Wednesday, November 04, 2020

2020: A Lesson in Motorcycle Supply Chain


2020 brought unexpected challenges and changes. Thanks to stay-at-home orders and social distancing, some industries boomed and others struggled. People began looking to new hobbies to fill their time safely, and the motorcycle industry saw an increase in popularity with new and experienced riders alike.

Searches on Cycle Trader's website have been way up this year compared to the same time in 2019. Dealers of different kinds of bikes, including motorcycles and dirt bikes, have seen a jump in sales this year, too. A quick look at the Cycle Trader website highlights major trends in the industry. Cruisers, sportbikes, touring, dirt bikes, and standard bikes make up the five most popular motorcycle types. States like Florida, California, Texas, and North Carolina represent the top states for motorcycle popularity.

It's exciting to see the riding community expand and grow from coast to coast!

But, riders looking for their first or next bike in 2020 sometimes struggled to find an option that met every point on their buying checklist. Some dealers lacked inventory and some manufacturers struggled to support demand. These challenges have something in common: supply chain.

In the motorcycle industry, the supply chain includes every component of building and distributing new bikes for purchase. At its most basic, motorcycle supply chain looks like this:
  1. A manufacturer has to source all raw materials, like steel, rubber, synthetics, and aluminum.
  2. The manufacturing facility takes those raw materials and, through specialized processes, builds bikes of different makes and models.
  3. Those bikes are then sent to dealers who sell them to individual consumers.
With modern technology, each stage includes real-time data. Manufacturers know the current prices of raw materials from different suppliers. Plants know the level of production needed to meet market demand. Sellers know how many bikes they need, and which makes and models will soon join their inventory.

Global shipping options and efforts to reduce production costs have changed motorcycle assembly and purchasing in significant ways, too.
  • OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) have plants around the world, including to China, Germany, India, and more.
  • Sourcing of raw materials includes multiple suppliers from any number of countries that may be outside of the plant location.
  • Buyers are global and have many brand choices available to them, not just in-country manufacturers.
Without outside disruption, modern supply chains embrace efficiency and adapt to changes in popularity quickly.

But, 2020 proved disruptive to every stage of the process:
  • Many brands saw different parts of their supply chain interrupted thanks to COVID-19.
  • Shipping of raw materials from one country to a manufacturing facility in another part of the world stopped.
  • Production on assembly lines screeched to a halt.
  • Shipments out to dealers and resellers became few and far between because existing inventory did not cover the boom in popularity.
  • OEMs lacked control over when production would start again, and dealers didn't always know when inventory would arrive.
The immediate impact of COVID-19 on the motorcycle industry was rough and stressful. But, OEMs showed amazing resilience and innovation and buyers' interest in motorcycles continues to grow. In some cases, production has resumed, addressing inventory shortages and fulfilling the orders placed by eager riders.

One dealer told ADVrider the coronavirus pandemic has “saved off road motorcycling.” Another insider said he expected a strong crop of new riders, thanks to all this year’s dirt bike sales. Another said that even the supply chain issues showed OEMs ways to save money and work more efficiently in the future.

So while 2020 may have included a few bumps, the road looks clearer ahead for motorcyclists looking for their first ride, an upgrade from their current bike, or an additional way to participate in the community.

Looking for more information or more detail about other motorcycle-related topics? Check out the new ADVrider magazine to read more [link]

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Top Fall Motorcycle Rides


We’re temporarily saying, "Goodbye!" to the sweltering heat of summer and saying, "Hello!" to the epic fall riding weather we know and love. The cool breeze in the air is unbeatable and there’s no better view of fall foliage than on the back of a bike. Are you ready to ride this autumn? We’ve compiled a list of our favorite seasonal rides you won’t want to miss.

Image: Mackinaw City
  • Tunnel of Trees, Michigan- We've covered the Tunnel of Trees in the past, but there’s no denying it had to make our fall list. The Great Lake state is home to amazing routes for riders and the M-119 AKA the Tunnel of Trees is no exception. On this iconic route, you can expect to see coastline, small towns, and abundant forests. The narrow 16-mile road begins in Harbor Springs and ends in Cross Village. This ride is stunning during every season, especially when the leaves are changing to vibrant oranges and reds. This route is rated among one of the most scenic in the nation. There are a few sharp turns near Devil’s Elbow on this road so keep that in mind while riding. Along the way, there are many places to make a pit stop to enjoy a meal or just to take in the views.
Image: NPS
  • Skyline Drive, Virginia - Fall is the perfect time to enjoy Skyline Drive, as the leaves change color all along your route. This 105-mile scenic ride rolls through the Blue Ridge Mountains in Shenandoah National Park and features views sure to take your breath away. Remember to be safe as the speed limit on most of Skyline Drive is 35mph. You will be tempted to reach speeds up to 50mph, but be careful - Skyline Drive is known for its abundant wildlife. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled on the roads. If you’re looking to take a scenic pit stop during this ride, you’ll most definitely cross paths with the Appalachian Trail, a marked hiking trail over 2,200 miles long that begins in Maine, winds along the Appalachian Mountain Range, and finally ends in Georgia. 
Image: Tripster
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee - Great Smoky Mountains is the most visited national park in the country, and for good reason. With over 100 species of trees and over 1,600 species of flowering plants, you know the fall colors are going to be vibrant at this park. Great Smoky Mountains National Park straddles the North Carolina/Tennessee border, and is home to hundreds of miles of nearby roads perfect for fall riding. The park is so large that there’s a stretch of road ideal for every rider, no matter their experience level. A few rides we recommend in the area are The Tail of the Dragon (experienced riders only), The Blue Ridge Parkway, Foothills Parkway, and Cherohala Skyway Loop. If you decide to visit this area, there are stunning mountain views at every turn and quaint towns to visit along every route.
Image: Durango
  • San Juan Mountain Skyway, Colorado - Ready for more mountain views and breathtaking fall foliage? Look no further than San Juan Mountain Skyway in Colorado. This 230+ mile loop boasts incredible views of the Rocky Mountains and you’ll pass by historic mining towns, alpine trees, national parks, hot springs, and so much more. During the loop, you’ll even encounter a 25-mile section between Ouray and Silverton called “The Million Dollar Highway” named for its breathtaking views. While your eyes will be glued to the scenery, make sure you also focus on the road ahead as there are many hairpin turns and switchbacks on this ride. Many riders claim this is one of the most beautiful routes in the United States. Ready to see it for yourself?
Image: Arkansas.com
  • Pig Trail Scenic Byway, Arkansas - Last, but certainly not least, to make our list is the Pig Trail Scenic Byway in Arkansas. Although it’s a shorter ride (just 19-miles along Arkansas State Route 23 ) this ride is known for its canopy of trees and beautiful views, especially in the fall season. The ride is full of curves, inclines, and hills passing through Ozark National Forest that make for an exciting ride that’s sure to keep you entertained. Although this ride is on the shorter side, there are plenty of jumping-off points along this route to fill your day.
Are you ready to ride this fall? We hope our list has inspired you to get out and enjoy the amazing weather that this season brings to many of us across the country. Do you have a favorite fall ride? Let us know in the comments below.

Your Motorcycle News Fix (Oct. 2020)


Fall is here and so are the latest and greatest motorcycle headlines! This month was jam-packed with model upgrades and new bikes from Honda to KTM. We’ve got all of the industry updates you won’t want to miss. Let’s get into it.

Image: BMW

The BMW G 310 GS Has Gotten an Upgrade - The smallest model in BMW’s lineup has gotten some big upgrades. The ‘baby’ BMW recently received a new ‘electronic throttle grip’ that makes for a sportier reaction time and also boasts a new self-boosting anti-hop clutch. The exterior remains largely the same, but now includes a new LED headlight arrangement at the front and rear now and LED flashing turn indicators. BMW has also added new color options including metallic titanium grey and a new Kyanit blue, red and white for a sportier look. Read More.

Image: Indian Motorcycle 

Indian Motorcycles Reveals First eFTR Electric Motorcycle - Indian recently announced the launch of their first eFTR electric motorcycle for smaller riders. Yep, you read that right -for kids. This electric bike is modeled off of the legendary Indian Motorcycle FTR750 meaning the bike has a fake gas tank and exhaust pipes. The bike has two and a half hours of run time in low mode and over one hour in high mode with the included 36V battery. The new bike is available at Indian dealerships and comes in at $749.99. It’s definitely interesting to see that Indian’s first electric bike would be targeted for children, but could this inspire an adult-sized model in the future? Only time will tell. Read More.

Image: Honda

The Honda CB650R Gets a Refresh - Honda has just announced the newest features for the 2021 CB650R. The bike will include a fresh color scheme of Pearl Smoke Gray and will also feature smaller side panels and a new steel mudguard. One of the largest changes for this model is the upgraded Showa Separate Function Big Piston (SFF BP) forks. The CB650R also includes new and improved LED lights, an updated display with negative backlight to improve readability, and USB-C outlet under the seat to charge your phone and other accessories. We can’t wait to see the updates for ourselves. Read More.

Image: KTM

KTM Announces New Adventure Models - Are you ready to #AdventureHarder? KTM is making it possible with the release of their new 2021 KTM 890 ADVENTURE R RALLY and KTM 890 ADVENTURE R. The new pair are based on a LC8c parallel-twin engine, including a 90cc increase in displacement from 799c to the 889cc. The KTM Adventure R boasts more power and torque, improved ABS and traction control, updated shifting, new suspension settings, and more. The limited-edition KTM Adventure R RALLY features an updated engine and electronics and WP XPLOR Pro Components Suspension. These new bikes should be arriving to dealerships November 2020 so keep your eyes peeled. Read More.

We weren’t kidding that there were A LOT of new models in this month’s roundup. We love to see the innovation that these manufacturers provide to the motorcycle industry and can’t wait to see these new and improved features for ourselves. Did you have a favorite story this month? Let us know in the comments below.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Your Motorcycle News Fix - September 2020


Sweltering summer riding days are over and the cooler weather of fall has arrived. But before you gear up for your next ride, sit down and stay awhile. We've queued up the top motorcycle headlines you need to know. Check them out below.

Image: Honda

The Honda Trail 125 is Coming to the U.S. - Honda recently announced that their new Trail 125 will be hitting the U.S. market and we couldn’t be more excited about it. This model is the American. version of the CT125 that was launched outside of the country earlier this year. The Trail has everything you’d expect from Honda, including a classic look with updated electronic features, ABS, and emission controls. If you’re into dirt road riding, the Trail has got your back. With an added 4.3 inches of movement (including on the wheel base, suspension, and ground clearance) the Trail can cover a variety of terrain and will get you where you need to go in style. Read More.

Image: Revzilla

Land Speed Record Holder Ralph Hudson Dies from Crash Injuries - Land speed record-holding motorcycle racer Ralph Hudson has passed away from a recent racing accident. On the last day of Bonneville Speed Week, Hudson was reportedly destabilized while traveling over 250 mph by a gust of wind causing the crash. He was immediately flown to a Salt Lake City hospital where he was said to be in critical condition. After three weeks in the hospital, it was announced that Hudson had unfortunately succumbed to his injuries. He will be greatly missed. Read More.

Image: Indian Motorcycle

Indian Motorcycle and Bike Shed Motorcycle Club Team Up - Indian Motorcycle and Bike Shed Motorcycle Club have recently announced a partnership launching a new line of lifestyle apparel. The designs were inspired by motorcycle culture and the celebration of Bike Shed opening a new location in Los Angeles. Bike Shed is a Motorcycle Club destination originally based in London who welcomes people from all walks of life to enjoy their restaurant, cafĂ©, bar, events space, galleries, and moto retail and apparel. The new lineup will feature men's and women’s shirts, hats, sweatshirts, and riding jerseys. Want to snag some of the designs? Bike Shed Motorcycle Club apparel collection is available at select retail locations and online. Buy Now.


Tom Cruise Launches Motorcycle Off Cliffside Ramp for New Movie - A new Mission Impossible movie is underway and Tom Cruise is (as always) taking his stunts to new heights. Director Christopher McQuarrie took to Instagram showing off an insanely massive ramp that launches off the side of a cliff in Norway. Norwegian news outlets caught some epic footage of the actor jumping the ramp (sans helmet) on what appears to be a Honda CRF450R. You’ll want to see this for yourself - trust us. Read More.

Did you have a favorite story from this month’s motorcycle news fix? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Looking for your next ride? Check out some of our latest models on Cycle Trader.

The Critical Link


By: Chris Hemer
Photo Credit: RK Excel America

At a time when motorcycles are fitted with sophisticated traction control systems, adjustable power modes, and ride-by-wire throttle systems, the ubiquitous drive chain seems almost rudimentary by comparison. After all these years, it still looks like an overgrown version of what we had on our bicycles growing up – but there’s much more to a contemporary motorcycle chain than you may think.


“Today’s chains must balance performance, durability, and weight depending on the riding discipline, displacement of the engine and the environment,” explained Farrah Bauer, Marketing Manager at RK Excel America. “For example, a supercross rider wants a balance of high performance and light weight, while the average motorcycle commuter prefers durability, longevity, and cost-effectiveness.”

Today’s street bike chains consist of inner/outer plates, pins, bushings, and seals, the latter of which is often the subject of debate when it comes to chain performance and longevity. Bauer weighed in, saying,

“One of the most common misconceptions about motorcycle chains is that non-sealed chains perform better than sealed chains. The reason for this misconception is when someone spins the tire of a sealed chain vs. the tire of a non-sealed chain, the non-sealed chain will easily spin, while the sealed chain doesn’t spin as freely. However, once the seals of the chain warm up, there is very little seal drag. For example, if you were to place non-sealed chain on a dyno and run it through a race scenario, you’d find that a non-sealed chain will create its own friction as the chain heats up and expands. This friction can reduce horsepower and performance. However, when a sealed chain is put through a similar scenario, the chain’s seals prevent heat expansion, reducing friction and keeping the horsepower delivery constant from the start of a race to the end. The seal rings also act as a dampener to hold the chain firmly, preventing the components from vibrating upon each other during riding. This assures a smooth power transmission from the engine to the wheel.”
The contemporary motorcycle chain may look simple, but it is actually a sophisticated component that is continually evolving.

Another area where the subject of seals comes into play is lubrication. Because street bike motorcycle chains are internally lubricated, there is often some confusion among enthusiasts as to how often a chain should be cleaned and lubricated, if at all. Bauer explains,

“The purpose of lubricating a chain is to keep the chain seals pliable so that they can keep the internal lube in and dirt and debris out. If the seals are allowed to dry out or get damaged, the internal lubricant can either escape, or get contaminated, and the wear life of the chain can be greatly reduced. In order to get the most value for your money, you should clean and lube your street bike chain every 200 miles for non-sealed chains and 300 miles for sealed chains. You should clean and lube a dirt bike chain after every ride. You can also void the chain’s warranty by not cleaning and lubricating or maintaining the chain properly.”

Never clean a chain using brake cleaner or other caustic chemicals, and RK Chain in particular advises against using a certain common household lubricant in a blue and yellow can. Experts point out, that “As the product dries, it changes the molecular structure of the nitrile butadiene seals and can damage the material, decreasing wear life.” Instead, the manufacturer recommends the use of an O-ring safe cleaner and a soft rag; it does not recommend the use of wire or coarse plastic brushes, which can damage seals. “Spray the chain, and then using the rag, wipe the chain to remove dirt and debris,” Bauer instructs. “Once the chain is clean, we recommend riding the bike around the block to warm up the chain and remove any residual cleaner. After that, and while the chain is still warm, lube the chain with a product that is safe for use on sealed chains, then use a soft rag to remove any excess lube.”


In addition to proper cleaning and lubrication, correct adjustment is also an important part of chain maintenance. “An over-tensioned chain will cause excess force to be applied to the chain when the suspension is at the bottom of its travel,” said Bauer. “If the force is sufficient, it can bend or deform the pins. On the other hand, too much slack can cause the chain to jump off the sprocket.” The basic concept is that, when the chain is correctly adjusted, there should be some slack in the chain – but Bauer says RK recommends that you consult your motorcycle owner’s manual for chain slack recommendations.

As the miles add up, check the chain for signs of excessive wear or damage. Common concerns include rust, kinks and what is known as “chain float,” where the chain can be pulled away from the rear sprocket–a sure sign of chain elongation. Cracks, missing/damaged parts, wear marks on the top or bottom of the chain, or pin rotation are also signs the chain should be replaced. “In most quad-staked chains, the pins will all be in alignment from the factory,” said Bauer. "However, as the chain ages, the internal components can start to wear down, which can allow for pin rotation (where the pins turn a different direction).” 


When chain replacement is indeed necessary, the front and rear sprockets should be replaced as well. “Failure to change the sprockets when you change the chain can void the chain’s warranty. Depending on how worn the sprockets are, a new chain might not even fit on a worn sprocket.” Even if it does, the excessive or irregular wear on the sprockets will certainly cause the new chain to wear out faster.

“Chains are not a glamorous product,” Bauer concedes. “They’re dirty and greasy, but are an integral part of the motorcycle. With proper installation and maintenance, a chain can last many years and thousands of miles.”