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Everyone Likes Performance

Something made me think about Honda’s “Performance First” campaign this morning. With its new Gold Wing and giant cruiser, the VTX1800 (which we hope to test soon), Honda has certainly taken engine performance to a new level in two categories. Handling and braking have also set new standards in the Gold Wing (I’ll have to reserve judgment on the VTX).

I guess the thought that occurred to me is that everybody likes performance, i.e., powerful engine, good handling and brakes. It doesn’t matter if they ride a cruiser, a tourer, a sportbike or a standard.

Why is it that v-twin cruisers have been plagued with underpowered engines and brakes housed in ill-handling chassis? I realize this is a generalization, and that there are exceptions, but the exceptions are few.

If you can give the customers in each given category what they want plus more performance, maybe you can create a niche for yourself. Better yet, maybe you can dominate the whole category without confining yourself to a niche.

In the sportbike category, everyone is playing the same performance game. If you emphasize performance in categories that have traditionally had other priorities, your competition is in trouble. It is a simple concept, but a concept that Honda seems to be pushing harder than anyone else at the moment. It makes me wonder what we can expect in successors to the VFR800 and ST1100, for instance.

In any event, it appears that Honda is backing up its “Performance First” theme with some substance . . . so far.