HomeMotorcyclesShe keeps chugging along…


She keeps chugging along… — 3 Comments

  1. Wanted to comment actually on the article on your home page, but saw no way to do so. Hope you dont get mad that Im sticking it in here… [just recently stumbled into your site whilst looking for Husqvarna TR650 stuff]. Assume youll see it first and moderate anyway.

    Anyway…you asked about paying the same for jap bikes and European motorcycles. You also stated that there are basically two choices; but I would propose a third POTENTIAL scenario that could really skew things. to wit – if the Euro manufacturers would build simpler, low tech light weight bikes with decent seats, watch the scales tip! Personally, I will NOT ride japanese bikes, but high strung, high maintenance mounts like KTM are pretty off-putting, as is the dismal parts situation for older and simpler mounts. Kinda keeps me out of it right now.
    But Id bet that if someone like KTM, Husqvarna or Aprilia actually made a good quality ”DR350” , at anywhere near affordable, that sales would go thru the roof. Beta, SWM etc are just too thin on the ground in this country for many to consider, and BMW is too tech and too expensive. Not to mention too heavy. And ugly.
    Of course, thats just me. And I imagine many many others. I think they are missing a market here.

    Anyway, liking the site – and lucky you, living in/near the Hill Country! My favourite place in the lower 48!

    • You pose an interesting idea. Let’s explore it in some detail.

      For the sake of discussion let’s start with your premise that consumers have a preference for simpler, low-tech, light weight bikes. “Simpler”, “low-tech”, and “light weight” are all comparatives. Simpler compared to what? Low tech compared to what? Light weight compared to what. For example, a DR 650 at 375 lbs or so is a light weight compared to a 800 GS at 462 lbs but the DR is heavy compared to my Husqvarna 701 at 320 lbs.

      Since the comparatives “simple”, “low tech”, and “light weight” are all in comparison to everything else available to purchase on the market (i.e. the DRZ versus every other dual sport bike on the market, or the 690 versus every other dual sport bike currently made), if, as suggested, consumers prefer simpler, lighter, and lower tech motorcycles, then those preferences should be reflected in current bike sales. In other words, the simplest, lowest tech, lightest weight bikes should sell in greater numbers than more complicated, higher tech, and heavier bikes. Accordingly, if manufacturers bring out new models that are even simpler, lower tech, and lighter weight, then those new models will start to outsell the now older, more complicated, higher tech, and heavier models that were selling best before the introduction of the new models.

      Let’s use the DRZ400, XR650L, KTM 690, DR650, KLR650 as our sample case. In this group the XR650L is the simplest, lowest tech, and lightest weight, followed by the DR650. According to our thesis, these XRL bike should outsell every other dual sport bike, followed by the DR, then the DRZ, then the KLR, and finally, the 690. Yet, in truth, the KLR has been the #1 seller for years and outsells the #2 (DRZ) and #3 (DR) bikes combined. The XRL sells in small numbers as does the 690. The KLR is not close to being the simplest (it is water cooled) and is, by far the heaviest of the group – 100 lbs heavier than the DRZ. The DRZ, #2 on the sales list, is more complicated and higher tech than the DR or the XRL, yet easily beats both in total sales numbers.

      I suggest that this demonstrates that the criteria of “simpler”, “low tech”, and “light weight” are not the top three criteria most of the buying public uses to make purchasing decisions. Logically, it seems that other criteria – perhaps things like overall capability, engine size, performance, cost, or design parameter – are more important criteria when making a motorcycle purchase decision.

      Anyway, that’s one man’s opinion.



  2. Not necessarily… never said that everyone prefers the type of bike I described; some want all the bells whistles and gadgets. Some could care less about weight. Some just buy what theyve always bought [started out on a G5 Kawasaki and just ride kwackers from now on for example] and some buy whats ‘popular’. Some buy whatever wins [professional] races. Some simply buy whatever is available locally. These are indeed marketplace realities.

    Weight and technology are also relative; even a DR 350 is ‘high tech’ relative to my buddys 53 Norton. And your Husqvarna is heavy compared to my Gas Gas. But lets talk about current realities; sure, would I like a big single with points and condensors AND disc brakes? Yeah; in fact, if it was 2 stroke that would suit me fine. But the [sad] reality is that we’re pretty much stuck with electronics. So, the question becomes, how much? Ignition ok, but do pukka dirt bikes need an ECM with logic loops that control even the speedo?!? Dont think so.
    Water cooling can be more efficient, and, quite importantly for some markets, allows the bike to run tighter clearances and run quieter. Its also something else to go wrong, maintain and get broken.
    Fuel injection has lots of wonderful qualities, but requires too many electronics. Gimme a carb please.


    But my point was, IF the European manufacturers would make a [relatively] simple, relatively light weight and gadget free, dual sport motorcycle, I believe they would sell as many as they could produce. You list an XR650 and its relatively poor sales as a counterpoint ; if that thing was made by Husky, KTM etc, Id have two sitting in the garage! Personally, Id walk before Id ride the evil ‘h’… [h***a] but thats just me. And quite a few others.
    Anyway, just for arguments sake, lets say that all we need/want is a 500 single, air cooled fourstroke, with pointless ignition and a flatslide. Long motocross bike suspension with slightly more spring for the extra weight, disc brakes, a big gas tank and a comfy seat. Keep the weight around 300 lbs +/- 10%. How hard is that to make? I maintain that almost every manufacturer could do so economically, maybe even pulling pieces from their own parts bins, and that it would sell very well. I know Id buy one.

    Of course, one other thing in the sales race is to be considered; what people say they want vs what they really want. The classic example is the Edsel.
    Currently, how many people do we all know that SAY they want a Corvette for example, yet drive a mini van? [practical considerations aside; I know lots of folks NEED a mini van and cant afford two or three cars, but Im talking about those that can afford it and have the opportunity. No one/darn few NEEDS a dual sport motorcycle – theyre toys]Apparently, motorbikes are no different; witness KLR sales. i guess most people want a mini van after all… 🙂

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