Monday, 8 September 2008

BMW Should Help Pimp My Ride

I'm having an interesting discussion with BMW in the context of my efforts to reduce the wind noise on my R1150 GS.

It's been quite tough to find all the information on steps you can take to reduce wind noise. Most of it involves products offered in the after-market and no one seemed to have gathered the data together. So rather than waste my effort, I blogged it all and sent the link to BMW and MotorcycleNews.

While BMW were pleased to see the blog and its subsequent publication on MCN, they said "we are unlikely to link this to our website as it mentions other companies that we do not endorse or have any links with".

Now that's exactly the sort of standard corporate guff that I expected. Although I must say that I'm grateful BMW even took the time to respond, let alone say they liked the blog.

But in my view BMW is missing a few tricks by not facilitating its customers' efforts to personalise their bikes, notwithstanding their World of BMW off-road training courses, holidays and other efforts to encourage riding.

First, it would enable BMW to maintain a positive relationship with people who'd recently bought a bike. That relationship would help in the event there were any problems with the bike - and BMW recently admitted some quality control problems as demand for their bikes increases. Perhaps it was that admission which emboldened some owners to publicise their dissatisfaction, but those owners might not have felt so frustrated or inclined to publicise their concerns if their issues were swept up in the course of positive discussions about after-market features.

Second, BMW could profit from the after-market, both in terms of selling their own accessories as well as perhaps a revenue share on the sale of others' kit, e.g. via ad revenue on an owners' community website.

Third, well-facilitated personalisation options may make the bikes more attractive. Look at the Toyota's customisable Scion. The ability to personalise the car itself, drew praise in Peter Sheahan’s book, Flip. And according to the entry in Wikipedia:
"Scion offers about 40 different accessories; other after-market companies through the Optomize Scion program offer to add other accessories, as well. For example, one can add a subwoofer as well as different types of decals. The tC now offers an optional supercharger to increase power from 161 to 200 hp (120 to 150 kW). All accessories are sold individually, and do not require special packages. However, some options, such as Ground Effects, do prevent other accessories (such as mud flaps) from being installed. Companies that participate in the Optomize Scion program include GReddy, OBX, RÄZO, a few car detailing companies, and others."
So, what's to stop BMW facilitating its customers' efforts to personalise their bikes?

Nothing except BMW itself.
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