On December 29, 2009 Ridley Motorcycles filed a voluntary petition under chapter 11.
The web site states “With Ridley’s production at idle waiting for the economic conditions to improve…” and goes on to tell you how to buy a certified pre-owned Ridley or get parts for one you already have.
Ridley Motorcycles were (are?) something different. With no clutch and no shifting, the constantly variable transmission design of the Ridley was unique among powerful “full size” motorcycles. There are plenty of devices of similar design in the scooter and automobile world, but nothing looked or sounded as much like a real motorcycle as the full size Ridley released in 2009.
But there are no new models.
The door of the future may still be slightly ajar, but after a law suit from Harley Davidson over the use of the term “Auto-Glide” was lost in what was rumored to be a half million worth of legal defense expenditures and the economic downturn, Ridley appears to be one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel.
We think it’s too bad.
Ridley looked like a very cool bike, perfect for new riders and especially for the ladies who could care less about shifting gears and blipping the hell out of the throttle at every red light. Unfortunately Harley Davidson saw the little startup father and son enterprise as some sort of threat and sent the corporate sharks after them with every row of teeth sharpened over the Auto-Glide term.
Not that we’re blaming Harley Davidson for the failure of Ridley to compete, but HD certainly didn’t appear to welcome a brand to the marketplace that was delivering something that likely would never have offered any real competition to the Harley Davidson legacy (read 50’s technology) motor bikes.
After all, the average Harley Davidson customer wants something that looks and sounds big, not an easy to ride, shiftless motorcycle that almost anyone can ride comfortably.
So maybe Harley Davidson is just a wee bit responsible for contributing to the demise of Ridley.
And it’s just another wee bit to add to the pile of reasons we don’t really care for the corporate leadership at The Motor Company.
They’re free to file suits and protect their “intellectual property” all they want. But it would be nice if they did more competing by building performance into their machines than bleeding new innovators to death in court.
Hopefully Ridley will get back on its feet by the time we’re ready to put the little lady on her first cruiser and we can go to Oklahoma for a test ride.
Meanwhile if you have some extra bucks and want to invest in a vintage bike, you might take a shot at a used Ridley. If it turns out that they never produce another new machine their short run of products from the past will certainly appreciate in value exponentially over the next couple of decades.