Go Back   Team-BHP > BHP India > Motorbikes


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 11th February 2015, 16:50   #1
BHPian
 
abhi29's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Sydney
Posts: 60
Thanked: 84 Times
Lightbulb Entry-level Cruiser Motorcycles: Dearth of Japanese options

As someone who loves growling, V-twin powered, chrome laden cruisers more than the high performance sports machines, someone who wants to own a cruiser before his late thirties, I have always kept a watch at how cruiser scene is shaping up in India, especially at the entry level.

Looking at the entry level cruiser options available, I see a couple of Aquilas from Hyosung, Street and Superlow from Harley Davidson and then Classic and Thunderbird by RE. The options aren’t many if we compare them with the sports offerings from the likes of Honda, Yamaha, KTM, Kawasaki and Hyosung. While Bajaj is increasingly focussing on this segment even at the cost of commuter segment and Kawasaki and KTM continue their onslaught, Honda and Yamaha too have a pipeline of more powerful sports offerings.

Before going any further, I would like to present some facts and observations about the Big Bikes (>250cc) segment in Indian two-wheeler market. This is merely a result of a quick googling, so I might miss out on details, please enlighten if you find any gaps.
  • The segment has grown by over 70% in last year
  • Largely dominated by RE, but the growth of ‘Others’ primarily driven by Harley Davidson, Bajaj-KTM and Triumph has resulted in RE’s loss of market share by around 22 percent in 2014
  • While RE surpasses HD on global figures, HD’s Street is neck to neck in sales with Continental GT even after being thrice as costly as the Continental GT
  • Harley Davidson India is running high on Street’s success and aims a ten-fold increase in sales and double the number of dealerships by 2016
  • Bonnie accounted for over 40% (by May’14) of Triumph India sales and Street 750 accounts for more than 50% of Harley Davidson India sales. Gives an idea of how important the entry level is to bring in the volumes
  • Manufacturers like UML and Keeway also want a share of the pie and plan to launch in 2015
  • And the most startling observation of all – The Japanese are yet to get into the game!!!

And that brings me to the subject here – Why don’t we have any Japanese entry level cruisers in India?

Demand is there

HD’s quick success and aggressive growth plans also show that a sizeable chunk of Indians is getting over the ‘kitna deti hai’ mind-set to the ideas of touring and riding pleasure. Today, India has a large population of young and earning individuals with good disposable incomes who are willing to spend extra for better riding experience, distinctiveness, certain road presence and in some cases, to look more attractive to the opposite sex while riding an expensive machine.
And after all, in a country with a population of 1.2 Billion, even a small niche can be far bigger than mainstreams of many European countries.

They have the products

The Japs have been making some excellent machines and a quick look at their global websites reveals they have a wide portfolio when it comes to cruisers. These products are popular in other parts of the world and can be brought to India with minimal changes if at all anything is required. So it looks like they have the bat and the ball, but they are simply not interested in playing while others are establishing their control over the field.

There is a huge void

The only cruiser offering by Honda in India is VT 1300c priced at around INR 16 lakhs. For Yamaha, it’s their hi-performance monster called Vmax which is again priced out of reach for too many, same is the case with the Suzuki Intruder and there is none from Kawasaki with a Vulcan badge on it.

Things that should work for them
  • Established supply chain and dealership network. They don’t have to start from scratch like HD or Triumph
  • Vast experience in running an assembling/ manufacturing set up in India, if they intend to do so
  • Known for their mechanical brilliance and reliability
  • Relatively cheaper maintenance / accessories than HD or Triumph counterparts. (Now that’s what I would like to believe, please correct me if I am wrong)
  • Some of the older models especially from Yamaha, still enjoy a cult following among enthusiasts
  • Their ability to offer great value for money. Remember, Kawasaki has been offering some truly world class products at very competitive prices, the Z800 is still the most affordable 4 cylinder machine you can buy
Things that can work against them
  • Can’t think of many reasons except for the fact that their products don’t come with a badge which says Harley-Davidson
  • ‘Itne-paise-me-to-Harley-aa-jayegi’ mentality. Cruiser lovers often have their attachment to HDs and the rest for them are copycats

Here, I leave it open for all BHPians to share their views. The entire write-up is purely an outcome of my thoughts and a genuine query; will be more than happy to be corrected in any way possible.

Finally, some parting shots of entry level machines I would love to see on Indian roads.

Yamaha Bolt
Base Price: USD 7,990

Powered by 940 cc air-cooled V-twin, surprisingly similar to HD Iron 883 in looks and specs but priced lower.
Entry-level Cruiser Motorcycles: Dearth of Japanese options-yamaha-star-bolt-2015.jpg

Yamaha V-star custom
Base Price: USD 6,990

Comes with 649cc air-cooled V-twin, can surely go against the Street and Superlow.

Name:  2015_Yamaha v star.png
Views: 11993
Size:  474.4 KB

Honda Shadow Phantom
Price: USD 7,499

Powered by 745cc liquid-cooled V-twin, falls bang in the territory of Street 750

Entry-level Cruiser Motorcycles: Dearth of Japanese options-honda_shadow_phantom.jpg

.. And I saved the most interesting of them all to close the list

Kawasaki Vulcan S
Base Price: USD 6,999

This one doesn’t really fit the definition of a cruiser and has never intended to. Instead it is designed specially for the ones who are yet to make a leap of buying a cruiser. Comes with something called Ergo-Fit design which allows riders to adjust the seating, handlebar and foot-rest position to suit their built.
Uses the same 649cc parallel-Twin that has powered the Ninja and Versys 650, chosen keeping in mind the entry level riders who might not be used to heavier V twins.

As one of the reviews pointed out - ‘The Vulcan S blurs lines between sport and cruiser. It has a cruiser stance, cruiser ergos, and the fins of its cylinder heads are even cruiser-like, but its performance is definitely more sport-oriented’, this is one machine that has created its own niche among the cruisers

Entry-level Cruiser Motorcycles: Dearth of Japanese options-vulcan-s.png

Image Copyrights – Respective owners

Dear Mods – Here goes my first thread, I did try searching for a thread where I can fit in this content but could not find, please merge if there is an existing one, Thank you. Sincerely hope I have followed the guidelines.
abhi29 is offline   (20) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 11th February 2015, 19:18   #2
BHPian
 
sriramv.iyer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 835
Thanked: 710 Times
Default re: Entry-level Cruiser Motorcycles: Dearth of Japanese options

Suzuki Intruded M800 and M1800 are available in India - I guess M800 is priced around 9L ex showroom. Not a bad option at all.

I agree it is no entry level model - Honda also has a VT1300
sriramv.iyer is offline   (2) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 12th February 2015, 09:39   #3
BANNED
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: mumbai
Posts: 2,004
Thanked: 2,025 Times
Infractions: 0/1 (4)
Default re: Entry-level Cruiser Motorcycles: Dearth of Japanese options

Entry level cruisers especially for India may not be the 600-800 cc V twins but a much smaller 250cc till 500 cc Single or V or Parallel twin motor. Apart from the Thunderbird we have the Aquila which is true blue old school cruiser with a high revving V twin. I believe its the right time for Bajaj to re launch their Avenger, with a higher 400cc or 500cc twin motor, may be producing only 30 odd bhp but a higher torque figure at much lower rpms to aid the cruiser characteristic.
Again if we consider the 700cc market what prevents Triumph from getting their excellent America cruiser? That would slot in nicely at between 6 to 8 lac rupees, carry the same 650cc parallel twin and looks like a Fat Boy clone...
apachelongbow is offline   (2) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 12th February 2015, 10:57   #4
Senior - BHPian
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Bombay
Posts: 1,001
Thanked: 1,038 Times
Default re: Entry-level Cruiser Motorcycles: Dearth of Japanese options

abhi29 mate nice analysis. Looking at the Indian biking community maturing over the last decade is pretty interesting thanks to some manufacturers who took the plunge by offering something above 200cc. Even RE which was the sole manufacturer of 350 and 500cc models revamped their engines and the result is for everyone to see.

As a maturing market from having very few entry level cruisers (read Kawasaki Bajaj Eliminator/Avenger, Yamaha Enticer, RE Thunderbird) in the beginning. We have made marginal progress where at present we have RE Thunderbird, Bajaj Avenger, Harley Davidson Street 750 and soon to be launched Street 500, Hyosung Aquila, etc. I am not sure why the Japanese big 4 have not explored this market barring Kawasaki and Yamaha which came with just one offering each. But they too lost interest and stopped their respective models although Bajaj still manufactures Avenger (read Kawasaki). Maybe these models were launched before time when riders were still getting used to Pulsar and CBZ wave. We can now witness so many weekend rides and touring on motorcycles on our forum and also elsewhere. The market has grown and this is the right time for manufacturers to launch their respective entry level cruisers. The proof of this is figures which show Harley Davidson sold Street 750 very close to RE's Continental GT. The Japanese big 4 already have a presence in India since many years and they can launch their cruiser models readily compared to others like Triumph, Harley Davidson, UMC, Hyosung, etc.
navin_v8 is offline   (3) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 12th February 2015, 13:30   #5
BHPian
 
abhi29's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Sydney
Posts: 60
Thanked: 84 Times
Default re: Entry-level Cruiser Motorcycles: Dearth of Japanese options

Quote:
Originally Posted by navin_v8 View Post
abhi29 mate nice analysis.

We can now witness so many weekend rides and touring on motorcycles on our forum and also elsewhere. The market has grown and this is the right time for manufacturers to launch their respective entry level cruisers. The proof of this is figures which show Harley Davidson sold Street 750 very close to RE's Continental GT. The Japanese big 4 already have a presence in India since many years and they can launch their cruiser models readily compared to others like Triumph, Harley Davidson, UMC, Hyosung, etc.
Thanks, that's precisely the point - the market has acquired certain maturity and is still rapidly changing, there is whole change of perception when it comes to riding and touring. High time we have some competition here.

The question still remains - what's stopping the Japs to bring in their machines. The case is even more startling for Kawasaki, they have so many sports offerings at various price points and multiple engine capacities but no single cruiser in the line up. I do hope they launch the Vulcan s at least to begin with.
abhi29 is offline   (3) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 12th February 2015, 17:14   #6
Senior - BHPian
 
Tushar's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Mumbai
Posts: 1,138
Thanked: 8,355 Times
Default Re: Entry-level Cruiser Motorcycles: Dearth of Japanese options

I have wondered about the same thing for quite some time now, considering the fact that I so desperately wished we had more alternatives to Royal Enfield. (UM Global will be launching new bikes this year and is squarely targeting RE). One of the reasons why brands don't seem to care much for cruisers is their relatively weaker youth appeal.

It's almost as if Royal Enfield shaped the thought process till the point cruisers are considered an old man's game. Also, the question arises of brand identity. The Japanese make great cruisers, but they are known for crotch rockets. Japanese cruisers are also quite refined, while a large chunk of cruiser's allure lies in the raw grunge of it.

The main reason the Street did so well is the price to brand factor. Many, if not all Street buyers are buying it because it is a Harley, but won't necessarily ever ride one on the highway. The main reason why most brands don't care much for entry level cruisers (2-4 Lakh bracket) is because most buyers in segment are young (22-28). Most of these buyers still prefer agile speedsters to relaxed cruisers. What worked for the Street may not work for Yamaha or Honda.

Take for instance the Bajaj Avenger. It's basically the same bike as the Pulsar, except it's more comfortable. Yet, it's the Pulsar that's more popular. That's the reason even Bajaj is planning to offer the CS 400 as a pseudo tourer. It all comes down to the fact that sports bikes are more popular than cruisers (at least in India). Once the market demand for cruisers is substantial enough, even the Japanese will join the game.
Tushar is offline   (2) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 12th February 2015, 17:41   #7
BHPian
 
Sebring's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Dubai
Posts: 487
Thanked: 616 Times
Default Re: Entry-level Cruiser Motorcycles: Dearth of Japanese options

Kawasaki had their Eliminator then. And Yamaha had a model Enticer. Both didnt do well. Yeah true, this market is ripe for the Japanese bikes, as people want reliability.
Sebring is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 12th February 2015, 18:01   #8
BHPian
 
VCheng's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: New York
Posts: 175
Thanked: 245 Times
Default Re: Entry-level Cruiser Motorcycles: Dearth of Japanese options

Quote:
Originally Posted by abhi29 View Post
Looking at the entry level cruiser options available, I see a couple of Aquilas from Hyosung, Street and Superlow from Harley Davidson and then Classic and Thunderbird by RE. The options aren’t many if we compare them with the sports offerings from the likes of Honda, Yamaha, KTM, Kawasaki and Hyosung. While Bajaj is increasingly focussing on this segment even at the cost of commuter segment and Kawasaki and KTM continue their onslaught, Honda and Yamaha too have a pipeline of more powerful sports offerings.
One of the best entry level cruisers is the Suzuki S40:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suzuki_Boulevard_S40

It is light, reliable, stylish and has been in production for a long time, so spares and after market support is very good.

Another option, although a bit smaller, is the excellent Honda Rebel, marketed under many names:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honda_CMX250C
VCheng is offline   (2) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 13th February 2015, 12:13   #9
BHPian
 
abhi29's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Sydney
Posts: 60
Thanked: 84 Times
Default Re: Entry-level Cruiser Motorcycles: Dearth of Japanese options

Quote:
Originally Posted by VCheng View Post
One of the best entry level cruisers is the Suzuki S40:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suzuki_Boulevard_S40

It is light, reliable, stylish and has been in production for a long time, so spares and after market support is very good.
Totally looks like a no-nonsense bike, and the fact that they chose a single cylinder over a twin has helped them make it even more affordable. Great option for starters.
abhi29 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13th February 2015, 14:30   #10
BHPian
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: TN - 07
Posts: 89
Thanked: 93 Times
Default Re: Entry-level Cruiser Motorcycles: Dearth of Japanese options

My two bits on why the Japs have not yet entered the cruiser market here:

1. India being an emerging market for cruisers, the cruising enthusiast may not be familiar with the Japanese cruisers.
2. We have always been exposed to "Think Cruising, Think Harley or Bullet", in that order. Hence the preference for a HD or a RE.
3. The general "Indian" perception that cruisers are American and hence may not buy a Japanese offering.
4. The groups/clubs for HD and RE are very strong and you get a sense of identity and acceptance in these groups which you can boast of with your peers/friends.

I am sure that there are more such reasons and that the Japanese are biding their time before bringing their products here.
ksmrsm is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 13th February 2015, 15:05   #11
BHPian
 
abhi29's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Sydney
Posts: 60
Thanked: 84 Times
Default Re: Entry-level Cruiser Motorcycles: Dearth of Japanese options

Coincidentally, Autocar India has come up with a first look review of the Vulcan S today, but no comments on chances of India launch.
abhi29 is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 16th February 2015, 13:28   #12
BHPian
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Sydney/Cochin
Posts: 289
Thanked: 154 Times
Default Re: Entry-level Cruiser Motorcycles: Dearth of Japanese options

I'd been waiting for these Japanese cruisers to make an Indian debut for quite long. They can never be matched by the Harleys or REs in reliability. I don't see any reason the Vulcan S and the Yamaha Bolt, or the Honda Shadow to not be instant 'hit' in the Indian market, if just priced properly. They have the look, the comfort, convenience and long term reliability one can ask from a Cruiser or a daily use bike.
Joe M is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17th February 2015, 12:37   #13
BHPian
 
msrsooraj's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Muvattupuzha
Posts: 79
Thanked: 52 Times
Default Re: Entry-level Cruiser Motorcycles: Dearth of Japanese options

Quote:
Originally Posted by abhi29 View Post
Things that can work against them
  • ‘Itne-paise-me-to-Harley-aa-jayegi’ mentality. Cruiser lovers often have their attachment to HDs and the rest for them are copycats
You're absolutely right. I come from a place where according to the people the sports bike is a Yamaha R1 and a cruiser is a Harley Davidson. Period. How very specific, right? The situation has changed much, agreed, but still people find it hard to move out of their comfort zone and start to consider other manufacturers too.

There are many reason why people opt for the bikes and cars that cost a huge amount. Reasons are that they are a status symbol, its safer, they offer excellent thrill, they can be used to long journeys without breaking a sweat, also "i bought it because i can". And there's certainly no denying the fact that many people buy them because its good show-off. Seriously, why not??

Being a passionate bikes (at least i would like to think myself as one) I do appreciate every other bike for what they have to offer. I appreciate the Harley, the Indian, the Triumph, the Japs, and God I love the Italians. But People are different.

I had this conversation with a friend of mine and I was getting started about the Triumph. The first thing he said was that he would never buy a Triumph because its not a Harley. I was of course offended because of what he said. I also got a little excited and asked him if he knew anything about the Triumph, their British heritage, the glorious days of the Cafe racing, the timeless Bonneville. I said he knows nothing. He stood there with a slight smile and after everything i said, he replied, "Exactly. I know nothing about the Triumph and neither do my friends and my people, only you do".

I know what he said was kind of a kill-joy statement. I was slightly offended too. But then the more i thought about it, it started to make more sense. Think about it. You but a nice fancy ride and nobody knows you're sitting on a timeless machine which is just as good as the Harley.

Many people (who buy Harleys for the show aspect) would find it pointless to get another bike. Then again, the times have changed a lot. The awareness is spreading. One thing is still certain. Even now, the Harley Davidson still has the upper hand.
msrsooraj is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 17th February 2015, 13:54   #14
BHPian
 
abhi29's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Sydney
Posts: 60
Thanked: 84 Times
Default Re: Entry-level Cruiser Motorcycles: Dearth of Japanese options

Quote:
Originally Posted by msrsooraj View Post
.

I had this conversation with a friend of mine and I was getting started about the Triumph. The first thing he said was that he would never buy a Triumph because its not a Harley. I was of course offended because of what he said. I also got a little excited and asked him if he knew anything about the Triumph, their British heritage, the glorious days of the Cafe racing, the timeless Bonneville. I said he knows nothing. He stood there with a slight smile and after everything i said, he replied, "Exactly. I know nothing about the Triumph and neither do my friends and my people, only you do".
Very nicely put, this conversation summarizes the whole situation. Not that their bikes are any less, but the best thing that HD has done is building the brand, a community of sorts, an elite group where only a few can afford to be, and that topped up with some legacy talk is what makes it so desirable.

They understand it too well that if someone is spending upwards of half a million and not buying a performance bike; chances are they are doing it for some intangible things like snob value, the pride of owning or being associated with something iconic and not so approachable.

And they do things that display this feeling too well - be it the HOG membership with special privileges or those badges or that po-ta-to sound; all is their to separate an HD from the 'crowd'.
abhi29 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17th February 2015, 14:30   #15
BHPian
 
msrsooraj's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Muvattupuzha
Posts: 79
Thanked: 52 Times
Default Re: Entry-level Cruiser Motorcycles: Dearth of Japanese options

Quote:
Originally Posted by abhi29 View Post

And they do things that display this feeling too well - be it the HOG membership with special privileges or those badges or that po-ta-to sound; all is their to separate an HD from the 'crowd'.

OH GOD!!!! How could I possibly forget to mention the HOG?? Yes Indeed.. Many people buy Harley Davidson just for a membership into the same. They maintain reputations and standards. They make themselves worthy of respect. I have never heard a Harley owner making any claims on what his ride can do unlike certain others. And they deserve #Respect not because they ride bikes that cost so much, but because of the way they ride. Slow, steady and organized.
msrsooraj is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Which is 'car of your choice' in Entry level C segment? sathya_nars The Indian Car Scene 80 8th August 2007 21:21
Tata to become entry level brand-Fiat premium rahul_intlad The Indian Car Scene 65 31st May 2007 13:45
Now DICOR in entry level Indigo LS - 5.25 lacs (ex-showroom Delhi) autocrazy The Indian Car Scene 54 26th May 2007 14:25
what entry level car would you buy? Realistically. tifosikrishna The Indian Car Scene 56 22nd February 2006 10:29
Entry level Innova pkaushal The Indian Car Scene 22 26th November 2005 19:36


All times are GMT +5.5. The time now is 21:25.

Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Team-BHP.com
Proudly powered by E2E Networks