Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Need For Speed


To all of those who are familiar with the general tone of this blog, you have been warned: WHAT FOLLOWS IS AN ANTI-AMERICAN SCREED!

Why can't America make a low-cost, high performance motorcycle?

Here I am, cash in hand, ready to buy American and my only choices are Victory (horrendously expensive) and Harley-Davidson (just plain horrendous).

In fairness to Victory, they make a magnificent bike; powerful, gorgeous, and with fit and finish that makes them look like rolling jewelry. But that pricetag!!!???

Then there's Harley. Overweight, underpowered and overpriced. The overweight and underpowered part may be a marketing strategy. Matching bike to rider. And the overpriced part was understandable when there was a six-month waiting list to pay thousands over MSRP for the privilege of owning one of these Hogs.

They're more like Sows.

Last year an acquaintance of mine who bought one of these pigs two years ago put it up for sale because, he said, he doesn't ride it enough to justify the expense.

"How much?" I asked.

"Well... I paid 27, but I'll take 25."


Today the bike is still in his garage and H-D Finance invoices still come to his mailbox every month. It's enough to make a grown man cry.

My 1984 Honda V30 Magna is faster and handles more nimbly than a just-out-of-the- showroom 2007 Sportster. One would think that a bike called a "Sportster" would have some element of "Sport" in it's DNA, but no. So what's a patriotic American rider who's in the market for a new bike supposed to do?

I'm buying a 2007 Honda VTX 1300.

Can American workers make a bike as fast, nimble and beautiful as the VTX? You bet they can, and do. The VTX is made in Marysville, Ohio by American workers who are the most productive in the world. A fact that Honda realized decades ago when they started building Accords here, and quickly expanded with Civics, Gold Wings, as well as engine building for all Honda models.

In fact, if a Japanese rider buys a Gold Wing in Tokyo, it has to be shipped from Marysville, Ohio. If a German motorist buys a BMW Z4 in Munich, it has to be shipped from Spartanburg, South Carolina.

So if you're wondering why Americans can't built a car or a motorcycle that can compete with the Germans or the Japanese, don't. But if you're wondering why an American company, like Harley, can't build a technologically competitive motorcycle, don't look to the assembly plant. Look into the executive suites.

It's sunny and dry out there. I'm taking my 23 year old bike for a spin.


Anonymous said...

Sad but true. I've ridden every day for twenty years and always had a Honda or a Suzuki because they were the ones that "wanted my business."

Anonymous said...

Joe: I bought an older bike: a turbocharged (yes!) 1993 Kawasaki ZX-11. I think it is trying to kill me.

I'm with you on the Harleys. Big on Throat but small on Throttle. Goth Sloth.


R. Reynolds said...

Excuse me gentlemen, but with all due respect, I have a titanium Lightspeed. It has no engine and makes no noise (except for my grunting). It doesn't say "Look a me -- my Johnson is so small I must sit upon a screaming, smog- belching gas hog," to get over it. It is gunmetal gray and totally green. May I suggest you get over your insecurities and work on your own pins.

Joseph Martini said...

And I'm sure you wear one of those idiotic sissy helmets to go along with those cute little skintight pant-ies.

And let's not get into the amount of gas you guzzle when you trundle about in your SUV on those regular Sunday afternoon "antique-ing" jaunts.


R. Reynolds said...

Tell me one thing. Why is it that you can ride through towns making enough noise to shatter windows and wake the dead -- whereas, if your car was without muffler and did the same, you'd be cited for disturbing the peace? They don't let F-16's fly down mainstreet USA at an altitude of 3 feet. What entitles chopper chaps?

Joseph Martini said...

Dear r.,

Nobody's trying to ruin your fun. Go on. Sip Chablis, chew on brie, drive your SUV, and pay $38.00 a gallon for Starbuck's coffee.

Riding is fun, noise and all. Especially since it irritates you.

Only 25 days till the Daytona 500.

R. Reynolds said...

Pardon moi, brie basher. Bikes are made to be obnoxiously loud. Bike mufflers amplify sound, making the operative word, "muffler," a misnomer. Why should your minuscule motors make more noise than my gargantuan Land Rover engine? Why don't you just put baseball cards in the spokes for some more noise? You need to be jailed.

Anonymous said...

Wow, he has a Land Rover and he's complaining about our eco-machines?


Joseph Martini said...

Now, now... watch that blood pressure.

As with all subjects on which you comment, you're grossly misinformed.

My V30 purrs. One can hardly hear her standing ten feet away.

My next one, a VTX 1300, though...

And my first ride will be through Chappaqua.

Paaaahhhss the brie, Muhhhffffy.

Only a few more months 'til Jet Ski season!!!!

R. Reynolds said...

May Horace Greeley point your sorry ass west.

Seth Miller said...

Aaaahhhh. A kindred spirit. I too have a deep antipathy toward Harley's. It has little to do with their performance (which I acknowledge is terrible) and much to do with their ridership. Those of you males who need to make as much noise as possible to impress other males, may want to check which team your batting for. Next time I'm passing you on my 2006 1100 Shadow, I'll wave. Then again, I probably won't.