Honda paved its way to success in the US when it decided to bolt from the Japanese market and started exporting to the US. It triumphantly overtook other makers even riding some British brands down. The successful strategy of Honda in penetrating and dominating the American motorcycle market has been a favorite topic of academic discussions related to introductory strategies. In 1975, the government of UK enlisted the Boston Consulting Group to make a report to explicate why and how the Japanese company had outridden the British brands. Economies of scale and effects of learning curves were the reasons that the report cited, although this was later on contested by Richard Pascale in 1984 after interviewing the Honda executives who were at the helm of the company when it first braved the American market. His findings reveal that the triumph of Honda was a mix of “miscalculation, serendipity, and organizational learning.” Instead of the long term strategy that the BCG reported, this new report ascribed the success to the personnel’s hard work and adaptability. Initially, Honda intended to join the race of producing and marketing the 300 cc and other large motorcycles that are mostly used by true blue bikers. But by happy chance, the Honda people discovered that the light weight, low-cost, fuel-efficient scooters appealed to ordinary people, hence uncovering an unserved market perfect for their Super Cub. Through the years, Honda motorcycles have moved forward in leaps and bounds, but with the decline in demand in the US starting 1996, it also experienced a decline in sales.
Overseas, Honda has also shown market dominance. The company partnered with India’s Hero Group to form the Honda Hero Motors, Ltd., the largest two-wheeler manufacturing company in India. While in the Philippines, Honda Dream motorcycles are one of the common models you can see on the streets.
Brief History of the Honda Motorcycle
Here is a simple timeline of some significant events in the history of Honda when it started operations in the US:
1959. Honda got its show on the American road by opening the American Honda Motor Co. in Los Angeles.
1971. The classic Honda CB 100 was introduced.
1972. Honda acknowledged the importance of producing another two-stroke motor to strongly compete in the 250 cc motocrosser.
1973. The CR250 Elsinore was made available in the US, becoming the most successful production race motorcycle in its category,
1974. Honda launched GL 1000, the first Gold Wing in Cologne, Germany, opening up the terrain for water-cooled four-stroke model for Japanese manufacturers. It was also one of the trailblazers among production bikes with fuel pumps and also boasted of a shaft drive. To aid in keeping the center of gravity low, the actual tank of Goldwings is beneath the seat. Do not confuse this with the “tank” in the normal position, which actually serves as electronics compartment hiding radiator overflow.
1975. The GL 1000 started to hightail the US road.
1978. Production for the four-stroke, oval-piston NR 500 commenced to get a shot at strongly competing for the 500GP World Championship, but it only started racing by the end of the 1979 season and endured until the 1981 season. Unfortunately, it did not clinch victory despite its being a technological magnum opus. It was also this year that the Honda CBX 1000 was launched as the first production motorcycle that the company had produced.
1980. The classic Honda CB 125cc T 2 was released.
1981. The manufacture of Gold Wing was moved from Japan to Honda’s new Ohio factory.
1982. Honda reached its heights, manufacturing nearly three million motorcycles a year.
1983. Honda came first in the “blue riband” championship, while Freddie Spencer won for them the 500cc World Championship, not Honda’s first having its initial victory in this class in the 1966 Manufacturer’s Class. The Honda CB 1100 F was also released and was made available until 1984.
1984. The VF700S Honda Sabre, touted as the Tariff Buster, came after the V45 Sabre and was available only until 1985.
1986. The refashioned VFR 750 F Interceptor saved face for the V-four VF series. Thanks to its gear-drive overhead cams, the cam drive and wear issues were resolved, gaining for it the tout “best all-’round road bike” for the greatest part of the decade.
2002. Bestride Honda’s five-cylinder four-stroke RC211V, Valentino Rossi prevailed in the 990cc MotoGP season.
2005. The Shadow Spirit 750 was revived.
2006. Honda sold the 50,000,000th Super Cub.
2007. Honda pioneered the air bag crash protection for motorcycles.
2008. Honda DN 01 was released in the Japanese and European markets, and in the US market the following year.
2010. Honda launched the first production motorcycle with an elective dual clutch automatic transmission, the VFR 1200F, ushering in genuine push-button shifting.
2011. Honda brings to the market the CBR250R to cater to the growing beginner-bike segment. Its plant in Thailand produced the mini CBR which is equipped with a 249cc single-cylinder engine.
The Marketing Enduro For Harley and Honda Motorcycles
The entry of the Japanese Honda motorcycles onto the American thoroughfare really made a dent into the sales of Harley Davidson which originated in Wisconsin. Today, the two US market leaders continue to swap paint as they vie for the perpetually moving finish line. But they somehow differ in their respective specialty; Harley chasing after the heavyweight motor cycle market, while Honda is after the lightweight niche. Honda has also successfully targeted the ordinary people and dissociated its branding from the stereotypical boisterous, grimy, leather-clad, men riding in the dust looking for trouble.
The following is a comparative discussion of the two market leaders.
1. Origin. First off, we already know that Harley is American in origin, while Honda is Japanese.
2. Products. While Harley-Davidson is focused on manufacturing motorcycles, particularly cruisers, Honda produces all kinds of cars and all kinds motorcycles, ranging from the 50 cc scooters to 1000cc cruisers. While Harley does not market cars, they sell various types of Harley driving apparel, such as leather jackets, helmets and other clothing products. Their marketing strategy is selling a lifestyle, more than just selling motorcycles.
3. Production Techniques and Appeal To The Market. Continued technological research is key in the production of Honda motorcycles, giving way to better performance, comfort and cost reduction. In contrast, Harley banks on the vintage or classic appeal of their bikes. Technological research is not a priority, but the American company focuses on capitalizing on the retro image and branding it has been projecting. Many true blue riders prefer the attitude and personality that Harley exudes over the stark functionality of Honda bikes. A motorbike buff can easily identify a Harley by the unmistakable Harley roar it produces. In contrast, Honda has not carved an unmistakable personality, even in terms of the sound, because of the constant changes in designs.
4. Fuel Efficiency. Owing to the technological advances employed, Honda motorcycles outride Harley in terms of fuel consumption as the former can cover longer distances per gallon of gas, as opposed to Harleys that can easily quaff your gas.
Searching For Honda Motorcycle Parts Was Once Like Searching For The Holy Grail
The Honda brand of motorcycles has taken the swoop across the globe because of affordability and the company’s track record in the industry. The mass-appealing pricing of Honda motorcycles, however, was offset by the difficulty of repairing, upgrading, and replacing parts of these Japanese bikes. Honda motorcycle replacement or spare parts was hard to find because most dealerships did not carry these parts since it is not a local brand. If you are lucky to find a dealership shop offering the part you need, it was most probably be expensive.
The limited supply of Honda motorcycle parts made it difficult for a dedicated biker to custom-made or rebuild his own chopper from scratch or by modifying parts and design to give it a distinctive look. This may be one reason why, the Harleys are more prominent among choppers. This does not mean that Honda does not have its chopper models. The Honda Fury Chopper is one model that is intended for customization. However, this cruiser still keeps the conservative feel of Honda motorcycles when compared to the other more radical choppers. Still, you can use custom-made chrome parts, such as custom mirror, to give personality to your chopper. Bore kits for motorcycles and the three-wheeled trikes and ATV, are also available for hobbyists who want to customize their rides. You can buy a kit from a motorcycle parts and accessories store that includes practically everything you need to build your own bike. There are also conversion kits that allow you to convert a bike into a trike. All you will need is some spray paint to give your ride a final touch and color of your preference and gas. The Team Charlotte Motorsports store is one shop that has both online and physical stores offering parts and accessories at cheap prices. If you prefer, you can also buy a motorcycle kit with custom chrome parts. The Wrench is one of the leading names when it comes to custom frames and bikes since 1995.
Search For Used Honda Motorcycle Parts From Many Parts of the Globe
Thanks to the Internet, you can now search for replacement Honda motorcycle parts at the comfort of your home and even make some savings by opting to buy used parts that can still be of service, such as a custom mirrors, tires, wheels or rims, tanks, batteries, engines, motorcycle bodies, seats, exhaust pipes and systems, windshields and fairings, online from motorcycle sites and even from eBay. Many of these online stores have established systems of shipping orders to the UK, Canada and the USA. Whether your address says Dallas, Texas (TX), Minneapolis, Minnesota (MN), or Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (PA), Hawaii, or even Ontario, Canada, it doesn’t matter as these parts can be ordered online. Just make sure that the seller you are ordering it from ships to your place.
There are a lot of spare parts which motorcycle shops salvage for reuse to retail and wholesale. Narrow down your online search by make and model year to hasten the process, although usually, a manual search of the listings can direct you to the part you are looking for. Obviously, the description of the item would say “used but in good condition”. Looking at its image will also give you an idea of the extent of its wear and tear. Stay clear of items that have no descriptions and images as they may be useless. Even if your budget is tight, you may be able to buy unused or brand new spare parts at a lower cost. Try to ask your dealer for NOS or “new old stocks”. These are old original parts (OEM) that have never been sold.
Besides the essential motorcycle parts, you would also need oil, oil filter, tool set for the proper functioning and maintenance of your motorcycle. Dealerships also carry these products. When choosing oils and oil filters, make sure that the one you pick is Original Equipment Manufacturer or OEM-approved. Honda manuals recommend Pro Honda GN4 or HP4 4-stroke oil or equivalent motor oil. Although synthetic, HP4 is recommended because it combines the heat-stability and shear-resistance of synthetic oil with the lubricant quality of mineral oil.
Bike Enthusiast’s Guide To Buying Used Honda Motorcycles
Driving a motorcycle can be a risky move due to its nature. Buying a second-hand motorcycle can even be riskier because you may not exactly know what the used unit has been through and how it will perform after its restoration. For all you know, the unit you are considering may have just been rebuilt from old or wreaked cruisers. For this reason, a buyer of used Honda motorcycles must have eyes like a hawk so that they can readily detect defects. He must have a good grasp of how a well-performing motorcycle must look, feel and sound like. There may be issues that cannot be spotted after a cursory inspection. It is not enough to check its overall appearance. For your safety, diligently examine each part, from the mirrors and clutch, the body, to its brakes, wheel and tires. Pay extra attention to the tires and ask for its mileage. If you come across a tire with at least ⅛ inch of tread remaining, no signs of fine cracks along its surface and threadbare knobs, then you can be assured of decent traction. You must know how to ask the right questions and verify the given answers to assess the integrity not just of the spare part, but also that of the seller or owner. For instance, you can ask how old the tires are, then verify the answer using the DOT dating code etched on the mold on the rubber sidewall of the used tire. The week that it was produced is indicated by the first four digits of this code, while the last two digits reveal the year.
Stay clear of motorcycles that had endured crashes before by examining the body paint of the bike. Keep your eyes peeled on off balance color, deep parallel scratches on the case of the engine and on the plastic frame, and signs of twisted front forks. Request a test ride of the bike to possibly uncover problems that have not been disclosed or elaborated by your dealer.
It would also be great if the used motorcycle you get to buy comes with a CD that contains exploded diagrams of the motorbike like that in a fiche. So that the next time you order parts from your dealer, you can correctly inform them the specific part needed by mentioning the part numbers or codes. A fiche or microfiche requires a bulky and expensive reader machine that dealers have. Owning a CD that has these data will be convenient for you to view the diagram each time you want to should you need to identify a part or you may need a guide on how to reassemble your bike.
Speaking of special used Honda motorcycles, you might also want to consider buying an antique Honda motorcycle, such as the 1965 Honda S-90 and the 1977 Honda XL 350.
Give Your Ride Personality Using Honda Motorcycle Accessories
Besides motorcycle parts, bikers often use accessories and other related materials, such as stickers and decals, patches, covers, fairing, saddlebags, windshield, necessary tools like wrench and battery charger, and many others to adorn, protect and give personality to their cruisers. Besides these, you can also most likely buy your motorcycle gear and apparel, such as helmet, jacket, from your motorcycle shop.
Simplify Your Search Through a Honda Motorcycles Dealer Locator
If you are not comfortable buying through online shops selling used motorcycles and parts, you may opt to buy from dealers. With so many dealerships across the country, it can get confusing to locate one near you. Use a dealer locator online to facilitate lookup of the list of shops which are accessible to you and their locations. A large full-line Honda dealer which you may find online is Rick Case Honda Powerhouse in Florida.
Should you decide to go on an interstate cruise on your Honda motorcycle to appreciate the beauty of the USA, you can be sure that in case you would need to replace a spare part, you can find a dealer in almost all states. The list includes Sacramento and San Diego, California, Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona, Atlanta, Georgia, Forrest City, Arkansas, Dallas, Texas, Iowa, Chicago, Illinois, Oregon in the Pacific Coast, New York, Indianapolis, Indiana, Portland, Oregon, New Jersey, Nashville and Memphis Tennessee, Las Vegas, Nevada, Maine, Houston, Texas, Oklahoma, Maryland, Michigan, Utah, Seattle, Washington, Hawaii, Denver, Colorado, Jacksonville, Florida, and many others.
How To Deal With Honda Motorcycle Dealers
Determine your purpose. People visit Honda motorcycle dealers for a number of reasons, such as: looking to buy a new or used motorcycle, looking to buy new or replacement part for your motorcycle, looking to buy motorcycle accessories, to have motorcycle serviced by the dealer, or just want to shop around and check out the latest motorcycles. Most dealerships have sales people motivated to sell who would offer assistance when you step into their shop. Just try not to be annoyed, since it is their job.
Shop around and haggle for better prices and special deals and discount. If the purpose of your visit is to buy a used or brand new motorbike, make sure to shop around and compare deals from one shop to another. Besides price, your choice for a deal is also affected by the relationship you develop with a dealership. If you develop good rapport with a dealer which offers a price higher than another dealer you found, try to ask the first one to lower their price. As much as you can, try to negotiate a price as close to the “Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price” or MSRP. Besides price, you can also try negotiating for additional freebies or deals, such as free insurance.
Financing and Extended Warranty. Unless you are paying in cash, financing is often needed when buying a new motorcycle, so a good credit score would work to your advantage. During this discussion, the dealership’s finance officer will most probably recommend to you an extended warranty. You must realize that you can purchase an extended warranty online that are priced lower than the ones offered in dealerships. Researching before paying for anything can really help you save some money. With this knowledge, you can tell the finance officer about it and can haggle a more affordable price for the extended warranty. Always take time to read the fine print before you sign anything so that you do not get into something that you do not want. Ask for clarifications if need be.
Check that you get all that you need to receive. You paid for all these, so make sure that they are with you when you ride your new bike home. This includes all the keys, owner’s manual, remote control (if it includes this), and so on. Make one last inspection of the new bike to check for anything that is missing.
Ordering Honda Motorcycles Parts
Ordered parts will usually take 7 to 10 business days to arrive. You may be asked to make a down payment especially for major items to make sure that you will proceed with the purchase when it arrives. You may also be given aftermarket items so make sure what you order. Ask for the brand name and its lifespan. Examples of aftermarket brands that Honda dealerships carry are Drag Specialties and Add-Ons. Do some online research before ordering spare parts, such as the battery, to have an idea of their price range as prices in dealerships could be exorbitant. You may want to consider buying through catalog orders or on eBay as you can sometimes get better deals here.
Some Models of Honda Motorcycles For Sale
Honda Rune. This striking motorcycle is seven inches long, and weighs over 850 pounds. The concept of this cruiser is based on the Gold Wing and Valkyrie power plant. Its style was first conceived prior to engineering and other measurable science. It was designed to be a looker.
2012 Goldwing Updates. The 2012 GL 1800 Goldwing crossed the US market in May 2011, with its updates including upgraded GPS systems, storage space, bodywork and speaker sets. A European version is possibly making its way to the UK by the end of 2011.
2012 Honda CMX250C Rebel 250. The 250cc Rebel is one of the preferred rides for beginners. It is known for its durability, fuel-efficiency, comfort, light-weight, classic cruiser design and ease to drive. New riders won’t be intimidated by its 234cc four-stroke engine, while skilled motorcyclists will not find it lacking in power. It features a low seat height, a five-speed transmission and a push-button electric starter. That is why, this cruiser has been in the market for many years until 2009 and is making a come back in 2012.
Shadow Spirit 750. This middleweight motorcycle, that sports a stylishly minimalist appeal, is a countermove against Yamaha’s 650 V-Star. Similar to the other Shadow models of Honda, including the 1800 VTX and 600 VLX, its engine features twin-plug, three-valve cylinder heads, with two intakes and one exhaust valve.
Honda CB750 comes in a number of model series from 1969 to 2003, and made a come back in 2007. Honda has successfully introduced a transverse, overhead camshaft in-line four-cylinder engine that has become the prevailing sport bike form.
The new 2012 Honda NSF250R will soon be out in the Japanese market. Some dealerships are already taking orders, and delivery is expected to be by December 2011. Meanwhile you can download its specs online to get to know more about this racing bike. The production bike is sold all white in color. Many motorcycling fanatics will surely watch out for it.
Honda CRF Series. This lineup of four-stroke trail and motocross motorcycles was launched in 2002 as a descendant of the Honda XR series, and are available from 50 to 230 cc. They are one of the best motocrossers in their class and have become a frontrunner in sales since their launch.
Honda first launched the Nighthawk series in 1982 featuring relatively big models initially produced in three sizes, CB450SC, CB650SC, and CB750SC. These models were more than inspired from the existing CB’s but styling was substantially improved in order to be introduced as brand new.
2008 Nighthawk. The Nighthawk was first introduced in 1982 but Honda smartly did not implement any change on its design although there were slight improvements done, such as a repositioned helmet lock and some changes in the colors. This lightweight motorbike is ideal for beginner riders with limited budget.
750 Magna V-4. If you have been around the bike riding scene for some time already, you would surely have heard of the rumors saying that this model is becoming obsolete because Honda has discontinued the production of this model, along with the original Valkyrie 1500 flat-six. Simply browse through the American Honda website to confirm this. If you are a Magna owner, needing repair information, parts or service, you can check out websites and forums of owners of this cruiser for advice.
To help you decide which among these Honda motorcycles to buy, join a forum or two discussing motorcycles to get ideas, learn motorcycle stat from other riders and motorcycle buffs.
Keep the shiny side up!