triple

The gentlemen in Hinckley have unveiled pics of the all-new, updated styling for the early release of the 2012 Triumph Street Triple. For some reason, most of the pics are in blue and white.

I’m not sure what, other than some styling changes, the new bike has to offer. In terms of styling, however, the Street Triple gets new headlights like the Speed Triple, aluminum handlebars from the Street Triple R, as well as a spiffy new engine cover. Oh, and a new Triumph logo.

I’m not sure I’m on board with the purple model color.

A New “Corse” version of the Multistrada? No.

The motorcycling press got into a bit a of a tizzy today, heralding the arrival of a new version of the Multistrada, the “Corse” package, for the 2012 model year.

As it happens, however, that model already exists as the “Pike’s Peak” edition. Ducati was just using “Corse” as a fallback name in case they couldn’t acquire the rights to use the “Pike’s Peak” name. Nothing to see here. Sorry.

Harley-Davidson must hate ATK’s new bikes

Hell For Leather’s Wes Siler wrote up his experiences on ATK’s rebadged Hyosungs, which cover the 700cc cruiser and 250cc sportbike.  Surprisingly, given his perceived anti-cruiser bias, he really seems to like the new 700cc cruiser.  The article has dropped behind his pay wall now, so you need to be a subscriber to see it.

Two of the points he alluded to in the article bears further discussion.  First, he notes that the ATK badged cruiser, with it’s smaller displacement, has significantly more horsepower, and less weight–at signifigantly lower cost–than Harley’s 883 Sportster. Second he notes that Harley-Davidson isn’t keen on, and is actually rather hostile to, Frank White’s introduction of US-assembled cruisers and sportbikes to the Harley dealerships who are working with him.

I believe it’s quite likely that the latter point is a direct result of the former. ATK’s CEO never tires of telling you that he wants ATK to be sort of a Scion to H-D’s Toyota, i.e., a little brother brand that creates new entry-level customers for the top-shelf product in the fullness of time. The MoCO, however, doesn’t seem to see it that way at all.

From H-D’s point of view, their dealers are selling lower-priced, better-performing cruisers. Which means that, when it’s time to move up to a big-boy bike, customers who are more impressed by actual motorcycles than they are by the badge on the tank are quite likely to look at, say, an M109 or Vulcan rather than a Road King.

Harley Marketing to the Perv Community.

Sadly, this does not seem to be a spur to Harley to produce a more competitive cruiser but rather to circle the wagons to protect the precious, precious “brand”. And, sure, a brand is a valuable thing that needs to be protected. But it seems Harley’s idea of protecting the brand is to a) change the product as little as possible, b) resist innovation, and c) cling to an increasingly geriatric rider market. While you can get some short-term success by doing this, it’s ultimately a strategic failure.

This is a recent Harley-Davidson advertisement. It certainly says a lot, even without saying it. Even if we assume the hirsute fellow shown evokes any reaction among 17 year-old girls other than a strong urge to run shrieking in terror, capitalizing on it is, not to put too fine a point on it, a crime.

It speaks to a certain older gentleman who might wish to have a juvenile female as a companion (no doubt because of her great wisdom and ability to contribute as a equal partner). What is doesn’t speak to is the younger rider who does not see themselves, in their dreams, as an aging fifty-something pedophile.

The product itself–while admittedly attractive and well-built–is also rather dated in style, and most certainly in performance. It is the previous generation’s idea of what a motorcycle should be, with new “Dark Custom” bike sporting–Springer front-ends, a suspension system so useful it was abandoned in the 1950s. <Meanwhile the other US motorcycle company, Victory, is producing bikes that look–and perform–as if they were designed in the 21st century.

Although, in the case of the Vision, that’s actually a bad thing.

Sadly, Harley-Davidson’s current leadership, led be Kieth Wandell, seem unable or unwilling to recognize this. And, to the extent that they do recognize it, their solution so far has been to introduce factory trikes, to keep their doddering ridership on a Harley for a few after their legs are no longer able to hold up an Electra-Glide.

Sure, they are managing to keep their stock price up for the moment–mainly through cost-cutting–but at what overall cost? The fundamentals look troubling. Gross margins are declining, and debt to equity has skyrocketed from 50% to 306%. That’s not the sign of a company in rosy health.

Harley-Davidson has skated along on the strength of it’s brand for twenty years. It’s been a great run. But it’s getting awfully close to the time when the lack of innovation and stodgy corporate culture can’t be saved by the brand alone.

ATK Streetbikes

ATK Motorcycles are getting their new bikes off to selected Harley-Davidson dealers soon. I had a brief phone conversation with ATK CEO Frank White on Friday, and he indicated he’d be getting a test bike to me in the near future. Meanwhile, Hell For Leather’s Wes Siler has already gotten to ride them, and in a brief twitter exchange, gave me a few impressions.  He’ll have a full report coming up later this week, so tune in there to get a full report.  But he did say the cruisers were surprisingly good.

I’m looking forward to getting hold of one of them–and hopefully a sport model too–in the next month or so.

ATK hires an ex-Harley exec

ATK motorcycles has, as I’ve mentioned previously, been working on getting small-displacement V-Twins sold through some selected Harley-Davidson dealerships. In what seems to be keeping with direction, the company announced that they’ve brought Jon Syverson, a former Harley-Davidson Sales Manager, on board as Executive Vice President.

ATK’s stated goal is to offer entry-level bikes to customers at Harley-Davidson dealers in order to help catch a younger generation of riders, and have them convert to the bigger Harleys in the fullness of time.

The full press release is below the fold.

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