As a “born-again biker” I have to reply to Paul Hunter’s letter (MW September 18).
Mr Hunter, you are missing the point. The motorcycle industry is doing a fine job in both product development and marketing. There is nothing wrong with the strategy.
Take a look at the statistics and you will see what I mean. Bike sales in Britain are booming. Where is this boom? It is in the over 900cc Superbike class where price tags are in five figures, with Formula 1 performance to match. The only people able to afford these prices and can qualify for insurance are the “middle-aged” thrill seekers – I know, I am one.
We buy and ride these bikes for pure entertainment. The thought of owning one for its commuting convenience is a joke. Ride these machines in traffic and you cry out for the open road. Ease of parking – forget it, they are so desirable they get stolen unless chained to a Rottweiler. Running costs – a tyre costs 150 and lasts 3,000 miles of pure fun. Also fuel consumption at maximum fun can be under 30 miles per gallon.
But this is only one aspect; the other category which is also booming is the small bike and scooter under 100cc, with the ideal commuter economy you describe. The reason this is not featured in any advertising is because you drive the image and the customer sorts out the product they want. The image gets people to look in the showroom now that biking is acceptable, stylish and desirable, having shed its greasy “rock & roll” image.
The new product development is in place, the industry understands its consumer better than you think and there is no mileage in focusing on “convenience and safety” for the “ride to work biker”.
Me, I commute to work in my BMW 7 series thank you, even when it is not raining. My bike is strictly for “time-off for good behaviour”.
Director & vice-president Europe region