#343 A Risky Business

Risky business : At times , growth means rolling the dice with new concepts.

Risk can be mitigated. Concepts, focus groups and market research are all intended to mitigate risk. Eventually you have to kick the starter and hope you got it right because absolutely nothing is guaranteed. Good things can happen. BRP has reportedly seen a whopping increase of 110 per cent in demand for the company’s three-wheeled offerings. This stunning uptick is due almost entirely to the release of the new Ryker, with its comparatively low price tag and two displacement options. Offer it for less and they will come seems to be the takeaway from this news. That and taking a risk on something different can reap unseen benefits. 

BRP obviously thought it had a market for a new less expensive three-wheeler but I doubt they were expecting this kind of benefit. It is great for BRP and should serve as a lesson to other manufacturers that price does matter and a more affordable option will result in good things down the road. But is price the only factor? Moto Guzzi claims a similar benefit of increased sales with its new V85TT, which can’t be considered an inexpensive motorcycle but at a list price of $13,990 it is still far from being at the high end of the scale. While the BRP Ryker has the advantage of being the only three-wheeled vehicle of its kind on the market, the V85TT comes into a segment that is filled with well-established competition. What did Moto Guzzi get right with the V85TT? Beyond fantastic looks, it is unique within the segment. It hits a minor retro note without being over the top in this regard, plus it is shaft-driven and air cooled, and that alone is different. Credit must be given to Guzzi for taking a flyer on the idea. For a smaller manufacturer, the company isn’t afraid to take a risk: the giant MGX-21 cruiser is testament to that fact. Later in this issue you will read about the new Rocket 3 TFC, a fresh halo bike for the Triumph brand.  A risk for sure as heavyweight cruisers are an interesting place to be today although the Rocket 3 isn’t really about being a cruiser even though it did bring a note of hope to the segment. 

Motorcycle manufacturers need to take risks in terms of new concepts and offerings. The point will be driven home in the statistical story, “Both Poorer and Richer” later in this issue because the used market and aging demographic aren’t going to drive the motorcycle market forward. 

Is it better to take the risk when you can afford to take the risk or to wait until your hand is forced? The answer is obvious. You must be able to survive the risk should it prove to not be the success hoped for—and we all know that happens. A new Rocket 3 intended to sell in limited numbers, not so much of a risk. Spending a fortune on the development of a line of electric motorcycles when their viability and demand is unknown: a far greater risk. 

Electric vehicles are the future—BC’s NDP government plans to ban the sales of internal combustion engines vehicles by 2040. How electric motorcycles fit into that future vision is vague. Around town and limited commuting. Absolutely. Touring with hundreds of miles of nothing between stops isn’t going to work with today’s technology. 

So, as of now we are making a bet on technology that doesn’t currently exist. Zero Motorcycles must do something right or it wouldn’t still be in the business of selling motorcycles. But if the future is so clear why aren’t the big manufacturers jumping in with both feet? Maybe new concepts like the electric Ryker wouldn’t be the biggest risk?

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