What is Harley doing?

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by btcn, Jan 26, 2011.

  1. btcn

    btcn Long timer

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    I just read an article in the newspaper today about Harley actually trying to solve their problem of most riders being of old age and getting older. I also read an article about their sales going down BIG TIME!

    Its no wander this is happening. So what do they do? They go and make some "dark custom" line of motorcycles or something like that foolishly thinking it's going to draw in the younger crowd! The bikes are supposed to look MORE classic and bare bones or something, with uncomfortable tractor style seats. Its basically a whole new line of bikes just like the 48, but NO NEW MODELS!

    I have no idea who is in charge of this, but they need to pull their head out from where ever it is! Seriously, this is not going to draw any new younger riders in!

    While I am personally a very big fan of Harley and am one of the younger riders, I see their problem. Seriously, their BIG problem is price. Yes, hardcore Harley riders may pay the price, but do you think a 15 year old who just got his motorcycle license is going to go out and spend $10,000+ on a brand new 800 pound hog? I REALLY REALLY doubt that! Ain't happening. He will either buy an older Japanese four on Craigslist, or buy some sort of sports bike like a Ninja 250 or an R6.

    See, Harley needs to wake up. While they ARE trying and like to say they are trying really hard, they aren't trying hard at all. Oh, so were going to paint some bikes black and make them look classic. Thats REALLY going to get the younger crowds into Harleys!

    What they need to do is FIRST make more sporty bikes, not older classic badass bikes! I mean they tried with the XR 1200, but it still runs a Sportster motor, and is a bit pricey. Plus, it is under advertised, as I meet many who haven't even heard of such a bike. If they could drop the price and drop a V-Rod motor in, tune it, and show it smoking an R6 it JUST MIGHT draw some younger riders in!

    But they probably won't. I don't think they will ever go out of business, but they might get to the point where they have no choice but do something.

    To bad they don't do something like Yamaha either.

    I just found out about this neat little bike today:

    http://www.starmotorcycles.com/star/products/modelhome/589/0/home.aspx

    I have never heard of this bike! Its a cool little 250 cc true V-Twin Yamaha V-Star! It runs from 0-60 MPH in just under 10 seconds, yet looks like a Harley and has that cool sound! It is a great price too! I think that one has not been advertised very well, or it would be far more popular! This is the engine that Lifan Clones for their 250 V-twin!

    I just don't know what Harleys doing, but AT LEAST they realize this problem is starting to develop!
    #1
  2. JBSmith

    JBSmith Ink-stained wretch

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    "What they need to do is FIRST make more sporty bikes, not older classic badass bikes! I mean they tried with the XR 1200, but it still runs a Sportster motor, and is a bit pricey. Plus, it is under advertised, as I meet many who haven't even heard of such a bike. If they could drop the price and drop a V-Rod motor in, tune it, and show it smoking an R6 it JUST MIGHT draw some younger riders in! "

    Great idea! Maybe start with a Sportster engine, then get a guy with real racing experience to build a trick chassis for it, set him up in a separate division to design and build them, and then sell it through Harley dealers...

    Oh. Wait.
    #2
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  3. JDLuke

    JDLuke Ravening for delight

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    :rofl
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  4. Disco Stu

    Disco Stu I'm Barry F'n Gibb!!

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    I wonder how much of the Buell failure was due to being sold in Harley dealerships. I'm not talking people that went looking for Buells and were dismissed by the salespeople, I'm talking people that decided to never go look at the Buell because they didn't want to go to a Harley dealership because that's where their great uncle went to buy his bikes.
    #4
  5. dwoodward

    dwoodward Long timer

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    This.

    And some of this. I get enough of "when you going to buy a real bike" everywhere else already.
    #5
  6. Blue&Yellow

    Blue&Yellow but orange inside...

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    I like Harleys but never bought one because:

    1. They are expensive
    2. They rust (Yes - there, I've said it. It's a bike built for sunshine and not all weather riding)
    3. They have shit brakes, all of them (except maybe the XR1200)
    4. Poor attention to detail, Honda's Fury is better built than anything Harley's put out in the last 100 years
    5. Poor handling, they're just heavy and slow

    Don't get me wrong I'm not a Harley hater, the more variety on the roads the better and I do get that on a sunny day when you just want to cruise around a Harley can be the perfect motorcycle. it's just I use my bike for recreation and transport and want a motorcycle that's both fun and practical. The Harley to me isn't especially fun and definitely not practical.

    For me this has always been one of Harley's fundamental problems, their bikes just aren't practical enough to live with day to day. Back in the days when Harley sales were booming Honda were building 750cc inline fours and the gold wing was a naked bike with 4 cylinders. A Harley was about as practical and comfortable as anything out there. But now you have BMWs with perfect aerodynamics for all day touring, you have bikes with ABS and ASC for added safety, you have heated grips for cold mornings. And everyone in the entire industry (even Suzuki and Kawa) has figured out how to make a bike that doesn't rust.
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  7. ikonoklass

    ikonoklass Kountersteering Krew

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    Thing is, whenever Harley makes a sensible bike, no one buys it. The Convertible, the FXDXT, the Street Rod ... they couldn't give those bikes away.
    #7
  8. CopaMundial

    CopaMundial Wow, that broke easy

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    Why would they go to all that trouble when they're not even in the business of selling bikes?
    Culture... they're selling the culture, or the lifestyle if you will.
    The main reason their demographic is so narrow is exactly due to that narrow view of what riding a Harley 'is about'.
    They don't want to roll the dice on the lifestyle branding by reaching for new riders because they're afraid it will alienate their core customers... who will then all go out and promptly buy Moto Guzzi's and little China bikes.
    #8
  9. TomN

    TomN Long timer

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  10. Disco Stu

    Disco Stu I'm Barry F'n Gibb!!

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    were they marketing these different bikes to the same people that bought their mainline bikes, or marketing them to non-harley-traditional riders?
    #10
  11. Truckin_Thumper

    Truckin_Thumper low profile

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    whooooo hooo! Its Friday!!!! :freaky
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  12. heffe

    heffe #$%^&U*&^%$#@

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    :lol3:D well then..:freaky
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  13. JBSmith

    JBSmith Ink-stained wretch

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    Here's a post I wrote for one of my blogs, Tread Life, back when H-D pulled the plug on Buell. I don't know how the mods feel about directing traffic to personal blogs, so I'll paste it here:



    I was contacted through this blog a few months ago by a woman who worked for what was then Buell’s advertising agency. She had read a post here in which I wondered why roadracing wasn't more popular in the U.S. For some reason she thought I might be able to tell her why, given Buell’s recent successes in AMA roadracing, sportbike riders weren't flocking to Buell showrooms.

    She was aware that Buell’s wins were tainted in some race fans’ eyes by virtue of the 1125cc twin running in the same class as 600cc fours. I wasn't too sure there was any real basis for that resentment—the Buells weren't exactly walking away with every race—but it certainly had to be thrown in the mix.

    I then shifted into full bloviating mode. Buell’s real problem as I saw it was more complex than resentment at its roadrace wins against smaller bikes. First, although they were tricker and faster than anything Harley had ever put on the street, they weren’t any faster—and were a lot less trick—than your average 600cc four from Japan. Sportbike sales live and die on performance, and Buells didn’t outperform the competition sufficiently to make them a viable alternative.

    Also, in order to buy a Buell, in most cases you had to go to a Harley dealership. For years now Harley has been selling the sizzle instead of the steak. A lot of veteran Harley salespeople didn’t know what to make of an actual steak sitting on their showroom floor. They were unprepared to answer the kind of questions sportbike riders asked, and had little or no interest in the Buell line of motorcycles except insofar as they took up space where another blinged-out Big Twin could have been sitting. A lot of them just didn’t care about Buells, and equated selling them with some tedious community service they were obliged to perform, like picking up roadside litter after a DUI.

    It has to be said, too, that most of the “innovations” Buell loved to crow about—fuel in the frame, oil in the swingarm, the rim-mounted front brake, the underslung muffler—had all appeared first on other bikes. Buell collected them all into one package, for which he deserves some props, I suppose, but it smacked of the “because we can” school of engineering. None of those things made the bike substantially faster or better handling than its competition, just different.

    One huge thing that held Buell back was there from the very beginning—that engine. Sportster engines, like steam locomotives and Stearman biplanes, are charming devices in an antediluvian sort of way. But sportbike powerplants? Please. Stuffing one in a purported sportbike is like breeding a thoroughbred and then breaking one of its legs before the race. By the time Buells got the engine they deserved from the outset, it was way too late.

    The nice lady from the ad agency listened patiently to what I said, thanked me, promised she’d be in touch, and never called back. Later I read that her agency had been dropped by Buell. It probably wasn’t the first messenger to be shot that way, and likely won’t be the last.

    In the press release announcing the closing of Buell, Keith Wandell, the new, non-motorcycle-riding CEO of Harley-Davidson, said, “We believe we can create a bright long-term future for our stakeholders through a single-minded focus on the Harley-Davidson brand.” Wandell hasn’t been with the company very long, so perhaps he can be forgiven for not knowing that this “single-minded focus” is a strategy of convenience, easily set aside when there’s a shiny bauble within reach. Harley is subject to fits of compulsive shopping, often followed by deep bouts of buyer's remorse. In the last 25 years it bought and discarded Tri-Hawk, Holiday Rambler, and now Buell and MV Agusta. Each of these purchases was hailed as the beginning of a bright new partnership; each of these corporate marriages ended in tears.

    So when news of Buell’s demise broke last week, I was shocked but not surprised, except perhaps by how long Harley stuck with Buell before casting it aside. Anyone who comes under the Harley umbrella, even willingly, has to be thinking, night and day, that he could be the next one thrown out of the sleigh.

    Maybe that was Erik Buell’s fatal mistake—ignoring history.
    #13
  14. Zerk

    Zerk DILLIGAF

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    I don't think they are trying to attract 15 year olds.


    Since the used market has come down, I am seeing lots of 20 somethings on Harleys. Eventually they will buy a new bike. So the used market dropping may help them out alot. Nothing else it brings lots of young chicks into the bar, to stare at until they feel uncomfortable.
    #14
  15. Zerk

    Zerk DILLIGAF

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    Maybe you should take a basic accounting class at a community college.
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  16. rocker59

    rocker59 diplomatico di moto

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    :nah
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  17. rocker59

    rocker59 diplomatico di moto

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    +1

    Or Google "Harley financial 2010", or look in the other new Harley bashing thread for the link...
    #17
  18. rapidoxidationman

    rapidoxidationman Easily trainable

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    Whatever Hardley is doing, it worked on this guy:

    <iframe title="YouTube video player" class="youtube-player" type="text/html" width="480" height="390" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/UpOBgvHmqf4" frameborder="0" allowFullScreen></iframe>
    #18
  19. heffe

    heffe #$%^&U*&^%$#@

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    [​IMG]
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  20. lemieuxmc

    lemieuxmc Banned

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    Dual Sportster? Street Tracker? New generation Morgan? (Can Am Spyder is selling)

    I've seen some sweet ones done pretty well and not too expensive.
    #20