Friday, July 29, 2011

Why do people keep ripping off Falcon Motorcycles?

First, Paul Jr. of OCC infamy blatantly stole one of their designs and tried to sell it on his T-shirts, and now Troy Lee Designs:

Here’s a picture of the “Bleed Slim Fit Tee” from Troy Lee Designs:


Now here’s a picture of “The Bullet” from Falcon Motorcycles:


Hmmm, look familiar?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Good Motorcycles and Bad Market Research

Equipment manufacturers, software companies, and motorcycle dealers alike can benefit from quality market research. No matter what you're selling, customer input can help you improve your business and your products. I've been thinking about this recently after my experience at a local motorcycle dealer.

A little background


Please do not sit on the bikeShopping for a motorcycle is totally different than shopping for a car.  Most motorcycle dealers don’t allow test rides.  In fact, some motorcycle dealers don’t even let potential buyers sit on new bikes (crazy!). So even though I’m not in the market for a new bike, whenever there’s an opportunity to try out different motorcycles I usually take advantage of it.

2011 Triumph ThruxtonOne of the motorcycle dealers in my area recently offered Triumph demo rides.  For demo rides,  a motorcycle manufacturer will send a truckload of 15 or 20 new models to an event for the day.  After hearing a description of the ride route and specific safety instructions, demo riders are taken out in a group with guides at the front and rear (to make sure everyone obeys the rules and doesn’t “accidentally get lost” with a new $10,000+ motorcycle).

The Saturday of the demo rides was a gorgeous 75 degree day, and I chose a Bonneville SE to ride.  It had a totally different seating position, handling, and even exhaust note from the motorcycles I normally ride. With a little more time in the saddle, I might have fallen in love!  (Hmm, maybe I am in the market for a new motorcycle after all…) While the Bonneville was great, there were things I didn’t like about the experience, but no one was around collecting feedback. Fast forward to last Monday night:

Market research caller My phone rang shortly after I got home from work. It was a representative from the dealer that hosted the demo rides and she wanted to ask me a few questions about the event.  Aha – now was my chance to provide some valuable feedback! Now don’t get me wrong - normally I don’t do phone surveys and say “I’M NOT INTERESTED” more rudely than I should (mostly because I don’t like being interrupted right after I sit down to dinner) – but I was actually happy to get the call because I had an opinion and feedback to give. She asked me just a few brief questions:
  • Which bike(s) did you ride or were you interested in?
  • On a scale of 1 to 5 how would you rate your overall experience?
  • On the same scale, how would you rate your interest in Triumph?
  • Do you currently own a motorcycle?  If so, what make/model?
That was it! I was shocked that I wasn’t asked any open-ended or qualitative questions. When I rated the overall experience just a “3,” I couldn’t believe that I wasn’t asked why. There were no questions about what I liked, what I didn’t like, or what I would change about the event.  There weren’t even any questions about how soon I would be looking to purchase a new motorcycle. I’m still trying to figure out what they were hoping to learn from the questions asked.

Here’s what I took away from the experience:


Determine what you want to measure

Make your measurements meaningful
Before forming the questions you're going to ask, identify what you want to learn, and then make sure the questions (and potential answers) support those objectives. From the few questions I was asked, I had no idea what they were hoping to find out.  If they wanted to identify what Triumph models might be popular to have in stock, they should have asked follow up questions about whether or not I liked the bike I rode. If they wanted to target potential customers, they should have asked how soon I’d be making a purchase decision.


Ask questions that give you actionable information

Make sure the questions you ask identify areas where you can take action. I was asked to rate the overall experience, but when I rated it poorly I wasn’t asked why.  If after doing all the research, they learn that the demo rides got poor ratings, they’ll have no insight on what people disliked, and no direction on what to fix first.


When you find people that are passionate about your product, keep them engaged


Engage passionate people. But not quite like this. Customer advocates are invaluable to knowing your market and shaping your products. When you do get someone who is interested and engaged, take advantage of all the time they’re willing to give.  I would have gladly answered more questions, and if asked would have made myself available for a follow-up conversation or even a focus group.
For more information on the topic of market research, check out Mike Sweeney’s post on the Marketing Trenches Blog: Market Research Without an Action Plan = Worthless Market Research.

How about you? Had any good (or bad) experiences with market research lately? How do you get feedback from the market about your products?

Photo credits:

Monday, April 11, 2011

New Zero Engineering® Springer Fork

Check out this new springer front end from Zero Engineering®:
A little pricey at $1,545, but I’m sure it’s worth it.  I want one!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Motorcycles and Startups: Wild Rides

Between having two young kids at home and all the cold and snow we’ve had this winter, it had been far too long since I fired up a bike and felt the wind in my face. This past weekend, I finally had the opportunity to get out on my motorcycle for the first time this year. When I left the house the temperature was in the mid-fifties, which seemed nice and warm sitting still, but on country roads at 50+ mph it was on the refreshing side!

While I was riding around for a few hours, I was reminded of all of the things I like about motorcycles. I’ve also been thinking lately about how much I enjoy working for startup companies. Surprisingly, the two have a lot in common:

Roads less traveled 

Motorcycle on a road less traveled
Ted Simon summed it up well when he said, “Hooray for the motorcycle! It seduces you into getting off the freeways and onto smaller roads and doing things the harder way and being aware of the countryside.”
My motorcycle takes me on roads I wouldn’t otherwise travel. When I’ve got a free afternoon, it’s fun to hop on the bike and try to find some undiscovered routes. When I turn down a new road, I don’t know where I’ll end up.  Sometimes, it’s a dead end.  Sometimes it takes me right back where I started.  But sometimes, I find a great road with smooth pavement, little traffic, and lots of curves. Other times I find a beautiful scenic overlook or a tucked away pit beef stand with the best sandwiches in the area.

Similarly, the roads ahead of a startup company are largely unknown. When new products are launched or different methods are tested, the outcome is often uncertain. Sometimes the new ideas don’t work.  Sometimes new products fail spectacularly! But sometimes, the road leads to a discovery that changes the face of the industry.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

So bummed

What is it with people selling motorcycles without titles?  The owner of the CL350 I was trying to buy refused to take a deposit or lower his price while he "tried" to track down the title from the previous owner.  Looks like he sold it to someone else yesterday.  Bummer.

Oh well, I'll continue to scour craigslist for the next project candidate.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Honda CL350 Cafe Racers

Lately it seems like I’ve been running across numerous pictures of sweet little Honda CL 350s and CL 360s that the owners have either restored, or completely redone.

Woody’s CL350 Brat Tracker

More pictures can be found here, and the full build story can be found here.

MotoFiaccone 1969 Honda CL350

More pictures can be found here.


Joshua Hoffmans’s CL350 Cafe Racer

Picture found on BIKEEXIF here.

Rocket Garage Honda CL350 Cafe Racer

More pictures and information can be found here.

Rocket Garage Honda CL360

More information and pictures can be found here.

Guy Bolton’s Honda CL360 Custom

More pictures and info here.
I’ve been jonesing for a new bike project, and this popped up on craigslist in my area a few days ago for a good price.  If the owner can track down the title, I’m hoping to pick it up in the next few days:
honda_cl350_scrambler_2 honda_cl350_scrambler_1
Who knows when it last ran, and it’s missing some parts, but it should be a good challenge.  I just love the look of those high pipes with the perforated heat shields. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tachibana Helmets

Ran across Tachibana Helmets the other day, man I wish these were available in the US:

For anyone not fluent in Japanese, here's a link to Tachibana translated into English through Google Translate. I'm seriously jonesing for a new helmet.  Anyone have any suggestions on how to get one of these (without giving an arm and a leg) or any other similar helmets?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Five good motorcycle blogs for the weekend

Here's a quick partial list of a few of the motorcycle blogs I enjoy reading:

The blog by the fellas over at Biltwell, makers of simple, honest, high-quality motorcycle parts and accessories that anyone can afford, and that everyone would be proud to use and own. Their motto is Quality Counts, and you can see it in their handlebars, risers, novelty helmets and everything else they make.

The blog by Dean and Matt, creators of Dice Magazine, a quarterly mag about legit custom choppers and bobbers based on old Triumphs, BSAs, Norton's, and Knuckleheads (not the chromed out theme bike crap that is so prevalent today).

A daily dose of ICON lifestyle, including new product info, crash stories, bikes, and videos.

Matt restores old motorcycles with his dad at Carl's Cycle Supply in South Dakota. They shoot to have all of their restorations 95+ out of 100 points on the Antique Motorcycle Club of America scale. His blog has a ton of photos and info about repairing and restoring old parts and vintage bikes to better-than-new condition.

The blog of Kevin Baas, metal worker, teacher of Kennedy Chopper Class, and author of How To Build An Old Skool Bobber (Biker Basics). I would have killed to have a class (and a teacher) like this growing up.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I'd rather be riding

but the weather isn't exactly cooperating:

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Art of the Bike

If you're like me, you're always on the lookout for cool motorcycle t-shirts. And when I say cool, I'm not talking about the run of the mill Harley dealership shirts or the Sons of Anarchy wannabe t-shirts I saw over the weekend. I'm talking about shirts that support small businesses, local builders, etc. I typically try to stay away from black (because 99% of motorcycle t-shirts are black), but I really like this Enjoy the Ride design from Art of the Bike:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New Falcon Motorcycles online store

Falcon Motorcycles just updated their website and added a new online store.

If you haven't heard of Falcon Motorcycles, they build some sweet, very clean bikes. They're also the company that Paul Jr. of American Chopper infamy completely plagiarized. He basically ripped off a picture of one of their bikes from their website, put it on one of his t-shirts, and sold it under the pretense that the bike was his own design.

It's worth sending a few bucks Falcon's way, just to make up for that atrocity. Use code FMCLOYALTY for 10% off your order. I've really got my eye on the Mooneyes Kestrel Serigraph: