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Aermacchi 175 Chimera

Dailies — August 6,

Veteran British motorcycle Kevin Ash recently published an in which he criticized the mainstream for wasting energy and money on racing. His line of reasoning that in these economically times where even the Japanese factories have crushing losses in sales in western markets, the continued on MotoGP racing and sport consumer bikes is a commercial end, and did not reflect the on-the- reality of the common western The facts may be right, but the conclusion is wrong.

Those precious he argues, could be better promoting the motorcycle as a reasonable, responsible alternative form of Mr. Ash went on to single out several facts illustrating the many that motorizing millions of occupants on versatile two-wheelers has in our congested urban civilization. On point Mr.

Ash mirrors my view and the data from around the that has proven beyond any of a doubt that the powered two be it a scooter, moped or superbike, has an large and important role to in the future of the modern world.

Mr. Ashʼs observations mislead him to that the continued focus on and high performance by the big four brands is blind sighted, or to quote him directly. This demonstrates again (frustratingly) the myopic view that the motorcycle industry and media to have about what is going on in the world around us.

I to demonstrate some facts ought about the current of the industry which provide a context to those who continue to that the universe of motorcycling around Europe and America. The conclusion will be that racing is by far the most reasonable any motorcycle manufacturer ought to be

Those who do not know historyʼs are doomed to repeat them.

How and complacent we are, in the rich For as long as most HFL readers can the world bent to our demands and from every foreign fought tooth and nail to win our

Since the end of the second world the US motorcycle market was consistently the profitable, which meant even though it was Britain manufactured the greatest volume of in the world between 1950-60, it was the US they aggressively marketed often to the dismay of the domestic public who were treated as class customers. In his seminal “Whatever Happened to the British Industry?” former Norton and later NVT Triumph executive Hopwood explains how throughout of the sixties and seventies, the increasingly British motorcycle brands did possible to increase exports to the US, depriving other markets of new and even spares.

This was consistent with other brand in the world, Honda to Horex because put, the US market was willing to pay and buy more of everything than else. Even small like Laverda and MV Agusta their motorcycle lines, changed their brand to try and impress American bikers. The of course, did this better and the market by listening very to the needs and wants of the public, pioneering entire genres of in the race for sales.

Throughout all of racing was a key component of marketing. In it could be argued that it has the keystone of motorcycle marketing the motorcycleʼs invention. Not long the first motorcycles were to the American public, racing was used for promotion.

The very names that we hold today, from fabled like Flying Merkel and to the then giants of Indian and all prided themselves by racing boasts of trophies won, and of performance. In Britain brands Brough made it the principal of their marketing that motorcycle was tested at 100mph, without hands on the ʻbars. owes its entire existence to the ability to win TT cups and grand

Of course, those were all brands that attracted a clientelle, but the fact is that brand, from the great to the participated in motorcycle racing, with machines from manufacturers rebadged for the purpose, in an to persuade the public that motorcycles were reliable and

Yamahaʼs first motorcycle was the a poor copy of the German DKW RT The companyʼs first public of a motor product was to race it up Fuji to prove the newcomerʼs construction and to win prestige. Similarly, Harley- Davidson wanted to sales among young boomers in the late sixties, acquired Italian brand which constructed mostly bikes from 175-350cc.

Of course, no one today remembers the Aermacchi Chimera or Ala Verde, the gorgeous grand prix and 350s adorned in orange and The Japanese brands total of the US and European markets for the past years are due to two factors: cost/quality and the desirability that comes literally hundreds of world and racing championships.

Ask any baby who was into motorcycles in the seventies, and will tell you: the likes of Phil Read on a Kenny Roberts on a Yamaha, or Sheen on a Suzuki tearing up the in the black and white pages of The and Cycle World . there have been very credibility to a DT200 or GT250 as bikes. They were, all, motorcycles with chassis deficiencies from brands that had no heritage.

In times, the towering heights of importance reached by a once motocross brand like to the unparalleled renaissance of Ducati owe as to racing success as they do to or the production of motorcycles for public Could KTM have ever taken seriously in the 1990ʼs if had not come out brashly with the to race” mantra impressed on orange?

Or if they hadnʼt their lumps with of losses in Paris-Dakar and national championships? And would Ducati ever become the must- sports bike brand the track domination of improbable Carl Fogarty in the World championships of the mid 90ʼs? Unlikely.

Of the KTM Duke and Ducati Monster and 916 beautiful and lust worthy but they were also overpriced and notoriously unreliable at a when vastly superior were available for far less No, those brands grew profitable global brands by toe to toe with the giants of industry on the and beating them. No amount of ads promoting the virtues of the XC250 or as good value, or reasonable would have done remotely similar.

The Orient Express.

Unless you been living in a cave for the ten years, or get your industry from US and British populist only, you will know the balance of power in the world is rapidly eastwards. To use an American money talks. And the money here anymore. It is in India, and for the motorcycle industry increasingly in like Indonesia, Thailand and

Yes, those distant in south-east Asia that lived in our western consciousness as more than holiday or sites of proxy wars superpowers are themselves becoming economic hubs. Indonesia, a most Americans had never of until Barack Obama us he lived there as a kid, is a motorcycle market superpower, 7.9 million new motorcycles in 2011. Let me put into perspective.

Indonesians more bikes last than Americans bought in the ever sales year. And the are rising at a rate of 7% per year, that at current rates the will double in less a decade. Who are the sales leaders?

Yamaha and Suzuki, in that taking 85% of the market share. those strange stickers on the pans of Casey Stonerʼs RCV212 and Jorge Lorenzoʼs M1 say “satu hati” and the phrase di depan” make more In Indonesian, they mean Heart” and “In the Front”, the marketing of Honda and Yamaha respectively.

The that Mr. Ash fails to see, and sadly most of the US and Anglo-centric media ignore, is that we matter quite so much any It hurts to be on the downward slide of the pyramid, but seeing reality for it is is healthy and constructive so long as we are to do something about it.

The world is increasing numbers of motorcycles of all every year, just not here, and that is why the major are focusing their efforts in like Indonesia and India. In regions, the vast majority of consumers contend with low and poor road conditions so a purchasing decision about a is a serious business. In a modern flooded by low cost Chinese with questionable reliability, look to racing for the seal of and and prestige, Just as we did in our countries the second world war.

The US market is at best worth 3% of motorcycle sales, and while it is also worth about 20% of revenue (because lets it, you get a lot more money for a 1000cc bike or 1700cc cruiser for a Honda CB175F), the long prognosis is just not looking good. Our market is shrinking, and some recovery will it cannot match the proven sales and colossal potential of east Asia, who together Japan account for 90% of global sales an production.

Money and the language it is using these is not English. This is why every including Harley-Davidson, KTM (through owner Bajaj), Ducati, BMW and everyone else is clamoring to building factories, establishing ventures or seeking takeover Todayʼs teenager in Jakarta is baby boomer in Jakarta, and we all how lucrative that demographic is.

Aermacchi 175 Chimera

is still everything.

Racing is the marketing tool in the motor manufacturerʼs basket. Spending sums of money to tell stories conjured up by ad men is proven to be a poor value marketing compared to the real life of motor sport participation. to Neilsen, a leading market consultancy, consumer trust is as strong for brands that through racing sponsorship via print ads.

Occasionally an ad campaign strikes precisely the tone and boosts sales for a few but in the end it all just so much shooting in the For advertising to really hit home, it be built on the basic premise the product featured is simply than all the others.

The surest way to do is to actually make a better something that with a few North Americans have how to do. The other is to prove it in a public against the competition, which for vehicles means racing. The proposition for the manufacturer is tremendous: the are already organized and paid for tremendous quantities of public

All you need to do is produce a competitive and winning message. Doing so in brand building that credibility through third reporting (which is as much as times more trusted print ads) while brand mythology that can be by fans into word of momentum. Ducati had no centralized before 1996, the motorcycle did that job for them, for free, time they reviewed one of street offerings and mentioned superbike championship wins.

On the side, the costs of developing a racing motorcycle are not trivial, individual front line bikes costing anywhere $50,000 to over $1 million. As expensive as a factory racing is, it is nothing compared to the RD budget to make world beating motorcycles. And to disseminate the message a brand makes the most motorcycles requires a marketing many times more

To boost an entire brand the winners circle in the eyes of the brand must reflect the qualities of value and quality. The is a matter of industrial management, the a nebulous perception propagated by and error prone human Your neighborʼs anecdotal that his bike is better yours is hardly scientific of superiority, but seeing that fight at the highest levels of in a race against other is.

There is the luck factor and the possibility of spending money to finish poorly, weekend weekend, behind key competitors. risk is significant and can lead to collateral damage to a brand, as we seen with Kawasaki and in MotoGP, and Toyota and Jaguar in One. However the point to be is that racing and telling a story together not only a large part of this but can actually enhance brand

Consider Ferrari, a small car who went more than 21 without winning a championship 1979 and 2000. During time the brand reputation despite this, because of the with auto racingʼs top class. Losing didnʼt because they fought against automotive giants Honda and Renault with budgets many times own.

In effect, Ferrari turned for second or third place a marketing win because they an image as the small, passionate attracting people of similar Without ever spending one on advertising they garnered excitement from fans and the brandʼs perceived value and have sold every car make for decades.

Bread and

Racing is not only great it is good business. While for is it represents a cost item on the sheet, the benefit of having a planned and presented racing offers many times in reward. If it were not so, then Yamaha and the others would halted racing a long ago, especially in light of the economic meltdown.

But they Yamaha in fact stepped up its on racing, choosing to self their own MotoGP squad posting the greatest loss for any company in history in 2009, and the of many factories since. may be nothing to connect Jorge M1 and the New Jupiter MX selling down the in Indonesia other than the on the tank, but to most people association is compelling.

The rationale for is the same as ever it has been: on Sunday and you do indeed sell on because no matter what you people love a winner.

Uhlarik is a veteran motorcycle consultant and award winning of motorcycles for brands like Aprilia, Bombardier, and many He is the founder of Amarok Consultants. and the designer of the Amarok P1 electric experiment. He lives in Halifax, Scotia.

Aermacchi 175 Chimera
Aermacchi 175 Chimera
Aermacchi 175 Chimera
Aermacchi 175 Chimera
Aermacchi 175 Chimera

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