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What’s Up with Suzuki?

It seems to me that Suzuki has lost their will to innovate.

Finally, Suzuki announces a new V-Strom (that’s not a V). This motorcycle has the potential be a great seller. However, dealers will only get a handful this year. The T7 also would be a great seller if we could get the numbers shipped to us, but we still don’t get enough to meet demands. The silver lining is no discounting on scarce units, but it sure would be great to have enough units to even get close to demand. I realize that the market for the two (T7 and V-Strom 650) units is slightly different, and I’m hoping that our clients will be made aware of that by the marketing and sales staff.

There are lots of Suzuki units that sell, but none of them sell in any great quantities. When I first started in this industry, the Suzuki street two-strokes were amazing, from the Hustlers to the Water Buffalo. We got enough to meet demand, and they all flew out the door. Then, came the four-stroke four cylinders, which were always great sellers. When the “E” series came out, there was a lot of excitement.

When the GSX-R series was announced, phones rang off the hook due to their incredible popularity. We couldn’t get enough, but the supply was adequate. The V-Strom 650 has always been a good seller, and I was never afraid of ordering 10 at a time. They were kind of like popcorn: always available, sold well, and new owners loaded them up with accessories. Two income streams! Were they the best in the class? No, they weren’t, but the demographic for these were those who just wanted an all-around, do everything kind of bike.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the 1,000cc V-Strom, and the 1,050 has never been a great seller whatsoever. The DR650 sells because of the price and also has a demographic who just wants to get out and explore.

When the new RMs or ATVs came out, there used to be a lot of excitement. They now seem to just sit, gathering dust. Where am I going with this? I like Suzukis. I personally bought many of them over the years and always enjoyed riding them. However, if I were 25 again, which brand would excite me? Unfortunately, not Suzuki. The GSX-R has been around forever, as has the Hayabusa, the DR series and many more.

It seems to me that Suzuki has lost its will to innovate. Where are the new Hustlers? Water Buffalos? A new “E” series that gets people talking? A new GSX-R 750 that weighs less like a 600 but can keep up with a 1,000?

Ultimately, a manufacturer has to provide units dealers can sell in numbers that work for the dealers. Research and development has to develop machines that get the public excited. I went to EICMA once, long ago, and there was a new GSX-R 750 being presented. On the days when the public were present, not only could you not get to the 750, but you couldn’t even see it. There were just too many people around it oohing and aahing. Those were the days!

I have confidence that Suzuki can do it, because it has in the past. Maybe some excited designers or engineers are out there who can help build something that’ll make us say, “Now, THAT’S a motorcycle!”

Others have turned things around. Who would have imagined a water-cooled Sportster with power and brakes that worked? Kawasaki has started to bring out some exciting bikes.

Sure, there seem to be “supply chain” issues, but I’m certain that can be sorted out if everyone puts their heads together. I’m also sure there are many things in the process I know nothing about. Someone from Suzuki is probably shaking their head saying, “What a knucklehead!”

What I do know is we need new products that sell. We need new products that we can order 10 of and we need to get them when we need them. New Suzukis in particular. I will be waiting!

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