Michael Uhlarik

  • Who is selling SWM in Halifax? Must know…

    Saw the SWM stand at EICMA and they have lots of great stuff. Mostly ex-Husqvana staff designing those.

  • Great comments Susanna,

    I think using sex to sell anything is ok, but in a clever way. Showing beautiful people doing cool things on motorcycles (the Ducati Scrambler videos of hipsters on the beach, or BMW’s new “Make Life a Ride” video come to mind) are sexy. All feature toned, young models flicking hair or flexing muscles in impossibly…[Read more]

  • Cael

    Marketing have varying degrees of influence depending on the company. Without being specific for the sake of professional discretion, all I will say is that the brands with the most to lose tend to have extremely
    empowered marketing departments who dictate pretty strongly the design brief. It’s been my observation that those brands…[Read more]

  • THREE MEN AND A BABY BMW
    Many years ago I attended a meeting set up by a Yamaha product planner in Amsterdam to examine a new motorcycle from BMW. The bike promised to revolutionize the industry, because it was a […]

    • Cael

      Marketing have varying degrees of influence depending on the company. Without being specific for the sake of professional discretion, all I will say is that the brands with the most to lose tend to have extremely
      empowered marketing departments who dictate pretty strongly the design brief. It’s been my observation that those brands produce more flops…

      People often confuse marketing for product planning. These activities represent a conflict of interest, and must be separated or else the product is dangerously compromised. Marketing is sales for today built around observations of the past; product planning is plotting a vision for the future built on analysis of the present.

    • Great comments Susanna,

      I think using sex to sell anything is ok, but in a clever way. Showing beautiful people doing cool things on motorcycles (the Ducati Scrambler videos of hipsters on the beach, or BMW’s new “Make Life a Ride” video come to mind) are sexy. All feature toned, young models flicking hair or flexing muscles in impossibly romantic motorcycle scenarios, and that is using sex to sell. “Be like me and have these experiences/friends/partners”.

      It is sort of like foreplay versus intercourse: requiring craft and charm and leading to ultimately deeper satisfaction.

      There is a saying at EICMA, that the size of the breasts and shortness of skirts of a given brand’s show girls are inversely proportional to the strength of the business. When Aprilia was the brand to beat throughout the late 90’s and early 2000’s, they had pretty women in full length, colourful gowns. Just before the company went belly up in 2003 it was gaudy makeup and pushup double D cups as far as the eye could see.

      I think we can call it the Flesh For Financial Instability rule. It looks like this:

      MV = k / SL x BS

      where:

      MK is market value
      k is constant of proportionality
      SL is skirt length
      BS is breast size

      Who said algebra can’t be fun?

  • Words fail me.

    How do those engines breathe to combust fuel for so long while completely submerged?

  • A beautiful video showing off some first rate @$$holery.

  • Joel

    This is precisely what I have said repeatedly. Hero did the right thing, but sadly too late to recover their lost investment. EBR has so little value that it will be liquidated for peanuts. TO be clear, I am not gloating, only reinforcing the point.

  • TK4

    Owning a Laverda has saved me thousands in dental and therapy bills by taking care of loose teeth and numbing me to external sensations.

  • The last Insider article presented evidence which I felt demonstrated that Honda had lost its appetite for risk. Clearly the subject resonated with many people, judging by the large number of personal messages I […]

  • Target fixation. I have done this, but with much less threatening targets. You can see how as soon as the truck comes into view, the bike stands up. It went exactly where he pointed it. So glad this story has a happy ending.

  • This is a motorcycle magazine, but I have to say this regarding the pickup truck thread :

    You are wrong about the marketing. Honda knew *exactly* who they were targeting: the vast majority of Canadian and American pickup truck buyers who live in suburbs, rarely tow anything and work white collar jobs. They buy trucks because of the image, and…[Read more]

  • Thanks, RUI. I will be writing a lot more soon.

    As for Honda, I think my public stance on the brand it pretty clear. As a Yamaha consultant who worked actively to beat Honda for close to ten years, I have heaped lots of praise on Big Red here, in Cycle Canada, Hell For Leather, and other outlets.

    My criticism is hard because as the…[Read more]

  • Perhaps my byline should have read “lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, which is about as far away from the motorcycle reality distortion field as one can get.”

  • OK, I read that link and have to ask: what exactly is the relevance?

    GM built a limited production mini muscle car that made no impact whatsoever on GM, the market, or reputation of Chevrolet (outside of fan boys). I grew up in GM country during the mid to late 70’s and all I remember is that the nickel miners all started buying Datsun B210…[Read more]

  • Rui

    The thrust of my column is that Honda was the greatest ever automotive Chief Executive precisely because he balanced shareholder value with risky innovation. It was Soichiro who aggressively took on the world with cheap mass market motorcycles like the C50 cub, while simultaneously competing at the highest levels on the world…[Read more]

  • The small town Honda dealers in Canada are weak because small town markets are one-dimensionally fixated on the American pickup truck concept as a reasonable family vehicle. That is not going to change until people realize that a 5000lb crew cab with a short box is not more practical family car than say, an Oddessy (or Taurus, or Malibu, or Grand…[Read more]

  • The 2015 Isle of Man TT has come to a close and as usual, the Senior TT was won on a Honda.  Also this month, Honda unveiled the production version of the RC213 V-S, a $180,000 MotoGP replica meant to represent […]

    • The small town Honda dealers in Canada are weak because small town markets are one-dimensionally fixated on the American pickup truck concept as a reasonable family vehicle. That is not going to change until people realize that a 5000lb crew cab with a short box is not more practical family car than say, an Oddessy (or Taurus, or Malibu, or Grand Caravan…).

      The pickup truck sector is a minefield for anyone but the US brands. Toyota and Nissan do OK, but it isn’t worth it for most Japanese/European brands to even bother. The profit margin on full frame trucks is ginormous, which makes it tempting but in 30+ years of trying and many terrific products, most rural North Americans reject import (ahem) brand pickups on the basis of brand bias.

    • Nice piece, Michael. I agree completely with your comments on the new “Moto GP replica” — what a POS, 101 hp for the American market? And 157 in Yurp unless you buy the upgrade kit to bring it near the level of current production bikes? Unbelievable — but there’s still lots of innovative spirit at the company as BG17 pointed out above. Not stuff that I like personally, but they’re still pushing boundaries.

      The car stuff? Getting more boring, no question. I’d take any Mazda over any equivalent Honda (and have, actually). Last Honda car I’d want was the S2000, and was looking for one last year but people want crazy money for them (ended up with a Mazdaspeed MX-5; really like it, but I wish I had an S2000).

    • Rui

      The thrust of my column is that Honda was the greatest ever automotive Chief Executive precisely because he balanced shareholder value with risky innovation. It was Soichiro who aggressively took on the world with cheap mass market motorcycles like the C50 cub, while simultaneously competing at the highest levels on the world stage.

      Rather than do what everyone else did (at the time the British and Italians) he demanded technological innovation that still undercut the competition on price. Like CVCC (Compound Vortex Controlled Combustion, something Honda pioneered in beginning in 1971).

      That takes true research and development, always exensive and often down paths that may not yield commercial results for years. Or ever. And that means taking risk.

      To JIMO368’s point, I am not suggesting that the RC213 V-S or any other new Honda technology is bunk, but that they show a corporate culture that is only interested in incremental improvement rather than real innovation. I am hardly betting against Honda, but then again, who in 1980 would have bet against General Motors…

      As a post script, if Soichiro was 20 years old today, he would certainly be at the vanguard of whatever industry he chose to operate in. He was an entrepreneur that understood how to identify opportunity, sell, and make good business decisions, which is how he built his company into a world power from the ashes of post war Japan. Enzo Ferrari was a terrible business man who ran his company into the ground 9 years after is was incorporated, and ignored operational matters thereafter.

    • OK, I read that link and have to ask: what exactly is the relevance?

      GM built a limited production mini muscle car that made no impact whatsoever on GM, the market, or reputation of Chevrolet (outside of fan boys). I grew up in GM country during the mid to late 70’s and all I remember is that the nickel miners all started buying Datsun B210 and Honda Civics after the 77 Caprice got the anemic 250CID 6 pot.

    • Perhaps my byline should have read “lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, which is about as far away from the motorcycle reality distortion field as one can get.”

    • Thanks, RUI. I will be writing a lot more soon.

      As for Honda, I think my public stance on the brand it pretty clear. As a Yamaha consultant who worked actively to beat Honda for close to ten years, I have heaped lots of praise on Big Red here, in Cycle Canada, Hell For Leather, and other outlets.

      My criticism is hard because as the world’s number 1 and heirs to the “Honda Way”, they need to try harder. Fact is, I love what I see in India and from first hand experience with those brands I can tell you: Honda will not remain alone at the top long.

    • This is a motorcycle magazine, but I have to say this regarding the pickup truck thread :

      You are wrong about the marketing. Honda knew *exactly* who they were targeting: the vast majority of Canadian and American pickup truck buyers who live in suburbs, rarely tow anything and work white collar jobs. They buy trucks because of the image, and justify all kinds of things by citing astounding capabilities they will never use. Unfortunately for Honda, the Marlboro man image trumped the urban excellence of the Ridgeline.

      I will concede that the Ridgeline is an excellent example of Honda taking a risk.

      1. What an absurd requirement. Oh no, you have to leave the gate open the once every four years suburban dad attempts to build a shed. That is such a deal breaker. How many times does a normal person get 4×8 sheets of plywood? Who buys a $30-60k vehicle based on what you need it to do 1% of the time? Close to 70% of pickup truck sales are to users who work in an office and live in tract housing.

      The box is USELESS. Open to the elements, theft and allowing unsecured tall objects to fall out during cornering, the pickup has utterly failed to make sense in the rest of the world for good reason. It is a North American pathological obsession with little grounds in reality unless you are a farmer. A full frame utility van does more and better, which is why contractors and delivery companies (people who work their vehicles for a living) use those.

      2. That goes up right there with #1. The 4000lbs trailer/boat that a tiny fraction of pickup owners tow on their mythical epic vacations to the cottage they built out of 4×8 plywood all by themselves. That, my friend, is the power of marketing.

      3. Agreed.

      4. Agreed, but then I think they all are.

      Lets get back to bikes…

      • Hahaha sounds like you and I need to chat about the utility of pickups sometime, Michael.

        I loved mine when I had it, but now I drive a Grand Cherokee, so what does that tell you? I still miss my little 2-door Ranger every time I see one, though. It was exceedingly useful for my lifestyle – which is, admittedly, more utilitarian and bohemian than most.

  • T.O Cycle… now there is a name I hoped never to hear again as long as I lived. Thanks for ripping off a 17 year old with his first motorcycle. Rob, was it you that screwed up the charging system repair on my GS550?

    But maybe it is karma. It helped pay for your life and OMG in some tiny way and here we are, abusing each other monthly.…[Read more]

  • Grandstand stands corrected, Vince. Perhaps we were thinking of SBK, where this year Mr. Davies has ended a long losing streak with a pair of wins.

  • It is a sad reflection of our society’s poor understanding of case and effect. In most of the world, countries where traffic is ten to fifty times heavier, weather and roads unpredictable, motorists simply accept motorcycles as part of the road ecosystem. Accidents are just that, and caused by actions of individuals regardless of the vehicle…[Read more]

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