Yamaha Seeks Younger Market Through Vegas Sweepstakes

Flanked by Playboy Bunnies from the Playboy Club atop the Palms is Bob Starr (on left) Yamaha Communications Mgr and George Maloof, Owner of the Palms Casino Resort (right)

Japanese motorcycle manufacturers are feeling the effects of the sluggish economy along with the rest of the motorcycle industry.  Declining sales and aging customer base have eroded sales from Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha.

In an effort to reach a more youthful market, Yamaha has teamed with the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas to introduce the “Life in the Fast Lane” Sweepstakes.

Yamaha and the Palms Casino Resort  will award one lucky winner an all inclusive trip for two to the Palms Casino Resort and a new Palms ‘themed’ Yamaha R1 supersport motorcycle designed and customized by Nick Anglada Originals and loaded with enough bling to satisfy even the most high maintenance show girls appetite for glitz and glamor.

cheduled to run from August 2010 to March 6, 2011, the “Life in the Fast Lane” sweepstakes will be promoted on line at http://www.yamaha-motor.com/ and will include a display on the casino floor of the Palms showcasing the customized R1 together with additional information on Yamaha motorcycles.

“We are delighted at the opportunity to work with the Palms Casino Resort” said Bob Starr, General Manager of Communications for Yamaha Motor Corporation. “The Palms is regarded as the hottest, youth focused casino resort in Las Vegas. Through this exciting co-promotion Yamaha will reach a new pool of potential riders who will appreciate the performance and outstanding design of our motorcycles.”

George Maloof, Owner of the Palms Casino Resort, is equally enthusiastic: “We were thrilled at the concept of translating the energy and excitement that radiates through the Palms onto the canvass of a Yamaha high performance sportbike and the actual results are fantastic! Whoever wins the Life in the Fast Lane sweepstakes and the custom Palms R1 is one lucky guy or gal!”

US Still Mired In Sales Slump

Four motorcycle manufacturers, Suzuki, Yamaha, Kawasaki and Ducati are reporting a mixed bag of numbers regarding profits and sales for July.  Ducati reported a 7.5% July sales increase over last year in all three North American countries, US, Mexico and Canada.   In the United States, Ducati increased 4.75% increase over July 2009.  Kawasaki said it’s sales of all powersports divisions was up 12 percent over a year ago.  That number, however does not signal out motorcycles.

Suzuki said that overall motorcycle sales were down, because of the continued sales slowdown of large motorcycles for Europe and the US, but it’s profits improved after a reduction in expenses which offset it’s operating loss.

Yamaha also cited falling sales in the US but overall reported a profit for the period ending June 30th due mainly to robust sales in Asia, (excluding Japan.) Net sales increased 16.7 percent from the same period of the previous fiscal year, however, sales in North America and Europe decreased, due mainly to falling demand and market stock adjustments in the United States, along with a decrease in demand from Europe.


Yamaha Recalls Thousands of YZF-R6 For Side Deflector Problem

YAMAHA is recalling 54,000 2006-2010 YZF-R6 motorcycles because the front side refelctor was not placed at the proper height which does not meet the requirement of FMV safety standard # 108 which regulates “lamps, reflective devices and associated equipment.  The visibility of the motorcycle will be decreased which could increase the risk of a crash.  Yamaha is notifying owners and dealers will begin fixing the bikes free of charge on or about August 11, 2010.  Owners with questions may contact Yamaha at 800-962-7926

Yamaha Recalls 54,000 R-6 due to improper side reflector position


Yamaha Recalls 700 ’09 VMX17 Motorcycle For Electrical Problem

700 VMax Recalled For Electrical Problem

YAMAHA IS RECALLING CERTAIN MODEL YEAR 2009 VMX17 MOTORCYCLES MANUFACTURED FROM JUNE 2008 THROUGH MARCH 2009. THERE COULD BE EXCESSIVE ELECTRICAL RESISTANCE IN THE GROUND WIRE FROM THE ACCELERATOR POSITION SENSOR (APS) AND THE THROTTLE POSITION SENSOR (TPS) DUE TO AN INSUFFICIENTLY CRIMPED CONNECTION.

Consequence:
 EXCESSIVE RESISTANCE CAN CAUSE INCORRECT SIGNALS TO BE SENT TO THE ENGINE CONTROL UNIT (ECU) WHICH COULD LEAD TO UNSTABLE IDLE SPEED. IMPROPER IDLE SPEED CAN RESULT IN A CRASH.
Remedy:
 YAMAHA WILL NOTIFY OWNERS AND DEALERS WILL REPAIR THE MOTORCYCLES FREE OF CHARGE. THE SAFETY RECALL IS EXPECTED TO BEGIN ON OR ABOUT JULY 28, 2010. OWNERS MAY CONTACT YAMAHA AT 1-800-962-7926.
Notes:
 OWNERS MAY ALSO CONTACT THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION’S VEHICLE SAFETY HOTLINE AT 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), OR GO TO HTTP://WWW.SAFERCAR.GOV .

More Bad News For Yamaha

The worlds second largest motorcycle maker said its sales in Europe and North America may be lower than previously predicted as the worldwide credit crises deepens.

“From May, there has been a sudden impact from the Greek crisis,” Chief Executive Officer Hiroyuki Yanagi said in an interview in Tokyo yesterday. Combined sales in North America and Europe may decline as much as 20 percent this year, compared with an earlier estimate for a drop of about 10 percent, he said.

Developing countries are especially hardest hit and Yamaha has shut seven plants worldwide and eliminated 1000 positions this year on top of 1000 jobs cut in 2009.

According to a report in the Washington Post,  Honda Motor Co., the world’s largest motorcycle maker, said it expects its two-wheeler sales in North America and Europe to drop less than 1 percent to 385,000 units in the fiscal year ending March 31.

Harley-Davidson Inc., the largest U.S. motorcycle maker, may report sales in the quarter ended June 30 fell to $1.13 billion from $1.28 billion a year earlier, according to the average of eight analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Yamaha fell 4.9 percent, the most in more than three months, to close at 1,146 yen in Tokyo trading, compared with a 1.1 percent drop in the benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average.

The euro has weakened beyond Yamaha’s currency hedging position and may crimp earnings in the second half of the year, Yanagi said.


2010 Star Stratoliner Deluxe

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It doesn’t seem possible that five years have passed since I rolled out of the working class city of Portland, Oregon, in the saddle of the new Star Roadliner. Riding a Yamaha that wasn’t a Yamaha, well not by name anyway, and riding a cruiser with real performance, handling and braking, it was anexciting day. More importantly, it was a new direction for the company we typically associate with winning motorcycle championships at the highest level on both dirt and asphalt. By taking this passion, enthusiasm and dedication to excellence and infusing it into the new Star brand of cruisers, it hasn’t taken long for the company to make it to the number two position in the class. The giant from Milwaukee being the only brand to outsell them in this class.

Striking out in their own direction with the art deco inspired Roadliner, Star has taken some valuable clues from Harley’s success, using this initial Roadliner platform to spawn the touring focused Stratoliner and the more custom styled Raider. Working from this initial Roadliner platform, they were able to create three unique motorcycles without undertaking a major redesign each time. Continuing on this practical path, I recently sampled the fourth model in this line up, the Stratoliner Deluxe, over a full day of riding around the Yamaha headquarters in California.

Designated a “Bagger,” the concept for this style of motorcycle is fairly simple. Take a cruiser and make it more focused for traveling, without turning it into a full-on touring bike. Add a good-sized front fairing, some nice integrated saddlebags for carrying your gear, on board musics, a set of spacious footboards, and voila! One bagger to go. It’s certainly a trend that seems to have risen from the ashes of the chopper fad, with riders looking for more practicality and comfort from their ride, without losing the ability to customize and personalize their bike.

The heart of the beast remains the same, with two large cylinders housing 100 mm pistons sucking in fuel and air, and spitting out burned gases through a pair of inlet and a pair of outlet valves. Riding on a long 118 mm stroke, the compression ratio is a healthy 9.5:1 and helps the bike to make a claimed 91 hp. Thumping out an equally healthy 117 foot pounds of torque at 5,000 rpm, the Star motor is a thoroughly modern power house that provides a powerful grunt at low rpm or real sporting power as the rpm rise. It’s also a real air-cooled V-twin, not a faux finned water-cooled unit, and the four valves per cylinder are opened and closed by push rods. How old school is that? This allows the stylish engine to have large chrome pushrod tubes to further accentuate the style, and they certainly help make the Star engine look as much like a piece of art work as the rest of the bike.

Faultless fuel injection makes your riding experience a joy in whatever mood you are in from putting round town to carving canyons and twisty roads. This perfect fuel delivery is made possible by a pair of 43mm, twin-bore throttle bodies. These downdraft bodies have throttle position sensors (TPS) that make sure the response is spot on, no matter what you are doing with the throttle, or how fast the engine is spinning. An oxygen sensor in the two-into-one exhaust system makes it a closed loop system by reading the burned gases and adjusting the fuel injection system as necessary. In an interesting move, an EXUP valve, normally found in higher revving sport bikes, is also used to help boost low end power and provide crisper throttle response The system is a meaty looking affair and gives the bike a nice deep rumble on idle. There’s no wheezing when you twist the throttle either, and aftermarket pipes for more window shaking rumble are available from your local Yamaha dealer. Chatting with Dave Pooler, the man in charge of all Star accessories, he was very excited by the range of products available for the Deluxe. Some you will already know and some specific new ones. Furtherattention to the fueling is found with the 12-hole, 2-directional fuel injectors that ensure the cylinders get filled completely, and the twin spark plugs making sure combustion is complete. As with all modern bikes there is an idle control valve in place of the choke, and the bike fires instantly to life, cold or hot at the touch of the starter button.

Power is taken to the rear wheel via belt drive through a five speed gearbox. This belt drive system is clean, quiet and close to maintenance free. The Deluxe comes complete with big cruiser clunking on first gear selection, but shifts very smoothly once on the move. A heel/toe shifter system is employed, and it works as well as it looks. It’s not my system of choice, so I find myself shifting in the conventional manner, but this causes no problems. The floorboards are roomy, and don’t force your feet into one position which is a great benefit on longer rides. And this is a lot of what the Stratoliner Deluxe is going to be all about, packing up and hitting the highway.

The lightweight fork mounted fairing not only looks stylish but also does a reasonable job of fending off the oncoming breeze without making the steering heavy or cumbersome. A fact I appreciated while carving along the Ortega Highway during our test ride.

One of the best parts of the new fairing on the Deluxe though is the watertight MP3 compartment which hooks your device to a pair of five inch speakers with easy to use controls on the left handlebar above the usual switches. These take some familiarizing with to scroll through the various artists, play lists, and sound levels etc, so it’s not a bad idea to get fully familiar before you hit the road.

The Stratoliner Deluxe handles extremely well for a bike with a curb weight of 810 pounds. This is achieved with the combination of a low, sculpture seat and the wide, easy to reach bars. With a comfortable straight up and down seating position, there’s no doubt I could certainly log many pain free miles in the saddle of the new Deluxe.

Thankfully, the Star crew avoided the trend towards packing the largest back wheel possible under the rear fender. The attractive twelve spoke alloy 17 inch wheels gets a sensibly sized 190 series tire, complemented by a 130/70- 18-inch front. While this is hardly cutting edge sport bike sizing, it works perfectly on the big Star, and with the aforementioned wide bars, the steering input is always light and precise, not something you would initially expect from such a big looking bike. The Deluxe is also easy to pull up from the side stand, and is easy to maneuver in tight spaces. With a combination of light controls, easy fueling, and low seat height, you won’t be sweating and straining to get out of congested parking lots.

The front fork is a beefy conventional 46mm affair with no provision for adjustability. Thankfully the Deluxe comes with what I consider the best braking set up in the cruiser world; a pair of 298mm rotors and R1 styled mono block calipers. Not sprung too softly to collapse the forks under heavy braking, they are not so hard they give a harsh ride. In the rear a single shock is used and there is provision for pre-load adjustment. This is useful when you add a passenger and luggage to keep the bike on an even keel. The single disc out back is actually slightly larger at 320mm and also uses a four-piston mono block caliper. With heavier cruisers, the longer wheel base means you can use a lot more rear brake, and this allows the Deluxe to scrub excess speed quickly and safely when needed. A point to note here is that there is no ABS, which might or might not be a deal breaker for someone looking at a bike in this class. During our ride time it’s not something I felt detracted from the Deluxe, as the brakes have such good feel at the adjustable lever.

One of the more visually stylish elements of the new Star is the saddle bags. Color matched to the bike’s paint scheme, they are more integrated than the smaller ones found on the Stratoliner, and as practical as they are attractive. Capable of holding close to seven gallons of luggage per side, they are nice and easy to open and close. Something that can’t be said about all motorcycle saddlebags.

The controls, gauges and instruments are all the same as previous Star models, and this means high quality. Easy to read analogue gauges are nice touch for us older riders who still struggle with hyperactive digital read outs, and all the usual data is presented in typical format. The level of finish with all the painted and chromed parts is extremely high, with the machine giving off a very custom feel, even in standard trim. As usual, Star custom guru Jeff Palhegy was along for the ride on his own personal Deluxe and it was breathtaking as you might imagine with its beautifully painted fairing lowers and custom parts.

Priced at $17,490, the new Stratoliner Deluxe makes a great addition to the existing Star line up, and a very unique one at that fits with the other offerings in this class. Capable of giving long distance touring comfort and convenience if needed, it’s still a super slick looking ride for posing down the high street and taking short jaunts on your favorite roads. During our test ride, I was able to reconnect with the reasons I’ve always enjoyed the big Star line up. Unique styling, great power, competent handling and braking, wrapped up in a modern package that’s a blast to ride. The Stratoliner Deluxe certainly doesn’t disappoint.

Yamaha is bringing demo fleet to AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days

PICKERINGTON, Ohio — The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) is pleased to announce that Yamaha Motor Corp. USA will have both Yamaha sportbikes and Star cruisers on hand for attendees to test ride at AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days this July 9-11 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.

Included in the demo lineup will be numerous 2010 models from both the Yamaha and Star Motorcycles lineups: the Yamaha R1, Yamaha FZ6R, Yamaha FJR, Star Stratoliner Deluxe, Star Warrior and Star Vmax.

“AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days has been one of the successful stops for Yamaha on the extensive schedule of demo events that we participate in,” said Kim Knupp, the Assistant Division Manager, National Events, for Yamaha USA’s Motorsports Division. “We are offering a large range of cruisers and sport bikes for the customers to demo ride during the weekend.”

Held at the world-class Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days features vintage and post-vintage competition in motocross, trials, hare scrambles, roadracing and dirt track. In addition to demo rides of current production bikes, the event includes North America’s largest motorcycle swap meet, educational seminars, bike shows, the Federal Companies/Allied Used Bike Corral, motorcycling seminars, the new product Manufacturers’ Midway, and club corrals featuring marque and regional clubs.

Husqvarna is the 2010 Marque of the Year at AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days, with off-road racing legend Malcolm Smith serving as grand marshal.

Proceeds from AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days benefit the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame. The goal of the Hall of Fame, located on the campus of the AMA in Pickerington, Ohio, is to honor the distinguished men and women whose competitive spirit, passion, vision and entrepreneurship have played a vital role in shaping the sport, lifestyle and business of motorcycling. For more information, call (614) 856-2222, or visit the Hall of Fame’s website at MotorcycleMuseum.org.

For tickets to AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days, see MidOhio.com. For more information about the event, visit AMAVintageMotorcycleDays.com.