The Long Beach International Moto Show: 2017

Catching up, folks.  We lost the prior blog entries on the Long Beach IMS show, so allow me to repost and report on the things I mentioned a week ago.

For starters, the show was great.  Attendance was high and we received about a zillion visitors at the CSC booth.  The reaction was the same we get everywhere:  Everyone was shocked at the low prices on the RX3, the TT250, and a new CSC bike that’s making its debut this year, the 250cc San Gabriel (more on that in a bit).

Okay, first, the “look at me” photos (I’m such a hot dog).  The first one is with my good buddy Damian Doffo of the MotoDoffo Museum and the Doffo Winery…

…and the next one is Yours Truly and Mrs. Yours Truly reflected in the all-chrome tank of the new Royal Enfield 650cc twin…

The new Royal Enfield is a classy bike (of all the new bikes, excluding the CSC motorcycles, it’s one of two I found most appealing).  Here’s another shot, but this one is of an original 1960s Royal Enfield twin…

The new Royal Enfield twin is not yet available, and when it does become available, I think it’s going to be somewhere around $8K (that’s just a guess on my part).  It’s a cool-looking bike.

Okay, on to the next subject.  There’s been an awful lot written lately online, in the social media, and in print about the downturn in the worldwide motorcycle market, and in particular, the downturn in the US motorcycle market.  There was even an article in the LA Times written by our good friend Charles Fleming just as the IMS show was starting (thanks for mentioning us and showing our bikes, Charles).  Basically, a cabal of industry execs got together for an “invitation only” meeting (I wasn’t invited) to discuss the current state of affairs and why they aren’t selling as many bikes as they need to.  Oh, and they wondered at this meeting why more young people aren’t getting into riding.   Duh, let me help you out, guys…

  • Your bikes are too expensive.
  • Your bikes are too heavy.
  • Your bikes are too big.
  • Your bikes are too tall.
  • Your dealers are gouging people on freight and setup.
  • You’ve designed your bikes to make it difficult for folks to maintain them.
  • Because your bikes are difficult to maintain, you kind of force people to go to the dealer for maintenance.
  • When people go to the dealer for maintenance, the service fees are too high.
  • You don’t keep parts in stock.

The big excitement at our booth was, as always, price.  The common question is always:  Why do they cost so little?  Folks, it’s not that our bikes are so inexpensive.  It’s that the others are so expensive, and the main reason for that is the dealer markup.  No dealers, no dealer markup.  Duh, yet again.  I could be an industry advisor in this game!  But hey, we’re not suggesting the other guys change anything.  We want them to keep doing exactly what they are doing!

The action at our booth was lively, and we didn’t hear anyone badmouthing Chinese manufacturing or Chinese products.  I think a big part of that is time (folks are getting used to the idea that a lot of manufacturing is done in China).  Maybe another big part is that people who favor other marques (including the big ones from Milwaukee and Bavaria) have finally tumbled to the fact that those bikes contain a lot of foreign content.  And another element is undoubtedly the reputation that our bikes have established.  You know, the stuff about riding across the US, riding across China, riding across Colombia, the annual CSC Baja runs, and more.

When folks saw the RX3 at $3895 (currently on sale for $3495), they were just blown away.   When they saw the TT250 at $2195, they were blown away again.  And when they saw our newest bike, the San Gabriel for just $2495, they were shocked!

So on that name for the Café Racer…the San Gabriel.  That suggestion came to us from none other than our good buddy Mike Baldwin, who rides an RX3 and runs Motos of Michigan.  Mike, it was a great suggestion and thank you very much!

You know, we had a funny thing happen at the CSC booth.  On Friday night, two industry execs from a large company I won’t name (they are one of the Big 4) came over to our booth and they wanted to know all about us, our bikes, and our business model.  “We talk about you guys and what you are doing every week,” they said.  The tone was not one of derision or animosity.  They were in awe of our bikes and of our business model.  “We wish we could do what you are doing,” they said.  They examined our bikes closely and I tried to get one of them to sit on an RX3, but he saw I had my camera ready and they both knew where that photo would get posted!

So, on to the competition.  I saw the Kawasaki Versys 300 and the new small BMW.  First, the Kawi.   It’s a physically large bike that is about the same size as their KLR 650 (I think they will have a problem, too, with how close the two bikes are in price).  Check it out, and check out its pricing!

Hey, do the math.  To get the Kawasaki equipped to the same level as the RX3, you’d have to go over the RX3’s price by something like $3K to $4K, and that’s before you’d have to start contending with the typical dealer’s inflated freight and setup fees.  Wowee!  Where does the line form?

Then I wandered over to the BMW booth.  I was eager to see the new 310cc GS, and I did…

The Beemer wasn’t bad looking, so I sat on it. It felt about the same in size and weight (more on that in a second) as an RX3, but that was without any of the accessories that are standard equipment on the RX3.   And the pricing?  Well, glad you asked…

Yep, you read that right:  $5695, compared to our $3895, but the Baby Beemer doesn’t have bags, guards, the accessories outlets, and all of the things we provide as standard equipment on the RX3.   Wowee, yet again.

Neither the Kawi nor the Baby Beemer have online maintenance tutorials, you don’t get a shop manual, and last I looked, neither company has a really cool blog (like we do).  I don’t think either company is providing free Baja tours, either!  And here’s another kicker…both the BMW and the Kawi, without any accessories, weigh roughly the same as the RX3 with its standard equipment accessories!  Wowee, one more time!

I didn’t see the Suzuki 250 V-Strom at the show, nor did I see the Honda 250.   When I see those bikes, though, I’ll provide a similar comparison.   Apples, oranges, whatever.   We like the competition and we’ll continue to make the comparisons.

More interesting stuff…there was the usual collection of custom bikes and exotic paint at the show.  These three stood out to me…

And like always, there were interesting helmets worthy of a click or two…

One of our good buddies, Chris Cianci, showed me a photo of his RX3 parked out in front of the Long Beach Convention Center.   He was riding it to a family get-together in Salt Lake City!

And finally, I always ask myself which bike of the many at the show did I find the most interesting to photograph.   To me, this year it was the Moto Guzzi El Dorado. It’s a massive 1400cc V-twin monster, but it kept the classic looks of the El Dorado Moto Guzzi offered in the 1970s.  There was something about this bike I especially liked, and I think it was its classic black look with white pinstripes, just the right amount of chrome, and the wide whitewalls on its classy wire wheels.  My compliments to Moto Guzzi…that El Dorado is a beautiful motorcycle!

One last thing…Moto Baja! is done.  It’s off to the publisher, and we’ll be announcing its availability in the next few days.  This book is all about the photography, riding in Baja, and you.

Yep, you.

If you’ve ever ridden with me in Baja, there’s a photo of you in this book!

Moto Baja! is in high resolution full color, too.  I wanted to do that to showcase the photography and the great folks I’ve ridden with in Baja, and I kept MotoBaja! to 120 pages to keep the cost reasonable.  You’ll want to pick up a couple hundred copies!

One more thing…the TT250s are inbound!  Did I mention we’re taking deposits now?

Folks, that’s it for today.   Ride safe and stay tuned!

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