Itõs all about how, not where, your bike is built

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Comment - Gareth Ashman, 01733-468118

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.

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