Yesterday, we started a poll to find out what people think about manufacturers asking you to pay extra for software upgrades that are, essentially,... If your bike’s got it, should they let you have it as a free upgrade?

Yesterday, we started a poll to find out what people think about manufacturers asking you to pay extra for software upgrades that are, essentially, already on the bike. Things like special rider modes, quick shifters, or heated grips. If it’s already programmed into the bike, should the upgrade be ‘free’? Or is it better to give people the choice when it comes to ‘optional extras’ i.e. the choice to pay for the ones they want, and save money by not having the ones they don’t want.

Within 24 hours of yesterday’s poll going live, over 6,000 people had voted. And the results were fairly conclusive. 92% of you reckon that you shouldn’t have to pay for software upgrades, if you’re only turning something on that you’re bike’s already got. 8% of you prefer the flexibility to choose the upgrades you want, and pay for them when you want them.

Interestingly though, quite a few people correctly pointed out that there’s an alternative way of looking at this. It could be argued that the manufacturers are allowing their bikes to be retailed at a slightly discounted rate because of the fact that they don’t have all the gismos enabled. And that if you don’t want the extras, you shouldn’t be made to pay for them.

Free? What’s that?

Because let’s face it, nothing in life is exactly free, is it? Especially where motorcycles are concerned. If Honda, KTM, Triumph, Yamaha etc. decided to scrap the ‘optional’ part of their optional extras range, the price of the ‘standard’ bike would have to increase. And not just because of the R&D costs that have gone into developing those particular extras, but because manufacturers have got to make sure all their products maintain a price point that’s appropriate for where that particular product falls within their product range. If they sell a bike with all the bells and whistles on it, for the same price as it was without all the bells and whistles, it can (and will) devalue other bikes in their range (bikes that don’t have the bells and whistles); so then you have to make them cheaper. Before you know it, you’re selling bikes at a loss.

The point I’m trying to make is that if you want a bike with extra functions, really you have to pay for them. That’s whether you pay for them as an optional extra, or you pay a bit more for the bike that comes with them ‘as standard’.

It does seem a bit frustrating when bike manufacturers sell us bikes that are capable of so much, then tell us we’ve got to hand over some more cash if we want to make the most of them. And it would be absolutely fantastic if every year, we could take our bikes to the dealership for a free upgrade (like Ducati have just announced they’re doing with the Multistrada), but I don’t think it’s going to happen any time soon.

Unpopular opinion

I know from the results of the poll that this is an unpopular opinion, but I think I prefer to have the option to upgrade the things I want to upgrade, when I want to, and pay for it when I do. Because I understand that if they were to give us every upgrade ‘free’, it wouldn’t really be free. They’d just add it onto the price of the bike in the first place, with a bit extra for good luck, no doubt.

Not everyone wants the ‘shifters or the extra power modes that are sometimes available as ‘optional extras’. So I think it makes sense to make bikes a little bit cheaper if they haven’t got the tech enabled; and if you want it turning on, put your hand in your pocket.

If you don’t want it, you can use the cash you’ll save to buy the upgrades you do want. Or just spend it on beer and curry, it’s up to you.


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