Just picture it. You are BMW, and you made the S1000RR superbike, the machine that completely changed the game in the liter-bike market. And now, you are about to crank things to 11, with an all carbon fiber version of this wickedly popular motorcycle.
Perhaps the best track bike ever created, the BMW HP4 Race makes an honest 212hp at the crank, weighs 378 lbs…fully fueled at the curb, and it has all the top-shelf components you can dream of, all of which are bolted onto the carbon fiber frame, carbon fiber swingarm, and carbon fiber fairings.
A thoroughbred. A true race bike, by DNA. The astounding thing about the BMW HP4 Race is that it is more than the sum of its parts, which is saying something because the parts are simply the best that the motorcycle industry has to offer.
I know this because I got to spend a lucky five laps on the BMW HP4 Race at Laguna Seca, courtesy of BMW Motorrad USA, and while that duration is far too short to give any sort of meaningful feedback about this track-only superbike, the BMW HP4 Race is exactly what you think it is: an S1000RR taken to the next level.
So then, why has the BMW HP4 Race been a colossal failure in the United States? Because it most certainly is.
For as long as we have covered the Pied Piper dealership rankings, one brand has stood above all others in customer satisfaction, and that brand has been Ducati.
But for the 2016 rankings, we have a new boss in town, as BMW dealerships have taken the top honors in the most recent Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index.
For those readers who aren’t that aren’t familiar with Pied Piper, the company’s Prospect Satisfaction Index is sort of the Consumer Reports of a dealership network experience, and acts as a measuring stick for how a brand is performing when it comes to interacting with potential customers.
As such, the PSI takes into account a mixture of “mystery shopper” experiences, along with actual sales success for each brand, thus giving a mixture of subjective and objective measurement for a company’s dealer network.
In my last A&R Pro article, I argued that the recently debuted and updated Honda Rebel was the most important new motorcycle that we have seen thus far for the 2017 model year.
That is a bold statement, as many pointed out, especially when you consider the bevy of intriguing new models that were unveiled at the various industry trade shows this year, and also considering the lack-luster product the outgoing Honda Rebel 250 proved to be for many.
In that story, the bulk of my argument was that motorcycling needs an affordable gateway for young and new riders to come into the industry, and with cruisers accounting for over half of the new motorcycles sold in the United States, having cruiser-styled entry models is a shrewd move by Honda.
There is more to that argument though, which I want to touch upon today. It concerns the growing divide of motorcycle buyers, and how their access to capital greatly affects the motorcycles they can, and do, purchase.
American motorcycles sales fall almost entirely under what is called consumer discretionary income, and when it comes to how we spend our hard-earned money, there are two ways we do so: with cash and with credit.
That is the fairly obvious part of this argument, but this is an important concept for us as enthusiasts and consumers to understand, as it allows us to make better sense of the strategies behind the new models we see from manufacturers. It also allows us to peer into the future of the motorcycle industry.
The gearbox recall for the 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1 was a massive undertaking. In total, the recall affected 2,921 motorcycles, with Yamaha estimating almost 16 hours of labor per bike in order to change out the gearbox. That’s a lot of shop time for each individual motorcycle.
That time isn’t cheap either, and the cost of the labor alone was somewhere around the $5 million mark. By the time you threw in the cost of the parts, the R1 recall likely cost Yamaha somewhere north of $10 million.
To get a sense of how long that recall work took, checkout this time-lapse video that a mechanic made while working on one of the affected superbikes. Be sure to note that the video spans two days of shop time. It’s quite the process.
Yet once again, Ducati has topped Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index (PSI) – showing the continued prowess of Ducati dealerships in the United States. For those that aren’t familiar with Pied Piper, the company’s Prospect Satisfaction Index is sort of the Consumer Reports of dealership network experience, and acts as a bellwether as to how a brand is performing while facing the consumer. As such, the PSI takes into account a mixture of “mystery shopper” experiences along with actual sales success for each brand, thus giving a mixture of subjective and objective measurement for a company’s dealer network. This is the third year a row that Pied Piper has ranked Ducati as its top brand (its Ducati’s 10th year in the Top 3), and its easy to see why.
By now, Asphalt & Rubber readers should be well aware of the recall being issued on all the 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1 & 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1M motorcycles sold in the USA.
We broke the news back in November, and even covered how recalls work in Episode 11 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast – the show is well worth having a listen to if you want to know more about how recalls work.
In the show, we speculated a bit about what Yamaha would do to fix the gearbox issues with the latest R1 superbikes, and now we have official confirmation from Yamaha Motor Corp. USA on how it will handle the 3,500 or so models that need to be recalled.
Yamaha was kind enough to supply us with a letter, which will be sent to all affected R1/R1M owners, as it outlines what is being recalled, what actions Yamaha and its dealers are taking, and what owners should do going forward. Read it, after the jump.
More trouble looms for Yamaha and its pending recall of the 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1, as our sources have indicated that all of the superbikes sold in the USA will be affected by the new R1’s transmission issues. You may recall that Asphalt & Rubber broke the story two weeks ago about the upcoming recall for the 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1, and we explored the topic in-depth on Episode 11 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast. Still, we are surprised that a more formal announcement hasn’t emerged from Yamaha Motor USA regarding the matter. In the meantime, Transport Canada – the importer for Yamaha motorcycles in Canada – issued a recall for 240 units, while some YZF-R1 owners in the USA have begun to receive letters from their local Yamaha dealers concerning the recall procedure.
Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index (PSI) is one of the major ranking systems out there assessing the US motorcycle industry and its dealerships. To give you a quick primer on how scoring works, Pied Piper takes into account a mixture of “mystery shopper” experiences, along with actual sales success for each brand, thus giving a mixture of subjective and objective measurement. For this year’s assessment, it comes with little surprise that Ducati is once again taking the top honors, followed closely by Harley-Davidson and Victory — two brands that have high customer satisfaction, according to Consumer Reports.
If you go in to your local BMW dealer and ask to look at their latest enduro models, you should brace yourself for a Laurel & Hardy routine, as the e-word is now persona no grata at US dealerships. Instead, BMW dealers have been instructed to use the word “adventure” instead, newspeaking would-be customers into a segment that BMW literally invented (with a little help from Ewan and Charley). BMW Motorrad USA has also struck the word from its online footprint (except for harder to change things like URLs), just as the German company has flooded the segment with multiple models (more on that later), namely the BMW S1000XR.
Good news for California riders who want Erik Buell Racing’s latest motorcycles, as the EBR 1190RX and EBR 1190SX have been certified by the California Air Resources Board (CARB).
A necessary step to selling in the Golden State, the news means that Erik Buell Racing can begin shipping RX and SX models to its California dealers, who in turn can now begin selling the bikes to the eager Californian biking public.
Erik Buell Racing has announced that over 60 dealerships will be carrying the 2014 Erik Buell Racing 1190RX, the new sport bike from EBR that is slated to be released in March of this year.
After unveiling the new bike last October at the American International Motorcycle Expo in Orlando, EBR began to scout dealerships in major metropolitan areas that were prime motorcycle markets.