The Kneeslider mailbag is definitely an interesting place to spend a little time, not only do lots of you see things I miss, some of you come up with great ideas. Comments on a number of posts have wondered why all of the new motorcycles are moving upscale. Big bikes, big dollars and sometimes way more motorcycle than you want or need. Suppose there was an expanding range of lower end bikes, starter bikes, basic transportation, starting at the bottom of the usual dealer’s lineup and extending downward. These smaller displacement motorcycles are sold in huge numbers around the world, why not here?
Tom S. wrote in yesterday and his email makes the case very well so I’ll just quote it here:
Who can question American Honda’s model line up when they’re making record profits? I’d love to see Honda start a second brand name here in the USA, though. They could call it something like Hawk Motorcycles by Honda. They’d be separate dealerships from current Honda Powersports dealers, in lower overhead location/buildings, and they’d sell a different, non-competing line up of machines that appeal to different demographics than the folks walking into existing Honda dealers. The network could be supported by American Honda’s infrastructure, but there’d be an understanding that this would be a lower margin venture than selling Goldwings and VTX1800s.
They could pick from the machines Honda already has in production around the world. The right product mix would be critical for success, and I’m not sure what the formula should be, but there are plenty of choices: the Solo 50, Benly 50, Activa 100, Wave 125i, Glamour 125, Nova Sonic 125R, SH150i, NXR150Bros, CBR150R, Eterno 150, CG150, Shadow 200, CBX250 Twister, VTR250, NX 4 Falcon, CB400 Super Four, CBF500, XL650 Transalp, and Deauville 680 come to mind.
US consumers would have an expanded choice of quality motorcycles, and Honda would sell more machines and have more market share. Win-win.
Honda went upscale in their car lineup with Acura, Toyota brought out the Lexus, both of which make sense because their auto dealers already cover the lower reaches of the car market but Honda, especially, has a huge, and I think untapped, low end motorcycle market just waiting for something to buy. Someone could buy one of these “Hawk” brand motorcycles, gain experience riding and if the desire was there and they saved a few dollars they could move up to the regular Honda brand. These “Hawk” brand bikes could be the Hero Honda type of bikes sold in India, small displacement, extremely economical and a nice starter for a 16 year old to buy with his or her own money. Anyone who has never ridden could ride these without the intimidation of 120 horsepower 600s.
Why hasn’t Honda done this already? When you sell loads of bikes, maybe you never ask the question. Perhaps they think it would cannibalize sales of higher end bikes but I think it would actually bring many who would not otherwise ride into a motorcycle dealer. This could work and if they tried it I bet we would soon see thousands of these riding around. What am I missing? Well, Honda, how about it?