Archive for March, 2011

Motus MST

Motus MST

The North American motorcycle market is enormous, and every manufacturer in the world understands that. Japanese and European manufacturers are all vying for a top spot in the market. But the USA has only one real major manufacturer, Harley-Davidson, and some other smaller ones, like Indian and Victory, that compete in Harley’s dominant position, that of the cruiser market.

Although the US has smaller sportsbike builders, none have arrived on the scene to compete directly with the Hondas, Yamahas, Suzukis, Ducatis, Aprilias and BMWs of this world. That is until this month.

During the Daytona BikeWeek, the new Motus MST was unveiled officially. Still in prototype phase, the MST is a “comfortable” sportsbike made for touring. The motorcycle was designed from the ground up, and sports a lively V4 1650 cc engine, using direct injection technology. This means that the motorcycle will be fast, and the ride smooth. Good performance and low vibes are essential for touring. Some 161 horsepower, 25% less emission and 10% more power than comparable bikes are impressive numbers. But what’s more important in an era of higher and higher gas prices, is that fuel consumption will be low.

 But is the US sportstouring market big enough for their own US based manufacturer, especially considering that the majority of motorcycles sold are cruisers?

The answer would be a hesitant YES. North America is geographically vast, with miles and miles of roads. Riding them on a cruiser is fun, but if you’ve got to go a long distance, riding on a cruiser is not that comfortable. Riding a fully dressed motorcycle like the Honda Goldwing or BMW K1600 GTL is obviously one nice way, but at a very high cost.

Enter the Motus MST. In the tradition of (amongst other) the Ducati ST or Moto-Guzzi Norge, the Motus is made to ride in comfort, but with a high performance. The bike should be able to eat up miles and miles of asphalt, and once you hit the twisties, pure fun.

Add to that a design that makes maintenance a breeze, the bike should sell well. Throw into the hat the fact that people feel it’s their patriotic duty to buy national products, the bike once it’s on sale next year could do very well. There is enough space in the crowded marketplace for an American built sportsbike, particularly in North America.

The biggest question will be the price. But to be successful, Motus will need to sell a lot to keep the price reasonable. And to do that, they will need to compete in Europe. And that is a totally different story.

 For more info:  Motus

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The rising fuel price has another victim. Already we as bikers have problems filling up our modest fuel tank of our motorcycles. Obviously cars and SUVs really suffer, but you can feel the pinch on your bike as well. Fuel is now about 30% more than last year. So what happens is that we ride less.

Since we’re riding less and less, it severely impacts biker events. Take last week’s Daytona Beach Bike Week. This mega event attracts thousands and thousands of bikers from all over the USA, and even from abroad.

But first of all we’re still in a recession, so money is scarce, but you also need to get there. It’s okay if you live in Florida, or Georgia, or any state close by. But if you live in New York, or heaven forbid, California, the journey is just too expensive.

The shopkeepers, restaurants and hotels have been counting their revenue, and it doesn’t look good. Bikers who attend these kind of venues tend to spend money when they are there. Not only lodging and food, but also clothing, or often they buy discounted riding gear like motorcycle helmets, motorcycle leathers, leather chaps, etc. This year, revenue for shops has dropped 20 to 40%! Though hotel bookings are normal, maybe even a bit higher, this is because reservations were made well in advance. When the reservations were made, there wasn’t any real fuel crisis. And since the bikers had paid in advance, they went there anyway, but to save money, they didn’t spend any on souvenirs. Those that hadn’t booked a hotel or camping, just didn’t go. In fact, this year saw more Europeans thanks to a lower dollar.

The Daytona Speedway also saw a significant drop in visitors. According to the organizers, they had 20% less visitors. Fewer bikers, and those that did show up for Bike Week didn’t spend the money on the races.

Obviously events such as Bike Week will not disappear. They’ll continue, since it is a main event, and still brings in much needed money. They can always hope for next year. Or maybe the Biketoberfest.

In the mean time, the biggest yard stick will be Sturgis. Many Harley Davidson fans are so loyal to the event, they would probably mortgage their house before missing Sturgis. Let’s hope it’s only a small glitch, and next year things are back to normal.




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