April 23, 2007 – Motorcycle Digest

Japanese Production, Exports Rise
For the first time in months, the Japanese Automobile Manufa­cturers Association (JAMA) is reporting higher production and export levels.
In fact, exports to North America were up 15 percent compared to the same period a year ago.
JAMA said motorcycle production in February increased to 157,873 units, nearly a 2 percent jump over the same period last year. More important, it’s the first production increase in five months.
Kawasaki had the biggest increase of the four major manufacturers, with 22,701 new bikes, a 9 percent hike over last year. Suzuki was up slightly to 47,110 while Honda (44,704) and Yamaha (43,335) were both slightly down.
Exports surged in February, compared to February 2006. JAMA exports were up 12 percent to 122,736.
Yamaha was up 28 percent to 41,765 and Suzuki increased 21 percent to 44,999, while Kawasaki was down slightly to 19,115 and Honda fell 5 percent to 31,620.
Ducati North America Posts Record Q1 Sales
Ducati North America recorded record retail sales for the first quarter of 2007. The first three months of the year closed with retail sales up 15 percent over 2006’s record first quarter.
The new 1098 Superbike led first-quarter sales. Its arrival doubled sales of the company’s Superbike family, with more than 600 bikes being delivered to customers. The Monster and Sport Classic families balanced out the final mix with combined sales of more than 600 bikes. The remaining sales came from the Multistrada, Sport Touring and Supersport families.
“First-quarter retail deliveries have shown the 1098 is exactly the commercial success we had anticipated,” said Michael Lock, Ducati North America CEO. “With the Hypermotard just around the corner and the Desmosedici coming this fall, 2007 will be a banner year for Ducati.”
The 1098 has had a halo effect on the entire product range, the company said in a press release. Dealers are reporting strong floor traffic and record levels of interest in all of the various product families and accessories.
Honda Issues Alerts on Two Possible Part Replacements
American Honda Motor Corp. is alerting the public to some potential issues on two of its 2007 off-road motorcycles.
On its 2007 CRF150R/RB, Honda is conducting a “Product Update Campaign,” alerting consumers to replace the bike’s camshaft. A defect might exist in the camshaft that could cause it to break during extreme operating conditions. Honda will replace the cam and necessary related parts free of charge.
On the 2007 CRF250R, Honda is seeking to replace the clutch outer. The rubber clutch dampers might deteriorate after extended use and time. American Honda has not received any customer reports of failure, however the company has determined from its own testing there is a possibility owners could eventually experience the problem. Honda will therefore replace the original clutch outer and necessary related parts for current or subsequent owners at no cost.
Harley-Davidson Releases CEO’s 2006 Salary
The chief executive officer of Harley-Davidson Inc. received compensation last year that the company valued at $4.25 million, according to a recent regulatory filing.
James Ziemer’s compensation included a salary of $824,551, according to the company’s proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Ziemer, 57, who has been president and CEO since 2005, also received $989,461 in compensation under a nonequity incentive plan and $75,697 in other compensation, including a nonqualified deferred compensation plan matching contribution of $25,824. He also received stock and option awards with an estimated value of $2.36 million at the time they were granted.
The proxy statement said Ziemer, who has worked at Harley for 38 years, acquired 106,344 shares in 2006 with an estimated value of nearly $5.34 million.
Chopper Becomes Part of Golf Tournament’s Winnings
In what is believed to be a first, the winner of an upcoming PGA Tour golf tournament will receive a new chopper.
Orange County Choppers, a custom bike builder featured in the “American Chopper” TV series, will be providing the new motorcycle to the 2007 EDS Byron Nelson Championship winner, who besides a new bike will be pocketing $1.1 million. The tournament is scheduled for April 26-29 in Irving, Texas.
Besides the winning chopper, Orange County Choppers will build two identical bikes. One will be donated by EDS, a global technology services company, to an online auction to benefit the golf tournament’s charity. The third chopper will be retained by EDS and used to raise awareness of the Byron Nelson tournament and the charity it supports.
The bike’s features will include: chrome wheel spokes that commemorate each of Nelson’s 11 consecutive tournament victories in 1945, a PGA Tour record, and elements of wood and steel to reflect the irons and persimmon woods of the Nelson golf era.
Tank Sports Tests Its First E85-Fueled Motorcycle
Tank Sports says it has completed the first stage of research and development for its new 150cc and 250cc motorcycles that run on E85 ethanol (85 percent alcohol, 15 percent gasoline).
Ethanol is a clean-burning, high-octane fuel that is produced from renewable sources. At its most basic, ethanol is grain alcohol, produced from crops such as corn.
“After seven months of research and development along with 1,863 miles of road testing, Tank quality control has inspected and compiled the research results in technology, safety measures and performance,” said Jiangyong Ji, Tank’s CEO. “We have verified that the core development process has been completed, and the second stage of testing will commence, including 3,105 miles of road testing.”
Tank wants to bring the E85-fueled units into the U.S. and international market by August.
Devon Motorcycles Receives EPA Certification for Scooter
Devon Motorcycles Inc., the registered Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency agent for the Jincheng Corp., China’s largest motorcycle manufacturer, received EPA certification on its JC50QT scooter model.
“It is no secret that scooters are gaining significant momentum in the United States, and this EPA certification will help Devon Motorcycles and Jincheng continue our momentum in this country,” said Ruth Wu, vice president of operations, in a press release.
The 50cc scooter was unveiled at the Dealer Expo in February. The scooter has a retro design and is available in red, royal blue, orange, pistachio and a two-tone model with silver blue and white.
AMA Proposes New Sound Level Standards for Events
The American Motorcyclist Association is proposing to reduce the sound levels at professional and amateur motorcycle racing events nationwide. The new rules would apply to AMA-sanctioned supercross, motocross and all-terrain vehicle closed-course competition events on the professional and amateur levels.
The AMA’s Racing and Rights committees will ask the rules committee for all pro AMA racing disciplines to pass the sound standards this year so race teams and manufacturers have time to prepare for the 2008 season. psb

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