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Tuesday 27 October 2015


Polaris reports record third quarter 2015 results with overall sales +12 percent, motorcycle sales +154 percent

Polaris Industries has reported record third quarter sales for the third quarter 2015, totaling $1,456.0 million, an increase of +12 percent over last year’s third quarter sales of $1,302.3 million. Net income was $155.2 million, an increase of +10 percent from the prior year’s third quarter net income of $140.8 million. 

“Our record third quarter results continue to reflect the efficacy of our long-term strategy and the resiliency of the Polaris organization, as motorcycle growth accelerated, ORV share gains continued and our developing adjacencies built momentum," stated Scott Wine, Polaris’ Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.
"We accomplished this in a difficult environment, with the combination of weakening currencies and softening economies adding to the pressure we face from the sluggish oil and agriculture markets, all in the midst of the most competitive powersports landscape we have seen in nearly a decade."
Wine continued: “Successful innovation requires agility, in order to react quickly to ever-changing market conditions. This applies not only to product design but also to our internal organization, which we demonstrated in the third quarter by realigning our international business structure to become more efficient and effective in response to challenging markets outside North America.
"Throughout the third quarter we made consistent enhancements to our Spirit Lake paint system, which helped us stabilize our operations and, by improving production output each week of September, outpace shipment goals for the first time this year. "We have a clear plan to further optimize and upgrade that system over the next six months, and with the recently acquired paint facility in Spearfish, South Dakota, we will further augment paint capacity in the latter part of the fourth quarter.
“Polaris has delivered solid financial performance in the first nine months of 2015, and despite facing stiff headwinds that show little sign of abating in the near term, our financial position remains robust and our growth opportunities plentiful.”
Motorcycle sales increased +154 percent to $160.4 million for the third quarter of 2015 compared to the same period last year due to continued strong demand for Indian motorcycles and the new Slingshot roadster. 

Victory, Indian Motorcycle and Slingshot North American retail sales, combined, increased over +60 percent during the third quarter of 2015 driven by Indian Motorcycle and Slingshot, while North American industry midsize and heavyweight motorcycle retail sales were up low single digits compared to the third quarter of 2014.
Indian Motorcycles’ retail sales were up significantly in the third quarter with ongoing strong demand for all models. Product availability for Indian motorcycles improved during the 2015 third quarter as the Company continued to increase throughput at its Spirit Lake, Iowa, motorcycle factory.
Victory retail sales in the third quarter of 2015 were lower than the prior year partly due to low product availability. Retail sales for the new Slingshot three-wheeled roadster continued to outpace Company expectations during the third quarter. International motorcycle sales were up +115 percent.
Polaris North American motorcycle dealer inventories, including Slingshot, during the 2015 third quarter increased about +30 percent compared to the same period in the prior year, but remain below levels needed to meet current and backlogged retail demand.
Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) sales increased +3 percent to $822.9 million in the third quarter of 2015 compared to the third quarter of 2014. The Company estimates North American industry ORV retail sales in the third quarter of 2015 increased low-single digits percent year-over-year, resulting in Polaris market share gains for both ATVs and side-by-side vehicles.
Snowmobile sales increased +14 percent to $185.5 million for the third quarter of 2015 compared to $162.7 million for the third quarter of 2014. While the snowmobile retail selling season is just beginning, Polaris’ market share performance season-to-date through the 2015 third quarter is pacing with the Company’s expectations.
Global Adjacent Markets sales increased +10 percent to $60.8 million in the third quarter of 2015 compared to the same period last year. Work and Transportation group sales were up +1 percent during the third quarter of 2015. Sales for the Company’s defense business were up more than +50 percent during the 2015 third quarter. Parts, Garments and Accessories (PG&A) sales increased +3 percent to $226.3 million during the third quarter of 2015 as compared to the same period last year.
International sales to customers outside of North America totaled $153.6 million for the third quarter of 2015, +1 percent from the same period in 2014, though held back by weak currencies (up +18 percent on a constant currency basis). EMEA reported sales declined -4 percent in the 2015 third quarter and Asia Pacific reported sales were down -1 percent, while Latin American reported sales were up +50 percent. 

Polaris buys former Lehman facility
Polaris Industries has purchased Lehman Trikes' former home at Spearfish, South Dakota, as an additional paint facility to supplement its Spirit Lake, Iowa, Indian and Victory paint capacity.
Lehman left the premises when parent Champion Trikes moved production to California. Polaris plans to employ some 80 people in the 51,000 square-foot facility. A familiar sight for Sturgis Rally goers, alongside the I90, the site will no doubt also provide Polaris with a valuable base for its Rally activities.

Comment by Editor-in-Chief, Robin Bradley

Do five key objectives and four investment "Focus areas" mean three steps from oblivion?

I've been scrutinizing and writing-up Harley's quarterly fiscal releases for nearly 25 years now, and Keith Wandell's dramatic post Lehman apocalypse measures aside, I cannot ever recall reading anything as close to blind panic in my life.

Harley's five key objectives wish-list sounds like the ubiquitous Miss World hopeful declaring that she'll work hard to bring about world peace and irrigate the Sahara, and their "four primary areas" for emergency investment sound like someone is recycling a chapter called "The Blindingly Obvious" from MBA 101 for dummies.

Actually, that's harsh. On closer reading, are they not also from a Miss World speech? Or is that a recycling of a boy scout’s "I promise to be good and do good" mantra?

Either way, apart from one passing reference to now being the time to "dial things up" with "significant additional investments (in marketing and) product development," there is no acknowledgement that Harley's day job is supposed to be shaping metal, and if they haven't already been going as full-bore as they can on investments in product development, then sitting on their hands aside, just exactly what have they been doing?

Their MY 2015 "initiatives" are lame. The groundwork for them will have been done at least 18 months ago, so unless Harley's skunk-works is about to spew forth a stream of mid-cycle new products, and this time ones that riders actually either can or will want to buy, then the time-lag their share holders are looking at before their earnings per share start heading in the right direction again is way outside the notoriously short-term tolerances of 21st century investors.

Polaris is agile and adept
Buried in the implications of the plans is the fact that much of the additional budget for these increases in investment are going to be funded by cutting back the payroll, and I guess that having already loaded the balance sheet with debt for the continuing share repurchase programs, they have no choice.

The smoke and mirrors of reducing production in-line with the level of demand they are currently generating will, in the short-term, allow them to bring down head-count. But isn't the "objective" (actually, objective # 3) to grow sales?

Making more from and with less is indeed a worthy and commendable triumph of business excellence. But what Harley is doing feels much more like a response to the pressure on margins than a convincing plan to shape more metal and sell more motorcycles.

The plan to "increase product" is also going to require more metal-shapers, not fewer; but first and foremost it is going to require more product. Harley-Davidson - where's the beef?

Platitudes such as "increasing brand awareness," "growing ridership in the US," “increasing and enhancing brand access" and "accelerating the cadence and impact of new products" (?) may sound convincing to social marketeers whose acquaintance with the real world of selling is fleeting at best, but rather than being focussed on "cadencing the impact" of new products, Harley should be focussed first of all on designing and making some. Then they can worry about how quickly they can sell them; THAT is the message that they need to be sending to their dealers and investors - that they are focussed on their day-job, not on their résumés.

In order to make new sales you have to first have something new to sell.

Levatich appears to be caught in the headlights. By all accounts he is an excellent candidate to be leading Harley to its post-Wandell destiny, and when it comes to résumés, his is almost a perfect fit for the task.

But it is as if he's inherited an inertia which is now going to take tremendous effort to overcome. It feels akin to watching someone trying to kick-start an aircraft carrier so it can do a three-point turn in a swimming pool!

Surely Project Rushmore was supposed to be the start of a program of a brave new future, not the total sum contents of the weapons locker?

Regardless of whether Buell and/or MV Agusta were the right solutions (bearing in mind Harley had previously tried to buy KTM, Ducati and others), Harley has left itself vulnerable and exposed by not already having diversified.

Harley's toe in the water of the muscle-bike/streetfighter market has disappointed - the V-Rod looks like a product headed for the end of its life cycle rather than a platform on which new sales can be built; and as thirty, forty and fifty somethings either head off-piste or downtown into the concrete jungle of riding urban warfare, where is the Harley-badged adventure tour platform to take them there?

Even with Project LiveWire, Harley is being naive - there is no new battery chemistry magic wand headed down the pike; e-power is what it is - make the best you can of what is available now and get the bike into production and into showrooms with "cadence" rather than ambivalence.

Last year saw some 25,000 e-bikes sold in Europe alone. That is a market that will wait for no brand…and Polaris know that.

With the Dynas also looking increasingly like Harley regard them as their red-headed step child, and dealers finding Softails and Sportsters ever increasingly hard to shift, the impasse betrayed by the playbook response to their present travails will not go unnoticed by portfolio investors and dealers who are spoilt for choice.

The "heightened competitive environment" will not only continue for the foreseeable future, it is the new reality of the landscape in which Harley has to trade, and it has singularly failed in its response so far.

EU motorcycle registrations

EU motorcycle registrations +10 percent for first eight months of 2015

According to the latest Europe-wide data released by ACEM (Association des Constructeurs Européens de Motocycles), the Brussels based international motorcycle industry trade association for Europe, new motorcycle registrations grew by +10.2% during the first eight months of 2015 on a year-on year basis. A total of 676,842 motorcycles were registered in EU markets between January and August 2015, against 613,945 during the same period of 2014.

Year-on-year motorcycle registrations increased in all of Europe's key "Big Five" markets, namely Spain (91,683 units, +22.%), the UK (74,527 units, +15.9%), Italy (133,588 units, +9.1%), Germany (127,196 units, +7.3%) and France (114,396 units, +0.9%), accounting for 88 percent of all EU new motorcycle registrations for the first eight months of 2015.
ACEM’s 2014 annual data shows total EU motorcycle registrations at 798,328 units (up by some 60,000 units over 2013) and at 842,203 units for EU and EFTA markets combined (also some 60,000 units up on 2013).

SEMA Show 2015

SEMA Show 2015

The organizers of this year's SEMA Show at Las Vegas (Specialty Equipment Market Association, November 3 - 6) say they are confident about seeing continued growth in attendance from PowerSports industry professionals this year, and that the PowerSports/UTV section is tracking to be 22 percent larger in exhibit square foot terms than 2014.

Their research says that 33% of the trade buyers who attended the 2014 SEMA Show (20,000+ individuals) visited the PowerSports and Utility Vehicles section and that their analysis of visitor demographics and cross-over interests has led them to place the PowerSports/UTV sections of the show adjacent to the Truck/Off-Road section.


MC Baggers

ABS bearing

The advent of larger diameter front wheels has raised some interesting questions about ABS and braking distances. Basically, the larger the diameter of the wheel, the longer the braking distance.

Unless using a programmable electronic ABS unit, linked to sensors on the front wheel, the ABS won't receive the signals it needs to calibrate itself effectively - simply put it won't know that a bigger wheel has been installed.
Because a bigger front wheel revolves more slowly than a stock dimension wheel, the wheel the rotation distance is longer, and the ABS will not understand and apply adequate front braking pressure and frequency when stopping.
MC Baggers say they have solved that problem with a newly-designed ABS bearing for 2013 and earlier Harley-Davidson touring models that will maintain full function of the braking system. Indeed the company says that for 2014 and later Harley-Davidson touring models "the use of our bearing is absolutely essential" according to Hyun Lee Director of the South Korean headquartered manufacturer which has a US facility at Rancho Dominguez, California.

"This is because 2014 and-up models are equipped with a new design of ABS, one that has a unique combined front/rear tandem braking system whose successful function depends upon the correct calibration of both the front wheel and rear wheel ABS components that were calibrated at the factory with a stock front wheel in mind.
"We built our ABS bearing from a replacement bearing that is precision manufactured to our own specification, with the completed product going through a rigorous series of tests over several months. The results were confirmed by a professional racer, who tested and confirmed the functionality of our worldwide patent-pending design.
Hyun is also the inventor of the acclaimed EZ-ON Rake Kit, which allows for correct trail setting without warranty compromising frame modifications. The latest news is that the EZ-ON kit has now passed the rigorous TUV approval testing and certification process in Europe.


Arlen Ness

Arlen Ness’s 10 – Gauge primary covers

This multi-piece outer primary is sculpted to match the new line of Ness 10-Gauge accessories that we featured in AMD Magazine last month and fits all late model FLTs.

Designed as a full replacement outer primary cover, the multi-piece design allows for easy service and maintenance and is available with matching rocker boxes, cam covers, transmission covers and more.
The primary kit includes multi-piece outer primary, gasket and chrome hardware.


Ultima Motorcycle Products

Wide body springer options

Ultima Motorcycle Products is making an updated wide body springer that is offered in chrome or black.

Available in stock 23" length, +2" over (25") and +4" over (27"), they are made from "high quality steel and include the 3/4" front axle assembly and top tree nut."
The reinforced top and bottom trees are designed to reduce flex and improve handling. These updated wide body springers fit most Big Twin, Sportster (to 2003) and aftermarket frames from 1949 to present with a 1" diameter neck stem.
 There is 9.5" between the lower rockers; compatible Ultima polished or chrome brake calipers and caliper brackets are available separately.


Belt Drive Ltd.

Belt drive slim-down kit, weight saving pulleys and more from BDL

With over 35,000 sold, the EVO-9S from BDL is arguably the most popular aftermarket belt drive conversion ever produced. 

BDL's new, fully inclusive 2" Belt Drive Kit is said to cost about half that of the original 3" drive and allows down sizing to a 2" belt

For owners of one of these drives who would like to slim down to a 2” belt, BDL is offering a new, all inclusive EVOB-9S-2RFK kit that is said to cost about half that of the original 3” drive and allows downsizing to a 2 “ belt, converting from the old shoulder bolt/spring release to what is described as a "smoother and more stable ball bearing release."
The 2” conversion kits include BDL's patented Ball Bearing Lock-Up Clutch with new fiber and steel plates, "rugged and stylish" side guard, dome and 2”conversion hardware.
Also seen here, BDL’s new, model-specific open belt drive kit for use exclusively on 2007- 2009 Softails incorporates a 52 tooth front and 69 tooth rear pulley. The custom designed 142 tooth BDL belt is a full 69 mm (2.72”) wide for a "perfect combination of performance, strength, reliability and durability."
BDL says it has additionally developed an exclusive ring gear, which is said to give quick, positive starter operation. The kit includes BDL’s Ball Bearing Lock-Up Clutch assembly for "smooth, positive engagement and light lever pull."

BDL's Open Belt Drive Kit for 2007-09 Softails with 52 tooth front and 69 tooth rear pulley

Also new from the Californian specialist manufacturer, at about one-third the weight of stock units, these lightweight transmission pulleys weigh in at a mere 2 ¼ lbs. The high-tech pulleys are described as precision machined to aircraft tolerance from rugged 7075 aluminum, "making them just the ticket for both high performance and stock application."
"The significant weight savings reclaim horsepower while lightening the load on associated bearings, and a durable, hard anodized finish assures years of extended trouble-free operation. Currently available for 4-speed Big Twins from 1979 to 1983, 5-speed 1986 to present and 5-speed Sportsters from 1992 up. 

Transmission Pulleys are said to be about 1/3 of the weight of the stock items they replace

Finally, BDLs signature billet aluminum rear pulley cover and side guard (which ship with installation hardware and complete instructions) are said to "round out the latest in a long line of trend-setting belt drive and clutch components from this industry leader."



Covingtons have it covered

Noted Woodward, Oklahoma based custom motorcycle engineer and parts designer Jerry Covington has these finned transmission side cover options, hydraulic clutch master cylinder covers and transmission top covers in stock at Drag Specialties. 

Hydraulic clutch master cylinder covers available in dimpled black or chrome    

Finned transmission side covers

The range is CNC machined in the USA from billet aluminum; the transmission side cover allows the use of the stock clutch cable. Available in black or chrome with dimpled design and finned-look options, they are bolt-on replacements for the stock covers and ship with new mounting hardware.

Transmission top covers available as direct bolt-on replacement for the stock covers


Barnett Tool and Engineering

Stealth Series cables

Barnett Tool and Engineering offer dealers access to one of the largest ranges of cables available from any one manufacturer in the world. Their “Stealth Series” cables are the latest addition to an already industry-leading control cables program that started in 1948, and is still being made in California.

These ‘black on black’ cables feature a black vinyl casing with black chrome elbows and hardware for that “Stealth” look. Stainless steel wire rope is used with a nylon inner liner on throttle cables, with all their clutch cables coming standard with Barnett’s exclusive High Efficiency inner wire - one which is well regarded for reducing lever effort, providing a super smooth cable action and extending cable life.
Available to replace all 1987 and later type Harley-Davidson cables and all 1999 and later Victory model cables.


Tuesday 20 October 2015

Harley-Davidson Q3 unit sales

Harley panics into four "Focus Area" investment and ambitious five-point objective plans as it reports Q3 unit sales of -2.5 percent in US

In releasing its third quarter 2015 financial data Harley-Davidson has confirmed dealer new motorcycle sales are down -1.4 percent worldwide compared to the year-ago period, with sales down -2.5 percent in the U.S. and up +0.9 percent internationally.

"We expect a heightened competitive environment to continue for the foreseeable future, and now is the time for us to dial things up with significant additional investments in marketing and product development," said Matt Levatich, President and Chief Executive Officer, Harley-Davidson, Inc.
"We have a strong plan, built on our incredible foundation, to further assert Harley-Davidson's substantial market leadership and accelerate growth. We have great confidence in our plans to drive demand and grow our reach and impact with customers globally."
The company says it intends to fund the increased demand-driving actions by reallocating existing spending - it expects to incur one-time expenses of approximately $30 million to $35 million in the fourth quarter of 2015, primarily for employee separation and reorganization costs related to this reallocation.
"In the short term, because the third quarter did not unfold as we expected, we are lowering full-year shipment guidance. Our ongoing commitment to manage supply in line with demand and maintain the premium nature of the brand remains a top priority for Harley-Davidson," said Levatich.
The company is highlighting four "Focus Areas" for increased investment in 2016 and says it will increase its investment in customer-facing marketing by approximately 65 percent above 2015 levels. The company also plans to increase its investment in new product development by approximately 35 percent from 2015 levels. These changes represent an approximate $70 million increase in investment to drive demand compared to 2015.
These four "Focus Areas" for increased investment are listed as increasing product and brand awareness, growing new ridership in the U.S., increasing and enhancing brand access, and accelerating the "cadence and impact" of new products.
The company says it has five [ambitious] objectives - to lead in every market; to grow the sport of motorcycling in the U.S., in part by growing the number of U.S. core customers and growing the number of U.S. outreach customers at a faster rate; to grow U.S. retail sales and grow international retail sales at a faster rate - in support of this objective, the company has a target to grow its international dealer network by 150 to 200 new dealerships by 2020; to grow revenue and grow earnings faster than revenue through 2020; and to outperform the S&P 500.

"the third quarter did not unfold as we expected"

Dealers worldwide sold 72,178 new Harley-Davidson motorcycles in the third quarter of 2015 compared to 73,217 motorcycles in the year-ago quarter. In the U.S. dealers sold 48,918 new Harley-Davidson motorcycles in the quarter compared to sales of 50,167 motorcycles in the year-ago period.
In international markets dealers sold 23,260 new Harley-Davidson motorcycles during the third quarter compared to 23,050 motorcycles in the year-ago period, with sales up +5.1 percent in the Asia Pacific region and +2.4 percent in the EMEA region, but down -11.5 percent in the Latin America region and -1.7 percent in Canada.
Operating income from motorcycles and related products was $143.1 million during the quarter, down compared to $146.3 million in the year-ago period. Third-quarter revenue from motorcycles was $812.4 million, down compared to $815.4 million in the year-ago period.
The company shipped 53,472 motorcycles to dealers and distributors worldwide during the quarter, which is up compared to shipments of 50,670 motorcycles in the year-ago period.

Revenue from motorcycle parts and accessories was $252.2 million during the quarter, up compared to $239.7 million in the year-ago period. Revenue from general merchandise, which includes MotorClothes apparel and accessories, was flat at $69.0 million compared to $69.3 million in the year-ago period.
Gross margin was down at 34.6 percent in the third quarter of 2015 compared to 34.9 percent in the third quarter of 2014. Third-quarter operating margin for the motorcycles segment was down at 12.5 percent compared to operating margin of 12.9 percent in last year's third quarter.
Through nine months, Harley-Davidson 2015 net income was $710.0 million on consolidated revenue of $4.81 billion compared to nine-month 2014 net income of $770.1 million on consolidated revenue of $5.03 billion.

"lead in every market"

Year-to-date in 2015 dealers sold 217,770 new Harley-Davidson motorcycles worldwide, down compared to the 220,850 it sold in the first nine months of 2014, with retail unit sales up +6.9 percent in the Asia Pacific region and down -1.3 percent in the U.S., -5.1 percent in the EMEA region, -5.1 percent in the Latin America region and -3.9 percent in Canada compared to the year-ago period.
Through nine months, the company shipped 218,233 motorcycles to dealers and distributors worldwide, down compared to the 223,569 it shipped in the first nine months of 2014. Nine-month revenue from motorcycles was down -6.2 percent to $3.38 billion, revenue from parts and accessories decreased -2.3 percent to $692.9 million and revenue from General Merchandise increased +1.5 percent to $213.0 million compared to the first nine months of 2014.
Gross margin through nine months was 37.9 percent, and operating margin was 20.2 percent compared to 37.7 percent, and 21.3 percent respectively in the year-ago period.
Operating income from financial services was $72.8 million in the third quarter of 2015 compared to operating income of $77.8 million in last year's third quarter. Third-quarter financial services results reflect the impact of a growing loan portfolio with higher provision for credit losses, partially offset by favorable net interest margin. Operating income from financial services was $219.3 million compared to operating income of $215.4 million through nine months of 2014.
Third-quarter 2015 diluted earnings per share were flat at $0.69 compared to EPS of $0.69 in the year-ago period. Third-quarter net income was down at $140.3 million on consolidated revenue of $1.32 billion compared to net income of $150.1 million on consolidated revenue of $1.30 billion in the year-ago period.
Nine-month 2015 diluted earnings per share are down at $3.41 compared to EPS of $3.52 in the year-ago period. 

"grow the sport of motorcycling"

On a discretionary basis, the company has repurchased 9.4 million shares of Harley-Davidson, Inc. common stock during the third quarter of 2015 for $536.0 million. In the third quarter of 2015, there were approximately 204.6 million weighted-average diluted common shares outstanding, compared to approximately 216.9 million shares in the year-ago quarter. At the end of the third quarter of 2015, 21.6 million shares remained on board-approved share-repurchase authorizations.
Harley-Davidson is revising its full-year guidance for motorcycle shipments, reflecting its commitment to managing supply in line with demand and now expects to ship 265,000 to 270,000 motorcycles to dealers and distributors worldwide in 2015, which is approximately flat to down -2 percent from 2014. The company had most recently provided full-year shipment guidance of 276,000 to 281,000 motorcycles. In the fourth quarter, the company expects to ship 47,000 to 52,000 motorcycles compared to 47,157 motorcycles shipped in the year-ago period.
The company now expects full-year 2015 operating margin of approximately 16 percent to 17 percent for the motorcycles segment, compared to prior guidance of 18 percent to 19 percent for full-year operating margin. The company continues to expect 2015 capital expenditures for Harley-Davidson, Inc. of $240 million to $260 million. 
Harley's share price had been relatively stable in the $54.00 to $56.00 region prior to their Q3 announcement. However the price lost some 16 percent of its value within hours of the market opening, and as this story went to press it was trading at around $48.00, having dropped to as low as $46.64 (from $56.05) immediately following the news.

2015 American International Motorcycle Expo

2015 AIMExpo wraps final day amid applause
As doors closed on the 2015 American International Motorcycle Expo (AIMExpo) applause filled the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) where consumer attendees on the packed show floor joined the 561 exhibitors in celebrating the event’s third year in Orlando.

Jeremy Cupp wins Championship of the Americas

The inaugural AIMExpo Championship of the America’s featured a slew of radically designed, hand built bikes by North America's top custom builders. These bikes and builders were met with a standing ovation during the award ceremony that crowned builders in four unique classes and culminated in the choosing of a Free Style champion to represent AIMExpo at the AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building in Cologne, Germany.

Among the winners was Bill Dodge from Bling Cycles who won the Retro Custom Class, Jim “Preacher” Goodrich from Preachers Hot Rod Cycles won the Performance Custom Class and Dell Battle from Dangerous Dezigns won the Street Custom Class. The Free Style winner who was selected by his peers and AIMExpo judges alike was Jeremy Cupp from LC Fabrications. A masterpiece of craftsmanship, Jeremy built a flawless chassis from raw metal to house a motor constructed with a Ducati head mated to a Buell bottom end. Congratulations to Jeremy and good luck in Cologne!

AMA Hall of Fame

Returning as a featured event at AIMExpo, the AMA hosted its 2015 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony inside the convention center on Saturday night. Kicking off the night was a VIP reception leading into the awards ceremony. Emotional acceptance speeches highlighted the night, and the evening came to a close with a particularly heart-felt speech from Legend Award Winner Wayne Rainey. The class of 2015 included Alex Jorgensen, John Kocinski, Keith McCarty, John Parham, Rodney Smith and Richard Teerlink.
Booth Winners

For the second year, AIMExpo handed out booth awards to exhibitors that went above and beyond with the design of their respective booth area. Four different awards were given – a rookie award for a large and small booth and a veteran award for a large and small booth – with exhibitors being scored on booth design, branding, creative design, interactive experience, social media, staffing and overall appearance. This year’s rookie winner for a booth under 400 sq. ft. was Standard Motorcycle Co., while the rookie winner for a booth 400 sq. ft. or larger was Bates Footwear. In the returning exhibitor class, the booth under 400 sq. ft. winner went to Forma Boots, and the 400 sq. ft. or larger booth taking the top honors was BMW Motorcycle Owners of America.

2016 Indian Motorcycle range

"Life, Liberty and Horsepower"

Last month we presented a strategic analysis of the seven models in Polaris Industries' 2016 Indian Motorcycle range. This month we look at the twelve model line-up they are offering under their Victory brand. In looking for ongoing clues as to where their acknowledged need to re-position the brand in the context of ownership of Indian is, then you don't have to look much further than their 2016 slogan for the range - the pursuit of horsepower confirms everything everyone suspected as being the brand's future destiny and marks another "smooth move" in CEO Scott Wine's impressive play for a major slice of the American made motorcycle market...

Empulse TT - built on the same (Brammo) platform that set "an American lap-speed record" at the 2015 Isle of Man TT races; an MSRP of $19,999 will mean that this first Victory branded production iteration of the Empulse is likely to remain an "exotic" for the time being, strictly of appeal to aficionados and collectors. However, that investment gets you a 100 mph top speed, a 10.4 kilowatt-hour Li-on battery (with a 3.9 hour full-charge time) that is said to deliver an immediate 40,000 Watt punch, high-performance adjustable rear suspension, class-leading lean-angle, advanced dual-stage regenerative braking (3.6kW on-board charger), high-torque motor and a six-speed gearbox (with neutral between second and third) that can either be ignored or enjoyed!

With the Brammo-derived E-bike now firmly (if expensively) ensconced as an in-play offer, at least two years before the outcome of Harley's latest attempt at getting the public to design its bikes for it (Project LiveWire) yields any sellable results, the Empulse TT isn't the only market sector in which Polaris has used the Victory brand to "park the bus" in front of a market open goal.
That the V-Rod program has (predictably) failed to corner the "muscle" or "Streetfighter" style sectors for Harley has long since ceased to be a controversial suggestion, having passed into received wisdom some time ago.
That Polaris, on the other hand, moved to start filling that void effortlessly and effectively, will also become an accepted part of strategic planning-lore in the motorcycle industry very quickly.
"We engineer modern American muscle into every bike that rolls out of Spirit Lake, Iowa" is how Polaris sets the scene for their 2016 offer, going on to claim that they "build bikes that rip off from the green light, blast through city streets and crave the open road."
As a brand re-positioning manifesto Victory's 2016 performance-led propositions couldn't be more challenging to Harley's belated and tentative steps to add power to their existing and traditionally sedate platforms, and it couldn't be a more blatant attempt to say "hello" to the hooligan torque-beast element out there.

Just how convincingly they are meeting the demands of such riders is still a matter of conjecture at this stage, but the intent is clearly there, the strategy is clear now for everyone to see, and with brand messaging investments such as the Isle Of Man, Pike's Peak, Bonneville and 200mph NHRA ambitions, Victory clearly has its sights on offering riding solutions to those who look beyond how they get there, to equal concern with how quickly they arrive.
In addition to the $20,000 E-bike (!) Victory are offering their dealers five Cruisers, three Baggers and two Tourers to play with.
Described as representing "the most aggressive iteration of modern American muscle yet," Victory are positioning the Vegas and Vegas 8-Ball, Gunner, High-Ball and Hammer S to take sales off other cruiser brands (Yamaha's burgeoning Star line-up just as much as Harley's Sportsters and Softails), with bikes that look like they are convincing urban riding solutions just as much as they are open-roaders, and offering them at eye-wateringly tempting and competitive price-points.
The marketing hook for their four model 2016 Bagger line-up kicks sand in the face of sedate straight-lining, centred instead around the adrenaline-fuelled exploits of their Tony Carbajal/Joe Dryden Victory Stunt Team - hey, buy a "bagger" and do wheelies, drifting, ice racing and burnouts with "seven hundred and forty-six pounds of American V-Twin"!
As for the two-model Touring line-up, Victory describe the Vision and Cross-Country Tour as having "confidence designed into the blueprints" and being ready for "the longest rides through the most diverse conditions."
Despite creature comforts galore, shed-loads of luggage capacity and long-distance road-friendly features in spades, Victory started to try and prove that tourers don't have to look like armchairs on wheels with the hugely futuristic first iterations of the Vision. Now that the initial shock of the new has faded, Victory are showing a deft hand where refining of the style and competency of the offer are concerned.
As to other "gaps in the market"?
Well, assuming that we are right and Victory has laid down a convincing claim to be moving the "muscle" bike argument on apace, and that it has put down a convincing marker to be first out of the gate with meaningful "streetfighterage", then doesn't make its investment in its around-the-world in 100 days endurance team challenge an interesting idea?
Maybe it could be a tantalising glimpse into a volume-built American answer to another fast growing riding sector that Harley has continued to leave wide open to European dominance?
The present "adventure" sees Polaris sponsoring Swiss motorcycle distance riding fanatic Urs Pedraita (known to the long distance riding community as "Grizzly") to make the fastest motorcycle trips across all seven continents.
"Grizzly" is presently training for a February 2016 Zurich, Switzerland, departure with the goal of breaking the existing 116 day record.
His vehicle of choice is a Victory Cross Country Tour. If he makes it, he will have traversed the longest axis on six continents, plus a quick stop in Antarctica.
Even if he doesn't make it, Polaris will have one of the greatest suites of long-distance, all-terrain riding research and design data ever gathered and an unprecedented engineering insight into what it might take to knock BMW off its perch at the top for the increasingly important adventure-tour market.

Bagger: Magnum - MSRP $21,999
This is one of the two Victory models at the top-of-the-range Victory in price terms, offered at a starting price that matches that of the Vision Tourer and that makes it very competitive with rival American and Japanese brand product. The Magnum XI that was launched mid-year (at Daytona Bike Week) appears to be remaining in production as a 2015 specification

Bagger: Cross Country - MSRP $18,999
Standard features include 21 gallon lockable hand bags, "Dual Kicker" premium speakers, radio and auxiliary card for an MP3/iPod music source

Bagger: Cross Country 8-Ball - MSRP $17,999
Victory's entry-level Bagger, standard features include 21 gallon lockable, weatherproof sealed hard bags, 5-8 gallon fuel tank and a fairing with integrated speakers that is said to incorporate "an input for any device"

Tourer: Cross Country Tour – MSRP $21,999
One of the two Victory models that sit at the top of the range in starting price terms, and one of only two models that features ABS (semi-linked) anti-lock brakes and cruise control as standard. The 41 gallons of storage capacity are said to be the highest offered on any production motorcycle. Other features include dual front forks, inverted front fork and large bore exhaust and Victory's "Comfort Control System" air-flow management

Tourer: Vision – MSRP $20,999
SOHC engine, dual large-bore exhaust, dual front rotors, inverted front forks, heated hand grips, heated individual seats, 29 gallon luggage capacity

Cruiser:  Hammer S - MSRP $15,499
New to the range for 2016, and the top of the range Victory Cruiser in price terms, this "modern American Muscle Cruiser" includes a 2,250 mm rear tire, dual disc brakes and inverted front forks

Cruiser: Vegas - MSRP $13,499
New for 2016, the Vegas shares the 21" Falchion wheel with the entry level Vegas 8 Ball and boasts a painted frame "for a seamless minimal style that shows appreciation for detail"

Cruiser: High-Ball - MSRP $13,349
Standard features include white wall tires, short front fender and ape hangers

Cruiser: Gunner - MSRP $12,999
"Ready. Aim. Throttle." Widely regarded as the most convincing of the cruisers in styling terms, it features premium 24-spoke cast aluminum wheels and a low seat height for what Polaris describes
as "relaxed ergonomics"

Cruiser: Vegas 8-Ball - MSRP $12,499
The entry level Victory cruiser, standard features include the 21" Falchion wheel - named after a one-handed sword known for its versatility Urs "Grizzly" Pedraita will depart Zurich, Switzerland, in February 2016 on a Victory Cross Country Tour in an attempt to break the present 116 day round the world record



The basic engine layout is the same for most of the Victory models, with some, further up the range, having single overhead cam versions of the combination air/oil-cooled 'Freedom' V-Twin

Displacement: 106 cubic inches/1731 cc

Bore x Stroke: 101mm bore x 108mm stroke;

Compression Ratio: 9:4:1

Valve Train: 4-valves per cylinder, hydraulic lifters and cam chain adjusters

Charging System; 38 or 48 Amps max output

Fuel System: fuel injection/45mm throttle body


Drive/Driven Clutch - wet multi-plate/diaphragm spring

Transmission Type: 6-speed overdrive/constant mesh

Exhaust: dual staggered slash-cut with common volume. Some models, further up the range, feature a larger bore exhaust

Transmission/Primary Drive: gear drive with torque compensator

Transmission/Final Drive: Carbon Fiber reinforced belt


Some models feature upgraded set-ups with variations in suspension travel, especially the 'slammed' models, such as the Magnum, and inverted forks

Front: telescopic fork with 5.1"/130mm of travel

Rear: single mono-tube gas shock with pre-load adjustment and, typically, 3.0"/130mm of travel


It would appear that only the Tourers come with ABS/semi-linked brakes and dual front rotors as standard

Front: single 300 x 5mm floating rotor with 4-piston caliper

Rear: single 300 x 5mm floating rotor with 2-piston caliper 

Urs "Grizzly" Pedraita will depart Zurich, Switzerland, in February 2016 on a Victory Cross Country Tour in an attempt to break the present 116 day round the world record

Arlen Ness

Arlen Ness adds Indian Motorcycle parts

ARLEN Ness has expanded its product line to include options for Indian Motorcycles. The Ness range now features floorboards, wheels, caliper housings and front fenders for the Indian Chief and Chieftain models.

The new 21in front fender wraps the Indian’s front wheel and is styled to match the Indian’s classic bodywork. The front end can be further embellished with the addition of Ness caliper housings and billet wheels.