Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What a Scooter Store Should Look Like and How to Increase Revenue

Stores need those alternative sources of Income ( in our online catalog there is a good article on this at www.mrp-speed.com )

Sell Gellato, Lavazza coffee, pre-packaged snacks, anything to make the customer have that WOW experience when in your shop. The focus should be to increase your store’s Return on Investment and to do that you absolutely need to have a great introduction. The first time that customer walks in the shop he needs to see the best visual merchandising in that strip mall to get your attention. Ever walk into a Cycle Gear and see a dull display? Why should a scooter shop look any worse?

Making a cool experience for your customer should be the top priority for your scooter store.

Every day someone walks into a scooter store for the first time. Make sure that first time the customer sees the best clothing ( Try a nice Armadillo Displays ) the best in exhausts ( Try a nice TK Exhaust rack ), sunglasses ( MRP has Bertoni eyewear ) maybe a racing parts section ( MRP Clutches and rollers ), go for the WOW Factor something that makes the customer invite friends and tell people about the shop.

Creating that experience is what will set you apart from the Cheap Chinese store down the street.

The Scooter Maven

Properly Displaying Scooter Clothing

What a difference it makes when you walk into a shop and they have a nice scooter clothing display.

The Scooter Store is more than just a place to get a scooter ( you can go to Pep Boys for that ) it's more than just a cheap Chinese scooter ( you can also go to a Big Box store for that ) its about building relationships, selling accessories, and inviting the rider to live a lifestyle. I'm constantly learning how to do things better, even running a store there is constant improvement, from knowing how many paper towels to order to the amount of time a mechanic takes to order the parts there is always room for improvement. The scooter segment of the Powersports Industry is perhaps the worst run of the industry in general because its not run by Powersports specialists. There is no system. The majority of new "Chinese" dealers just fill up a store with every scooter they can get. That's not the way to go you have to think like a retailer to be a retailer a store is more than just scooters.

WATCH THIS LINK http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVKNMlsIrcw

In Italy and other countries its about transportation but they also want the best in upgrades and accessories. Americans are impulse buyers and to want something they have to see it. This is what separates the low end repair shop from a real store. This is the untapped profit center. Selling oil will only get you so far ( there's Walmart and NAPA with cheaper oil ), tires will only get you so far ( you cannot beat the online guys like Parts Unlimited / Dennis Kirk ) you have to create the experience and that experience comes from accessories, toys, upgrades the big box stores won't carry, the big catalogs don't have, and the cheap Chinese brands don't push.

Vespa toys, accessories, clothing ( there are several great scooter brands including Armadillo below ), exhausts, performance upgrades ( build a little performance corner ) this makes all the difference between being just a "repair center" and a destination.

Another Store Display video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LfqkEa9zts

Scooter sales are more than just selling someone a part once, you want the client to come back and buy more. To get that repeat business you have to build a scooter destination not just a sales location.

To find out more visit our site www.mrp-speed.com

MRP now offers parts for all the top UTVs FROM Diamo to CF MOTO we have performance upgrades and OEM parts. OEM parts for MS 500cc, 700cc, Diamo Discovery 500, UTV Discovery 700cc, Linhai 260 and 300 engines by Yamaha. OEM parts and racing parts from Malossi, Dr Pulley, and more MRP has expanded by acquiring the QJ Keeway Southeast distribution parts warehouse, the Diamo USA / LS Motorsports / Italjet USA parts warehouse, and CPI USA. The company has OEM parts for Malaguti scooters of Italy, MH Spain, RX, Loncin, Lifan, Linhai, Zongshen, Wangye, MS UTVs, and CPI Taiwan. In addition the company distributes performance parts from Athena, Malossi, Turbo Kit, Innova, Vee Rubber, Duro, Bando, Gates, Powerlink, Posh, Maxxis, Namura, Scooter Ninja, Slipstreamer, and MRP. Products carried by MRP can be obtain exclusively at select Motorcycle Dealerships and Repair Shops in the USA.

MRP is the one stop wholesale ONLY scooter, buggy, and ATV parts distributor. For a list of retailers visit www.mrp-speed.com http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVKNMlsIrcw

Monday, March 29, 2010

End the Cheap Chinese Stores

I'm calling for an end to the Cheap Chinese Store.

My rant today will be about the endless supply of Cheap Chinese Stores. One closes and two open every year.

I think it should be a requirement from now on that if someone should decide to call themselves a scooter shop in America they should at least have 1 ( one ) decent brand made in Taiwan, Korea, or Europe. I would say Taiwan is the more affordable of the three options there and there's no excuse you shouldn't have one of these brands.

So if you want to carry every Roketa and Tank brand out there, SUN L or Cheap Scooter.com brand get at least one reputable brand like Eton, CPI, Genuine, TGB, SYM, Kymco, Adly something made in Taiwan. As to high end brands out of China there's only one or two in that price range like CF-MOTO and Benelli.

Why you ask? So that both your staff and your customers can see the difference. It's hard to be a straight shooter in life and have to talk to people who tell you on the phone a Tank scooter is excellent quality. I find myself asking them what planet they live on. The worst thing about it is that they believe they are right. It's hard to talk to a store mechanic or owner when they are convinced brand X is the best brand in the world.

"Sir, I'm sorry but I've actually read the reports on lab test data and those brake pads you purchased are defective, the scooter is imported with headlights that wouldn't meet basic NHTSA standards, and the company offers a 30 day parts warranty which is highly illegal in most states, plus you would probably get sued for a lemon law violation." The reply is usually "what is a lemon law" or "this is the price range my clients want." I'm a firm believer people pay for quality and thats the reason companies like Kymco have made it in the US despite being a little more expensive than the Chinese ATVs or scooters. Consumers want quality.

You have to explain to them the difference. Has anyone driven a Baja lately? The quality is terrible.

If NHTSA actually had more than one or two field people out there checking the Chinese ATVs and Scooters we might have someone playing by the same rules, but they are overwhelmed like much of the gov't these days. Too little staff and too little money. That's the reason we still have so many lawsuits and kids dying on cheap Chinese ATVs. We have to compete with Chinese importers who don't pay taxes, don't have light bulbs that actually comply with US standards, don't pay liability insurance, and on top of that sell below manufacturing cost. I know the small shop owner doesn't care about these big "Macro" issues, but sooner or later it affects them.

One of these cheap Chinese local shops just closed down after they sued the owner for negligence and the state came down on him. The distributor couldn't provide him with parts, guess what the distributor is out of state and couldn't be bothered. The law meant the dealer had to give the clients new bikes or refund their money. He couldn't comply. How many times do we have to watch this happen before people smarten up?

Do everyone a favor carry decent brands of motor vehicles. Real People are riding them and if they die because you purchased the cheapest scooter out there it might come back to you.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Creating that store experience for Women

I walked into a store near our office last week since it was a new account and I usually like to visit new accounts. The first thing I noticed was that they had a bunch of Pink scooters and I thought that was great. They are near a major US University, the students have a lot of buying power. The shop didn't have much of a "destination" idea, but I was going to give the sales manager and the owner my suggestions when I noticed that the female bathroom door was open. I looked inside and I wouldn't have my pet Iguana use that bathroom. I've used cleaner bathrooms in abandoned buildings. The next thing I noticed was that besides the Pink scooter there was nothing in the shop that helped a woman make her buying decision.

There were no helmets for women, no gear, forget jackets. I mean I tried telling the sales manager that women need jackets and he didn't get it.

Last year was a terrible year for the Powersports Industry, but guess what? Female buying power went up. When men shop have you noticed the wife always has some influence on the final decision? So even if the woman isn't paying sometimes she's making the decisions.

If a woman walks into a scooter shop and all she sees are scooters more than likely she will get bored. This is a real challenge keeping a motorcycle shop clean and maintaining the interest of the opposite sex when 98% of shop owners I talk to everyday are men.

So my advice is think what is it women want to see? If you stock gear for men, don't ignore the women. If you need some ideas then start with the basics, clothing, parkas, helmets, gloves. We can help you with some of these ideas, but in the end women want the same accessories as men for their scooter you might just have to present them a little better.

Also clean the bathroom.

What to do if a distributor has closed?

The season is upon us and many stores that haven't dealt with scooters are starting to wake up. Customers are taking bikes out of the garage and realizing the carb or battery is dead. In many cases maybe a plastic that they need because they dropped the bike.
It's only after the customer comes in and asks for the part that the dealer realizes that ( fill in blank ) United Motors, Xtreme Motor Co, Italjet, Daelim, CPI, Keeway Southeast, or whoever is no longer answering the phone that they realize "There are no parts." That's where we come in. Basically MRP is providing a third party solution to a growing problem. Hard to find unique parts for brands no longer on the market.

There are lots of distributors selling both retail and wholesale Cheap Chinese parts, but very few that know the difference between an Aprilia and a Zongshen. Even fewer with the experience that they can say they've riden an actual Vespa or a Malaguti. No street credibility, no experience with anything other than some Chinese mainland bikes. Our market is more diverse than that so the real principle of the matter is that we specialize in the hard to find items and that makes the difference between MRP and the competition.

We also have a network of preferred dealers that run drop shipping sites so we don't have to sell retail. We let them drop ship to the consumer live over 12,000 SKUS of Scooter parts. Our industry has a lot of fly by night distributors, we've been in this for the long haul. They say imitation is the best form of flattery well here you see if as MRP was the first GY6 parts importer and the first to promote the JOG swap system for several Italian and Japanese bikes. Innovation is a process and as we've grown we can now say we are the only source in North America for CPI, Italjet (2005-2009), Malaguti, SN, and many other hard to find scooter parts.

If you have a Benelli or Andretti scooter. A hard to find QJ part. More than likely your store needs to call us to help you.

If you email us we will pass you on to one of our stores. Our goal and we live up to this it's not just a motto is to make sure our stores get your business. That way we keep the rider on the road and the stores in business.

Check us out at http://www.mrp-speed.com

The Jacket your Store Needs "The Camo"

This is the coolest Jacket in our lineup. If you want to be safe and wear the coolest jacket in the world you should wear an Armadillo Camo Jacket. If you don't see one ask your dealer to stock it.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Did your Scooter Distributor Close?

Did your Distributor close in 2009?

2009 saw a record number of distributors close in the USA.

From 2008 we had Daelim and a handful of distributors, but 2009 saw companies like Tank, Roketa, United Motors, Xtreme, CPI, Keeway Southeast, and many more.

If you need parts and your local dealer can't find them have them become an MRP dealer.
http://www.mrp-speed.com for a list of MRP dealers where you can buy parts for all these OEMs that have left the market.

If we can help you get back on the road we've done our job.

There's a lot of stores and distributors that have closed. Consumers sometimes pay the price. From not being able to find a Pep Boys Baja starter to the United Motors clutch. Our company happens to have the largest OEM parts selection in North America and if we can help you get back on the road then we've done our job. Let's face it there's a million importers of cheap Chinese scooter parts, but only one company in North America has Taiwanese, Korean, Italian, Japanese, and Chinese under one roof and thats MRP. We want to help you find those parts so have your dealer give us a buzz. http://www.mrp-speed.com
WATCH http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=103801807

To find out more visit our site www.mrp-speed.com

For everything from Aprilia to Zongshen, DRR to Apex, Vespa to Kymco we got it!
MRP sells OEM Keeway, Diamo parts, pasrts for Malaguti scooters of Italy, MH Spain, RX, Loncin, Lifan, Linhai, Zongshen, Wangye, MS UTVs, and CPI Taiwan.

In addition we have the best prices on performance parts from Athena, Malossi, Turbo Kit, Innova, Vee Rubber, Duro, Bando, Gates, Powerlink, Posh, Maxxis, Namura, Scooter Ninja, Slipstreamer, and MRP. Products carried by MRP can be obtain exclusively at select Motorcycle Dealerships and Repair Shops in the USA.

MRP is the one stop wholesale ONLY scooter, buggy, and ATV parts distributor. For a list of retailers visit www.mrp-speed.com

Dealer promoting MRP exhausts

Check out this cool posting from one of our dealers.

For more info on the MRP IL Bello Fly / TNG Low Boy exhausts visit our dealer www.scootertronics.com who is doing a lot of cool things with MRP parts.

They've also added links to the OEM parts we sell. OEM for Malaguti, QJ, keeway, CPI, CF MOTO, TNG Linhai, Loncin parts you cannot get anywhere else. Give them a buzz.


If you have some cool dealership photos or MRP upgrades make sure to email us.

Benelli Andretti Backorders going out



For those dealers waiting on parts from Powersports Factory or the other QJ distributors you have nothing to worry about all backorders are going out now.

Strada 125
Phantom 150
parts for all the Benelli - Andretti models are being added to our website on a daily basis.


We are a QJ direct importer / distributor parts for Vento ( same numbers ) Keeway, QJ, Cubik, Benelli, Andretti, Diamo, Xtreme.

So visit our manuals section for the full part numbers

For example a store called for a Keeway Arn 125cc part number 7 on the diagram and by typing in QJ-51004J4AT000 in the search ( Advance Search engine) on the MRP site you get this link.



Monday, March 22, 2010

New MRP Ads in Dealer News, Powersports Business.

Check out our new ads in next months April 2010 Dealer News and Powersports Business magazines. These get sent out to all the stores across North America.

We will be working with Jonway Scooters. Adding their manuals and parts to our site this month.


Featuring non other than Valerie our favorite spokesperson. You've seen her at the Miami Motorcycle Show, the Atlanta Show, and heres a clip of her at the 2007 Dealer Expo signing autographs for our dealers ( listen to Steve from the Scooter Scoop with our interview )

Friday, March 19, 2010

Kymco Teams up with IZOD - Marco Andretti

KYMCO Announces National IZOD IndyCar Series Sweepstakes
Fans have opportunity to win trip to finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway

Spartanburg, S.C. (March 19, 2010) – KYMCO USA, in conjunction with the IZOD IndyCar Series, Andretti Autosport Team IZOD driver Ryan Hunter-Reay and Team IZOD sponsor AirTran Airways, is launching the “Live Like an IZOD IndyCar Series Driver” sweepstakes, giving fans the opportunity to win a trip to the IZOD IndyCar Series season-ending race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The sweepstakes launch will coincide with the IZOD IndyCar Series race on the streets of St. Petersburg, FL on March 28, 2010. During the six month sweepstakes period, fans will have the opportunity to pick up a free entry coupon at IZOD IndyCar Series events by visiting the IZOD IndyCar Series Fan Zone and at participating KYMCO dealerships. After entering their information and code on the sweepstakes website, the winners will be notified by September 15, 2010.

The Grand Prize is a weekend trip for two to the season finale race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, including airfare provided by AirTran Airways, hotel and race tickets along with VIP credentials so they can truly “Live Like an IZOD IndyCar Series Driver.” First Prize is a KYMCO UXV 500 Side X Side Off Road Vehicle and there are two Second Prizes: KYMCO Driver Autographed Super 8 49cc Scooters.

“We are so happy to be able to work with the IZOD IndyCar Series on this promotion and further integrate our fan bases,” said Rick Pawelka, KYMCO USA Marketing Director. “The IZOD IndyCar Series drivers have been very enthusiastic about our product and really enjoyed signing the two scooters we’re giving away. I’ve been working closely with Ryan Hunter-Reay and he is excited about this opportunity as well. You’ll see a lot of him during this promotion.”

“I am thrilled to be involved with KYMCO and this promotion. I’ve been riding KYMCO scooters since they partnered with the IZOD IndyCar Series last year and have really enjoyed them. I’m excited to help make this promotion happen and get more involved with the fans,” added Hunter-Reay.

KYMCO USA is the official scooter and off-road utility vehicle of the Indy Racing League, the sanctioning body for the IZOD IndyCar Series.

To check out the KYMCO Super 8 49cc Scooters signed by the stars of the IZOD IndyCar Series, visit KYMCO USA’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/KYMCO.Scooters.


KYMCO's roots in the motorsports industry go back to its founding in 1963 as the Kwang Yang Motor Company, Ltd., with headquarters in Taiwan. Long a leader in quality, fuel economy, and versatility, today KYMCO manufactures motor scooters, motorcycles, and ATVs at five plants in Asia, including the main facility in the city of Kaohsiung.

KYMCO is the largest scooter manufacturer in Taiwan and currently exports to 88 countries worldwide. All KYMCO plants use the latest technology for the engineering and production of reliable engine, chassis, and other components. Since 2004, KYMCO has been officially accredited for ISO-9001 quality in manufacturing. KYMCO is committed to maximum customer satisfaction and constant innovation, making use of the most advanced CAD/CAE tools to bring superior engineering and design to their products.

The company's partner in the United States is KYMCO USA with headquarters, marketing and distribution centered in Spartanburg, South Carolina. KYMCO USA is dedicated to building the brand's reputation and market share through superior value, frequent new product introductions, strategic industry partnerships, and excellence in dealer network support. KYMCO USA has a reputation and expertise gained through over 30 years in the U.S. motorsports industry.

About the IZOD IndyCar Series:

The IZOD IndyCar Series is the premier open-wheel series in the United States, competing on a challenging combination of superspeedways, short ovals, scenic road courses and temporary street circuits. In 2010 the IndyCar Series will conduct 13 races in the U.S., two in Canada and one both in Japan and Brazil, all available worldwide through comprehensive, long-term agreements with ABC and VERSUS in high-definition. The IZOD IndyCar Series continues to the be the fastest and most competitive racing series, attracting a diverse lineup of drivers including Marco Andretti, Ryan Briscoe, Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Tony Kanaan, Danica Patrick, Graham Rahal and Dan Wheldon. A leader in motorsports technology, the IZOD IndyCar Series is the first racing series to power its Honda engines on 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol, a renewable and environmentally friendly fuel. For more information on the IZOD IndyCar Series, visit www.indycar.com.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ducati / Piaggio merger? The Scooter Maven speaks

So you've probably heard the rumors about a possible Ducati / Piaggio merger. As much as I love the idea I don't think it's going to happen. Two dealers called me today to talk about it and I had already been talking about it with my friends in the industry when I saw some posts online about it. It's something I've often thought about myself since having worked in retail, importation, and distribution I've thought of ways of making the industry more efficient. You can always daydream can't you? Beyond the daydream which cannot happen for legal reasons let's argue a couple of points as to why a merger wouldn't work and then I will make a suggestion as to what Ducati / Piaggio should do.

Here's my take on it and I have to say it's more a of personal opinion on these great brands. It's like one of those dreams where you let your mind get the best of you and you want to dream about the possibilities. Aprilia and Ducati living side by side. Cats and Dogs breeding making a Thundercat or something weird that your motorcycle mind cannot conceive. It's like the Malaguti Drakkon 50cc AM6 bike below, its a hybrid that gets a lot of attention. Just the mere idea has people talking.

We'll it won't happen.

Now don't get me wrong if it weren't for Vespa many of us would not be in the industry. I know I wouldn't because let's face it that's the brand that created the modern scooter in the eyes of the world. Still you can't live in the past so to me Aprilia was always the brand about innovation and Ducati was the iconic "Italy" brand. I would ride an Aprilia and it was like someone was designing the Italian version of the Akira bike. Ducati was more emotional for me like Moto Guzzi something about racing and the Italian lifestyle. Ducati by nature puts images of powerful engines, raw freedom, and lots of passion in your brain. Don't forget good food and excellent coffee and that's what Ducati does to me when I ride one. To see them under the same ownership would be pretty cool. A company with all these famous brands would put the "sexy" back into being a corporate motorcycle guy.

Ducati means something different to everyone, but to me it's the story of American guys trying to sell the finest in Italian bikes.

My personal experience with the brand is one of relationships in the industry and it leads me to think of how the Ducati and Piaggio culture in America are totally different. It took a lot of time and money to merge Aprilia to Piaggio. So to see these two companies merge would be interesting. You look at the Ducati history in America and it's always been about human stories. I cut my teeth with some of the Ducati North America sales people out in the field and learned some of my marketing skills from the guys at the company. One of the best marketing experts in this country is Jim Viola and when I say he showed me how to market scooters I mean it. He applied that to Ducati and during his tenure there we always talked of what the company could accomplish if it had a bigger range of vehicles. His advice helped me launch Malaguti Scooters and got us thousands in product placement, so I owe that older team a great deal. I have memories of people who knew Joe Berliner and the employees at Berliner Motor Corp. I've met Federico Minoli and Carlo Di Biaggio over the years and have the fondest respect for what they did with the brand in general. During their years they made Ducati the global brand it is today largely in part by focusing on marketing in the states.

Piaggio is now a worldwide manufacturer. Most of its profits come from Europe and now Asia. I've met both the CEO of Piaggio and their partners in China Zongshen. I can say I've seen this industry from the outside and inside and it would be an incredible undertaking to merge those two cultures and companies. Ducati and Piaggio are very different companies both in the US and in Italy. The cultures would clash in a way. Nothing money can't solve, but for it to work Ducati would have to remain a company on its own and that is difficult to do in the Piaggio Group. Look what happened to Derbi as a brand in America (It's off the market.)

So ideally it would make sense, but it would violate so many laws that these rumors online just don't make any sense.

I know first hand having asked Mr. Colamino two years ago why he didn't buy Malaguti ( who he supplies engines to and is the only other manufacturer of scooters left in Italy ) and he replied "Mo-no-po-lio" meaning even his friend Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi wouldn't approve it. So he would go from making 50% of Italian motorcycles to probably a good 80% overnight having a stake from the basic engine all the way to the final product.

Just to give you an idea back in the early 80's there were over 80 companies making scooters in Italy. Today there are only two. See Piaggio Group purchased Aprilia so that leaves only Malaguti which is a small family business of 300 people compared to a global Giant like Piaggio Group. The last few famous companies Benelli, Garelli, Italjet, Cagiva, and Beta all got out of the scooter business in Italy for one reason or another in the early 2000-2004 period. If you see anything with a badge other than Vespa, Malaguti, or Piaggio it is likely made in China. All the new 2009 Garellis are made by Zongshen and other Chinese OEMs. Same for Italjet ( CF MOTO / QJ ) and Italjet ( CF MOTO )


Keep the brands seperate:
The Piaggio Group brand identity to me is about Global Production and being a leader in transportation. Ducati is about all things Italian and Racing. Piaggio would slowly try to have Ducati become a global OEM. My advice to Piaggio is to focus on strategic growth in those high volume areas, bring the quality back in the US, and make sure your partners in Asia keep the quality up.

Why do I bring this up? Because Piaggio Group is about the bottom line, where Ducati takes risks. Even the famous Aprilias 50cc models are made by Jincheng in China now. Piaggio is about global production with plants in Vietnam, China, and partnerships in Taiwan and Thailand. Ducati to me is about Bologna and world class racing, to grab that culture and start outsourcing things to make them more efficient might not work well for the brand. I think the fact that many of the Aprilia scooters are made in China has killed their sales in certain markets outside of Italy.

Having purchased Moto Guzzi and Aprilia they also control the motorcycle segment. Merging with Ducati would break what little laws are left in Italy. Not that Italy doesn't have Monopolies ( ask Silvio on how you control 90% of the media ) So on a personal note I wouldn't want to see a corporate Ducati. Everytime I have ever visited the factory I was treated well, they even let me borrow a motorcycle, and the company is about People. In the last 9 years I cannot keep track of the hundreds of people I have met at Piaggio or the employees that left Aprilia. So there is no human connection to me there. I could always walk up to Minoli or one of the Ducati guys at Laguna Seca and they would know who you are. Unless Piaggio kept that culture it would loose something not just in Italy, but in the US as well.

My other contention as to why this won't happen is the supply side. You would kill suppliers in Italy which has already been ravaged by the global markets in 2008 - 2009. First the commodity issues and now poor sales all over the world.

Both Ducati and Piaggio buy from many of the same small companies that depend on them for survival and if one or the other pays late it affects them. So imagine if you have three clients and two like to pay late and all of the sudden they merge you could go out of business. This is exactly what happened when Aprilia was about to close and the Italian industry had to accept the Piaggio takeover because if they didn't hundreds of small suppliers would have closed. So those little grip and handle makers found themselves with two big clients Ducati and Piaggio now imagine if those two merge? It would be even worse.

So if Piaggio purchased Ducati would they make new Ducati scooters? That would make even more sense because then you have your own competition for Aprilia scooters, you could cut costs, share sales reps in Italy etc... it would save millions in expenses. In any case it's not going to happen. I remember back in 2003-2004 when Texas Pacific Group was trying to have Ducati purchase Malaguti scooters and that didn't happen because of labor laws and regional issues. Let's forget Malaguti probably wanted a premium for the company since the market was still doing ok. So for a US firm to suggest this would happen just sounds like someone is trying to rally the stock market to raise the share prices like Harley is doing these days and nothing else.

The brand identity that Ducati present to me says " We are Italian 100%!" that would be compromised if merged with Piaggio Group. The same way they did with the Aprilia scooters and slowly the motorcycles. Outsourcing and changing things slowly changes the product itself. Yes, they are more efficient now, but can you say the brand is 100% Italian? Ducati has certain values and strategic manufacturing decisions whcih are consistent with its heritage that everyone can recognize. The logo, the product, the advertising campaigns, and the racing legacy are the foundation of the brand. To keep that you have to keep any scooters or new products made by Ducati made in Bologna. You can license all sorts of other things made in China like backpacks, but if you put a Ducati scooter in the market make sure its made in Italy.

Now Ducati needs scooters to compete. For years Ducati and it's sister company in Italy Malaguti have shared former employees, engineers, friends, suppliers, and they license the Ducati replicas to Malaguti. This makes sense because everyone in Italy starts on a scooter so you might as well sell them on the idea of a Ducati when they turn 15. It's terrible when you walk on to a race track and see dealers or riders with a Honda or Yamaha scooter that say Ducati so why not sell them an official replica. I think it would be sacrilege for Ducati to import Chinese scooters and call them Ducati replicas and thats probably what Piaggio would do. So my argument here is to keep them Italian with Malaguti.

Maybe I am a little biased here since I have a relationship with these two companies, but I also have an argument towards the brand identity being "MADE IN ITALY." It took me four years to convince the Malaguti family to put a sticker on it's bikes that said "Made in Italy" becuase they didn't understand the power that has outside of Italy. Can a new Piaggio scooter in the USA do that? Actually no, because it's a global brand and the new Piaggio is made in China.

My experience with the Ducati replicas is they sold well and made us a lot of money. These sold like hot cakes in America when we imported them between 2000 - 2005. In Japan Ducati sells them to its dealer base and I've always told Michael Lock the US CEO that he should consider it. The company is no stranger to mopeds or scooters having made some, but it would be easier for them to buy a smaller company down the street than to make it themselves.

Gas is about to go up again, it would only make sense for Ducati North America to have scooters, they missed the boat in 2007 so why not? It would make sense for the investors in Italy, it would bring value to the brand, and it would revamp Malaguti before it fades as a brand. The company cannot become a global player on its own and will be buried by the Asian OEMs unless it finds an Italian or Chinese partner. The family can work 24 / 7 and have the best people working for them and they still would not be able to change the global vehicle landscape. So instead of allowing a Benelli style Chinese takeover why not merge with Ducati before the brand looses its value?

Under new management and with new investment I would argue the safe thing for Ducati to do would be to acquire Malaguti. The company needs to expand its range and it could benefit from the worldwide Ducati network. It would expand Ducati's ability to produce and target the smaller 15-20 year olds in Italy. The company is 15 minutes away plus they all have the same Bolognese culture. So it would be a much easier integration. Bring over the world class management of Ducati and keep production of the scooters in Italy.

Could it happen? Why yes it could.

It would take an act of powers far beyond blogs and the Italian stock market. They basically would have to allow another monopoly in Italy. It would make a lot of people rich and Mr. Colamino will make a ton of money, but it won't happen. I do think Italy still needs more consolidation. I think it was a stupid move on HDs part to spend all that money buying an Italian company only to close Buell and to dump MV / Cagiva. There are still too many Italian brands out there and in the long run I don't think MV or Cagiva can make it on their own without partners. Same goes for Malaguti, the Asian players will swallow them ( just look at Italian scooter sales ) so it makes sense to all these brands to find a home with either Piaggio or Ducati before they get taken over and end up like Italjet, Benelli, or Garelli. Companies that just stick stickers on Asian made scooters.

I think it was pretty much covered by Guidos Powersports Blog today.
Check the link to see his report which is pretty accurate on the numbers. If you ever want a good report on whats happening make sure to check his blog.

Check out the link http://blog.guidoebert.com/2010/03/18/hd-ducati--piaggio-rumors-speculation--hearsay.aspx

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Roketa in Jail? Blame the Chinese Detox

Everyone is fighting for a piece of the market. Let's Blame the Chinese Detox.

This last month several importers got shut down by CARB, General Electra, EPA, NHTSA, and just the poor economy. If these were banks being shut down we would have made the front page of CNN, but since they are scooter importers the only people that care are the industry people. Still, this all relates back to my theory of Chinese Scooter “Detox.”

What can you do as a dealer? First be smart and buy smart. The second part I will get at towards the end, but it mainly says sell on service, quality, and don’t compete with the Big Box mentality in the Powersports Industry. You will go out of business selling cheap, cutting corners, betraying your neighbor. You might make money in the short run like Roketa, but in the end we all meet our maker. Fighting over cents will get your nowhere fast.

Usually about once a day I have some dealer who loves to complain about pricing. I'm not talking about $100, we're talking cents. I always tell them I haven't built a career based on discounting. The problem is the small American dealer or repair shop has been flooded and brainwashed by the mainland Chinese distributors "pushers" as we call them. The truth is these are not legit companies. I've said this in speeches, I've spoken about this to the industry, and it's funny to see the same magazines that take their ads run the news once they fall. These dealers like the importers are addicted to the junk and the great “Detox” of 2009 continues well into 2010.

It is common knowledge that Chinese mainland factories do not make any money on the front-end, it's all in the kickback from the government subsidies to export and bring in more dollars. I saw this when I imported scooters from China ( For the record I have imported scooters from Italy - Malaguti, Taiwan - SYM, and China - QJ ) and in all cases there is some form of help or kickback from the regional players. Still, nobody is as aggressive as the mainland factories where they get ten to fifteen percent back at the end of the year. This only furthers the trade gap, destroys industries in Europe, and shows why we can't build any vehicles in America. Does the average US dealer care? The answer is no, neither does the US consumer. I'm also part of this problem since when I started in the business I only wanted to import Italian made products only to discover everything was being assembled in Italy and produced in Asia. So we import and work with Chinese companies, but I do my research. I meet the management, I talk to the owners, I check EPA Certs. Some companies are in it for the long haul and I've made some good friends. If someone asks me about say "CF MOTO" I can say they are a notch above any US importer since they are factory owned and have parts. They are not anywhere near a Roketa or Tank. The company has US management and US sales staff. This is the first sign you are dealing with serious people.

When you meet with a company at the Dealer Expo and visit their warehouse if you notice every employee from the bookkeeper to the forklift operator is Chinese and getting paid in Yuan something is up. When you visit a company in Houston, San Diego, Miami, and realize they have 10 Chinese employees, none speak English, and only two or three sales guys are Americans guess what “something is up.” That is the mentality that anything goes, this is a big country, let’s violated agreements, dealer contracts, territories, etc…. Doesn’t matter if they promised you repeatedly that they wouldn’t sell to your competition, you might have it in writing several hundred times, the Chinese mainland factories just want the sale. I know this is a stereotype and I know it’s wrong to put everyone in the same category, but its not a stereotype when it’s a non-official government policy which transcends into the business class as a whole. The unofficial policy is maximum profit at the expense of America, the American consumer, and the Powersports Industry. We are cannibalizing ourselves for our next hit and they are more than glad to push it on us. They will sell to your competition under a different name, they will deny they did anything wrong, and if that ATV they sold you results in a wrongful death lawsuit check the papers, they haven’t paid the insurance premiums in months.

So it’s a vicious circle. It goes back to the dealer complaining about the $1 difference on the throttle cable. I will never get the same price as a mainland exporter on a throttle cable, but they will also never give you service. You also have to pay taxes and play on the same playing field. It's unfair if a Chinese Scooter importer hides their parts inside the scooters when importing and doesn't declare them or if they avoid paying $30,000 in EPA certificates. The same rules have to apply to everyone so it's good to finally see NHTSA, EPA, and others cracking down.

The industry is in shambles. A lot of dealers have closed, a lot of distributors are gone, and this might not stop people from making false EPA certs, but at least they know in the USA sooner or later it catches up with you. It's hard for new companies to emerge and invest in new tech like "Vectrix" or new models like a new "Kymco" when we allow companies like Roketa to have free reign and destroy the marketplace selling below manufacturing cost. Dealers have a stake in a healthy industry and buying from other distributors that compete with you or undercut you is the first lesson they fail to see. The second is buying from legit vehicle makers. We support this and then when there is a consumer lawsuit or a lemon law return to your dealership for having sold a Tank, Redcat, or Roketa it's your own fault for having sold an inferior product other than a Kymco, TGB, or something a little better. Like they say "You get what you pay for."

This might be too much for the average repair shop to understand. The guy on the other line just wants to pay $11 for his cable instead of $12, but when he calls Tank scooters, United Motors, or the endless number of distributors that closed next week they won't be there. That's why you have to support the companies that play by the rules. If a price is too good to be true it usually is.

What can you do? Be smart, buy smart. I know you can’t compete with Pep Boys so don’t try to. You will go out of business selling cheap, cutting corners, betraying your neighbor. You might make money in the short run like Roketa, but in the end we all meet our maker.

From Dealer News
Importers of Chinese Motorcycles, ATVs Arrested
By Joe Delmont

Pair Charged With 70 Felonies; Certification Violations

Two top executives at Goldenvale Inc., a diversified California importer of powersports products, have been arrested and charged with illegally importing motorcycles, ATVs and other vehicles from China and selling the units in California without proper state certification.

Goldenvale president and owner Kening N. Ma and vice president Shirley Hyunae Ji were charged in a 70-count criminal complaint that includes conspiracy to commit theft, grand theft, and money laundering.

The pair were arrested last week, according to a published report in the San Bernardinto Sun newspaper.

The powersports products sold under the Roketa brand also include scooters, go-karts and other gas and electric-powered vehicles. The company, which operates facilities in Ontario, Calif., and Dallas, Texas, also imports items ranging from artwork and blankets to toys and cooking utensils. The company imported fewer than 2,000 powersports units last year, according to industry estimates.

The powersports units were sold on-line and through a national dealer network.

Prosecutors said dozens of victims purchased vehicles from Goldenvale that were not certified by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the newspaper reported. The amount paid by victims ranged from several hundred dollars up to $4,000 for each vehicle, prosecutors said.

The vehicles are illegal to operate in California if they do not have CARB certification.

Ma and Ji are named in a complaint filed in San Bernardino Superior Court. Ma faces one count of conspiracy, 33 counts of grand theft, 30 counts of possessing a false or blank vehicle registration and six counts of money laundering, according to court records.

Ji is named in the counts alleging conspiracy, grand theft and money laundering.

The certificates of origin allow consumers to register their vehicles with the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

In this case, the certificates of origin show a manufacturer name that did not manufacture the vehicles, according to the newspaper. The vehicles also were never certified by CAB, according to the newspaper report.

These arrests culminated a multi-year investigation of illegal activities, according to one CARB official. JD

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Check it out at: http://www.martinracingdealer.com/CategoryProductList.jsp?cat=SUNGLASSES

Sunglasses are a must have hot item for your shop during the summer. Check out our fine selection on our website.


Friday, March 12, 2010

MRP offers Scooter Tires, ATV Tires at a discount!

MRP offers a wide selection of tires. Make sure to check out site often to see what new tires we have for the season. Everything from Vespa to Zongshen is available.

ATV tires, Go karts, Buggies, Scooters we try our best to have a wide selection in stock.


Tires and Tubes
Parts by Type > Tires and Tubes
We import CB, GT, and MRP branded tires. Our tires range in price and quality from regular everyday use to performance tires. More scooter sizes than any other importer. We take great pride in our wide selection of hard to find European and Asian size tires. Most of our tires are high performance scooter tires with ratings of 6LT or higher. If you need something lower or higher please make sure to tell our technical department. We recommend tires above 6LT with a good thread since they are best suited for normal street use and perform well in rainy environments. If you need a stock tire then we recommend less expensive tires with ratings of 4LT or lower. Some common sizes and applications can be found by visiting our website. You can find this by searching under model and brand. Most of our tires are designed for Universal tread design for use in all types of road and weather conditions. However, we do carry race style tires which tend to be a little more expensive and not as durable. Our race tires tend to have a higher TY rating and feature Exceptional adhesion in corners and increase traction. They tend to last less time but they work great. You can also call us to select a thread and a model of tire. If you type the tire size or model you will be able to find common applications. For example:The 120/90-10 (fits on the front) and the 130/90-10 (fits the rear) are recommended for the Aprilia Rally or the Yamaha Zuma.

Make sure to visit our site to see all the fine tires we offer at the best prices.

Upgrading VOG 260 Linhai 260 Diamo 260

If you drive a VOG 260, Linhai 300, Aeolus 260, Diamo 250/260, JCLA260 then you have basically a Linhai Vog 260 unit. You need this TK Exhaust to get that power you desire!

Guess what if you want it to go faster you need one of these:
http://www.martinracingdealer.com/SPD/tkc-m4t68-n--80000FEE-1241654048.jsp Really no other way to get this thing going.

* VOG 260cc Linhai
* Linhai 300 also as Mainstreet , Yamaha Majesty Linhai Classic 260 plus most other engines made from Linhai 260 which is 257cc
* # Diamo # Yamaha/Linhai designed engines # Roketa 250B # Xingyue Vog 260 scooters

For the Variator you need TKC-TM42 http://www.martinracingdealer.com/SPD/tkc-tm42--80000FF7-1241654979.jsp
For more acceleration and more speed get the TK variator. How does it work? watch this its pretty cool and totally different from traditional variators.
VARIATOR YAMAHA MAJESTY 250CC / SAHARA 250CC FOR CHINESE VOG 260 LINHAI 250 CSR 250 ( JCL 260, VOG 260CC , XINGYUE, DIAMO 260CC , ROKETA 260CC SUNL) Variators by Turbo Kit Spain www.TurboKit.net The best racing variators available with circular capsule rollers made of carbon and nylon they slide in / out new variator in order to increase and improve the performance of your maxi-scooter. You'll achieve better acceleration, greater gas mileage, less vibration and no roller clanking. Upgrade your stock scooter for a smoother ride Comes complete with weights. www.TurboKit.net for more information.
TURISTA 260 Linhai Classic Aeolus 260 257cc Scooter also sold by Sunright, Linhai USA, Diamo, LS Motorsports, Powersports Factory and more!


Must have item? Air Filters

Air Filters,

This is a must have item for any store.
It's an essential upgrade. Make sure to check out the link to our Air Filter section. Having 130 stores across the country these guys know a little more about merchandising than the average shop and thats what I talk about to dealers you have to build the store experience. Stock parts. Air filters are used every day, don't let your client end up at Walmart because you don't stock an air filter.

Rollers, air filters, belts, these are all part of the equation of running a good shop. Contact us at MRP if you have questions on how to make a better air filter display we have the racks, displays, and yes lots of air filters. info @ mrp-speed.com

on our website: http://www.martinracingdealer.com/CategoryProductList.jsp?cat=Parts+by+Type:Air+Filters

Having a good stock of air filters can help you sell more upgrades, especially the little chrome ones. Consumers love these and if they see you stocking parts, guess what they will buy. It's terrible when a buyer is looking for variety and they can't find one in the shop, make sure to stock air filters. Walk into any Cycle Gear shop and they have a whole row of air filters.


More on Air Filters check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n257_VFBW_Y

Thursday, March 11, 2010

New Disk Brake Section on MRP website

We've added a new Disk Brake Section to the MRP site.

For Disk Brakes for every make and model visit us at www.mrp-speed.com



We have the best in OEM and Aftermarket disk ( disc ) brakes. For SYM, Kymco, Linhai, Jonway, Jincheng, United Motors, Diamo, CPI, LS Motorsports, Italjet, Malaguti, Benelli - Andretti, Aprilia, Honda, Yamaha, Genuine - PGO, GY6, QMB139, Vespa, Piaggio, check out www.mrp-speed.com

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Why you should avoid Cheap Sites

Once a day we get a call from someone who purchased a part online from Ebay or from Cheap Chinese Name your site.com They tell us the same story. I'm calling you because I have nobody else to call, or I found this on Ebay I need some support.

Buy from the local shop. It's the best way to make sure you get the support you need. Is it really worth it to save $10 if your local scooter dealer goes out of business. It's a sad state of affairs that had led us to this point in our country where people want tech support but are unwilling to pay someone to install a part.

I'm really getting tired of seeing the local shops close and its because as Americans we don't support our dealers. We have this Walmart mentality of cheaper = better. It's not true, in the end if you have nobody to fix your scooter and you can't do it yourself then the scooter is junk.

My favorite is when they pretend its one of our dealers and they are trying to blame them for not installing it correctly. Then it turns out they didn't want to pay for the install. In the end they say no were sorry we purchased it on Ebay. In Puerto Rico we have plenty of stores that advertise "Like MRP" then you get to the store and its not an MRP Kymco upgrade its some other brand. Same applies here, you get what you pay for. If you buy from a guy on Ebay you won't be getting any tech support or help. So stop buying on Ebay.

Support the local dealer. At least they will give you some support when you need it. If all the stores close there won't be a US scooter community.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Armadillo Scooter SafetyTV Commercial in the UK

Safety TV Commercial for UK Motorcycle / Scooter Riders

See if you can spot the Armadillo Scooter Jackets in this cool commercial from the UK on motorcycle safety