[dropcap]P[/dropcap]ackard, Studebaker, Nash, Pontiac, Mercury, AMC, Greeves, AJS, Excelsior-Henderson, Puch, DKW. The list goes on and on. Brands that have come and gone. What about the brands that hang on forever even though they may be past their best use before date?
I was just looking at the list of some new Kawasakis for 2017. While I’m hoping that this list is not yet complete, I realized that their bikes have been underwhelming and under selling for several years. I know that they have some truly great bikes like the Ninja 1000 and the H2; but how many of them are sold? At my store we really seem to sell only two models; the 300 Ninja and the KLR650. Sure, we sell a few 1000s and a few of their MX bikes, but nowhere near the numbers we used to. Kawasaki needs to step up its game. I’m sure that it’s capable of creating some great machinery, but it seems to have lost the desire. How many years has the KLR650 been the same bike?
Kawasaki has made a few changes over the years, but by now it should at least have fuel injection!
Motorcycles are a small part of the total sales. They also manufacture ships, heavy equipment, wind turbines, and all kinds of non-motorcycle equipment – which is fine.
Most of the Japanese companies are very diversified. However, I get the impression that Kawasaki has lost focus as far as motorcycles are concerned. Maybe it’s time to either get out of the bike business completely, or sell it to another company. When Suzuki and Kawasaki started combining forces a few years back, I thought that would be the first step for one of them to bow out completely. Suzuki seems to have focused much more on the two wheel side than Kawasaki, so I thought it would be natural for Kawasaki to sell out at some point and let Suzuki take over.
Alas, it was not to be. All we ended up with were milquetoast bikes that seemed to be designed by committee. There was no passion in the bikes, and nobody really cared, especially the dealers. All they ended up with were odd units that no one wanted sitting on their floors. Suzuki and Kawasaki finally gave up on this idea. Imagine if, like
Scion was recently folded into Toyota, they just folded the entire endeavor into Suzuki Motors. I think it would have been better for all concerned.
I’m sure that there are dealers who sell Kawasaki bikes and do very well, but when multiline dealers have several brands on the floor, Kawasaki’s bikes do not sell well in comparison. Each one we sell is a struggle, and the profit margins are not there. The days of “Good Times Rolling” are long gone. How many of you remember the two-stroke triples, and the 900? How long has it been since you have gone, “Wow! I can hardly wait to see that Kawasaki!?” Sure, there is the new H2, but how many did you sell last month or the month before? We need a bike that not only sells well, but is also wow-worthy.
I can only see three ways out of this conundrum; Kawasaki sells out to someone else, just stops making bikes altogether, or maybe gets back to creating some passion in the brand.
It’s entirely possible that I’m alone in this feeling, but I don’t think so. I guess we’ll see.
On another matter; several months ago I wrote about how I believed that the way Honda has reversed the positioning of the horn and the signal buttons was, at best, ill conceived, and at worst, very dangerous. I was involved in a Honda Demo Day recently, and it seemed that whenever there was a turn to be indicated, I heard many horn buttons being accidentally pushed. This by riders who are used to the system we’ve had for 40 years where the horn button is on the bottom, just under the signal switch.
Imagine going for your horn button in an emergency, and succeeding in only indicating a turn instead. I still believe that this is something Honda should address. And just to make it clear, I apply the same criticism to Yamaha’s otherwise brilliant FZ09.
It’s time to redesign these switches. I hope nobody has been hurt because of this, but it seems to me that no one really cares either.
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