Will Harley-Davidson Make a Bid for Ducati?

Recently, Reuters news agency reported that Harley-Davidson was preparing a potential bid to purchase Ducati in a deal that could be worth up to $1.67 billion. Harley, known for large cruisers, and Ducati, famous for high performance street bikes, would bring together two of the most recognized names in the motorcycle industry.

A source told Reuters that Harley has already hired Wall Street bank Goldman Sachs to begin working on a bid. Tentative bids are expected in July. Others interested in buying Ducati include India-based Bajaj Auto and several buyout funds. Ducati is currently owned by German auto manufacturer Volkswagen.

Potential Benefits for Harley-Davidson

motorcycle wheelAcquiring Ducati would give Harley-Davidson a prestigious brand name known for a celebrated racing pedigree and dominating road racing championships. Harley often sells more bikes in three months than Ducati sells in a year, but as co-founder of Motovid Michael Casey said, “We view Ducati as the Ferrari of sport bikes, race bred and very much a niche market.”

Harley has been very interested in expanding and diversifying its brand. With Ducati under its wing, it would have a strong foothold in a young European market. Previously, Harley acquired motorcycle maker MV Augusta for $109 million in 2008, but the partnership was short lived. Despite the allure of the F4CC, a limited production bike that could reach 195 mph and sold for $120,000, in 2010 Harley paid the previous owners to take the company back.

In 2009, Harley also let go of Buell Motorcycle Company, manufacturers of sport bikes based in East Troy, Wisconsin. The negative impact of the financial recession forced Harley to unload assets that were experiencing declining sales and riders.

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How to Prevent Motorcycle Theft

According to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, motorcycle thefts rose two percent in 2016. During that year, 46,467 motorcycles were reported stolen compared to 45,555 in 2015. While California is the top state for bike thefts, the trend is alarming and should be a concern for motorcycle owners across the country.

riding fast on a motorcycleThe article lists the following bike brands as most likely to be stolen:

  • Honda
  • Yamaha
  • Kawasaki
  • Suzuki
  • Harley-Davidson
  • KTM
  • Ducati
  • BMW

Unfortunately, recovering a stolen bike is not as easy as a car. The recovery rate for stolen bikes is about 42 percent; only about 18,000 of the 46,467-motorcycle reported in 2016 found their way home.

Here are some tips to make your bike a less likely target:

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Signs Your Motorcycle Engine Needs Repairs

Owning a motorcycle requires a lot of work, including regular maintenance. Motorcycles are more likely than cars to need repairs to the engine. While many motorcycle owners enjoy tinkering with their bikes in their spare time, not every rider has the mechanical skills to fix serious problems.

If you own a motorcycle and notice the following signs, it may be time to bring it to a professional mechanic for a repair estimate.

Loss of Power

motorcycle shock absorberMany riders will know right away when their bike is running at a lower performance level. You can feel this loss of power, which indicates a problem with the internal workings of the motorcycle engine. These issues can range from simple to complicated, but as soon as you notice your bike experiencing a loss of power, get it to a repair shop. The sooner you act, the better chance you have of preventing a more serious problem in the long run.

Strange Noises

Similar to cars, a problem with your motorcycle can be identified by the unusual noises the bike starts to make. When you’ve owned a motorcycle for several years, you will come to understand the sounds of a healthy engine, as well as the sounds that indicate a problem. Hissing, backfiring, popping and knocking are all signs that there may be a problem with the engine’s combustion flow.

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Motorcycle Summer Safety Tips

Summer is the season many motorcycle riders live for; long days when the weather is warm and the roads are open for day trips. However, if you don’t prepare properly, a lot of things can go wrong that could turn your trip into a less than enjoyable riding experience.

We want everyone to enjoy their time on the roads this summer, so here are a few tips that can help ensure your ride is both fun and safe.

Hydration

Summers in Connecticut can be very hot and humid. Being in the burning sun for hours on a heat-emitting motorcycle can take a toll on a rider. If you get dehydrated, your ability to ride safely becomes more difficult. You may start to feel weak, disoriented and even faint. Avoid this situation by drinking plenty of water before a trip and having water with you while riding.

Navigation System

Many motorcyclists ride to get away from the stress of everyday life, but you don’t want to go so far you can’t get home. There are plenty of GPS systems for smartphones and watches, as well as motorcycle dashboards, that can help you navigate your way back to familiar territory.

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How Cars & Motorcycles Can Share the Road

As the weather starts to heat up this spring, traffic on Connecticut roadways will only get worse. With motorcycles returning to the scene, it is especially important for everyone to use sound judgment and caution to help reduce accidents.

Both car and truck drivers, as well as motorcyclists, can do their fair share to make the roads safe for everyone. We outline a few tips for all parties.

Tips for Motorcycle Riders

  • car and motorcycle accidentMake sure your motorcycle is ready to ride by performing your own maintenance checklist or having it professionally tuned-up by a mechanic.
  • Position yourself for maximum visibility and avoid riding in blind spots.
  • Learn how to brake correctly, using both brakes, and practice proper braking techniques.
  • Take a motorcycle safety training course. The more you know about your bike, the better you become at making important decisions when riding.
  • Always expect the unexpected and don’t assume a car or truck sees you.

Tips for Car Drivers

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Harley-Davidson Plans 100 New Motorcycles

With competition getting stronger, Harley-Davidson is mapping out a 10-year business plan they hope will increase ridership, grow its international business and reduce its impact on the environment. In addition, the company aims to launch 100 new motorcycle models during that timeframe, 50 more than was previously announced.

Harley-Davidson CEO and President Matt Levatich said in a statement, “By 2027, our objectives are to build 2 million new Harley-Davidson riders in the U.S., grow our international business to 50 percent of annual volume, launch 100 new high-impact motorcycles, deliver superior return on investment capital and grow our business without growing our environmental impact.”

New Motorcycles Emerging

motorcycle sketchThis quarter, Harley-Davidson has already launched two new models: The Road King Special and the Street Rod. Although the company continues to dominate its market, recent moves by Indian Motorcycles have led to new strategies aimed at reversing a trend of fewer motorcycle riders.

International Expansion

Harley-Davidson plans on taking advantage of a huge international market by adding 150 to 200 dealerships around the globe by 2020. Already, the Milwaukee-based motorcycle manufacturer has added locations in China, India, Norway, Slovenia, Spain and Thailand. Long an iconic symbol of America, Harley understands the need to expand globally to remain successful.

While sales in Asia have been sluggish, due in part to competition with Asian manufacturers such as Honda, Latin America has seen a 24.2 percent increase in motorcycle sales since last quarter.

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Spring Motorcycle Maintenance Tips

When spring weather arrives in Connecticut, there is one group of people who are more excited than anyone else. These would be motorcycle owners, who have waited patiently for warm weather through snow and cold weather, so they could once again enjoy their passion: riding motorcycles.

Getting back on the road after the long winter is a great feeling, but before you go full throttle, there are necessary steps to ensure your bike is ready to ride.

Here are some simple maintenance tips every motorcycle owner should know when getting a bike ready for spring riding.

Test the Brakes

man performing maintenance repairs on his motorcycleIf your bike has been in storage over the winter, there is a chance the brakes may have seized up. This can lead to fluid absorbing moisture, which can make the brakes feel spongy. Before you hop on, it’s a good idea to walk your bike around the driveway and test the brakes. The last thing you want is suddenly realize your brakes need repair when cruising on the roads. It is also recommended that you clean any surface corrosion from brake discs so they are in top form.

Check the Fluids

Many bikers will put a fuel additive in their tanks before storing a bike for the winter. In the case you did not, there is a chance that the fuel injectors could be clogged. It is a good idea to fill the tank with fresh fuel and new fuel filters after a thorough cleaning of the injectors. Also check the oil and, if necessary, do a full oil change to ensure no moisture got into the system.

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Best Apps For Your Motorcycle

The wind blowing through your hair as you roll along back roads with no destination is one of the feelings that motorcycle riders love. While we are driven by these traditional thrills of riding, we cannot ignore the fact that technology continues to evolve and improve, impacting our daily lives. In 2017, there are new apps designed for motorcyclists that help make riding safer and more enjoyable.

Here are a few of the apps motorcycle riders are choosing.

Waze

motorcyclist smiling at smartphone The Waze app calculates the quickest path to your destination by gathering speed information from all other Waze users in your area and at your destination. Based on a community approach, the Waze app works with input from other riders to help you avoid accidents, traffic and hidden speed traps.

By using a smartphone paired to a Bluetooth communicator in your helmet, Waze’s robotic spokesperson will give you turn-by-turn directions to ensure you take the most direct route possible. Waze also lets you search for the nearest and cheapest gas station, caravan with others to check on progress and electronically send your route and arrival time to someone so they can track your progress on the internet.

Road Cruncher

Riders who enjoy keeping up-to-date with their bike’s performance will love the Road Cruncher – it’s like having a mechanic in your phone! With this app, you can get comprehensive data on crucial elements of your motorcycle’s performance, including fuel mileage, service and repair logs and average speed. The app will also send you a reminder when it’s time for service and can track trip expenses to help you calculate the cost per day, per mile and provide a moving average.

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Polaris Taking on Harley-Davidson in Electric Market

Indian to Compete with Harley-Davidson

close-up of leather motorcycle gloveIn January, Polaris Industries announced it was closing the Victory motorcycle brand. Recently, Polaris announced its intention to roll out electric motorcycles under the company’s growing Indian brand in the next four to five years. Polaris motorcycle division president Steve Menneto recently made the comment to Reuters, after citing that Polaris’ current electric motorcycles are Victory bikes sold under the Empulse brand.

The decision comes not long after Polaris decided to close the Victory line in favor of putting more focus on Indian, which has grown its U.S. market share in what has been a relatively flat market for motorcycle sales.

According to the Polaris timeline, electric Indian motorcycles should hit the market around the same time as Harley-Davidson will introduce its LiveWire electric motorcycle. It’s no secret Indian and Harley vie for the same spot in the market and this simultaneous rush to the electric model could be a significant boost for whoever does it better.

In 2014, Harley introduced the LiveWire as a prototype available for test rides. Originally LiveWire was priced at $50,000 with a range of 53 miles. However, industry experts expect the consumer model to go for $15,000 and a range of at least 150 miles. Menneto also told Reuters that the Indian electric bike would have a range of up to 140 miles on a single charge.

While Harley-Davidson dominates the U.S. market for heavyweight motorcycles, Indian’s market share has grown 3% since 2011 of the U.S. on-highway motorcycle market.

As Victory Shuts Down, Indian Motorcycles Rise

Earlier this month, Polaris Industries Chairman and CEO Scott Wine made the decision to wind down the production of Victory Motorcycles over the next 18 months. In a somber statement, Wine said, “This was an incredibly difficult decision for me, my team and the Polaris Board of Directors. Over the past 18 years, we invested not only resources, but our hearts and souls into forging the Victory Motorcycles brand, and we are exceptionally proud of what our team has accomplished.”

The Future of Indian Motorcycles

indian motorcycleDuring that time, Polaris made the move to acquire and develop the famed Indian Motorcycle brand, where the company will now focus its attention. The move is already paying off; in its first year on the market, Indian sales doubled for Polaris. The strong existing brand, combined with Polaris’ design and engineering knowledge, could build a line of just a few models that eclipsed Victory’s previous 16 years of effort to grow sales.

The good news for Polaris is that employees who worked on the Victory brand will be able to work jobs in other parts of the industry. Few shut-down stories have such a silver lining, but the Polaris power sports segments is expanding rapidly and the company will be able to avoid the pain of layoffs.

Victory took major risks over the years, mostly with the first production of the V92C built in 1998. Models like the V92SC Sport Cruiser, the Vision tourer, the Vegas Cross Country and Project 156 were credited with saving the brand and had critics pointing out how the company’s spirit and expertise allowed it to survive mistakes and manufacture even better bikes.

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