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Re: Shoot David Robb!

Hello Don and list,

From: <dmac@xxxxxxxxxx>

> Maybe it's just post-holiday grumpies, but I just saw the new K1200GT.
> Ackackackackackpuke.
> SHOOT David Robb!  That, or put him, Chris Bangle, and Pierre Terblanche
> in a barrel and float them off Niagara Falls.  Understand that the
> following rant deals *strictly* with cosmetics.
> Of the new offerings, IMNSHO, none of them are clearly gorgeous.  The
> K12GT and R12ST are  grotesque, no matter how well they work.  The F800ST
> and the K1200R are funky at best, kind of like a blind date:  "She has a
> great personality..."  Bleah!   The R12S, K12S, and R12RT are good but not
> excellent, meaning that I wouldn't expect to see any of them in the
> 25yearsfromnow equivalent of "The Art of the Motorcycle."  The R12GS is
> the most unified looking of the bunch (according to me), but the new
> Adventure is too mucking futch.  Of course, they'll sell like mad, I
> imagine.  The F800S--I'll have to wait and see.  But I can say without
> reservation that it doesn't make me want to make the trek to the dealer to
> see it.

Even though I share some of your sentiments regarding BMW's styling, as do
many others, readers should keep in mind that these are subjective views.
Preferences for styling are personal, much like preferences for foods. That
said, I find it interesting to note that the Ducati 999 was harshly
criticized for being ugly when it first came out. Ducati defended their
design by singing the praises of the necessity of such forms, as proven out
by superb wind-tunnel tests. As it turns out, Ducati got rid of a number of
the "perceived by many as unattractive" design elements in their newest
incarnation of the 999, apparently without hurting the performance in the
wind tunnel.

In BMW's case, a book I read titled "DRIVEN: Inside BMW, the World's Most
Admired Car Company" explains why BMW does what they do, including their
design decisions. The book explains that BMW AG is very aware that they
are taking a big risk with their new "styling language" (called "Flame
Surfacing") as first seen in the 7-series, then in the 4, 5, 6, and lastly
in the 3 (which is considered to be the "best looking" current generation
BMW, something akin to saying that a specific meal is the best tasting
because it has the least spam in it). BMW is doing this to attract a new
clientele. When I day this, I do not mean "new customers in addition to the
old customers," but rather an entirely new clientele. BMW is betting the
farm on their belief that they will attract new customers to the brand, and
that the number of actual buying customers will increase sales.

The book goes on to explain that BMW is aware that a number of existing BMW
customers, loyal and devoted as they may be, will be "left behind" because
the brand will no longer have an offering that fulfills their desires. A
brief look into BMW's not too distant history will show you that this has
happened before on numerous occasions:

 o The 1990 BMW 3 series was harshly criticizes by some as being "too soft"
   of a car. Old style rotary heat and vent controls were replaced by push-
   buttons. They upped the level of luxury (form over function), and their
   styling was too "mainstream". To me, this was the first attractive car
   that BMW made, and that body style wooed me into the BMW fold.

 o When BMW Motorrad, which was known for their air-cooled boxer
   engines (AKA "a 'real' BMW bike") and the occasional singles, started
   making the K, an inline four, in 1983.

 o When BMW started making Oilheads in 1992 with computerized
   fuel-injection, which discouraged DIYers from doing all their own

Chat with BMW retailers and they'll tell you that most of their K1200S
customers are new to the brand rather than being existing BMW customers who
are upgrading. Whether we like it or not, BMW's sales figures and their
profitability seem to indicate that their decisions are sound. This has been
the case for decades, in spite of economic slumps, currency variances, and
even the Rover debacle that cost BMW billions to attain little more than the
Mini brand. For the last few quarters, BMW has surpassed Mercedes Benz as
the world's biggest luxury car manufacturer. That's quite an accomplishment,
and it appears that the title will stick.

> Just in case anyone from BMW reads this:  These motorcycles continue to be
> the reason I'm riding a 25 year old and a 10 year old BMW, and haven't
> even considered anything you've offered in ten years.

My personal bitch is that my current bike is a rather nice sports tourer,
though I would love less vibration and less weight. More power would be a
bonus. Nothing that BMW offers presents a compelling reason for me to
upgrade. I like the R1200S's styling, but it's too "sport" and no touring
(which is exactly what BMW intended). The R1200RT, a "transformer"
look-alike, is mostly touring, though a great-handling world-class tourer.
The R1200ST is so hideously ugly, the negative styling overshadows the
bike's otherwise splendid performance as a sports-tourer.

To BMW's credit, a big part of why I'm not trading up is because my current
bike is still a really nice bike, and I'm perfectly happy with it.

- -Steve Makohin
 '01 R1100S/ABS
 Oakville, Ontario, Canada