If you follow automotive trends, you know SUVs have peaked and we’re now heading at high speed for what are called crossover vehicles, which is a sort of return to the minivan but with a longer nose to make it look like what used to be called a station wagon, … sort of. The carmakers will pour them into the dealers with lots of very forgettable names or alphabets like RDX or MKX or alphanumerics like CX-7 or RX330. Names only a … no, come to think of it, not even their mothers would love those names. It’s a trend and if you wait long enough and hold on to whatever you have now, you’ll have the hot item in another 5 or 10 years. They brought back the Charger, now the Challenger and Camaro are coming back, too. It makes your head spin.
Come to think of it, Triumph keeps bringing back old names and Yamaha brought back the old paint scheme, Norton is coming back and let’s not forget the Vincent and Indian and, … well, we’ve covered all that before.
Do motorcycles take those turns? Choppers have been the hot item for several years but I really think they’re on the downslide. Mini choppers, the small size version of their big brothers, have definitely peaked and a lot of companies previously turning them out have gone under, partly due to falling demand and partly because cheap Chinese copies flooded the market and put the higher priced hand built versions in an impossible spot.
Race replica sportbikes continually become more race worthy and less road ready. Engines for every bike continue to grow in size, it’s almost like no one can figure out new directions so they just continue the old ones indefinitely.
When Honda first entered the U.S. market, they rapidly expanded the market itself, with both new motorcycle types and as a result the number of people who thought riding was approachable. Many have followed, but I don’t see an expansion anymore, more of a shift from one type of motorcycle to another if a new bike is sufficiently appealing to entice a change.
Hybrids and fuel cells are coming along but that’s a new powertrain not a new segment, or is it? Scooters are hot in some areas but I’m not sure they would do well everywhere. Maybe motorcycles just don’t have the clear market changing possibilities that cars have. Let’s see, cruisers, sportbikes, touring, standards and choppers plus dirtbikes and scooters. Maybe the supermotard is a new segment buster but they haven’t taken off yet. Maybe we’ll just continually refine what we already have. What would kick start the market?
What do you think?
One more thing, this is probably one of the biggest reasons why all of the companies are heading over to China to set up retail outlets. There’s a huge unserved market. Now if they can get established before the Chinese make all of their own motorcycles …