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Cannondale Chapter 11

11637 Views 37 Replies 18 Participants Last post by  sarnali
Too bad, but I saw it coming.

As some of us here were saying a few weeks back, introducing a new motorcycle company is a huge endeavor even for a large, established company (eg Polaris) with access to capital and manufacturing technology.

I have to believe that the size of the market for high-end 4-stroke dirt bikes is sufficiently small that it would have been a real uphill battle for even a really well funded venture. ATK seems to be making it work,although I have no idea of how financially successful they are with it. They also outsource motors to Rotax, which cuts their own exposure.

Possibly if they had actually been able to get bikes to market when originally planned (when the dotcom and high tech boom created enough paper millionaires in the market for high-end toys) they might have had a shot.

Too bad, they had some really innovative ideas.

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I didn't mean to suggest that it served them right. It was, however, always a risky venture. But nobody ever got very far without taking risks.

I was excited when they kicked off the project and badly wanted it to succeed. I think if they had been able to get the bike to market within the originally planned timeframe, they could have had a shot at success.

I do think their decision to produce their own engine was the key failure (in hindsight, I admit). That was the part of the whole project that went furthest outside of their expertise. If they had, at least initially, gone with a Rotax (or Yamaha) single, they would have been able to have bikes in the showrooms early on.

I agree that the business model probably made more sense than E-Hs or Indian's.


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Yeah, that's what I meant as well---they have lots of experience with aluminum frames and suspension on bicycles; they purportedly had some revolutionary or evolutionary ideas about motorcycle suspension. If they wanted to set themselves apart, they should have gone with their strengths instead of jumping into something like engines with which they had no experience.

I'm glad they did it, and sad they failed. ...and I agree, if they'd brought it to market when they said they would and it had lived up to the ype, they would have had a much better chance at success.

I certainly didnt' mean to single Bob out among the naysayers, but there's lessons even in failure. It was heartening to see them try even if they did fail, and hopefully others can learn what not to do from their example.

OTOH, out local bike shop dropped cannondale years ago because of poor distributor, rep, and factory support as far as support, terms, service, and warranty work.
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There is one ray of hope, according to the post the entire motorsports division is for sale, including the "intellectual property". Victory/Polaris has stated an intent to expand the range of thier bikes. Just an idea, but wouldn't be cool to a Polaris motocrosser competing in AMA compitition.
You think so? Why I'll bet that people will continue to line up in big numbers to pay $22000 for re-badged Harleys! (sarcasm off).
I think that Polaris/Victory is being managed in a much more intelligent fashion than Cannondale. The Victorys are right in Harley's price range. And Polaris already has loads of experience successfully producing and selling motorized vehicles and has a nationwide dealer network already.

Now Indian, except for the new Chiefs, sells rebadged Harleys at prices way over comparably equipped Harleys. We'll see just how long the suckers can line up.
They wouldn't be competing with full-on sportbikes, Harley has an appeal based on crieria other than full on performance, so the Japanese "first or die" competition standard wouldn't apply to them, Something along the Buell lines but with more factory support, or a V-Rod based sport standard, I think would sell. They built the K-model/ Sportster line to compete with the Brit.'s which was a total departure from anything they'ed built up to then, just as the V-Rod line is a departure now, why not expand that into a different style, no one say's they should walk away from their core market, but casting the net a little wider would open them up to a market thats not much different from what they have now.
Polaris MX

That would be cool. I race ametuer MX, and can tell you from going to the races, at least here in Minnesota, that motocrossers are big into snowmobile in the winter (many trucks have either a Arctic Cat or Polaris sticker, mine has a "not an abandoned vehicle" sticker). I suspect that's true in all northern states. So Polaris wouldn't have to work on developing customers. I suspect that many motocrossers also are very familar with the Polaris four wheelers, which sell like hotcakes here in MN. It would be great to have six different brands racing. (big 4, KTM & Polaris)
I did see a artist's rendering of a VRod motor in a Monster style bike. It looked good but it's my understanding that the VRod motor is heavy. It was designed to look good and conceal hoses and wiring, not to be light.

Now imagine the Buell with the new KTM twin in it and Harley on the tank! I think you're onto something there.
Harley just needs to buy Ducati out. Those bikes would look better in black and orange anyway!
Wait a minute! Indian has their own engines now! Odd how the Kawasaki Drifter looks more true too form than [eh-hemm} Indian motors, I agree, they're toast, Victory has a chance, Did you see the Vegas at the bike show this year? a real nice effort, with a solid factory/dealer network to back them up,
Re: Polaris MX

Same is true in the mountain areas here in the west -- lots of MX/Snowmobile crossover. Might be a real match. If they haven't thought of it already, maybe we should try broker a deal and get a cut of the action.

Yeah, they have their own motor if you consider restyling the cooling fins on a Harley-clone motor as being their own motor.

All the way around, the Drifter is a better Indian.

My grandfather rode an Indian back in the late 30s -- the only motorcyclist in my family tree. Guess it was a recessive gene, cause only my sister and I inherited it, out of probably 100+ of his descendants. My sister has better sense than I do, though -- she bought a 1200 Bandit rather than p!ssing away her money on an obsolete piece of Italian Vtwin crap like I did!
"They wouldn't be competing with full-on sportbikes, Harley has an appeal based on crieria other than full on performance,"

Yes, this is true in the cruiser market, but not in the sportbike market. These are two different markets with two completely different customers.

"so the Japanese "first or die" competition standard wouldn't apply to them, "

If they hope to compete in the same market as the Japanese, then performance criteria is the ONLY thing that matters, and it most certainly WOULD apply to them.
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I totally agree with you on this one.

With the amazing level of technology offered in current Japanese sportbikes, I wonder if they even make the tiniest profit off of them or do the cruiser sales support the sportbike R&D.
I'm sure they make some money off of them, but I highly doubt it's anywhere near what they make off of cruisers.
Well there you go, If a fine intelligent woman like your sister can see the obvious superiority of the Bandit, why couldn't you,,, LOL
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