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2010 Kawasaki Dealer Meeting

Monday, October 18, 2010
2010 Kawasaki Dealer Show
The Kawasaki Dealer Meeting returned to Las Vegas after the company took a year off in '09 for economic reasons. It was back for 2010 and the big news for consumers is a trio of new motorcycles and a promise to keep moving forward.
There is no arguing the fact that times are tight in the motorcycle world these days, but the mood at the 2011 Kawasaki Dealer Meeting, held at the Las Vegas Convention Center, might give some folks a reason to be optimistic. Sure, motorcycle sales might be down a quarter million units from 2008-2009 but they are only down a wee-bit in 2010. It will take perseverance and an enthusiastic brand behind the dealers to be able to weather the storm and that is exactly what Kawasaki says it is ready to do. Unlike a few other manufacturers, they continue to bring in new models and from what we saw at the show, are trying to help their dealers increase market share among the Japanese manufacturers by aggressively going after particular segments while their rivals remain reserved. In fact, according to Kawasaki’s meeting spokespeople, Kawasaki has sold more motorcycles in the U.S. since January 1, 2010, than any other Japanese manufacturer... placing it in the #1 motorcycle sales position, ahead of HondaYamaha and Suzuki.

2010 Kawasaki Dealer Show
Rickey 'Easy Money' Gadson was one of the headliners at the Dealer Meeting.
Add into the equation a continued dedication to racing and a much increased effort in both social media and marketing segments, both of which are strengths of Kawasaki, and the company looks like it is positioned to be in good shape moving forward. One of the traditional means in which OEMs have regularly peddled their wares has been through racing so it should come as no surprise that Team Green is featuring a powerhouse line-up again for 2011.

On the off-road side of things, Destry Abbot, Ricky Dietrich and Justin Soule will do their best to maintain Monster Energy Kawasaki Team Green’s form in the dirt market. The Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Supercross/Motocross team, which has been a force in both 250 series' over the past decade, will be back with Blake Bagget and Broc Tickle. So far, only Ryan Villopoto is confirmed for the factory Monster Kawasaki 450 MX/SX team so stay tuned for more information is it becomes available. On the street side of things they have a new ZX-10R and rumor had it that Eric Bostrom was going to be return to AMA competition for next year, but nothing was announced. At least Jason Britton and Kane Friesen of the No Limits stunt team are more popular than ever so they will be on tour aboard the ZX-6R. Drag racing legend Rickey Gadson is still one of the most dominant racers in the sport. So what’s missing? Oh yeah, that AMA Superbike team.

With the release of the all new 2011 Ninja ZX-10R and an announcement that this motorcycle was built as a race bike first and foremost coupled with Kawasaki’s intentions to return to world superbike racing with no less than three riders on the PBR Racing team, we thought perhaps a new U.S. team would be revealed…but it didn’t happen…yet. As much of a feel good story as the racing line-up is, the point of the show was to see what Kawasaki has to offer this year and it’s a trio of new motorcycles supported by a variety of improved models that had the dealers on hand feeling upbeat.
2010 Kawasaki Dealer Show
The 2011 Vaquero cruiser and Ninja 1000 are two of the new motorcycles Kawasaki hopes will be as popular with consumers as they were with the dealers. Only time will tell.

The aforementioned ZX-10R superbike is certainly the marque’s crown jewel, but the big seller just might be between the 2011 Vulcan Vaquero bagger or its high-powered super streetbike, the Ninja 1000. The Vaquero gives Kawasaki an option in the popular bagger segment owned almost exclusively by H-D at this point. Pundits will point out that the bike might not be the most bad-ass cruiser on the showroom floor but it is loaded with features and comes in at $2500 under a comparable Harley-Davidson Road Glide. (MSRPs H-D $18,999, Vaquero $16,499)

Kawasaki is the latest manufacturer to release what is best described as a do-it all streetbike. Suzuki and Honda have their GS1250 and VFR1200F and that’s exactly the segment where the Ninja 1000 fits in. This is the big-bore, multi-purpose streetbike that combines sporty features like a high horsepower engine and sportbike DNA, including its suspension, 17-inch wheels capable of spooning the raciest rubber available on and distinct bodywork. An upright riding position is suitable for long rides or short canyon blasts. Add into the mix optional luggage that allows one bike to serve as a touring machine as well and voila, you have a multi-purpose street bike that gives consumers a good bang for the buck. That’s the theory anyway.

2010 Kawasaki Dealer Show
On the watercraft front the Ultra 300X gets 20 extra horsepower and new safety gadgets including cruise control and a no wake setting that keeps the big PWC very PC.
Expect to see first ride reviews on all three of these bikes in the next couple months, followed by comparisons tests that will unveil just how well they stack up to the competition. And while these bikes have received the majority of the press, there are a few other important models that we need to discuss as well. We’ll start with the watercraft.

We’ve sampled the Ultra Jet-Ski watercrafts in the past and found the entire line-up to be an absolute blast. For 2011 they should be even better. The Ultra 300X now features a 300hp supercharged engine with cruise control and a feature that holds speed in no wake zones to keep you from rocking the boat at the docks.

The Ultra LX is even more-plush than last year and much to the delight of stand-up fans, the SX-R 800 is back for a curtain call. It was revealed that this will be the last year of production for this particular stand-up so get them while supplies last. The age of the two-stroke is coming to a close.

2010 Kawasaki Dealer Show
The Prowler, based on the Teryx chassis, was featured in the SVO display area. That looks like the ultimate off-road vehicle to us. Imagine showing up for the poker run in this!
Back on land, the ATV-UTV market continues to be a point of interest for consumers. While unit sales have declined over the past few years these workhorses still have a place in the line-up. There are diesel powered Mules and revised looks for the Teryx UTV machines. There was also a few trick UTVs in the Special Vehicle Operations display. Who wouldn’t like their own miniature assault craft like the Prowler? Based on the Teryx chassis, the Prowler is a wicked light-armored assault vehicle that accommodates three personnel and a couple of articulated heavy machine-gun mounts that would be useful if the zombie hordes ever invade your home town.

Sticking with the modified UTV theme, Funco and Dragon Fire, two of the biggest names in off-road buggy manufacturing and customization, had a pair of fully loaded Teryx SVO-prototypes designed with off-road racing in mind. Long A-arms, extended axles, long travel suspension, alloy roll cages and trick bodywork are all part of the equation, and if they are ever released to the public will ring in at around $18,000. Both of these sleds look like they could win the Baja 1000 standing still. Right next to these bad boys was a motorcycle that wouldn’t stand a chance against these babies on the dirt but on the street, it could spell trouble for hooligans and fun times for the fuzz.

2010 Kawasaki Dealer Show
I know a few motorcycle officers who would like to trade the old ST bikes for something as slick on the Police-spec C14.
Anyone who grew up in the '80s might remember a little motorcycle show called CHiPS that featured Kawasaki motorcycles as the steeds of choice for California Highway Patrol studs John Baker and Frank Poncherello. Over the years, competing Japanese and German motorcycle manufacturers have stolen market share in the law enforcement category so Kawasaki is tossing their brain-bucket back in the ring.

Starting in 2011 the Concours C14 will be available in police trim. And if Kawasaki has their way again, its purpose built hooligan bike might give the C14 a run someday. A blacked-out and custom graphic covered orange and white Z1000 sat on the edge of the display, giving dealers a peek at the type of evolution we can expect to see. Sticking with bikes, the diesel-powered KLR-based motorcycle continues to draw a lot of attention as well.

2010 Kawasaki Dealer Show
The Diesel-powered motorcycle has been a hot topic for a few years now. This KLR650-based motorcycle may be seen on Kawasaki showroom floors in the near future.
Designated the HDT M1030-M2, this 670cc diesel motorcycle may just be the off road bike of the future. Diesel fuel technology is gaining in popularity and if Kawasaki can make it affordable and functional, then that’s gotta be good news.

So, there you have it. From new and improved to future endeavors, Kawasaki continues to do its part in the motorcycle manufacturing world and from what we heard at the 2010 Dealer Meeting the plan is to continue to keep the throttle pinned. They have gained market share, they are trying to help their dealers tow the line until things come back around and among the random dealers we touched base with, the overall feeling is one of optimism at Kawasaki. With a few new bikes and commitment to continue to move forward, we expect good things from the green machine in 2011.

2010 Kawasaki Dealer Show Gallery
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Informed Consumer -Man in the know  October 29, 2010 12:43 PM
Kane Friesen runs his own top freestyle team, KaneOne. He is teammates with Jason Britton, but does not ride for Team No Limit.
Hutch -300 HP H2o & ZX14  October 19, 2010 01:20 PM
I know...300 horsepower jet ski? Whats next? I can't wait! OK so as far as sticking that engine in a Nomad or ZX14. Here's the deal. That ski features an ultr-trick supercharger on an Inline Four cylinder already in the Ultra 280-300X sit down.. Theoretically we could bolt on that type of blower to a ZX-14 right now. JG: make it happen.
TG -A few  October 19, 2010 11:13 AM
diesel - The diesel has been in production for military use only for quite some time. I don't see it coming in as a production model for a few reasons: a.) Emissions; b.) cost compared to std. KLR; and c.) what benefit? They get marginally better mileage (and therefore range) but what more do you need than a std KLR? 300 miles is a long way on dirt.

SXR800 - as cool as standups are, the buyer pool gets smaller and smaller every year. I wouldn't be suprised if they continue it since all the tooling/etc. is already paid for. I wouldn't be suprised if they cancelled it because of poor sales performance. I would be very suprised if they spent any money trying to make it better.

Vaquero - it uses the same engine as all the other Vulcan 1700's - it won't disappoint in hp or torque.

300hp watercraft - is there no limit? Screw wasting that motor in a crappy nomad frame - bolt that sucker into a zx14!
TheFastandDirty.com -Flat Track  October 19, 2010 11:12 AM
No Flat Track love Ken? Kawasaki's Manufacturer's Championship, Henry Wiles second consecutive title on a KXF 450, First win at Indy/Springfield for a Kawasaki Twin? Exciting models! It is good to see an aggressive strategy. I hope the industry and it's consumer's pay attention.
KerryC -Hmmm...  October 19, 2010 09:31 AM
Wondering what it would take to get that 300 supercharged engine in his old Nomad, haha =).
Hutch -SXR800 Stand Up Jet Ski Info  October 19, 2010 08:27 AM
The way I heard it, this is the last year that the SXR800 stand-up jet ski will be produced. Does that mean they will bring another bigger version of the ski into the mix? I hope so. Otherwise, 2012 will be the end of an era.
Zippy -Biketoberfest tent  October 19, 2010 04:13 AM
Why release a bike on the net and to the public and not have it at Biktoberfest a week later? Dealers have no idea when the Vaquero will arrive to actually sell. How does that make sense? 125,000 were there to look at products.

They actaully had no 2011 bikes there, just bikes to test ride.
Michael -Vaquero HP  October 19, 2010 03:34 AM
Is it true the Vaquero has only 70hp? Sorry but that would be really disappointing on such a beautiful bagger.
adam - motousa -sxr800  October 19, 2010 12:13 AM
yo ken-mang what's up with the sxr800-- any updates on that bad-mamba-jamba?
Hutch -Ninja 1000 Ergos  October 18, 2010 05:32 PM
We will have answers to the Ninja 1000 ergos soon as the press intro is set to begin i a few weeks. Just sitting on the bike it feels similar to the Concours 14. More upright than a Z1000 but not quite a touring machine.
Shaitan -Ninja 1000?  October 18, 2010 03:54 PM
Well it's about time Kawi got back into more street-oriented bikes -- their pure track-focused bikes aren't bad, but not wholly practical for day-to-day use. Along with Z1000 the Ninja 1000 looks promising, so long as the ergos are good.
OLDMX4 -Wow  October 18, 2010 02:22 PM
That there is some ugly ass looking bikes .... yikes!
JC -One Prowler, please....  October 18, 2010 01:47 PM
... and while we're at it, let's go ahead and strap a few machine guns to that bad boy! Now that's a weekend toy!
Jay -Diesel  October 18, 2010 09:39 AM
Please please make a diesel. My deposit is ready.