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.