“That’s been our biggest focus in terms of finding good dealers and keeping good dealers, which is more important — I want to stay married, I don’t want to get married,” Odwarka said. “We want good coverage. We want to be easily reachable in every major metro, but I’d much rather have one dealer doing twice the business than two dealers doing half the business.”
The reason for this is twofold. First, this way they remain a bigger part of the dealership’s overall business and thus get more share of mind; second, they don’t carry a hidden cost by being an irritant to the dealer principal and management because the brand is a part of regular business, even if there are three or four other brands on the floor, Odwarka said.
Another piling used in shoring up a strong dealer base is simply offering a reliable performance motorcycle that people want to buy at a price that’s fair. This includes offerings in Husky’s core off-road market and some street-friendly models. To this end, the OEM is offering some bikes with built-in value and others that borrow from the BMW motorcycles’ platform, but carry a distinctive Husky flair. All are built with a bent toward performance, much like the brand’s earliest models.
For instance, the company’s two-stroke CR125 models come with a free 144cc top-end bore kit. “I think we as an industry have done a disservice to the gap in age and rider size from coming off an 85cc minibike and onto a 250F,” Odwarka said. “How do we bridge that gap? The way we’ve done it is price. The W125 and CR125 are priced super-aggressively and include the free 144 kit. So you’ve got two bikes.”
Other models include the Nuda 900 and 900R, a bike built around a hot-rod version of BMW’s F800 engine. While not available in the U.S. (Yet. The street market isn’t strong enough to justify the cost of homologation, Odwarka noted.), the bike has garnered almost universal praise from the world’s motorcycling press.
And then there are the new models for 2013, the TR650 Terra (shown here) and TR650 Strada (shown above). For these dual-purpose bikes, Husky tweaked BMW’s GS650S engine to crank out bit more horsepower. Eastman says that the brand is launching a whole marketing campaign for the bikes across print, digital and social mediums.
The quality of the bikes is one of the reasons dealer Bill Comegys took on the line earlier this year at Grand Prix Motorsports, a Dealernews Top 100 dealer in Littleton, Colo.
In fact, when Dealernews contacted Comegys, he had just spent the weekend trail riding with some friends on four of the models.
“Honestly, it was one of the best dirtbikes I’ve ever ridden in my life,” Comegys said. “They were easy to ride and had tons of power. I’m not really good in the dirt, but I’ve never ridden a bike that’s as easy to ride as that 310.”
“Honestly, it was one of the best dirtbikes I’ve ever ridden in my life."
-- Bill Comegys, Grand Prix Motorsports
Comegys brought on the line because of the BMW ownership, saying that the BMW financial backing is huge for getting customers on bikes. He added that during the recent dealer meeting, Husky management made an effort to listen to the problems and concerns of their dealers.
So far, customer reaction has been positive. “As far as selling that type of bike (endure/trail), we’re not selling any others,” he said. “We’re just selling the Husqvarnas.”
NEW TECHNOLOGIES. Next on the list is the “clean sheet” stuff, models designed specifically for Husqvarna, using proprietary motors and designs developed with the full backing of BMW’s engine and drivetrain expertise, and high-tech benchmarks. Think direct-injection gas motors, off-road ABS and other trick bits.
All would feature the heritage of the Husqvarna brand, much like the company’s concept Baja and Moab models that it unveiled over the last two years or so. But there won’t be any modern-retro designs, just more of capturing some of the vibe that got folks interested in the brand in the first place, Eastman noted.
The idea is to build the Husqvarna brand of the future, he added, one that includes the memories of Steve McQueen and Malcolm Smith tearing it up along the beach as much as it involves AMA Hare Scrambles champ Cory Graffunder and a league new riders discovering the brand.
“The World is ours for the taking – we only see opportunity,” Eastman said. “Moving forward our challenge continues to be proving to dealers and consumers that selling and owning a Husky is a safe bet. We have a great brand and we need to continue to prove each day that we are one you can trust.”