Thursday, 3 September 2015

Comment by Editor, Robin Braldey

EU new motorcycle registration data for first half of 2015 sends a positive message

IT is rare for being wrong to be a good thing, and rarer still for anything in life to be a surprise anymore, especially not in a "good way".
However, the latest new motorcycle registration data released by ACEM, the Brussels based motorcycle industry trade association, appears to show the recovery in new registrations in EU members to be "robust".
Of course the headline news is an average of national data that conceals big variations in individual European markets; even among the "big five" there is a big difference between what is happening in the UK and Spain (in particular) and Germany, where the 12 month cycle has had downs as well as ups, Italy where stability is still fragile, and France, especially, with a market only just now starting to edge towards the bottom of its own very broad PTW sales cycle U-curve.

'middleweights have been the Cinderella of the market'

 Indeed, even within national markets, there are wide variations between sectors of the market and between regions.
In general though the trend data is positive in two key respects.
First of all in terms of the headline numbers. Overall, and as reported on the front page of this edition of International Dealer News, market growth does now appear to be solid, and it shows pretty decent numbers; mid single digit growth is a "good thing" in that it generally isn't to be confused with the stability that is characterised by low single digit growth, and is sustainable in a way that double digit growth generally isn't.
Second, while there is still softness in the lower displacement sectors of the market, sectors that, arguably, can point to demographic issues in terms of youth entry, the strongest growth is taking place in parts of the market that are financially more important to Europe's hard-pressed dealers, and more important to Europe's aftermarket parts, accessory, apparel and service-item vendors - the larger displacement markets and, especially, among the middleweights and ever increasingly important adventure tourer sector.
Middleweights have been somewhat of a "Cinderella" sector for years, and growth there is to be welcomed as they represent units that are more likely to be daily riders, and more likely to be a parts and accessory spend opportunity for dealers.
The growth in "naked" style middleweights (kudos to Yamaha) and adventure tourers means the mid single digit growth we are seeing in Europe will punch above its weight in aftermarket, apparel and accessory terms; it will also result in increases in the number of miles being ridden (as is already being seen in some markets despite the theoretically much lower bike parc), which in turn goes to unit growth, and participant stability is good news for workshop bookings and service item consumption.
Regular readers will know that, personally, I have remained rather sceptical, cynical even, about the prospects for any real evidence of real growth emerging for another couple of years at least. My thesis has been that there still have been too many macro- economic uncertainties and too little consumer confidence as a result for any anticipation of what ACEM’s half-year data represents to be realistic.
However, ACEM’s methodology is sound, and the diligence with which their figures are compiled (some weeks after the first releases of major market data by the national trade associations) makes their analysis "considered" worth taking notice of.
It was ACEM for example who, as long ago as the autumn of  2012, started pointing to signs of an impending slow-down in market decline and a cycle that would see stability established in 2013 and 2014, following which market conditions could well permit modest growth to evolve into something slightly more meaningful.
Well, it turns out that ACEM's prognosis was spot-on and that, for once, the scepticism of those, like me, who have still been unsure about market prospects for the past 12 months, has been misplaced.
It may well be that we are all in for a pleasant surprise, and if we are, well, I'll take this kind of surprise "all day long"!


Tough second quarter for Harley

HARLEY-DAVIDSON is continuing to forecast increased unit shipments for 2015 as a whole despite the fact that Q2 and year-to-date unit sales, unit shipments, net income, consolidated income, operating income/margin and EPS are all down.

Its latest financial filings state that the company "continues to expect to ship 276,000 to 281,000 motorcycles to dealers and distributors worldwide in 2015, an approximate 2 to 4 percent increase from 2014" and that " revenue, earnings and motorcycle shipments" for the second quarter were "in line with [April revised] company expectations".

This optimism is despite a second quarter decline of -1.4 percent in worldwide sales (88,931 units sold against 90,218 in the second quarter of 2014) and a 0.75 percent drop in the United States (57,790 units against 58,225 in Q2 of 2014).

In international markets, dealers sold 31,141 new Harley-Davidson motorcycles during the second quarter compared to 31,993 motorcycles in the year-ago period, with sales up 16.6 percent in the Asia Pacific region and down -8.9 percent in Harley's most important Middle East & Africa (EMEA) export market, -2.6 percent in the Latin America region and -9.9 percent in Canada.

For the first six months of the year Harley report worldwide sales down by -1.4 percent at 145,592 units from 147,633 for the first six months of 2014; with domestic US sales -0.7 percent and -7.7 percent in their EMEA region.

On a discretionary basis, the company repurchased 2.8 million shares of Harley-Davidson, Inc. common stock during the second quarter of 2015 at a cost of $164.8 million.

As reported by AMD Magazine recently, the company is to repurchase up to an additional 15 million shares of its common stock and, significantly, to do so with no dollar limit and by incurring long-term debt in the third quarter of 2015 in the amount of $750 million to fund the share repurchase. This is in addition to the 20 million share repurchase announced in early 2014; there are approximately 200m shares outstanding at this time.

AMD, a noted authority on the Harley-Davidson and custom bike market, believes that a stalled share price performance and recent soft fiscals make Harley vulnerable to hostile take-over activity.


Govecs buys Vectrix production line

FOLLOWING the 100 percent buy-out last year by a private investor who already had a shareholding, Munich based electric vehicle manufacturer GOVECS has bought the assembly line of bankrupt American E-scooter manufacturer Vectrix.

Based at Wroclaw (Breslau), Poland, the production line had been set up to produce the "smart e-scooter" for Daimler AG. Following the difficulties encountered by Vectrix that project never got past the prototype phase, but now GOVECS says it is resurrecting the "cutting-edge" production plant and that as part of an asset deal it is taking over the complete machinery as well as the inventory of Vectrix, and that they will be integrating them into their own 4,000 sqm high-tech facilities there.

CEO Thomas Gruebel says the acquisition will be "both a strategic success as well as a necessary next step for GOVECS GmbH ... this is a major step in our international expansion strategy"

GOVECS was founded in 2009 by CEO Thomas Gruebel, who is also President of GOVECS Poland Sp.z o.o., VP Operations Nicholas Holdcraft and Gerald Vollnhals. The company says that the deal is "both a strategic success as well as a necessary next step for GOVECS GmbH, which is experiencing flourishing consumer business and B2B expansion in both Europe and the USA. The acquisition quadruples our production volume to more than 20,000 vehicles a year".

Gruebel said that "by combining our production facilities with the machine park of Vectrix, we will achieve the maximum of production possibilities. This is a major step in our international expansion strategy".

GOVECS are targeting further growth in its e-vehicle OE contract manufacturing business with the cache of high quality "Made in Europe" manufacturing likely to become increasingly important to the customers it will seek to work for in the years ahead, as well as targeting further expansion of its own brand e-scooter programmes.

In 2013 GOVECS won the "European e-scooter of the year "award for the third consecutive time.


GIVI updates MAXIA top case

ITALIAN luggage and accessory specialist Givi say that their latest Monokey top case is "more stylish than ever before, more refined, more resistant, more reliable and has more customisation options".

Available in numerous colours and the subject of numerous redesigns over the years, GIVI say this latest iteration of its popular Monokey top case is "revolutionary". The MAXIA 4 V56 is described as "the ideal choice of equipment for any motorcycle or scooter user who seeks increasing load capacity or carrying large luggage when travelling on two wheels".
For decades, the MAXIA has been the most popular Monokey top case from the Italian company, dating back to 1991 (E50 MAXIA) and continuing through the renewed versions of 2000 (E52 MAXIA 2) and 2008 (E55 MAXIA 3). All of these models "make a progression towards the refined design concepts and advanced materials use represented by the new V56 MAXIA 4.
The technical and aesthetic changes made by the GIVI R&D Department are multiple and involve essentially all the main components of this large top case. With a capacity of 56 litres, enough to store two full-face helmets, and maximum load capacity of 10 kg, the V56 MAXIA 4 is available in four colourway versions with switchable ABS covers.
Further new features include internally strengthened outer edge, choice of ABS or aluminium covers (a design based on their current V47 top case), new outer bands and new optical reflectors with small reflector on the outer band.


Modeka Motorcycle Equipment

Milow and Milena leather jackets

MODEKA has launched two new leather jackets in their Urban Wear line. Made from soft lambs leather, they are available in charcoal grey with a blue tint. 

Milena jacket

Milow jacket

The inner lining has a skull design and SAS-TEC protectors can be retro-fitted at the shoulders/elbows and the back.



GSX-S 1000 parts

NOTED German parts and accessory designer ABM has new parts for Sukuki's GSX-S 1000.

Their "Stremo" licence plate holder is CNC machined and black powder coated, with a seamlessly adjustable plate angle; ships with mounting kit and LED bulb.

Their "Synto" and "SyntoEvo" levers are 6-way adjustable designs, precision CNC machined in a range of anodised colours in short or long lever. ABM says that they offer "excellent grip and are adjustable during riding".


Barnett Clutches & Cables

Clutch spring kits for Ducati

BARNETT's clutch spring kit for Ducati 6-speed dry clutch models is designed "with performance, durability and style in mind", according to the company. 

Included are six heavy duty clutch springs that are made from chrome silicon, then shot-peened, heat-treated and powder-coated gloss black for "an attractive, long lasting and durable finish. The end result is great looks and reliable performance with no noticeable increase in lever effort".
To complete the kit, they also include six stainless steel screws and six billet aluminium spring cups in the choice of red, black, gold or clear anodised. Barnett was founded in 1948 and is still manufacturing all its products in California, USA, under the same family ownership.



2015 Honda Forza 125 mufflers

THE LeoVince development team is offering two mufflers for the 2015 Honda Forza 125, both of which are described as " unique in style and design".

The LV ONE exhaust is a competitively priced high quality product with "the perfect combination of style and material", according to the company. The oval-shaped exhaust is made of TIG welded AISI 304 stainless steel with an end cap in high performance technopolymer, which is said to produce "a light muffler resistant to mechanical and thermal stresses. The exhaust pipe fixing bracket is made completely of carbon.
"The geometry, specifically developed for the LV ONE, is designed to boost the torque and maximum power, increasing performance within the parameters set by EU standards".
Also seen here, the NERO exhaust system is described as having "a modern and aggressive design". The muffler has a casing in AISI 304 stainless steel finished with a black ceramic based paint, a material that is said to provide excellent resistance to high temperatures.
The body of the muffler is equipped with TIG welded brackets, allowing easy assembly and ensuring a "more stable attachment and improved resistance to thermal and mechanical stresses".

The asymmetrically cut outlet is made entirely of durable, lightweight carbon fibre. The mufflers in the NERO range are all EVO II approved so "performance optimisation is within the parameters set by EU legislation".
Originally founded in 1954, LeoVince currently has 150 employees between all its premises in Italy, Poland, Asia and Brazil, offer a 500-item product line with some 75 percent of sales exported to over 100 countries.
In 2014 LeoVince partnered with Adler S.p.A, one of the major manufacturers of motorcycle components in Italy. The company say that the agreement with Adler sends a "strong signal of continuity for the LeoVince product line. The synergy between our two companies helps us respond to the new challenges imposed by the global market".


National Cycle

Scrambler windshields

NATIONAL Cycle have some great choices for wind and weather protection for the Scrambler. For a smaller screen with big screen performance, riders can choose a clear or light tint  'Deflector Screen', said to be one of the world's best known and most copied windshields. It has a 2-point mounting system that includes an easy-to-use 'RakeAdjust' feature.

The Deflector Screen DX additionally features patented 'QuickSet' mounts so riders can remove or reinstall the windshield in a claimed under one minute time.

For riders needing a bigger Scrambler windshield and a 4-point mounting system, National Cycle's 'Street Shield' offers excellent upper body protection and sturdy U-clamp mounts. The taller and wider Street Shield EX also features the 'QuickSet' mounting system.

For the ultimate in wind protection, the 'Plexifairing 3' was introduced in 1984 (the world's first quick release windshield) and became an instant hit with high-mileage riders. It features extended hand and leg protection and the QuickSet mounting system.

Founded in 1937, and still under the same family ownership, National Cycle make all their windshields and accessories themselves at their 110,000 sq ft facility near Chicago.



Xman Racing Blouson

BELSTAFF has released its Xman Racing Blouson in distress-look off Green, with a coated polyurethane film added to the cotton fleece material to make it water repellent. The white cotton fleece is dyed and coated then hand finished.
This application technique is a new development within Belstaff's Pure Motorcycle range, resulting in a rubberized fabric that offers comfort, protection and ease of wear. Features include quilted reinforcements on shoulders, elbows and back hem, CE removable soft protectors on the shoulders and elbows, metal breathers under arm, adjustable neck strap and upper pockets closed by flap and snap buttons ensure functionality is maintained.