Why do we line up like Lemmings to throw big bucks at our bikes? Snag Tells…
There was a time when you made a decision in regard to what bike you wanted, went into the shop, paid a pretty hefty deposit, waited around a week (driving all of your mates absolutely crazy with talk of nothing else), then picked up the steed and set off for home.
You would have got the bike with enough gas to get you to the nearest servo and and that would be it. No add-ons, no salesman-too-long-a-conversation trying to get you to buy extended warranty and no accessory catalogue.
Which brings us to the point of this week’s rant.
Did you know that parts and accessories revenue has risen to the point for the bigger manufacturers that they would probably become insolvent should they rely on motorcycles alone? No? Well cop these apples…
Harley-Davidson’s net income for 2014 was $844.6 million, based on consolidated revenue of $6.23 billion. For the full-year 2014, revenue from motorcycles was $4.39 billion. Those are impressive numbers, but here’s where it gets interesting ‘thank Christ for that,’, I hear you say. Yes, revenue from parts and accessories was $875.0 million in 2014, and $873.1 million in 2013. Revenue from general merchandise, which includes MotorClothes apparel and accessories, was $284.8 million in 2014 and $295.9 million in 2013.
Now, I’m pretty ordinary at maths, but even I can see that parts, accessories and apparel provides the Motor Company with 25 per cent of its entire income. Yes, 25 per cent. Now H-D is one of the best at all this, and there is nothing at all wrong with selling branded gear and all sorts to go along with your bike. In fact, when it comes to business sense and brand sensitivity, well, H-D is up there with the very biggest brands on the planet. After all, how many brands are tattooed upon the very people to which the product is marketed? Coca Cola would kill for that sort of loyalty. A yo-yo with a fizzy drink logo just doesn’t cut it when placed next to a set of Gen-Yew-Ine Buckhide Full-Tassled Saddlebags, now does it? No one ever got laid doing the Rockin’ the Cradle six times in a row without a major tangle. But a V-Twin decked out, well, let’s face it, that stuff mucks about with the toilet region of both sexes. And, of that, I’m a fan.
Back to business. Neat segue huh?
Consider this. Most of the stuff that H-D and BMW, Honda, Ducati, Suzuki, Yamaha, Kawasaki… I’m not gonna name them all, but you get it. Just about every bike brand which is making a quid has a hefty range of add-on accessories available.
These branded accessories are nearly always, made by someone else, under licence. That means, while a big bike player will retain strong oversight in regard to standards and delivery, the only skin they have in that game is collecting a share of profit, in addition to a whacking big licencing fee. Yep. Ker-blasted-ching.
That branded key fob or T-shirt is often made in a third world country, for a fraction of what you pay for it, and the root entity which it represents has done little or nothing in regard to its production or delivery. That’s a good business. That’s a really good business. The fact that it is about as representative in real terms of the brand as a fish is to a bicycle, shouldn’t stop ya. Well, it probably should, but it won’t. It’s lifestyle, after all. Gotta get me some of that.
Accessories. Big, big business and not going anywhere in a hurry.
I hope I’m not coming off all; negative-like here. Perish that thought. No, indeed, I like a good accessory. The hot-up stuff for bikes now is simply phenomenal. Forget about ripping a bike to bits, working out cams and flowing heads, and all that voodoo stuff. Now, you get a pipe and download, bung in a Power Commander and dial in your horsepower. That is simply fantastic, and bike buyers are spoilt for choice. In fact, the bike industry leads the car industry in this area. Bikes are considered performance items, unlike most cars. We are lucky for that.
Of course, a lot of the stuff on offer from manufacturers in the way of add-on kit, makes perfect sense. Take hard luggage for instance. Before you call my masculinity into question, I ask you this. ‘Have you used hard luggage on a whopping big trip?’ I’m not talking a trundle into the hills for a mochasexual half-caf. I mean, a decent ride. Well if you haven’t, keep your opinions to yourself. The first time you get to roll around in the convenience offered but the use of hard luggage, is well, a bit like the first time you partook in oral sex. Yep, you want it every time.
That’s me. I love hard luggage. Dry gear (most of the time) and I’m at the bar while most of my thickheaded mates are trying to extricate themselves from eight or nine frayed octopus straps. I always get the best bed too. Got you thinking now huh? Or are you still on the oral sex thingy?
Customising has never been so easy, and again, I take my hat off to Harley-Davidson. It’s a known fact that just about everyone tacks on a pipe and filter kit. You get a fairly hefty lift in horsepower right there, and, what’s a Harley if it isn’t making that glorious roar? As a consequence there is a huge range of S&S gear available to personalise a Hog. And, that pulls a further couple of K outta you at point of sale. Smart huh?
The big four Japanese brands are locked in a huge stoush to hold top litre-bike honours. It’s all a bit academic. A select few will ever really know which is quicker. In fact, I remember a bloke asking me, quite seriously, how he could get a couple of kilos out of his bike for a track day. I told him to get up early, eat an apple and take the biggest dump he could. Really. Couple of kilos… Pah.
But, the truth is, the bike that shaves the most grams off, just about each and every year (maddeningly wasteful and naïve), will sell the most balls-out liter bikes. And of course, the add-on catalogue will support that strongly. So, lots of studious men stay up late, wearing white coats and having meetings, to come up with a set of pegs that will drop off some miniscule amount of weight, and that you will buy. And then show your mates. Because you really are Mick Doohan aren’t you? Your mates will think you are even cooler now, will they not? Oh, and I’m Kevin Schwantz, so you can’t be him. Alright?
Accessories. Keeping the bike trade ticking over, keeping us talking and thinking bikes, and really, keeping the whole thing interesting.
Are they all worthy?
Of course not. But there is a fool and his money in all of us, is there not?
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