Doom and gloom or run away success

I follow motorcycle reviews very closely. I am always interested with what the manufactures are making and more importantly selling. Motorcycle journalists build up some motorcycles to near god status and swiftly cut others down. There is an element of ‘give credit where credit is due’ however what they consider to be of merit is subjective. The nerves of some marketing people must be in tatters as their product goes out to the journalists.

Not from talking to anyone but simply by reading magazines I have developed sheltered pre convinced ideas about certain motorcycles and manufacturers.

Suzuki = build great bikes but behind the curve, cant wait for the new GSXR.

Honda = great built quality but currently building boring bikes, easy to ride.

BMW =once boring old man bikes now exciting and the best you can buy.

Honda Fireblade changed superbikes forever.

Ducati 996 = best looking bike ever made.

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In my experience and in my own opinion I think that none of the above is true. But that is the culture that is sold and reinforced month after month year after year.

For instance currently in the magazines, on press launches, new Suzuki’s seem to be getting a luke warm reception; at best. The article inevitably concludes with saying something along the lines of ‘there is nothing wrong with this motorcycle at all but in this segment (adventure, naked, superbike, whatever it may be) it is outclassed’. But by what measure? The pinnacle of motorcycle perfection must always be moving.

An example would be quality of parts. I am sure that Suzuki makes and utilises parts of a sufficient quality for the machines intended use. Not spec’ing Brembo or Ohlins parts does not mean the parts on the machine are insufficient. Yes you can get better but to what end? Would the price increase justify the minimal gain that it would offer? For 99.9% of readers in reality it would make no difference apart from bragging and in the wallet.

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Similarly I am sure the machine would handle, accelerate and behave brilliantly but maybe not as ‘sharpened’ or ‘inspiring’ as other motorcycles. Woolly words that mean more to individual reviewers than subjective insights and opinions. Therefore this Suzuki has been framed as a lesser machine and no one wants to buy a ‘lesser’ machine if they can avoid it. Specifically in the reviews that is what appears to be the culture. Other features in the magazine do of course go beyond this simple point.

To compound this argument the April edition of Motorcycle Sports and Leisure has four Suzuki motorcycle write ups. One is a press launch and three are long-term test bikes.

The press launch describes the GSX-S 750 and is written very favourably using real world examples of the machine, which is very useful for potential buyers. However the article begins to veer off into a critique of Suzuki’s marketing ‘It doesn’t possess the immediate appeal of…’ and then moving onto non descript and confusing terms ‘being just a little too effective and efficient…lacking any real wow factor’.

Conversely the THREE long term Suzuki’s (SV 650, GSX1250FA, GSX-S1000FA) seem to be growing on their riders with little to no complaints cropping up. The ones that do crop up seem to be easily fixed. All the intricacies discussed at the press launch appearing to quickly fade away when the machine is being used day to day in ‘the real world’. So why pull apart every facet of a motorcycle at a press launch when ultimately they are never noticed or mentioned again? This is marketing in a nut shell I suppose.

Thinking about it another way. With a wealth of knowledge the journalists discuss motorcycle characteristics like a sommelier describes wine. Watch any programme about wine and you will see someone pouring over a glass of wine like it was the last piece of air on the planet. Ruminating about history, colour and body all building up to the climax of the taste test. Then the descriptions really start to roll. You start to really think ‘I should buy a south Californian wine instead of the stuff from north California’. But realistically after a long day at work and the kids are in bed and you want to sit down with a glass of wine do all of those intricacies matter, are they important to you?

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Motorcycle journalists similarly detail intricacies about 30mm longer here, 4 degrees there and a 3% weight reduction. Going throughout the machine with a fine tooth comb before explaining how all these small differences culminate into a wonderful wine to enjoy with… no sorry; a motorcycle to take out on country lanes when the sun is shinning or whatever they dream up. But when you have on your jacket and you are making your way to Silverstone or a friend’s house or a pub does any of it hold any relevance outside of your head? It is important to the selling of new machines that you think you have/need a superior product based on nothing more than a desire that is superficial.

There is no denying that motorcycles improve as they are developed by manufacturers but does incarnation after incarnation improve enough for you to swap it in for a new one?

To sum up and to quote an amateur reviewer ‘All these bike reviews it’s all nonsense just go buy the one the like the look of and deal with the consequences’ – BVG.

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