The first bike Show of the 2010 riding season took place in Toronto this past weekend (December 11 to 13, 2009).
The past year was a painful one for the major Japanese manufacturers, who had implied that they would pull back on new model development, and work on pricing to reduce inventories of non-current models. The effects of this strategy were visible at most Japanese exhibits, with few really new road going models.
The one exception is Honda, who have announced close to ten all-new models for 2010, with the all new VFR1200, CBF1000A, and new VT1300 and VT750 models leading the way. We will prepare separate analysis for the major Japanese brands, as well as Harley-Davidson, in the coming weeks.
Lets look at niche players, where the larger ones had a much better year than the very large manufacturers.
English stalwart Triumph lead the way with a whopping 20% increase in unit sales in Canada last year. The Street Triple and R variant led the way, as they did in the rest of the world, followed by the Bonneville and other retro-look machines. Sales of the large 1050 triples remained steady, while much is expected from the new and impressive Thunderbird custom. I recently rode the Sprint ST and Thunderbird in France, and was certainly impressed by the quality and price performance of both models.
The German manufacturer also had a very good year in 2009, with unit sales up by nearly 10%. Now that the S 1000 RR has arrived, that various F800 models are available and that key R1200 models have been updated, BMW expects another healthy growth year in 2010.
To add to their optimism, BMW are also expected to launch a long expected K1200LT replacement, and plug a few gaps in the 800 and 650 ranges, and – maybe, just maybe – come out with a scooter, to generate profits but also to attract more newbies with an irresistible entry point into the BMW family.
The flashy Italian maker also grew in 2009, and is tackling 2010 with their largest spread of models ever. The strategy aims at extending coverage from sporting bikes to urban, touring, sport, and off road models, as well as offer two levels of bike in each category.