US Highland Wants To Build You A Works Bike
US Highland is set to take the offroad motorcycle market to a new level of custom fit and performance in 2010. Over the last decade the Highland 950 has become the Sasquatch of the motorcycle forum world. A big, powerful agile beast that very few have seen in real life. OK, I’m being over dramatic, some owners have posted some excellent information on the few bikes in circulation. The Highland bikes may have been elusive and hard to find but they are no lumbering oafs.
The 950 twin has been claimed capable of 120 hp on the old Highland.se site and the 1150cc engine will make 150 HP. The planned 950 Viking streetfighter will weigh 318 lbs. If they put the 1150 in it the motorcycle world could get really silly, really fast. The 450’s engines were designed with a similar philosophy of light and fast and the sharp looks come from Mikael Hallgren at Caran AB. Instead of waiting for news about the new US Highland to trickle out I got on the phone with their V.P. of Promotions Kurt King for the scoop.
US Highland was started by various folks around the world including former employees of ATK of Oklahoma (a now defunct company separate from ATK Motorcycles of Utah). ATK-OK had been very busy in the supermoto race scene and had good success with the ATK 450 and more recently the Highland 450 supermoto bikes. Race Engineer Richard Harrison played a big role in making the bikes competitive and he is now a part of the newly formed US Highland (ticker: HRCM.OB).
King, Harrison and Managing Director Mats Malmberg are joined by an impressive list of executives including ex-Husqvarna President Bengt Andersson, CEO Steven Moel, Director Of Operations Damian Riddich and Chairman Of The Board Chase Bales. With all this brain power and experience behind US Highland it becomes obvious why they choose to do business differently than the rest of the industry.
US Highland is entering the market in a difficult time for powersports. Is a works quality motorcycle really going to bring in customers? How will dealers be willing to bring on a new product line in this economic climate? It appears US Highlancd has asked themselves the same questions. They will be taking a very unique approach to customer service and keeping traditional costs associated with dealer costs low.
The US Highland Customer
US Highlands target customers experienced riders aged 30 – 50. They have most likely owned many motorcycles and know the cost of making a stock dirtbike work for their riding style. They have been there with the current offerings and are ready for a works quality bike that stands out. Keep reading to find out more.
The US Highland Machines
The 950 vTwin motor will be be produced first and shipped in the 950 Urban Assault, Street Tracker and a small run of Viking. The Desert Crosser is already sold out for the first run of 2011 models. The first 100 engine castings will be completed by engineers in Sweden and the second 100 will be completed by engineers in Oklahoma. Going forward from there all bikes will be built in the United States with 700 complete bikes will be built in 2010. Delivery is planned for the second quarter of 2010 as 2011 models. In 2011, Highland plans to more than double production to 1500 motorcycles and ATV’s.
US Highland recently completed the purchase of all of ATK USA ATV inventory and parts which they will use as the rolling chassis for their 450 powered ATX Quad Racer. The same 450 engine will be available in capacity from 350cc to 550cc and will ship in Supermoto, MX and Trail configurations. The Highland 350 Trail demonstrates the companies’ strong knowledge of trends in offroad riding and areas of the market that are not currently being met. KTM just released a very compedative 350 MX bike but have yet to bring the format to a trail bike format. On the trail a 450 cc four stroke is difficult to use to it’s full potential and sometimes dangerous when a rider is fatigued so a 350 may be the ticket for many riders.
Made In The USA
Engineering for the bikes will take place in Sweden but the bikes will be assembled in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Parts for the Highland will be sourced from the United States whenever possible to keep the bikes as “Made In The USA” as possible. A side benefit to supporting the American workforce and economy is If a dealer orders parts they will ship from Tulsa, OK. Delivery time will be shorter than shipping overseas so owners will get their hands on parts faster and with lest cost.
The US Highland Dealers
Dealers for US Highland will only carry demo bikes. The traditional dealer model demands dealerships have a full lineup of bikes on the floor and a certain number of bikes available to sell. This has proven to increase sales but also puts a large financial burden on dealerships who are often forced to take out loans to cover the cost. With the poor economy qualifying for these loans has become much more difficult and many dealers are closing their doors as a result. By not carrying inventory dealers can run a leaner business and still please the customer with the detailed ordering process described later.
Dealer applications will be taken in June of this year with one dealer selected for each major metropolitan area. 250 to 275 dealers is the target for the United States which is the only market US Highland is targeting at this time.
The Highland Customization And Sales Process
When a US Highland customer gets the itch for a factory level ride he/she will jump on one of the dealers demo bikes to be sure Highland is for them. Then they will go through a thorough interview and physical measurement process. The riders riding style, skill level and physical dimensions will be analyzed to prescribe the ideal bike. Suspension spring rate and valving, bar position, power delivery, engine displacement will all be recommended based on this analysis. The rider will choose wheels, hubs, suspension, bars and other hard parts based on their preference. Want your dirbike street legal? Highland will give you a street legal VIN nicely wrapped around your last name. Yes, your last name will be in the middle of all US Highland Vehicle Identification Numbers.
All of the users’ customizations and specs will be entered into a touch screen kiosk in the dealer’s showroom. Once the order is submitted the bike will be set up in Oklahoma and shipped to the dealer in 7 days for delivery to the customer in 10 days. However, the customer experience does not end there. The customer and the dealer representative will take the bike to a local track or riding park and test ride it to be sure it is set up correctly for the rider and performing as expected.
With sales hurting at Harley Davidson it is nice to have so many new US powersports companies starting in the US. US Highland joins Motus, Fischer, Zero Motorcycles, Brammo, Mission Motors and Electric Motorsport as promising up and coming US based powersports companies. The past has shown it is a difficult world to brake into but it can’t come at a better time. Some of the most impressive companies in history were born in a recession. Google, Amazon, eBay just to name a few. Here’s to hoping the next recession success story comes from the powersports industry. We could definitely use the good news.
Check out the tour of US Highland in Oklahoma below.