ATK street bikes

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Beneath the American paint job is a Hyosung GT650R.

American dirt bike maker ATK announced on February 8th that it had hired former Harley-Davidson sales manager Jon Syverson as the firm’s new executive VP.

And this news because? Because this is in line with ATK’s imminent entry into the production of street bikes, a move initiated in May of last year when it forged an alliance with Korea’s S&T Motors (better known in North America as Hyosung).

Currently, ATK features a line-up of street bikes in the U.S., which are actually rebadged Hyosung models, but the $100 million deal will see S&T Motors supply parts to produce more than 33,000 motorcycles — ranging from 250 to 680 cc — over the next four years under the ATK brand name.

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ATK dirt bikes might also be coming our way. ATK 450 Enduro pictured.

Beginning in 2012, the machines will be assembled in ATK’s Centerville, Utah plant, allowing the company to take advantage of certain tax breaks, as well as expanding its workforce by adding about 65 new jobs.

The main plan behind this alliance is to get these American branded machines into current Harley-Davidson dealerships as an inexpensive entry-level alternative.

“Our strategy is for ATK to be the second American brand in select Harley-Davidson dealerships,” said ATK president Frank White in a press release, “The prime focus of our initiative is to be a feeder brand to the V-twin dealers — similar to what Scion has been to Toyota.”

According to National Motorsports VP Kent Aubichon, the Canadian Hyosung distributor has plans to bring ATK branded motorcycles into this country, though it won’t happen until sometime in 2012. Aubichon also mentioned that ATK’s off-road line would likely follow the street bikes into Canada, but probably not before 2013.

Canadian importer Deeley Harley-Davidson does not endorse the plan to use Harley dealers as ATK sales outlets, but indications are that it is not vehemently opposed to it either.

“While we generally do recommend exclusivity to our Canadian retailers, we do understand the need to expand into the distribution of other lines in certain geographic areas which require a multi-line model to ensure the successful running of a business,” replied Deeley Harley-Davidson’s PR specialist Alex Carroni when questioned about Deeley’s take on the matter.

There’s no doubt that the hiring of Syverson was a strategic move, both for his industry experience and for his intimate knowledge of Harley’s modus operandi and dealer network.

8 COMMENTS

  1. O.K….Harley has me baffled now. Get rid of Buell and substitute these POS? Lots could be said about Buell but Erik is a forward thinker and his bikes reflect it. I`m beginning to think the future won`t be kind to H-D if all they can come up with is this or some more parts bin alphabet soup remixes.

  2. Hey Guys, Harley is not in this deal at all, they actually appose it. The deal is with Independantly owned US Harley Dealers and ATK. They want entry level bikes that Harley can;t yet supply to get younger people in the dealerships in the hopes they upgrade to a Harley down the road. As well as sport bikes since Harley killed Buell. Harley shouldn;t screw too much with this unless they start pulling dealer licenses from the ones that start selling ATK’s but that would be suicide.

  3. WTF?

    I thought the reason they dropped Buell was so they could focus on their Harley clientele?

    It was difficult enough trying to get a HD sales guy to even discuss a Buell, now they want to try with these bikes?

    What a joke.

  4. Agreed … these types of moves by H.D. do indeed seem like grasping at straws. Their traditional business model may not be working so great with the aging of their customer base and today’s economic climate, but marketing someone else’s Bikes is not the answer … they should just design and market their OWN line of more entry-level Bikes … at least they’d retain some respect for not trying to rely another manufacturer’s product …

  5. The difference then was that HD owned Aeramacchi, was not just a casually interested observer.
    Not that the final outcome wasn’t tragic in any event…

  6. And jumping into bed with Hyosung will add to Harley-Davidson’s credibility how??
    The Motor Company tried a similar move back in the 60’s with an Italian-made entry-level Bike … I can just hear Dr. Phil asking Willie G., “How’s that workin’ out for ya?”

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