Honda flexes it’s muscle. Somehow, I’m not scared or excited

I may be the only person I know that is not particularly excited by this bike.  But before I start my rant please take the time to read Hell for Leather’s and Asphalt and Rubber’s posts.

Now if you have read my welcome page I promised to do my best to let you know when I am just mouthing off opinions.  Well, it is time to find the biggest piece of salt you can and use it to cover your Wheeties, because I’m about to relieve myself.  Firstly, I am a long time Honda owner.  Actually since I got my license 15 years ago the only two bikes I have have owned is an ’86 VF500F Interceptor and a ’91 VFR750F.  To say I love my Honda V-4s is a bit of an understatement.  And I was a loyal Honda racing fan for a long time too.  Then I heard grumblings from dealers that Honda wasn’t listening and instead was telling them what they wanted.  But I have never really substantiated those claims, and truth be told, it might just be the way Honda does things.  I mean, they tell their riders what they want, why not their dealers?  Then we got the RC51 V-twin instead of a newer V-4.  I wasn’t too happy, and still hold a grudge against Colin Edwards, but I learned to love that bike too (after a season of desperately cheering on Harley’s VR1000 superbike effort).  This was all circumstantial evidence that I was not willing to act on.  Then they appeared to cave in to sales figures and came out with the CBR600RR which seemed to remove any shred of comfort or practicality of the f series.  Then they took the gear driven cams out of the VFR.  Whoa!  Ok, it handled better and looks cool and they are trying to broaden it’s appeal.  I can deal with this.  But then, then, they messed with my man Nicky Hayden (who in reality isn’t my man, or even acquaintance).  After winning the championship on a franken-bike they still made next year’s bike for the guy who didn’t, and who took Nicky out in one of the last races and almost lost him the championship.  (Dear Mr. Hayden, I know you have told us fans that we should move on, but I hold grudges.  Dear Mr. Pedrosa, tough noogies.)  That was too much.  Since then I have actually caught myself cheering on the occasional Suzuki or Ducati.  Motorcycle buddies from my Navy days would be shocked.

So, I am a bit dissolutioned with Honda.  This is not to say that I have not noticed that for the past few years it seems Honda has been trying to improve itself as far as attitude towards customers and racing.  Any way, this RC-E should excite me.  If I didn’t know any better I would think it was built specifically to get me really excited about Honda and shout from the roof tops at the awesomeness that is about to be released on the world.  I mean I love electric bikes and racing.  And I generally salivate over anything that has an RC moniker on it.  But, we are talking about a company that now makes a VFR that if I was to get one I would have to buy aftermarket suspension to make it work for me.  Not should, have to.  Ask me a year or 2 ago, or dig into the elmoto.net archives and you will see that I knew Honda could easily make an electric bike.  No problem.  But as the EICMA show this year has shown us some regular factory elmotos, and as I have witnessed with my own eyes this year’s developed bikes from the electric start ups, I think the big companies are too far behind.  I think Honda, is too far behind.  Honda is a huge company, and HRC is basically an engineering firm and 2 years ago they had the tech and resources to drown the likes of Brammo and Zero, but they couldn’t because of the economy and their focus on 3rd world markets.  Now MotoCzysz, Brammo, Zero, Lightning, CRP, Muench, Mission,and anyone else I am forgetting, have been racing for 3 years and developing product and pushing and inventing new technology that Honda hasn’t, and might not have access to.  As a matter of fact in the past few years Honda has worked with Mission (CR-Z race car) and I’ve seen it reported talking to Micheal Czysz on the Isle of Man.  Dollars to doughnuts that if that bike runs, if it’s not a straight up Mission drivetrain then there’s some DNA in there.  Also, this is a concept bike.  Remember what the VFR1200 concept bike looked like?  And what it looks like in reality.  Then there is the language.  From Hell for Leather’s post, ” ‘An EV version of a super sports bike that pursues the joy of riding. A powerful and smooth ride unique to an EV model is achieved with the 250cc-class compact body.’ ”  That is not the type of language they use for their sport bikes.  This reaks of slow to me.  I’m picturing basically a sport bike version of the Enertia, or rather an electric CBR250R.  And the retro paint and influenced tail section is cool, but the retro bikes have never done much for me.  I think for Honda to catch up at this point would take so much of their resources that they would have to take away from something.  I don’t think they are willing to do that.  Not with the 2012 1000cc MotoGP and Moto3 bikes still being developed (not to mention Moto2) and entering their first year, and the economy still being sluggish.  Heck, how much success have they had in World Superbike the last 5 to 10 years?  If they were selling bikes gang busters, they had the 3rd world market locked up, were dominating MotoGP and doing well in Moto2 and Moto3, then they might take the resources to catch the current crop of electric superbikes.

The last thing is this, I don’t want Honda to dominate the electric motorcycle scene.  Think about it.  Who, right now, is dominating electric motorcycle racing and production?  Americans.  When is the last time you have seen the top 4 bikes in a major international event come from American manufacturers with American riders on board?  How many time has an American bike won the Isle of Man?  We are dominating this field and showing the world we still have what it takes.  The European folks have looked down on American riders and definitely bikes for a long time.  In the past 2 years both have been taking it back to them.  And now, we dominate the future.  I, for one, am very much enjoying it.

3 thoughts on “Honda flexes it’s muscle. Somehow, I’m not scared or excited

  1. I agree. I will hold a grudge against Dani till the day he retires. 🙂 But also, it’s nice to see smaller American companies dominating this new market. As with so many revolutionary technologies, it takes the smaller startups to make it happen and they can often maintain their dominance even once the incumbents finally arrive. However, motor vehicles are expensive to develop, build, and distribute. So I’m glad Czysz & Mission are talking with OEM’s who build MOTORCYCLES.

    Because it’s only through that sort of partnership that we’ll actually get these things manufactured at prices people will actually pay. It’s cheaper to own an EV, and the fuel savings eventually payback the purchase premium, but try telling that to my paycheck, especially if I can’t get dealer financing.

    I don’t think Honda will dominate. I think they’re just testing the waters. As for testing the bikes, they have their own private track(s), full time paid test riders, and gajillions of dollars from things like winning the contract on being the exclusive motor provider for Moto2 and making millions of boring cages for boring people. So they could’ve been doing race-level testing all along, who knows? but they’re still not going to launch something until they know there’s a real market. I don’t know how many they think they’d need to sell to break even on this, but Nissan was willing to take a huge hit with the LEAF just to beat the competition on price. At least with a Honda I’d be able to get financing, and probably at a decent rate.

    1. Thank you so much for the comment Pickyracer!

      I agree that Honda’s manufacturing abilities are a huge advantage. But I’d rather see things stay here in the states. A dream marriage for me is to see Buell team up with Mission Motors or MotoCzysz, and, of course, we already have the Polaris/Brammo relationship. Honda took a big hit when the economy tanked, and I’m not really sure how much they are really making off of Moto2 motors. But I feel that even if your argument stands that the money is there, they have been really busy with developing this year’s 800, and keeping 4 of them in top racing form instead of the normal one or two. Then, as soon as it was clear they had the better bike they set out on their, so far in testing, dominating 1000. And somewhere during all of this they developed the Moto3 bike. I am not sure they would have had the man power. And if MCN’s claim is true, that they are using the electric motor from an Insight, well, it seems like a bit of a cobbled together project to me; even though I love the frame/motor/swingarm integration (which a few electric race bikes did first). Someone on the Elmoto.net forum put up some performance numbers and I have no idea where they came from. But if they are true, then Honda is really behind the game.

      However, if it is financing you are worried about, then Brammo will probably be your best bet in 2012. And, lets not forget that Zero has a Polaris employee on it’s board, and one of the VP’s is a former Buell elf. Not that Buell is a major manufacturer, but he used to be. Although, I have always financed through my bank.

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