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Thread: The impending doom of the motorcycle industry

  1. #11
    Flirting With The Redline 3000 Posts! Galaxieman's Avatar
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    Anybody else notice the whole thing was headed up by the former external relations manager for Indian? Wait, the guy who had to try and figure out how to market both Victory and Indian motorcycles for Polaris, two lines which are really competitors, thinks the industry as a whole is headed for disaster because they can't market to the right groups? Color me shocked. Dude had a hard job there, but I think it might have skewed his perspective. Of course I understand I may have a skewed perspective, since I ride a motorcycle to work as much as possible. I did note that with the drop in temperatures (nothing close to the east-coast mass winterization), there has been a considerable falloff in riders on the morning commute.

    I agree with Alex, the US needs to collectively figure out that motorcycles are a completely valid expansion of mobility and transportation, rather than seeing them as this leisure item.

    Also, even though driverless cars still might not see me properly, at least they'll be programmed to signal properly before cutting across my lane. Just sayin.

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  2. #12
    Flirting With The Redline alba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZridered View Post
    I live in a community where Waymo (Google) has been developing the live traffic behavior of their autonomous vehicles for over a year. Uber, Intel, Delphi, and Ford, are also in the area. I encounter Waymo vehicles on a daily basis and I can tell you without reservation that I would prefer to share the road with a group of Waymo driven vehicles than human controlled vehicles any day. The Waymo 'drivers' (yes, as of last month there are fully driverless Waymos running about) are far more predictable and courteous than human drivers.

    Having met with some Waymo engineers (one of whom IS a motorcyclist), I learned that Waymo's algorithms recognize motorcyclists, and recognize that they may move about within a lane and generally behave differently than an automobile. The engineer's only caution was that their computers do not recognize hand signals from motorcyclists, only from bicyclists.

    The roads will be better for us when there are fewer human drivers on the road.
    The Common Tread articles. I haven't re-read them but I recall there was issues with motorcycles (maybe with the way specifications were written) but that some of the engineers working on the problem were motorcyclists and were working on making sure our needs were considered.

    https://www.revzilla.com/common-trea...ycles-part-one
    https://www.revzilla.com/common-trea...ycles-part-two

  3. #13
    Flirting With The Redline 6000 Posts! atomicalex's Avatar
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    My longer-form response: http://www.atomicalex.com/?p=2115

    Quote Originally Posted by atomicalex's blog
    The LA Times recently reported on a study prepared by a focus group of motorcycle industry long-timers named Give A Shift – Motorcycle Sales in the Slow Lane. The Times piece is a well-written review of what we already know: motorcycling is not growing in the US. The study documentation was well-prepared and the reports available from the group were clear. What wasn’t clear from either the Times piece or the study documentation is why the group of experts remain so firmly trapped in the 1970s.

    Motorcycling in the United States is a victim of itself in several ways. First, the rebel culture crafted by US manufacturer(s) following WWII transformed motorcycling into a means of acting out for gang-like outside-the-law bad boys. This is not limited to black-vest cruiser clubs, it also rears its ugly head (and front wheel) in the modern stunter culture that shuts down freeways and results in ugly confrontations with Land Rover owners. Dirtbike and ATV gangs in Baltimore and other large cities are a further offshoot that also trace their heritage to the outlaw MC culture of the Vietnam era. None of this is good for motorcycling as a whole and continues to repercuss through the US.

    The outlaw trope is bad, but the toy trope (“transportainment”) is worse. The US is very unique in the fact that most motorcycles are not used for general transportation, rather for pleasure. Motorcycles and other powered two-wheelers are considered basic transportation in nearly every other country in the world. Riders in the ROW start with 50cc scooters and work up to 500cc-class motorcycles. Cars may never be an option for most people in less affluent and warmer areas – they take up too much space, money, and time. Litre-class bikes are rare in most of the world for similar reasons. The EU is a unique market where both size classes coexist – the countries of the EU espouse both the basic transportation concept of smaller machines and the luxury (toy) concept of larger machines. The EU perspective is nuanced in that motorcycles are purchased with distinct purposes in mind and the owner of a larger touring machine (toy concept) is likely to also own a smaller, more city-focused bike for local riding (basic transportation concept). The authors of the study come immediately to the question of desirability, but remain mired in the idea that fun has to be a part of the equation. The very concept of “transportainment” needs to die a fiery death.

    The authors do not address the failure of rider training in the US. The efforts of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and organizations like Total Control are admirable, but do little to grow the market. They reinforce the toy concept by setting the barrier to entry very low – no significant investment in rider training is required, so motorcycles are not taken seriously. The state DMVs are complicit in this with low level licensing requirements. A tiered licensing structure with additional training at increasing power levels reinforces the idea that motorcycling is more than simply a hobby. This is one area in which the dealership experience could improve significantly and have a very measurable impact on the acceptability of motorcycling in the current cotton-ball culture. Addition of private instruction hours with the purchase of bikes would build confidence and acceptability in today’s risk-averse environment. The 20-hour individual training minimum of the EU is unlikely to be realized in the US due to sheer cost, however it is a good goal.

    The future of autonomy is described as a risk instead of an opportunity. This is and outdated and uninformed attitude. ABS system data – speed, direction, yaw, lean – forms the backbone of the information stream that is used for vehicle-to-vehicle communication and ABS is now required on new motorcycles in many markets. RADAR cruise control has been realized in the lab. Motorcycles move at traffic speeds, unlike bicyclists and pedestrians, which cannot share any data and are wildly unpredictable. The presence of so-called dumb vehicles (those that do not broadcast data, including bicycles, older motos, and older cars) cannot be avoided at this time, which forces autonomy discussions to include them. Motorcycles are fortunately large enough to register as other traffic participants, “dumb” or otherwise.

    The authors have correctly identified the need to participate in the autonomy discussion, but incorrectly assess the threat. The real threat is not that autonomous cars will squeeze motorcycles out of the traffic equation, it is that autonomy will squeeze all forms of self-directed transportation off the road. The industry’s refusal (aside from BMW) to engage in the autonomy discussion is a deep shame and shows profound lack of foresight. I look for future efforts from Ducati to explore this through their association with Audi and VolkswagenAG. Sadly, in the US, the Harley-Davidson/Ford arrangement seems to be a simple branding affair, with no technical exchange.

    The authors rightly call to the carpet the entire “shrink&pink” attitude of all motorcycle industry manufacturers. The difference between any motorcycle shop in the EU and one in the US is the amount of floor space given to technical riding apparel for women. Kids’ apparel is non-existent in the US. Women generally approach motorcycling in a more pragmatic manner than men, and not only from a safety perspective. Firstly, rebel culture and tribe-seeking are less of a draw – women are not seeking rebellion against society, they are seeking freedom within it. Secondly, basic transportation is a greater factor – women are far more likely to see their motorcycle as a means to explore the world and their place in it rather than as a simple weekend toy. Dealerships are a huge part of the problem – until the generation of sales reps that see women as part of the toy equation rather than as disbursers of money is retired, women will continue to be turned off.

    The authors return many times to the need for potential buyers to want a motorcycle, but never make it past the desire to have fun. We need to change the reasons for wanting a motorcycle from the “transportainment” culture of previous generations to the basic transportation concept of today’s future owners and drive the manufacturers to participate in the technical growth of the general transportation industry. Only then will the industry be able to connect with today’s potential riders.
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  4. #14
    Flirting With The Redline Mad Matt's Avatar
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    Autonomous vehicles maybe not being able to see motorcycles reliably seems no worse than what we have today. PEOPLE canít see motorcycles.

    Iím more worried/curious about how they can even find the road when itís covered in snow, or there are no lane markings.

  5. #15
    Flirting With The Redline 10,000 Posts! Shadow Shack's Avatar
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    My personal view regarding the "problems with the industry":

    1> Everything matte-blacked out bikes. This trend is almost as old as the gangsta pants-below-the-ass trend and both are long overdue for expiration. I get that chrome plating is an expensive process, but the problem is the OEMs are not passing the savings from powder coating to the customers...hey are charging the same as the more expensive plating process. The aftermarket is doing the same. The simple fact is they can offer shine and chrome for the same price as their current powdercoat-everything black.

    2> California is gunning for EV-only by 2020. CA has more licensed motorcyclists than the other 49 states combined. Personally I would love to see an EV police car try to enforce that against a gas engine owner, all the "law breaker" has to do is cruise for 60-80 miles at which point the pursuing EV battery craps out, or just break 100mph and walk away from the entire fleet of EVs in pursuit. Granted it won't surprise me that the PD will be immune to the law, much like San Francisco PD's adoption of LPSL on their patrol bikes to enforce loud pipe laws. Still, EV-only will be the death knell to motorcycle sales in CA no matter how you slice it, and that death knell will be a huge impact to nationwide sales via the other 49 states on its own.

    3> Catering to millennials. Let's face the facts here, regardless of whether you believe the "old guard" is dead or not, the typical millennial is far more into the safety of playing PS4 in mom's basement than getting their asses outside. So the whole "everything blacked out" being geared towards the younger buyers is a complete crock of crap...it's just a bandwagon that isn't generating the sales they want you to think it is. While the baby boomers are in fact in the early stages of going into extinction, their offspring that was raised under their values is very much alive and well and still interested in the bikes their parents had. Call it the "younger old guard" if you will, and that segment has been alienated by every manufacturer save for the domestics (seriously, you can count the number of cruisers sporting chrome from Japan on one hand now). Is it any wonder that niche market Harley is outselling Honda by more than two to one despite the "old guard is dead" theory?
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  6. #16
    Flirting With The Redline 10,000 Posts! Shadow Shack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alba View Post
    They are saying the radar on the autonomous car will not see motorcycles so will drive straight over them. While this is apparently a problem with the technology as it is today (and frightening given some of these cars are on the road) it's unlikely to be a problem longer term. There are several long articles on autonomous cars on the Revzilla Common Thread page that are interesting reading.
    So if the autonomous vehicles can't detect motorcycles, how do they detect the even smaller profile known as pedestrians?
    Sent from your mom's phone
    "If I wanted a windshield and tunes, I'd drive my car."
    Ride Safe, Chop Safer
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    "Motorcycles are not unsafe. However, they are extremely unforgiving of inattention, incompetence, ignorance, and stupidity."
    Support your FLIBS (Friendly Local Independent Bike Shop)
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  7. #17
    Flirting With The Redline 8000 Posts! Trials's Avatar
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    on the bike, on you body, on your dogs collar, on all the wild animals and livestock, nobody would ever be lost or untraceable again.
    wait ... didn't George Orwell write a book about this?

  8. #18
    RiderCoach 4000 Posts! AZridered's Avatar
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    One problem for us that the eventual truly autonomous vehicles could bring; when they stop hitting us, how truly bad we are as motorcycle operators could come to light. When there's no one else to blame, what is to be done about all of those motorcyclists who crash all on their own.

    Currently, based on most states' annual crash reports, about 70% of motorcyclist fatalities involve errors made by the rider.

  9. #19
    Flirting With The Redline Mad Matt's Avatar
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    I donít see police chases as a serious issue. Many forces here have banned high speed pursuits except for very exceptional circumstances. Too many high profile crashes that were worse than the crime they were trying to prevent.

    They figured out that they donít have to be faster than the guy trying to make a getaway. Just call ahead and get someone in front of him.

    There was a case in the news recently where they spotted a guy on a sport bike stunting on the highway and were waiting at his house when he got home.

  10. #20
    Flirting With The Redline 1000 Posts! liberpolly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZridered View Post
    One problem for us that the eventual truly autonomous vehicles could bring; when they stop hitting us, how truly bad we are as motorcycle operators could come to light. When there's no one else to blame, what is to be done about all of those motorcyclists who crash all on their own.

    Currently, based on most states' annual crash reports, about 70% of motorcyclist fatalities involve errors made by the rider.
    As long as we are only killing outselves, what concern is it to anyone else?
    "The better you're prepared, the luckier you get".

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