Fall’s here, and most Canadian riders are looking at putting their motorcycles away for winter (except for the lucky buggers in southern British Columbia, who always smugly remind us that they can ride year-round).
Even dealerships will soon clear their sales floors, taking two-wheelers away and bringing in snowmobiles.
No reason to cry, though. Now’s a great time to buy a new-to-you motorcycle, especially with show season just around the corner, when new-for-2020 models push out some of the 2019 machines. That’s extra incentive for some dealers to sell off this year’s bikes instead of storing them.
But keep in mind, many machines are already pretty low-priced these days, particularly in the beginner segment. The margin on those bikes is so small that a dealer doesn’t have much room to move before losing money. Don’t expect $1,000 off a Ninja 400.
Also remember dealerships are making money from financing arrangements; a loan means more money in their pocket, a cash sale means less. Don’t expect to get mad savings because you’re waving a fat stack of bills around a dealership. Cash is no longer king.
Even if a dealership can’t move much on the price, they’re also clearing out helmets, jackets and so on at this time. If the margin on a bike is so low that they can’t offer significant savings, you may be able to work out something else, like new riding gear, or skid plate/handguards/tailbag or other farkles for your adventure bike, or a classy chromed skull air filter cover for your cruiser … you get the idea.
With all this in mind, here are some machines we suggest you check out.
Rumours of a new Hayabusa have been circling for months now. That might make it difficult for some riders to get excited about the current model. Why buy the machine that hasn’t changed in years, when a much more exciting bike could be just around the corner? But while a faster ‘Busa may indeed be coming down the pipe, there’s nothing slow about the current model, either; if you negotiate a bargain basement discount, you can spend your savings on a turbocharger, extended swingarm and all the other silly stuff the aftermarket offers. This is one of Suzuki’s most expensive models. For that reason, you may find more wiggle room on Hayabusa pricing than some other Suzuki machines, which tend to be priced pretty much as low as they can already go.
The Superlow has long been an attractive option for shorter riders who want a Harley-Davidson. The Motor Company must have felt there was model overlap in the Sportster lineup, because the Superlow is canned for 2020; the Iron remains, and with H-D putting better paint on it, it should have no trouble filling the void. But if you want a Superlow, buy one now, while there are still some left. You’ll have a hard time getting a screaming deal on this bike, but you may be able to get a bit of a break on MSRP in the fall.
Honda Africa Twin
The new CRF1100L will be here for 2020. Who’s going to want to buy an expensive leftover 2019 model then? If you want a solid adventure bike, then now’s the time to start pestering your Honda dealer about getting a discount on the current model Africa Twin, so they’re not stuck storing it all winter. It’s a pricey bike, so there’s savings to be had here, you’d think, especially on a DCT-equipped bike. This is a machine where you might be able to negotiate a deal on the farkles as well.
Although 2018 was the last year for the KLR650, Kawasaki imported an absolute crapload of them into the country in the final months of the year, knowing fans would be looking for these machines after production ended. For that reason, you can still find a brand-new 2018 KLR fairly easily. It’s not a leftover so much as an extra brought in to meet anticipated future demand. The KLR is probably the world’s all-time best bargain on an adventure bike, and there are plenty of prospective buyers still out there (Jeremy’s heading to South America on one at this moment!). However, the supply will not last forever. If you want a brand-new KLR650, you need to get one sooner rather than later, even if it does mean paying sticker price. Compared to the competition, it’s still a very well-priced adventure bike that won’t be available much longer.
The WR has never been a big seller for Yamaha. Although it has a tough-as-nails engine and fairly well-sorted suspension, it’s gutless, and expensive for a 250. For that reason, it’s been rumoured to be on the chopping block for a while now. At this point, it’s not on Yamaha’s Canadian website as a 2020 model. If you want the Yamahammer’s blend of a mild-mannered motor with a best-in-class dual-sport chassis, now’s the time to strike. The high price might mean a bit more wiggle room on this machine than most 250s (they’re still listed as high as $8,000 at some dealers).
BMW S1000 XR
Nothing has been confirmed yet, but BMW is expected to debut a new version of its S1000 XR this fall, with a Shiftcam engine, featuring variable valve timing. With that in mind, you might be able to negotiate a few bucks off a 2019 model, particularly at this point in the season. While a Shiftcam version might be exciting, the current model is a pretty potent weapon on its own, with tons of power and up-to-date electronics. And it’s a proven performer, with no worries about teething problems on a new model. It’s worth a look, if you’re aiming to pick up a road-oriented ADVer. This is an expensive bike, too, so there might be room in the margin for some decent savings.
Victory Cross Country
Yeah, Victory has been out of business for a couple of years now, but some dealers are still sitting on leftovers. Buying a Victory could be tricky; the parts supply won’t dry up anytime soon, but if you want to sell the bike down the road, it will likely be tough to convince someone else to take a chance on a Victory. But if you’re not concerned about that, and you just want to get a good price on a reliable, high-quality touring bike, you can probably talk your way into a discount on a leftover Cross Country. They’re still out there, and you can bet dealers are sick of looking at them — it’s a lot of money tied up on a showroom floor.
While dealers may not be able to move on prices of new bikes as much as you’d like, it’s also worth asking about used models in the showroom. Those are less tied up with the vagaries of finance companies, and dealers would probably be happy to see them gone, especially if they’re a couple of generations old (say, a pre-liquid cooling BMW GS). And of course, as we said earlier, now is an ideal time to negotiate hard on a private sale. A seller who’s already struggling on payments is likely not going to want to also cough up cash for winter storage.