New ATK 250 V-Twin Cruiser

25 Jan 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on New ATK 250 V-Twin Cruiser
ATK 450 Enduro

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This is an interesting one for Bikernet. A guy, Frank White, the boss of ATK motorcycles, mostly dirt bikes, recently called and told me about his new line of cruisers built with Korean components and assembled stateside.

I didn’t know much about ATK.

Throughout its history, ATK has enjoyed a tremendous winning tradition. From desert racing to the dirt track, ATK finishes first at the finish line. A reputation of winning follows ATK, not only in racing but in ground-breaking product innovation.

Technology firsts, such as ATK’s namesake – the anti-tension kutentraub, side-mounted shocks, linkless suspension, the first fuel-injected offroad motorcycle, and the first production motard – have all moved the industry forward.

In 2003, ATK purchased the remaining inventory of Cannondale Motorsports. This purchase added ATVs to the ATK product line. For over two years, ATK has refined and evolved the Cannondale platform. In 2004, ATK took first place in the Grand National Cross Country Championship and two Canadian National championships.

The winning tradition continued.

As the only remaining off-road motorcycle manufacturer in the United States, ATK is still proud to put Made in the U.S.A. on their vehicles.

ATK History and the road ahead…

1984: Horst Leitner, an Austrian-born engineer and dedicated off-road enthusiast, founded ATK Motorcycles in California. Mr. Leitner designed and began to produce a device to eliminate the torquing action the drive chain produces on a motorcycle. This new device greatly improved motorcycle handling characteristics and put ATK on the map.

This new product was called an anti-tension kettenantrieb, in Leitner’s native language, German. The first letters of each of the three words of this unique device are ATK, which became the company name.

1991: Frank and Dale White joined forces with ATK in Southern California. In 1992, the Whites purchased the assets of ATK and moved the factory to Centerville, Utah and managed ATK successfully through the end of 1994. In 1995, the company was sold to a group of financial investors.

Unfortunately, those investors failed to successfully operate the business.

2000 . Frank White was asked by the group of owners to assume overall management and day-to-day control of the company. During the 2000-2003, White worked to overcome the near-fatal circumstances in which the ATK had been placed, and he worked tirelessly to restore industry confidence in the business and products that had suffered during the 1995-2000 period. The company had, for five years, neglected critical RD and lost its engine manufacturer. When Mr.

White regained control, ATK products had no primary engine to sell with its motorcycles. Mr. White then began to seek out the right opportunity and timing to acquire next-generation technology and move the company once again into national prominence.

2003: ATK was offered the opportunity to acquire the Cannondale inventory and intellectual property. The successful acquisition of all Cannondale Motorsports assets, completed in August 2003, left ATK as the sole manufacturer of off-road motorcycles headquartered in the U.S.A. ATK is now the primary supplier for all Cannondale products.

This near-monopoly position with former authorized Cannondale dealers and private owners provides ATK a unique position in the marketplace and a foundation of technology upon which ATK can ramp up production and pursue several other related business opportunities.

2010: ATK aligned itself with ST Motors, a Korean street-bike manufacturer, in a far-reaching five-year agreement with the intent to build a staircase of entry-level motorcycles, which are intended to be sold through the existing Harley-Davidson dealer network.

Product History … a legacy of success born and bred in racing

1984 Chris Crandall wins legendary Barstow to Vegas Desert Race aboard serial #1 ATK 560

1985 ATK wins World Off-Road Motorcycle Championship

1988 ATK introduces new 250cc 406cc two-stroke motorcycles

1989 Tony Herndon wins National AMA Hare Scrambles Off-Road Championship onboard a 406

1990 Ty Davis Wins World 4-Stroke Motocross Championship Series (1990-1991)

1991 ATK is the first company in the world to introduce fuel injected off-road motorcycles

1995 Frank White wins 4-Stroke USRA Desert Racing Class aboard a 605 ATK

1995 ATK introduces new liquid-cooled two strokes

2004 Jeff Stoess Wins GNCC National ATV Championship aboard a 450 ATK

2005 Frank White wins National AMA ISDE 6-Day Open Expert Class aboard a 500 ATK Enduro

2006 Ryan Costello wins National AMA ATVA Motocross Production Class aboard a 450 ATV

2010 ATK enters the street motorcycle business with ST Korea

2010 ATK introduces an AutoMatic entry-level street-motorcycle for beginning riders

I spoke to Frank White at length, and he delivered a new 250 model to our Wilmington headquarters. I didn’t do much with it initially, except run some mentions in the news. But then some kids wandered into the shop and started to ask questions. They weren’t intimidated like they were with the Harleys. When I mentioned the 250 cc configuration and the less than $4,000 price tag, their curiosity increased.

Suddenly they were very interested. The more response we received, the more Frank’s marketing philosophy made sense. He wants to sell these puppies as entry-level motorcycles at Harley dealerships.

I’m reasonably sure the factory won’t be pleased with this Buell replacement, but they made this mistake in the ’50s when they prohibited dealer sales of Cushmans by threatening their dealers with disenfranchisement. Meanwhile, the Japanese flooded the market with entry level motorcycles. The factory denied any need for entry-level motorcycles on their dealer floors. We all know what happened that time – Harley-Davidson got its butt kicked

The motorcycle industry spotlight started on Frank White in 1994 when ATK / Frank White was labeled as the industry’s Success Story #1 by Cycle World Magazine (touted as the world’s largest motorcycle publication).

To the international motorcycle industry, Frank White is more than an ordinary CEO. He is recognized as an accomplished rider and racer, winning the AMA National Desert Racing Championships and the 2005 Gold in the AMA National ISDE (Enduro) Open Class against competitors half his age.

White serves with the CEO of Harley-Davidson on the board of directors of the United States Motorcycle Manufacturers Association.

White was a presidential appointee to represent the motorcycle industry (under the Bush administration) with the Environmental Protection Agency, and currently represents the industry with the Bureau of Land Management (Deptartment of the Interior).

The more we learned about the company and Frank, the deeper the connection to the American motorcycle market ATK’s legacy delved. We were also intrigued by the global economic impact, and the notion that an entry-level cruiser was emerging into our struggling market. We need cheap bikes for our financially struggling youngsters to ride. Plus there are those bullshit hiked-up gas prices.

Here’s the story behind the Korean connection.

Kyle hit 95 mph on a crowded SoCal freeway, while returning for a High School volleyball tournament. Not bad for 250 cc.

33,000 Motorcycles Earmarked For American Market

Taekwon Kim, CEO of ST Motors, and Frank White, President of ATK, signed a multi-

year $100 million dollar contract. According to terms of this contract, signed on May 25th at

ATK headquarters in Centerville, Utah, more than 33,000 units will be brought to the

American marketplace during the next four years.

“This contract signifies that the world’s best motorcycle market has acknowledged the high

technical skills, outstanding quality and the competitive price of ST products, says Kim.

ATK 450 Enduro

White agrees about the level of quality and the fact that the price is right. Dealers who have

tested some of our first ATK/ST motorcycles are very satisfied with the overall quality, and

they are ready to be a part of this bit of history.

White adds, “Our strategy is for ATK to be the second American brand in select Harley-

White is quick to explain that the

Harley-Davidson Motor Company does not endorse or support this joint venture in any way.

ST Motors (formerly known as Hyosung-Suzuki Motors) was founded in 1978 and began producing Japanese Suzuki motorcycle designs. In 1986, they established their own research and development and began mass production of their own designs with their own engines, ranging in displacement from 50cc to 650cc. In June 2007, the company was acquired by ST (Science Technology) group with a new name of ST Motors.

ST group consists of five publicly traded companies listed on the Korean Stock Exchange: ST Holdings, ST Corporation, ST Dynamics, ST Daewoo, and ST Motors. Since the acquisition of the company, Hyosung became a brand name for the motorcycles manufactured by ST Motors, a publically traded Korean manufacturer. Among the four other companies, ST Daewoo is a tier-one supplier of automotive parts, such as airbags, shock absorbers and struts, instrument clusters, and engine components for GM.

ST Daewoo also supplies a critical component for steering systems of Hyundai-KIA i30 platform and Sonata platform. Utilizing the experience and technologies for automotive parts, ST Daewoo is supporting ST Motors’ new product development and quality management.

As interest in this new cruiser expanded, we found a mid-20s rider, Kyle Ross, to take the ATK for a spin. He’s been at it for a couple of weeks now and is more than excited. He coaches volleyball tournaments and was elated to ride directly to the forefront of the school, park it neatly at the front and skate through the traffic to return home handily after the game.

The 250 became more comfortable the more I rode it, Kyle said.

The ATK is manufactured with a 5-speed transmission that doesn’t clunk during shifting. Each GV250 model is assembled with a side stand ignition interlock system. If the transmission is in neutral, you can start the engine regardless of the clutch lever position or the side stand.

If the transmission is not in neutral, you can only start the engine by pulling in the clutch lever with the side stand elevated off the pavement.

The rear suspension shock absorbers are adjustable with a two-pin spanner. And the 250 was capable of hitting 85 mph with smooth acceleration up an inclining freeway onramp. It’s well-balanced during cornering, or out on the freeway, Kyle said.

We encountered one problem with a factory battery that didn’t properly hold a charge and had to replace it. With the ignition key, the seat can be handily removed to access the battery. Side panels are easily removed.

The factory claims 60 to 70 mpg, the gas tank holds a comfortable 3.7 gallons of gas, and a tool kit is located under the seat with a 10 by 12 mm open end wrench, spark plug wrench, combination screwdriver, and a screw driver handle.

Kyle is 6’1 and fits this bike comfortably. His feet rest neatly on rubber forward control pegs. One of the best aspects of this motorcycle is the gauge system, with bright, easy-to-read digital black and white speedometer, tachometer, gas gauge, tripmeter, and turn signal indications.

The instruments are very bright at night, Kyle added. The lights are extremely bright. I spotted a possum on Western blvd at the edge of my light range.

I swear that rodent tried to chase my dancing beam, but I dodged it with ease and peeled away.

The strong selling point seems to be the less than four grand price tag. Braking is handled with a large disc up front and a rear drum. The mirrors are large and very visible, even at high speeds.

And the bars aren’t too wide, Kyle said. My arms never tired on the freeway, and the bike was very agile in traffic.

The signals work with one switch on the left bar, and the throttle and clutch were effortless to maneuver. The only problem I encountered called for double-clutching when moving from neutral to first, Kyle said. But the clutch was comfortable and light to operate, so it wasn’t a problem.

It generally starts without the easy-to-adjust choke lever on the left handlebar, near the switches.

There you have it. A new entry-level motorcycle built and designed by a two companies with considerable experience in the motorcycle industry. We look forward to long-range testing and to see what the custom world does with this model.

Frank is speaking to Jim G. at AFT motorcycles up north. I’m sure Jim will turn one of these bikes, and deliver the essence of its chopper design capabilities. Some of us just can leave anything alone.

ATK 450 Enduro
ATK 450 Enduro


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