When it comes to rumors about Harley-Davidson, everything is up for grabs. The Bar & Shield brand has done a complete about-face on its business paradigm, which means that no idea is too crazy for those in Milwaukee.
So, when we hear talk about a 250cc model from Harley-Davidson (supposedly an XR250 street tracker bike), we have to give it some credit, whereas before we might have dismissed it out hand for being crazy talk.
We know that Harley-Davidson is looking at electric models; we know that Harley-Davidson is looking at mainstream segments outside of the cruiser spectrum; and we know that Harley-Davidson will be looking at markets abroad for future growth.
What does this all mean? A 250cc model is almost the worst kept secret in Milwaukee.
The ASEAN market is a huge concern right now in motorcycling, with Southeast Asia proving itself to be a growth center for the motorcycle industry. This year we have already seen Harley-Davidson opening a plant in Thailand, following a move Ducati made a couple years back.
Those moves come not only because of the large riding populations that these countries hold, but also because of the burdensome tariffs that these countries impose on motorcycles.
Following suit now is KTM, as the Austrian company has announced a new production plant in the Philippines, which will service that local market, and the ASEAN region.
Feeling the effects of international trade, and a future without the TPP, Harley-Davidson is reported by the New York Times to be opening a new factory in Thailand – country that places a 60% tariff on motorcycles in Harley-Davidson’s relevant market.
The news comes at the dismay from Harley-Davidson’s workforce, which has just seen its ranks diminished by 118 jobs at its York plant, in Pennsylvania. Despite this, Harley-Davidson says that the move is about growing sales abroad, not losing jobs in the United States.
“This is absolutely not about taking jobs out of the United States,” said Marc McAllister, the Managing Director of Harley-Davidson’s international sales, while talking to the NY Times. “This is about growing our business in Asia.”
Of course, if Harley-Davidson wasn’t having to side-step a 60% tariff to sell motorcycles in Thailand, one has to wonder if the Bar & Shield brand would be building a factory in Thailand in the first place…
What you see here is the very unassuming 2017 Yamaha YZF-R15, a 155cc single-cylinder sport bike that was designed with the Asian market in mind – as such, the bike will debut in Indonesia in April 2017, and the rest of the ASEAN market later this year.
Hold on before you click through though, as while the R15 might be too small by our Western market standards, the new Yamaha YZF-R15 packs some interesting technology, namely Yamaha’s variable valve actuation (VVA).
Because of this technology, Yamaha says that the 2017 model of the YZF-R15 achieves a 18% increase in power output (19hp in total), and a 4.7% increase in fuel efficiency, all from its 3% engine displacement increase and with the VVA technology.
Suzuki has finally gotten into the quarter-liter sport bike game, debuting the 2017 Suzuki GSX-250R in China this month. Before you get too excited, you should know that the GSX-250R is really just the Suzuki Inazuma in new clothing.
This means that the twin-cylinder six-speed street bike makes 25hp, 17 lbs•ft of torque, and weighs 392 lbs at the curb.
Not exactly mind-blowing stats, but Suzuki’s goal with the GSX-250R is to build a more practical and affordable machine, rather than a race bike as seen with the KTM RC390 and Honda CBR250RR. To that end, we’d say they accomplished that goal.
The reliable Indonesian news source TMC Blog is reporting that the 2017 Honda CBR250RR could debut next Monday. The news stems from Astra Honda Motor, the importer for Honda motorcycles in Indonesia, which sent out a press invite for a new Honda model that is to debut.
While an announcement like that could mean almost anything, the fact that Astra Honda Motor posted a teaser video of the Honda CBR250RR last week though gives us a pretty good hint as what to expect next week from Big Red.
TMC Blog reports that the Honda CBR250RR will sell for 60 million Indonesian rupiah, which at the current exchange rate is roughly $4,500 USD.
The idea of a motorcycle taxi sounds like a novelty in the Western World, but in Southeast Asia they are an effective and affordable way to cut through the massive traffic jams that occur in these developing countries.
It is only logical then that we see disruptive services appearing in this already lucrative space, so enter into the scheme UberMOTO.
The concept is as simple as the name, UberMOTO is just like Uber’s citizen-based taxi cab system, which allows you to hail a cab from the comfort of your smartphone, except instead of cars, it utilizing motorcycles.
It is not with great surprise that we learn today that the Honda EV-Cub is coming to market within the next two years. The news comes from Honda President & CEO Takahiro Hachigo, who said as much during his press conference today in Japan.
The Honda EV-Cub is of course the electric version of Honda’s uber-popular Honda Super Cub motorcycle, which is the best selling motorcycle of all time (roughly 87 million units were sold in 2014 since its inception in 1958).
The Honda Super Cub looks also to be getting an overhaul, with a new concept design making the rounds last year at the major trade shows.
For the Honda EV-Cub though, the electric scooter is part of a larger problem in urban transportation, especially in Asian countries where the rapid rise in the local economies is seeing more and more people on the roadways.