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Wednesday, 3 May, 2006
  • Non-racing bicycles are disappearing from Craig’s List as quickly as they can be posted.
  • Since last year, small motorcycles are selling at a pace unprecedented since the 60’s. This includes “bodied models” (motor scooters to us) from the fashionable Vespa to the humble and guaranteed only to fail Geely. Daelim and Kymco, who entered the U.S. in order to sell DOT exempt off-road cycles, have been importing DOT-compliant vehicles in unanticipatedly high numbers. Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki are facing a grumbling dealer network as they are unwilling to supply more US-prep scooters or small cycles.
  • The primary beneficiary of the current circumstances is Harley-Davidson. [sic] The rationale goes like this: Well-heeled gated-community suburbanites are loathe to feed their SUVs at three dollars per gallon, not so much due to expense but on principle. They are trading their machines for the only bad-ass vehicles available which can get them to the office via the Interstate at 40 miles per gallon. New H-Ds start at $6600, base. H-D’s two plants are running at capacity, and exports have revived as the distaste for American brands among the extra-continental classes who buy new Harleys appears to have subsided.
  • The implication of hordes of underexperienced and sometimes unlicensed riders on the insurance rates for H-D products is not yet made manifest.
  • Cushman (1936-1966), Harley-Davidson (co-branded Topper) H-D Topper was a captive import of the Aermacchi which were imported as CKD. (1959-1964) and Briggs-Stratton [sic] have built small, bodied motorcycles in the US for this market. Before Honda attempted to revive the small-motor market with more than a little success in the 80’s, the iconic American motor scooter was the Cushman. Interestingly, all of these companies are in business, own their respective trademarks in relation to the scooter business and are pursuing other markets.
  • Which leaves this commentator to wonder, in an environment where trans-oceanic transportation of products becomes difficult due to the increasing cost of fuels and the petroleum-dependent economy starts to buckle, if this may become a business worth pursuing domestically.
  • I am fascinated by the fact that the US didn’t become a personal-transportation-device dependent economy until sometime in the 1960’s. The current circumstance of fewer, larger and more generic consumption options didn’t evolve until the 1990’s even through we are obliged to pretend otherwise.
  • $4.50 per gallon gasoline may be the best thing that has happened to this country since National City Lines (the holding company behind the GM, Firestone, Standard of California (Chevron), Phillips Petroleum conspiracy) dissolved. Although I don’t see any end to the current federal policy of wage suppression.

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