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'The new R1 will reignite the sportsbike market'

Published: 23 December 2014

Updated: 17 December 2014

It’s fair to say the last few years have been challenging for all bike dealers, but they’ve been especially tough for those selling Yamahas. “From 2010 to 2012, every Yamaha dealer would put their hand up and say times were tough,” says Jonathan King, MD of Tamworth Yamaha.

“For us it was particularly hard as we didn’t have any other product to fall back on, so we just had to dig deep and come up with ingenious ways to stimulate sales and get riders into the brand. Yamaha themselves couldn’t have helped any more and were running some great sales incentives, but the problem boiled down to price and product. Yamaha lacked new models, simple as that, and the economic crisis and issues with the Yen forced prices up.”

Yamaha’s turning point
“In 2010 Yamaha had their eye on the future and in some ways sacrificed the present because of this. When the new MT range finally arrived in late 2013 it was like a culture change. This feeling, and the positive response in the media, brought buyers back into Yamaha dealerships and they rediscovered the whole model range, not just the new MTs.

“That’s the difference; the actual product hasn’t really changed, it has just reinvented itself and that has opened riders’ eyes to how many varied products Yamaha make – from scooters to cruisers, sportsbikes, retros, off-road and even a three-wheeler, Yamaha make it all.”

PCP is the key to sales
“We have never written as much PCP against new bikes as we have this year, thanks to some tremendous deals on the MT-07 and MT-09. It’s become so popular that 0% finance deals are being phased out. PCP deals work out better than traditional finance packages for both the dealer and customer.

“Customers can afford a higher spec bike for lower payments compared to finance, while dealers get a constant supply of quality used stock. The issue with 0% is that once the buyer has signed up, they won’t sell the bike until the finance is cleared, which can be up to five years. PCP allows the buyer to trade up every two or three years with minimal penalties. However, supply of new bikes can be an issue.”

Supply versus demand
“Supply is a bit of an issue at the moment, but in a way it is a nice problem to have. We have sold out of MT-125s, YZF-R125s, SR400s and MT-07s this year so are probably missing out on potential sales.

“Yamaha are addressing this, they know it is a problem, but I can see it being a real issue with the new R1, MT-09 Tracer and also the R3. If you want one, get an order in quickly as all three of these models will sell out very rapidly in the UK.”

Early cross-plane R1s are hard to find
“Because dealers weren’t selling many new bikes between 2009 to 2012, there are very few used examples out there from this period. Try and find a used, early cross-plane R1, or even a 2010 or 2011 R6, they simply don’t exist. Riders are screaming out for quality, used Yamaha sportsbikes but they can’t be found.

“In some ways this is good news as often riders will buy a new bike on a PCP deal instead, but you need quality used stock to draw customers into the dealership. The low price of the MT range doesn’t seem to be hurting used values of the XJ6, or Fazer 8 and 1000 models, mainly because they are attracting a different kind of rider. MT riders are generally younger and are attracted by the attitude of the bike, while the Fazer rider wants the practicality of the inline four.”

The wonder of hindsight
“You can’t second-guess the market and bikes that we struggled to sell a few years ago are now in high demand in the used market. The success of the new MT range has seen the popularity of the MT-03 and MT-01 rise. Both bikes are currently exceptional value, but this won’t last as the prices are gradually creeping up.

“The XJR1300 is another bike on the up, the later black engine model is right in fashion and sells really well in the used market. The Fazer 8 wasn’t very well received initially, but used bikes are incredible value; I just sold a year-old Fazer 8 for under £5000. However if you want to make money, look for the limited-edition models.”

Anniversary models
“Remember the outcry in 2009 at the red-framed R1? Now it’s seen as a collector’s item and everyone wants one! The YZF-R1 SP has almost doubled in value in the last few years, and I’d bite your hand off for an Anniversary R1 or the limited-edition yellow and black model.

“Oddly enough, the limited-edition Rossi rep YZF-R6 hasn’t captured buyers’ imaginations and I don’t understand why not. If you get a good one, keep hold of it, but unfortunately most aren’t very well looked after. The MT-01 SP is very sought after and rare, and you can’t go wrong with an older iconic sportsbike in good condition such as a first generation R1 or R6.”

Sportsbikes alive and well
“Yamaha have always been a sporting company, which is why it has top riders such as Rossi and Lorenzo in MotoGP. 2010 and 2011 were tough years as it was a stagnant market, but are sportsbike sales dead? Definitely not.

“Last year we sold out of R1 and R6s, and we already have 11 orders for the new R1, most put down before Yamaha had even unveiled the bike. I can see the new R1 reigniting the whole sportsbike market and bikes such as the YZF-R125, R3 and R6 selling on the back of this.”

Yamaha have returned
“From the outside, people look at the new models and see these as signifying a new Yamaha, but the real changes go beyond this. As well as the new bikes, Yamaha have boosted their offering by teaming up with the likes of Akrapovic to create high-class, aftermarket parts, extended their clothing range, retained their exceptional build quality, and kept at the forefront of racing activities. It has been a challenging few years, but Yamaha are certainly back.”

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