I wasn’t a marketing major, but I know that one of the smartest things you can do in a competitive market is differentiate your product. In other words, offer something that doesn’t directly compete, but is different.
There are increasing rumors that Honda will eventually (probably, not next year) replace its CBR929RR with a V-5 engine, open-class sportbike. This would be a brilliant move. The never-ending game of one-upmanship between Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha and Suzuki in the open-class, in-line four-cylinder sportbike game could be side stepped by introducing a V-5.
It would obviously give Honda something unique, and with Honda’s history of production, V-4s, would give the Honda faithful confidence in the engineering of the bike. Engine placement and weight distribution is a little bit trickier with a V-4 (or V-5). Honda is the only manufacturer that has learned some hard lessons from racing a V-4, four-stroke (the RC45). In addition to having a unique engine layout, the bike would likely handle very well.
Sometimes, the easiest way to compete is to stop competing . . . and offer something totally unique. Honda might be about to do that in the open-class sportbike wars.