The Honda Dealer Introduction at the MGM Grand this year in Las Vegas was quite impressive to say the least. Honda had 15 new models that they will be releasing in the upcoming year on full display. Any and everything from turbo charged watercraft to CRF125s were brought across the stage like runway models for the press and Honda dealers to get a sneak peek at.
The show was hosted by Ray Blank and began with a moment of silence for those lost last week. Then it was time to get to business. First, we were introduced to Honda’s new slogan – “The power of dreams.” It began with the first motorcycle they produced 54 years ago called the “Dream.” They decided to get back to their roots to regain the number one spot in off-road vehicles. From what we saw, it looks like they’re heading in the right direction. Honda has set their standards high, and all of their new models are four strokes. Not only that, but they’re building almost every new model to meet emissions standards several years down the road.
Two years ago Honda set out to dominate, and ithey set up a three-year plan for the company. Their results after the first year of intense marketing and superior product development boosted their offroad sales by 41% in one year. This year, their sales jumped another 48%, and CR250R sales went up 25%, making it the highest selling 250 this year. Fortunately, their marketing strategy is working out. Adding 15 new models to their already massive selection will only get them closer to fulfilling their dreams.
Not all of the new models were motocross related, but here are the new models. Each model has a newly designed twin-spar aluminum frame, an integrated rear brake master cylinder, aluminum spoke nipples and lighter front and rear hubs. You already know about the CRF450 (unless you’ve been living under a rock). It has been designed to meet the AMA’s specifications to race in the 250 class, and it only weighs 13 pounds more than its little brother, the CR250. It’s a single overhead cam four stroke, it’s wicked fast, and it goes wherever you want it to go on a track. It’s going to be tough to beat this year. Then came the CR250R. The 250 has a case-reed engine this year with an all-new electronic RC powervalve. The CR125 started out as a light bike already, but it went on a serious weight-loss program for 2002. The new CR125R weighs in at 200 pounds (without gas). That’s five pounds lighter than any other bike in its class. The 2002 CR125R also received a 36mm Mikuni TMX-x carburetor, as opposed to the Mikuni TMX of last year.
We had a moment of excitement when we were told that there was going to be a CRF150 and 230F released next fall for 2003. We were hoping that they might be motocross bikes, but come to find out, they are going to be mini versions of the CRF450, only in more of an XR sense. They will both be air-cooled, have front disc brakes, and the 230 will have an electric starter. They both sound like fun play bikes. Honda also claimed that they are slashing their prices by $200 on all 2002 small bikes. It sounds like now is the time to get a bike for junior.
One of the biggest surprises of the evening was learning that Mike and Jeff Alessi will both be riding CR80Rs this next year. The two brothers showed up and turned a few laps for the crowd around a small track that Dirt Wurx built for the occasion.
Scott Summers also officially announced his retirement in the midst of the festivities. Scott decided to call it quits after 14 years of racing professionally, and winning 9 national championships. Scott will keep working for Honda, and is going to teach with Honda Riders Club of America and some youth classes.
Just when we thought that the show was over, a CR250 with the number 4 on it pulled out from between the curtains. It was Ricky Carmichael, and it was his first appearance on a Honda. It was then that it was finally made official that RC was riding for Honda (not like we didn’tt already know). After a brief intro, RC turned three laps, did two pretty good whips and one no-footed can-can, got the crowd fired up, and then grabbed the mic. “I’m glad to be here. Thank you for such a great welcome. I’ve always wanted to be here. I think that Honda has the greatest technology, and at my point in my career to take it to another level. I think I’ll have what it takes to beat all of the records of the guy I’m trying to beat. I think my heart is where it needs to be right here. Thank you for all of the support.” RC sounded confident in his decision, spoke well, and looked good on his Honda. It was a strange sight to swallow, though.
With that, Ray Blank closed the intro by saying “It’s great now, and I can only promise you that it will only get better. Please, join us.” He’s right. With RC on board, it can only get better.