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Featured Sumoto Motorcycles: An Insider's Perspective

Discussion in 'Businesses and Service Providers' at netrider.net.au started by jaguarfanster, Sep 9, 2013.

  1. #1 jaguarfanster, Sep 9, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 10, 2013
    First let me introduce myself. My name is Desmond, however, I prefer Des.

    I've been riding, and participating with Netrider, for almost two years now. My story began from selling a old Falcon and purchasing a 1988 Honda Spada. I've met and ridden with a few interesting people on this forum. That in addition to riding daily to university and work. Eventually I upgraded from the Spada to a CBR954RR. Needless to say; I love every part of it. However that would warrant another thread and maybe even a room. Regardless I kept the Spada and spent most of last summer tearing it down and rebuilding it as a Cafe racer. I documented the whole process in a thread in Netrider's 'modifications and projects' section. Google 'honda spada cafe racer' and the thread is the #1 link.

    Now for the interesting part.

    Having completed uni earlier this year, I happened to be on the lookout for a new job. Scouring SEEK for motorcycling related jobs, daily, yielded little result. However eventually I spotted an odd one. A job advert for a new sales guy at "Sumoto". Oh no. If you aren't aware of Sumoto's reputation here you're either; (a) living under a rock or (b) new to the forum. I'll assume you're B. In any case a quick search will bring up some. 'unsavoury', posts regarding Sumoto. In particular their dealings with learner riders. But, what the hell I said, and applied anyway.

    Skip forward two weeks and I'm sitting in front of the owner/manager of Sumoto; Monier. The interview is mine. Strangely enough, it was less employer interviewing candidate, but rather, a candidate interviewing the employer. Armed with Netrider forum ammunition I shot Monier penetrating questions. Why do you guys import dodgy old Jap bikes, repaint them, and pawn them off, as new products to uninitiated learner riders? Why do you guys sell unreliable bikes and refuse to repair them? Why do guys wind back bikes? If you hadn't noticed by the questioning, my perception was fixed; Sumoto was guilty of everything.

    Monier's response was simple. "You've got the job". However it was more than that. Monier offered me an opportunity. To work, first-hand, with the business daily. To see for myself how Sumoto conducts itself and whether any of my, and essentially Netrider's, accusations could be true. Infiltrate the enemy and get paid to do so? Damn straight I accepted.

    Its since been five months. Five months in which I've developed a thorough understanding into Sumoto's operations. I've seen Sumoto from the top, bottom, and under the panties. And my verdict is this; All the anti-Sumoto propaganda on Netrider is unwarranted. Tarting up older Japanese bikes, selling them to unsuspecting learners, overcharging, refusing to honour warranties etc. None of it is true.

    "But you're getting paid to say this" is what you're probably thinking. Well, that's true. I am getting paid. Yet it's my personal reputation I'm staking too. I'm not nameless nor faceless. If what I say turns out to be false, and another learner 'horror story' is posted, it'll stick with me. Tarnish my name. I'm trying to get into med school next year, so, the last thing I need is a negative online reputation.

    Conflicts of interests aside I'll start by describing the motorcycles Sumoto sells. Or, in other words, the bikes I sell. Generally Sumoto sells 700-800 bikes a year. I know shocking really. But I've seen the invoices (and made some decent commissions, hooray for me). In the time I've been at Sumoto; around 250 bikes were sold. Of these bikes no Honda CBR250RR's were sold and about 10 Honda RVF400s were sold. These bikes are generally from which most of Sumoto's negative opinions are drawn from. I.e, old bikes, 'done up', to look like new.

    Contrary to popular opinion Sumoto does not import any motorcycles. The importation is handled by a RAWS (registered automotive workshop) specialist. They trade under the name "OTOBAI wholesalers" and supply Sumoto, and dealers around the country, with imported motorcycles.

    The bikes supplied by OTOBAI include the above Honda models, Yamaha XVS400 and XVS650 cruisers, Honda GB250, GB400, and GB500, Honda VT400, and the Honda VLX400 and VLX600. Every post-1988 motorcycle must comply with stringent ADR requirements by the RAWS specialist. An ISO 9001:2000 quality management system ensures that OTOBAI provide us with motorcycles that are actually...good. Moreover auditors authorised by the Department of Infrastructure and Transport ensure that OTOBAI complies with the standards. This is the same in regards all used motor vehicle importers.

    All motorcycles built after 1988, including the CBR250RR, RVF400, VT400, and XVS400 must meet the Department of Infrastructure and Transport, RAWS, standards. Conversely motorcycles built before 1988 do not go through this process. Instead they are scrutinised individually, by a state appointed engineer, and issued with an engineer's certificate. In Victoria, 'CARTECH', handles this work for Sumoto (Shout out to Rowan from Cartech!).

    In addition to the department's requirements and engineering requirements the final stage of pre-delivery checks at Sumoto occur at roadworthy. Again, contrary to popular opinion on Netrider, Sumoto does not roadworthy their own bikes. They've never held a roadworthy license. Hence all roadworthy work, in Victoria, is done by Ultratune in Essendon. (If you're ever in need of a roadworthy ask for John. Say Des sent you). Naturally customers organise their own roadworthys/blueslips for bikes interstate. So far I've never been called by an interstate customer complaining that their bike didn't pass roadworthy/blueslip.

    Finally, for all used road bikes, Sumoto adds a 6 month warranty on the engine/gearbox. Normally used bikes don't come with any warranties. I suppose that was one of the reasons buying private off bikesales worried me slightly. So far so good on the CBR954RR. Did I say I love that bike? Regardless I've witnessed a few customers return with issues on their bikes. However none of them related to the engine/gearbox. All were minor; indicator switch not working, brake light not working etc. Nevertheless every customer's bike was repaired at no charge.

    Out of the 250 sales since my employment commenced 40% were road bikes and 60%, dirt/trail/motocross/quads. The latter was most surprising for me. Sumoto is a huge retailer of dirt bikes. HUGE. Like the road bikes, a supplier directly imports brand new dirt bikes, from Japan, for Sumoto. Sumoto goes on to sell these all over the country. It's pretty amazing that we outsell most official dealers, like Yamaha, Kawasaki, and Honda, in dirt purely because of our prices. For example the Yamaha WR450F is sold at $2000 to sometimes even $3000 less than RRP of Yamaha Australia dealers. And it's the same bike from Japan. Official dirt bike dealers don't particularly love Sumoto.

    In regards road bikes Sumoto's biggest sellers are the Honda VLX400, VT400, and Yamaha XVS400 and XVS650. They're full sized cruisers that can be ridden on a learner license. I thought they were Harley's when I first my did my interview. But then again I'm not really a cruiser man.

    Interestingly Sumoto behaves almost like a custom shop in cruiser sales. Customers request painted wheels, tanks, fenders, white wall tyres and more. All painting is done professionally by a local paint shop. The best example of Sumoto's custom work is the Honda VLX400...bobber. A learner bobber created in-house from VLX400. Despite not being a cruiser man it's definitely forcing me to change my view. Note that upon completion the bobbers are engineered by CARTECH.

    In all, I would say the past five months have led me to reshape views I once held as truth. I hadn't ever met anyone personally who bought a bike from Sumoto, yet, I condemned them. It seems that much of the negative sentiment against Sumoto stems from a few negative reviews around 2006. I can't speak for their authenticity but I'll just assume they were true. In any case, if you were one of those review-writers, and happen to be reading this, feel welcome to bring your bike back where all issues will be addressed. As far as I know Sumoto was bought out by a new owner in 2009; Monier (my interviewer). Perhaps that's when practices changed? I don't know. Yet most of which Sumoto is accused of never occured i.e. they import motorcycles themselves in a dingy container! (see OTOBAI) So I'm not sure what could have changed there.

    If you're still curious check out the website www.sumoto.com.au. I built it with my two hands and works great with iPhones and Androids!

    Anyway It's 4am in the morning, and I'm feeling a little sleepy, so forgive me if I've missed anything. Please reply if you have any other questions or wish to oust me a traitor. Speaking of which I learnt my Honda Spada, actually came through OTOBAI, then to Sumoto, then to guy in the ACT, and then me! VIN numbers baby! So perhaps I was tainted from the beginning.

    <Mod Edit: Removed blatant discounted gear plug per NR rules.>
    • Like Like x 4
  2. Netriders, have a gander at the opening post giving an insider perspective of Sumoto motorcycles - LAMS specialist. They are also owners of a heavily crap reputation here on NR, but in the interests of balance, the opening post was allowed to give it a right of reply.

    You decide.

    Post up your experiences and questions.

    @jaguarfanster - over to you.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. I think the problem with bikes from Sumoto (and other 'grey import' sellers) is that when owner take the bike to an authorised dealer and gets told they can't get parts because it's not an official import and no supported by the Manufacturer.

    I also find it interesting that Peter Stevens has a not to dissimilar reputation for ripping customer off.
  4. How can u possibly not get parts for a grey import that's identical to the manufacturer bike just because it came over on a different ship? Can anyone confirm this ?
  5. Stockholm syndrome? ;)
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Hey Justus. Thanks for the reply!

    It's pretty funny considering I actually read Toadcat's post as a learner myself. It didn't help my opinions of Sumoto. It seems the majority of issues have stemmed from an idea that Sumoto imports bikes themselves, in pieces, puts them back together, and sells them for high mark ups.

    Since I've been here I found that that part isn't true. Sumoto does not import anything.

    A Registered Automotive Workshop (RAW), Otobai wholesales, is in charge of that. They supply supply Sumoto and other dealers around Australia. The bikes roll into the shop in one piece. The way I see it if Otobai were to piece bikes together then the Depart of Infrastructure and Transport would revoke their license. They've been in business for about 15 years...

    Brownyy just seems angry hahaha. So I can't say much there.

    As for the customer that wanted a deposit refund on the CRF dirt bike. Well I don't know anything about that. So I can't comment on it. Regardless if you're that guy and you're reading this. Come into store and I'll sort it out for you. Myself. With my own hands!

    Having said that. We always have motocross/dirt bikes in stock. However since Sumoto's prices are usually around $2000+ under retail; sometimes waiting lists occur. If the supplier has an issue then a delay might happen. Regardless we do keep everyone informed of this. However there is just no way that that customer would have not received his CRF.

    Sumoto would go to court. Get sued. Police would involved. But then again none of this happened?

    He saw the posts on Netrider. And understandably he become worried. Hopefully I can provide some insight into Sumoto to change that.

    What's interesting with bikes in Australia is that....all of them are imported.

    There's no substantial differences between an 'officially' imported bike and a 'parallel' import bike. If there is any difference it most likely lies in the exhaust/emissions requirements.

    The term 'grey import' is really a car term. That as there can be major differences between an overseas car and an Australian delivered/customised one. Hence an overseas car, parallel imported in Australia, becomes a sort of 'gray area'.

    But back to bikes! What could be customised differently to an overseas bike versus an Australian delivered bike? Hence the parts are all interchangeable. When an licensed dealer refuses to provide parts for these bikes; well that's just anti-competitive practice.

    Nevertheless Sumoto can always order in parts, from the supplier, for any bike sold. But then again most parts ordered tend to be consumables. With the rise of internet sales, and strong Australian dollar, people tend to avoid buying parts from 'authorised dealers'. Well that unless you wish to get pay more. Which is fair considering they have a business to run.

    It's funny that I've had customers come in and say this about our Motocross/dirt bikes.

    "The Yamaha dealer says your bikes are different and we can't get parts for them"

    I love it. All Japanese motocross/dirt bikes delivered to Australia whether official or parallel come from the one place...

    you guessed it....Japan!

    If these bikes are made in the same factory, by the same workers, in the same dimension....will the parts be different? Of course not.

    But then again how do you compete with a parallel importer, like Sumoto, who sells these type of bikes for $2000 or so less than retail? Just say we won't give you parts! hahaha

  7. Thanks Justus. I do appreciate you taking the time to ask these questions. Nevertheless I'll try and answer them to the best of my knowledge.

    The claim I made of our bikes being about $2000 less than retail applies only to Motocross/dirt bikes. The ninja is a road bike so that is exempt. Regardless I haven't seen Sumoto sell a Ninja since I've been here.

    I'll just find some references prices to back up what I said. Just at uni currently.
    Stay tuned.
  8. A 2008 model ninja 250 for $4990 is expensive when guys are asking the same $ for 2013 model ninja 300's
  9. #9 b12mick, Sep 10, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2013
    @jaguarfanster this is for you too.

    For starters not all non-official imports are absolutely identical to the official import. There can be and often are subtle differences.

    Edit: For example. For 2 years Suzuki imported GSX250's (Baby Bandits) but differed slightly from the 'grey import', the colour of the rocker cover was the biggest give away.

    The term 'grey import' refers to vehicles that were imported to a country by someone other than the official importer.

    The other issue you have is that often when you order a part for a vehicle (any vehicle) to ensure you are getting the right part you quote the VIN/Chassis number or Engine Number. When you order for the official importer they will know if that number is one of theirs (for a better term) and they may or may not have the correct part.
  10. I've never known anyone thats bought any bikes from Sumoto seeing as Im in SA but I have of course not missed the flashy painted bikes in the coloured adverts in the bikesales magazines etc.

    IMHO, the road bikes are overpriced a bit for what they eg: the CBR250R/RRs are getting on a good deal now but you're paying extra for things like Tyga kits and new paint jobs in most cases. They sure do look nice, I've got to say that.

    I've also heard that you "shouldn't buy a sumoto bike" but Im not really sure when or how I heard that, just something I've picked up over the years during conversation. They def do have a reputation to avoid them.

    I'd like to say, I had a look at the website, it's very clear, a great design and easy to navigate I think, so well done on that :) I do love those RVF400's, I was looking into them a little while back when thinking about upgrading as I don't really want a 600cc but a 400-500 would be great, I really feel the market is suffering a bit by having negelcted those sizes. Saying that but, I'm now interested in the CBR500r since it came out so would prob get one of those cause I prefer fuel injection over carbies but Im still curious about the RVF's with the V4 engine and single sided swingarm, they're a bit of a unique machine.

    It's very interesting to hear an insiders view on the whole thing, maybe this can be the start of a new era for Sumoto. Thanks for taking the time to do the writeup :)

  11. Hey basejumper. Thanks for the reply. By the way are you actually a basejumper? That looks like an awesome dp.

    Back on topic. You really have to compare apples with apples here. You'll probably find a ninja 250 cheaper on private sales. But that's what they are private sales. You don't know what you're getting and don't have support if anything goes wrong. Now I'm not sledging private sales at all. I bought both my bikes privately and I love em. But not everyone is mechanically capable. Or has the spare time.

    We have some virtually new Ninja's on the floor. You're welcome to come and pick apart the bikes if you'd like. Bring the RACV or a licensed vehicle tester with you.

    The ninja 300 on the other hand retails for $6300 to $6500. Second hand; the cheapest bikesales has is $5500. This is going by cheapest dealer used bikes on bikes. Again I'm only comparing with dealers.
  12. Almost sounds like you've joined a cult and have been brainwashed.

    20 negative reviews vs's one positive review from an employee... i know what i'm going to go with.

    as justus said reputations don't just change over night..

    good luck with your job though.
  13. #13 jaguarfanster, Sep 10, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2013
    That's entirely true Justus. No such thing as a free lunch. As much as we'd all like it.

    However the situation is a little different with Motocross/dirt. The prices you see in Australia are rather inflated. Not just on the dirt bikes but to everything; even photoshop for example.

    Being perfectly honest, Sumoto is able to sell dirt bikes heavily discounted (brand new), and yet come out in front. It's purely because, Sumoto is independent, doesn't have to contend with middle men of 'official supply chains', and thereby secures a much lower cost price. A cost price that is passed onto the consumer.

    Now Justus just as I promised here are some price comparisons;

    Sumoto sells the 2012 WR250F for $7,490 as advertised on the site.

    Conversely Peter Stevens sells the same bike for $9,990.
    Bear in mind the Sumoto WR is not road registrable. This as the majority of customers in VIC and certain other states just use the WR for trail use. That is they only need recreational registration and not registration. If Sumoto were to add a road registrable characteristic to the WR the price would increase by $600. Sumoto would be still be cheaper. But, what's the point in people paying another $600 for something they don't even need...

    Some other quick price comparisons after hasty googling! (Haha you put me on the spot Justus!)

    Sumoto sells the 2013 YZ450F for $8,490

    Peter stevens sells the same bike for $8,990

    Sumoto sells the 2013 KX250F for $7,990

    Peter stevens sells the same bike for $8,490

    I know the difference here is $500 not $2000 so apologies for that. However the difference does expand when you consider all the motocross/trail/dirt bikes sold by Sumoto.

    Bear in mind Sumoto also sells the 2014 versions too. Yet I couldn't find a, in writing, price quote from other supplier. I'll keep it posted.

    Hey Sumoto promised me eternal life!! Don't take that away from me.

    Nevertheless Mikey I totally accept if you don't 'trust' Sumoto. I'm not asking you to.

    I am asking you to give us a chance. Hear the whole story. See for yourself.

    Writing Sumoto off on the "20 or so negative reviews" is what I did too. It's easy but....it's not fair.

    Why don't you come in and talk to me personally? Have a gander at the bikes? I make a brilliant coffee! Seriously like excellent coffee.

    Hey hey Justus. You're really lawyering into me! Please. Be gently baby.

    Check out my other reply I shot at you.
  14. did sumoto hire a bike salesperson or a PR consultant?

    Sumoto sell imported bikes, whether they are the importer or not makes no difference, many companies operate in this manner with different branches of the company being seperate entities for various liability reasons.

    e.g and just a hypothetical the importer lands themselves in the shit, closes its doors and pulls a pheonix to pop up again a the next day under a new company name, all the while the public face remains at arms length.

    when you mentioned ultratune I almost wet my pants ultratune is hardly a reputable company and once again when something bad happens they blame a franchisee.

    if sumoto is genuinely trying to turnover a new leaf good luck, if its a ploy to try and bring in some new customers well time will tell if they truly have upped their game.

  15. Trojanhorse! Thanks for giving a warm fuzzy feeling. I'm glad you like the site. I did lose some sleep on it.

    If you're looking to upgrade from the bike you have now (a gs500?) you'll be thoroughly underwhelmed with the CBR500R.

    The RVF400 is in a league of it's own. It's meant to be a proper racing machine. Inverted forks, fully adjustable, gear driven cams. Technology that is still miles ahead of the CBR500. The CBR500 is not really a race bike. It's more of a tourer hence the single R. And it does that job well.

    But if you want to be impressed, but not 600cc-1000cc impressed, check out the RVFs. They start at $6,790 from Sumoto.

    Now I will end this shameless plug. I'm sorry.
  16. Nope I've got a 2011 CBR250r, so the CBR500r should be more than enough bike for me, I prefer newer bikes & fuel injection anyway and now the new 500's can fulfil that I can't see me getting a mid 90's bike with carbies over that :)

    I was looking at the RVFs before the CBR500r came out but what stopped me even then (apart from money) was the age and technology (or lack of). I've had a 2008 CBR125r and now the 250 so am used to and prefer new/er bikes and it seemed I would be taking a big step backwards after what I've already had by getting a RVF. I don't really need a race-type bike either, I only putt around at 60-80 most places lol.

    But no worries, happy to give you guys some POSITIVE feedback :)
  17. Hey iClint thank you for you reply.

    I'm going to have to disagree with there 'not being a difference whether or not Sumoto is the importer'.

    Here's why. Plenty of Sumoto flak is derived from, as detailed in Justus' post,

    "They put bikes together. They tart up broken bikes"

    If Sumoto is not importing the bikes or handling importation then the above would not be possible. Well unless the importer is providing scrap bikes. Again that's not possible as it's illegal and you'd get sued. Every bike imported by the importer has its VIN recorded onto Australia's national database; NEVDIS. Everything about the imported bike is catalogued.

    OTOBAI, the importer, has been around for more than 15 years. They supply other dealers too with learner bikes and full sized bikes; including Harleys.

    Given their age I can't really comment your hypothetical scenario. But surely you would agree there is a stringent government process, auditing the whole import process. If this is breached the import license is revoked.

    OTOBAI's import licenses have never been revoked. So something doesn't add up.

    Regardless I appreciate your questions iClint. I really do. I know you've formed an opinion on Sumoto. But can I ask for you to come instore and meet us personally? See the whole operation for yourself?

    If you see anything, and I mean anything, described as issues on Netrider over the years;

    I'll give you a a free helmet. And jacket. And pants. And boots.

    Hahah I'm really blind its says CBR250R right name. I actually wear glasses. I think I'm up for a new prescription.

    Well that's fair. Age is a downside to the RVFS. That and carbies and all analogue gauges. But some people love this about the RVF. So it's good for that market I suppose.

    Nevertheless thank you trojanhorse for contributing. When I get vendor status on Netrider I'll throw you a gear special.

    And maybe even coffee.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  18. just because something is illegal or regulated doesn't mean its not done and dropping ultratunes name as providing the RWC did not inspire any confidence in me.

    I know dodgy workshops that will pink slip anything to.

    the fact is you do not know what happens to the bikes before you get them.

    Sorry but i don't agree in "stringent government process, auditing the whole import process".

    most people would have never heard of OTOBAI so when they have a problem with their bike they go back to the dealer, if the dealer fobs them off or milks them with trip after trip back to the mechanic its not long before the bike owner just chalks it up to experience and sells the bike.

    I'm sure it all looks very shiny on the surface, and I'm not from vic, but we have our share of bad dealers in NSW Action at Parramatta has a shitty rep, the sales experience is A1 but after sales support is a completely different story.

    you are obviously on a missions and I won't get in the way of that, because as i said before time will tell whether they have truly turned over a new leaf.

    Good luck.
  19. Thanks for your post Clint. You have a good point with us not knowing what happens to the bikes before we get them. We just can't. Sumoto doesn't import. And it never had.

    What Sumoto can do though is ensure that when something does go wrong it will be addressed. Like I've mentioned before, I've been around here for 5 months, so I can't comment on the 'reviews' Sumoto has earned before.

    What I can say is this. Monier, has never given someone the cold shoulder after a sale. That is when a problem does arise arrangements are made to ensure a solution. It gets problematic when a customer is interstate, but, Sumoto has ties with workshops who can sort the issues interstate.

    I know that sounds really cheesy/salesy. But I don't know how I could prove it other than like you said; 'through time'.

    Forgive me if I'm wrong but you seem to dislike Ultratune. Fair enough, I don't know of your experiences. And I respect that. Ultratune Essendon does our work. I can't comment on their processes. I don't them first-hand. But it's better than Sumoto doing their own roadworthy work. Which, they never have.

    But anyway I understand that you've made up your viewpoints. If you're ever in Melbourne I'd love to meet you Clint. Maybe even grab a beer with you.

    And thank you!
  20. Ultratune have a scam where they get people in for a $79 Major service.

    once they have your car they tend to target women and tell them they have some serious issues, if this does not work then the next part of the scam is that it is against some made up law to release the car back with it in the condition it is in usually something about brakes.

    $79 for a major service is just impossible less GST its only ~$64 they count on scamming people out of more money using the impossibly cheap service as bait.
    • Agree Agree x 1