Yesterday’s post on motorcycle kits and components drew some response and a long critique by one reader (Aaron), who pointed out some pitfalls. Most of the critique illustrated the difficulty of facing the manufacturers at their own game which is building the latest high tech bike. I would cede that territory without a fight because factory racing will keep the lastest tech firmly in the major manufacturer’s arena.
To illustrate a few ideas of what I think is feasible, I’ve put up the photo of the Thunder Star diesel. Right now, Star Twin is looking for investors to back production of their bike. I have a different idea. Many of the parts involved are straight from regular suppliers. Some parts are from other bikes. The engine is from a VW Lupo. Their unique contribution is the frame, bodywork and all of the special one off machined parts they designed with Solidworks plus some electronics to make it all work. Suppose they made a kit consisting of all of the unique and special machined parts along with a list of the other parts a builder would need and a complete assembly manual. Think that might sell? Priced to recover costs plus a decent profit I bet they could move quite a few. The longer they wait for a backer to fund the whole project, the more likely someone else will engineer another bike using some of their ideas and beat them to it. Selling a kit keeps the focus on what they do best, making special parts to build special bikes and they can move right now.
How about the B-King kit I posted yesterday from Lazareth? There’s a specialty builder making a kit to modify a Hayabusa. You supply the Hayabusa. Limited to 50 kits, he probably has to charge a lot to recover costs and make a nice profit, but it’s a great idea.
The kit car industry does this all the time. Factory Five Racing sells superb Cobra kits. Their kit plus a donor Mustang gets you a very nice looking high performance car. Lots of other companies do much the same thing.
Think donor motorcycle. There are tons of them out there. The rapid depreciation of high performance bikes plays into the kit maker’s plan. A five year old Hayabusa has lost a lot of value and there are many that have gone down more than once. Strip off the bodywork, add some nice pieces and Presto!, new bike.
How about the venerable V-Max? If you could come up with a new frame to fit a V-Max engine and maybe a conversion kit to get rid of the shaft drive, that might be a winner. Mad Max Enterprises sells chain conversions but why not build a new frame?
Think donor engines. How about Goldwing engines? Put that in some sport cruiser frame. Maybe something based on Ducati twins. There are enough similarities that a frame could be made to mount many Desmo variations, 13 Choppers is working with those. How about something to house the twin from a Kawasaki EX500? The four cylinder Japanese engines are too numerous to mention. Lots of those could form the basis for a kit.
There are companies selling new auto engine blocks and heads made from their own castings. They base it on a popular engine then they strengthen the weak spots, Dart comes to mind. Why not bike engines?
The possibilites are almost endless. It takes the desire and know how plus enough cash investment to get started. Challenges? Sure, what worthwhile goal is easy? Can it be done? I say yes.