Harley-Davidson has announced its overall profit for the last three months of 2015 was significantly lower than for the same period of the previous year. The company’s quarterly profit was reported as $42.2 million, down by 43% from $74.5 million for the final quarter of 2014. The result, however, was better than most Wall St analysts expected. “Unprecedented challenges” of the global economy and competitive pressures are being blamed for the decline. Company President and CEO Matt Levatich said that “Without a doubt, it’s been one of the most competitive environments we have seen in years, particularly in the United States”. “Much of it is driven by currency differences, and some of it by new products from competitors all around the world.” Total worldwide sales of Harley-Davidsons dropped by less than 1% in the quarter, but sales in the United States fell by 3.4%. The US is the manufacturer’s largest and traditionally strongest market. The company says sales in the US have declined as the economy slowed in some states, and foreign competitors cut prices of their bikes to attract customers. In other markets, growth has been strong. Sales grew by 12.3% in Canada and 8.2% in the Asia Pacific region, and Harley-Davidson is currently the biggest seller of road bikes in Australia. The company is optimistic it can improve sales in the coming year. By looking to other markets and rationalising its product line it is hoping to attract a younger and more diverse customer base, including more women, to the brand. It expects to ship between 269,000 and 274,000 motorcycles worldwide in 2016, an increase of approximately 1-3% on its 2015 shipments. To help achieve that, Harley-Davidson also recently announced a 65% increase in its marketing budget for the year.
Author: Matt Coopz
Casey Stoner has made his on track debut as a test rider for the Ducati MotoGP team, beginning preliminary testing in Sepang this weekend. It was the Australian’s first outing on a Ducati since the Valencia GP in 2010. Casey completed 54 laps of the Sepang circuit on last year’s Desmosedici GP15, acquainting himself with the new machine and the vastly different Michelin tyres and control ECU. His best time of 2:02.1 was set during his last stint of the day. Whilst that time is significantly slower than previous test times and the official race lap record of 2:00.6 (Jorge Lorenzo/Yamaha), temperatures were reaching about 40°C and track conditions were not ideal. And given the changes to the ECU and tyre supplier for this year’s season, there are no other times to realistically compare Stoner’s lap time to around the Malaysian track at this time. Casey was happy with his performance but admits he is not yet at his peak. “Lap times for me were surprising. A lot better than I expected”, he said in a post-test interview. “I still need a little more time to return to a competitive level and find the right feeling because I haven’t ridden a MotoGP bike for a year and haven’t been on a race bike for six months.” Stoner admitted the bike felt very different from his past Ducatis, but said “The Desmosedici GP has great potential and I hope to be able to give the right feedback to Gigi and the Ducati engineers to help the two Andreas get some good results this year.” Fellow test rider Michele Pirro debuted the GP16 and focused on testing fuel consumption, but it is not yet clear if Stoner will test the GP16 in Sepang. Stoner is expected to complete two days of testing, and there have been conflicting reports that he may ride at some point during offical pre-season testing which starts on Monday. Casey Stoner is Ducati’s most successful MotoGP rider, winning the championship in his first year with the Ducati factory team in 2007 and taking 23 wins by the time he left the team to join Honda in 2010. His role at this stage is as a test rider, but speculation continues to mount on whether he will compete in the 2016 season as a wild card entry.
Swann Insurance and Insure My Ride have been named as Australia’s best value motorcycle insurers. Financial research and ratings organisation CANSTAR rated 11 providers in the first ever research of comprehensive motorcycle insurance in Australia. InsureMyRide and Swann Insurance were both awarded 5-star ratings on a National level for providing Outstanding Value Motorcycle Insurance. InsureMyRide achieved 5-star ratings in 23 categories and were found to have a very strong price offering for older riders. Through a strong offering of both price and extensive features, Swann Insurance managed to achieve 5-star ratings in 79 categories. Full results of the research are available on CANSTAR’s website, broken down by age, state and the engine capacity of the bike. “In collecting our insurance quotes we looked at the cost at four different ages,” said Canstar Research Manager, Mitchell Watson. Age was found to be the most significant factor affecting insurance premiums. “As an example, our research found an average annual premium for a 300cc bike of $1,869, that reduces to an average of $849 for a 24 year-old”, says Mitchell. “Comprehensive insurance for a 600cc bike is an average of $4,309 for a 20 year-old and $2,056 for a 24 year-old. A 30 year-old will pay just $1,209 on average for the same policy.” South Australia and Western Australia were also found to have lower premiums. “More traffic congestion increases the risk of minor accidents, for example. And a higher population also increases the risk of theft.” Consequently, New South Wales and the ACT have the highest premiums in the country. But Mr Watson was also quick to point out that price alone should not be the deciding factor for insurance. “There are standard insurance inclusions that all providers offer, but there are also some outstanding value-adds.” “Features such as covering the cost of a hire car, or a lifetime guarantee on repairs, or even just a really good online claims process can make a big difference to your claims experience.” Swann Insurance was also found to offer the best value on a state level in Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria. NRMA was awarded State Winner in New South Wales, while in Western Australia top honours went to SGIO Insurance. In 2015 there were over 807,000 motorcycles registered in Australia but until now there was no reliable comparison of comprehensive insurance to help owners decide how to insure their bikes.
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2013 World Camp Tom Sykes was the fastest on day 1 of the scheduled Jerez test. Ducati’s Chaz Davies put himself second fastest, just over a tenth slower that Sykes. Then in some exciting news, for us MotoGP fans, Honda’s Nicky Hayden rounded out the top four. The two Hinda’s of Hayden and Michael Van der Mark put the most laps under their belts in the beginning of the day, with Hayden topping the timesheets then being relegated the fourth by the end of the day. All looks good for an always exciting year of World Superbikes kicking off late February.