What Did We Do To Tick'em Off

Motorcycle.com Staff
by Motorcycle.com Staff

I'm just getting back into the motorcycling thing. This seems to be a common symptom of the so-called "Middle Age Crazy" phase that we males hit when we have moved into that 50ish area. Since I haven't found any 24 to 30 year olds lusting after my moderately portly, yet mature and experienced form, I thought I would go lusting after a few bikes.

Ahh, how often have we all lusted after a bike only to find out that it's not available in the good ol' U.S. of A.? So fellow, MOrons, what non-U.S. market motorcycles out there would you most like to see carving on our shores? - MO

As usual, I'm a few months short and way too many dollars light when it comes to finding a bike I really like. However, not being in a hurry, ( the middle age way of saying I can't afford to buy a bike that costs more than my discontinued '97 Olds Aurora or, at least, justify it yet), I decided to shop the net. Outside of a couple of Triumphs, which still have the same rugged sex appeal they had in my younger days, (i.e. we both look old, except I got fatter and heavier,they didn't) nothing has really tripped my trigger the way my old bike did.

Taking a clue from my early youth when, if it came from Europe it had to be hot and sexy, I decide to check out the European websites of some of the Japanese manufacturers. Which, finally, brings me to the point. "Bike Builders of Japan, why do you hate us so???!!!

Have we been bad boys and girls who don't deserve the nice stuff? Are we just a bunch of unsophisticates who can't appreciate the purity of a naked bike or the sensuous curves of a true Gran Touring machine? Are you still upset about WWII and finally getting even with us?

You have worked hard to improve the level of workmanship and materials of your products. Americans actually consider 'Made in Japan' to be synomous with quality and variety. Economically, you have virtually conquered us. You got us hooked on your sharp machines and now you won't give us all of our fix! Why? What have we done to be so undeserving of your attention?

I hold a degree in business with a minor in international economics and trade. You can throw all the sales & import ratios, market share demographics, future market expectations, manufacturing cost data, on ad infinitum and ad nauseum, my way and I will understand it. However, like my ex said to me: "Don't give me your logic when I'm telling you how I feel! Feelings have nothing to do with logic!" And that is almost the case here. Only here, the feelings and logic are nearly the same. My ex never seemed to understand that, but I digress.

On Honda's European site I found the Varadero VL1000V1, the Transalp XL600V, and the discontinued CBR1100XX Blackbird and VFR800/VFR800ABS (I want one so I'll shop for used ), the Deauville (I want one of these,too), a smorgassboard of naked bikes ("traditionals" they call them though they don't look traditional to me), a CBR1000RR and a couple others.

Kawasaki has a bevy of beauties, including two additional versions (naked, and sport touring) of the ZRX1200R that we have, a hot little Z750 (should be avaiable in Canada), a super sharp 500cc called the ER-5 (bears a bit of a resemblence to my old '78 CX500), and the very retro W650 whose appearance harkens back to the 60's.

Suzuki seems to offer all of what they have here, plus the discontinued Bandit 600/600S, a GSX1400 (looks sharp), and a naked GS 500.

How come all this neat stuff goes to Europe and not to us? Please don't through the speed limits / European roads are better argument at me. Don't try to tell me that the cost of modifying bikes for the US emissions would be too high either. European emission standards actually exceed those for the US and California. What about labeling? You're already labeling bikes in English for the Brits and we speak the same, well almost the same, language. You don't have to switch from right-hand to left hand drive. Basically, we're talking about switching speedometers. If the US ever actually goes metric, that won't be a problem either.

After all, it was we Americans who bought your Kawasaki 90's and that sweet little Honda 50 which got your market share in the US started. You once told us that "You meet the nicest people on a Honda" and "Kawasaki lets the good times roll". Remember that?

Well, how about being 'nice' and start 'letting the good times roll' again by sending us some of these European thoroughbreds. Maybe, at the very least, you could a maka a couple of these available again. At least provide us the opportunity to special order a few.

Recent econimic reports from the Japanese motorcycle industry indicate that they have dropped from 80% to a 50 % market share in Europe, whereas they have dropped only 10% in the US, mostly due to Harley-Davidson gaining ground. I can understand that a you, as a manufacturer, would want to concentrate your efforts in the area where you have the greatest loss, in order to recapture your market share.

However, it also makes sense to offer a few more choices so your market share here doesn't drop any further. Take a clue from H-D. They finally put rubber motor mounts on the Sportster, giving us a truly enjoyable naked bike that doesn't shake your brains like a bowl of jellow in an earthquake. In other words, listen!

Granted, some of these were once available her and may be found used, whereas others were never offered. If sales were once slow on these models, don't give up. Sometimes we take awhile to catch on.

When I compared the European offerings to the American offerings, it was like looking in a toy store 3 months before Christmas and again 2 hours before midnight on Christmas Eve. Maybe it's time to consider Christmas in Europe, even if it is going to cost a small fortune to bring the presents back home.

On the other hand, I know there's a good ol' KZ1000 out there somewhere, a little on the mature and prtly side, but experienced in the ways of the open road and still yearing to 'let the good times roll.
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