The End Of The Motorcycle World The Way We Knew It.

I read your comments. And most agree on how we arrived in this complete economic mess. We all know that materialism became the non-official religion. Today, the new government rolls out its latest weapons to contain our recession. And during this time, our motorcycle industry’s best names continue to work harder and harder to stay profitable till’ better times.  Good consequences: greed is out and frugality is in.What I would like to know from you is how you think it’s going to affect the type of motorcycles that factories are going to produce, the way dealers and distributors do business, the style of bikes and parts that custom builders are going to design, etc. The motorcycle industry will not disappear, but under the weight of business realities the business landscape is being reshaped. How will it look when we finally get out of this global recession. Motorcycle opinion leaders and professionals all over the world read my Blog. Join them to comment on this topic by stating your opinion and, as important, justifying it


44 Responses to “The End Of The Motorcycle World The Way We Knew It.”

  1. 1 Fausto Simoes Jan 26th, 2009 at 10:19 am

    I think that no matter how bad things get people will still want to get on a motorcycle and go for a ride because it’s an escape from daily life and it gives you some time to reflect on life in a positive way. As an added bonus the cost of this is fairly inexpensive.

    I would imagine most people want a motorcycle that is comfortable, fun to drive, looks cool is fairly reliable and doesn’t cost a small fortune.

    It seems that people are still reeling after last summer’s gas prices and even though today’s prices have dropped considerably there is still a trend towards finding alternative energy sources for transportation. Even if gas is still used as a source of energy efforts will be made to decrease the amount used per mile.

  2. 2 Ken Glenn (Rat Judge) Jan 26th, 2009 at 10:20 am

    The motorcycle industry will go the same way as the auto industry. Fuel efficiency, lower emissions, and lots of new gadgets. All of these things don’t make a better product, it just makes them more expensive. Most of the new bikes are made for the Sunday rider, and those that like garage candy. The serious riders are like the serious car people, strip it down and make it fast. I don’t see that changing. However, I do see a change in style. Moving away from the monstrous cost of recent trends in custom vehicles. The Harley guys are building Bobbers, the metric guys are building Cafe racers and the car guys are building Rat Rods. I think we will see a trend to get back to the roots that got the custom industry where it is today.

  3. 3 jbird526 Jan 26th, 2009 at 10:21 am

    I’m curious to see what the monolithic dealerships , AKA Harley, will do. I feel bad for the dealers more than the factory. Many were made to upgrade from small shops to the monsters you see today if they wanted to keep their dealership. Is there any going back for them? Will they be allowed?

  4. 4 customfighterer Jan 26th, 2009 at 11:17 am

    i guess it just takes a recession to IMPROVE a bullshit scene of overdoing everything and making bikes as gaudy as possible!

    death of (american) choppers birth of fighters!

    thanks guys, its actually working out quite well for me 😉

  5. 5 jbird526 Jan 26th, 2009 at 11:38 am

    There are always going to be those with money and those without. The high dollar choppers arent going to die. I do think it will make people more resourceful and see some good things come out of it. I built my first frame for a XS650 cuz a buddy of mine didnt have any money. That bike got more attention than bikes worth 20x the price simply because you could tell it wasnt ordered from a catalog.

    It also depends on where you want to put your money. I have $30K worth of bikes and drive a $1K Tercel.

  6. 6 Kirk Perry Jan 26th, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    For the 1936-1959 OHV people, this is the “beginning of the Motorcycle World as we once remember it”.
    1. The only real manufacturer for our group has been that outfit in NY and Kansas City. Now that they’re making completely new replica 3.5 gallon tanks (with pop-up reserves), our scene is just being created, recession or not. Reason? That outfit in NY is well funded and has never ceased manufacturing new items – recession or not.

    2. still has the magic-producing (34006-74) FX shifter cam for all early 4-spd. transmissions, which is the only shifter drum ever made that will produce a jockey shifting pattern of: Forward for first, back for neutral, second, third and fourth. What’s the significance of that? It hard-wires your left arm with your left brain and left (suicide or rocker clutch) foot. Which means what? Which means your left foot releases the torque produced by a heavy set of flywheels; a 405-degree detonation of the front cylinder (heard as “po”), a 360-degree of wasted spark rotation (minus 45-degrees cylinder distance) heard as “tay”), to reach the rear piston’s TDC at 315-degrees, to fire the rear cylinder (heard as “toe”) Po-ta-to. This completes the 720 degrees of rotation necessary for the four piston strokes: intake, compression, power, and exhaust cycles. And what does this mean?

    3. It means that the rider gets the same gut-pit feeling (pulling G’s) powering out of the apex of a curve, that an ocean surfer feels when un-weighting at the precise power moment of a wave; which is the ONLY reason anybody goes surfing in the first place – to pull G’s. They want to harness the vortex of energy for free. The problem with that is that you have to share the waves with a jillion other surfers that all want the same experience, which can produce conflict. To get that momentary un-weighted feeling, you have to fight and jockey for position, to be sitting in the right spot of an approaching wave to “take off” and grab it. The “fun” is then cubically diminished, when your have people yelling at each other, “My wave, my wave”. What a crock.

    4. If you build a bare-bones rigid frame OHV replica, in an FX shifter cam, rocker clutch, and jockey shift configuration, you’ve created an “asphalt surfing machine”, unlike any other motorcycle riding experience. In fact, an amusement ride that uses gasoline and oil instead of fiberglass and water. If you surf or ski, you understand the comparisons. The fun is in un-weighting through a curve at relatively low speeds, and pulling of that curve with gobs of torque. A “tank” or “foot” shift will not “take” you there.

    5. Panheads will continue to remain popular. We have support in 49 states.

  7. 7 Jeff Nicklus Jan 26th, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    This industry has changed forever! Some things have changed for the good and some for the not so good!

    Some of the major changes I believe we will see in the coming months is that Textron and GE Financial will drop out of the Floor Planning of motorcycles business. These companies have taken such losses with so many of the “majors” biting the dust that they can no longer afford to continue in the red column. Personally, neither I (Jeff Nicklus Customs) or Desperado Motorcycles have ever participated in any form of a “buy back” style Floor Plan Program. We have always mandated that our dealers be financially sound to the point of having $500K in working capital (cash) and that they have a credit line of at least another $500K. By doing this the Dealer, not I, accepts the financial exposure of having inventory on the floor. I am in the business of building and selling motorcycles, not financing them for a Dealership. Once we sell a motorcycle I don’t want to run the risk of having to buy that bike back from a floor plan company should the Dealer fail. I have watched virtually every motorcycle company, of any substance, that has failed fail primarily due to the abuse of a floor plan. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have heard ….”Man, I sold and shipped 50 bikes this month!” ….. BULLSHIT …. You sold and shipped 50 bikes this month on a floor plan and a year from now you may have to buy back 45 of those 50! So did you really sell anything?

    As far as styles of bikes we will be producing in 2009 and later … who knows? All of the magazine editors always try and dictate to us what they would like to see the changes be. One minute the Bobber is the hottest thing going (mainly because they have an advertiser who builds Bobbers) the next minute the Bagger is the next “Craze” (mainly because they have an advertiser who builds Baggers) …. then the Cruiser (mainly because they have an advertiser who builds Cruisers) ….. who knows? I have always had a policy of not building a bike until it is sold. That takes the speculation out of the mix. We build what our customers and Dealers ask us to build. The only time we try and guess what the “public” will buy is when we build bikes for the show truck …. even then we guess wrong about 35% of the time.

    Price range of bikes in the future …… again, your guess is as good as mine. Our average sales price of a motorcycle, at Desperado, in the year model 2005 was $42,000.00 …. average sales price in model year 2008 was $39,302.00 ….. so there was not much of a difference in the per unit sales price, the big difference was in the total number of units sold …. a 90% drop in sales to be exact. For the beginning of the 2009 model year we are seeing almost identically the same per unit sales numbers however, again the numbers are way behind the same time period three years ago. What has saved us, if you call it that, is that normally only about 29% of our buyers actually finance one of our bikes. For whatever that may be worth.

    It is my belief that this industry will survive just as most other industries will. This next year will be telling in so many arenas.

    Over & Out,


  8. 8 harry Jan 26th, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    As many have stated in the past, well, we go back to basics: buddies in the garage fixing their bikes on the weekends or in the evenings during the week so they can head out for that weekend ride, going to the mom and pop shops for parts and repair services that are beyond our abilites. I hope that the H-D dealers go back to basics as well. Less flash, more substance. Sales personnel that are truly knowledgeable and not trying to sell a bike to someone that can’t afford it; if a guy/gal can only afford a sporty or dyna, then that is what you sell to him/her. Maybe it’s time guys like me start taking vo-tech courses at the local JuCo at night so we can start learning to weld and do fab work, rebuild engines from bottom to top, take some machining courses so we can do things like balance cranks, bore out cylinders and resurface cylinder heads. Not necessarily to impress the masses but to learn a skill and bring it to the table when the time comes, especially for a buddy that needs to get his/her bike on the road but might not afford to go to a good local shop to get their bike running. That’s my opinion for what it’s worth…

  9. 9 Jeff Nicklus Jan 26th, 2009 at 12:48 pm


    Couldn’t agree more!

    Here is a short story for you ….. Several years ago we were in Daytona at Bike Week. I look up to see one of our new Pale Rider SFT Choppers pulling into a parking space and the owner is headed straight for me. I introduce myself and he proceeds to tell me he just hours before had bought the bike from one of our dealers in Florida and he had a question. The question was: “How big is the motor in my bike?” …. I know I must have had a stupid look on my face because he continued …. “Before you say anything, I did ask the guy who sold me the bike, who just so happens to be the owner of the Dealership what size the motor was and all he could say was” …… “I don’t know for sure but I do know it is a big Sum Bitch!” …. TRUE STORY!

    Not even the owner had a clue what he was selling! Better yet, get this, this same Dealership is still in business, with the same owner today! The difference is we pulled his Desperado Motorcycles Authorized Dealers License!

    Bet Cyril knows who this guy is as he is just down the road from him.

    Over & Out,


  10. 10 Boss Hawg Jan 26th, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    The motorcycle industry will survive, although it will not be as robust as it was over the past 9 years for quite some time to come. Like most builders, the manufacturers will now be on the austerity plan. The big boys will have to re-think and re-tool to specific markets and demands. They best make some fast changes to survive!

    Jeff I apologize for missing your calls, but I do agree with you and that the dealers need to be financially buoyant. Like you, our bikes were paid for before they left the shop. More often than not, we took a substantial down payment with milestone payments made through the course of the builds. Pretty simple equations, we built and they bought!

    With all that is happening negatively in the industry, I do wish all well.

    Boss Hawg

  11. 11 Jeff Nicklus Jan 26th, 2009 at 2:00 pm


    Right you are …. our payment terms then as now …50% with the order, 25% at paint, balance due before we ship. All deposits are non-refundable!!!!! No pay – no build! Never been stuck with a bike yet!

    Over & Out,


  12. 12 Fred Jan 26th, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Jeff, just out of curiosity. The dealers that did not know the engine size. When you qualify the dealers, do you offer training programs or feature and benefits of the bikes. I gotta tell you, that consumer must have wanted to be a posey bad for Daytona bike week. He probably would have pooped his pants if ya told him, “OH yeah that one model we put a Japenese Motor in it!” Come to think of it, THAT would have been fun to see the customer’s reaction!!!

  13. 13 Jeff Nicklus Jan 26th, 2009 at 2:53 pm


    Yes, we do Dealer Training; Sales Training as well as we have the Dealers Shop Team in for a week and actually participate in building a bike from the ground up. This Dealer was a piece of work …. he could only sell price, which is evident with the company he has in his store now.

    I wish I had not of been so shocked with the customers question because your response would have been perfect!

    Over & Out,


  14. 14 Nicker Jan 26th, 2009 at 2:54 pm


    “… normally only about 29% of our buyers actually finance one of our bikes. For whatever that may be worth….”

    No mystery here, you draw smart customers who recognize a class operation.
    And smart people don’t leverage their asses into debt.

    It’s operations like yours, in many different markets that are the backbone of America.
    It’s too bad that the “Progressive Winds” now blowing across this country are poised to
    kill the “Golden Goose” with an avalanche of taxes.

    I guess we’ll see how smart the new Administration really is……

    Per Boss H-
    “… dealers need to be financially buoyant….”
    That’s the business model that got-em through the last depression.
    No reason it wont be true this time.

    You guys are survivors. Clueless wishful thinkers won’t make it (customers or businesses).


  15. 15 Guy Jan 26th, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    This is all normal.

  16. 16 Strada Jan 26th, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    The motorcycle industry needs to aggressively attract younger customers, the average age of the average motorcycle owner/customer is going up not down. That is a challenge for the industry at this point and time.

    Gen Y/Net Generation is not interested in working on cars, doing their own service, the same applies to bikes. They are not that interested in cruiser style bikes.

    As cars become increasingly legislated for fuel economy, emission, carbon footprint, and who knows what else will come along. Motorcycles are an ideal escape mechanism to enjoy a sense of mechanical purity, simplicity, freedom.

    The powersport dealer infrastructure in fragmented, and many manufacturers have been pushing product on dealers who then resort to all sorts of tactics to push the product on the customer. H-D has perhaps the best dealer network, Honda is moving along with the Powerhouse concept associated to a Honda car dealer.

    Cruisers are a North American icon, and will endure in a more price sensitive fashion than over the top custom bikes made popular by TV shows.

    Gen Y is inclined towards naked / sport versions of motorcycles. Most of the bikes that Gen Y would like are impossible to insure, manufacturers must focus on insurable product. Its nice to advertise a 1,000 cc sport bike, its a different story selling one to a Gen Y and insuring the bike for a reasonable price.

    Honda has an interesting vision, they have cruisers, and now a chopper, they have the DN-01 with the automatic transmission, and are working on a V4 bike.

    Gen Y is responsive to “ownership packages” not just a price for the bike, and you are on your own, the first manufacturer that arrives at an ownership package responsive to the bikes that appeal to Gen Y will be successful.

    Just like horsepower is a “done deal” with cars (if you wanted a car with 600HP get one quick) the same with over the top bikes. A V Max is a serious hot rod in a bike, where can you use it? Can a Gen Y insure it?

    If the BRP Spyder would lean in turns it would be a hot product, the first manufacturer that comes along with a “leanable” 3 wheeler (2 wheels in front) at a reasonable price will do very well.

    Boomers are advancing in age and will stay with their cruisers/choppers/chrome/loud pipes.

    Gen X is more inclined to nakeds / sport bikes (R6 / CBR600 / Street Triple, lots of carbon fibre)

    Gen Y same thing naked / sport bikes at a reasonable price, and insurable (this is not an H-D buyer). Top of the line bikes would be Ducati – MV Agusta.

  17. 17 Dave B. Jan 26th, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    I think the biker scene in general will slowly meld into something that resembles the way things were before the “craze” swept through and put every willing soul with a credit report on a bike.
    It will never be exactly what it was, and that is OK, all things evolve and usually for the better. I believe we will soon notice a return to solid ridden motorcycles with less and less of the wild high dollar customs… sure there will be a few, but mostly solid bikes that look good, run good, and make us feel good.
    I think we all enjoyed a bit of extra success during the height of it all, and I think most of us agree that it is time to move on. Sometimes enough is enough, and I for one am glad to see the goofyness of the craze finally dying out. It seems to me that the general view people used to have of us, was that we were a social enigma… skilled, full of life, and living close to the edge. Somewhere inside, they wanted to be a little like us but didn’t think they could… or should. The TV convinced everyone they could instantly be a part of our scene and even best us within it- with their extra long, extra wide, extra expensive bikes.
    So we all sold them one, and slowly we sold away a little of our credibility as well. We lost our mystique, and even wound up looking a little silly, (as most of the public at large catagorize us the same as the jackasses on TV). I for one have had enough of it.
    I want to see us return to the craft that made it cool, being creative, being innovative, and doing it because we love it without requiring a TV crew to validate it. And I want to us use some of this new found time on our hands to actually ride. Anybody remember what it was like to just go riding?
    I’m ready for the next chapter to unfold, I’ll still be wrenching, grinding, welding, painting, whatever comes next I’ll still be riding too. Hopefully a different type of customer will evolve from this as well, one that loves the machine and the ride.

  18. 18 Sam Jan 26th, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    Well, one good thing about the tanking economy is there are a lot of great buys on 2nd hand vehicles. Got my preowned Porsche on ebay with less than 8k miles for $10,000 less than book! I’m going to be shopping for some great 2nd hand motorcycle bargains in April!

  19. 19 KSW Jan 27th, 2009 at 8:26 am

    For me what I see is the need for a repackaging of motorcycling along with
    entry level bikes that provide a commuter function.

    The continued promotion of motorcycling as an ‘alternative lifestyle’ or the
    motorcycle as a recreational device seems wrong. Europe and elsewhere
    globally promote and use the motorcycle as a primary transportation device.
    Show me a commercial of someone getting on a bike and going on a date,
    Getting on a bike and going to the store or getting on a bike to visit family.

    The Honda DN-01 is in my opinion the perfect example of styling those
    ‘new to motorcycling’ would like that offers nothing in terms of storage.
    Storage beyond a saddle bag or similar should be available in a class of bike
    for those who use it for daily life.

    New technologies in closed loop electrical and other systems will change the
    accessory world and how we interact with our bikes.

    Next to happen is retooling of factories and wholesale changes to all things
    in motorcycling and transportation. These inevitable facts that technology
    will have upon is just ramping up.

    As for HP I think it’s already been proven that you don’t need all that HP if
    you’re lighter with more useable torque like the ariel atom or even Tesla.


  20. 20 rodent Jan 27th, 2009 at 9:28 am

    The poser is over and it’s going back to machines that are rideable. No more “garage jewelry”. The people that accept this concept will survive.

  21. 21 Scott Jan 27th, 2009 at 9:31 am

    It’s really a simple concept. “You snooze you loose.” Now apply that to all those who have failed and will fail in the business. You will find one common thread. The inability to adapt to change. Whether it is due to part stubborness, business model, or plain arrogance.

    All we need to do is look at history to see how this game plays out. take a gander at the 1920’s leading into the great depression. Look at the automobile industry and their race to have the biggest and most powerful. Granted not all cars were like that. Fast forward to after the depression and look at what was available. the more utilitarian type manufacturers remained. It is true that a few of the luxury manufacturers remained. This current financial debacle will have a similar outcome. The over-inflated prices of the(insert name here) market will re-align itself with reality. No matter how much money the government throws at this mess it will not go away until the mindset of the people changes. The over inflated stock market is not an indication of a healthy economic system. It is only a false economy. When manufacturers begin to offer items that have truly have tangible (real or actual, rather than imaginary or visionary) we will see consumers returning to the markets. Chrome, 300 rear tires, and wild ass paint don’t make it go. It just makes for a fancy paper weight in the garage. And that’s what I think!

  22. 22 KeithG Jan 27th, 2009 at 11:40 am

    I think there will be more of a trend towards upgrading what the customer already has. This for the big Mfg’s and the custom builders.

    And an even larger switch to overseas….Harley, KTM , Honda all have stores in Dubai. My next 3 builds are 1 in the UK and 2 in Dubai.

    India is turning out to be a huge Bike Market. Believe me I love to sell to US customers and I am proud to say “Made in USA”

    But it is about time we start sending USA made product out to the world, instead of importing every single thing from other countries!

  23. 23 RealWorld Jan 27th, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Jeff, either you have a very small dealer network, or not every one of your dealers have liquid assets of 500k. That is a very astringent requirement, and rare, especially these days.

    I don’t know where to start on your negative comment attitude about GE floorplanning every other motorcycle manufacture in the world uses this type of program. If you are only producing 10 to 20 bikes a year then you would not be able to even apply for that program, which in turn would help your dealers promote your product better with a better selection.

    Just because you don’t use it Jeff it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work for everyone else. And the negative comment on the magazine editors is total “BULLSHIT” as you phrase it. The bobbers were hot and fresh news for a while – now it’s the baggers. That’s why the editors are smart to publish the latest trends. Not because they were getting more advertising dollars from those companies.

    That thought is so general it does not make sense unless you REALLY think about it – “all of the magazine editors” are paid for, and they don’t promote something unless that company is buying advertising with them… come on Jeff…

    And you have “never been stuck with a bike yet!” Every custom builder has experienced that – all of them, at one time or another. I’ll stop there; I don’t have all day to type on this blog.

  24. 24 Gunrunner Jan 27th, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Good points, Real World.

  25. 25 Jeff Nicklus Jan 27th, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    Real World,

    All I can say is you totally have your head in your ass!

    Let’s start at the top and work our way down.

    My requirements are the same as those of Big Dog, Bourget and many others. The difference is we do not use a Floor Plan …. period. I could more than qualify for any floor plan in existence, however, there are NO floor plans out there that do not include a “Buy Back clause. Like I said, I am in the business of building motorcycles and not financing them for a dealer. EVERY MAJOR American motorcycle company that has failed in the last 10 years has done so basically due to motorcycles they could not buy back from the floor plan company. That includes almost 7 million dollars worth of bikes in the first Titan bankruptcy, and the second bankruptcy, American Ironhorse .. ask Textron about them and on and on. In my opinion a Dealer worth his salt can finance his own bikes with the use of his credit limit, he can use his own cash or he could rob his kids piggy bank … I don’t care. Our bikes are paid for, without the use of a floor plan, before they leave my dock or they stay here. Real simple.

    Floor plans do work for many … especially the Dealer. If the Dealer says screw it I am tired of this business, all he has to do is call the Floor Plan company and say I am out of here come get the bikes and he is out nothing …. The Floor Plan Company calls the manufacturer and says “Dude, bad news …. YXZ Motorcycle Company is sending bikes back. If you don’t have other dealers we can assign these bikes to we will expect you to write us a check reimbursing us for the money we paid you on these bikes.” That my friend is how a Floor Plans works. The Dealer is out clean, the Floor Plan Company (if they are paid) is out clean and the manufacturer is fucked.

    Further I have made no negative comments about GE Financial ….. where did you read that?

    Again, if you didn’t have your head in your ass you would know that I started Desperado Motorcycles almost 14 years ago now. When Desperado started there was only Bourget, Big Dog, Titan, Illusion and California Motorcycle Co. custom building motorcycles. We at Desperado capped out annual production at 300 bikes per year from the onset. Our first production year was in 1995 and until the industry fell apart almost three years ago we built 300 bikes annually …. so you do the math on how many bikes I have on the streets today. As far as a large dealer network … we only build 300 bikes annually … that is tough on dealers if you have 50 out there trying to sell 300 bikes. We also have always sold dealer direct in locations we do not have dealers located. One of the reasons our bikes maintain such high retail prices is that we build on limited production basis.

    Don’t be so naive when it comes to the magazines! I have had more than one editor and magazine owner tell me exactly what I said earlier …. You may hit the magazine once or twice without advertising but that is where it ends. No $$$$ no articles and no press releases!

    It is a fact … I have never, ever been “Stuck” with a bike … ever! Believe it or not no skin off my nut sack!

    Over & Out,


  26. 26 Mike Jan 27th, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    “You may hit the magazine once or twice without advertising but that is where it ends. No $$$$ no articles and no press releases! ”

    Well no shit! How do you think the magazines make their money and stay afloat? I guarantee if you had some guy that continually came to you and wanted to sit on one of your bikes, and maybe even take it for a ride, the words out of your mouth would be somehting like “Dude, you want to keep sitting on that bike, you need to buy it”.

  27. 27 exTitan Jan 27th, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    You said, “If the Dealer says screw it I am tired of this business, all he has to do is call the Floor Plan company and say I am out of here come get the bikes and he is out nothing” Not true a lot of (not all) states don’t allow that type of action.

    300 bikes a year. That’s more bikes than the new Titan did after 2001+, and they had a larger dealer network.
    The NADA states that you started manufacturing in 1998, and they also state “Due to a limited resale market, we are unable to determine used values.” for Desperado. It doesn’t say that for Titan.


  28. 28 Jeff Nicklus Jan 27th, 2009 at 5:58 pm


    We did many more bikes than did Proudfoot. To get a value in the NADA for used bikes one must have a “sizable” number of bikes being sold or traded into a dealership. It isn’t often you find a used Desperado for sale …. there are maybe 4-6 out there now on E-Bay and Cycle Trader (actually none currently on E-Bay and three on Cycle Trader – 2-04’s & 1-05 …. One guy is asking $500 more than he paid for the bike new) etc. Also we never issued NADA or Blue Book any Dealer Price Sheet therefore no value will normally be added.

    Titan had a larger dealer network …. no doubt …. they didn’t sell many bikes either. Titan had such a bad name after the Kerry guys finished with it I was shocked when Proudfoot actually bought the company.

    As for some states not allowing a dealer to close the doors and send the bikes back on a floor plan …. never heard that one before.

    FYI: Our first model year was 1995 ….

    Over & Out,


  29. 29 Scott Jan 27th, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    All I can say is there are some really smart MFer’s out there. Why would you argue with a man about his own business? I am sure Jeff knows when he started his business and how many bikes he produces, as well as how he sells them. I believ in if you don’t know what you are talking about STFU!!

  30. 30 big dave Jan 28th, 2009 at 12:20 am

    We have been so far above the norm for long enough now that we have expected it to last for ever. Let’s face it, it sucks but most folks that can afford a new Harley or a nice custom already have 3 or 4 and can’t sell them for anywhere close to what they have in them. And the grass roots hard core riders out there have to weigh the costs of ownership when the purchase (or don’t) a new bike. Harley has been raping the public for so long now with over priced units that the rest of the industry followed along. $10k can buy you a new 4 door compact car with AC and a radio, how far does that go in a motorcycle shop now a days? It is a fact: new units are ridiculously overpriced, and sadly the dealers are going to suffer. The custom industry that has grown leap and bounds thanks mostly to the Discovery Channel and a few other cable networks will be on a painful decline that may never return to the “good ol days” of the past 10 years or so. We all get sales fliers and e-mails every week from distributor’s desperately trying to sell of excess inventory, and it is only going to get worse. Some independents will survive like we always have; working on anything that comes along and never giving up our day jobs, but the gravy train is definitely over for a while for ALL of us big and small, famous or not so famous.

  31. 31 Conrad Jan 28th, 2009 at 1:04 am

    Real World,

    I agree with my father, your head is stuck way up your ass.

    I have been watching my father ride bikes since I was a baby, even before he sold his old company and started Desperado. When he started it was years in the making and because he didn’t want to wait to have a bike everyone else had. (Ask him the story about why he started Desperado). I remember how hard it was to keep up with business the first few years for him. He didn’t think it would hit off as fast as it did and had to hire and train people as fast as he could to get bikes out on time. I have always felt 300 is too much and can not fathom how we could build a thousand bikes a year like Big Dog. That would suck building them how we do, 1 person per bike. I used to go to the office after football practice and help out with mock up and pre-assembly, it was incredible how one day all 6 stands would have all these bikes just to see 6 new bikes on the stands 2 days later.

    But now it sucks to go out to the shop and only see one-offs on the stands and no more production bikes being built. The atmosphere isn’t as lively, the sounds of the guys talking back and fourth while building the bikes is faint and the lowered moral of the guys sucks. I don’t like how the industry has been torn asunder because of the economy but what are we to do?

    As for the magazines. You and I both know it is true, what is in the magazines is what’s in the market. An advertiser will come to the table with a new ad, which editors review, and next thing you know they are calling them for an article saying; “Hey lets get some pictures of your bike and a story to publish”. That is where the “trends” get started. Also, you don’t advertise there goes your shot of having more than 1 or 2 articles published in a single magazine.

    Do you think I have had magazine articles of my bikes because they like my “style”? FUCK NO. It’s because of who my dad is and because they saw his money going into their bank account at the end of every month for advertising and figured hey lets let the “Little Desman” in on the action, that will sure make Pops happy with us and keep the dollars coming in”.

    Don’t be so damn naive and think you know your shit.

  32. 32 Kirk Perry Jan 28th, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    For The Knuckle (and earlier) Panhead Enthusiast !! I was sent his information in 2007. We’ve have a place in the EPA plan. Don’t lose it !!!!!!!!!! (Note: I’ve removed any language from the EPA report that does not pertain to “one-kit-per-lifetime emissions” statements. This is all about “daily riders”, not “show bikes” Show bikes (class 2) have the some mileage restrictions. Don’t go there.

    From the AMA and EPA about “kit-builds:
    Kirk –

    With regards to your specific question, currently there is a one-bike per lifetime exemption for non-EPA conforming emissions motorcycles. No other type of vehicle has this federal emissions exemption.

    As you cited, different states also have different standards, some more strict than the federal standard, as is the case in California.

    However, the federal exemption still stands and therefore, no legislation is needed at this time to protect the EPA exclusion.

    Please see original EPA exemption language below and feel free to contact me should you have any further questions/concerns.

    Best Regards,

    Peter G. Nonis
    rights. riding. racing.
    101 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
    Suite 800 West
    Washington, DC 20001
    202.742.4304 (f)

    From the EPA meeting:
    G. Exemption for Motorcycle Kits and Custom Motorcycles

    During the rule-making we sought comment on the need for emission
    control requirements for motorcycle engines distinct and separate from
    the current and future requirements for complete motorcycles. We sought
    comment in this area because we had identified a small sector in the
    motorcycle market where the engine manufacturer and chassis
    manufacturer are not the same entity. This includes two very small
    parts of the market: one in which motorcycles are assembled by
    individuals from parts and sub-assemblies procured from motorcycle kit
    marketers or other separate sources; and another in which elaborate
    custom motorcycles are created for display by collectors. “At this time,
    we are not including any certification requirements for engine
    manufacturers”. See discussion in Chapter 1.5 of the Summary and
    Analysis of Comments. The small volume motorcycle manufacturers who
    purchase the vast majority of engines from other entities for
    incorporation into the motorcycles will continue to be subject to the
    regulations, and will continue to meet the requirements of the
    regulations, as they have in the past.
    “However, for those individuals who put together a single motorcycle
    for individual use and businesses that produce a handful of custom
    motorcycles for display, we believe it is appropriate not to require
    these entities to have to certify their assembled vehicles. Therefore,
    we are promulgating provisions for two special exemptions. The first is
    a one-time exemption for any person building a motorcycle from a kit
    for individual use. We believe that the small benefit of having single
    individuals certify to the standards is outweighed by the substantial
    burden to these individuals in certifying”. (Note: That’s us!!)
    Moreover, because the
    engines in such kits generally are built by the same companies as those
    engines going to the small volume motorcycle manufacturers, who still
    must certify and who will represent the majority of the engine-makers’
    production, we believe that most of the engines will be the same or
    very similar to the engines used in the certified motorcycles.
    Individuals may not use this provision as a regulatory loophole to
    modify or customize a certified motorcycle in a manner which adversely
    affects emissions. This provision is limited to one motorcycle per
    individual over the life of the provision.
    In the case where the owner of the kit motorcycle is not the
    assembler of the motorcycle, the limitation of one motorcycle per
    person applies to the purchaser of the kit components of the
    motorcycle, who we expect is the end user of the motorcycle, rather
    than to the person or persons who actually assemble the motorcycle. A
    kit purchaser may have the kit assembled by another party and retain
    the one-time exemption for the motorcycle. “In order to qualify for the
    exemption under these circumstances, the kit must be purchased by the
    ultimate owner before assembly begins. Parties or businesses who
    purchase kit motorcycles for assembly and retail sale are not covered
    by this exemption”. (Note: This concludes the “kit build” stuff).
    The second exemption is a sales-limited exemption for elaborate
    custom motorcycles that are created for display by collectors. The
    chassis of these “display” motorcycles are usually unique designs,
    while the engines are either purchased from independent engine
    manufacturers or custom built from engine components. (Note: It goes on to explain, but it’s wordy and not about “kit builders”.)
    As noted elsewhere, EPA may be revisiting several issues related to
    motorcycle standards in the context of the 2006 technology review and
    review of a possible World Motorcycle Test Cycle. One of the issues we
    may be reviewing at that time is whether it is appropriate to regulate
    motorcycle engine manufacturers or motorcycle kit manufacturers under
    the motorcycle regulations. If we agree to regulate loose engine sales
    at that time, these exemption provisions may no longer be necessary,
    since both kit builders and custom manufacturers would be able to
    purchase certified engines. Therefore, we may propose to remove or
    modify these provisions in the future.
    • Note: From an EPA telephone exchange: “The WMTC, if established in the future, would include the current one-kit-per-individual (emission expempt) standard now in place – and would be a set of standards that any state could adopt, for convenience, if they chose not to create their own standards”. – The EPA
    • We need to keep our one-kit-per-person exemption. If you have any questions contact Peter Nonis @ the AMA (super guy) or his successor.

  33. 33 burnout Jan 28th, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    I could go all day about art versus rideability but some people are gonna just ride, some are gonna just customize and some will do both. The only time I wield any real power is when a customer asks me,” Which custom part (or parts ) do YOU think I should put on my bike?” At that point I can guide them most anywhere. Price is usually a main factor in my area but I am responsible if I suggest a piece that fails prematurely or is misrepresented. I buy a LOT of HD parts and many custom parts in a year and fortunately, thankfully, and most blessedly, I am very busy. My goal is to buy as much as I can from you guys on this blog because we all truly love this shit! I will always try to add some art to bikes without sacrificing rideability. Too many times I have to educate customers about the possible side effects from making drastic changes to a perfectly good riding machine. We all have seen these effects. Specifically, I am wanting to see less wide tire conversions and more truly custom pieces……….. Parts AND bikes. Thanks Cyril for showing cool stuff one your blog. OK, I am tired from all this key punchin, peace ps Jeff, what kind of beer do you drink? I think I will start bikeweek tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  34. 34 Greg Hoeve Jan 29th, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    The era of high end custom building as a mainstay in the industry is at an end. Face it, all good things come to an end. The only stable entities in the in the motorcycle aftermarket one year from now will be those who embrace diversification into other industries as well. Most of us who manufacture hard parts come from some other work experience and most of our equipment is capable of manufacturing parts other than motorcycle components. I feel bad, kind of, for those who only cater to the custom bike world. If they are not gone yet they likely will be in a year. I don’t think anyone needs to quit the industry altogether but no will be able count on this industry alone to sustain them into the future. We here at Texas Precision Mfg./EgoTripp Wheels have always been multi-disciplinary in our approach and it has served us well. I laid out a P.O. for just under $250K in new more efficient CNC technology and I am looking to be in a hiring cycle soon. I intend to be aggressive in this “down” economy and take advantage of my competitors weaknesses in each of the industrial sectors that we serve.

    In short, the glory of the last few years is faded and there is no real potential for gain in a bike world centered around cheap ass bobbers and rattle can flat black paint jobs. You might just survive, maybe, but you wont thrive. Spread yourself out before the smart guys beat you to it.

  35. 35 Nicker Jan 31st, 2009 at 6:19 pm


    “…Too many times I have to educate customers …”

    Hay, that’s a big part of your “value added.”
    Good business plan.

    Besides, someone has to clue in the clueless before they drive our collective insurance rates through the roof.

    Thanks Dude……….. 🙂


  36. 36 Nicker Jan 31st, 2009 at 7:04 pm


    “…currently there is a one-bike per lifetime exemption for non-EPA conforming emissions motorcycles. ..”

    “…We need to keep our one-kit-per-person exemption. If you have any questions contact Peter Nonis @ the AMA (super guy) or his successor…”

    Well, I’d be more interested in the AMA supporting a “one exempt license plate” per lifetime.
    So i could own/built/buy any number of exempt-scooter, and license em all under one plate.
    I could move the plate from scooter to scooter, but only operate one bike at a time….(??).

    That should take care of the “pollution” issue and open up the market,
    Or could the EPA have another agenda…. ya think…..? 🙂


  37. 37 Conrad Feb 1st, 2009 at 2:36 am

    I feel you are wrong by thinking the high-end market is gone. My father is booked with builds for a long time and that hasnt changed for a long time either. All i see is customs being built in our shops, maybe you mean the basic low to mid range production bikes are done. If that is the case I sort of agree with you.

    But as you know as well the demand for your wheels and everyone else who makes wheels has gone down. We make most of our own wheels as well as many others in the industry. Thus, making it cheaper for us to build wheels than to buy and letting us build many other parts for bikes. We are doing well with aftermarket parts, knock on wood, and constantly have calls asking for parts.

  38. 38 Kirk Perry Feb 1st, 2009 at 11:49 am

    “…currently there is a one-bike per lifetime exemption for non-EPA conforming emissions motorcycles. ..” – EPA

    Well, I’d be more interested in the AMA supporting a “one exempt license plate” per lifetime.
    So i could own/built/buy any number of exempt-scooter, and license em all under one plate.
    I could move the plate from scooter to scooter, but only operate one bike at a time….(??). – Nicker
    A one-license plate fits-all is not in the current EPA plan. However, the EPA does say this:

    1. You can buy all your parts and haul them over to Billy-Bob Choppas and let Billy wrench your parts into a motorized rolling kit. Then weeks later, Billy calls you on the phone and says, “Your junkheap is ready to be picked up.” and then you the end-user takes your motorbike over to the DMV to be registered as a special construction motorcycle. The only rule being, that Billy Bobs Choppas can’t sell you the parts. Well he can actually sell you the parts in boxes, but then you have to bring the boxes back in the shop and have him construct your kit. Billy Bob just can’t sell you the parts without you taking possession of them and then bringing them back into his shop. Billy is only meant to be the “assembler”.

    2. You may build one kit in your lifetime. You wife can build one kit in her lifetime. Your son can build one kit in his lifetime, You daughter can build one, etc., etc. etc.

    3. You the owner of a kit-bike cannot sell that kit bike for 5 years after it’s construction. Neither death, divorce, taxes, court judgments, Babi-Ji, God, Jesus, Mohammed, Bagwan Das, the Devil, the High-Boots, the Jack-Boots, the tax-man, the Freight Train Riders of America, or your family doctor can circumnavigate the 5 year clause. Not even Santa Claus.

    Go forth and build. Stay in touch with and support the AMA. They’re standing up for the kit-builder. Not even the AMCA is doing that.

  39. 39 GTLover Feb 2nd, 2009 at 11:48 am

    We can only hope the financial industry is wiser from this whole mess. The motorcycle industry, along with the automakers, is in the interesting position of having products that can simultaneously fill basic needs and satisfy a whole range of desires. Not to mention the ebb and flow of tastes and fashions, which often sees pieces of utter crap outselling works of genius.

    So what will happen? The big guys will keep on doing what they’ve been doing, the little guys who are smart and tough will survive and thrive, and the unlucky and unwise will rot in the gutter. We aren’t going to see anything like the last 10 years in motorcycling for probably another ten. On the other hand, the increased exposure the industry saw over this last decade has created a larger and better educated marketplace. But that has also made us a more visible target to lawmakers. Expect to call, email, and petition legislators at all levels.

    Expect that 2009 will be a long, tough year for a lot of us, but things will get better. And from 2010 onwards, expect to see a slow, steady increase in sales and ridership as the economic cycle heads for the upswing.

    As for me, I’m busting my butt to get all the bills paid off and then start a small business out of my garage – that’s the easy part. The hard part will be keeping the bills paid and the business running, but it will be my part to play, like the part of so many others, in the story of America.

  40. 40 Lite Cycle Feb 2nd, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    People it is not the “END of the WORLD” as we know it. The manufactures are looking at the global market effects of a down sized economy, fine. This will not effect our aftermarket and specialty markets as much as theirs. We have had a steady business all winter long working in conjunction with our local Harley dealerships in south Florida.The stimulus package will crank up the home building market and get the blue collar worker employed again. The lending institutions will start lending again and we will get back to a more stable economy. Life and business for us will get rolling again with just a little hiccup and it will be business as usual in 2009. Most Americans are sheep and by next week they will have forgot all about it. They just don’t give a chite or care. Look what these morons just elected as our president and most of the same ones who voted for him couldn’t even tell you what year we were attacked on 9/11, need I say more. Life in America will go on just like nothing ever happened, sad, unfarking believable, but fact.

  41. 41 No Skool Feb 2nd, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    I am currently building a scooter after 42 years of thinking about it. Got to get it out of my system and turned the driveline over for the first time last night. Sweet I chose a TP engineering 114 EPA version because it was the closest I could find to my needs. I don;t need anything over about 96ci. I can act the fool perfectly well thank you on a motor about that size. But the selling point of this slightly larger motor was the compression ratio. Being an EPA certified engine means a ratio of approx. 8.5 to 9.0:1. That’s about the same as a Twin Cam 88. What does that mean? Well, the engine is still about 50% more tirque and HP than the TC88 but it is a whole lot easier to start.

    As someone said once, “90% of all carb problems are electrical”. Those bolt-stretchng, gasket blowing, high compression motors aren’t very nice when you’re strained because of a overly-stressed battery, starter, solenoid, etc. In short, sometimes less is more.

    With that TP motor, I got this cute little EPA sticker that I can stick up some politicain’s nose if that helps with anything. Still a respectabe engine in a lightened bike = go too fast than I should anyway.

    I see it this way. The best times are really the “worst times”. It is a general cleaning process and the junk we don;t need (or need so much of) fades away. We get more critical of everything including who the heck is running things. It takes time, but we adjust. In the meantime, it would pay us to be a bit wiser every single day and to make good decisions that we should’ve been making during the “good times”.

    If I can’t attach a belt to it and turn it into a log-cutting machine or a temprorary water pump, maybe I should think twice about laying out big bucks for that “mine is better than yours”..

    I got to laugh at the “wind in your hair” and “relaxing ride in the country” people. Get real. You can do that on a Chinese desposible sewing machine putt putt. I’ll quit riding first.

  42. 42 Nicker Feb 2nd, 2009 at 10:02 pm


    “… Life and business for us will get rolling again with just a little hiccup….”
    “…The stimulus package will crank up the home building …..”
    “… lending institutions will start lending again….”

    From your lips to God’s ear.

    But your next two mutually exclusive….

    “… Life and business for us will get rolling again with just a little hiccup….”
    “… Look what these morons just elected as our president …”

    ….if BO’s strategy is to follow the FDR/Socialist New Deal strategy.


  43. 43 No Skool Feb 3rd, 2009 at 11:35 am

    I don’t mean to divert this motorcycle thread to something else like politics etc but I have to say something at least once. My 3rd grade teacher told us ,”You can ask any question you want but I want to hear an answer too. It may be the wrong one but I want you to try for yourself.” So, to those whinners that compain and criticize others, I wonder what their answer or alternative is? Here’s the facts as I see it. And it does apply to motorcycle regulatins in the future.

    George W Bush screwed up Texas before going to Washington and allowing President Chaney to screw the whole country. One was an oil guy and the other a defense contractor guy. Guess where all the money went? They tried to cover it up by actively promoting a bubble called “new home construction”. I have now seen this happen three times in my lifetome and it has been worse each time. If this one doesn’t send us into depression (and you better hope “BO” has a plan that works), the next one surely will. We need to quit spending what we can’t pay back.

    Regrading Socialism, there is no such thing as a true democracy especially in the USA. Socailism for the most important matters (education, health care, defense, water, food etc) is appropriate. The rest (Ipod’s and clothes) can be left to free enterprise. For those that will say, “You trust the government to run the most important stuff?” I say, “Yes.” But the second , and mst important part, is to get the most competent people that are trust-worthy. And if they mislead the faith of the public they sure, let them know up front that they will hang from the highest tree.

    In trying to keep in line with my third grade teacher, if I were President, I’d erect a gallow on the White House lawn. It would be or any politician who forgets that we the people run this country. I would also have a separate noose available for the whinners who just want to bitch.

    Now I am through and promise no more of that.

  1. 1 66 Honda 305 Scrambler Motorcycle Pingback on Jan 26th, 2009 at 11:37 am
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