In Episode 4 of the MOTR Podcast, I sit down with Reid Wilson, Senior Director of marketing and planning at Indian Motorcycle.
Our conversation comes just hours after I rode a pre-production version of the Indian FTR1200 street bike, which serves as a jumping off point for a conversation about where Indian is headed as a company and a brand.
The FTR1200 is a pivotal motorcycle for Indian, as the machine helps mark the transition occurring at the American motorcycle company. Up until now, Indian had wanted to be the next Harley-Davidson…and now it wants to be the next Honda.
Reid’s insights into the Indian FTR1200 and the company’s overall positioning help us understand what is going on behind-the-scenes at Indian, which makes for an interesting conversation. I think you will enjoy his insights.
“I ride a Zero” or “my bike is Zero” always seemed like rather negative byproducts of the Zero Motorcycles’ brand to me. Generally speaking, a company should avoid associating their product as being zero or nothing.
Of course, the name is a cue to Zero Motorcycles emission-free motorcycles, using “Zero” as a call to action for those with a green agenda.
This always bothered me too though, since the market for environmentally conscious motorcyclists is incredibly small (at least when it comes to the ones that vote with their wallets), and the production of electricity in the United States isn’t exactly carbon-neutral, but I digress.
Secretly, I have always hoped that Zero would change its name. It would be a single step in a process that would require many, but it would be the bold first step.
The rules for such a drastic change are pretty hard and fast though – with the biggest caveat being that you don’t change a brand unless it is going to affect your bottom line.
This usually means that a company uses a rebranding to define a crack in time – a point where they either compartmentalize the mistakes of the past into the “old brand” while the “new brand” promises a new hope. You also see new logos when a company pivots in a new direction.
Unfortunately for Zero, neither of these examples seem to be the case, and that’s the rub. For Zero, I think you can make a pretty strong argument that the American electric motorcycle marque has its fair share of radioactivity.
Most of Zero’s baggage comes from its early days though, when the product was dreadful, the management team looked like a game of musical chairs, and the business decisions (especially on how to build a dealer network and support staff) were dodgy at best.
Crappy bikes, upset owners, and dealers with burned bridges… Yes, changing the Zero name could do wonders for the Californian company’s bottom line. So, let’s consider today’s news the Diet Coke version of that strategy, as Zero Motorcycles is sporting a new logo.
An interesting news item for you today, as Honda has teamed up with Forever 21 to bring young adults a unique motorcycle-branded line of clothing. The apparel line is inspired by Honda liveries from the 1980’s and 1990’s, though with a healthy dose of on-trend fashion, for both men and women.
“Honda’s motorcycle racing success in the ’80s and ’90s was legendary, with our riders earning many championships in domestic and international series,” said Mike Snyder, Senior Manager of Honda Powersports Marketing. “While we’re focused on winning with our current teams, it’s fun to see our racing heritage honored by Forever 21 with a completely new audience.”
“We are so excited to announce our partnership with Honda for this ’80s and ’90s inspired collection,” said Linda Chang, VP of Marketing for Forever 21. “We are always looking for new and unexpected partnerships, and this collaboration with Honda is especially relevant now with the popularity of racing and strong ties between fashion and motorsport. We hope that both fans of Honda and our customers will celebrate with us through this collection.”
Of course, the launch of this line is being promoted by a contest on Instagram, where the winner gets a brand new Honda CRF250L dirt bike, once they take a photo of themselves in their F21xHonda gear and tag it on the photo-sharing service, of course.
We interrupt this EICMA show coverage for an adjustment in semantics, as Yamaha Motor USA has informed as that going forward into the 2018 model year, the company’s lineup of “FZ” motorcycle models will go by the designation “MT” – thus aligning themselves with the rest of the Yamaha markets worldwide.
The FZ designation – used on the FZ-10, FZ-09, and FZ-07 – was always a curiosity when Yamaha started using “MT” back in 2005, though it likely stems from the name-recognition found with the very popular Yamaha FZ-1 at the time.
Italian motorcycle maker MV Agusta, and Formula 1 star Lewis Hamilton have re-upped their contract for collaboration, and one of the first fruits of that labor is a limited edition MV Agusta F4 superbike.
Confirming our story from earlier today, the MV Agusta F4 LH44 picks up where the MV Agusta Dragster RR LH44 left off, adding Hamilton’s “unique” tastes and stylings to MV Agusta’s tapestry of motorcycles.
Like with the MV Agusta F4 RC, the exercise is primarily visual, though like on the RC edition, MV Agusta adds its race kit to the package, which is good for a claimed 212hp.
The big technical change of note is the titanium race exhaust from SC Project, which does away with the beautiful four-pipe undertail exhaust that Massimo Tamburini made famous, and replaces it with a single canister, a nod to Leon Camier’s current WorldSBK-spec racing machine.
Our friends at Motor.nl have a good scoop for Italian motorcycle fans, as MV Agusta is about to release later today a Lewis Hamilton edition of its iconic MV Agusta F4 motorcycle.
Like the MV Agusta Dragster RR that also brandishes the F1 stars name, this F4 is expected 1) to be mostly a visual exercise, and 2) show the furthering bond between the Italian marque and the British driver, which just renewed their contract with each other.
Meanwhile, rumors that Lewis Hamilton would wild card alongside Leon Camier at the next WorldSBK round appear to be unfounded, though profoundly intriguing to consider.
The Nike Air Force 1 shoe is perhaps the most iconic piece of footwear ever created. It spurred an entire industry of sneakerheads – people who collect and trade shoes – and the Nike AF1 is one of the most collectible items for this genre of collector.
So, it’s not surprising that there is industry buzz about a new Nike Air Force 1 being created.
With each release, Nike has kept AF1 brand in line with its urban roots, where playing basketball on the street gave rise to young kids who would dream of following their heroes, like Michael Jordan, onto the courts of the NBA.
Now having more of a cult following, Nike has been branching out with its AF1 offerings, and last month the sport brand debuted a special AF1, which pays tribute to Baltimore’s 12 O’Clock Boys.
We are in the final days of Confederate Motors, as the Alabama-based company just debuted its last motorcycle: the FA-13 Combat Bomber. Once the uniquely styled cruiser is sold out though, a new company will be formed: Curtiss Motorcycles.
The name Curtiss is a nod to aviator Glenn Curtiss, who before he battled with the Wright Brothers for control of the sky, was an avid motorcycle builder and motorcycle racer.
Like its namesake, Curtiss Motorcycles will be looking to the future, and thus its first model will be an all-electric motorcycle.
If you are a young motorcycle enthusiast, looking to start a real career in this industry, the perfect time might be now. KISKA, the design firm responsible for the KTM and Husqvarna brands, is looking for a Product Management Intern in its motorcycle section.
An amazing opportunity, this six-month internship is open to students or recent graduates, with fields of studying in marketing or product management. You must be willing to relocate though, as KISKA’s main base of operations is in Salzburg, Austria (one of the most beautiful cities in Europe).