Harleys and Hondas breaking price barriers

PAUL OWEN
Last updated 10:38 01/10/2012
Harley-Davidson Sportster XL1200C Custom.

RETRO LOOKS: Harley-Davidson Sportster XL1200C Custom.

The annivesary edition Fat Boy Lo.
FROM HARLEY: The annivesary edition Harley-Davidson Fat Boy Lo.
Honda's CRF250L dirtbike (top) and the PCX150 big wheeled scooter.
AND FROM HONDA: The CRF250L dirtbike (top) and the PCX150 big wheeled scooter.

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While the full gamut of new 2013 motorcycle models will be unveiled at the biennial international bike-fest in Cologne in October, Harley-Davidson and Honda have already given their New Zealand dealers previews of next year's bikes at recent conferences.

Both brands have milestones to celebrate next year.

For Harley, it's the 110th anniversary of continuous production, a feat unchallenged by any other bike-maker - Triumph may be the oldest surviving motorcycle brand, but it went into hibernation throughout most of the 1980s during the transition from the Meriden to the Hinckley factories.

For Honda, 2013 marks the 40th year that its bikes have been distributed here by Caspex Corporation-owned Blue Wing Honda, and the Japanese bike maker celebrated the event by flying Casey Stoner's 2011 MotoGP Championship-winning racebike and a executive responsible for global markets to the recent New Zealand dealer conference in Queenstown.

New Zealand's Honda dealers must be fizzing about the two new products unveiled at Queenstown, for they represent serious opportunities to create more sales volume in affordable sectors of the market, with one priced less than $10,000 and the other priced less than $5000.

While Harley-Davidson has little to fear from the new $8995 CRF250L road-legal dirtbike and the innovative $4995 PCX150 big-wheeled scooter, other Japanese brands will be monitoring their impact on the market closely.

Blue Wing Honda general manager, Matthew Rea, expects the new CRF250L will have wide appeal to Kiwi bike riders seeking an accessible, do-anything motorcycle.

''It offers the full package, whether the day calls for low-cost transportation for commutes or a full dual sport adventure.''

With a liquid-cooled, 249cc electric-start single cylinder engine, long-travel suspension, and disc brakes for both wheels, the CRF250L should be a far more affordable alternative to the similarly-equipped Yamaha WR250R, which currently lists for $12,349.

Honda's new PCX150 scooter is the first two-wheeler to feature an automatic start-stop system to save fuel while stopped at traffic lights, or while giving way to other traffic at intersections. Auto start-stop systems have appeared on an increasing number of cars in recent years, and can potentially result in fuel savings of roughly 10 per cent during city driving. With the PCX150, the system cuts the ignition of the 153cc engine whenever the bike is stopped for more than three seconds, then instantly starts it up again as soon as the twist-grip throttle is twisted. While Honda doesn't make any horsepower claim for the PCX's engine, the scoot is deemed legal for highway use in the United States, where it must be capable of at least 90kmh to qualify. Wheel diameters of 14in at either end should also add to the stability of the PCX at motorway speeds, while the 2.5 litres of lockable underseat storage is shaped to accept an open-face helmet. Fuel use is said to be as little as 2.1 litres/100km (110mpg), so all you folk of Scottish heritage should head immediately for your nearest Honda dealer and form an orderly queue.

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So what does the new Honda PCX150 have in common with Harley's equally fresh $17,150 XL1200V Sportster 72? Both bikes share the same 1524mm wheelbase. Hey, I know it's not much of a segue between a Japanese branded scooter and an American retro bike styled to look like a bike from pre-Facebook days, but it will do.

Actually the chopper-inspired 72 is officially deemed a 2012 model by Harley-Davidson, it just happens to be reaching the New Zealand market at the same time as the 2013 110th anniversary edition of the Sportster XL1200C Custom. The latter is the most affordable of the range of limited edition anniversary models at $17,695, and sports the same antique bronze tank badges and special paint schemes as the rest of the milestone-marking models.

Others include anniversary editions of the Dyna Super Glide Custom ($25,530), Fat Boy Lo ($31,595), Heritage Softail ($33,350), and Road King ($34,695). Between 1450 and 1750 units of each 110th anniversary model will be made, and the bikes will include all available options as standard equipment.

If those 110th anniversary Harleys aren't exclusive (or expensive) enough, an even more limited number of customised bikes from the motor company's Custom Vehicle Operations unit are being made to celebrate 11 decades of being in business. These will be made in a limited run of between 900-1100 units depending on model, and include anniversary editions of the CVO Ultra Classic Electra Glide ($53,695), CVO Road Glide ($49,695) and CVO Road King ($48,695).

- Stuff

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