Rick’s Gentleman’s Express Blog

Motorcycle news and opinion

Archive for January, 2009

Scooters, small bikes headline NYC bike show

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Reporting on the International Motorcycle Show, Dan Strumpf of the Associated Press observed, “Motorcycle makers showcased cheaper and more fuel-efficient models at a leading motorcycle show in New York Friday (January 16), as the industry tries to navigate a tough road of crippled consumer confidence and tighter access to credit that are weighing on sales.”

Although overall motorcycle sales began to drop starting in 2007 for the first time in years, with even Harley-Davidson lowering their sales for 2008 to just over 303,000 bikes from 330,619 in 2007, sales of scooters surged by 50% in the US during the last quarter of 2008. It would appear that spending on big bikes is considered discretionary, while spending on a cheaper small bike or scooter is looked at as basic transportation. A US company — Vectrix Corp. — is even producing electric scooters meant to be urban runabouts.

This would seem to be good news on the surface, as more people get into motorcycling. The average age of motorcyclists has been creeping up for years. It now stands at 42 years old. It remains to be seen, however, whether the younger buyers of scooters and small bikes will stick with motorcycles when the economy recovers.

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January 17th, 2009 at 8:59 pm

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It’s All About Style Now

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I was just looking at pictures of the BMW Lo Rider concept bike from the Milan show and wondering how things could have come to this.

It wasn’t that long ago that motorcycle manufacturers were proud to show off a new engine or chassis design. Yamaha’s GTS1000 with its radical front-end design and “Omega” frame comes to mind. BMW itself showed off its new front end design and its new oil-head boxer engine. Before that there was the revolutionary K-bike. Honda had its oval piston v-block engine or its six cylinder engine based on its dominant grand prix winner. It appears that it is enough to do a styling exercise now. Following the lead of Harley-Davidson, motorcycle manufacturers now seem to think that a new paint job or a blacked-out engine qualify as a brand new bike “concept”.

I guess I just don’t get it anymore. I can still remember when the whole idea behind motorcycling was form following function. It now appears that it is a case of form following marketing.

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January 7th, 2009 at 10:00 am

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