Is demand growing in the metric cruiser aftermarket?
This year's metric catalog from Performance Machine offers a significant increase in cruiser parts. The company now has stuff for the Suzuki M109R and all the larger Yamaha cruisers, and is developing Honda VTX parts for a future catalog.
Because metric OEMs introduce their new models later in the year, the catalog didn't mail out until June.
Past books have shown a definite bias toward crotch rockets. "The fastest segment of growth we have right now is metric sportbikes," explains Ted Sands, VP of marketing and sales. Parts for the Yamaha Road Star were the only cruiser bits offered last year. This year's book retains that bias, but at the same time gains new worth for Yamaha and Suzuki Big Twin dealers.
Traditionally the high-end aftermarket has made less for metric cruisers, although their sales approach Harley's, due to the theory that consumers "settling" for a metric bike don't have additional funds for upgrades.
Sands thinks that's changing, and cites the M109R as an example of the high-quality bikes now coming from the Japanese. "If a guy isn't in the box that says 'I have to have a Harley,' and [instead] he's saying, 'Hey, I want something that is fast, reliable, and I don't care what it is,' that Suzuki is pretty awesome bike." Plus, compared to Harley buyers, metric guys have lots more dough leftover for upgrades.
The metric parts are a continuation of the large number of new part numbers the company debuted earlier this year in its Harley catalog. Products and a vigorous streamlining in manufacturing processes have been Performance Machine's response to the flat sales that began in 2005.
"You have this industry that has been driving forward to meet all this demand, and all of a sudden it plateaus or declines slightly," Sands says of the past two years. "Well, we were planning for major growth, and it didn't happen. We averaged 20 percent growth for 20 years, and every year we planned to grow another 20 percent. You keep expanding and hiring people and buying more machines; then all of a sudden that sales number doesn't hit. You've got to readjust back. ... Now the name of the game is to be a better business, to be a better manufacturer, be more innovative than the next guy, come out with new products that are in demand."
For further details on PM's new focus, see the May/June issue of sister publication Big Twin Dealer.
— Arlo Redwine