Normally, when comparing times from a test, it makes the most sense to stick to a single year. But sometimes, there are good reasons to look back at past years, in search of a larger and more universal pattern.
Comparing the best laps of riders who were in the championship last year and this year proves to be a highly instructive exercise.
Doing that, there is one thing that immediately leaps out at you. The two riders who improved the most between the two seasons are the two who switched between a Honda and a Ducati.
The economic outlook for Harley-Davidson right now is not looking good. Just last year, the Bar & Shield brand cut 118 jobs from its plant in York, citing the need to cut production costs, and to reduce factory capacity so that it was more inline with consumer demand. That demand has seemingly dropped even further though, as Harley-Davidson will cut 260 jobs from its production ranks, losing roughly 800 positions in Kansas City, but adding 450 positions back to its York facility, where it is consolidating. The news comes as part of Harley-Davidson’s recounting of its rough go at 2017. The American brand saw its sales in the United States down 8.5% (down 6.7% worldwide), with the fourth quarter of the year taking a particular beating: down 11.1% in the USA (9.6% worldwide).
After yesterday’s news of BMW Motorrad’s modest 1.3% sales drop for 2017, today we have another brand reporting its year sales: Ducati Motor Holding.
Like BMW, Ducati’s sales figures from last year didn’t move the needle much, with the Italian brand showing only 0.7% gain over the previous sales cycle. In total, Ducati delivered 55,871 bikes to customers worldwide, compared to the 55,451 units it sold in 2016.
This marks Ducati’s eighth year of positive sales growth, but over the past two years we have seen that growth crawling almost to a halt, as the Bologna Brand has run out of new markets to develop, and new segments to pursue.
End-of-the-year sales figures are starting to trickle in, now that 2017 is behind us, and BMW Motorrad USA has completed its tally. Selling 13,546 motorcycles in 2017, BMW Motorrad is posting a rare decline in yearly unit sales, down 1.3% last year.
Despite this loss, BMW Motorrad is quick point out that other manufacturers are suffering worse than the German brand, with the industry said to be down 3.2%, while BMW’s relevant competition is said to be down 6.3%.
For those keeping score, that is basically like saying “Yeah sales were bad, but look at how much worse the other guys did” in PR speak.
One should not forget the seven recalls (#1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, and #7 here) that BMW encountered in rapid succession during 2017, including the massive fork recall for the popular R1200GS.
The end of 2017 is here, which means that we will start to see the results from the year’s sales cycle (don’t expect good news).
As such, one of the first companies to report in is Triumph, which shouldn’t be too surprising, considering that the British brand closes its books at the end of June (it’s actually surprising that Triumph waited so long in reporting these numbers).
From July 1, 2016 to June 30 2017, Triumph Motorcycles sold 63,404 motorcycles to its dealerships making £498.5 million in revenue in the process. From that, Triumph was able to make £24.7 million, before taxes.
These numbers mean that Triumph has seen a 12.7% increase in unit sales to dealerships over the past financial period. It also means that on the money side, Triumph has seen increases of 22% (revenue) and 48% (income, pre-tax), which isn’t too shabby.
2017 has been a strange year in motorcycle racing. We have had one of the best ever seasons of racing in MotoGP, with close finishes and a surprise title challenger.
We have seen one of the best ever WorldSBK riders stamp his authority on the series, though that has also seen the championship suffer partly as a result.
We have seen young talent come through in the support classes, and older talent recognized and appreciated. There has been much to celebrate.
But there has also been much to mourn. 2017 saw two of the most iconic names in motorcycle racing lose their lives, ironically, both in traffic accidents and not on motorcycles.
Nicky Hayden was killed while out training on his bicycle, hit by a car as he crossed a road at a treacherous crossroads. Angel Nieto suffered head injuries when he was hit by a car while out riding a quad bike on Ibiza.
Episode 59 of the Paddock Pass Podcast sees David Emmett and Steve English on the mics, as they catch us up on the happenings in the World Superbike Championship paddock.
There has been a bit to cover since our last WorldSBK episode, but the boys take a mile-high view of the production racing class, with Steve adding tremendous insight from his work in the WorldSBK paddock the last two seasons.
The show starts with a discussion about the have’s and the have not’s in the paddock, which obviously includes the two big manufacturers, Kawasaki and Ducati, who are dominating the series.
While talking about how the other OEMs can catch up to the red and green bikes, there is a good comparison that can be made between World Superbike and MotoGP, as both series have to deal with transition in modern racing, which David is able to expand upon with his current status in grand prix racing.
Getting into some rumors, there is discussion of who will be riding where in 2018, as well as which teams will be expanding their efforts in WorldSBK, and which manufacturers could be re-joining the series (*cough* Suzuki *cough*).
It’s another great show from the Paddock Pass crew, and you won’t want to miss it.
As always, be sure to follow the Paddock Pass Podcast on Facebook, Twitter and subscribe to the show on iTunes and SoundCloud – we even have an RSS feed for you. If you like the show, we would really appreciate you giving it a review on iTunes. Thanks for listening!
The motorcycle industry is generally full of doom and gloom this year, but BMW Motorrad continues to post record sales, as it boasts of a record first-half of the year, with 9.5% growth. In the first six months of 2017, BMW sold 88,389 units to customers, up from the 80,754 units sold in the first-half of 2016. That growth is attributed mostly to progress made on the European continent, says BMW, which is up 12.9% so far this year. Those European numbers break down as follows: France: 9,447 units (+21%); Italy: 9,099 units (+15%); Spain 5,573 units (+8%); and UK/IE 5,410 units (+14%). South America is another growth center for BMW Motorrad, with sales up 16.3% at 8,306 units. Meanwhile, sales in China were up a strong 18.8%, with 2,836 units sold.
Yamaha Motor USA is recalling about 40 units of its 2017 Yamaha YZF-R3 motorcycle because of an issue with the bikes’ vehicle identification number (VIN) label.
Apparently, the affected machines were manufactured with Canadian Motor Vehicle Certification labels, instead of proper VIN labels for the US market.
Since this means that the machines fail to comply with federal laws concerning the certification of vehicles, a recall must commence.
Any hopes of the US motorcycle market making gains in 2017 appear to be going out the window, as Harley-Davidson reports that its Q2 2017 sales are down a whopping 9.3% – prompting the Bar & Shield brand to readjust its delivery numbers to dealers in the United States. Sales worldwide were equally bleak for the American company, with international figures down 2.3% for the same time period. This means Harley-Davidson’s combined worldwide sales numbers are down 6.7% for Q2 2017. As a result, Harley-Davidson CEO Matt Levatich said that Harley-Davidson would see a reduction in its workforce, though he would not offer specifics on what that could look like for its mostly union workforce.