Thursday, October 2, 2014

Are the tables turning among motorcycle makers?

Japanese motorcycle manufacturers have been making some of the best bikes for years. Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki achieved their status by being practical, efficient and reliable. American and European manufactures have done the opposite. Their product has sometimes been inefficient, expensive and sometimes unreliable.

Today the game appears to be changing. Yamaha recently received a Consumer Reports assessment for fewest problems reported by buyers. However, Kawasaki and Suzuki sales have crumbled. Suzuki, a once maker of automobiles, ended their auto business in North America.

European bike manufactures seem to have learned. While they haven't won on price, and they never will, they're more price focused than they have been. Reliability is better. Newer models are getting more practical. Even Harley Davidson is turning heads while they experiment with electric bikes. Consider today's offering from Ducati ( and one from Kawasaki (

The new Ducati reintroduction of its Scrambler model is $8,495. The new Kawasaki Ninja H2R is yet to be released, but the MSRP is predicted to be steep. The new Ducati is practical and fuel efficient. The new ninja's supercharged 998cc inline 4 is the most powerful ever production motorcycle. The Ducati is 75 hp while the new Kawasaki is 300 hp.

Kawasaki is delivering more power than what a MotoGP racer rides. Anybody familiar with motorcycle maintenance costs will know which one is going to punch the pocket book. Personally, I think the new Ninja H2R is a bike I would love to have. It's my pick of the two. However, if I was CEO, I would be taking a look at what Ducati, H-D and Triumph are currently doing and be very worried.