First things first, this is NOT a rant just on the pricing of the CBR650F, we all kinda knew Honda is no KTM. Although I do feel they are asking for a premium of some 50k over and above the premium they think they deserve for being a Japanese dick of a company, but more on that later.
This is a rant about the condescending, patronizing tone of Honda’s marketing campaign surrounding this completely unnecessary and grossly overdone Revfest. It appears that Honda still thinks this is 2005, that we are still a motorcycle-starved nation of wannabe bikers who would be excited about the Hornet 160R, even though everybody knows it’s just a Unicorn with a fancy name.
This is a rant about the disrespect motorcycle companies constantly seem to dish out to motorcyclists.
This is a rant about the childish, idiotic way the entire festival of stupidity was managed.
Let’s me question the logic of organizing this Revfest in the first place, and then question the way it was executed, with as much decency as possible.
Why did Honda feel the need to spend crores on basically launching one overpriced bike, and a bunch of other overpriced sticker jobs? I have no fucking clue. As much as Indian biking scene might have advanced, we still have a giant chasm in the middleweight motorcycling section, and the CBR650F fills that gap in every possible sense.
- It’s an inline-4 bike
- It comes with ABS
- It’s faired
Even if Honda had spent ZERO money on marketing, and just randomly started displaying the bike at their showrooms, people would’ve drooled and masturbated day and night outside, and the word of mouth would’ve spread faster than Syphilis at an orgy. You have a product that everybody wants, you have a product that’s absolutely unique in the market, you have a product that you don’t need to sell.
It would’ve made much more sense if Honda, rather than going ape shit on this utterly useless exercise in pissing the shit out of their prospective customers, had given a discount on the 650F, if only an introductory one for a few months.
I am a marketing guy, and although I may not be too good at it, I can say for sure that somebody at Honda needs to be fired.
Why THAT Revfest?
Alright, let’s assume there’s an overzealous intern at Honda who gets too much attention from her seniors, and her decision to make a bike launch into a college fresher’s party is accepted, why did nobody think of the way the whole concept was executed?
1. Why the fuck did you distribute passes for the Revest, when the bikes were to be launched, prices shared, pics plastered all over the internet half a day before the event was supposed to begin? That’s like Tweeting naked selfies of you at a whore house in the morning, while you text your girlfriend to come down that night for a romantic dinner.
2. Why did the security around the venue made me feel like I was entering an active nuclear facility under an imminent bomb threat? Guards at the entry gate, then guards at the second gate who check your pass, then guards at the third gate who tear your pass, put a band around your arm, then send you through a metal detector, then ask you to remove your wallet and phone and then finger bang you until they are happy, and then guards at the fourth gate who check your band again and ask you not to carry any eatables or water inside. This was easy for me since I was carrying no bag or cameras or shit, I can’t even imagine how hyper they went on people who did.
To top that up, once you entered, nobody allowed you to get out! It took me a good 15 minutes of shouting at random people to find out how I could escape that Guantanamo of mental torture. Add to that the physical torture of nobody letting me take a leak, and I was pretty tired pretty soon of this brilliantly fucked up festival of dickishness.
Although I wasn’t carrying a helmet, it appears that a few bikers who were managed to get told by the security to keep those helmets outside, on their motorcycles! On a bike launch, where bikers are expected to show up, you have the balls to tell them to keep their costly helmets unsecured on a dusty dark ground 200 meters away from the venue? That’s like throwing a rave party at your house and then calling the cops on anyone who shows up.
Let me give you an example of how anally stupid their security logic was. You could get a bottle of water just outside the third gate, but you couldn’t take it through that gate. However, once you got through the third gate, you could again get a bottle of water over the barricades, which you then couldn’t take through the fourth gate.
I now know whey they didn’t allow anybody to carry shit near the stage. I would’ve thrown my bottle right at the face of that idiot presenter, just after he asked me for the 4th time if I was excited about the Hornet.
3. People came to see the CBR650F, and they got to do that for precisely 10 seconds. I’m not shitting you! The dude rode onto the stage, turned around, and left! He tried to revv a bit, but it’s a Honda, and the retarded DJ didn’t know when to keep the volume down.
People then shouted “Once More!” and the presenter responded “Here’s the bike again…. from Delhi!”, and you could see a pixelated, slowly buffering video of the bike from 1700 kms away.
How could they do that! You have the fucking bike sitting backstage, just put it on that slowly rotating turntable and then let it be there! It’s not made of ice that you have to put it back in the freezer. What was the logic behind launching the bike that morning, then trying to keep it a secret by evening?
The rest of the 3 hours were wasted on some Japanese guy speaking in a stereotypical accent, Akshay Kumar smiling awkwardly, and the music that was there. To be fair, Agam and Benny Dayal did a rather awesome job at Hyderabad, which sadly meant that the most interesting part of the evening had nothing to do with Honda or a motorcycle.
Why that fashion show?
I think Marquez’s repeated crashes and Pedrosa’s repeated bad luck have created some kind of an identity crisis at Honda. Let me make it simple for you people at HRC, you make motorcycles, not clothes.
But fuck that! Honda has partnered with GAS to create a new line of “Riding Gear”. Alrighty, sounds good.
It sounded good only until that first batch of girls wearing mini skirts and weird chains around their waists showed up.
Really Honda? Riding Gear?
Not only was there no place for a damned ramp walk in a motorcycle launch, it was absolutely not worth wasting some 40 minutes on! I was like OK, this will be over soon, don’t worry, but all I got was wave after wave of awkwardly dressed models with crazy hair and dark spots around their eyes like someone was punching them everytime they went off the stage.
Did that somehow make me feel better about Honda as a brand? Not really! Did it make things interesting? Maybe for about 30 seconds, before I wanted to splash the water from the bottle I didn’t have straight on every models face, and then sit down, hold my knees and cry.
Why 15 in 15 bullshit?
Apparently Honda at some point announced they’ll launch 15 bikes in 2015. I don’t remember when that happened, because that’s not news. Tell me when you’ve launched something, don’t bother me till then.
But the problem here is that 15 in 15 is complete bullshit, it’s more like 5 in 15, and the rest 10 are stickers.
Not only is Honda confusing itself with an apparel company, off late their R&D department seems to be less focused about improving their motorcycle lineup, and more about creating the latest type of most heinously ugly stickers that they can then paste on a 5-year-old bike and claim it to be new.
Stop shitting yourself Honda.
The CBR150R hasn’t been updated in ages. The CBR250R, although the first proper affordable fast bike in India, has seen ZERO improvements since it was launched. Duke 390, that was launched in 2013, has been updated more times than the entire lineup of Honda, combined, since the beginning of their India operations.
If you couldn’t improve the bike performance wise, you could at least bring that dual headlight version to make us feel a teensy bit better? But no, what you thought would be a better idea is to add a fucking ugly star sticker to an already ageing bike and then try to sell it off as new and exciting.
That’s like making your grandma wear a new dress and then trying to pass her off as your girlfriend. You HAVE to realize how amazingly embarrassing that is, for everyone.
The CBR650F pricing
Honda is known to overcharge for its bikes, for no apparent reason. When the CBR250R came, there was nothing like it in the market, so people paid whatever Honda asked. With time, you got the KTMs and Hyosungs and the Kawasakis, but Honda sat with fingers shoved down its ears going “La La La La La”, refusing to hear the truth that their bike was a dirty old hag in a market of shining young dudes.
For some reason, Honda isn’t inclined to play the volume market. For me at least, Honda is NOT as prestigious a brand as say Ducati, so I don’t see what ego they are attempting to satisfy. I’m sure there are a lot of intelligent people making the market strategies that Honda is implementing, I just can’t understand why they aren’t learning from their past blunders.
The 650F would’ve been a superbike killer at ~6.8 ex-Delhi. It has the looks, more than enough power, and ABS, but at the 7.3 price point, you have just so many other options.
Bikes priced slightly higher than CBR650F:
Kawasaki Z800 (~7.5 ex-Delhi)
Ducati Monster 796 (~8 ex-Delhi),
Triumph Stree Triple (~8.1 ex-Delhi)
Bikes priced lower than CBR650F:
Kawasaki ER6n (~4.8 ex-Delhi)
Kawasaki Ninja 650 (~5.3 ex-Delhi)
Benelli TnT 600i (~5.2 ex-Delhi)
Benelli 600GT (~5.6 ex-Delhi)
Ducati Scrambler (~6.4 ex-Delhi)
Ducati Monster 795 (~7 ex-Delhi)
The argument can be made that the CBR650F is the most unique bike ever to make our shores. It’s the the cheapest 600cc+ bike with ABS, the only sports-tourer with ABS under 14 lacs, the third cheapest inline 4 behind 600i and 600GT, and the third cheapest faired tourer behind Ninja 650 and Benelli 600GT, but the problem with that argument is that it’s the only thing that even remotely justifies the price tag, and that’s not enough.
By pricing the 650F over the 7 lac mark, Honda has opened the bike to comparison against a much bigger segment of bikes. For example, the Benelli 600i is a brilliantly priced machine, the only bikes that you can compare it against is the ER6n or the Ninja 650, and it’s really easy to make that decision. If you want Japanese reliability and refinement, go with Kawasaki, if you want Italian character and rush, go with Benelli.
That choice with the CBR is going to be one difficult bitch.
I’m tired of motorcycle companies treating Indian bikers like kids. Triumph fucked up with their fake performance figures, Bajaj overdid their RS200, both visually and marketing wise, with that appalling “Leave track racing to amateurs” tagline. They also pulled some major bullshit with the 200 and 150AS models, which are both nothing more than old bikes with projector headlamps. And now Honda has joined the party with this pointless little charade.
I think motorcycle companies feel like they are doing some kind of ehsaan on us by bringing in these big bikes, and that would’ve been true some 10 years ago. Now you have plenty of choice if you have the money, but bike manufacturers don’t seem to get it.
The Indian biking scene is matured now, even though the infrastructure isn’t yet. Now is the time to establish yourself as a company that cares, a company that respects, and a company that believes. If you keep treating your customers like shit, you better be ready for when it hits the fan, and if I got your message from last night correct, then yes Honda, fuck you too.
P.S. If you were looking for a useful article about the CBR650F and are disappointed by the shitty ranty one you just read, check this out.