OUR LOCAL SUPERSTORE was
shocking. Every price tag had HUGE
amounts of “Additional Dealer Profit”
(ADP). The lowest was 15 percent of the
MSRP and one was almost $4,000, on an
$11,000 MSRP—over 36 percent! In 45
years of riding, I’ve never been asked to
pay more than a few hundred dollars for
bike setup. Is this the new normal?
Owners of automotive dealerships are
snapping up franchises from smaller
powersports dealers and turning them
into mega-stores where the primary
mentality is profit. The general manager
of a local H-D store (brought in from
luxury automotive sales) told me every
bike goes on the floor at least $5,000
over MSRP. At a European superstore in
Arizona, neither salespeople nor customers were allowed to ride the bikes,
even though they had demo units. At
another superstore in Colorado, most of
the salespeople didn’t ride. The GM at a
dealer in San Francisco told me his job
is to separate money from wallets and
make the customer feel good about it.
These are certainly not the only dealers
with problems; fortunately, they aren’t
all like this. I visited a recently opened
superstore near our office and discussed
bikes on the floor with the finance manager. I never once spoke with a salesperson, nor did I feel pressured to buy anything. I have also had good experiences
with boutique shops. The fewer brands,
and the fewer employees, the better.
Shop around and vote with your
wallet. There’s always someone else selling bikes. Even Costco offers no-hassle
motorcycle pricing, with delivery from
the local dealership.
“TO EACH HIS OWN” applies to all
things motorcycling. Different motors
push different buttons for different
people. I’ve noticed that 180-degree
parallel twins get buzzy at high rpm.
Liquid-cooled, 90-degree V-twins with
“perfect primary balance” are competent snoozers. I bought a used Harley
883 Sportster and found it so engaging I
eventually sold my V-Strom. The motor
is so pleasant; I can bask in its character
all day. It shakes humorously at idle,
then vibration disappears around 3,000
rpm. Previous Harley demos never really
grabbed me, but this bike sure grew on
me. Customizing is also fun and easy,
with so much aftermarket “kit” available.
I’VE BEEN RESEARCHING active
and electronic factory suspensions.
Forums imply the improvement for the
money isn’t that great. I’ve considered
upgrading to premium suspension, but
if newer factory suspension does the
trick, I might spring for a new bike.
Automatically adjusted suspension
doesn’t feel at all like what an experienced rider is used to. While testing the
Aprilia Caponord my friend said, “Can
you turn the suspension off?” It was so
smooth that he wanted to feel more
feedback. Today’s active suspensions
are quite good, and will only get better.
Keep in mind that 10 years ago ABS
added $1,000-$1,500, 15 to 20 pounds,
and didn’t work very well. Today’s ABS
is about 4-6 pounds, $300-$500 and
Consider whether you want a bike
as smooth as a car before deciding if
the “improvement” is worth its cost.
Suspension upgrades (or overhauls) are
arguably the single best improvement to
any bike—it’s one place manufacturers
frequently cut costs. We’d love to test more
active suspensions, but there simply
aren’t many bikes available with it, yet.
I READ MCN to find out about what is
new and exciting in the world of motorcycles. My happiness comes from seeing
your staff riding, testing and evaluating,
so I can make an informed decision on
my next motorcycle. I am thrilled with
all the new models coming out. Then, I
open MCN to see one “Impression” and
one “Evaluation. Do you only have time
to test or evaluate two models an issue?
We plan for three bikes in each issue. The
time and resources required to perform
thorough testing prohibits larger volume.
There are over 100 new bikes for 2017,
but an increasing number are “platform”
bikes based on the same model. We also
depend on “press fleet” bike availability.
Any plans to digitize farther back
than 2013? I’m looking forward to
regaining some closet space.
We’re pushing for it, but it’s more
complicated than “just do it.” 2013
was when we started digitizing all
new issues. Please complete our
reader survey to let us know what
you want from MCN in the future:
DOES MCN OFFER
digital-only subscriptions? I paid for
Kindle access, but the font
was too small and resizing
As a subscriber-supported
magazine, it pains me that we
don’t actually make money on
Amazon MCN subscriptions,
and you have to go through
Amazon for support. To
purchase direct or switch your
subscription to digital only,
call our customer service at
888-333-0354. Our digital
editions work well and can
even be downloaded as a PDF.