I’m not sure that the news of Triumph partnering with Bajaj quite made the impact on the motorcycle industry that it deserves.
Maybe it is because we have seen Triumph misstep with smaller displacement machines in the past (with an Indian partner, no less), or perhaps it is because the press release penned by Triumph CEO Nick Bloor was utterly incomprehensible, and devoid of any concrete facts.
Either way, the news is worth spilling some more pixels over, because there is a bit at stake in the coming years for the motorcycle OEMs, and Triumph just made a bid for sizable land grab for it.
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.”
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.
An Asphalt & Rubber reader sent me link recently, outlining how President Trump’s pullout from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would adversely affect international sales for Harley-Davidson.
At first I was just going to post a quick synopsis and send you all to read it for yourselves, if you wanted to dive deeper into the meat of the story. But then, I did some digging of my own.
The story, done by Forbes, doesn’t connect the dots too well. And while I agree with the author’s ultimate point, the reasoning he uses to get there is fairly flawed.
His argument boils down to the fact that the TPP would lower import costs for brands doing business in Asia, and since Harley-Davidson sells 40% of its bikes in the Asian market, it would therefore benefit from the USA becoming a TPP signatory.
The issue of course isn’t as cut-and-dry, and requires a bit of digging into what markets would become more favorable for Harley-Davidson, and where the future of the Bar & Shield brand resides. Buckle-up, because here we go.
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. Right now, Uber is limiting the pilot program only to the streets of Bangkok, but if successful we wouldn’t be surprised to see the service spread to other metropolitans in the Asian market.
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.
As expected, the Yamaha MT-25 naked street bike has broken cover in Indonesia, thus adding a fairingless option to Yamaha’s small-displacement lineup. As the name implies, the machines is powered by a 249cc parallel-twin engine, the same one found in the Yamaha YZF-R25 sport bike. This means the Yamaha MT-25 is good for 35.5hp, and 16.7 lbs*ft of peak torque. The quarter-liter machine tips the scales at 363 lbs, just one kg lighter than the R25, and include a 3.7 gallon gas tank. Made in Indonesia for most markets (we hear India will have local production), the MT-25 will go head-to-head against bikes the Honda CB300F and Suzuki GW250F, and provide a more upright alternative to the current crop of quarter-liter sport bikes.
Word from Indonesia is that the Yamaha MT-25 is about to officially break cover, and Yamaha Indonesia is already teasing the date. As the name implies, the Yamaha MT-25 is the naked version of the Yamaha YZF-R25 sport bike, and it should look a little something like this.
With a 250cc parallel-twin at its heart, the MT-25 will go head-to-head against the Honda CB300F and Suzuki GW250F, and provide a more upright alternative to the current crop of quarter-liter sport bikes.