Polaris & the Orient Express

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Royal-Enfield-Polaris

It seems that the gaze of the powers that control the levers at Polaris Industries is cast far and wide. An announcement today reveals that the mid-western power sports company has formed a joint venture with Eicher Motors Ltd. of India, a manufacturer of light commercial vehicles and Royal Enfield motorcycles. This news comes on the heels of a long line of investments made by blue-chip motorcycle brands in India over the past decade. Brembo, Harley-Davidson, BRP and Triumph all have stated aims or made deals to assemble equipment or in some cases entire motorcycles in the Asian subcontinent, in order to get in on a piece of the action. 

India, the world’s second largest motorcycle market and auto manufacturing giant, is poised to become the most important arena for global motorcycle brands in the coming decades. Unlike China where joint ventures involving western brands have a sordid past full of intellectual property theft, occasionally intrusive government, and a population for whom motorcycles are merely a stepping stone to a car, India is a western-style democracy with a strong entrepreneurial heritage and mature motorcycle market. Major players like Honda, Suzuki and Piaggio have operated in India to great effect for over 25 years, with the result of these efforts sprouting tier one domestic OEMs like Hero, Maruti and Bajaj as well as a stable pool of local engineering talent. In recent years, Indian motorcycle companies that are the ones in acquisition mode, buying up large stakes in famous legacy brands like KTM and Malagutti in advance of expanding westwards, or setting up joint ventures as Hero have done with EBR in America.

Polaris, long time a regional player in the recreational power sports market, has shown signs of plans to become a significant OEM on the global motorcycle industry. After a decade long and somewhat tepid entry into the motorcycle market with their Victory cruiser brand, they surprised many with the acquisition of the oft troubled Indian Motorcycle Company. Then late last year came the announcement that they had invested significantly in Brammo, one of the American pioneers of the highway-capable electric motorcycles. Today’s news therefore completes the picture of a forward-looking company laying a solid foundation for future expansion, something that should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Polaris Industries and its solid business practices. To others, particularly those operating in North America, it should serve as a warning of strong competition to come.

Polaris’ advance into India gives the company and it’s subsidiary brands access to world-class engineering and suppliers at a fraction of the cost of what they are now paying. Additionally, it allows turn key solutions to SKD operations (Semi-Knock Down: manufacturing vehicles in kit form at home, then exporting them for final assembly in a foreign country) that will let Victory, Brammo or Indian motorcycles (not to mention Polaris-branded ATV’s) to be sold in India without crushing import taxes and tariffs. For Eicher, the deal will endow the company with many years of access to high technology and state-of-the-art manufacturing know how, on which to base a strong independent future, following the pattern set by Hero, Bajaj and Maruti.

One can speculate endlessly, but with India forming the world’s second largest market for electric motorcycles, most of which are in the commuter class, the potential synergies that could be found there bode well for Brammo and its Enertia. Similarly, the market for showy cruisers in India is substantial. Despite what most westerners think, India is a country with a vast middle class, and more millionaires than anywhere else. With Germany luxury car brands and Harley-Davidson sales surging, the Polaris product portfolio offers many toys to affluent Indians, while offering Polaris an enormous pool of consumers to exploit.

Michael Uhlarik is a veteran motorcycle industry consultant and award winning designer of motorcycles for brands like Yamaha, Aprilia, Bombardier, and many others. He is the founder of Amarok Consultants, and the chief designer of the Amarok P1 electric racing experiment. He lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

  • AJ

    Should I have my fingers crossed that this will lead to volume production of a European market electic RE350 style bike?
    We can dream…

    -Unrelated-
    There’s a great domestic customising scene in India using RE 350s.
    https://www.facebook.com/RajputanaCustoms

    • http://www.amarokconsultants.com michael uhlarik

      I suspect that this JV will not have any effect on RE whatsoever, nor should it. Royal Enfield is a great brand, and finally has great product and first rate design.

      I like the custom REs in your link. Some great stuff.

    • Tim N.

      I’ve seen Rajputana on Pipeburn. Nice looking work. In my opinion, they are one of the few capable of making Harleys look appealing!

  • JT Nesbitt

    Ball juggling, deal making, smoke and mirrors. Global markets with committee driven, lowest common denominator design briefs.
    What about PRODUCT driven design? When are we going to see the intellectually consistent, and patriotic, shift from a mealy marketing driven company to something that we as Americans can be proud of?
    Substance over style, quality over quantity, legacy over laziness, and competition over cowardice….
    Is the “Gunny” going to yell at the Indian middle class and order them to buy a motorcycle?
    Are we selling vintage American culture abroad? If we are, then why don’t our automobiles that we export have tail fins?
    Fuck this Floyd Clymer-esque nonsense! Stop leveraging our phony make believe past for short term gain…It is Embarrassing because it screams to the rest of the world that our best days are behind us. —JT

    • http://www.amarokconsultants.com michael uhlarik

      JT

      Why are you so angry about this? Polaris Industries is an American success story. An American manufacturing company that employs thousands of Americans making American motorcycles, ATV’s and snowmobiles. They are competently led, financially sound, and expanding into international markets.

      Surely that is a good thing? No where did they say they are closing American production, or outsourcing work they are doing here. I am not a personal fan of Victory as a brand, but credit where it’s due: they make good products that people actually enjoy.

      As for Indian, no one except Polaris knows what they are planning for that brand. As I wrote above, out there is nothing but speculation.

      M

      • JT Nesbitt

        If you had to choose, would you be a proponent of either International Design, or Regional Colloquial Design? — JT

        • http://www.amarokconsultants.com michael uhlarik

          You know the answer to that. I am just reporting on a significant industry news event that involves the competent motorcycle company in the US.

          • JT Nesbitt

            I am not sure that I do know the answer to that question, given your defense of the “competent motorcycle company” (Wow! talk about damning with faint praise!)….JT

            • http://www.amarokconsultants.com michael uhlarik

              Touché.

              I suppose that I owe you another beer (that tally is adding up).

              There are two Michaels : the one that makes a living analyzing products and markets, and the one that occasionally still designs something. The former requires the perspective of money and markets while the latter only the perspective of the heart.

              In a perfect world, I would only listen to the latter.

              M

              • JT Nesbitt

                Products and markets are temporary illusions.

                The world is what you make it.

                Tempus Veritas Revelat.

                — JT

                • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]

                  Not to dilute this thread…

                  But I was really hoping for more fireworks here. You guys hugged too early.

                • Pete

                  Here’s one for you, JT:

                  “A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small parcel”
                  - John Ruskin

                • http://vtbmwmov.org Eben

                  I’m with you, JT. I’ll stick to my permanent illusions, thank-you very much. And don’t anyone dare try to do anything to shatter them!!

              • Van Doan

                Michael, I’m not sure why you rolled over so fast. Not only did JT have no concrete criticism, but logical fallacies abound. There’s no reason a product can’t have style, and substance; they aren’t mutually exculsive. Quality can drive quantity, and quantity can allow quality through economies of scale. That is, unless we deem mass produced products of the likes of Honda, Ducati, and even Aprilla as low quality. Why does JT ping the Gunny, more American than apple pie, when leading with the kitchy catchphrase, “legacy over laziness,” and following with a tirade on tail fins? If JT is a progressive, then does he have a problem with Hero and EBR, or does he doom Eric Buell to remain an extremely niche player?

                JT, I appreciate the passion, but bring some sense to the table or risk being labeled a crackpot. I can’t make heads nor tails of your position, other than a general dislike of global partnerships with no specific reasons.

                • BMW11GS

                  Well said!

                • JT Nesbitt

                  I like the idea of being labeled as a crackpot.
                  It then begs the question, through what lens do you view the Britten V1000? Did that project exist to satisfy a board of directors? Was it just a marginally competitive race motorcycle?
                  Are motorcycles merely a product, who’s success or failure is measured by dividends paid to shareholders or races racked up?
                  Are crackpots the ENEMY of motorcycles? Or is there something else there? Something that exists in the either? Something SPECIAL? What is it about them that compels us to care, to have passion? — JT

              • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]

                “In a perfect world, I would only listen to the latter.”

                But we don’t live in a “perfect world” because one measure of a successful design is how much money it can make the designer, manufacturer, and distributor through sales.

                Therefore, some motorcycle companies are successful because they design and manufacture motorcycles that sell — in other words, they make consumer products. And if a company like Polaris feels that they can achieve the most success designing their products for certain market segments, good for them.

                • Gene

                  OK, now you’ve pushed one my buttons. I view the Britten (one of my favorite bikes) as a total and absolute failure, and I blame John’s family for that.

                  It’s a collection of incredible and revolutionary ideas trapped inside 10 unique bikes doomed to sit on collector/museum floors and never touch a racetrack again, because they’re TOO unique and valuable.

                  If that’s not a failure, I don’t know what is.

                  I saw that thing race and I know if it wasn’t for an unfortunate minor electrical problem, it would have kicked ass. Every racebike has teething problems, and there’s the obvious tragedy that John didn’t live long enough to make progress on his dreams to the point that other people could share in the fruits of his labor.

                  There’s not a day I see my copy of “Art of the Motorcycle” or the “John Britten Story” on the shelf and don’t feel a rush of hate towards his family for bottling up his accomplishments and not letting someone else carry on John’s work, whether it’s Ducati, Honda, or someone else in a garage with talent. Those assholes need to SHARE.

                  Some people would be all up in arms about the Brittens selling out, but I’d be happy I was hauling ass on my Kawasaki with a Britten-derived engine and chassis.

                  Motorcycles are inherently meant to be enjoyed. Even Harley (a company I do hate) can produce bikes that people enjoy. Fine, I don’t like ‘em so I don’t buy one. I did buy my SV-650, which is another V-twin packaged to be light, reliable, easy to work on, and a joy to ride. It’s not a 916, but then it is cheap enough to ride the hell out of it and not have the worry that I’m going to wreck my expensive Ducati (or be stranded by the side of the road “because it has character” meaning some idiosyncratic design quirk that doesn’t work as well as it should, like tail fins, or maybe a tank shifter.)

                  One of the ways you measure how many people like it by how many people buy one — “Hey, we sold 15,000 SV-650s this year!”.

                  Another way is by how many people want one, but this is far more subjective. Lots of people want a Ferrari California, a 916, or an EBR 1190, they just can’t afford one. That you measure by the way people light up when you say “Ferrari” or “Buell”. That’s not a number you can stick on a spreadsheet, however, so lots of people end up saying it doesn’t count.

                  Sure, your “souless global corporation” can produce stuff that nobody enjoys, like the Rune, but I can still remember the Honda Japan guy at Bike Week telling me about how they were bringing out something called “the Rune” next year. I’m sure he wasn’t supposed to talk about it yet, and indeed he could barely speak English, but I will never forget the incredible bubbling excitement and enthusiasm he had about it. I have seen very few people that excited about a bike, even here on HFL. I’m sure he ended up in a Honda office somewhere in Japan going “why the hell didn’t the Rune SELL??” with a pile of sake bottles around him.

                  I have to commend Honda for at least TRYING with things like the DN-01 and the Rune, and it’s why I respect them far more than Harley with its absolutely-no-risk-whatsoever “ooh look, we blacked out the engine this year and called it the Night Train” mentality.

                  Sorry for the long post, I guess I’ve been reading things like “The strange death of the British motorcycle industry” too much.

                • JT Nesbitt

                  Gene – I very much enjoyed reading your post. Isn’t it funny that your favorite book is titled “The Art Of The Motorcycle”. Cognitive dissonance is when a person can hold two diametrically opposed ideas, and believe fully in both.
                  It’s like what you are saying is that you love the sculpture of Michelangelo, but it is a failure because YOU cant go to Wal-Mart and pick one up! Fascinating!!
                  From a personal perspective, I view the Britten as a success because it is not a motorcycle- it has transcended two wheels and become a metaphor.
                  When I am in the presence of one of his machines, I can’t sit still for long. I begin to get antsy, my hands shaky, hot flashes, and before long I am pulling out my hair and running back to my workshop to begin sketching, planning, powering up the welding machine, and sharpening my tungsten.
                  For me the Britten is a call to action, not a commodity, and while I absolutely adore the SV650, it doesn’t seem to have that effect on me. Do you have any idea why this might be so? — JT

      • austin_2ride

        On May 21, 2010, As part of a manufacturing realignment, Polaris announced that it was moving its Osceola, Wisconsin parts plant to Mexico and certain Osceola manufacturing processes were to be moved into the Roseau, Spirit Lake and Mexico facilities. The Osceola, Wisconsin parts plant employed 515 people, who were allowed to apply for jobs at the other Polaris facilities or with companies that continued producing parts in Osceola.

  • austin_2ride

    “access to world-class engineering”

    I have worked at a Polaris atv and Victory motorcycle dealer. Allowing this insight, their atv’s and sxs’s are built like lawn mowers. Now with that being said they have came a long way in 27 years of atv and 14 years of motorcycle design. If you consider they’ve been building snowmobiles for 56 years I think they can use a little “world-class engineering”.

    • http://www.BrewSmith.com.au dux [87 CBR600, 95 XR600R]

      I guess India wants American-style riding lawnmowers now…
      And I agree with JT, it’s impossible to root for a company that doesn’t make a single product I care about.

      • BMW11GS

        I use a 700cc Polaris ATV to tow a 6 foot diameter bush hog mower, 500 lb. grader, and dump trailer (obviously all at different times…) at the property I work at and I have nothing bad to say about it. Sincerely, I am very impressed with it’s no fuss, willingness to be abused and work continuously for 12 years in a hot, dusty, arduous environment. Once all the above farm implements are disconnected, it is a hoot to ride around and perfect for my “Farmyard Drift” aspirations. If that is what being built like a lawnmower means, than I wish more things were built like that.

        • Campisi

          This. Lawnmowers are built the way they are for a reason, and having used ATVs and ATCs for actual work in the past I won’t begrudge Polaris for building such things in a manner suited to their intended use.

          I won’t talk about my opinions on Victory Motorcycles, because I don’t have any.

          • austin_2ride

            If you have an opportunity to speak to a technician or service manager at a multi line dealership selling both Polaris and lets say Honda or Yamaha atv and sxs’s. You will find with anyone being honest that the Asian designed and built machines far exceed the quality and workmanship of the Polaris. The main reason Polaris is where they are today is the fact that they offered something no one else at the time sold, a fully automatic atv. Their initial sales and the later following they have grown was not because of quaility but the ease of use of their machines.

            • Campisi

              Duly noted. It’s probably worth mentioning that the ATVs and ATCs I’ve always used were Hondas.

  • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Grant Ray

    Damn, Pete. Bringing out the heavy, huh? What essay is that from?

    • Pete

      Huh? I read it on the inside of a Bazooka gum wrapper, thought Ruskin was the marketing guy or something.

      • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Grant Ray

        Oh wow. That’s exactly how I find out about that J.S. Mill guy, talking about liberties, or something.

        What a coincidence, right?

  • JT Nesbitt

    So Pete, do you believe in the concept of a Fountainhead?

    • Pete

      Of course I do, stream’s gotta come from somewhere. Anyway I do appreciate your passion. But your initials are JT, not HR…

    • Campisi

      Tried reading it, couldn’t stand reading past the fiftieth page. Something about her writing style doesn’t jive with me.

      … Wait, what are we talking about?

  • http://www.amarokconsultants.com michael uhlarik

    Wow

    I must say I am amazed by the emphatic response to what is nothing more than a news article. It must be the “Indian” motorcycle connection that has frayed nerves because I am pretty sure that until today, most HFL readers never even heard of Eicher Motors.

    On another note, I simply don’t understand some American’s attitudes towards quietly successful American companies. I am no big fan of Polaris products personally, but I respect the fact that they make good quality products at reasonable prices, keep their noses clean (ie. don’t need bailouts) and from what I observe do business fairly. Its like Ford. The only US car company that never took a penny of government money, makes solid cars that sell globally but finds so little love at home.

    Maybe its the maple syrup but I must be missing something.

    M

    • Van Doan

      If they would import the Global Ranger, I’d be all over it. As it is, I’m a fan of the focus, but wish they would bring home the rally cars. As it is, I like Ford for keeping the game straight, but wish they would stop propping up the F-150 for bragging rights.

      • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]

        +1 on the Global Ranger.

        • BMW11GS

          I was just thinking the same thing after I saw an article reviewing a global Ranger in Thailand. The 2.2 liter diesel is reported to have gotten 800 miles out of a 21 gallon tank! Even if those are imperial gallons, that is still pretty good! Give me the 6 speed man. 4×4 and that is the last 4 wheel vehicle I will ever need.

    • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]

      I don’t think this was “nothing more than a news article.” There’s more here than historical facts being communicated, and I personally appreciated it for your analysis beyond just your reporting.

      Moreover, I think the emphatic response that followed was not aimed at your analysis; it was directed at JT’s response and the resultant discussion.

      I think it’s awesome to have both of you here at HFL, and I look forward to these kinds of debates.

      (And like you, I applaud Polaris for being a successful company, even though as a brand, I have no affinity towards it or its sub-brands.)

    • carter

      I respect their success as a business and the fact that, unlike HD, they didn’t take bailout money, but what has their brand really contributed to motorcycling? They’re ploughing that same tired ground, product-wise.

      Why can’t good design go together with their business success? The great modernist industrial designers like Raymond Loewy and Viktor Schreckengost believed every product, from a cheap lawnchair to a locomotive, deserved excellent design.

      Polaris may be the only American company with the potential to roll out a new, fresh, FUN, maybe even affordable bike to the whole market, but instead their product is anonymous and derivative. Contrast this with EBR, CCW, and Motus. They’re each doing very different things, but they are all hammering on their own forge — doing something innovative and new. A relatively tiny success for any of them is much more exciting to me than a major deal for Polaris. We just don’t need more boring bikes.

      (+1 on how great it is to have the mad demiurge JT and the oracle of the industry Michael here on this forum)

    • JT Nesbitt

      Michael – You are missing something – context.
      Let’s hop into the time machine and fast forward 100 years. You and I are standing in the American Motorcycle Wing (early 21st century section) of the Motorcycle Museum and on display are the following-
      Czysz E1PC
      Motus MST01
      EBR 1190RS
      Amarok P1
      Victory Hammer
      Now what do you suppose the placards for each motorcycle will speak of? Will they tell the story of people and passion, will they testify to the audacity and ambition of a few dedicated artists, Will they tell the story of a few brave souls who ran to the edge of the cliff and shouted that this, this ground here, is the new center?
      Or will they speak of “competent management” “market segment” and “American jobs”
      One placard will read that way, and it will be the one with all the dust on it. — JT

      • BMW11GS

        JT I couldn’t reply to your post above, but I found your Michael Angelo at Walmart retort to Gene’s Britten angst interesting in that in a way it supports some of his argument.

        The way you become inspired by merely being in the presence of a Britten to then go off and pen your own new design, is roughly analogous to the millions of art students standing in awe of the Sistine ceiling vowing to return next year with something better (An apt manifestation perhaps, of Adam receiving the Divine Spark?)

        I believe Gene is arguing that by keeping the Britten fettered, its true genius and the ideas locked inside are withheld from us riders and that a genuine tribute to the man and machine would be allowing it to be developed by a larger company with the resources to bring his passion to a larger audience. Thus rather than a rolling sculpture, a sceptered isle unto itself, the Britten genius would be available to all. Will it be watered down, changed– perhaps detrimentally? Yes. But would certain elements be appreciated by even a lowly enthusiast? Also yes.

        Therefore, I don’t think it is cognitive dissonance, but more a Hegelian dialectic of passion, art and business that is working its way out into a new and yet beautiful synthesis.

        In the mean time though, I will enjoy my Sistine Chapel print table mats I just picked up from Costco.

    • Peter88

      They build products that people want. Line up a sportbike, an adventure bike and a cruiser (BTW, I like JT’s comment way back when that there are no cruisers only Harleys and Harley clones) and most people around the world will choose the cruiser.

      Polaris is supplying what people want. Should they have a skunk works and put out some cool stuff? Sure, that would be fun. But their main focus is making products that people like.

      • Scott-jay

        Following along with Peter88: thing majority want & buy is the normal thing.
        Normal thing cannot be exotic thing.
        Normal does not require low value or quality; it simply reflects (faceted) mainstream desire.

    • Campisi

      I think the majority of people complaining about Polaris 1) only do so when the company is brought up, and think nothing of it otherwise; and 2) don’t actually have any sort of problem with them apart from wishing they would do something interesting now and again. The American myth of unlimited social mobility puts emphasis on the brash and the bold, necessarily pulling earned praise and respect away from quietly successful enterprises such as Polaris. For what it’s worth, I have a firmly positive opinion of Polaris and wish them the best.

      I’d make a comment or two about Ford, but I’d just be speaking from the anti-Ford mentality I received as an heirloom from my family. I choose to keep and occasionally humour that mentality within myself as a keepsake.

  • http://www.amarokconsultants.com michael uhlarik

    It seems that this news article about a common industrial practice has been hijacked and turned into a debate about design philosophy, American industrial heritage and brand “authenticity”. This reveals to me only what industry has already known for a long time about North America: namely that we are no longer content-focused consumers, but rather consumers of entertainment. I will rise to the bait once more to effect my definitive response to the impassioned comments above.

    Context is exactly what I write about and what I get paid to expose. Peeling back the first layer of motorcycle news to see what motivates companies to do the things they do is what industry calls research, and the decisions it makes as a result of examining boring things like markets and product planning is called strategy. Denouncing anything but pure craft as “illusions” is what I would call lacking perspective.

    Why does the subject of success have to be black and white? I agree with the view that inspired design and its amazing power to motivate, can lead, enlighten, provoke and prosper. However, equally there is nothing wrong with making attractive, quality goods that sell and make people happy. It is the much harder of the two to accomplish.

    As for boardroom decision making, markets and analysis… sorry, but that is hugely important and does in fact create the world around us. It is also the subject of my article. We would all do well to focus more on content and less on illusionary concepts like brand heritage and nationalistic stereotypes in making our work decisions. Focusing on content is, after all, what made the New World great and why our ancestors left Europe and Asia to start over, over here. Clean slate, hard work, and no bullshit.

    Back to the design philosophy debate.

    Nearly any large human project requires interacting with lots of different people with different opinions and finding consensus. Absolutists call it compromise. Consensus is what adults do (and industries that want to succeed. Most of those are in Germany, South Korea and Japan). It is what we teach our children: to listen, share and find effective ways to co-exist even when they disagree. It takes leadership and a lot more hard work and personal effort to work together with people in a positive and respectful manner than it does working alone and without dissenting voices. It is also, generally speaking, a lot more fruitful.

    Being uncompromising is what artists do, and thank God for that. We need a lot more artists around here, in my opinion, and I would be deeply honoured to be considered among them some day. However, The act of industrial design is *not* art, even if the result sometimes can be. Industrial design is design for industry, not for self. Mass production, be it a limited run of 10 or an unlimited run in the millions, is about making things for others. An industrial designer is not there to satisfy him or herself personally, but to satisfy the requirements of the end user and the goals of the manufacturer. An artist works to satisfy only themselves or those like themselves.

    Ideally, an industrial designer can marry the two seemingly contradictory modes of work into something that is meaningful for everyone at different levels. But at its heart, the industrial designer is the principal architect of the product, and must by *necessity* divorce themself from personal bias to climb inside the skin of the end user. We wear many hats, and that takes lots of patience, listening, and very thick skin.

    Of course few will applaud the homely lines of the Honda CG125, the genius of the Kawasaki GpZ550 motor, or that a company named Polaris Industries once grew steadily because of the hard work of unknown management and labour. But that won’t erase the reality of their success to the people involved, their pride, or the satisfaction of the millions who enjoyed the results.

    North American motorcyclists need to refocus on content, on what *actually* constitutes real quality and success. We need to start making things again, LOTS of things, make them damn good and stat buying good things too. I personally applaud any North American company, large or small, Canadian or American, that gets out there and makes a better mousetrap. Embracing new ideas and yes, even foreigners and their ideas is the only way forward.

    Thanks to everybody for reading and for the lively discussions.
    Happy Safe Motorcycling

    M

    As a footnote, I would like to add that as flattering as JT’s suggestion is that “Sudbury Saturday Night” -the Amarok P1- would end up in an American motorcycle museum alongside the E1PC some day, I sincerely and respectfully hope that she never ends up sitting inert on some pedestal. She’ll get used hard and ideally be in our office toy forever. Better still, she ends up mauled and charred from some spectacular track accident (no rider injury of course). Bikes ought to be ridden.

    …now a P2 is another story….

    • rohorn

      The debate is whether or not HFL readers want to read articles that could be titled “Tradition is a business model”.

      There’s a big compliment in there to both the author and the readers…

    • JT Nesbitt

      Well Shucks, I always kinda thought that you were an anti-establishment type. Well, guess I will keep on playing the punk rock solo. — JT

    • Jason

      Bravo, Michael. Those of us that went into design school, full of enthusiasm to change the world, and then have it completely slapped out of us before we graduate will understand what you mean.

      Here’s to all the mindless drones who worked so hard to get mass market computer chips to readers, who can then bitch on this forum about how dull things have become and get teary eye about about old decrepit machines.

      Now that I am not designing, I am able to appreciate design even more. And Mike, I ride a CG125 derived motorcycle, so I absolutely appreciate how “homely” it is. Looking at the sea of CG125s outside my window, no one outside the “western world” will deny that it is not a design success. Its designers (who knows who these mindless drones are)designed a cheap, long lasting, machine that can be abused to no end, so as to allow a farmer to bring live chicken to market. How is this design more inferior to Massimo Tamburini’s 916? It doesn’t stir the soul enough? It feeds souls for god sake!

      Motorcycles are both show and work horses. Just be glad that you live in a time and place that allows you have both options.

      • rohorn

        My motorcycle is fun – and it needs my 22 year old van to haul it to where I can ride it. That van also hauls around my family, food, parts, bicycles, etc…

        I don’t visit any van websites. Not even Jalopnik (well, not since some idiot(s) made it unbrowsable a few years ago).

        If I wanted to get bored to death, I’d spend time in the Cycle World forum.

    • Campisi

      Homely?! Just this once, I bite my thumb at you, sir.

  • http://www.xenophya.com Xenophya

    I am told by those in the know that the JV is with Eicher and not Royal Enfield.

    Volvo-Eicher (VE)Commercial Vehicles Ltd. is a 50:50 joint venture between the Volvo Group and Eicher Motors Limited. Operational since July 2008, VE Commercial Vehicles Ltd. comprises of five business areas Eicher Trucks and Buses, Volvo Trucks India, Eicher Engineering Components and VE Powertrain. VECV includes the complete range of Eicher’s commercial vehicles, components and engineering design businesses as well as the sales and distribution of Volvo trucks. Each of its business units is already well established and backed by a sizable customer base. The board at RE report to the Eicher board but the company is run as a separate and self-sustaining business.

    We shall see what the future holds but apparently there will be no direct effect on RE. As long as RE keeps its identity then this has to be a good thing.