WHEN the covers come off the Vanguard Roadster at the New York Motorcycle show on December 9th the moment will mark the launch not only of a brawny new bike but also of a new brand with big ambitions. Vanguard is an audacious startup that reckons it can use the increasing digitisation of manufacturing to ride with the pack of long-established bike companies, such as Honda, Yamaha, Harley-Davidson, BMW and others, who are together set to sell some 500,000 motorcycles and scooters in America this year.
That might sound laughable. So far, Vanguard has built a grand total of one machine. At around $30,000, complete with a thumping 1.9 litre V-twin engine, it is priced at the premium end of the market (though well below the price of some superbikes, which can cost three times as much). But if Vanguard has its way, within a few years it will be selling several thousand motorcycles annually from a range of several different models.
What enables a startup to aim so high is the way digital technologies are lowering the cost of entry to manufacturing businesses that were once seen as the preserve of giants….Continue reading