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Posts Tagged ‘Yamaha’

CR-MotorcyclesThat is, according to Consumer Reports.

You know, the independent, consumer-oriented not-for-profit organization, replete with consumer activists.

Recognized as an automotive quality and value authority, Consumer Reports branched out and started reviewing motorcycles last year.  They published the first-ever report on the most reliable motorcycles from five of the biggest brands — Harley, BMW, Honda, Kawasaki, and Yamaha.  For some odd reason, Polaris’ Victory and Indian brands didn’t make enough of an impact in the market to attract Consumer Reports attention by the time of the survey.

percentage-of-bikes-with-problems_largeFrom its research Consumer Reports discovered that quality varies “significantly” among brands — and the best brand, Yamaha, is about six times more reliable than the worst, BMW.

Only about one Yamaha motorcycle in 10 has experienced a major problem or required a serious repair over the past four years, according to the 4,424 motorcycle owners surveyed by Consumer Reports. In contrast, about one BMW motorcycle in three has suffered from such a complaint — and one Harley in four.

Consumer Reports found that major, big-ticket repairs were few and far between in its research. Regardless of bike and regardless of brand, only about 3% of all problems reported to Consumer Reports involved a motorcycle’s engine, only 3% a transmission, and only 7% a clutch. More common were issues with a vehicle’s brakes or electrical or fuel system, and with the accessories.

Overall, Consumer Reports noted that about 75% of the repairs reported to it were performed for $200 or less.

Photo courtesy of Consumer Reports.

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Dirt Bike Reunion - Yamaha WR450F

Dirt Bike Reunion – Yamaha WR450F

People love story.  It’s the essence of novels, TV and film.  It also explains why reality TV has so many script writers and how phony rules in America.

This video took me back to the dirt-whirling days on my Honda CT70 (HERE) and more recently with buddies on the Oregon coast range on the old Yamaha YZ400 (HERE).  What a terrific dirt bike, that smoker 2-stroke was!

Everybody says they want shorter info snippets, but what they really want is something that rivets them.  They’ve got endless time for great, and this video is just that – great!  Prop’s to Mark Toia.

Feel AliveI think travel gives you perspective.  Be it trail rides, sand dunes or the longer wind in the face road trips.  You see satisfaction is unexpected.  In other words, it’s when you’re riding down the open road (or trail) behind the handle bars that you’ll suddenly realize you love your life.

I’m not sure about you, but I’ve noticed that one-time events… seem to happen all the time, and as I age I’m less susceptible to the hype.  This video about 4 friends that use to ride and hang out as kids and reunite atop their favorite hills was inspiring.

Photo courtesy of Toia.com

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Purpose-2012With a cocktail of high-strength steel, aluminum, magnesium, rubber and plastic Harley-Davidson adds flexibility, functionality and refreshed paint schemes to their model lineup each year.

By the numbers, 2012 was a pivotal year for Harley-Davidson.  Earnings per share up 16.7%, revenue growth up 6%, $280M annual savings from restructuring, sales outreach with the 18-34 demographic grew at twice the rate of core customers, but in the first ever Consumer Reports’ motorcycle reliability survey, conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center about 1-in-4 owners of Harley-Davidson motorcycles reported experiencing a major problem with the motorcycle in the previous four years.

Twenty-five percent had a major problem!

H-D Executive Leadership Team

H-D Executive Leadership Team

It turns out that BMW motorcycles were even less reliable than a Harley-Davidson with about 1-in-3 owners reporting problems in the previous four years.  How did the Japanese manufactures perform?  Only about 1-in-10 Yamaha owners experienced issues during that time, followed closely by Kawasaki and Honda.

However, reliability problems don’t seem to affect the satisfaction scores of owners and their bikes.  When asked whether, considering everything, they would buy their bike again if they had to do it over, 75% of Harley-Davidson owners said definitely yes, closely followed by 74% of BMW owners and 72% of Honda owners.  In contrast, only 63 and 60% of Yamaha and Kawasaki owners, respectively, would buy their bike again.

Both BMW and Harley-Davidson riders have segments that skew more toward the enthusiast and hardcore, meaning they tend to keep bikes longer and I wonder if this says something about the riders than the bikes.  Could H-D riders be more critical about problems?

AZ Proving Grounds Video

AZ Proving Grounds Video

In 2012, the average U.S. retail purchaser of a new Harley-Davidson motorcycle had a median household income of approximately $89,500. The Company defined its U.S. core customer base as Caucasian men over the age of 35 and its U.S. outreach customers as women, young adults, African-American adults, and Latino adults. (Sources: 2012 Company 10K and 2012 Annual Review)  The motor company no longer provides data on age demographics which had been rising in recent years.

Reliability is only one of several factors buyers consider when purchasing a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.  Among the bikes that needed repairs, survey respondents reporting having the most trouble with accessories, such as lights, instruments, switches, and radios (21 percent), brakes (20 percent), the electrical system (16 percent), and the fuel system (15 percent).  Most of the repairs were fairly inexpensive, but for a company whose reputation relies heavily on the quality of its products the 1-in-4 number is perplexing.

The survey results can be viewed by subscribers at the ConsumerReports.org web site and in the May issue of Consumer Reports.

Photos courtesy of H-D.  

H-D Executive Leadership Team photo: (Left to Right — Tonit Calaway (VP, Human Resources); John Olin (Sr. VP and CFO); Keith Wandell (Chairman, President and CEO); Lawrence Hund (President and COO HDFS); John Baker (GM, Corp Strategy and Business Development); Joanne Bischmann (VP, Communications); Paul Jones (VP, General Counsel))

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A classic Yamaha ad said it all in 1978

Do you remember when the last time you ask yourself… “What was I thinking…?”

I’m sure everyone reading this post right now will immediately jump to a time in their life or place where they can remember an incident created by some questionable judgment.

I can remember an instance on my trusty Yamaha YZ400 that I often referred to as “Ol Yeller” – that bike really helped me perfect the art of sliding on gravel after failing to negotiate a bend in the road at high speed.  At the time I was thinking in slow motion how this isn’t so bad… I’ll just slide toward the right into that nice green pasture.  No fence, no worries.  Just then the motorcycle (which was out in front of me) flipped up in the air and changed directions mid-stream while I dropped several feet into a creek bed with a thud.   I remember staring up at the blue sky and hearing the quiet sounds of nature — birds chirping and the sounds of a bubbling brook that was shortly followed with a wet sensation in my pants.  It wasn’t what you think!

The "'Ol Yeller" - 1978 Yamaha YZ400

The world came to a standstill and other than suffering from a severely bruised ego I only noticed a little trouble breathing.  I sat up (helped by a fair amount of adrenalin) in time for my buddy to arrive and ask “Dude, what were you thinking?”  I should have ask myself that question just before gunning the YZ throttle and I did ask it a number of times daily when later I learned and suffered through the recovery of a couple cracked ribs.

I picked myself up and sloshed out of the ice cold creek (remember that wet sensation?), checked that everything seemed to be in place, located the Yamaha and rode with a bent handlebar and warped front wheel back to Lee’s Camp on the OR coast range where we started the day.   It was a painful ride and ended an otherwise rather good riding day.  It’s provided some good camp fire stories over the years.

Had the anti-OHV group, Wildlands CPR been in the area I’m sure they would have used my incident  as a poster-child example for off-road harassing of wildlife and destroying vegetation.

How about you?  Do you have a “What was I thinking” experience?

Photo courtesy of Yamaha.

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The 2012 Progressive International Motorcycle show will soon hit the northwest on December 16-18th at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.

Attendees can check-out new bikes from Aprilia, Beta, BMW, Brammo, BRP, Darwin, Ducati, Erik Buell Racing, Gas Gas, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Husqvarna, Indian, Kawasaki, KTM, Moto Guzzi, MV Agusta, Norton, Star, Suzuki, Triumph, Victory and Yamaha.  There will also be the latest aftermarket parts and accessories.

Not only will there be new bikes, but the show is jammed pack with other events and activities.

There is the Learning Curve – an interactive stage with industry experts presenting a variety of motorcycling topics for both new and experienced riders including adventure riding, motorcycle maintenance, increasing bike performance, seminars for women riders and more.   There will be Demo Rides for licensed motorcyclists.  There is the Custom Bike Show – where motorcycle builders will showcase elite-level custom motorcycles competing for a piece of a $90,000 cash purse prize and a chance to compete in the U.S. Championship, at the Daytona Beach Motorcycle Show, in March.

The Smage Bros will have a motorcycle trials stunt riding show and attendees will also get a chance to create their own motorcycle design at the Kawasaki Design-A-Bike kiosk, featuring a brand new digital spray-painting technology available only at these shows.

See you there!

Photo courtesy of Progressive.

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A quick reminder about the annual bike show going on this Saturday at Bob Lanphere’s which is sponsored by Star Chapter 146.  There will be:

  • Free burgers and dogs
  • A lot of raffle items, including a $5600 rolling tool chest from Snap-On tools.
  • A number of vendors will be on site including Custom fabrication, paint, and chrome shops.
  • Many incredible bikes on display in the show.
  • Lanphere’s is offering up inexpensive Dyno runs for the event; check out your bike’s horsepower and torque, and identify any tuning problems for only $25!

It’s free to come out an wander around and look at the bikes, vendors, and eat the food. But, you might want to bring some cash to enter the raffle or bid on one of the many gift baskets being auctioned off for the Candlelighters charity supporting children with cancer and their families. You can also support the charity by shining your bike up and entering it in the show between 10am and 12:30pm for only $10.

Photo courtesy of Star Chapter 146.

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Riding Through Death Valley

You might not know, but the Laughlin River Run in Laughlin, Nevada is also the location of the first giant coal-fired power plant (Mohave Generating Station) to shutdown.

The closure created economic distress to the Navajo Nation, which supplied coal to Mohave through a slurry line at the Black Mesa Mine.   The motorcycle rally hangs on the skirts of the Colorado River and features large numbers of motorcycle enthusiasts wandering through vendor booths, casinos/resorts all setting next to the river’s edge.  I’m working on a detailed post for the ride down, but thought I’d post up a brief summary on some of the highlights:

  1. Our morning departure out of Portland found rain coming down in sheets and the wind blew like a hurricane.
  2. At one point it cost $24 to fill up a five-gallon Harley.
  3. My first motorcycle ride through Death Valley.
  4. The ‘River Run’ had all the built up energy for a spring rally, but the vendor “cha-ching” wasn’t quite as loud as in some years.
  5. Walked into the Aquarius Casino Resort and had no problem getting rooms without reservations.  Lucky?
  6. Room rates were 5X the typical standard pricing ($39.95 vs. $199.95/night).  Anyone who has made it through Econ 101 knows that the scarcity of a commodity drives its value, but this clearly qualifies as gouging (yet we paid it?!).
  7. The large presence of the Mongols MC members at the Aquarius made for some interesting moments entering/exiting the hotel.
  8. The Aquarius temporarily restricted access to the casino floor Saturday night at the height of the River Run, however, they deny rumors that the restriction had anything to do with the presence of “outlaw” motorcycle clubs.
  9. There was a large, well armed and highly visible Las Vegas Metropolitan Police presence at the River Run.  No major problems were reported.
  10. On Friday, April 29 we witnessed a 45mph+ sustained wind storm.  Number of show-class motorcycles damaged by flying debris.
  11. H-D was absent from one of the largest west coast rallies and relinquished customer goodwill to Polaris and Yamaha.  Why?

We’ve had so much nasty weather in Oregon during April that I’m confident about anything May throws at us will be better.

Photo taken on trip in Death Valley.

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