Wednesday, 26 October 2011
A US subscriber asked for more on Ward's Riverside Benellis, so here you go (and note 916 seat on the Yamaha behind!). What's interesting about these Benellis (though they weren't badged as such originally) is they tell how long it took the Italians to realise the value of building a brand: if someone wanted to buy you're bike but with a different sticker on the tank, you took the money and ran. So when American store Montgomery Wards Riverside wanted a range of bikes they just rebranded stuff from Lambretta and even Bianchi. R&D? Just say no...
This wasn't the only example: Laverdas were sold as American Eagle and Italjet built various "Indians" using Brit-bike engines. You can't help but wonder if the US would have a more varied motorcycle industry if someone had tried to develop and manufacture a new bike in the US rather than just outsourcing. Or if Ducati would be as strong a company today if they'd just been branded Berliner in the US