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FOCUS – PG&A Imporant Part of Sportbike Market

November 23, 2005
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Aftermarket products for sportbikes are largely functional, but dress-up items for them are a growing trend.
“We don’t see the aftermarket driving sportbike sales like we see in the cruiser market,” said Karl Edmondson of Kawasaki. “However, overall ‘image’ is just as important among sportbike riders as it is with cruiser riders. Stylish helmets, jackets and gloves add to the overall image for sportbike riders.
“Most sportbike buyers are very image conscious, ranking styling/appearance as their number-one reason for their purchase. As good as sportbikes look today, buyers still like to personalize them with aftermarket exhausts, a colored windscreens and frame sliders.”
“From Yamaha we have exhaust systems for the track, billet and carbon fiber products, and windshields,” said Yamaha’s Brad Banister. “Sport, naked and standard bike consumers buy pipes, comfort features like windshields, bar risers and different bars, soft and hard luggage, carbon fiber dress-up items, and luxury items like seats; we have a two-up with a backrest, and gunfighter style.”
“Performance exhausts are a very popular option, especially with V-twin owners; they’re the leading product on both sport and naked bikes,” said Robert Pandya of Aprilia/Moto Guzzi. “Popular accessories are performance mods, then comfort items like taller or tinted windscreens, and tank bags. On the Tuono, the Ventura tail pack system is popular, as it makes it into a GT-style touring machine. And of course protective clothing – Aprilia has a new line for 2005/06.”
“We’re putting more and more focus on accessories, and the 20th anniversary of the GSX-R has given us the opportunity to make special accessories for sportbike enthusiasts,” said Suzuki’s Glenn Hansen.
“The aftermarket is the fastest growing part of our business,” said Michael Lock of Ducati. “Motorcycle sales are up 15-20% this year, but performance accessories and apparel are up by over 40%. That includes lots of people who buy Ducati t-shirts and sweatshirts who don’t necessarily have a bike.
“[The Ducati] is a premium niche bike. I know of customers who will buy a motorcycle for $15,000, then spend $3,000 on a premium titanium exhaust; and we can’t get enough of the magnesium wheels.
“The non-Ducati aftermarket is much bigger than for many other brands. The big advantage Ducati has over the aftermarket is that if you buy our parts, you don’t risk invalidating your warranty.”
Lock mentions warranty and, by implication, durability considerations.
“It is very, very important to the Japanese and Kawasaki that a major, major focus is on durability and reliability,” said Karl Edmondson of Kawasaki. “That’s the total opposite of the American mentality, which is to have it last only so long, and then you buy another one. We don’t like for the accessories department to offer products that take away from reliability, though we do offer exhaust systems and racing parts. We mostly leave that up to the aftermarket. What sells big for us are things like windshields and frame sliders. Some guys are getting their frames, swingarms and wheels chromed.”
While function us supreme among sportbike owners, many riders also want an attractive form to go with it.
“The level of customization has spilled over from what people have done with their cruisers,” said Todd Anderson of Triumph. “On sportbikes they’re now using billet, polishing and carbon fiber. More than ever they’re tricking out their bikes with polished frames, wheels and swingarms. Pipes have always been big and we’re seeing license plate eliminators, lots of billet and aluminum parts, lots more custom paint.”

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