By Mike Vaughan

If you’ve been shopping for a motorcycle lately, you know there are an amazing number of models and color combinations available. But what you see in dealerships is just a fraction of the total number of brands, models, and color combinations currently available. Some time ago I had a chat with Kawasaki’s EVP, of Marketing and Sales. I was astounded by what he told me about the total number of products, considering category, models, paint schemes and options that a dealer would have to inventory if he were to represent the entire line. A number somewhere north of 150 separate units.

It got me thinking, that if it were that many for Kawasaki, then there’s got to be a similar number for virtually every full-line manufacturer. Obviously I don’t have access to all the information that manufacturers have, so I decided to narrow it down to just motorcycles; on-road, off-road, competition, and scooters whose sales stats are reported to the Motorcycle Industry Council, about 15 brands in all. As a consequence there are a number of brands out there like Hyosung, Royal Enfield, Electric and Chinese models that didn’t get counted, albeit these are probably not very big by themselves, but the sheer number of them would add a significant number of units and color options to the pot.

I counted paint schemes and carry-over models if listed on their most current web page. Some manufacturers have a tab for non-currents, and some just list them on their current page. Those that did the latter got counted, those that used a tab, didn’t.

I’m sure I’ve missed some models and some colors, and probably screwed up in some other fashion of which I’m not aware. So what did I learn from all this fiddling about? If your dealer is multi-line carrying Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Triumph, and he’s carrying the complete line-up of all brand’s products, as a customer, theoretically you’re faced with 158 individual motorcycle and scooter models, with 222 color options. Fortunately for you, off-road and competition bikes are usually offered in only a single color, and that doesn’t account for carryover models he might have on his floor.

You kind of expect a dealer for a Japanese brand is going to have a lot of options vis-à-vis motorcycles and colors, but for some of the Euro brands the choices and color options are also plentiful, as an example Triumph, with 26 models has 58 color options, but that’s simple compared to Harley-Davidson’s 29 models and 144 color options, but then again, they are half the market.

Assuming you’re a consumer who hasn’t made a brand, model or color choice, you are confronted with a total of 346 different models, and 651 color choices.

Now I know this is really simplifying it, but if you divide the color options into the 475,000 units retailed last year, you come up with an average of 730 of each color imported or built. Some color options will forever remain orphans, and be severely discounted in order to move them off the floor.

The lesson here is, wait until the end of the season and buy the most ridiculous color scheme bike on the dealer’s floor. He’ll undoubtedly be happy to get rid of it.


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