January 29, 2019

Imitation is flattery?

Today I would like to talk about something slightly different, but still pertinent to the world of motorcycles: PLAGIARISM



Does the saying "Imitation is the highest form of flattery" apply to the world of motorcycle business?

The Chinese are known for taking imitation to an extreme by copying everything they can lay their hands on. There are small versions of Ducati Scramblers, Panigale and Monster, copies of Honda Cubs and Monkeys, even Chinese versions of Rolls Royces.
Plagiarism though is not confined to China alone, it happens all over the world. It happens in places you would least expect it and it did in fact happen in a place I would not have expected it.

I've been selling JP Vintage seats now for over 5 years, very successfully I may add. So successfully in fact that Omega Racer has been awarded exclusive worldwide distribution rights for the time and resources invested in promoting these brilliant Triumph seats.

Of course, the buzz generated by these efforts, coupled with very positive customer reviews, attracted both new customers and retailers alike. One of these retailers was a shop from the UK who previously purchased some other parts from us and seemed very interested in selling the JP seats. They inquired about which models are the most successful and went on to order 2 sample seats at reduced prices, with the prospect of making a bigger order once they were satisfied with the quality.

This was in April 2017. After this, communication stopped and we just figured they were not interested and forgot all about it.
Until yesterday that is, when I casually googled Triumph and up comes a picture of a seat that looked very familiar. Turns out that the English gentleman was so pleased with the seats he got from us, that he proceeded to make copies of them and sell them as his own. Not only that, to add insult to injury, they used the all important google keywords to describe the seats: "JP Vintage" magically becomes "68 Vintage" and they didn't even bother to change the seat and color names that are specific to JP.

I couldn't believe my eyes. Personally, I always assume people are fundamentally good, and when I see evidence to the contrary, it leaves me in disbelief and disappointed. I believe in following the guidelines of ethical business, but I also believe that what goes around comes around.

I thought I give them the benefit of the doubt and sent them an email, asking for an explanation. A reply came back, citing an improbable oversight regarding the names and offering some lame excuses about the "general" design of the seats.

Let's have a look...
 The original JP Vintage "Brat Style"

The original JP Vintage "Rocker"


The copies


Note the "Dirty Brown" color, a color name specific to JP Vintage seats



Coincidence? General design? Hmmm

Description taken almost verbatim from the Omega website


The names have since been changed, but the plagiarized seat copies and descriptions remain, untouched.

I won't name the crooks as they don't deserve any publicity, but if you think you'll get a SQUARE-DEAL from them, think again.
Shady business practices such as these need to be exposed though, to protect the consumer and the people who invested time and energy to develop a new product.
Buyer beware!




November 29, 2018

Motor Expo 2018 Thailand

First off, I must apologize for not posting on this blog for a very long time. Life sometimes gets in the way and there are things that take precedence...even over motorcycles, believe it or not.

So, let's jump right back in with a juicy report on the 2018 Motor Expo in Bangkok. As usual, the good, the bad, the ugly as seen from my personal view point. The report doesn't pretend to be complete nor in-depth, but will show those bike "picks" that I regard as interesting. There won't be much about sport bikes, adventure bikes and definitely no cruisers, not even "pretties", sorry. There will however be a lot of retro inspired stuff, small displacement bikes, old and new Chinese offerings.
As incomplete as it might be, I hope you'll still enjoy this glimpse into the Thai motorcycle scene.
Anyway, you've been warned.


Firstly, a general consideration: The Chinese manufacturers (Chinese made and assembled in Thailand) seem to really have stepped up their game. Lifan, GPX and Benelli were joined by new manufacturers like CFMoto, Hanway, Zontes and Royal Alloy (Lambretta-like scooters). I can say that they are closing the quality gap with other established brands faster and faster. More details further down...


BENELLI

I really really like the Leoncino. It has a design that doesn't openly copy other bikes in the same segment...maybe because it was designed by Italian designers... It now comes in the original 500 and the new 250cc version. If I had to be nitpicking, I would say they could do a better job with the exhaust design, but for the rest it's a big thumbs up from me. The 500 costs 209.000Baht while the price for the 250 hasn't been released yet.






YAMAHA

40 years and still there! How about that!? The lovely SR400fi might not be sold in the rest of the world anymore due to environmental regulations, but here in Thailand she's still alive and kicking.
Yamaha released a beautiful limited edition SR with gold rims and a 2-tone color scheme for it's 40th anniversary, but I've been told they won't get here. Bummer!



KAWASAKI

The W family: W800 (the fuel injected version of the famous W650), the W250 (crazy expensive for a 250) and the little W125.



MOTO GUZZI

A bitter sweet love story. Sweet because I love Guzzis, bitter because sadly they are still weighted down by high import taxes and thus unobtainable, at least for me.
The new V85 TT was not present at this time and will probably arrive next Year in March.


HD with one of their typical customers...



TRIUMPH

Triumph came with their 2019 line-up...10 more HP, a lighter engine, new color schemes and new seat for the Street Twin and the new Scrambler 1200. While I didn't like it at first when looking at the photos online, I have to say that it looks much better "in the flesh" and it's definitely more scrambler than the 900cc version. The top of the line version, I think it's the XE version, comes with adjustable Showa suspensions and a decent ground clearance. Not sure how much exactly, but substantially more than the little sister.
The guys from Triumph Bang Na told me that they hope to get the new Speed Twin next week. Fingers crossed!







The XC is the standard model of the Scrambler 1200.






The new seat is taller than the old one and has more padding

The new clock is painted black instead of silver, clearly following what customers have done in the past couple of  years


The Scrambler 900 still looks gorgeous, especially with this new paint scheme



CFMOTO

CFMoto is one of those Chinese manufacturers that start to deliver nice looking bikes at more than reasonable prices. They have bikes ranging from 250, 400 to 650cc.
The 250 comes in 2 versions: without ABS 87.500THB and with ABS 95.500THB.
The 400NK costs 149.000THB while the 650NK is 185.000









An electric concept bike and the first prototype.





GPX

GPX presents their new model called MAD, a 300cc naked bike that looks decent enough apart from the huge headlight assembly. Price is 89.800THB.




The "Gentleman" gets a new fairing and becomes the Gentleman Racer, 200cc and 72.500Baht.




LIFAN

Although probably the biggest Chinese manufacturer of them all, Lifan seems a bit behind when it comes to design and overall build quality. They still prefer to copy known designs from other brands instead of finding their own voice.

Mix a bit of MSlaz and a bit of...well, everything else, and you get the 150R

Seriously!? LOL This mini Ducati Scrambler can be yours at only 51.000Baht

Is it a Honda GL100? No, it's a Lifan!

Is it a Honda Sonic? No, it's a Lifan!!

Is it a....well, I don't know wtf this is supposed to be, but yes, it's also a Lifan.
 I don't even know where to start...just, just take it away please.


Lifan Bobber, based on the Lifan Custom, 250cc, 94.000Baht
 HANWAY

Hanway is a new (Chinese) brand in Thailand and has some nice 150 and 250cc models.
I especially liked the 250 Scrambler.
Regarding build quality there is still space for improvement, but not bad as a start.


Definitely not the best looking engine block and messy tubing and wiring

Blackcafe 250


Looks like fun!



This is giving me a headache and I want to scratch my eyes out

Yours truly...




ZONTES

Also new is this manufacturer called Zontes. The front page of their brochure reads:
"Super Motorcycle - It is as if the bike is from the future world. The outlook is formed by the full muscle definition and it's ready to shake the surrounding air."
A bold statement and I give them 2 points for trying, but lets see if it's all smoke or if there's actually some meat.
Zontes are already selling their bikes in several countries around the world and their plant has seen a massive investment which enabled them to install hi-tech machines and robots to produce their bikes.
In Thailand you can get 2 models, both 310cc, fuel injected and dry sump engines, both with ABS and an array of electronic novelties, for example the tank lid opens by pressing a button on the left handlebar and the seat unlocks with a button on the right side. The X310 (touring) and the R310 (naked) don't use a key to start but the rider gets a fob that enables the bike to start when he's in the vicinity.
Overall I've been very impressed with the build quality of these 2 bikes. The seem well designed and made with quality parts. Just look at that nice aluminium alloy swingarm. I've been told that the engine is not a copy of an old Honda design, like so many others do, but is an in-house design. Respect


It's a shame covering this bike with so much plastic


Aluminium alloy swingarm...delicious

A look behind the curtain



Neat





ROYAL ALLOY

Royal Alloy offers 2 Lambretta lookalikes, a 200cc with metal body parts (also in 150cc version) and an all plastic 150cc. Both models are with carburetors only.
In my opinion they actually look far better than the Lambrettas themselves, at least the new incarnation of Lambrettas. The Grand Prix200 is big, especially the rear. I told the sales girl "tuut yai" which means big ass in Thai. She didn't really appreciate my comment, maybe because she was on the heavier side as well... Such is life.


The 200 Grand Prix has this air intake for the radiator. I thought it looked pretty cool on a scooter

Generic controls



At 158.000Baht for a 200cc scooter it's going to be a hard sell I think





MV AGUSTA

Gorgeous and sexy... words fail me




ROYAL ENFIELD

When it comes to Royal Enfield I have a kind of love-hate relationship. I like the look of their bikes, the heritage, the single thumpers, the sound...but I have very low expectations when it comes to build quality. You can say what you want, but when you hear actual owners saying that they bought the worst bike they've ever owned, you will think twice before forking out your hard earned cash. Granted, they are cheap, really cheap, even the new Interceptor with its twin engine. They cost 215.000Baht, which is about half of a new Street Twin, but are they half of everything else too?
Personally, I do hope that the reliability will match its looks and I'd be happy to change my mind in the future.



Love this custom racer






The engine compartment  looks a bit "agricultural" but still pleasing to the eye


Lovely color

The Continental GT with the new twin engine




That mess at the rear HAS TO GO!!







HONDA

There are 2 models that interest me of all the Honda offerings: the new Monkey (99.000Baht) and the new Super Cup (89.000Baht). Very pricey for what they are, but Honda knows how to play the heart strings of vintage bike enthusiasts.



Very serious sport for very serious money. The limited edition Monkey goes for 130.000 Baht


Limited edition Cub, 115.000 Baht
 DUCATI

Here's the only sports bike I looked at. I looked at it for a looong time until the sales guy offered me a test ride at Ducati Viphavadee, probably with the intention of getting finally rid of me.








MAZDA CX-5

Yes, it's a car... It's the only car I looked at, I swear!