Suzuki dealers treated to EICMA trip

Polaris turns to Milan for reveal of Scout Sixty

U.S.-based Suzuki dealers had only experienced a few hours of the motorcycle extravaganza known as EICMA in Milan, Italy, and they were already in awe.

Celebrating their award for winning a Suzuki sales contest, the group of dealers nearly two dozen strong embarked on their maiden voyage to EICMA from various outposts in the U.S. A few days at the world’s largest motorcycle trade show, and then it was on to other tourist destinations in Italy for a few more days of sales celebration.

Among them were Donald Roberts, owner of Roberts Sports Center in Malone, N.Y.; Daniel Vartanian, service department manager at Fay Myers Motorcycle World in Greenwood Village, Colo.; Steve Scholler, owner of Action Power Sports in Waukesha, Wis.; Kirk Compton, owner of State 8 Motorcycles in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio; and Ron Seidner, owner of Bert’s Mega Mall in Covina, Calif.

Of course, nothing caught their eye more than the unveiling of the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Concept, or as Suzuki calls it “… the most powerful, hardest-accelerating, cleanest-running GSX-R ever built.”

And that’s how the award-winning dealers began their journey to Milan. There were still about 1,400 exhibitors to visit. The U.S. dealers joined guests from more than 40 other countries in attending EICMA.

And, beyond the seemingly endless reveals of café-racer-inspired models for the 2016 marketplace, EICMA brought strong industry news to go along with the impressive 2016 model unveilings for the more than 600,000 attendees.

Suzuki dealers from across the U.S. were treated to a trip to Italy as part of a sales incentive contest.

Suzuki dealers from across the U.S. were treated to a trip to Italy as part of a sales incentive contest.

Perhaps boosted by the show itself, the two-wheel market in Europe increased by 22 percent in November. From January through September, the market in Europe (scooters and motorcycles greater than 50cc) was at 167,172 units, up 6.4 percent over the same period in 2014.

There is always palpable excitement for motorcycling at EICMA, and this year was no different. There was plenty of good news to be shared at the 73rd edition of the show. Ducati, Yamaha and Honda got things started with their own VIP unveils at various impressive theatres and masterpieces of architectural design at three different sites in Milan on Monday, the night before the official show opening. The more than 2,000 credentialed media members and industry VIPs jostled for front row seating at those events, and later stayed for over-the-top presentations of food and drink.


Claudio Domenicali, Ducati CEO, revealed that Ducati had exceeded sales of 50,000 bikes in one year for the first time ever. Sales in 2009 were 32,416, followed by 33,855 in 2010; 39,554 in 2011; 41,086 in 2012; 39,908 in 2013; 40,725 in 2014, and the 23 percent year-over-year increase to 50,000-plus in 2015. One year ago at EICMA, Domenicali unveiled the Scrambler brand. This year, he was proud to announce that the 14,644 Scramblers produced for the global marketplace had been sold out as of October.

In addition, Domenicali revealed that Ducati for the first time is among the top 10 selling bikes in the world with the Scrambler at No. 10. The list includes the Harley-Davidson Street Glide at No. 1, followed by Harley-Davidson Electra Glide, BMW R 1200 GS, Yamaha MT-07, Harley-Davidson Road Glide, Harley-Davidson XL 1200, Yamaha MT09, Harley-Davidson XL 883, Yamaha MT-09 Tracer and the Ducati Scrambler.

The XDiavel 1262 cruiser was met with extreme enthusiasm from the media in attendance, and later earned was voted “Best Looking Bike” at EICMA by more than 60 percent of voters.

As Ducati says, the “XDiavel offers both the ‘low speed excitement’ that comes from the relaxed riding and forward-positioned footpegs typical of a cruiser and the adrenaline rush of sports riding that Ducati has made its own. This is what the X in XDiavel stands for: the merging of two apparently separate, distant worlds on one bike, a superb combination where both are accomplished without compromise.”

There was some American-branded motorcycling that also caught the eyes of plenty of the media as the show itself began. Polaris took to the grand stage at EIMCA for the global premiere of the Indian Scout Sixty and its $8,999 retail pricetag.

ICON Motorsports general manager Justin Knauer makes a production presentation to Parts Europe reps at EICMA in Milan.

ICON Motorsports general manager Justin Knauer makes a production presentation to Parts Europe reps at EICMA in Milan.

Steve Menneto, president of Motorcycles for Polaris, remarked that it was two years ago at EICMA when Polaris had introduced Indian Motorcycle. “At that time we had three models and barely any dealers. Two years later, we actually have over 340 dealers around the world selling Indian motorcycles in over 44 countries.”

The Scout Sixty is Indian’s seventh model release in two years, and Victory “has been doing phenomenally well,” Menneto said, with 500 dealers selling in over 50 countries.

“The Polaris footprint is growing as we continue to grow our strong American-branded motorcycles. We’re excited about where we’re going in the future,” he said.

Menneto noted that Polaris currently has more than 175 dual-line Indian and Victory dealers in the Europe-Middle East-Africa region.

“Indian market share is growing at triple digits, and Victory market share is growing at double digits. So we’ve entered into our two-brand strategy over the years, and it’s continually working very well. It’s very successful, and we’re excited about the future for these two strong American motorcycle brands.”

Gary Gray, product director for Motorcycles at Polaris, had the honor of announcing the Indian and Victory models, and was giddy with excitement.

“I’ve been with Polaris for 20 years, and I’ve never been more excited to show you what we have today,” he said.

Noting Victory’s Isle of Man TT third-place finish in the SES TT Zero race and the unveiling of the Project 156 engine in June, 2015 has been outstanding for Victory.

Project 156 got taken to another level at EICMA, with the world premiere of the Victory Ignition concept bike by Swiss builder Urs Erbacher that featured the production version of the engine.

“When this engine goes into production motorcycles next year, it will deliver class-leading performance,” Gray said.

Victory later unveiled the Ignition at the New York IMS.

SpeedMob Inc. president Tim Calhoun gets ready to board another train to EICMA in Milan.

SpeedMob Inc. president Tim Calhoun gets ready to board another train to EICMA in Milan.

As for Indian, Gray noted that the 2013 Indian Chief lineup, with its Thunderstroke 111 engine and three models, was only the start of big things to come from the brand.

“We set out to build a legend, and you saw that with our 2013 Indian Chief lineup,” Gray said. “And I think you can clearly see by following that up just a year later that this is the most innovative time in our brand’s history.”

The 2015 Indian Scout had its launch on the Wall of Death at Sturgis, S.D., and several custom editions of that model made their way to EICMA: a USO Bike, the Black Hills Beast and the Black Bullet Scout. In fact, the Scout has become Indian’s top-selling model, which led to the worldwide introduction of the 2016 Scout Sixty.

“It’s 60 cubic inches of American innovation,” Gray said. “We built this bike to be very approachable. It’s very easy to ride. It has the lowest seat height in its class, but it still has great handling, lots of lean angle, and it has the most horsepower in its segment.”

Slingshot also got some prime real estate on the show floor, alongside the full lineup of Polaris offerings, including snowmobiles.

Craig Scanlon, vice president of Slingshot, told the crowd that Slingshot has arrived in Europe, with the first vehicles being shipped in October.

“Sales and ownership has exceeded our projections, and we’re moving beyond just a niche marketplace,” Scanlon said. “Everybody asks ‘Is this a niche, one-year product?’ The answer is absolutely no. The owners love their vehicles and are looking forward to more and more rounds of vehicles. Now we’re ready for global expansion.”


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