New Kawasaki Mean Streak 1600 Motorcycle Also to Be Sold as Suzuki in 2004

A Suzuki version of the forthcoming Kawasaki Mean Streak 1600 will be the first street motorcycle exchanged in the recent alliance of the two firms. By Art Friedman.

According a release from Kawasaki's U.S. public-relations agency, the new-for-2004 Vulcan 1600 Mean Streak, which still has not been shown in its American colors, will also be sold by Suzuki.

Kawasaki and Suzuki announced an agreement a couple of years ago whereby they would cooperate on the development of new models. The agreement also permits each company to sell the other's models under they own name plates. The Mean Streak, which will presumably be called a Marauder 1600 as a Suzuki, is the first street bike affected by that agreement. Previously only off-road vehicles were exchanged. A Kawasaki built ATV will also be sold by Suzuki.

We expect to have official Suzuki photos of the new model this week (of September 7). We anticipate minor styling changes, perhaps including features like different wheels and certainly different paint and graphics, but the same running gear as the forthcoming Kawasaki Mean Streak 1600. The Suzuki version of the motorcycle will be built by Kawasaki, and presumably could be repaired at a Kawasaki dealer, though any warranty claims will have to be processed by a Suzuki dealer. We are interested to see how the two different brands' versions of the same bike are priced. Suzuki has traditionally been more aggressive in its cruiser pricing, and it's possible that it could undercut the price of the Kawasaki version of the same motorcycle, which may be easier because Suzuki has no overhead associated with the development and manufacture of the bike. It will also be interested to see how this plays out at dealers who carry both brands.

The release from Freeman McCue, the Kawasaki PR agency, follows.

Kawasaki to Provide Suzuki with Two Additional Units as Alliance Grows

IRVINE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sept. 5, 2003-- Suzuki Will Soon Be Announcing Their Versions of the 1600 Mean Streak(R) and Prairie(R) 700 4x4 to Their Dealers

Following the recent debut of Kawasaki's and Suzuki's co-developed 250cc four-stroke motocross model, the two-year-old Alliance between the brands will again be evident as Suzuki introduces two Kawasaki-produced models.

Suzuki retailers will be given the opportunity to have their branded versions of both the Kawasaki Vulcan(R) 1600 Mean Streak(R) motorcycle and Kawasaki's Prairie(R) 700 4x4 all-terrain vehicle (ATV).

"This further exemplifies the intent of the two companies when they entered into the Alliance," said Kawasaki's Tom Orbe, vice president, marketing.

"It is another step in the maturation of the agreement that has proven to be so successful for both brands' dealers, as well as for the consumer," continued Orbe.

Suzuki will receive the Kawasaki products that are each second-generation efforts of highly successful models -- both in terms of sales floor performance and meeting customer expectations.

Kawasaki helped to create the "muscle cruiser" segment of the motorcycle market with the original 1500 Mean Streak, winning accolades from journalists for its street fighter image, powerful engine and sportbike handling.

In the important ATV market, Kawasaki's Prairie 700 4x4 ATV is an enhanced version of the industry-leading Prairie 650 4x4, which was the first ATV to be powered by a V-twin engine and set new standards of power, handling and performance for the four-wheel drive utility segment. The new Prairie 700 4x4 features even more engine displacement and refinements, and editors are proclaiming it to have further raised the bar.

The Suzuki branded model of the Kawasaki 1600 Mean Streak will be produced at the Kawasaki plant in Akashi, Japan. The Suzuki model of the Prairie 700 4x4 will be built by Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing (KMM) in Lincoln, Neb., making it the first alliance product manufactured in the United States.

Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A., (KMC) markets and sells at wholesale Kawasaki motorcycles, ATVs, JET SKI(R) watercraft, MULE(TM) utility vehicles, power products and small engines. Kawasaki's tagline, Let the good times roll(TM), is recognized worldwide for the spirit of fun, adventure and high performance that characterizes the Kawasaki recreational vehicle lines. Kawasaki product lines are sold through a network of more than 1,500 independent retailers. The company and its affiliates employ nearly 2,400 people in the United States, with approximately 400 of them located at the Irvine, California headquarters.

For more breaking motorcycle news, visit the home page of www.MotorcycleCruiser.com.

This is the 2003 1500cc version of the Kawasaki. The Suzuki version will probably look much like it and have the same chassis.
This is the European version of the 2004 Mean Streak 1600. Kawasaki's U.S. version of the bike will not be available in orange. We expect the Suzuki to have some cosmetic changes.
Because they share the same musclebike style, the Suzuki 1600 will probably have the same Marauder designation as the company's home grown aggressively styled 800 cruiser.