We’ve all seen the series of AT&T TV ads themed “More is better.” Seriously, how can you miss ’em – they seem appear on network TV about every 30 seconds. In the off chance you’ve been in captivity lately, you can see what we’re talking about BY CLICKING HERE. Cute kids. No?
Anyway, the reason to bring this up is a question that’s recently been rolling around in our heads. That is, do the product planners at the various motorcycle manufacturers subscribe to that “more is better” concept? Or, do they believe Leonardo DaVinci who “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Clearly there are a variety of approaches out there. Case in point – Kawasaki. Just last year they introduced an “improved” version of their ZX14-R hyperbike. More power. More torque. More displacement. More performance. Better?
Even the lowly Ninja 250 was made “better” with 50cc more displacement as it morphed into the Ninja 300. That approach is not, however, universal. Take Honda for example.
Their 2014 new product lineup includes a complete series of CB 500cc bikes – a displacement class that has in recent years been nearly neglected in favor of 600s, 800s, and other “middleweights.” Smaller. Less expensive. Simpler. Better?
So, which approach is better? You can almost imagine two wildly different boardroom debates. “The economy is coming back and we need to continue offering the American buyers the faster, more powerful, larger bikes that they have always loved so much. Now that the marketplace is coming around we need to be there with ‘bigger is better’ stuff.” Or maybe this – “The marketplace has been fundamentally changed over the past few years. There is less disposable income and the baby boomers are aging out of the riding population. We need an entirely new series of bikes to sustain the new customer base into the future. Simpler. Cheaper. Easier and more economical to operate. Smaller and less intimidating.”
To be fair, no manufacturer is putting all of their eggs in either one of these baskets but you can see clear examples of each thought process in the stream of new product introductions. Like Yamaha’s chosen path in introducing their new 950cc cruiser, the 2014 Bolt.
It’s another example of simpler, smaller, and more affordable in the cruiser world. BMW has entered the maxi-scooter market with their C650GT and -S twins
and even Suzuki has jumped on the econo bike bandwagon with it’s recently introduced GW250. On the other side of the ledger we find Triumph coming off a record year in the US market by introducing the 2013 Trophy SE, a full-boat 1213cc sport tourer equipped with all the toys and a price tag making a frontal assault on the $20,000 benchmark. Is that better?
Examples of each philosophical approach roll into motorcycle showrooms daily. Have you got an opinion on which approach is likely to prevail over the next several years? We’d love to hear what you think about where the marketplace is heading.