V-Rod, custom applications are latest additions
After releasing 15 sizes for the Commander II in January 2012, Michelin has taken a deeper dive into the V-twin and metric cruiser segments with six additional fitments.
It’s a natural extension that was largely the result of research and feedback from dealers and consumers, along with its distributors.
“We had the 15 Harley sizes, so then we had to look at the up-and-coming sizes that we were missing from our assortment,” said Casey Morris, marketing and communications manager for Michelin North America Inc.’s Two Wheel division. “We attend a lot of H.O.G. rallies, listen to a lot of dealers and our distributors, and decided that this is where the next wave of sizes should come from.”
Among others, the six new sizes include two radial tires for the Harley-Davidson V-Rod: 130/70 B18 63H front (for Honda VTX1300 2006 and earlier, plus custom applications); 120/70 ZR19 60W front (for Harley-Davidson V-Rod 2007 and later, plus custom), 90/90-21 54H front (for Honda Shadow Spirit 750, plus custom), 120/70 B21 68H front (custom), 150/70 B18 76H rear (custom) and 240/40 R18 79V rear (Harley-Davidson V-Rod 2007 and later, plus custom).
“We’ll continue to evolve the Commander II lineup to have a broader spectrum of bikes,” Morris said. “We’ll start evolving our product assortment and making sure we’re not missing key metric fitments.”
And while the custom sizes being made available are admittedly small production numbers, they will allow Michelin to expand its share of the market in that segment.
“You have to make it make sense,” Morris said of the newest sizes. “It’s incredibly challenging to come out with 30 new sizes. It’s key for us to work with our customers and large dealers and take a poll of the industry to find out where we’re absent. It allows us to determine the up-and-coming new sizes, like the 120/70 19. The 21-inch fronts and 18-inch rears are becoming more important.”
The lineup additions have been another positive addition to the Commander II’s stature in the cruiser marketplace. Custom applications, such as a 130/70 18 front and 120/70 21 front, figure to continue to make 2013 another strong year for the Commander II.
“Commander II is doing fantastically well,” Morris said. “We’re very proud of the feedback we’ve gotten from the marketplace, from dealers and from consumers.”
Michelin has turned to consumer testimonial videos to help tout the brand as it reaches new customers. Michelin’s motorcycle YouTube page serves as an ideal venue for potential customers to learn about the product from their peers. H.O.G. rallies and other events have provided settings for video footage, Morris said.
“We go where the hardcore enthusiasts are,” he said. “As we all know, motorcycling is a word-of-mouth industry. We focused on finding folks who aren’t Michelin people to try out our products. It’s been really cool to see the feedback. Our users are our best salespeople. They’re telling us the handling has greatly improved, the wet traction is fantastic and they’re getting mileage.”
As Commander II begins Year 2, dealers can expect the tires range to continue to build.
“A lot of people wanted to wait and see what it’s like, and now they’re seeing it,” Morris said. “We’re happy with its success, and we see that success continuing into this second year of the product. We’re very excited about it.”