Ever heard of Guardian Bells? They are these little novelty bells that you affix to your motorcycle to ward off “Evil Road Spirits.” You know, because nothing terrifies demonic spirits more than a little tinkle from the back end of your v-twin.
Well whoever was the marketing “genius” behind the Guardian Bell has nothing on the hustle of Pope Francis. The current leader of the Catholic Church, and champion of the oppressed and downtrodden, recently sent his signed 2013 Harley-Davidson Dyna Super Glide to auction along with its companion leather jacket.
So what is a papal-blessed cruiser worth? The bike and jacket sold for roughly $329,000 at auction in Paris at the Bonhams auction house.
They say that in the future, most of the human race will be brown-skinned as racial-mixing will have run its course. That is, assuming climate change doesn’t induce a worldwide weather catastrophe or Russia doesn’t decide to sell some of its nuclear weapons cache to Christian extremists.
Similarly so, as time moves on, motorcycle manufacturers are picking their new conceptual product ideas out of the metaphorical melting pot. Dual-sports and crossovers like the Honda NC700X point to a design paradigm that favors a jack-of-all trades mentality towards practicality over specialization.
The Honda CX-01, a conceptual prototype revealed at 2014 Indian Auto Expo, represents Honda’s vision for a youth-targeted crossover motorcycle.
The “hipster” – legitimate cultural phenomena or overused punch line? As the young and the over-caffeinated discover ever more banal and superficial means of self-expression and fronting authenticity, the rest of society looks on in disgust.
Current trends indicate that the proliferation of hipsterdom has spurred on a parallel industry of bloggers, commentators, and inspired cynics to reaction. The quantity of rolled-eyes and judgmental stares is proportionally tracking the sales in raw denim and aviators.
“Bullshit Hipster Bike Videos” is a relative newcomer to the cacophony of grumpy social critics incensed at the sight of the displaced café lumberjack. Since its inception in August of 2013, the author of the blog has excoriated these neo-café racers, amateur moto-philosophers, and urban aesthetes with their penchant for “classic” metal.
As the West gradually loses its grip on world economic and political power, it’s only natural that global industries refocus their efforts to market and develop products for the new guards of the economic order.
As this decade nears middle age, we are seeing more and more motorcycle companies seeking a foothold in South Asian, East Asian and Southeast Asian markets.
The reasons are simple: larger, more populous markets with higher percentages of prospective riders that are rapidly gaining economic and social standing means more people to sell to.
Thus as two-wheelers become more of a commodity of choice as well as commodity of necessity, it opens up opportunities for heretofore unattainable brands to begin marketing to newly affluent demographics.
Capital goes where capital flows, and it seems that India is turning out to be both a huge market expansion and production opportunity for many manufacturers.
As such Stefan Pierer, KTM’s President and CEO, says the Austrian company is considering manufacturing a 500cc and 800c parallel twin motorcycle on the subcontinent sometime in the next three years.
The Hero MotoCorp news keeps coming. Last week we reported on the Hero HXR 250R 250cc lightweight sport bike and the impressively practical Hero RNT diesel scooter.
This time, it’s a 620cc streetfighter concept called the Hero Hastur 620. With a parallel twin putting out around 80hp, and claimed weight of only 352.7 pounds wet, the Hastur definitely has a few of key ingredients needed for success.
With the introduction of Honda’s 500cc bikes last year (Honda CBR500R, Honda CB500F, and Honda CB500X), Honda provided newer and experienced riders with a practical and cheap option in an otherwise relatively polarized motorcycle market. While those bikes were sensible choices indeed, they were commonly criticized for their relatively modest power.
So here comes yet another color in the choice spectrum from the Japanese maker: a middleweight faired sport bike, with street-centric aspirations, and a palatable price tag. So if the Honda Interceptor is too rich for your blood, the inline-4 Honda CBR650F might just be the bike for you.
Good news folks, the legendary Honda VFR 800 is returning to US and Canadian shores after a nearly five-year hiatus. If you were disappointed when Honda didn’t confirm the VFR 800 for North America back in November at EICMA, take heart, it’s on its way.
Since 1998, the Honda VFR 800 has combined the seductive power delivery of a V4 with subdued styling, comfy ergos, all-day practicality and bulletproof Honda reliability.
Sure, it doesn’t have the sex appeal of a Ducati 1199 Panigale or the rough-and-tumble attitude of a KTM 1190 Adventure, but what it does have is probably the best blend of comfort, performance and practicality for riders who consider a motorcycle to be their primarily form of transportation.
The brand that seems to polarize motorcyclists worldwide but is inextricably tied to the image of “the biker”, did quite well in 2013. Hot off the presses of Harley-Davidson’s Accounting and Finance department in Milwaukee is the 2013 sales report detailing their growth in worldwide new motorcycle sales.
For 2013, H-D sold 5.7% more bikes in the fourth quarter and 4.4% over the full-year compared to the previous year. Full year net income was $734 million on consolidated revenue of $5.9 billion. Compared to 2012 when the net income was $623.9 million on consolidated revenue of $5.58 billion.
With a shot across the bow of former-partner Honda, Hero recently unveiled its flagship HXR 250R small-displacement sports bike this week.
Aimed at young enthusiasts in developing markets and newer riders in general, the claimed power of 31 hp, coupled with the svelte 306 lbs curb weight, make it both more powerful and lighter than the current Honda CBR250R and putting in more in line with the CBR300R.
We are told that the Erik Buell Racing (EBR) had a hand in helping design and develop the bike but it is unclear what specifically EBR contributed towards the design.
Coming from left field but hitting it squarely in the “awesome” section, Hero recently unveiled a 150cc diesel engine powered motorcycle called the “RNT”. The oil burner, with its square lines, flat surfaces and 1980’s Sci-fi aesthetics looks fantastically practical and more like a scooter than a motorcycle.
The RNT concept weighs about 300 lbs, has a top speed of 44mph, and a tank capacity of 1.5 gallons. At that weight, the Hero RNT 150 is quite pudgy compared to your typical 150cc scooter but the potential benefits of the increased efficiency and range of the Diesel might make up for that.
To top it all off, the concept features two wheel drive. It’ll be interesting to see if and how Hero goes forward with this concept.