Racing is money wasted

Kevin Ash
Yamaha_racing

It`s time for the motorcycle industry to have a serious think about its priorities, because they're looking bizarrely skewed right now.

If ever there was the perfect time to drive up the decimated sales figures of bikes and scooters, this is the time. Fuel is gaspingly expensive and while the price fluctuates it always goes up more than it comes down again, it rises rapidly but falls slowly, traffic congestion is choking our motorways and cities and it`s summer time (no really, it is...), the best time to promote two-wheelers anyway.

In addition, some new research from Belgium has shown that if 10 per cent of car users took to two wheels, overall journey times for all road users would be down by 40 per cent and overall economy and emissions would be significantly improved too. Everyone benefits from an increase in motorcycle usage, even those in cars, a message which could not be more positive.

So what is the industry doing. Spending money on marketing all these advantages? Putting right the misconception that two wheels are a dangerous way to travel? My daughter had a knife pulled on her on a daytime train journey near London last week, that wouldn`t have happened if she`d been on a bike. Hers is hardly a rare incident, yet we`re told trains are safe... Door to door, taking all dangers into account, you can often be much safer returning home late at night on a bike or scooter than taking public transport.

All this is tailor-made for a powerful marketing campaign, yet the motorcycle industry remains resolutely silent about its many powerful advantages.

The reason? We`re told it`s money, that the industry simply isn`t big enough to market itself in the national press, on TV or on major websites. This is of course a self-fulfilling prophesy: if you`re not selling many bikes, you don`t generate the income for strong marketing to boost those numbers.

The industry does have the money though, the problem is that it`s spending it - lots of it - in an astonishingly unproductive manner: racing. The classic mantra tells us that winning on Sunday sells on Monday, but is this really true, or indeed relevant?

Who do we need to be selling two wheelers to? Commuters, utility users, people after secondary transport for their families... many people who have no idea World Superbikes or MotoGP even exists, and certainly a potential customer base with very little interest in motorcycle racing, who will be influenced not a jot by who`s winning at Silverstone, Mugello or Assen.

Among those of us who know bikes and are enthusiastic about them, readers of Motor Cycle News for example, what kinds of machines are selling well? Adventure bikes, naked machines, all-rounders... none of these are being raced. And the categories in the biggest decline? Superbikes, which are doing very badly, while the supersport 600 class has imploded. Most manufacturers have dramatically slowed or ceased altogether development of 600cc sports bikes, yet while the left hand is doing that, the right hand is still busy pouring money into racing them, or racing to promote them.

Does winning races even sell bikes in the relevant road bike categories? Maybe it has some influence, but factors which are clearly more important include performance in magazine group tests, value for money, dealer reputation, reliability, comfort... There's a clear and undisputed correlation between bikes that do well in magazine group tests, especially MCN's in the UK, and subsequent sales performance, yet there's none at all between race winning bikes and sales of their related production road versions.

Racing won`t go away if the major players stop spending, it won`t even get any less exciting. Motorcycling generally though will benefit enormously from a redirection of those very substantial funds into marketing two wheelers properly and effectively. Right now, it looks like nothing more than a very expensive self-indulgence, a luxury at a time when the industry can afford no such thing. There is no alignment between what the industry is trying to sell and where it`s spending its promotional budgets.

In simple terms, it`s stupid.

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kwh
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I'm sorry, but that point about 'door to door, motorcycles are safer' is just easily dismissable rubbish, Kevin. If we start from the fact that amongst the entire population of England & Wales, there are only 700 or so murders a year, and that over 70% of victims were killed by somebody well known to them, only 30% by strangers, then at absolute maximum, with 210 people in the UK murdered by strangers each year, even if you assumed that all of them were murdered while coming home late at night or even just travelling on public transport (which would be ridiculous), and preposterously assumed that they were all murdered in London (where there are about 41 _billion_ passenger miles travelled each year), that makes public transport's real risk of death rate something like one per 250 million miles, with the reality being that the real risk is probably an order of magnitude lower than that, even if you throw in deaths in train and bus crashes. By contrast, a brief count of the number of active motorcyclists, multiplied by the 4,000 odd miles per year that are now apparently the average annual number, gives us a much less comforting exposure to risk when divided by the number of fatalities on two wheels. Motorcycles are dangerous, and pretending otherwise is fatuous. Some people do more dangerous things than riding motorcycles every day, like sky-diving or free-climbing or downhill skiing or riding horses, but there is no government department monitoring those activities and compiling statistics, letalone declaring that nobody should die while skiing as a matter of long term government and EU policy. And that, I fear, is why we won't see governments encouraging the flower of the nation's youth onto motorcycles as a cheap, efficient transport solution. Quite the reverse in fact. Leaving aside the fact that car makers have lobbyists as well, and every Honda scooter sold is potentially one less Nissan Micra on the road, ensuring that nobody ever dies of anything is now ingrained in our cultural and political DNA, and people in positions of power dine out on their success in reducing road casualties. They will be ecstatic when we are all trundling round the countryside at 25mph with a flashing orange beacon on our airbag encrusted, crumple-zone surrounded safety cells, because the single indicator of anything they care about, road casualties, will be almost nil. If you ignore motorcycles. The safer cars get, the more a growth in motorcycling will cause a disproportionate blip in the KSI figures. The fact that the risk to an individual motorcyclist who knows what they are doing is low, and outweighed in their mind by the benefits, is irrelevant to the person whose reputation stands or falls by the trends in the overall KSI statistics. If you are going to deploy an argument in favour of motorcycling, please use one that stands up - there are many - lest using one that doesn't leads people who hear it to believe that that was the best you had...

shuggiemac
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Wow, that is quite a read and a fairly bold statement. Looking at it rationally then there are very good arguments to support the article. It also plays into a thread which I opened up myself on here a few months back about why the manufacturers do not utilise main stream advertising. In that thread it was quite interesting to see the apathy that was the undertone of the responses.

Now as a racing fan I am a bit caught here as I would hate to see it being devalued but on the other hand as an obsessive motorcyclist then the overall picture is more important.

There is, however, little doubt that the advertising and support that goes into racing does have its payback in the markets that are now where the money and sales are. This can be witnessed by the main line money going into both the factory Moto GP efforts of Honda and Yamaha. The Semakin Di Depan (Yamaha) and Satu HATI (Honda) texts, so prominent in the teams, being representative of financial input from both brands Indonesian importers. There is also increasing clamour for the circus of international racing to land in the likes of India and return to South America where again the market potential is.

Lets also not forget that a good proportion of the money going into say Moto GP racing comes from the likes of Repsol, Philip Morris, San Carlo or in other words non manufacturers. They are thus using the bike as a rolling bill board to get their message seen by a global audience and it works. The very fact that you can buy Repsol replica Honda's would support than notion. I don't know, as a proportion, how much of the money comes from the manufacturers/sponsors/supporters.

In the likes of our markets, in mainland Europe and Britain, for sure it is harder to see any real justification for the proportion of money being spent on racing, or at least if it was to be re-directed into other promotional areas then it could be more effective. It also beggars the question though, if there is actually any kind of a real market left in the likes of the UK. An international race series garners exposure the world over but the market and attitude towards motorcycles is culturally very different within even Europe. We are all well aware of the acceptance of the small capacity machine and scooter culture in the likes of Italy, Spain and France and its uptake in the likes of Britain. That of course is influenced also by things like weather but not entirely. I would love to think that there was a way to change that and get more people on to bikes but I think the bigger problem is lack of will than money.

In saying this, I would have to say that IF some of the money was put into alternative marketing initiatives then it could be a good thing. I also wonder though that the likes of the CEO's of the manufacturers and their main line sponsors must have already sat and thought about this and figured that racing gives them a good return. I would wager that Ducati, more than any of the others, would side with that statement. On a global basis has Suzuki suffered at all from their front line withdrawl from main stream racing? I would like to know.

This is a really interesting topic and I am torn about it on many different levels. I can't come down on one side or the other in a totally definitive way, as it is a multi-faceted issue but it is most definitely a very large plate of food for thought.

vinnychoff
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I am really sorry to hear about your daughter. My son was set upon when he was younger and we managed to find them and arrange police. I hope it does not affect her.
I would like to see the racing bikes closer to road bikes or have designs that run into road going bikes. This would make sense to me.
As for selling it does happen. I like to see my brand leading the races. It reinforces the quality of my brand.
I promote motor bikes to all but am up against too many worried mums about their kids on the roads.

kevash
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kwh wrote:
I'm sorry, but that point about 'door to door, motorcycles are safer' is just easily dismissable rubbish

That might well be true if you focus solely on murders versus road deaths, but there's no particular reason to do this and it's not what I was doing. By door to door safety I meant any incident from a mugging to an assault to molesting, and the prevalence of this kind of thing on late night transport is almost at epidemic levels. Certainly many females simply refuse to use late night buses, trains or minicabs through fear of some incident of this kind, and they're perfectly justified in doing so, either on the transport itself or waiting for it on a platform, at a bus top, or walking home often a significant distance after arriving. Travel at a similar time on a scooter, and while the probability of having a road accident is of course much higher, the chances of a negative incident of any description could well be less on the two-wheeler than public transport. Incidences of muggings etc do happen to bike and scooter riders, but they're extremely rare to the point of statistical insignificance, yet the figures for the same kind of thing on public transport in some cities at certain times of night are shocking.

While we focus solely on road accidents, of course motorcycles and scooters are less safe, although even here the statistics are skewed against us - I'll do a feature on why this is the case very soon - but there's more to travel safety than simply having a crash. Indeed, I know of several women personally who have switched to scooters or motorcycles because they'd had problems on the London underground, mostly with minor molesting, but that's still unpleasant and scary for a lone female, and of course they've not had any such issues since switching to two wheels.

I've started gathering statistics and at this early stage it does appear the argument stands up - I'll be producing a full feature about it when I have enough solid information. It's time to stop focusing on those KSI statistics and start looking at whole journey safety, as public transport is very poor and motorcycles are very good. Accidents are just one of a whole array of things that can happen to you on a journey. Cars of course are better again, but they have other problems, in London for example being very expensive to park and take into the congestion zone, as well as being expensive to run.

kevash
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shuggiemac wrote:
This is a really interesting topic and I am torn about it on many different levels. I can't come down on one side or the other in a totally definitive way, as it is a multi-faceted issue but it is most definitely a very large plate of food for thought.

It is a fascinating one to think about, and as a racing fan myself it's not an easy conclusion to come to, but I'm not saying racing should stop, just that less money should be spent on it, or more to the point, it could be spent much more effectively. Maybe it would devalue racing, but I suspect it's more important to have a level playing field than an expensive one. MotoGP wouldn't be the same, but rationally that's the easiest to justify losing altogether as its relevance to road bikes is the smallest.

mchale2020
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Considering how much coverage Rossi is getting at the moment, what is being suggested here may seem kind of radical on the surface but really does make a lot of sense to me. I think one of the problems I have watching top tier competition is that I can't really relate to any of the riders and their machines. In most cases, the rider was a child prodigy in his youth and now possess almost super human abilities and is piloting a machine that is beyond anything I could ever hope to own or ride. Granted, all this makes for some very exciting entertainment, but it doesn't really encourage any solidarity for the motorcycle community. Meanwhile, humble machines meant to entice new riders are sort of cast to the way side and we hardly ever see them mentioned anywhere in main stream media despite the simple but credible advantages they possess for our society.

What's frustrating to me is how so much of the motorcycle community pours its resources into the super sport category when we honestly know only a handful of people can really justify such machines. Instead of spending all this energy on clean sheet designs for almost non-existent benefits, why aren't we spending more of our resources trying to refine entry level track day organizations and entry level club racing competition or any other means to keep enriching the sport for us plebeians? I just wish more time was spent addressing these concerns because it will keep motorcycling alive and fit for much longer than revised exhaust catalyzers.

Mr Incredulous
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Dear Kevin,

I hear what you say about racing and in part agree with you, if and for example Honda did not spend as much on racing would the bikes be cheaper? Then add your comments about promotional use of funds, yes it makes sense, however, racing is a sport lets not forget and sport attracts supporters and supporters pay for racing NOT the factories.

The problem as I see it is that companies such as Bridgepoint Capital (who own Dorna and now Intersport(?) who own World superbikes) are taking vast amounts of cash and NOT putting it back into the sport.

The same could be said for Motosport Vision to be honest. Lets face it, when Mr J Palmer and Co took over the disaster that was the the Foulston empire he was not keen on motorcycles, that was until he saw over 120,000 fans crowd in for World superbikes and saw all that £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £. Ask the BSB teams how much he gives back in terms of £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ Unlike in the USA where prize money from the promoters and circuit owners is given to the riders/drivers and teams and therefore the spectacle is much much better, crowds are bigger etc etc etc

Sport is one thing motorcycle sales are another and although they are linked, I firmly believe for the sport to continue and survive and thrive it needs a balance of fund allocation then everyone will be happy, well everyone other than Bridgepoint Capital or Motorport Vison. Poor old Jonathan he would have to sell his helicopters.

The racers, those who we come to watch and who are given a pittance if anything at all, for in effect being unpaid entertainers quite frankly is where the problem lays I feel.

All IMHO of course.

Mr I

unconventional rebel
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First I feel I ought to state my bias, I am not really interested in sport at all... Having said that I agree with Kev's article, some good responses too though.

It would seem to me there are very broadly 4 types of riders, those who buy into an image, those who want to race, commuters and generic 2 wheel petrolheads.

The first two groups will often give up buying (new) bikes if economically under pressure, bikes are optional extras if you like, and in recession hit times sales will fall. In addition IMO new fashions will come round and many will follow these instead.

Roads are ever more congested with traffic and speed cameras, so racers make less and less sense anyway, which will further hit sales. Some who ride stupidly fast on the road will continue to lead to public pressure to ban these 'dangerous speeders', and as has been pointed out the Govt is only too keen here anyway. Legislation will only increase in the future. IMO high performance sports bikes on the road are long term doomed anyway so why throw money into promoting them through racing?

We can ignore the petrol heads (like me) as we will do our thing regardless of industry advertising. So spend the racing money on commuters. As Kev has pointed out it makes sense regardless of the interesting safety debate. Would I want my daughter on a motorcycle or on late night public transport? Neither actually, I want her in a car (inc. taxi) as they are the safest bet. I've just started paying for lessons as we speak. No solution for Londoners though.

I think there is a massive potential here for the small comuter market to explode. More people where I work are either begining to use small bikes for commuting or are seriously considering it - when they find out how much people are saving. Even with this summer weather! I wouldn't be surprised if someone like Tarta do what Honda did with the Cub at some point. Peugeot seem to be making some good inroads (among others) and are well placed. The bike industry need to give up sponsoring racing and look where the sales will be in a couple of years, because they won't be in the next gsx firebusa.

Captain Scarlet
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I'm sorry to hear of your daughters experience Kevin, I'm sure it was a major shock for your whole family and I hope she isn't fearful for her safety moving forwards.

I take the train to work myself now, for the first time in my career. And I don't care for it much. Despite police on the train, there are often beggars and many unsavory looking characters, who you never know whether they will cause trouble or not. I have a weapons carry license, but I don't own a gun. I can legally carry a concealed weapon on the train and I was considering this. But as a Brit, the thought of going to work with a gun in my pocket just seems insane. I think I'm going to give up the train pass soon and take the longer drive in. If only filtering were legal here I'd be going on the bike.

I follow moto-gp and wsb pretty religiously. I also followed both BSB and AMA when I lived in the UK too. But I've always thought it absolute bobbins that you 'win on Sunday and sell on Monday', it's just not true. Half the time when Suzuki or Kawasaki weren't racing their sales were up!

Racing is expensive nowadays too. Who remembers when WSB's were actually road bikes with slicks, new fork internals, better brake pads, some wilder cams and a full race system? Or the great one-make race series like the RD350LC's, when you knew the best rider had one the race, not the one's with the best Spanish (soon to be diminished) sponsors? What's a WSB cost now, £300k? What a waste of marketing revenue.

I think the motorcycle industry selling to the already converted has limited benefit. Especially as selling that genre of bikes is a bit like flogging a dead horse at the moment. It's a bit like the sales advert to the 'olds'. No idea, whatsoever. It's not rocket science, but they keep acting like it is!

rocca
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Consider the following related pieces of information:

1.  Jorge Lorenzo is contractually obliged to take his "holidays" in Jakarta.
2.  A ratings agency recently downgraded the credit rating of the world's second biggest motorcycle manufacturer because of an obscure change to minimum finance downpayment requirements in Indonesia.
3.  Britannia, having ceased to rule the waves some time ago, is a rain-lashed economic basket case where not that many people want to ride motorbikes (or scoot scooters).
4.  The MD of Yamaha's racing effort is secretly a marketing man.

It all makes perfect sense from the other end of the telescope:
http://m.motomatters.com/node/5340

Mr Incredulous
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[quote) If only filtering were legal here I'd be going on the bike.

[/quote]

If you live in the UK filtering is legal, see RoSPA advice.

Regards
Mr I

Navy Boy
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Mr I

CS lives in the US...

This is an interesting debate and there'll be arguments on both sides. Interesting to have a read of though!

shuggiemac
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There seems to be a undertone in some posts that the main thrust of racing is to sell sport bikes but I don't actually think that is the whole case at all. It is about promoting overall brand awareness and that is for both the manufacturers and the sponsors covering their complete portfolios.

Look at it this way and compare this to Formula One and I guess the likes of Nascar in the U S of A. The latter I know nothing about, have no interest in and the former only slightly more. That said though Mercedes Benz, Ferrari, Renault and the other auto manufacturers in F1 are not looking to sell these race cars for the street but they do want us to buy a few Twingo's, Clio's the odd B Class and perhaps one or two of what ever it is that Ferrari sell. Consider also the Red Bull racing team, they don't sell cars at all but they sink a shed load of wonga into running their own F1 team. Coming back to bikes and lets stick with world championship classes, then lets consider how many people now know the names Pramac, Cardion AB, Althea, FIXIT, San Carlo etc who had never heard of them before? None of those brands make anything to do with motorcycles.

Coming back to Roccas point about the MD of of Yamaha racing being a marketing man. That should come as no big surprise as the racing team is a basically a marketing tool but one that also serves as a platform for technical development.

Roccas other point about the UK is one that I agree with and have eluded to in my first post. I would guess in the big scheme of things that it is not that high in the priority list for many manufacturers.

I am still swayed by both sides on this and there is merit in all of the discussion. I would also repeat that a sizeable chunk of the money that goes in to racing does not come from the manufacturers but outside sources and they very simply would not be interested in putting that money anywhere near promoting step thru mopeds. So it is not simply a case of saying that if the money was not invested in racing then it would all become available for other general motorcycle industry activities.

Not for the first time, though not deliberately as we do often concur, I disagree with the good Captain and his comment that £300k on a WSBK bike is a waste of marketing revenue. The amount of global tv air time that the machine would get, even if it is only a few seconds each race, plus all other promotional activities that go with it would make that excellent value for money.

Mr Incredulous also make a good point about the remuneration that goes to the riders. Those with the big contracts are few and far between and at the top of the tree. I have a friend who currently races in the World Super Stock Championship and has raced in World Super Sport. He basically has to pay to get the ride as do most of the competitors and then get something back for win,points bonuses and the hope of that step up the ladder.

The bottom line is that watching sports is a very popular past time and the clever business people in the world see value in it on what ever side of the business they are on.

In closing I would actually like to pose a question and that is to ask if we actually know how much money is spent on racing by the manufacturers directly, from their own coffers and how much of it is funded by the sponsors?

shuggiemac
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Captain Scarlet wrote:
If only filtering were legal here I'd be going on the bike.

That would rip my knitting to the extreme. So much so that I simply could not consider living in a place where it was not allowed. Makes you wonder though, you can't filter on your motorcycle but you can carry a Smith & Wesson under your Dainese jacket. At least you'd have plenty of time sitting in the traffic lines to take a steady aim !

kwh
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If you are going to compare like with like, Kevin, an encounter with a drunk who leers at you suggestively but doesn't do any more is arguably less serious than having to brake hard to avoid a taxi that cuts you up. It's that old thing about fear of crime being much worse than crime itself - http://library.npia.police.uk/docs/hors/hors254.pdf throws some actual statistics and analysis into the mix and comes up with a rough figure of 100,000 or so muggings per year in England and Wales total, of which only a proportion are related to public transport or happen in the evening, and of which only 20% result in any injury to the victim. So there are 20,000 injury muggings in the UK each year in all circumstances. Most victims are male, most female victims get things snatched rather than confronted with a weapon, so your daughter was statistically very unlucky to be threatened with a knife during the day (not that that is any great comfort to her I'm sure). In 2010 there were 18,500 injured (seriously & slightly) motorcyclists, excluding fatalities. So it's 20,000 versus the entire UK population injured in street crime, 18,500 versus just motorcyclists alone in a year from riding motorcycles. I don't think that's even close, motorcycling is definitely many many times more dangerous on that measure! So what of non-injury events? If you equate a non-injury mugging with a non-injury motorcycle accident, I think even that risk is still far higher on two wheels. Ever dropped a bike having left the disk-lock on? Which costs more and is more traumatic, having some scrote grab your iPhone out of your hand as he cycles past you on the pavement, or dropping your motorcycle as you pull away from a parking bay in front of a massive audience of commuters? New brake disk, new caliper, new levers, plastics... I think the iPhone wins! So, I fully accept that you can probably prove that people FEEL safer riding home across London on a scooter than they do on the bus or tube, but the evidence would suggest that they are very badly deluding themselves, and that at some point the truth will out.

As for racing, I think some of the expensive dead-end technological masturbation needs to be banned. For example, electronics that can be programmed by a team of gurus to a circuit map so that the bike generates different amounts of power in different corners... that's a very expensive thing to develop, let alone do every week, and it will never have any application away from a racetrack even if they spend the next thousand years refining it. Ban it. If the riders want three different modes for a given track, give them a switch on the handlebars. And carbon brakes are a technological tour de force, but a set of disks cost more than my house and again, they'll never appear on a road bike because they don't work in the real world. Simple solution - insist that whatever brakes they use in the dry they have also got to use in the wet. For now that means steel, but when somebody invents something better that might one day appear on street bikes, that's fine... If you then make it clear that if any manufacturer in future develops expensive performance enhancing technology for the racetrack that has no application outside of racing, it will be banned, that should focus development at dual use technology, and dual use top table race technology does indeed trickle down to us the consumers, from flappy paddle dual clutch gearboxes in cars to traction control electronics on road going motorcycles...

kevash
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Regarding public transport safety, I am specifically comparing late night journeys in a big city, not the UK overall, and there's also the factor that a fear of mugging etc is what keeps people off public transport, which holds the figures down. What's important is not the total but the rate, that gives you the probability of an incident of some sort, those are the figures I'm working with and those are suggesting a scooter or motorcycle could well be safer.

Re the amount the factories spend, in MotoGP it's tens of millions at times, remember Yamaha failed to get any sponsorship at all last season despite holding the number one plate. I do know in Ducati's first year of MotoGP the spend was something like £27 million, which was almost entirely paid by Marlboro. Ducati is something of a special case as far as backers are concerned, they value the brand name more highly than more successful teams'.

kwh
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OK, well again I look forward to seeing your more detailed analysis, but as a starter for ten, there are about 35,000 personal robberies in the Met Police area in a year, about 50% of them occurring between 6pm and 2am, and about 50% of them occurring on public transport (see the statistical analysis I posted a link to earlier). So round that up to about 9,000 mugging events on public transport. Of those, 20% on average result in injury. So, 1800 injury muggings. I'm focussing here on muggings because with 100 homicides in the Metpol area per annum, it's not actually a risk big enough to statistically analyse let alone worry about. 1,800 injuries in 41 billion passenger miles is one injury every 23 million passenger miles or so. Even if you say that only 10% of that travel is between 6pm and 2am (it's much more than that), it's one injury every 2.5 million passenger miles or so. By comparison, there are about 6,000 PTW related injuries in London in a year. If the average PTW rider does 4,000 miles a year, even on those conservative guesstimates you'd need there to be at least 3.75 million active PTW riders in London alone to achieve safety parity in the capital city. I'd be interested to see what figures you can find that might help to prove the contrary!

kevash
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kwh wrote:
. I'd be interested to see what figures you can find that might help to prove the contrary!

I don't want to keep narrowing it down to something specific, in this instance now being injuries, as that's not how people think and it's not what's relevant. A safe journey is one where you're not robbed, injured, molested or even threatened, and yes I know there are grey areas, but that applies across the board, you can drop your bike at walking pace and not hurt yourself or damage your bike, just as you can be threatened and have the crap scared out of you but not be touched, let alone hurt.

From what I'm seeing, it does seem that within certain time slots, and in London where the figures are easiest to get, you are more likely to have a safe journey on a motorcycle or scooter than on a late night bus or train. That to me is more relevant to people who want to make a journey than anything else about accident rates or muggings specifically. All they want to know is, will I get home safe? On a scooter it's a certain probability, on a late night bus it's another probability, and I think there are times and places where the bus is worse.

kwh
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Well as I pointed out, if you ride across London in rush hour and /don't/ have at least one experience that would make a nervous pillion passenger scream and shit themselves (getting cut up, having to drop anchor to save the life of a drunken pedestrian or suicidal cyclist, avoiding a U-turning black cab, etc etc), it's a very rare day. But if you were somebody likely to get spooked by the fact that too many people will cheerfully kill you on a motorcycle if you let them, you wouldn't be riding a motorbike. Perception is not reality - if you had to avoid a genuine mugger/rapist/murderer once or twice every time you crossed London by tube, public transport would soon be empty of everybody /except/ muggers, rapists and murderers. The figures for actual robberies are what they are, and the fact that you might have to share your journey home on the tube with somebody who looks like an extra from romper stomper did not constitute a danger to you anywhere outside your own head. By contrast, that taxi that would have smeared you all over Hyde Park Corner if you hadn't braked and taken avoiding action really /was/ a danger, even if you forgot about it 30 seconds after it happened... so you are much less likely to be killed on public transport, or maimed, or even slightly injured. You are also much more likely to have a life threatening but ultimately harmless experience on a motorcycle. You are almost certainly more likely to be vomited over on public transport I suppose, and to be scared, but it doesn't really constitute a rational justification for a mode shift...

kevash
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kwh wrote:
Well as I pointed out, if you ride across London in rush hour and /don't/ have at least one experience that would make a nervous pillion passenger scream and shit themselves (getting cut up, having to drop anchor to save the life of a drunken pedestrian or suicidal cyclist, avoiding a U-turning black cab, etc etc), it's a very rare day.

Sounds like one of us is doing it wrong... It's been a very long time since I've had a moment like that, let alone daily!

The idea of the perception of danger is important though, as it's the single biggest factor preventing many people from taking up motorcycles and scooters, when in fact the overall journey dangers are much more on a par with other forms of transport - the problem is that people look only at accident rates and forget there's plenty else that can go wrong.
That's why I'm gathering this additional information.

REDBANKUK
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Bringing the topic back to what Kevin said at the start in relation to target markets etc but first I will declare my hand ...

I have been riding for 40+ years on motorbikes and scooters; enjoy watching racing - been to Brands Hatch, Cadwell, Snetterton, Mallory and the TT; racing aside I just enjoy riding, be it for commuting or pleasure

A few weeks ago I bought a new Yamaha TMAX 500 scooter and the dealer had about 100 new bikes and a few scooters in stock and masses of clothing etc - thats a lot of money tied up.

He said most of his sales were to people who were already motorcyclists and he was just about keeping his head above water - seems to me that most showrooms and dealers have similar experiences.

I haven't seen dealers (or the importers) create displays to highlight suitable machines for commuters or new starters .

Neither have I seen much advertising in newspapers, non motorcycling magazines or television to try to lure newcomers - Piaggio with their MP3 scooter aimed at car drivers seemed a half hearted attempt

We all know once bitten you never (well rarely) stop loving two wheels !

In the 50s scooters had a boom time and maybe once again the industry should focus on them again as they are relatively cheap to but and quite economical.

Motorcyclist who don't ride scooters might scoff at this but you never know scooterists may switch to motorcycles but more importantly for all of us if our two wheel ranks increase.

Then dealers will stay open and the government of the day may take us all a bit more seriously and consider us part of the modern transport solution.

Navy Boy
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REDBANK I think you've struck on a very good point there. In my view, much as I enjoy racing simple economics mean that more money spent there equals less money spent elsewhere within the industry.

The whole fuel economy debate deals with a similar point in that manufacturers need to use different means to attract new customers. I'm starting to see more and more real-world fuel economy figures being quoted in magazine articles and brochures. Getting people to realise the economic and time-saving benefits of biking are, in my opinion at least, just as important as top speed and power figures to new buyers. Indeed to existing customers too. Hence the big deal being made of Honda's NC700 range of bikes at the moment.

kwh
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I like to think that I've been doing this long enough now that I'm not 'there' when the U-turning taxi sweeps across the road without looking, but only because I thought 'That taxi looks like he's about to try to cause my death by careless driving'. But it seems that what you are saying is that people who don't ride around London are more irrationally scared of riding motorcycles or scooters, than they are irrationally scared of travelling on buses or trains. That may be true, but I'm not sure that trying to irrationally scare them /more/ about the alleged likelihood of being mugged, molested or murdered on public transport is the way forward here. Because the reality, when you strip out perception, is that your soft pink body is at far more risk per mile when riding motorcycles than it is on public transport, accepting that it is still a very low risk, far lower than people seem to imagine. There are loads of good reasons why riding a bike or scooter round London is a better way to travel than public transport. Being actually safer isn't one of them...

pittsy
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Nice one redbankuk.

shuggiemac
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kwh wrote:
If you then make it clear that if any manufacturer in future develops expensive performance enhancing technology for the racetrack that has no application outside of racing, it will be banned...

Sorry but I could not let that one go.

Why on earth should everything in racing have to be technology that can be applied to the road? It is a notion of absolutely zero merit in my eyes. If we were to take that stance in life, then you may as well just ban every sort of leisure and sporting past time under the sun, as the vast majority of them have little practical value to the every day hum drum life of Mr Joe Average. The fact of the matter is that racing still does bring immense enjoyment to many, many people and there is a large industry that sourrounds it , providing many people with a living. There are also those who enjoy racing on a hobby basis and are happy to spend money on what ever it takes to give them the best bike they can get. Their hobby and wish is no less relevant than someone who spends thousands of pounds on fishing, or skiing or basket weaving or cycling or ........ go on take your pick. This whole notion of banning things is like a red rag to a bull for me and I don't care if it is racing or someone wishing to walk naked around the country. In this instance however and specific to this thread debate, then it just sounds like a load of right old kill joy, bah humbug. No one ever said that what happens in sport has to be solely as a development for the main stream, there is still the essence and element of competitionin there and dare I say it but also ...... fun!

kwh
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Quote:
Sorry but I could not let that one go.

Why on earth should everything in racing have to be technology that can be applied to the road? It is a notion of absolutely zero merit in my eyes. If we were to take that stance in life, then you may as well just ban every sort of leisure and sporting past time under the sun, as the vast majority of them have little practical value to the every day hum drum life of Mr Joe Average.

Well, it becomes self justifying. It is impossible to win unless you spend nigh on £100,000 quid per season on carbon brake disks, which take months to make and bake, and which somebody has spent years and millions of groats developing and refining. And all that R&D money doesn't make road bikes any better, there is no dual use justification for the R&D effort, and it doesn't make the racing any better than it would be if nobody had them. So if people are quitting GP racing because of the cost, making everybody pay Brembo the national debt of a small country just to have the same brakes everybody else has and for no other good reason seems like a poor idea for a series organiser. Conversely if the bulk of the money spent on going faster on the track can be justified as aiding and abetting R&D for the next generation of road bikes, racing looks like much better value!

playlord
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It's been a while since I've looked in here. Nice to see some new and eloquent posters like KWH, (though, if I may say so, KWH, your miles-travelled-per-paragraph seem higher than muggings and bike accidents combined :) )

From one who's only ever haunted the fringes of biking but has been a lifetime horseracing fan, the horseracing industry faces the same challenges as biking - the closure of Hereford racecourse (est, 1771) was announced last week, along with the closure (possibly temporary) of Folkestone racecourse.

Deep as horseracing's troubles are, even its zany rulers, who have tried many a crazy marketing tactic, would not expect to see lots of folk riding to work on a thoroughbred on the Monday after the Grand National. A tongue-in-cheek analogy, but I've little doubt Kev's premise is correct.

My old mate Rocca nailed it, as ever, for the UK, at least - rain, rain, rain. The past four or five summers have been the most miserably unpredictable I can remember in my reasonably long life.

I suspect too that the ever-increasing equality of the sexes (hurrah, for that . . . mostly) plays a part. I know of a couple of men with young children who would like to get into biking: "No, too dangerous," say their wives, and no storm of statistics will change that perception. Oddly, I get the impression that once the kids are grown, the wives wouldn't mind at all if their hubbies take up biking - make of that what you will.

Finally, and this is coloured by my own experience - nicely summed up by the paramedic handing me over to hospital staff "Bike V Taxi" (in my case, a pushbike) - I think there is a subliminal absorption by road-users of the notion that many drivers have little care for the vulnerability of the human body.

Many on four wheels are deeply concerned about their insurance premiums and any delay to their journey that might be caused by them powdering someone's bones, but I get the impression many don't give a jot about the effect a bad injury can have on someone's life.

Perhaps the best thing any government could do, for humanity in general (in the western world, at least) is force every driver to spend one day a week travelling on two wheels. When your three cubic feet of bone and blood and meat (Loudon wainwright III), is out there, airbagless, seat-beltless, rollbarless with the cast of Mad Max coming at you from all points of the compass, I suspect some empathy for your fellow man will return - and not just in road-use.

unconventional rebel
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playlord wrote:
I think there is a subliminal absorption by road-users of the notion that many drivers have little care for the vulnerability of the human body.
Many on four wheels are deeply concerned about their insurance premiums and any delay to their journey that might be caused by them powdering someone's bones, but I get the impression many don't give a jot about the effect a bad injury can have on someone's life.

I hate to say it, but think this is actually normal. A cursory glance through our history (whatever nation you live in dear reader) will show a callous disregard for the lives of others by the majority. A look through many areas of the world today will show the same. In fact I'd say our current civilisation has a commendably abnormaly high regard for the lives of others.
That being true, riding bikes will always be dangerous but can be made a lot less dangerous by a number of measures.

Most simply we could ban seatbelts and fix a big, long steel spike to the center of all steering wheels. Watch the standard of driving and care taken to avoid an accident with others go through the roof overnight. But that's not going to happen.

We could increase the standard of defensive riding, and I congratulate those who promote this already, so we can be much better at avoiding others. This could be taken up by bike manufacturers (instead of racing?) and offered free with purchase and subsidised to all. Might help allay the fears of spouses and parents when the benefits are made clear.

Increase the number of bikes on the road and the miles we do. The more of us about the more used to noticing us car drivers will be.

Incidently I've never really seen the problem with riding in the rain, in theory this shouldn't make much difference. Modern tyres are probably as good in the wet as they used to be in the dry in the days when bikes were normal transport. And excellent wet weather over suits are cheap and dead easy to buy. I understand shiny bikes take a lot of cleaning but 'winter hacks' have never been cheaper or more reliable.

REDBANKUK
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You beat me to it Playlord ...

I was going to mention the new safety device of a spear fixed to the centre of the steering wheel ...

Tried to get it on Dragons Den but no joy and Half Fords said it did not conform
to Elf Anne Safe Tee standards.

rocca
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It's characteristic of enthusiasts to want other people to share their enthusiasm and to be baffled when they don't. What's exceptional about a body of opinion among UK motorcycle enthusiasts is the peculiar sense of grievance that goes along with this. Why isn't this thing I like more popular? It must be somebody's fault and it's up to them to do something about it.

No one would seriously expect Giant/ Trek/ Specialized to run billboard and TV advertising, or knock out loss leading specials, in order to promote cycling simply as a meritorious activity. Yet cycling is enjoying a renaissance in the UK because it's able to sound a broad appeal - in terms of economy, accessibility, sustainability - during hard times and, yes, in part because of sporting success supported by bicycle manufacturers.

To judge by their public pronouncements Japanese motorcycle manufacturers (and it is the Japanese who spend the most) remain conscious of their historical/ emotional connections with racing, but it's a stretch too far to cast their continued support as merely whimsical or "a waste". These are publicly quoted companies with shareholder-elected boards, not folies des amours à la Bloor, showing historical returns on capital invested which are unsurpassed by the majority of mass-market automotive manufacturers. Mr Jarvis's marketing-speak may be stodgy (see the link I referenced above) but the reasoning is sound. Indonesia, where 8 million machines were sold last year, is 45% of Yamaha's bike business by unit sales. Racing activity is a halo around the brand thereabouts, but not with any intention of selling R series bikes on the following Monday. Lorenzo instead pops up in TV and cinema ads for something called the Jupiter Z (a humble, modernised step-through with lairy GP-style graphics).

You could in fact argue that the Japanese brands remain disproportionately supportive of the UK market relative to its size and potential, as they're the only ones engaged with offering and promoting learner and utility machines on any meaningful scale. My local dealer has been running a promotion on the YBR 125. £99 a month over two years with £200 cashback (directly from the dealer into your hand, financed by Yamaha) when you sign up. He'll chuck in a helmet and gloves and deliver free to your home or CBT centre of choice. How much more attractive can the product be made? You walk out of the shop with more money than you came in with and your name on personal transportation that costs next to nothing to run, courtesy of a proper machine with quality dealer support to match. Are the 75,000 residents of the affluent town where his shop has been standing on the high street for 90-odd years battering down the doors to avail themselves of this bargain? No. My man expects to shift between 6 and 10 YBRs this year (and some of those will go to existing customers). Take as another example Honda's continued support of the IoM TT during and following the early 2000s when it looked for a time as if the races could not - or would not be allowed to - continue. The TT has recovered and is growing in popularity for a variety of reasons (the recovery bringing with it some very tangible economic benefits to the island), not least of which is the steadfast commitment shown by the main involved manufacturer.

Motorcycling in the UK can't hope to match cycling's ease of appeal among the uninitiated. It hurts to admit it but realistically, to paraphrase the great philosopher-poet Jennifer Aniston, They're Just Not That Into Us. Perhaps, though, it can learn something beneficial by scrutinising the face that organised cycling presents to the world. Local clubs which are non-tribal and receptive to newcomers (how about m/c clubs themselves funding/ arranging "try out" machines/ days?); representative bodies which don't exist mainly to pursue what to outsiders often seem arcane, self-reflexive grievances. Maybe others in "the industry" need to accept a share of responsibility too. Bike magazine, MCN, et al, won't put learner machines and scooters on the cover - why take the risk when an adventure bike or a photo of Rossi almost guarantee a certain level of sales - generally don't test them, or put them in their buyers guides, but will happily offer up their pages as a platform for critiques of government and manufacturer (in)actions which they consider harmful to the future of motorcycling. Sense of irony failure, editor? And is it too much to expect that the sole indigenous manufacturer of any significance, currently riding high on the crest of product niches created by others, should step up to the plate with an offering pitched straight at the unconverted and/ or would-be utility rider?

Dean15
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Congratulations, Rocca, that's a great post.

AHA
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You only have to look at the success of cycling in the last few years to see what a fist the motorcycle industry has made of things. Granted, a lot of it has been a trend that was happening anyway but look at the queues of people in Evans etc spending hundreds if not thousands of pounds. The m/c dealers that are still going must weep. And now the car industry is fast catching up with down-sized, lean-burn, hybrid & electric vehicles. The m/c industry in Europe looks closer to extinction every day.

unconventional rebel
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rocca wrote:
What's exceptional about a body of opinion among UK motorcycle enthusiasts is the peculiar sense of grievance that goes along with this. Why isn't this thing I like more popular? It must be somebody's fault and it's up to them to do something about it.

I think you're misunderstanding the debate Rocca. I think I'm not the only one who wishes bike manufacturers to do well, partly because I enjoy their products and partly because a thriving bike industry and scene is in my interest. The industry will not thrive long term as it is because the demographic has not changed in my lifetime. When I was 18 the average age of riders was somewhere between 16 and 25. Now I'm nearly 50 the average age is somewhere between 45 and 55? I have never come across any sense of grievance so much as a desire to help people see what they are missing out on.

Incidently many M/C's do a lot of 'public relations' work. This year our local MAG club has done Easter egg runs, toy runs, marshalling for public events and fund raising for the local hospice, and this is all quite normal. We can't do 'try out days' because of insurance but have given rides on trikes and sidecars to ill kids (and old people!) in the past.

Advertising and public exposure can make a massive difference, look at what Charlie McEwan did for GS sales, the question being debated here is, is the best way do promote the industry, racing of not?

"Motorcycling in the UK can't hope to match cycling's ease of appeal...". Why on earth not? It has in the past. Oddly I used to cycle a lot, and loved it, but don't now because it's just too dangerous. Out in the country as a hobby is fine but on our local roads as a means of transport? No chance. The only people who do cycle locally are kids and they all stay on the pavement.

rocca
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unconventional rebel wrote:
I think you're misunderstanding the debate...

No, it's simply that I don't accept that the premise on which so much of the debate is founded is necessarily a valid one. Namely that motorcycling is an innately appealing activity, and/ or indisputably a financially sensible mode of transport that would be much more popular in this country if only it were better promoted/ advertised/ supported by manufacturers/ less onerously regulated by government etc, etc. The numbers suggest it's mainly a niche pursuit of enthusiasts, and to say that the impact of Ewan'n'charley was in any sense massive (maybe a few hundred existing riders bought a GS instead of a Fireblade) rather underlines the point that the UK industry lacks a true perspective on its significance. The market's simply too small, with too little potential for future growth (partly for the demographic reasons you mention) to feature greatly in the deliberations of multinational companies when it comes to deciding how and why they spend their promotional millions.

As for push vs. motor-cycling, yes, I'd say the former has vastly greater innate appeal in this country. There are no barriers of age or qualification to entry, cycles can be very cheap to buy, don't need tax, insurance or petrol, help you to get or stay fit, encourage the growth of Wiggo-style sideburns, and so on. Again, the figures speak for themselves. The most recent I have (an LSE report) put the total number of cyclists in the UK at over 13 million, their ranks being swollen by over a million new riders in 2010 alone. Getting on for 4 million new bicycles were sold that year and I expect that the tills of bike shops all over the land will shortly be in meltdown, recession or no, in light of recent endeavours on the asphalt of France and the beech boards of east London.

kwh
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I think motorcycling IS an innately appealing activity, once you get into it and experience it. Mind you, people differ as to whether driving is an innately appealing activity, given a fun car and a twisty road - some people have no interest in or even an antipathy to learning to drive a car, and many many others regard a car as a functional appliance, like their washing machine, that they are forced to use to get them from A to B, but would rather not. There are 35 million odd driving licence holders, out of about 55 million people over 17, so if you assume that adult non-licence holders are a self selecting group of driving haters (which ignores those banned and also those medically disqualified or economically excluded) and chuck in the 20% of drivers who apparently hate driving according to surveys that show that 80% like it or love it, at least in certain circumstances, that pretty much gives us a 50 50 split between people who enjoy driving, and people who don't/wouldn't.

The majority of motorcyclists who drive, would, I assume, enjoy threading a fast car up a twisty road; it's just that most of them would enjoy doing the same on a bike rather more!

I exclude most cruiser riders from the above, by the way, but substitute 'convertible' for 'fast car' in the above, and I think it even applies to them.

There are barriers to entry, however. And more importantly barriers to enjoyment. A training, testing and licensing regime that tells you you'll need to spend perhaps as much as a couple of thousand quid and jump through loads of hoops just to get a licence to ride a motorcycle is definitely a barrier to entry. There's the fact that because the public perception of motorcycling is that it's a death sentence, you are potentially going to be under great pressure from friends and family not to get involved. There's also the fact that as motorcycling has become over the years perhaps primarily a sunny Sunday leisure activity, more akin to jet-skiing and snow-mobile-ing than driving (because even inside the urban jungle, a minority of people, given the option of a nice warm car with a roof and windscreen wipers and a radio, not to mention side curtain airbags and crumple zones, will chose the transport solution that puts them dressed like a stormtrooper in the cold and wet, relying on their wits to keep them out of intensive care or the morgue rather than a Euro-NCAP 5* rating, especially if the car is cheaper than a bike - see Honda Deauville vs Nissan Pixo and weep), and that implies a certain disposable income requirement, and some pretty odd priorities. Really, motorcycling needs to win again as an all round transport solution if it is to grow overall, and that requires bikes that are comfortable, user friendly and offer clear, obvious, unarguable practical transport and cost advantages to drivers _as well_ as being more fun than cars. Once people are riding a bike to commute on, it's no great stretch to see them buying a big tourer to go on holiday on, or a sportier bike for weekends. Oh, and we need a regulatory environment that treats a growth in motorcycling as a good thing, rather than a reason to regulate it further to nip the growth in the bud. As long as the government priority is that nobody ever dies of anything, and definitely not on a road, (and also as long as the big bus companies see an economic benefit to themselves in funding political lobbying organisations promoting restrictions on personal transport choices), the fact that motorcyclists 'only' have a statistical life of 5 million miles is going to result in official squashing of any widespread growth in biking.

shuggiemac
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This is getting good, even if it is away from the original point of the thread.

I would say that the notion of motorcycling no longer being an all round transport solution is not completely true. It is seen as that in the parts of the world where the growth is - Asia, India, Far East, South America and so on.

For sure it is no longer the case in Britain and shall we say northern Europe and North America. The fact of the matter is that in these latter places the economy has grown since the end of the war to being such that every man and his dog has the cash to buy a car and it is the default mode of transport for your average Joe. It is damn hard to get the wife and two kids onto a CB500 but you can squeeze them, fairly comfortably, in to a FIAT Panda. The days of Pa and Ma on the Sunbeam with the sprogs in the side car are long gone, for the simple reason that most people don't really want to do it. They never really did I suspect, there just was no other affordable alternative. It is thus the economical success of the nations that has moulded the demographic of the motorcycle user. There were myriads of riders in the 1950's and I guess a good number of them did not like it that much as they ditched the bike for a Ford Anglia as soon as they could and did not look back. The average rider age is going up because we are the last of the generations that grew up into an age when the motorcycle was still a viable every day tool but on the end of that era for sure.

I firmly believe that more could be done to encourage people to look at powered two wheelers as realistic alternatives but there needs to be a concerted will on many fronts. The culture however is unlikely to change quickly, if indeed at all. My Mum still does not know, really, that I have a bike and I 48 years old !! The worry of knowing would make her permanently catatonic and that has been the case since I left home at 17. She is far from unique in the belief that when you get on one, it is only a question of when you are going to get wiped out, not if.

To bring it back to Kev's point, I am still on the fence but erring a little now on the side of thinking that the racing investment is actually a good thing, when the global scenario is taken into consideration. It is all good and well to think that the money could be better spent on something else but what exactly, that is a relevant point? I would like to know some real world details and not just general ideas of schemes, which is meaningless. To divert some of the funds away from racing then the idea has to be sold to the money men and these guys are no fools. They are not sinking the dosh into racing because they are fans, they are doing because they see some kind of return on it. So what are the arguments that will convince the selling of the notion to the ultimate selling people in the manufacturers?

rocca
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Had I not taken up riding as a lad I'd more than likely have been disowned, as it's a bit of a family tradition. Would I have wanted it as much if it had been pitched to me by "the industry" as a sensible, mainstream thing to do? Probably not. It's a hunch, with nothing much to back it up, but I can't help feeling that money invested in finding a British racer with the talent - and charisma! - of a Rossi could only be money well spent in terms of trying to build a bridge across to a younger demographic of potential riders/ buyers.

pittsy
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Kwh said: "And all that R&D money doesn't make road bikes any better, "

At times I'm inclined to agree with that. But I don't think it's that straightforward. I can think of examples to suggest it both ways.

Kwh said: "the public perception of motorcycling is that it's a death sentence"

The majority of non motorcycling people I meet do seem to have that perception, whereas a much smaller percentage of them don't make the same association with pushbikes. Rightly or wrongly?

shuggiemac
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rocca wrote:
, but I can't help feeling that money invested in finding a British racer with the talent - and charisma! - of a Rossi could only be money well spent in terms of trying to build a bridge across to a younger demographic of potential riders/ buyers.

Fair point but in reality how much money is actually spent in just doing that? Come to think of it, globally about the only guy who was ever going to come close to having the charisma and possibly a good whack of the talent of Valentino, was cruelly taken last year. RIP Marco Simoncelli.

If this debate was centred just around the UK then it would be a lot more clear cut.

kwh
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Pittsy said:

Quote:
At times I'm inclined to agree with that. But I don't think it's that straightforward. I can think of examples to suggest it both ways.

It depends on the technology. Racing improves the breed - flappy paddle dual clutch gearboxes are a technological trickledown from F1, coming to a car near you soon, and indeed a bike near you (VFR1200 etc). Bikes with power mode switches and configurable traction control can trace much of the development back to racing. But racing eats itself - carbon brake disks for bikes won't ever trickle down to the road, on four wheels or two, they cost a fortune and the only reason you need them is because everybody else has them and they shave lap times over steel brakes in the dry.

kwh
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Shuggiemac said:

Quote:
I would say that the notion of motorcycling no longer being an all round transport solution is not completely true. It is seen as that in the parts of the world where the growth is - Asia, India, Far East, South America and so on.

For sure it is no longer the case in Britain and shall we say northern Europe and North America. The fact of the matter is that in these latter places the economy has grown since the end of the war to being such that every man and his dog has the cash to buy a car and it is the default mode of transport for your average Joe.

I think a clue is in that comparison between the Nissan Pixo (http://www.whatcar.com/car-reviews/nissan/pixo-hatchback/1-0-visia-5dr/s... - list price £7,250) and the Honda Deauville (http://www.honda-tippetts.co.uk/?section=new_motorcycles&bike_model=nt70... - list price for the ABS model £8,600). Which of these two vehicles is better equipped, which is cheaper to buy, to run, to tax, to service, to insure etc etc etc, which is safer, which has more carrying capacity, human and cargo... in other words, if looking for a commuter and general transport solution to get you anywhere apart from central London, which (ignoring which is more fun) would the rational choice be?

Yes exactly. The car. By a long way.

But which do we think should cost more to build, has more raw material content, more components, etc etc? Is it the car or the bike?

Spot on.

If the Deauville cost £3,600 and had heated grips, heated seat and an FM radio with an iPod dock built in to the tank, had similar service intervals and better fuel economy then it might look like a sensible alternative...

REDBANKUK
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Aah but for commuting can the Pixo filter through gridlocked traffic ?

pittsy
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Catch 22?

Kwh said: "If the Deauville cost £3,600..."

Build it in the same quantities as cars and it would. But there's no market for it, so we can't. But if we could there would be a market.

Doh!

kwh
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REDBANKUK wrote:
Aah but for commuting can the Pixo filter through gridlocked traffic ?

That's an argument that works in London, for some people, but not really anywhere else for most. Or at least, it doesn't make enough difference to compensate for the extra time putting kit on and taking it off again...

pittsy
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Kwh said: "That's an argument that works in London, for some people, but not really anywhere else for most. Or at least, it doesn't make enough difference to compensate for the extra time putting kit on and taking it off again..."

Mmm. 10 years ago, yes. But now? Surely gridlock is wholesale?

rocca
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Reading back through this thread...

playlord wrote:
Perhaps the best thing any government could do, for humanity in general (in the western world, at least) is force every driver to spend one day a week travelling on two wheels. When your three cubic feet of bone and blood and meat (Loudon wainwright III), is out there, airbagless, seat-beltless, rollbarless with the cast of Mad Max coming at you from all points of the compass, I suspect some empathy for your fellow man will return - and not just in road-use.

Free drinks for life at the virtual Ashonbikes.com club bar for managing to sneak a LWIII reference into a thread about the economics of bike racing.  Though of course Loudon's own well of fellow-man empathy has a tendency mysteriously to run dry when the main chance crests the horizon. Who else but he would admit to seeing Bob's motorcycle accident as an opportunity to make Career Moves (Talking New Bob Dylan)?

Hope you're mended, or at least well on the way...

kwh
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pittsy wrote:
Catch 22?

Kwh said: "If the Deauville cost £3,600..."

Build it in the same quantities as cars and it would. But there's no market for it, so we can't. But if we could there would be a market.

Doh!

That may be part of it, but I doubt it's much of it - Honda's Innova 125 scooter, the replacement for the ubiquitous Cub, the world's most popular vehicle, retails in the UK for £2,270. It struggles to make it to 60mph flat out so is clearly not usefully functional transport in the UK outside the urban jungle, but why is it roughly a third of the price of that Nissan Pixo? The Nissan weighs 1250kg dry and even as a budget shopping trolley has ABS, stereo, air bags and can comfortably keep up with motorway traffic. The Innova weighs 105kg and is part of an austere family of basic machines that sell in their millions around the world. Why do 12 times the quantities of raw materials and many times the complexity only equate to three times the cost?

pittsy
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Kwh said: "That may be part of it, but I doubt it's much of it". And. "Why do 12 times the quantities of raw materials and many times the complexity only equate to three times the cost?"

If the production.quantities are way off then it could happen. But, to be honest, I tend to agree that it's only part of the reason.

REDBANKUK
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Yep Kwh, fair comment and the examples you give are good !

I commuted 50 miles into London on scooters and motorbikes right through the winter and yes it was masochistic but I if I had gone by car I could not have done it in the time it took.

Although there were horrible and cold days, there were enough dryish days that I still enjoyed my rides !

Out here in the country your Pixo/Deauville comparions makes much more sense moneywise.

However even though I have a new car, I (and my pals) are always lookng for any excuse to use the scoot/bike !

shuggiemac
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In 2010 Honda produced globally 9.6 million units in its motorcyle division, which includes ATV's and personal water craft. The sales figure was 1.14 Billion Yen.

In the same period they sold 3.4 million car units for a revenue of 6.554 Billion Yen.

It can be seen that the margins between the two are somewhat different. The car division has nowhere near the global model range size as does the motorcycle but at the same time benefits from a lot more commonality, share of components and spread of R&D costs. The tooling and production costs are also much broader shared between each car model than the bike side. As is well known the car production line is a well automated process but the motorcycle still requires a lot more manual input. It takes about the same length of production time for a mid size bike to go through a production line as it does a typical family car.

The cost of sales and general administration will broadly be the same I should imagine and lets not forget that a good amount of their powered two wheelers are sold into the low end of the market in Asia.

As a business it can be seen that for unit volume at Honda then the motorcycle business is a big part but financially, they would be better off making just cars.

playlord
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rocca wrote:
Reading back through this thread...

playlord wrote:
Perhaps the best thing any government could do, for humanity in general (in the western world, at least) is force every driver to spend one day a week travelling on two wheels. When your three cubic feet of bone and blood and meat (Loudon wainwright III), is out there, airbagless, seat-beltless, rollbarless with the cast of Mad Max coming at you from all points of the compass, I suspect some empathy for your fellow man will return - and not just in road-use.

Free drinks for life at the virtual Ashonbikes.com club bar for managing to sneak a LWIII reference into a thread about the economics of bike racing.  Though of course Loudon's own well of fellow-man empathy has a tendency mysteriously to run dry when the main chance crests the horizon. Who else but he would admit to seeing Bob's motorcycle accident as an opportunity to make Career Moves (Talking New Bob Dylan)?

Hope you're mended, or at least well on the way...

Ha, good old Loudon. Haven't seen him for years but used to be a big fan.

I'm on the mend, thank you, slow but sure. I hope all is well with you.
Joe

kwh
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shuggiemac wrote:
In 2010 Honda produced globally 9.6 million units in its motorcyle division, which includes ATV's and personal water craft. The sales figure was 1.14 Billion Yen.

In the same period they sold 3.4 million car units for a revenue of 6.554 Billion Yen.

It can be seen that the margins between the two are somewhat different.

I'll say!! Err... Those numbers don't make sense, actually... the sales figure works out as approximately 100 yen per unit for powersports machines (1,000,000,000 / 10,000,000). That's not gross unit revenue, and I'd be shocked if it was unit net profit. 100 Yen is 81 pence in sterling. By contrast, on those figures the cars division is claiming revenue of about 2,000 yen per unit. Or £16.37.

Could I ask where those numbers come from?

shuggiemac
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they came from page 12 of the 2010 Honda annual report. It's on line.

The revenue figure is net sales. I have not had time to read the report in depth and have just plucked the figures from the summary data.

I would give you a screen dump of it but for some reason there is no add photo button now for posting.

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Shuggie, I'm going to skelp your bum good and hard! Imagine you riding bikes ask these years and not telling me!

To be honest I'm quite relieved, I thought you might be spending all that money on drugs.

See you soon son.

Love
Mum

rocca
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Dear Mrs S'mac,

No need to worry about the drugs, he never touches them.

We have to keep them in a, er, 'safe place' for him at airports, but your boy always gives us a fiver each for our trouble. Nice, well brought up lad.

Love,
The Hashonbikes corner crew

shuggiemac
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Och no that's me - ahm busted !!

Bye boys, I won't be allowed out any more.

kwh
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shuggiemac wrote:
they came from page 12 of the 2010 Honda annual report. It's on line.

The revenue figure is net sales. I have not had time to read the report in depth and have just plucked the figures from the summary data.

I would give you a screen dump of it but for some reason there is no add photo button now for posting.

I've just found the 2012 Annual Report - http://world.honda.com/investors/library/annual_report/2012/honda2012ar-... - and it's not 1.5 billion yen, it's 1,500 billion (i.e. 1.5 trillion). 2010 seems to have been a crap year for profit - as a rule they seem to run a consistent profit of about 10%, but yes, that makes the average unit price of powersports product about £1,000, and the average profit £100 per unit. This seems awfully low, until you consider that they sell 10 million bikes a year in Asia (including a handful of Jet-skis I don't doubt, but not many) versus 200,000 in the whole of Europe, and I'm guessing that most of the bikes they flog as transport in Asia sell for a fair bit less than a thousand quid a pop. So if they can make money flogging millions of new Innova's in Asia at circa £700 a pop, why do they mysteriously treble in price, excluding VAT, when they come here?

By the way, cars generate much bigger numbers all round (apart from volume - 'only' 3.1 million units), but the RoI has been crap the last few years and they made a 200 _billion_ yen loss on them, this year, which given that the automotive division of Honda makes up 73% of Net Sales in financial terms (compared with bikes/jetskis/snowmobiles making up just 17%), is probably giving management ulcers.

Average global price for a Honda car, by the way? £15,500 approximately. So if Honda's average car sells for £15,000 globally (before taxes obviously), and its average bike sells for £1000 globally, why are bikes so close in price to comparable cars in the UK when they should be up to 15 times lower?

I hear what you say about bikes needing more labour intensive production, but actually it's not true. I don't know if you've visited a modern Kaizen car production line, and also taken the Triumph factory tour (before they stopped doing it), but it is scary how long a car production line is and how many operations there are on it, compared with a bike line, specifically on the chassis side. The Triumph engine line is similar in complexity to a car engine line, and has similar levels of technology with lots of computer controlled machinery, lathes and crankshaft grinding machines etc, but it is a more labour intensive process just simply because the volumes are lower; there's nothing in a 1050 engine that you couldn't have a robot bolt together, but you'd never get your money back on a robotic factory to make a thousand 1050 engines a year for three years until the engine gets redesigned. If you are Nissan in Sunderland, building all the world's Nissan Micras, then you can afford to have robots building thousands of Micra engines and spot welding the bodyshells together 24x7 because there will be big RoI. Honda don't really have that excuse - if they are flogging 10 million bikes in Asia every year, they can probably justify building them in a robot factory...

shuggiemac
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I am in car production plants monthly and have been for the past thirty years. Think of a European brand and there is a good chance I have been in one of their factories at some point. I have also been round Triumph, Ducati and Harley Davidson factories. I specialise in automated metrology equipment for the manufacturing industry and the largest percentage of that is in automotive and am especially now involved in body in white and cubing departments these past three years. I am thus more than aware of the complexities of automotive production lines and I also disagree when you say that I am wrong in my observations. I shall refine however my comment and say that proportionally the bike line is more labour intensive, if we are splitting hairs.
It is thus exactly the production numbers that significantly effect the cost of the bikes, as you have highlighted. I disagree with your comment about Honda not having an excuse as the large number of machines is spread ove a great different models and the automated assembly line process is expensive to install and there needs to be a critical point of volume to make it economical. The structure and compactness of a motorcycle also makes high automation levels, as per that used n cars, more or less impractical. If it was viable then you can rest assured that Honda would be doing it.

kwh
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I stand corrected on the viability of automated production. I have a sneaking suspicion that one day we'll be able to 3D print an entire motorcycle using about £50's worth of plastic powder, Star-Trek replicator style...

kwh
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Just a quick follow up: http://world.honda.com/news/2008/c080521Cub-Series/ - this had Honda knocking out 4.7 _million_ Cubs (that's C90's, C50s) in 2008 and similar volumes for a decade before that. That looks like about 50% of their entire unit sales were a single model, and if you can't justify a fully automated production line for a model that has sales like that, when can you? To be clear, my assumption was that they already _were_ building it or its Innova replacement using all the same robotic stuff they use to build their cars, If it turns out they aren't then it probably serves to confirm your point that it is harder than it looks. But the question persists - if they are making 5,000,000 Innovas a year they way they used to make 5 million Cubs, and flogging them for £800 a pop in Asia, why are they priced at 3 times that when they get to a showroom in Croydon?

Captain Scarlet
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Some valid points made earlier Shuggs.

"Pramac, Cardion AB, Althea, FIXIT, San Carlo"
... the brand profile of these sponsors may have risen to the point that, for instance, I have heard of each of these brands. However, I couldn't tell you what industry these brands sit in, lesser mind what products and services they offer than might be available to me. As Kevin said of Yamaha, whom we've all heard of before, they could not get a main sponsor whilst wearing World Champions no.1 clothing. And there's the rub.

I would also say that there are far bigger (e.g. Golf) or more glamorous (e.g. Yacht/Powerboat racing) sports that bike manufacturers could advertise in, if exposure was more important than product placement.

Both Adventure bikes and Street-bikes/Naked's outsell sports-bikes in Europe now. And Custom bikes do the same in the States. So why not put more sponsor effort into Adventure bike rallies and enduro type events?

Harley, almost unbelievably, have a rich racing history in terms of dirt track ovals, the winningest (to coin an annoying Americanism) so they say. But they don't sponsor the Indianapolis or Laguna Seca Moto-GP round, they set up shop at Daytona Beach, Sturgis, Laconia, Mertyl Beach and push genuine value marketing. E.g. Facilitation of touring demo ride trucks, so that the experience you have of those is a direct 1:1 relationship with what you can take out of the showroom.

BMW RT and GS riders don't ride to the BMF Rally because Yamaha won on Sunday, but if the FJR had been updated to 1500 cc with semi-active suspension, TFT screen, traction, abs and 12k service intervals, then if the Yamaha tour truck was in town they just might be more tempted to try a demo ride.

"proportionally the bike line is more labour intensive"
... I've been to multiple Triumph and Harley factories, Honda's huge Swindon car plant and studied various YouTube vehicle builds (in their condensed forms) and I'd certainly agree that bikes are more labour intensive for what is produced. they can be produced quicker than cars, but proportionally their small size, and inherent complexity make them trickier, even if the kit is clever enough to handle multiple different models on the same production line at once.

"why are they priced at 3 times that when they get to a showroom in Croydon?"
... why can I buy Triumph's cheaper now that I live in the States than when I lived 100 miles away from the factory in the UK? It's a convoluted and complex answer, but exchange rates, local taxes and market demand all have a big bearing. The Yamaha Tenere is the cheapest Adventure Touring bike here, despite it often being the most expensive in other markets. Paying 20% VAT doesn't help. Especially when you've lost half your wages in taxation already. I knew there was a reason I left Blighty! ;-D

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Dude over here is ripping off some of our ripostes to the main man, men:
http://hellforleathermagazine.com/2012/08/not-just-a-good-show/

He laments "the incredibly myopic view that the western motorcycle industry and media continue to have about what is actually going on in the world around us". Won't argue with that.

Shame he can't spell "Sheene", though.

Captain Scarlet
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He's not too keen on Kev's conclusions, but freedom of speech is important, so I doubt Kev will lose any sleep over it.

It's a fairly respectable article and differing views expressed such, only enhance the rich tapestry of thought. I suppose that's an eloquent way of saying 'tell it like it is'! Well, as we view things as individuals anyway.

But miss-spelling Sheene, is unequivocally unforgivable, would be my 'irrevocable conclusion' ;-D

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I'll ignore the whole "is public transport safe" bit, cause to me tha's a bit of an irrelevance - but I absolutely agree with the broad jist of this article.

The only company that I see truly making an effort is Vespa, and even there, they could do a whole lot more to more effectively market their product.

For me, guaranteed journey times is a big plus for two wheels. I also feel safer on my Vespa/big bike than on my racing bicycle when going down A or B roads.

It's also fun. Yes it can be a bit of a pain when it's pouring but in general, I really do enjoy being on the bike even when commuting.

Training is a big limitation. Getting a licence is expensive and frankly a bit of a faff. Make it cheaper, make the training more comprehensive, make it more accessable and you'll get people out of the car.

Also, and I'm being controversial here, don't shy away from the dangers. Governments may be risk-averse but people actually aren't, they prefer to make informed decisions and exercise their freedom of choice. The risks are there - manufacturers should be frank about them without playing it down or being sensationalist (governments should not allow the road safety lobby to influence this). Deaths happen. Cyclists still ride up the inside of buses despite there being a sign on the back of the bus telling them not to do it.

We need some positive messages that motorcycles do not automatically result in certain death.

shuggiemac
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rocca wrote:
Dude over here is ripping off some of our ripostes to the main man, men:

Think we should hit him up for royalties?

He actually does put a compelling argument over and indeed agrees with our arguments that the important parts in the motorcycling world are simply not here!

Hangtightmc
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I just came upon this site as I was looking for info on the Kawasaki W800.
This the kind of bike we need to drive the market in the States, however more on this later. I love racing always have always will. I used to race hare scrambles ( a 2 hr MX with trees nearby), however that was 80lbs. ago. I have been out of riding for just over 15 years and finally have picked up a bike (K1200LTC, 2003).

Let`s start with Captain Scarlet`s premise:
the manufactures are preaching/selling to the choir. Unconventional Rebel also has it spot on regarding the bike buying crowd`s relative age. The concept of win on Sunday and sell on Monday held water in a different era. Finally, oh sage wonder Rocca has put it well with “enthusiasts
share enthusiasm,” and no one else gives a flip.

First, in the forty plus years I have been into bikes I have only purchased one new ride. That bike was selected because it had the features I wanted and a good reputation. Yes, they raced however Sammy Miller won too many trials events to ignore Bultaco. Japan had yet to produce a credible enduro bike and anything else at the time was unaffordable. My next series of bikes were chosen because they were available and very reasonably priced. My last bike, a Yamaha XS1100 was chosen because it would take out a small car (should have never sold that bike). I had an accident previously when a Chevy Vega pulled out on me from a side street. My current ride was chosen in deference to my wife who has never been on a bike and wanted something comfortable for touring. Marketing works, however you can read that there are many other reasons/motives for choosing a particular bike. Perhaps Dorna would start a Goldwing grand prix.

There are ebbs and flows all throughout history and society. Motorcycle riding is one of those flows. Those who caught the bug pass the bug on, unfortunately not in a proportional numbers. I am a Ham radio operator and as Rocca says I am dumbfounded when neither of my sons or any of four grandchildren don`t even ask me what I am doing when talking to someone half way around the world. People have different interests today, video games, internet/ social media, etc. Perhaps I would have chosen one of these options presented with it (not!).

As a child and young man I witnessed Triumph, BSA, Norton and Harley as the bikes to ride. When the Japanese entered the market they changed the game by stating “you meet the nicest people on a Honda.” Their first bikes looked funny and downright cheapo. Year after year they changed the game and eventually dominated the market. Harley fell apart in the late sixties/early seventies and has made a resurgence like never before. They raced mile tracks and short tracks, however everyone wanted a “chopper.” I feel racing sells brand identity, however falls short of bike sales especially in our recent economic situation.

Ago raced an MV where in the hell was I supposed to buy one of them even if I could afford it. One of the greatest racers ever Mike Hailwood (also my personal racing hero) rode a six cylinder Honda and yet the only Honda I ever had was one that sits in my garage as a project bike.

Motorcycle riding took a real hit in the USA because of outlaw bikers and other unsavory types who espoused their don`t tread on me attitudes to the general public. They are not the nicest people nor do the ride Honda's. Today you can get a 600cc machine capable of well over 140mph (319 kph). These bikes are youth oriented and I often see riders whizzing by when I am already doing 80 in my car.Perhaps these individuals are sitting in front of their TV screens watching MotoGP? The café racer craze has hit the States and the Japanese and the British motorcycle industries are not capitalizing on this opportunity. It would be great to have a lower powered bike with style at a reasonable price.

The Japanese feel they know the American market and to a great extent they are correct, however paradigms shift, tastes change. Many other bike manufactures are guilty of not being able to change rapidly. I understand some models may not comply with laws, however with lobbying it seems if you could reduce overall pollution with more bikes on the road and it would offset small differences in pollutants. It is distressful to see so many models of motorcycles I can never own and would readily purchase. I am sure the same is true in the EU.

What needs to happen is the motorcycle industry needs to follow what Harley did to recapture their market despite the price of product. Follow Honda`s adage of you meet the nicest people. Spend some of their profits on encouraging and supporting groups and clubs. Make racing events more accessible and advertise on Speed channel, etc. so they get the message racing does matter and they in turn deliver more racing programs. Offer classes that encourage people to ride along with safety training. Get legislators to offer some incentive for owning a motorcycle. Form a consortium to buy back Dorna from its holding company. Encourage more stock racing and other events while promoting skill and safety. Finally, put CRT as a separate race class. The idea of keeping down costs for prototype bikes is disingenuous
at best.

shuggiemac
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I just took a look at how much a thirty second advert during the Superbowl costs and it is in the region of three million US dollars. So that is thirty seconds, broadcast only in the USA and pretty much ignored by god alone knows how many of the viewers as they take the ad break opportunity to go and grab another beer (or at least their approximation of beer :-) )

Anyway my point is that given that kind of figure being banded about and the companies obviously feel it is worth it, then maybe a couple of million sunk into a race team that is seen globally, over a period of seven months, has lots of follow up in all kinds of media etc, is not such a bad bet after all. This, I understand, does not address Kev's point about if money could be allocated differently however it sheds some on light on to an argument in favour of it, as far as the businesses pumping the money in are concerned.

Markyboyzx6r
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After last night's Indy MotoGP, not only is racing just money wasted, it's also my time wasted!

Mr Incredulous
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Markyboyzx6r wrote:
After last night's Indy MotoGP, not only is racing just money wasted, it's also my time wasted!

Blame the Spanish management I am afraid. Its not good, therefore its not entertaining and its all about Euros and $ and not about entertainment.

Some of you may have noticed that a vast amount of Spanish Government money (and the so called bankrupt Bank's money, Bankia in fact needed zillions to bail them out) is being used as sponsorship and "area promotion" and is involved within this organisation, what is going to happen when that is taken away, assuming all our "Bailout money" will be used to support citizens rather than racing? Hard fact but true.

REDBANKUK
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Not sure whether this should be in a new post ...

Below is a link to motorcycle sales statstics all over the world.

It seems that some countries and manufacturers are doing fine.

http://www.webbikeworld.com/motorcycle-news/statistics/motorcycle-sales-...

Hangtightmc
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Thanks for the comment Redbankuk. My point wa aimed at racing is great however it doesn't really translate to bike sales. 2004 & 5 we looked at well over 1 million units last year it is less than half. Pretty sad a.

Jerry

pittsy
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Hangtightmc said : "however it doesn't really translate to bike sales. 2004 & 5 we looked at well over 1 million units last year it is less than half"

What would the figure likely have been if there wasn't any bike racing on telly? Any bike racing full stop?

unconventional rebel
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I've just returned from a very pleasant few weeks on a Greek island, Santorini. It would seem that almost everyone there uses a scooter as general transport and few locals used cars.
I live in Wakefield, a pretty average town/small city, and use a bike weekly simply due to the fact it is so much easier than a car for local journeys because of traffic and parking, it's not just London.
We used a scooter in Greece because it was by far the cheapest easiest way to gat around, just like Wakefield.

On arrival the reps gave out the most dire warnings against hiring a scooter (or quad, the most popular hire choice for tourists), and was most displeased when we ignored them. It was as though we were signing our death warrent, a typical UK attitude as has been pointed out.

Despite the doom and gloom we survived happily enough and had a great time exploring the island. Riders protective clothing consisted of long trousers and a shirt, few bothered with even this. Helmets were worn by a minority of nervous/sensible tourists and no one else. Gloves and boots were completely absent. Kids stood on footboards while dad rode and mum sat on the back chattering into a mobile. Despite all the above we saw no accidents and no evidence of any, no scars or horrible head injuries. Just thousands of people happily buzzing around and enjoying life.

I think the only real thing that would stop the same being the case in Wakefield is the weather, that said for much of the year stick a jacket on and all would be fine.

Did I say the only thing.... It is now far harder to get a full bike licence than a car licence - yet the potential for damage is much higher in a car. The doom merchants do their level best here to stop people riding, and we listen to them. There is a perception that to ride a moped into town you have to dress like a (dayglo?) Rossi and that is very inconvenient when you get there.

In Santorini at least the overriding message was cheap, practical fun. Whizzing along at 30mph with the wind in your hair, stopping at the bakers, stand down, into the shop (no helmet to remove or hot leather jacket), shopping bag hung on a handy clip, glance behind and off you go. Happy days!

And here's a point, all the above in the UK may be due to a focus on bike racing? A very dangerous sport needing high levels of protective equipment and regulation. Speed is of the essence, practicalities are irrelevant and so is the cost. Is this the message the industy put out here? Bikes = racing, speed and high risk for no practical purpose?

Discuss....

silvercub
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Hangtightmc wrote:
oh sage wonder Rocca has put it well

Our sage under cover of rocca,
Will seldom let slip facts half-cocca,
With an eye to Japan
The other, Taiwan,
It really should come as no shocca.

Whilst some folk may sneer & mocca,
Disgorge all the hurt from their locca,
The words of the wise
Should never surprise,
Unless you're as thick as a blocca.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwDpujCz3R8&feature=related

kwh
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Stats would tend to indicate that riding a scooter without a lid is occasionally fatal. More so than riding a scooter with a lid. I guess that at 30mph the abrasion injuries one sustains falling off without leather or cordura on are very unlikely to be fatal, but they wouldn't half bugger up your holiday. I say dangerous, but it's all relative. Compared to going on patrol in Helmand, it's not even risky. But then going on patrol in Helmand is fairly safe compared with defusing the IEDs the soldiers on patrol find. Riding motorcycles isn't like that, it's not juggling chainsaws or 3 day eventing on horseback or free-fall parachuting, it's safer than any of those activities, but for most of us who do it, it's the most dangerous thing we do, even when we are being careful. Thailand is clearly a society much less risk averse than ours. Over here, whenever somebody dies of anything ever, other than old age, it's going to be somebody's fault, something must be banned or restricted to stop it happening again, or somebody must be punished, somebody must pay. In Thailand... one suspects that a certain number of scooter crash fatalities is just accepted as the cost of people being mobile...

kwh
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Duplicate post... edited...

rocca
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silvercub wrote:
A verse tribute to Billericay Dickie

Lines of such moving eloquence and solemn sagacity as it doth pierce the heart to scan. I am duty-bound to respond in kind.

Cautionary verse on the perils of Internet dating

Seeking parts for his Viffer to mend
Silvercub made the wrong sort of friend
- Wanted: single side swinger -
To the door came a minger:
"Swap a tranny if you've got a big end?"

- Hilaire Bellroc

silvercub
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"A seasoned-up hyena could not have been more obscener"