Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Missing Link - Affordable Well Built Motorcycles

One thing I love about the motorcycle magazine Hell For Leather is their lack of bias toward motorcycles. They like good motorcycles that can be ridden. They have been campaigning for a push by moto makers to attract new people to two-wheels by producing better, safer products.

Enter what they call "The Missing Link" The Honda CBR250R -- an all new, 250cc entry level motorcycle that has ABS and a decent price. Despite the small displacement, it is fully able to exceed all the speed limits and get you from point A to point B. Moreover, it looks fantastic, stops well (with optional linked front and back ABS!) and is comfortable to ride. What's the drawback? Our mentality toward bikes as a "lifestyle choice" here in the US of A.
Motorcycling in our countries has an image problem, one that puts up barriers in front of the venerable CBR250R and other machines like it. Despite our self-inflicted economic meltdown, big, bad-boy egotism still drives our industry. I will go so far as to say they are our industry. Everywhere else in the world, motorcycles are transport as much as they are recreation, and what’s more, they are OK with that. You don’t need to be on the extreme end of any spectrum: the fastest superbike in production; the baddest custom chopper; or some adventure soft-roader with GPS and aluminum hard cases to be cool. In Brazil, in Italy, in Japan and most every biker culture just being on a motorcycle, anymotorcycle, is cool.  Not so here.  Ride outside the box at your peril. .... This is the mountain, the towering height of fickle public opinion, that the Honda CBR250R has to scale if it is to succeed. Honda are no doubt aiming at not only sensible types (the ones we labelled “uncool”), but also people completely outside motorcycling’s bandwidth. There are a lot of consumers out there who like the appeal of motorcycling, but until now have been too intimidated by the image and products on offer to step in. They are the kindergarden kids, looking over the fence at the grade 1 playground, envious of their toys and increased freedom, but too afraid to cross over. Those people, professionals and students, young and old, with the right media message, will discover that they too can be cool and enjoy riding motorcycles, just like another generation of ordinary Americans once discovered.