Here are some of the people and things that caught my eye walking around the show...
Not surprisingly, there was a bit of buzz in the electric scene...
The line is comprised of three bikes: the original maxi scoot, which is seen at the far left above has been joined by a smaller and lighter entry-level scooter and a rather cool electric version of the Piaggio tilting three-wheeler. This latter bike retails for around $14k, and has a claimed 70 mph top speed. The new Vectrix company is honoring the old Vectrix' warranties, and has reestablished relations with many of the old dealers. It's also looking for a few good dealers, while focusing on fleet operators. It has a relationship with a separate company that outfits the machines with extra lights for police work.
New-to-us manufacturers were desperately seeking distributors...
...while others were almost so ugly they were cute.
Some of my friends desperately needed sleep...
I mused that one problem for the old Buell company must have been Harley dealers that didn't 'get' the sport bike market. Erik looked at it slightly differently. "Some of the dealers were great," he told me. "But a lot of them were great at selling cruisers. So one of the things I learned from Harley was that your dealers have to be passionate about the thing you give them to sell. Some people here today hear the price and think it's too high, but lots of people have told me, 'I can sell a few of those.'"
Rotax bought all the rights to the 1125cc Buell motor back from Harley-Davidson, and supplies fully assembled 1125s to EBR. In Wisconsin, the motors are torn down and bored out to 106mm, for an 1190cc final displacement. Needless to say the pistons are replaced, but that's nowhere near all -- the rods and crank are changed, the heads are CNC milled and fitted with Ti valves. Buyers will have the option of a Suter mechanical slipper clutch or the Buell vacuum-assisted one.
Buell hopes to homologate the new bike for AMA Superbike racing by the Infineon round. To conform to AMA Pro Racing rules, he has to have 18 bikes completed, and promise to complete 100 this year. That's about all his12-person shop can make. I asked if he had to show the AMA parts for 100 bikes and he laughed and said that he couldn't afford that many parts. "I have to sell a few bikes, first."
I know that he'll have no trouble selling the first few, as there was a ton of interest in this machine.
|Gorgeous triple clamps, carbon 'tank' and all-business fuel filler. Does the EBR1190RS look like a $40 grand bike? It's not far off, that's for sure.|
Lee Conn and Brian Case are behind the soon-to-be unveiled Motus sport tourer. The company's based out of Birmingham, with motors coming out of Pratt & Miller, up in Michigan. They're working around the clock to prep for a couple of pre-launch 'private screenings' and a public unveiling at Daytona. This is a really interesting story I've been following for a while now and I'll hold off on details for another couple of weeks. Lee showed me a nice-looking bike on his phone, but wouldn't hold it up in this picture. "Your camera looks like it has too many megapixels!"
"This should have been the hard part," Christini told me, patting the bike and meaning, engineering the bike should have been the big challenge. What he hadn't counted on was the red tape involved in becoming a manufacturer. It took three months just to get a letter from the EPA allowing him to bring in the bike in this photo... for EPA testing.
It's been a long road for Christini; I remember seeing one of his first prototypes, back in about 2004 when Dirt Rider and Motorcyclist shared a lockup under the Petersen building on Wilshire Boulevard in Hollywood. Since then, he's installed about 250 kits. He's been courting an OEM, like KTM for years. Now, with Gas Gas dealers suddenly interested in carrying his two-stroke, he's hoping to sell 150 bikes this year, 500 next year, and looking at maybe a couple of thousand in two or three years.
With OEMs showing even more caution than usual right now, becoming his own manufacturer makes good sense. I think that the sharply priced four-stroke will appeal to casual riders, who are the very people who benefit most from 2WD. As soon as he has a dual-sport version of the 450, I'll be pestering him for a loaner to test.
...and others desperately needed sponsors.
Around Christmas, David Lloyd told me that ENI/AGIP had withdrawn sponsorship of Lloyd Brothers Motorsports brilliant Ducati flat track program. I hope the presence of his bike in the ENI booth means that they've found a way to keep their program on track. I'll check in with David soon and report back.
Finally, some were just plain desperate...
|"Hmm, what will get people's attention? I know, tight miniskirts." "No way, dude, it should be free beer." "Tight miniskirts." "Free beer!" "Tight miniskirts!!" "Free beer!!!" "Wait! Why are we fighting?.."|