STOP IT! – Snag reckons all these new models are a bit of a joke – By Greg Leech
I’m sure we’ve all noticed the phenomenon for auto and motorcycle manufacturers exploitation of the perceived need to bring out a new model, every year. They are proud of it, even allowing for the year number appearing in the model designation (K1, K2 etc).
In many cases bike companies have to make a big song and dance about things as minor as a colour change, or a new graphic. That gives them the excuse to make your existing bike appear just that little bit older, even if it is essentially that same motorcycle. Makes people buy a newie, does that. See why they do it?
Now, this is all dreadfully wasteful and does little more than make the price of motorcycles, yes, the ones we buy, more expensive. In fact, substantially so. Got your attention now haven’t I?
You see, tooling up for a change to a model, particularly if there is substantial alterations to the outgoing model, costs the factory concerned mega-bucks. There’s machinery, moulds, specialist tools, training… So many elements. All to make the bloke up the road (who is building a bike almost exactly as competent, just a different colour) do precisely the same thing. Madness. And you pay for it in the showroom, mark my words.
Don’t fall for the trick that a new model is a better bike. Oh no, not at all. The Ducati 916 for example? Its successors looked like they would be very nice bikes – when they were finished. That was as much about aesthetics as anything else, but who isn’t concerned with how their bike looks? Look no further than BMW’s utterly dreadful R 1200 C. That thing fell outta the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down, and finished up resembling a transvestite with a beard. Toss in the fact that the front and rear suspension were going through an ugly divorce, an engine that made Amanda Vanstone look quick and even James Bond couldn’t save it. Word is, in the Atlantic, in many years to come, there will be a blip on a ship’s radar. ‘It’s something big and metallic cap’n,’ will come the bosun’s call. Yep, 3500 BMW R 1200 Cs will get a radar operator’s attention. Pity the market hated it with a veritable (but totally rightful) passion. Now, where the hell were we?
Oh yeah. How about the VFR800. The first gen of the 800 was a piggy thing, the 750 it replaced a refined sweetheart of a bike. I’ll get punched in the head for this one, but I reckon the R 1200 GS was nowhere near as entertaining or pure a motorcycle as the 1150 it replaced.
In all seriousness, who gives a thought-out fat rat’s arse if a sports bike is two kilos lighter than last year’s? That the sump plug is now made of titanium, that the lap counter can be programmed for different tracks around the world?
I have had serious conversations with riders who are trying to get a couple of kilos out of their bike. ‘What do you reckon Snag?’, they ask. ‘Have a reasonably satisfying evacuation of your exhaust prior to your ride’, is my usual response. Yep, piffing the parmagiana will get you around 2kg on a good day. Especially if it is the result of a country pub meal purchase. And, no one can process corn, so don’t get too concerned about that.
Now, I could be way off here, but I reckon there will be a good percentage of you that feel the same way on this front. I find all the techno-crapola on new, flasho bikes, all a little disconcerting. Yes, many of them are helpful and I’ll never bag out ABS, that’s a great step forward. But, the programmable mapping, 86 suspension setup choices and electronic fish finder in the multi-function LED display does not a southerly-Snag-Stirring cause. It does little more than confuse me (okay, not Mt Everest without oxygen to do that, I admit), and in fact, makes me uncomfortable. I guess those of my ilk just can’t help wondering how many banks we are going to have to rob if any of that stuff goes wrong. Oh, and don’t for a second let them fool you that things won’t go wrong. They will and they will cost you plenty when they do.
So. Stop making newies every bloody year, when you hit a goodie, just keep making it, and drop prices on a global scale. I don’t wanna go all tree-huggy on your arses, but the slowing of all this contrived urgency might let your kids get about without their bio-suits on, just for a little longer.
A ride on my Norton seems just about the right thing about now.
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