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March 12, 2007 – Motorcycle Digest

Japanese bike production drops in 2006
Japanese manufacturers built slightly fewer motorcycles in 2006 than the previous year, marking the first production decrease in three years, according to the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association.
The production total for 2006 stood at 1,771,386 units, down 1.1 percent compared with the previous year.
Broken down by company, Honda built 546,418, a decrease of more than 7 percent; Suzuki 523,408, an increase of 7 percent; Yamaha 452,561, a decrease of nearly 4 percent; and Kawasaki 248,538, an increase of about 3 percent.
The number of motorcycles Japanese manufacturers exported was largely flat in 2006 compared to the previous year. Exports in 2006 numbered 1,333,186 units, up 0.1 percent.
The total value of motorcycles exported was $7.8 million, including $1.3 million for parts. That was an export increase of 2.4 percent compared with the previous year.
Piaggio plans to build a diesel plant in India
Piaggio SpA is moving forward with plans to construct a plant in India to produce a range of diesel motors.
In a press release, Piaggio CEO Roberto Colaninno stated the Indian diesel motor plant is the company’s largest industrial project outside Europe. The project includes designing and developing a new 1,000cc to 1,200cc two-cylinder motor, as well as a single-cylinder 500cc motor, both with direct injection.
The plant will have the capacity to produce up to 200,000 motors per year, and will be built in the Pune region in the state of Maharashtra, near another Piaggio plant in Baramati. The plant is set to open in late 2009 or early 2010.
Big Dog cancels motorcycle rally
After two years of building the Big Dog Motorcycles Tornado Rally, the Wichita, Kan., bike builder has canceled the gathering for 2007.
The company stated in a press release that several factors played a role in the decision to forgo the rally for this year.
The Big Dog factory and headquarters, located just east of downtown Wichita, prevented major future event growth. While the company considered moving the event, it considered its factory a large draw for the event and it would have been logistically difficult to shuttle rally-goers to the campus and manage the two sites, the company said.
Event congestion also created ill will with the manufacturer’s neighbors, which the company wanted to avoid. Big Dog also cited the time commitment involved in planning such an event and the difficulty of dedicating sufficient employee time during the busy spring and summer seasons.
Big Dog Motorcycles President Nick Messer thanked its dealers, vendors, neighbors and friends for their support and participation, and the city of Wichita for its assistance in making the rally possible. “We know the Tornado Rally was a great event for our friends, our customers, our employees and our city, making our decision difficult,” Messer said.
Indian Motorcycle launches Web site
Taking the next step in resurrecting the Indian Motorcycle brand, investors have set up a Web site for the company at www.indianmotorcycle.com.
On the site, enthusiasts can peruse the company’s 102-year history and read the latest developments as the company ramps up to its initial product launch. People also can indicate interest in becoming a dealer or part of an owner’s group. There also is an area to put down a $1,000 deposit for a 2008 Indian along with a FAQs page.
The company already has an extensive merchandise selection, from shirts and jackets to sunglasses, mugs, flasks and steel journals.
Hall of Fame Museum accelerates into new year
The Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum has announced a full schedule of events for 2007.
All 2007 events at the nonprofit museum are open to the public and many are free of charge. They include:

  • “Motocross America” Exhibit: See, hear and touch the action-packed history of America’s original action sport through this expansive exhibit, which is open through December.
  • Japanese Motorcycle Saturday. Japanese machines in every style, from sport bike to cruiser to café racer, are on display during this enthusiast gathering, which will be held Saturday, June 2.
  • European and British Motorcycle Saturday. Any fan of European and British machines will enjoy this celebration of marques. The event will be held Saturday, June 30.
  • AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days. More than 40,000 motorcycle enthusiasts gathered at last year’s annual celebration of motorcycling heritage, making it the biggest vintage motorcycle event in America. It will be held July 27-29 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.
    Visit www.motorcyclemuseum.org for more information.
    Ducati 1098 wins annual design award
    The Motorcycle Design Association has given the Ducati 1098 its annual best designed motorcycle award.
    Each year more than 70 designers from all over the world, independent, or linked to the main manufacturers, gather to choose the best motorcycle designs in the year’s show. A jury, consisting of designers, factory and press representatives, elect the final winners in five categories, culminating in the awarding of the Motorcycle Design Trophy to the best overall design. PSB

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