Since BMW announced the new straight-6 K1600GT and K1600GTL models, they’ve become one of the most hotly-anticipated motorcycles of 2011. So much so, that BMW has announced that they will take pre-sale orders for them, starting today. All you have to do is go to the BMW web site and fill out this pre-sale form. Just so we’re clear, you’re entering the pre-sales program for a motorcycle that isn’t actually in production yet. They also have another form to fill out if you just want to receive updates about the bikes from BMW.
It takes quite a lot of confidence to start taking pre-sale orders for a bike you haven’t actually built yet, but it seems that BMW’s confidence is warranted. BMW Motorrad USA announced their 2010 sales results today. Somehow, in a year of economic recession, plunging motorcycle sales, and despite making about the highest-priced motorcycles one can buy, BMW did…good.
BMW Motorrad reported a 12.3% increase in motorcycle sales in 2010.
The German manufacturer shipped 98,047 units in 2010 compared to 87,306 motorcycles in 2009. BMW reported growth in almost every market including a 4% increase in the U.S. despite a double-digit downturn for the industry.
Leading the sales charge for BMW was the S1000RR, their new–and conventional–literbike, which sold 10209 units to become BMW’s highest-selling model.
Ducati’s Pierre Terblanche, designer of the beautiful Ducati Supermoto, is moving to Norton Motorcycles in the UK to design bikes. Since Norton currently produces only the 961 Commando, I think we can assume that the reborn British maker has some other models in the works. If I was guessing, I would say the Norton rotary-powered NRV588 is the prime candidate for Terblanche’s design magic.
If so, he could do a lot worse than to come up with an update of the classic John Player Special version of the Norton Commander F1.
One of the most beautiful bikes ever made.
…A&R reports that:
Honda Motor Co. is all set to unload a choice piece of property in Kern County this year (Southern California residents should find this statement funny), as the company has put up for sale the Honda Proving Center of California (HPCC). Consisting of a total of 4,255 acres (give or take a few), the proving ground facility consists of a 7.5 mile oval, a 4.5 mile track of winding city roadway, skid pad, MX/SX track, support facilities, offices, warehouses, and plenty of desert terrain just to name a few of the highlights.
So, if you’ve got the money, and are looking for your own private race track, here’s your chance.
Via A&R, it seems that Ducati has been listening to prospective owners about what they’d like to see in the new Diavel. As a result, Ducati has moved towards the Dark Custom movement with a new model of the Diavel called the Carbon Black.
Instead of bright paint and chrome, Ducati has gone to matte colors and black anodized metal. Additionally, they’ve dropped the white color from the line-up completely, in favor of this new black model.
To my eye, it’s certainly more attractive.
JD Power released their Competitive Information Study on motorcycles today. Among the highlights is this:
The population of motorcycle buyers is aging, with the average rider age increasing from 40 to 49 years since 2001—an indication that many owners may soon exit the market. Additionally, the percentage of first-time buyers has declined for a second consecutive year, making it more critical now than ever for manufacturers to focus on attracting new customers.
So, motorcyclists are getting older every year, and new entrants to the sport are down for the last two years. These are bad trends for the industry as a whole, of course.
The key for manufacturers and dealers is to deliver on the best customer service practices they can. For the manufacturers, this means a laser-like focus on build quality, and delivering a solidly reliable product. For the dealers, pro-active communication with customers, and quality service are key. Missing out on any one of these seems to have a sharply negative effect on customer satisfaction, and on the chances of return business. Manufacturers and their dealers really do have to work hand in hand–now more than ever–to ensure a seamless and satisfying customer experience.
Those that don’t may find that surviving the current economic doldrums increasingly difficult.
The full JD Power press release is below the fold.
ATK, the Utah-based dirt-bike manufacturer has been in the news a fair bit recently, with the deal to assemble and badge Hyosung motorcycles at their Utah manufacturing facility, and sell them in select Harley-Davidson dealerships. The idea is to create entry-level motorcycles for new riders that the Harley dealers can, in the fullness of time, convert to HD customers. We’ve written about it a fair amount here, and the most recent national coverage of that deal is at Motorcycle USA.
Unveiled today is an all new plan, previously closely held by the company, the create an electric motorcycle for police use.
After building gas bikes for 25 years, Salt Lake City based ATK USA plans to enter the electric motorcycle market with the ATK-Le (Law Enforcement). ATK has built an electric supermoto and dualsport based on their successful ATK 450, which they plan to sell to police and authority customer agencies, or departments. ATK had previously supplied a rolling chassis to build the Electric Moto prototype I covered last December. I loved it for its traditional 12-inch travel Ohlins suspension, Talon/Excel wheels, and premium spec combined with a race proven aluminum chassis. No deal was struck with Electric Moto so ATK is now building the bike on its own. However, they don’t believe electric motorcycles are ready for mass consumption by civilians, at least not yet. They think the simplicity and quiet nature of electric drive makes it perfect for urban patrol duty.
ATK already has a top-flight fleet sales team, and it will be interesting to watch how this pans out, in terms of getting police agencies interested in a zero-emissions alternative to gas off-roaders.
The company is going public with the news now, because as ATK CEO Frank White tells me:
We have been working on this stealth project for some time now and are now going public with it because we need to shake out some more vendors and suppliers who are involved on the battery powered side of the biz.
This is more interesting news from ATK, as, over the past 14 months or so, they’ve been aggressively looking to expand their dirt-bike business into new markets.
Motorcycle USA has published its annual sport-touring shootout, but sadly, this time, two of the top contenders aren’t even being tested. Instead, the shootout is limited to just three bikes: The Kawasaki Concours14, The Triumph Sprint GT, and the Honda VFR1200F. The final results were…interesting, and I can’t say I agree, as the winning bike has some serious touring shortcomings. But I won’t spoil the surprise any more than that.
What I found more interesting was that both BMW and Yamaha refused to make their sport-touring bikes available. The BMW refusal to supply a K1300GT is understandable, as it’s a dead motorcycle, with the new K1600GT I-6-engined bike already announced as a replacement.
The lack of an FJR1300 in the line-up, however, makes me go, “Hmmmm.” I take it that this means that Yamaha is about to release a Gen III FJR, or an FJR replacement bike. Now, that really does interest me, because as an FJR rider on a daily basis, I really do like that motorcycle. But Yamaha has kept the performance pretty much the same for almost a decade, while BMW, Honda, and Kawasaki have all produced more horsepower-charged mounts. So, I’m fascinated to see what Yamaha has planned for the third generation of what used to be the gold standard of sport-tourers, but now is the most underpowered of them, except, of course, for the Triumph Sprint GT.
There’s been tons of speculation about what the Gen III FJR might be. Everything from an updated FJR1300 as hinted at by Cycle World:
To the rumored FJR1400 reported by the (not always reliable) French site, Moto Revue:
Both of these mockups are obviously computer-generated, and may or may not have anything to do with the actual motorcycle Yamaha actually produces. Of the two imaginary motorcycles, though, I prefer the imaginary motorcycle on the bottom.
Huh. This post ended up being about something entirely different than what it started out being about.
The first official image of the 2011 Ducati Diavel has been released by the manufacturer.
You really do need to click on the image to see the full-sized version. Because what you can’t really see in the small pic above is that the rear section hides a little trunk in there.
About the only detail we know so far is that the Diavel uses the same Testastretta 11° 1200cc engine used in the Multistrada 1200. In the MTS, that engine outputs 150HP, but this is, remember, essentially the same 1198cc L-Twin that powers the 170HP 1198 sportbike, although the 1198 has a 41° Testastretta. In any case, the key takeaway is that the Diavel will put out at least 150HP. That’s less than the massive grunt of the V-Max, but 50% more power than the V-Rod.
And I bet it’ll be considerably lighter than both.
Triumph has released the first official picture of the new adventure bike they’ve been touting, the Triumph Tiger 800 XC.
Still no specs or details, other than that this is the off-road version that has a 21″ front wheel with knobbies. The more street-oriented version will have a 17″ front wheel and street tires. other than that, we’re still waiting on all the tech specs for these two models of the new Tiger.
Like all modern enduros, it has a beak, too, a la the BMW R1200GS. I still don’t know what BMW did to get that passed into law.
After taking a leave of absence from American shores last year due the economic downturn, Suzuki is back in a big way for 2011. In addition to the redesigned Gixxers I covered last week, Suzuki is bringing a new, fully-faired model of the Bandit to the US for 2011.
Introduced last year in Europe as the GSX-1250FA, Suzuki has done much the same thing with the Bandit that Kawasaki did with the Z1000, which is to transform it from a naked bike to a sporty, fully faired one–without the more tortuous ergonomics of the GSX-Rs, albeit with a little extra weight thrown in, too. But the main idea is to build a sportbike that can tour, like the Ninja 1000.
Engine: Liquid-cooled, DOHC Inline Four
Bore x Stroke: 79.0 x 64.0mm
Compression Ratio: 10.5:1
Final Drive: Chain
Front Suspension: 43mm fork, 5.1 inches travel
Rear Suspension: Single shock, adjustable for preload, 5.4 inches travel
Front Brakes: Dual 310mm disc, four-piston calipers Rear Brakes: Single 240mm disc, single-piston calipers
Fuel Tank: 5.0 gallons
Wheelbase: 58.5 inches
Seat Height: 31.7 inches / 32.5 inches
Curb Weight: 567 pounds
In addition, Suzuki has unveiled the 2011 Cruiser line-up, of which, two new things stand out for me. The big-bore M109, with it’s unique, attractive, and modern styling cues now has a much more modern cockpit, with the instrumentation being tucked inside the cowling, rather than handlebar mounted.
The M109 is one of my favorite cruisers, in terms of styling, mainly because it looks like a cruiser that actually designed in this century, rather than back when Elvis was in the Army. The big 1800cc mill that poweres the thing isn’t bad, either.
Another standout item is that the new version of their smaller, 800cc cruiser, dubbed the C50T, comes fully set up for touring, with bags, windshield,and even a passenger backrest.
I suspect, however, that a small bike like this might get a little cramped with two-up riding over long distances. It’s a nice option for the single rider who wants to tour, without breaking the bank, though.
It appears that the Project 0803 bike is ready for production, and, based on what the Italian press are saying, Ducati has settled on the name “Diavel” for this model.
This is supposedly the power-cruiser competition for Yamaha’s–or Star’s–V-Max. In any event, it’s finally been seen in the wild, in a production-ready version. There’s no word on specs, etc., so, for that, we’ll probably have to wait until Ducati officially unveils it next month in Milan at the EICMA motorcycle show.
One of the more interesting concepts that will be shown at the EICMA show in Italy this year are what appears to production-ready prototypes of a new scooter concept from Quadro Technologie, a new arm of Marabese Design. Marabese was the designer for the Piaggio MP3 scooter, but now they’ve gone one step beyond that with a 4-wheeled concept. The video makes it look very interesting.
Essentially, what you have here is a 4-wheeled vehicle, but with each wheel independently suspended, allowing it to lean like any other scooter or motorcycle. What you get from that combination is a much more sure-footed vehicle, with loads more traction, and more abilioty to take bad road conditions in stride. At the same time, the ability to lean makes cornering safer by balancing the forces of gravity and inertia–unlike a normal trike, where cornering can be a bit riskier business.
I can certainly see the advantages this offers for a commuter bike. Keep an eye on this technology.
Honda didn’t show up at last year’s EICMA show in Italy, citing the world economic crisis. This year is going to be quite the reverse. Honda has announced that it will not only be returning to EICMA, but it will be debuting eight motorcycle models at the show as well.
There’s no official word on the bikes that will be unveiled, but one of the most likely candidates will be the new VFR1200 model that is slated to replace the ST1300, which has long been Honda’s flagship sport-tourer. The new model of the VFR will probably include both the dual-clutch transmission, and the cylinder management system that has been touted by Honda for the last year.
I guess the tough talk about scouting for new production locations worked.
Unions at Harley-Davidson Wisconsin factories have agreed to seven-year labor agreements that will keep the company’s production operations in The Motor Company’s home state. The new labor contracts, which call for a reduced workforce, will take effect in in April 2012.
The unions’ workforce will be trimmed by 325 full-time jobs, with those positions now being filled only on an as-needed basis.
In the stead of lost full-time union positions, H-D will source a part-time workforce as needed. In its press release announcing the new labor agreement Harley-Davidson described the new part-time status: “The production system includes the addition of a “casual” workforce component – unionized employees who work as required, depending on seasonal needs and to provide coverage for vacations and other absences.”
I’m sure the workers aren’t particularly happy about the new contract, but I suspect they’d have been less happy if Harley had decided to move production to some other state–probably one with right-to-work laws.