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Uk Motorcycle Industry On The Way To Implosion


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As a keen biker I have been following the motorcycle industry closely in the last year. Bike dealers I know who are honest enough are reporting unprecedented contraction of sales and many dealers are now offering huge discounts on new bikes and second hand prices are falling off a cliff. It's not surprising really. While the rest of the motor industry is actually waking up, a decade too late, to the fact that gas guzzling super cars and souped-up engines in lesser models is not the answer when the average journey speed has never been lower due to traffic jams, roadworks and delays.

But instead of being sensible the Bike industry has closed its eyes to reality and rather than producing fuel efficient bikes which are comfortable, attractive and safe it rolls out ever more ludicrously impractical, insanely powerful, ugly machines which do nothing more than further alienate the vast numbers of car drivers who already hate bikers and biking. This should have been a golden opportunity to make useful machines which are not only safer and economical, but shore up an industry which had the chance to step in and provide a viable communiting alternative for those recognising that their cars are a waste of space.

No wonder then, that Chinese and Taiwanese manufacturers are cleaning up by producing small, effective commuter bikes and scooters which are half the price of Japanese and American machines and increasingly approaching a matched reliability. And while we stubbornly refuse to see the advantage of excellent scooters for traffic busting efficiency, the rest of Europe have seen sense (Italian scooter sales exceed UK sales by an enormous factor). The bike industry is the maker of its own approaching demise.

Add to the above equation a pincer movement by the police and "safety" organisations and before long the entire motorcycle industry is in real danger of being outlawed. This is a real shame because there is a significant body of responsible and safe riders who themselves loathe and detest what is happening and do not wish to be associated with the madness of ever more ridiculously impractical bikes which are fine for a track day but completely inappropriate for a commute up the Old Kent Road.

VP

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Have you been in a time warp?

The UK motorcycle industry was shut down in the 1970's.

Triumph are the only UK manufacturer and have been incredibly successful in re-building (started in the 1980's) the industry from scratch.

Triumph bikes sell very well. but they don't make eco-scooters.

I suggest you look at the Piagio MT3 range, they are launching a hybrid version of the three wheeled bike with 300MPG range, comfort, luggage space and good protection.

The UK motor dealer network are shops, not an 'industry' and will go to the wall, just as many types of shops will, in a depression.

Edited by Peter Hun
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My two cents:

1. The weather in UK is not so good, to say the least. Riding a bike all year round takes a bit of prep every morning.

2. Second to that, the only accepted mode of transporation in the UK is by car, really. It seems deeply entrenched. What, you BIKE to work? On a bicycle? You WALK to work? [email protected]#

3. I just wanted to write something.

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A couple of points.

Firstly, I'd be interested to know if bike sales have dropped off as sharply as car sales. Just because you consider the latest bikes ugly and impracticle, doesn't mean we all do. I have to wonder if you've actually ridden any of these machines which you so detest. Motorcycles are by deffinition emotive, and I've never heard of anyone buying one on 'safety' grounds. Honda are in the process of introducing ABS on some of their most powerful sports bikes.

I think you make the mistake of lumping all motorcycles in together, but how can you compare a Piaggio scooter to say a 1198?

The southern Europeans have always bought more scooters than us, this isnt a recent development, and this has as much to do with their climate and road laws as anything else.

I have a good friend who works for one of the largest importers of Chinese motorcycles in the country, and things are pretty tough for them too.

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Have you been in a time warp?

The UK motorcycle industry was shut down in the 1970's.

No I am not in a time warp and you will have surely realised that by the UK Motorcycle industry I mean the retail industry which actively promotes and sells, and therefore influences the production of, bikes from many places apart from the UK itself. And though the manufacture of motorcycles is indeed a tiny industry here, Japanese manufacturers base many of their new designs on consultations with European and particularly UK research departments which they have established over here.

I am very aware of Piaggio and other manufacturers and their relatively excellent progress in the field of efficiency and practicality. But that was partly my point. The woeful sales of practical two wheeled transport in the UK compared with the rest of Europe, and I include Northern Europe where weather factors do not support the weather argument proposed in another post, are undoubtedly due to an entrenched prejudice against machines that possess less than 80-100 bhp. Have a look at the sales figures for the Honda SH300 in the rest of Europe where it achieves tens of thousands in quite a few countries, as opposed to barely a couple of hundred here.

VP

Edited by VacantPossession
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I include Northern Europe where weather factors do not support the weather argument proposed in another post, are undoubtedly due to an entrenched prejudice against machines that possess less than 80-100 bhp. Have a look at the sales figures for the Honda SH300 in the rest of Europe where it achieves tens of thousands in quite a few countries, as opposed to barely a couple of hundred here.

VP

Fair point. I'm currently working near Tower Bridge and in the bay outside there are about 15 bikes of which 3 are BMW 1200cc drive shaft "Long Way Down" types. Unless the owners commute cross-country and through the middle of the Royal Parks, it would seem a little overkill for a ride into zone 1.

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A couple of points.

Firstly, I'd be interested to know if bike sales have dropped off as sharply as car sales. Just because you consider the latest bikes ugly and impracticle, doesn't mean we all do. I have to wonder if you've actually ridden any of these machines which you so detest. Motorcycles are by deffinition emotive, and I've never heard of anyone buying one on 'safety' grounds. Honda are in the process of introducing ABS on some of their most powerful sports bikes.

I think you make the mistake of lumping all motorcycles in together, but how can you compare a Piaggio scooter to say a 1198?

The southern Europeans have always bought more scooters than us, this isnt a recent development, and this has as much to do with their climate and road laws as anything else.

I have a good friend who works for one of the largest importers of Chinese motorcycles in the country, and things are pretty tough for them too.

I have owned many different bikes over the years, some of them inspiring and others merely practical. I agree that ugliness is in the eyes of the beholder. Last summer I owned a mid range scooter and a Suzuki V-strom. The two machines could not be more different in some respects, but they are both excellent for the job they were intended to address, one for commuting and the other for touring. Their combined cost to me was still under half the cost of one reasonable and inexpensive new car. I lump them together because they are two-wheeled, engined machines, and actually give a very similar visceral experience.

I didn't say I "detested" exotic bikes. My point is that poor sales are a reflection of the disproportionate marketing of expensive, very powerful and not too practical bikes at the expense of other machines which arguably would not have caused the markedly diminished sales overall.

I've never heard of anyone buying one on 'safety' grounds.

Not so. Aside from the inevitable idiots who go around country lanes at 90 mph many bikers are extremely interested in safety which is why they increasingly buy bikes with ABS and other safety features, and attend bike-safe courses. There is nothing wrong with powerful bikes per se. I am merely pointing out that the UK uniquely, as a biking nation, has a quite deeply entrenched prejudice against practical machines (actually many low powered, practical bikes have given me more pleasure than a couple of powerful bikes I once owned) and particularly scooters, and it is acknowedged by others more in the know than me that UK bikers are particularly averse to riding anything which they assume compromises their insecurity about their "maleness". Our European friends are altogether more mature, which is why sales of scooters and other low or mid range bikes exceed ours by an enormous factor. You cannot put this all down to the weather. The sun does actually shine here for half the year (with luck).

VP

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No I am not in a time warp and you will have surely realised that by the UK Motorcycle industry I mean the retail industry which actively promotes and sells, and therefore influences the production of, bikes from many places apart from the UK itself. And though the manufacture of motorcycles is indeed a tiny industry here, Japanese manufacturers base many of their new designs on consultations with European and particularly UK research departments which they have established over here.

I am very aware of Piaggio and other manufacturers and their relatively excellent progress in the field of efficiency and practicality. But that was partly my point. The woeful sales of practical two wheeled transport in the UK compared with the rest of Europe, and I include Northern Europe where weather factors do not support the weather argument proposed in another post, are undoubtedly due to an entrenched prejudice against machines that possess less than 80-100 bhp. Have a look at the sales figures for the Honda SH300 in the rest of Europe where it achieves tens of thousands in quite a few countries, as opposed to barely a couple of hundred here.

VP

I commute on a 900cc triple, British made. Works for me.

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The problem right now is that consumers are exhausted and are either unable / unwilling to (request the commercial banks to manufacture the required amount of new money) to fund the purchase of a new machine.

Those credit worthy/foolish enough to raise new money, compromise their material ambitions and choose to spend upon more economic machinery.

Perhaps the chancellor can force the banks to lend us sufficient funds at 0% to each own an orange county chopper.

The Bugatti Veyron was peak credit.

Edited by housestag
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Have a look at the sales figures for the Honda SH300 in the rest of Europe where it achieves tens of thousands in quite a few countries, as opposed to barely a couple of hundred here.

Is it just the usual "rip off Britain" ?

On the road price in the UK £3668 (for a scooter) http://www.hatfieldshonda.co.uk/bikedetails.php?id=540 .

How much would it cost abroad ?

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I commute on a 900cc triple, British made. Works for me.

Best bike I ever rode was a Honda CB1300S. Lovely retro looks, bags of character and supremely comfortable. But with its circa 240 kilos weight without fuel or oil and very poor economy I could not justfy owning it. The V-strom was excellent and achieved 55-60 mpg while giving much pleasure. Currently I have a Suzuki Bergman 400 which is almost as much fun but returns 80 mpg and can easily break the national speed limit if I was so inclined. My neighbour has an enormous Japanese Harley clone with a 1700cc engine and around 35 mpg. Makes a very unsociable noise and is a great lumbering thing. But he loves it.

VP

Edited by VacantPossession
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Is it just the usual "rip off Britain" ?

On the road price in the UK £3668 (for a scooter) http://www.hatfieldshonda.co.uk/bikedetails.php?id=540 .

How much would it cost abroad ?

That is a factor, but UK prices were increasingly beginning to compete with Euro prices recently, up to the point where our dear prime minister allowed the pound to fall through the floor.

VP

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I'm not really looking to spend that much, it's just for tooling around on at a wknd. Do you think could get something tidy and usable for under £1k?

If you're only using it for tooling around, that kind of money will get you a new chinese "scrambler", eg like this (no affiliation) http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/XT3-Supermoto-125cc-...A1%7C240%3A1318

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I have owned many different bikes over the years, some of them inspiring and others merely practical. I agree that ugliness is in the eyes of the beholder. Last summer I owned a mid range scooter and a Suzuki V-strom. The two machines could not be more different in some respects, but they are both excellent for the job they were intended to address, one for commuting and the other for touring. Their combined cost to me was still under half the cost of one reasonable and inexpensive new car. I lump them together because they are two-wheeled, engined machines, and actually give a very similar visceral experience.

I didn't say I "detested" exotic bikes. My point is that poor sales are a reflection of the disproportionate marketing of expensive, very powerful and not too practical bikes at the expense of other machines which arguably would not have caused the markedly diminished sales overall.

Not so. Aside from the inevitable idiots who go around country lanes at 90 mph many bikers are extremely interested in safety which is why they increasingly buy bikes with ABS and other safety features, and attend bike-safe courses. There is nothing wrong with powerful bikes per se. I am merely pointing out that the UK uniquely, as a biking nation, has a quite deeply entrenched prejudice against practical machines (actually many low powered, practical bikes have given me more pleasure than a couple of powerful bikes I once owned) and particularly scooters, and it is acknowedged by others more in the know than me that UK bikers are particularly averse to riding anything which they assume compromises their insecurity about their "maleness". Our European friends are altogether more mature, which is why sales of scooters and other low or mid range bikes exceed ours by an enormous factor. You cannot put this all down to the weather. The sun does actually shine here for half the year (with luck).

VP

Quite frankly most bikers will classify you as a Boring Old Fart who has absolutely no connection with the reasons for riding a motorbike,

Europeans are not more mature about motorbikes, The French,Spanish and Italians for instance LOVE fast sports bikes and ride scooters for practical reasons. I speak from experience of touring thought those countries and the attitude towards sports bike is far more positive than in the UK - not that I think the UK general population are particularly negative. The latin countries ride and die without helmets - is that 'mature' ?

I don't know what you point is, there are many many practical bikes, from scooters to commuters so why don't you buy one and shut the ****

up?

Fair point. I'm currently working near Tower Bridge and in the bay outside there are about 15 bikes of which 3 are BMW 1200cc drive shaft "Long Way Down" types. Unless the owners commute cross-country and through the middle of the Royal Parks, it would seem a little overkill for a ride into zone 1.

The BMW touring bikes are road bikes and pretty much unsuitable for off road use. Too heavy.

Edited by Peter Hun
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I hate motorbikes - they deliberately make an appalling racket, which is equally inappropriate in an urban environment as well as in a scenic rural environment. Apart from the antisocial noise, bikers also think they are excluded from any road regulations or conventions with regard to road safety. When I see a Think Bike sign, I think, why should I ? Bikers have no consideration of other road users. When I see a sign of number of fatalities, I'm secretly smiling.

What a truly odious individual you appear to be, based on this comment. Very sad indeed.

Son of Limahl

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Is it just the usual "rip off Britain" ?

On the road price in the UK £3668 (for a scooter) http://www.hatfieldshonda.co.uk/bikedetails.php?id=540 .

They do seem expensive, don't they? In the heyday of bikes and scooters - when the alternative was a banger - kids could get reasonable transport you could fix yourself.

Now you can get a perfectly good car for less than grand. A comfy scooter for going a bit further than round the block like the Yamaha Majesty is over 4.5k.

However, the VeloSolex is making a comeback

http://www.france24.com/en/20080810-report...ike-energy-fuel

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bikers are a bunch of resource wasters. riding around aimlessly, burning precious fuels in the blink of an eye that took millions of years to form - then stopping for a burger and standing around looking like a right t*t in their stupid gear and going home to scrape dead flies off. confirmation that the human race is packed to the rafters with thickos.

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bikers are a bunch of resource wasters. riding around aimlessly, burning precious fuels in the blink of an eye that took millions of years to form - then stopping for a burger and standing around looking like a right t*t in their stupid gear and going home to scrape dead flies off. confirmation that the human race is packed to the rafters with thickos.

There do seem to be some spite filled pieces of small minded scum on here today. Tell me what you do Sirius so I can hate it for no coherant reason.

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