What if you build the motorcycle people want and they still don’t buy it?

Yamaha Star Eluder

What if you build a perfectly good motorcycle that’s just what people say they want, and then they refuse to buy it anyway? Photo by Drew Ruiz.

I’ve always said that any company that perfectly aims its marketing strategy at me is doomed to failure. Why? Because I’m a lousy consumer. I don’t really like buying stuff. Left to my own, I am a little eccentric about minimizing stuff rather than adding it.

Of course that doesn’t apply to motorcycles. In that case, I like to have one for each specific riding task I do. Still, once again, I’d say that any motorcycle company that builds a perfect motorcycle for me is likely building a future sales flop. That’s because I’m also an atypical motorcycle consumer. Most people want something quite different from what I want.

Spinning off of this idea, I’ve seen two new motorcycles introduced to the press in the last two weeks that represent two versions of the motorcycle manufacturers’ dilemma, when it comes to appealing to various kinds of consumers. What if you build what people say they want and they still don’t buy it? What if you build what you know your company needs to build, but it doesn’t boost sales? I think the Yamaha Star Eluder and the new Honda Gold Wing may turn out to be examples of these conundrums. Continue reading What if you build the motorcycle people want and they still don’t buy it? →

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#Makeup2Mud recognizes a role for women in motocross beyond being ornaments

Motorsports has a long history of using women as adornments, but because of the high-profile role of its title sponsor, AMA Monster Energy Supercross, an FIM World Championship, is among the most visible examples. Especially considering that more children go to Supercross than probably any other professional racing series, I’ve questioned before what lessons kids learn from the racing spectacle and the role of the smiling, skin-baring, racially non-diverse and mostly mute “Monster Energy girls.”

Watching the opening round at Anaheim, California, I was pleasantly surprised to see at least a small effort to counteract that. Toyota and Feld Motor Sports, the Supercross series promoter, have produced a series called #Makeup2Mud that highlights women who are actually participating in the sport, not just standing around smiling at it. It’s a small start, but it’s something.

#Makeup2Mud is looking for another woman to highlight in the final episode at the last round of the series. Want to nominate someone or yourself? Send in your details using this form at Supercrosslive.com.

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The tradition of riding on January 1

snowy alley

Odds are not looking good.

Unlike the last two years, conditions aren’t likely to allow me to keep my tradition of starting the new year with a January 1 motorcycle ride. Temperatures have been below freezing for days and are forecast to stay there for another week, and fresh snow fell overnight.

So much for a so-called Polar Bear ride on the first day of the year. Continue reading The tradition of riding on January 1 →

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How to win a free weekend at the races (and see who shows up on the grid)

Road Atlanta MotoAmerica motorcycle races

Here’s your chance to win a free trip to the MotoAmerica races at Road Atlanta and watch them kick up some red Georgia clay. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.

You’re essentially out of shopping days before Christmas, but you still have a week to enter to win a free weekend at the MotoAmerica races at Road Atlanta this spring. Let me tell you, April in Georgia is not a bad thing at all, if you live somewhere with winter, like I do.

MotoAmerica is running a contest to name its new racing class for middleweight twins.  Continue reading How to win a free weekend at the races (and see who shows up on the grid) →

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What new motorcycle at EICMA caught my eye

Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe

The Kawasaki Z900RS Café was a new model unveiled at EICMA that I did not expect.

Every year, the EICMA show in Milan, Italy, serves up a feast of new motorcycles. We covered the most significant and relevant announcements over at RevZilla with multiple stories, even though unlike some sites, we don’t cover everything. Here, though, I’m being even more selective. Here’s what I personally found most interesting. Continue reading What new motorcycle at EICMA caught my eye →

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Les Holt’s custom KZ1000 mixes vintage power with modern components

Les Holt's custom 1977 KZ1000LTD

Les Holt’s custom 1977 KZ1000LTD.

Originally published in Accelerate magazine in 2012.

Les Holt rode his customized 1977 KZ1000 LTD to the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Bike Show at AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days expecting to do nothing more than be a spectator and scope out some restorations and customs. In the end, he left with a second-place plaque.

As Holt admitted, if he had known he was going to be entering his home-built custom KZ in the show, he would have at least washed it. Continue reading Les Holt’s custom KZ1000 mixes vintage power with modern components →

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2018 Aprilia Shiver 900 first ride review

In 2007, I flew to Arizona to test ride a new motorcycle with a strange name and a cutting-edge innovation. The name was the Aprilia Shiver and the innovation was a ride-by-wire throttle.

Instead of cables tugging on mechanical parts, as had been used for decades, the Shiver (second in the U.S. market only to the 2006 Yamaha YZF-R6) used electronics to tell the ECU how hard the rider was twisting the throttle. My verdict? Ride by wire worked well enough, if not perfectly. I didn’t see it as a selling point, and I didn’t foresee where it would lead. Ride by wire opened the door to more important advances, such as traction control, and eased convenience features, such as cruise control.

Aprilia Shiver 900

The 2018 Aprilia Shiver 900. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.

This month, almost exactly 10 years later, I few to Southern California to ride the Shiver once again, now that it was finally updated. The 2018 version has many features I never expected back in 2007: anti-lock brakes, multi-setting traction control, multiple ride modes and a flashy TFT full-color instrument panel.

And here’s the last part I didn’t foresee: Despite all the added technology, as well as increased torque, the MSRP for the new Shiver is $9,399, only $400 more than it was a decade ago. So let’s see how the new Shiver works. Continue reading 2018 Aprilia Shiver 900 first ride review →

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Three success stories from MotoAmerica riders who almost gave up… but didn’t

Mathew Scholtz and Chuck Giacchetto

Mathew Scholtz gets a boost from Yamalube/Westby Racing Team Manager Chuck Giacchetto after winning the MotoAmerica Bazzazz Superstock 1000 championship. Photo by Lance Oliver.

Professional motorcycle racing is an extremely precarious career choice, and not just for the reason most people think about first (crashing). Continue reading Three success stories from MotoAmerica riders who almost gave up… but didn’t →

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