We have already published about the sizable sales trouble that Yamaha is encountering in the United States, seeing its last 12 months of sales drop 19% compared to the 12 months prior.
We have also talked about Yamaha’s plans to move its headquarters from California to Georgia, taking the brand away from the epicenter of the motorcycle industry, and off to cheaper waters for operations.
Today, we continue our news about Yamaha Motor USA, talking about the company’s role in American road racing, as Yamaha is set to shake up its involvement in the MotoAmerica Championship.
Things are not well at Yamaha Motor USA, and over the coming days you are going to read a number of reports from us about Yamaha and its US operations.
Before we dive into the multitude of issues that the Tuning Fork brand faces here in the United States though, we wanted to first talk about Yamaha’s crashing sales, because that best frames the company’s entire situation, and is the basis for the other stories that concern the brand.
Now halfway through 2018, Yamaha sales big bike sales (500cc and up) are down a staggering 19% for the last 12 consecutive months, compared to the same previous 12 months before that.
To put that figure into perspective, the big bike market in the USA is down roughly 8% over the same time period, though that figure is due mostly to Harley-Davidson, which accounts for half of the American bike bike market.
These are the bolts that connect the drive chain guard to the swingarm, and it is possible that they may loosen, which could cause the chain guard to contact the drive chain and break.
Since the Department of Transportation requires motorcycles to have a chain guard installed, this has lead to a recall for Yamaha MT-07 and Yamaha XSR700 owners.
Some loyal A&R readers may already disappointingly know that Yamaha Motor USA has blacklisted Asphalt & Rubber from Yamaha events, which is a dumb decision in its own right, but when it comes to press launches, Yamaha Motor USA proved this week that it truly has its head completely up its own ass.
This is because the American subsidiary of the Japanese brand has embargoed reviews for the new Niken three-wheeler until next week – a full seven days after American journalists were in the Austria alps on the leaning multi-wheel vehicle.
This wouldn’t be such a bad thing (worthy of mentioning at least), except the embargo is region by region, and other English-speaking publications have been allowed to post their reviews as they write them (check Visordown & MCN…even the horrid MoreBikes has a short review up).
This means you won’t read a review on the Yamaha Niken by us, or any other US publication, until next Monday…if you even bother reading them at that point. It almost makes you wonder why Yamaha Motor USA even bothered sending journalists to Europe in the first place, but I digress.
Of course, everyone is very curious to know how the Yamaha Niken handles on the road.
So far from what I’ve read coming from Europe, the three-wheeler comes across as being a bit complex, and a little vague in the front-end. The bike (if we can call it that) loses grip in the rear too often, possibly because of the adventure-touring tires it has mounted, and suffers in general from a lack of power and braking ability.
The Niken makes up for those negatives though with a front-end that is solidly planted to the ground, a bulk that doesn’t feel like a nearly 600 lbs bike at speed, and which turns into a fun ride when carving at speed. The European price-point seems fairly affordable as well.
Surmising from our colleagues across the pond, the Niken sounds like a intriguing touring option, though it seems to miss the boat when it comes to being a sport-bike platform, which is unfortunately how Yamaha has pitched this unique vehicle.
Of course, what you really want to know is whether the Yamaha Niken can wheelie, like any god-fearing motorcycle should. Thankfully Adam Waheed was in Austria to answer that exact question.
You can read Adam’s in depth review next Monday, along with the rest of the American journalists, but until then you should enjoy his behind-the-scenes videos, if you haven’t already. The answer to your most burning question is in Part III, around the 3:19 mark.
If you were in the market for a motorcycle that’s the size of a medium-sized car, we have bad news for you, as the recently debuted Yamaha Star Venture will be delayed in its coming to market.
Yamaha strategically made this announcement at the start of a three-day weekend, assuring the news would be buried once the American market returned from the Labor Day holiday on Tuesday.
It is not clear why Yamaha will delay the production of the Star Venture – Yamaha only offers an explanation in its press release that it “needed modification to the production process” at the factory in Japan – but the delay will mostly affect customers who purchased the bike through Yamaha’s “Priority Delivery Program”.
As such, Yamaha is offering those early purchasers a $1,000 credit towards Yamaha-brand parts and accessories. We’ll update you when we have more information surrounding the production delays for the Star Venture.
Changes are afoot at Yamaha Motor USA, as the company’s US President Terry Okawa announced a bevy of changes to the company’s motorcycle division, the most notable of which being the ascension of Mike Doughty to the role of General Manager, in charge of Motorcycle Operations.
With that announcement, Doughty announced a restructuring of Yamaha’s motorcycle operations in the United States, along with more personnel changes for the company.
The eagle eyes at Motorcycle.com have noticed that Yamaha Motor Corporation is in the process of folding its Star Motorcycles cruiser brand back into the company’s core motorcycle business, under the Yamaha name.
The move is a tectonic shift for the space, as Star Motorcycles was Yamaha’s attempt to give Harley-Davidson a run for its money with superior “metric cruiser” offerings.
As such, the brand was originally set aside from Yamaha’s other motorcycle models, in an attempt to set Star Motorcycles away from the “Jap Bike” mentality that existed at the time in the cruiser demographic.
Yamaha, along with Honda, Kawasaki, and Suzuki have had limited success in this regard, despite offering superior machinery on virtual every metric, save one: their bikes are not from the Bar & Shield brand.
Surely now realizing this, Yamaha has pivoted its “sport heritage” lineup back into Yamaha’s core brand, though we expect the “Star” name will remain in the model branding to some degree.
There has been some talk about how the Yamaha FZ-07 platform is well-suited for flat track racing. The parallel-twin engine produces tractable power, and the FZ-07 (that’s MT-07, to our European readers) is an affordable starting point for would-be racers.
Yamaha Motor USA has heard that chatter, and run with the idea, producing what it calls the Yamaha DT-07 Concept to tackle the American dirt track scene.
The concept is the work of Jeff Palhegyi Design, in conjunction with Yamaha’s US race shop. As you would expect, the Yamaha DT-07 features a race-tuned engine, 19″ wheels, no front brakes, and a custom exhaust system that was created by Graves Motorsports.
The DT-07 features a special race-tuned FZ-07 twin-cylinder engine with an exhaust system created by Graves Motorsports. Debuting at this year’s AIMExpo, the Yamaha DT-07 has Yamaha’s special yellow and black “speedblock” livery design, to commemorate the company’s 60th anniversary.
The cause of the recall, which affects 4,900 units, is an incorrectly manufactured shift cam segment stopper, which has a sharp edge instead on the inside of the bend, instead of a smooth radius.
Because of this, the stopper can crack and possibly fracture where the edge is sharp, which in turn would cause the transmission not to shift properly.
The past recession, and its possible double-dipping nature, still has the motorcycle industry on its heels. This fact can be no better exemplified than by the latest move from Yamaha, whose board of directors recently voted to merge its North American operations under one roof. In an effort to restructure itself more appropriately, Yamaha Motor Canada will become a subsidiary of Yamaha Motor USA, which would in turn take responsibility for the entire North American market.