I love the Cobra Motorcycle company. It’s a great American story and proof that you don’t have to be Japanese to make a competitive dirt bike. I wrote about Cobra last year in a piece on just that topic.
Now this Detroit Free Press article on Cobra features Cobra as an American manufacturer who is growing sales, even overseas, despite the recession. According to the article Cobra sold 1,100 combined motorcycle/ATV units last year. That’s nothing compared to the Japanese. But since when does that matter?
1,100 units is nothing. The Big Four plus KTM sell about a quarter million dirt bikes a year in the US across their entire product lines. If you knock it down to just the 85cc and under size it’s a lot less, but still more than 1,100 each.
Yet 1,100 units is enough for Cobra to make a profit, have employees, manufacture in the US, and keep growing. What’s more, they win races.
In dirt bikes winning on the race track is what matters. And Cobra does that.
Cobra bikes already boast an impressive racing record, winning dozens of amateur motocross national championships. Chief competitors include motorcycles from Austria’s KTM Power Sports AG and Italy’s Polini Motori.
The company has 100 dealers across the United States, including Waterford, Jonesville and Ludington in Michigan. Last fall, Cobra hired its first employee in Europe, where it is signing up distributors.
Cobra bikes gained a following in the mid-’90s based on their performance. Bud Maimone, an owner of a tool and die shop near Youngstown, Ohio, created the bikes for his son to fill a niche that he didn’t think anyone was serving well.
Hilbert, Cobra’s president, and seven other investors are buying the company from Maimone, a process expected to take a few years. Half of Cobra’s investors, including Hilbert, are former auto engineers.
A small American motorcycle company owned by reformed auto engineers. Selling bikes, winning races, and pushing forward. That’s the kind of innovation we need to get the country back on track, not $1 trillion bailouts so corrupt bankers can buy new corporate jets.