Wakan 1640 Update

Wakan 1640 by Wakan Motorcycles

There's a road test of the Wakan 1640 by Peter Egan in the new Cycle World and a few interesting items emerged. First is that only 3 bikes currently exist though they are planning to build 15 more this year, primarily for testing and and showing to potential investors. But what I found most interesting, is that they want to build the Wakan in the U.S.! All of the jigs, molds and forms are complete and paid for and if they can find the right investor with a factory over here, we'll have another U.S. builder. I like that.

Of course, the company and design come from France but where better to build a V-twin like this than over here? I still think it's one of the best looking V-twin designs to come along in quite some time. When Domergue, the company owner and man behind the bike, was asked why someone should buy the Wakan instead of a Buell he had a great quote: "Buell, I think, covers up the Sportster engine and wishes they had something else. The Wakan is a celebration of the Sportster engine. It's the centerpiece of the motorcycle, the soul of the bike." With Buell supposedly looking at Rotax powered dirtbikes for their future, he may be spot on.

They guesstimate price at $32,000 to $35,000, a price tag that may send a few folks back over to Buell but if you can afford it, I think this would be the way to go.

Related: Wakan 1640 - New French V-twin

Comments

  1. davidabl says

    ..if Buell is considering the Rotax for dualsports, they’d probably be better off licensing or reverse-engineering the Suzuki SV1000 or TLR1000 twin engine,
    maybe adding a few cc’s & putting it in some of their streetbikes. I guess
    Buell tcan’t use the VRod engine because it’s too tall to fit anything he wants to build.

  2. Mayakovski says

    I like it.

    I want it.

    Please build it, and price it for real people. If it sells for under $18,000.00 I will buy one.

  3. todd says

    I don’t quite understand the whole high-price thing. If they are planning to mass produce it in a factory why would it cost anything more than say $10k? You figure the Sportster costs less than $7,000 and probably has more components and pieces on it than the Wakan. Understanding that Harley probably has a bit higher volume than Wakan, they can command higher discounts on the components they buy. BUT, even if I bought all the parts on a Wakan individually paying retail prices my bill would still be half of $32,000. Add a very generous 50 or even 100 hours to assemble the bike at a shop rate of $100/hr, I’m still well under the cost to have Wakan build the bike in a factory full of people earning $18.25 per hour.

    Either Wakan is not planning to find an efficient manufacturer to build the bike or they are gouging the public (GREED). Beautiful or not, this bike is not worth the money (buy two Ducati Sport Classics instead and add on a Sportster to get the H-D fix)

    -todd

    Oh, I see, the bike cost 3+ times more than a Buell because they don’t add extra parts to hide the engine.

  4. kneeslider says

    If you write off all of the design, development and startup costs already sunk over the past several years, you could certainly sell it for less. Give away the jigs, molds, forms and figure your time over those years was worth nothing, then all you have to think about are parts prices and hourly labor.

    On the other hand, if I had done that much work up front, I would think recovering those costs and making a profit wouldn’t be a bad idea.

    I don’t think they plan on really high volume (though I don’t know), the bike will probably always be a semi exclusive offering so recovering those costs over a smaller run means the price stays up a ways.

  5. says

    I think it’s a great looking bike, they use some innovative ideas. The only thing I think looks cheesie is the lower secondary muffler, the overall visual is nice but it looks as though they just tacked it on to the main pipe. Would be great if they can build in the US and bring a little more variety to the industry.
    Best of luck.

  6. says

    Todd –

    did your calculations take into account the 1640cc S&S engine or the HD Sportster engine?

    I agree the price of most customs or small batch should be within a stretch, not out of reach.

  7. aaron says

    c’mon, todd – I won’t rehash the kneeslider’s response, but price out an early buell… the first harley powered units he built cost both arms and legs… buell IS harley, giving them a huge pile of engineering and resources.

    a company like confederate is percieved as a successful niche manufacturer, but my estimate is they run one ad for every 2 bikes they sell… big expensive full page ones!

    somewhat related – I’m in the design stage of my little cafe, and expect to spend $1000-$2000 in raw material alone (ie metal sheet and tube, fistfuls of composite cloth and epoxy, welding supplies, etc – I have everything else I need short of lights and electrics)

  8. aaron says

    bah – I started to comment on the decision to build in the US… it’s sad that this sales gambit will likely pay off – could you imagine if honda had to build the rc51 in italy before V-twin loving sportbikers accepted it?

  9. Chris says

    If Pee Wee Herman had a motorcycle instead of a bicycle, I think he’d pick this cool retro-cafe racing looking machine that everyone wants. Thats the first thing that came to mind when I saw this beauty. Better put an alarm and chains on it so no one steals it.

  10. says

    What if Wakan sublet a portion of the new Indian manufacturing facility? This could help Indian reduce some of the overhead while production is somewhat low while giving Wakan resources. Plus, it could add more exposure for both brands.

    There are some parallels of the above to the micro brewery industry, such as Redhook. Although they are still majority owned by Redhook , they teamed up with Anheuser-Busch for better distribution channels & reduced cost to get to the beer drinker. Redhook is now available in 48 states.

    I’m not suggesting Wakan sells a portion of their company to Indian, but that they work together to reduce costs – the building costs & other overhead are somewhat fixed costs that are harder to crack when production is low.

  11. todd says

    Oh, my bad. You said “factory” and that they tooled up for production runs. No factory in their right mind would consider building only 20 or so bikes a year. What do you do with all of the workers for the remaining 11 months? You might be able to peak interest if that’s a weekly total.

    Hoyt is more on the right track. Wakan would probably have to share resources with an existing motorcycle manufacturer to find a skilled work force to build the bikes along side an existing production run. This is tricky for a manufacturer whos loyalty only falls to the product they’ve invested in, namely their own. What happens when demand for their own product increases? They bump the non essentials like Wakan. What happens if Wakan’s demand increases will the host factory want to increase capacity? Will they move out of the way and allow their lead times and commitments suffer?

    Wakan may be better off corralling a group of buddies to do the assembly of the bikes on the weekend.

    -todd

  12. hoyt says

    My earlier post didn’t include any thoughts about employees, but I assumed Wakan would have their own staff working on the bikes, using only the facility’s resources. (Wakan would pay a portion of the utilities, maintenance, and fixed costs).

    I would be willing to work 3rd shift if the price was right between the 2 companies…..plus, 3rd shift might include more riding time after work