Itõs all about how, not where, your bike is built
It all used to be so simple, or at least we thought it was. If you owned a British bike, it had been built in Britain. If you owned an Italian bike, it was built in Italy, while your Teutonic globetrotter was genuinely German and your all-american anchor was just that, as American as apple pie. But in the 21st Century the badge on the tank often belies its country of origin.
In this week’s poll (left) a significant 50% believe that this global promiscuity is somehow eroding the identity, or integrity, of our bikes. Does this mean that Triumph’s gorgeous Thruxton R will see sales suffer as prospective owners catch sight of the ‘ Made in Thailand’ label hanging out the back of its pants? Or that BMW will find no takers for their funky G310R because it’s built under the care of Indian partner TVS?
It’s impossible to truly gauge the impact, but there’s little in recent showroom success stories to dissuade manufacturers from the status quo. The indication from Triumph dealers is that sales of the new Thruxton R (launch on page 10) have already exceeded the speed at which they can be built, and being Thai takeaways never hurt sales of the old Bonneville or Thruxton range. KTM haven’t struggled to shift their Indian built models either, and it’s unlikely that Yamaha YZF-R3 buyers will be particularly perturbed by their bike’s Indonesian heraldry.
Let’s also not forget that we distrusted Italian bikes until they adopted Japanese electronics, got excited when manufacturers started to use Italian brake calipers linked to German control units, and that the tyres we roll on are invariably built somewhere you wouldn’t associate with the name on the sidewall.
The British bike industry is in its second ascendancy because the first died from complacency and too shallow a gene pool. We now live in an age of truly global bike production – and design, testing, manufacturing and quality control aren’t dependant on where the factory is based, they’re dependant on the attitude of the manufacturer. Buy what excites you, take solace from the warranty, and enjoy every mile you ride.