Great post triplesguy. It would be interesting to chart 600s by the year Horspower or Quarter mile speed, etc vs. price (1970s) dollars. Kind of like those Computer charts showing processor speed vs year and cost.. Great time to be a rider...
It occur to me during the past two weeks, as the Triumph Scrambler bowed, that it's pricing would probably doom it.
The Scrambler looks like tons of fun; embodying the minibike-for-grownups concept that I think would have broad and lasting appeal.
At $4,995, Triumph would sell boatloads as long as they import them. You'd have seen Scramblers everywhere. At $5,995, they'd have sold okay. At $7,995 they'll sell a handful to rich guys who can blow that kind of money on a bike they probably won't even ride that much. Lots of people will want a Scrambler, but few will actually buy one.
I agree it looks like a stying exercise. Someone described it as a CL350. That was the CB350 with offroad pipes, but otherwise the same bike. The Scrambler looks like a Bonne with high pipes and what look like Goodyear tires. You could build a Scrambler from an old Bonneville for a lot less.
...an H1. The rest of MO's description is true for that bike. But it was $995. More comparable pricing (to $1,600) were the $1,495 Honda CB750 four and the Triumph Trident and BSA Rocket 3 at $1,750. Those were THE four gofasts of that day.
Another factor affecting the price of ALL vehicles are government regulations. In 1970, how many bikes had catalytic converters? How many met emission standards? (The H1 was a good bug sprayer).
My 1971 SL100 didn't need a green sticker.
My 1971 R60/5 has a 7 digit VIN.
The times, they are a changing.
Now, to sell a bike, you have to meet noise regulations, emission regulation, safety regulations, NHTSA safety recalls, etc. All add to the price of our bikes. I have a 15 digit VIN on my XR250!
I remember in 1978 a new kz650 was $1700 if you bought the custom with the mag wheels. In 1979, emissions standards tightened, Kawasaki added reed valves on the exhaust ports to suck in clear air to reduce hydrocarbon emissions. That added $300 to the price of the bike. That was almost a 20% jump right there. (Of course, with the Carter administration, inflation was probably 10 or 12%, so it wasn't all emissions.)
More regulation means more cost. Just a fact of life.
Bikes today are so much better, so much more advanced in so many ways, it really is difficult to compare them to much older models based on cost adjusted for inflation. Comparing current models' tires, wheels, brakes, fuel systems, frames, suspension components, electronics - on and on - to 30-year old models would be like comparing an F-4 Phantom with an F-18 Super Hornet. Add to that that new and improved (lighter, faster) versions are releaded every couple of years and that engineering and tooling costs are spread over a relatively small number of units (we're not talking Toyota Camrys here), and that pretty much explains the price difference.
A good yardstick is to compare bike prices back then to car prices.
Consider that a new Datsun 510 sedan cost $2100 in 1971 vs $1700 for a CB750(80% of car cost). Today's sportbike for $8500 compared to $13K minimum (.65% of car cost) is a shrieking good deal. When you consider that an SV650 or a 600 Bandit or, heck, even some of the cruisers are superior to any of the 70's superbikes it's apparent that we are getting one heck of a big bang for the buck these days.
And when you look at used bikes and realize that you can get a sportbike a couple of years old for about $4K the superiority of today's bikes is undeniable.
Although we are getting dangerously close to calling it a "cost/performance ratio".
Just found an inflation calculator here. Inflation between 1970 and 2004 is 487%. So a Honda CB750 at $1495 x 4.87 should be comparable at $7280 today. Actually the last CB750 Nighthawk cost $5799 new.
A Norton Commando was about 1750 x 4.87 = $8522. Right in line with the cost of a new Triumph Thruxton and the Thruxton is a much better bike than the Norton ever was.
So I'd still say that bikes have gotten cheaper over the years.
Your money arguement is flawed by inflation rates alone. My dad owned a 73 Yam RD350 that I think sold for $1800 and his 240Z cost some $3500. Today you can't buy a new 350Z for $28k but you can buy a FZ6 for $6500. If you take in the fact that the process of building ANY vehicle has taken giant leaps in technology in 30 years, then paying $6k to $16k for any motorcycle is a bargin based on todays inflation rate. It's like the argument that we pay more for gas "at record prices" as the news media puts it. Fact is, if inflation is corrected then in the mid seventies the price per barrel of crude would be at or over $90 a barrel in today's dollars. Well, $65-$70 a barrel today looks like a bargin. If you're looking for a bargin buy used products and avoid sales tax. If you're real cheap buy on ebay like I did (for a low milage 87 K100rs for $3000). It may be 18 yrs old but it runs as good as any new bike on the road. I do apologize for the rant.
But wasn't gas about 36 cents a gallon. I think adjusted for inflation in 1970 numbers its about 70 cents. So gas has gone up in real terms in the last year. Last year it was closer to 39 cents in real terms (1970) dollars.
When looking at gas you've got to factor in the huge increases in taxes on top of inflation. Gas taxes run around 50 cents per gallon today, an increase of probably 45 cents per gallon since 1970. So gas was about 25 cents per gallon (less taxes) in 1970 and today about 2.25 per gallon(less taxes). Using the handy dandy 4.87 factor, inflation would make gas about $1.21 today. So, yes we've seen real increases in gas prices.
But that tax money's not wasted. It's helped build a lot roads to casinos in New Orleans, bailed out a lot of incompetent Wall Street traders and fund mangers, allowed us to drop lots of bombs on Serbia and Iraq, and built a lot of buildings and bridges that say "Robert Byrd" on them, eh? Never say that our govt doesn't make good use of our money!
We still have enough money left over to buy flood insurance from Buzglyd!
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