Friday, 23 February 2018

Commnet by Editor, Robin Bradley

Pods for Bods? Nah,
I think not!

Brussels based international motorcycle trade association ACEM staged its 13th annual conference in Brussels in January. The event, titled “Sustainable Motorcycling in Europe”, attracted more than 250 attendees from all over Europe, representing businesses, representatives from the European Commission, the European Parliament, Member States, NGOs and other organisations. 
The focus, of course, was on environmental sustainability, which embraces both kinds of emissions - chemical pollutants and noise - and sustainability in terms of the safety of its customers and other road users (vehicles safety, apparel and training quality).
Although slow to start with, in terms of all these evolving requirements, the industry has responded to the ever-tightening emissions and safety requirements seen in the past twenty plus years with an increasing sense of urgency and realism about the transport landscape of the future.
As a result of doing so, motorcycling is now not only regarded by transport policy makers as a legitimate form of transport whose consumers have exactly the same citizens’ rights as any other group of road users, but is also now regarded as one of the “good guys” of future facing transport solutions with a binding regulatory requirement for all new transport safety and environmental rule- making to be stress-tested against the very specific road use requirements of powered two- wheelers.
In calling on the EU to recognise that “sustainability” also means commercial viability, it fell to ACEM President and KTM CEO Stefan Pierer to point out that commercial sustainability also needed to be recognised as an essential part of the equation - an essential precondition of society’s ability to deliver on its ambitions for clean air, reduced urban congestion and safe roads.
“A market that is not economically viable cannot be regarded as being sustainable in any sense” said Pierer. He went on to call for greater speed and balance in arriving at future stages of regulation, saying that “in addition to manufacturers having responsibilities for good quality products, regulators have responsibilities too - responsibility to deliver good quality regulations. The framework they set for manufacturers to work in must also be sustainable from a business point of view.

Stefan Pierer, KTM CEO: “A market that is not economically viable cannot be regarded as being sustainable in any sense”

“Our industry is committed to sustainability, which we understand as a complex process related to environmental performance of vehicles, road safety and economic viability of our operations.
“Since 1999, our sector moved from the Euro 0 to the Euro 4 standard. Carbon monoxide emissions were reduced by 91%. Nitrogen oxide and carbon emissions considered together went down by 92%. Even more, this reduction in limit values took place at the same time that new and more stringent testing procedures were introduced in European legislation.
“In the coming months, we will start working on the implementation of the future Euro 5 environmental standard. However, manufacturing vehicles requires complex planning and we urgently need clarity from the European Commission regarding the technical content and implementation timeline of Euro 5.”
For me, one of the “elephants in the room” as the low or zero emissions, EV, driver assist, V2V and autonomous vehicle debates continue to evolve, has been where exactly will motorcycles fit into these often competing visions of the future. Antonio Perlot, the Secretary General of ACEM, quite rightly pointed to a future in which motorcycles/PTWs have a major role to play. However, it fell to Bernd Lange, an MEP from Germany and a player in the European Parliament’s scrutiny of proposed motorcycle transport regulation, to state the obvious. That while it is clear that electric power plants have a role to play, beyond the urban mobility context, long distance motorcycle travel faces the same challenges of capacity and charge time as do cars. There will therefore always be a role for low/zero emission internal combustion engine power plants.
Yes, exactly. The future is bright, but it is hybrid. Those who think that we are headed towards an entirely autonomous vehicle future are naïve. That is neither possible, necessary or desirable. The evolution of 21st century transport solutions of all kinds will be a mixed palette of circumstance-specific solutions in which it is the combination of improved and new elements that will achieve transport objectives – not the elimination of established elements or dependency on any one single new element.
Indeed, for me it is driver assist and V2V technology that holds the key for the future of life on two wheels. The safer and easier it becomes to use our products, in addition to the quieter and “greener” they are, the more of them we’ll sell.
Road users of the mid twenty-first century and beyond will be beneficiaries of a mixed portfolio of solutions; hopefully a perfect storm of initiatives that will make riding and driving on the roads cleaner, quieter, safer, less stressful and, even if one inevitable area of driver assist and V2V intervention are speed limit governors, actually, the result would be quicker transport too.
Now, autonomous movement of goods across land, sea and air, now that would actually address the largest single source of airborne pollutants produced by road going vehicles – “commercials” are the largest polluters by volume of toxins released. But a fully autonomous world of pods for bods? Nah, I think not!


Honda: 60 years 5 m PTWs produced in Malaysia

Boon Siew Honda Sdn. Bhd. (BSH), a manufacturer and distributor of Honda motorcycles in Malaysia, has celebrated a historical milestone with 60 years of Honda’s motorcycle business in Malaysia, and 5 million units produced in Penang.

Honda’s motorcycle business in Malaysia began in 1957 with the establishment of the first motorcycle showroom by Boon Siew Sdn. Bhd. at Pitt Street, Penang, with fifty units of 4-stroke Honda Cub.
In 1969, local production of Honda motorcycles commenced through a technical collaboration. In 2008, Oriental Holdings Berhad and Honda Motor Co., Ltd. formed a joint venture company, Boon Siew Honda Sdn. Bhd., to strengthen Honda motorcycle production and sales in Malaysia. In 2013, Boon Siew Honda began manufacturing at its new plant in Batu Kawan to cater for the increasing demand of Honda motorcycles in Malaysia.
Production had reached 1 million units by 1986, 3 million by 2007, and Honda has now made more than 5 million PTWs in Malaysia.

Polaris Industries

Polaris reports record +18%, $1,431 million Q4 2017 sales

Polaris Industries (owner of Indian Motorcycles) reported record fourth quarter 2017 sales of $1,431 million, up +18 percent.

“I am proud of the Polaris team and excited to see their dedication and hard work pay off as we returned the company to sustainable profitable growth in 2017. Indian Motorcycles massively outperformed the Motorcycle industry, building on its existing momentum with a flood of product news and a very successful year on the race track”, said CEO Scott Wine. 

Motorcycle segment sales, including PG&A, totalled $103 million, a decrease of two percent compared to $104 million reported in the fourth quarter of 2016 which included $25 million of Victory Motorcycle wholegood, accessory and apparel sales. Indian Motorcycles wholegood sales increased in the high-single digit percent range in the fourth quarter, while Slingshot sales more than doubled. Gross profit for the fourth quarter of 2017 was $5 million compared to $1 million in the fourth quarter of 2016. Adjusted for the Victory Motorcycles wind down costs of $3 million, motorcycle gross profit was $8 million, up from the fourth quarter last year due to higher sales volume for both Indian Motorcycles and Slingshot and lower warranty costs.

Off-Road Vehicle (“ORV”) and Snowmobile segment sales, including their respective PG&A related sales, were $994 million for the fourth quarter of 2017, up 13 percent over $881 million for the fourth quarter of 2016 driven primarily by improved side-by-side shipments. PG&A sales for ORV and Snowmobiles combined, increased nine percent in the 2017 fourth quarter compared to the fourth quarter last year. Gross profit increased +11 percent to $279 million, or 28.0 percent of sales, in the fourth quarter of 2017, compared to $252 million, or 28.6 percent of sales, in the fourth quarter of 2016. Gross profit percentage decreased primarily due to higher warranty and negative product mix offset somewhat by lower promotional costs.

“Indian Motorcycles massively outperformed the motorcycle industry, building on its existing momentum with a flood of product news and a very successful year on the race track”

International sales to customers outside of North America, including PG&A, totalled $211 million for the fourth quarter of 2017, up +18 percent, from the same period in 2016. In the fourth quarter, sales in EMEA grew low-twenties percent, Asia Pacific increased high-single digits percent, and Latin America sales rose mid-teens percent.
In corporate terms gross profit increased +18 percent to $368 million for the fourth quarter of 2017 from $313 million in the fourth quarter of 2016.
Polaris announced its intention to wind down its Victory Motorcycles operations on January 9, 2017. The decision is expected to improve the long-term profitability of Polaris and its global motorcycle business, while materially improving the company’s competitive position in the industry.

German motorcycle registrations

Germany: motorcycle registrations -14.21 percent for 2017

The latest statistics released by the German motorcycle industry trade association (IVM) for the period to the end of December 2017 are affected by the year-ago rush to pre-register unsold 2016 Euro 3 inventory before the December 31st, 2016 deadline. 

In motorcycle registration terms, the market was said to have been down by -79.09 percent in December on low volumes (2,006 units), having been (theoretically) down by -22.46 percent in November, -14.18 percent in October and -22.46 percent in September.
For the full year new registrations in Germany are down by -14.21 percent at 100,877 units. However, allowing for the Euro 3 pre-registration effect and other factors affecting dealer inventory and unit sales for 2017, the market in Germany was, in all probability, broadly ‘flat’ for 2017, in the region of between -2.5 and +2.5 percent in motorcycle sales terms.
Though heavily incentivised units, the Euro 3 models that were pre-registered in the final quarter of 2016 will still have ben “new” machines as far as consumers are concerned and will have been sold during the first half of this year, artificially reducing the apparent market performance. The pre-registrations pushed the German 2016 statistics to show an artificially high +15.01 percent for the year, German new motorcycle registrations have been +5.59 percent and +10.75 percent for 2015 and 2014 respectively.
Total PTW registrations are said to have been -19.10 percent for 2017 in Germany at 139,831 units (compared to 172,846 in 2016 and 150,550 in 2015). The German market bottomed-out at 122,519 total new PTW registrations in 2010, and notwithstanding the effects of the recent statistical anomalies, has grown steadily ever since.
As is usual these days, BMW’s R 1200 GS continues its inexorable march towards domination, with 8,333 units reported as sold in Germany in 2017, leaving Yamaha’s MT-07 eating its dust in second with 3,493 units sold, followed by the Kawasaki Z 650 (2,665 units), Honda’s CRF 1000 ‘Africa Twin’ (2,562 units) and Kawasaki’s Z 900 (2,203 units); next come the BMW R nineT, Honda NC 750 X, KTM 690 Duke, BMW S 1000 R and KTM 1290 Superduke R.
With 7 models in the top 20 selling list, it is again no surprise that BMW was motorcycle (and total PTW) market share leader for 2017 in Germany, with 24,750 motorcycle units sold for a 24.53 percent increased market share. Honda is second (12,653 units sold for a 12.54 percent market share), with Yamaha third (10,874 units sold for a 10.78 percent market share), followed by Kawasaki, KTM, Harley-Davidson, Ducati, Triumph, Suzuki, with Husqvarna tenth.


Small and powerful Atto rear and brake light

German premium lights and accessories specialist Kellermann has added to its popular ‘Atto’ mini lights programme with the Atto RB - “probably the world’s smallest street legal rear and break light for motorcycles”.

The Atto Dark and the new Atto RB “define a completely new category of indicators: sensationally small and spectacularly bright. The new Atto RB rear and break light is a dual function marvel of miniaturisation and ultra-bright, market-leading LED technology”.
Kellermann CEO Dr. Stefan Wöste says that “with the Atto RB we take the saying “to see red” to the maximum with an intense red point of light delivering safety and clean design lines, all in one small package.

“The brake light of the Atto RB warns with an intensity that is second to none on the market. It keeps the following traffic at a distance with its incredible illuminating power. As with all our Atto series indicators, the optimised light channelling is managed through a smart system of lenses and reflectors. This is a result of the EXtranz - Extreme Optical Transparency - and our exclusive high-power LED technology.”
The complete electronics of the Bullet Atto are in the casing, and the indicator can be plugged into the 12 volt net directly. Features include IC operated 330 khz Long Life Protection Guard.



Newfren, new compounds

Based near Turin, Newfren has been manufacturing a complete range of motorcycle brake spare parts for over 50 years - brake pads, brake shoes, brake discs and clutches for a wide range of popular Italian and international makes and models going back to the 1960s.

Stock replacement and high performance products are offered, with new high performance compounds available that feature 16 application specific formulations to “guarantee the right quality, efficiency and performance for all braking needs”. Newfren says its distributors and dealers have access to “one of the most comprehensive range of motorcycle pads available with coverage for most popular makes and models of street and off-road motorcycles and scooters”.
Founded in the 1950s by Alessandro Barbero, Newfren has been an innovator and early adopter of a  number of new brake technologies, such as bonded friction material, gravity and high pressure die casting and brake shoes without rivets.
The company is still in family ownership with Valter Barbero at the helm, and 24 months ago the company completed a major two-year investment programme in new manufacturing technology at their 10,000 sqm facility in Italy. Newfren also has another modern 2,000 sqm facility based in Tunisia, where brake shoes are assembled.
Ahead of industry requirements where environmental manufacturing and compound formula requirements are concerned, Newfren has been granted UNI EN ISO 9001-2000 certification for its quality control system and ABE certification from the German KBA for many of its products.
Three ranges are offered for Road and four for Off-Road applications in addition to their Scooter pads - R01, Race Sinter for Road Bikes and X01, Dirt Sinter for Off-Road bikes are the two top level pads.


Cross-Center International

Spoke sets for Honda CRF, XR and F

Swedish Motocross specialist Cross-Center International has added to an already extensive range of MX and ADV bike spoke options with new stainless-steel OEM replacement (3.6 mm) and Heavy Duty (4.0 mm) front and rear spoke kits for Honda’s popular CRF 100 and variants.

Manufactured in-house by Cross-Center, all the company’s spokes are made of Swedish stainless material, with all coloured nipples made of aluminium and anodised. “We have a wide range of different spoke nipples, in terms of material choices, such as steel, brass and aluminium in a wide range of size options and surface treatments - such as brass or aluminium only, zinc, nickel plated or anodised,” says owner Torbjörn Bergh.
“All our spokes are made as exact as possible to OEM specifications, and are sold as replacement spokes. Some spokes may have different length, bend or angle but when assembled they will fit the wheel perfectly. “We have tested all the other spokes on the market and know that ours are definitely made from the strongest stainless material available.
“Our steel spoke wire has a tensile strength of 1450 Nm and a yield strength of 1350 Nm and we include nickel plated steel spoke nipples in the price of a spoke or spoke set. Not only is ours the largest assortment of motocross spoke sets in the world, but we also make spokes for off-road, street bikes and vintage bikes.
Cross-Center has over 500 different spoke kits on the shelf and ready to ship at any one time. They also offer natural or anodised colour finished hubs and rims and a big selection of motocross brake discs.  Torbjörn says they are looking for importer/distributors worldwide and that “if we do not have the spokes a distributor or dealer needs, then simple – we make them to order, and they will meet or exceed OE specifications in just the same way all our spokes do”.


Pyramid Plastics

MT-07 belly pans and huggers

British bodywork and accessories specialist Pyramid Plastics has updated its range of MT-07 belly pans and huggers to include new Tech Black, Night Fluo Grey, Powder White and Yamaha Blue colour schemes for 2017. 

Designed to accommodate original fitment and aftermarket Akrapovic and Yoshimura exhaust systems, the hugger comes complete with a built-in chain guard and a substantial extension below the swingarm, offering superior protection for the linkage.
Providing added protection, as well as a unique aesthetic, Pyramid’s colour matched parts “really help to set one MT-07 apart from the rest”.

Pyramid offers hugger extensions for over 75 models and counting, with over 350 Extenda Fendas available from inventory. Founded in 1986, Pyramid ship worldwide direct from their UK factory.