Harley Davidson, MotoGP and more

Stephen Edwards 30.9.2012

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I was having a quick look through the Harley Davidson model line-up for 2013 and what caught my eye was something not there, rather than what is. It would appear that the XR1200 has been dropped from the range and I, for one, find that to be a pity.

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This bike was first introduced in 2008 to non-American markets and, at least, stylistically it was a bit of a departure for the company. The bike echoed the lines of the companies flat track racers, which are I believe statistically the most successful race motorcycles in the world. The bike was far from being a race replica but it perhaps was the one machine in their offerings that could actually truly be described as having some kind of sport pretence in the “Sportster” range. I have spoken to a few people who bought the bike and they really like it. It certainly looks quite unique amongst its stable mates with a much more modern style than anything else being produced by the American company, with perhaps the exception of the V-Rod.

That however may be the cause of the problem as to why the bike is being dropped. It obviously has not been the sales success that the company had hoped for. I don’t think that this failure to sell is down to any inherent fault in the machine but rather that people who like Harley’s are very comfortable with the image and styling of their traditional product line and something like the XR simply does not fit in with their perceptions. The other potential target market was, of course, to those who never had an H-D but this too has obviously fallen short of the mark and I suspect that it is exactly the same image problem but in reverse. There are many out there coming from the sports bike genre who simply would never give the brand a look and will always have their dyed in wool impression of what a Harley most likely is. The company has tried very hard, I think, to spread it swings into new areas with the XR and the now dead Buell brand but it looks like that narrow angle V-Twin engine is destined to spend its life deeply rooted in the cruiser and custom sector.

On another point, there has been an excellent article here, on Moto Denik, regarding the way that different countries approach the promotion of motorcycle safety. There is no doubt that the BESIP video is very much in the negative and perhaps not the most constructive way of getting the message across but lets not get completely carried away.

There are too many idiots on bikes in this country and as I mentioned in my last column, these are the ones that the public remember. So whilst we should all do our bit to try and encourage the authorities to take a stance more like the ones shown in the article from America we must not lose sight of the fact that each and every one of us has more potential to influence the perception of bikers than any billboard or video.

The racing season is coming close to an end with neither the Moto GP or WSBK titles yet wrapped up but it would be fairly safe to say that Mr Lorenzo and Mr Biaggi are in the driving seats to secure the respective titles. The biggest news of late has been that move back to Yamaha from Ducati of Valentino Rossi. I personally wish he had stayed but I think it would be a very cynical person who cannot understand why he has decided to go. It would however be great if he can take a win on the red bike before departing.

Our own Karel Abraham is also leaving Ducati and will ride on an ART Aprilia CRT bike in 2013. It is a shame that he will not be on a prototype machine but after the issues of 2012 I can hardly blame the team for getting out. In spite of the fact that it looks like Aprilia shall clean up in WSBK, for me the biggest point of the season is the emergence of BMW into a real contender and were it not for Marco Melandri’s last run of bad luck then they would be there right at the death, pushing hard. I have no news of Jakub Smrz plans for next year and if he shall return to the World Superbike series. His initial run out in the British SBK class was mixed with a good qualifying but then a ‘did not finish’ and a mid pack placing in the second race. It would be good if we had Kuba or another Czech rider in the world grid in 2013. Maybe someone will see the talents of Ondra Jezek in World Superstock and he will get a break – who knows??

Keep riding safe you lot, the snow is not here yet and there are still many kilometres up for grabs.

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