You guys think Harley Davidson will last?

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by tessalino, Aug 24, 2019.

  1. Zebraranger

    Zebraranger MotoMore

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    I've down sized to two smaller bikes, but I still enjoy riding the Harley too. They still dont make one bike that can do it all, so different bikes for different riding purposes. I'm not brand loyal either. There are a couple of brands that I favor, but If its something that I like, and it satisfies a particular riding purpose that I'm looking for, then I will buy it regardless of it being Euro, Metric, or American. I do enjoy diversity in riding. I'm getting older, been riding a long time and owned a lot of bikes over those years. I still love to ride as much as I did on day one (45 years ago). There's advantages and disadvantages to owning any brand, that's always been a part of what we do.
  2. Big John Sny

    Big John Sny Long timer

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    Exactly, This is the exact trade offs that I was talking about.
    -Would I choose no valve adjustments or a potential higher top speed and 5 more horsepower. personally I will take hydraulic valves.
    -Would I choose more top end power and RPM of a oversquare engine design with short connecting rods, or would I choose more partial throttle response of an undersquare engine with longer rod to stroke ratio. For my track bike Ill take top end power all the way, for my street bike, it is actually a mix. probably closer to the throttle response side, especially as I get older. I found the balance I like with the Harley (more that I am running an over bore and bigger cams). Of course my job and hobbies are all about motor design so, as my wife has always said, unless i am picking around in my motor I am not happy anyways, so I am probably not the best person for this anyways. I can say for sure, when talking about engines, it is not about "better" or "worse". engines are totally tradeoffs. It is about which tradeoffs you prefer.
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  3. mr72

    mr72 Been here awhile

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    It's clear you haven't actually read what I actually wrote, but instead prefer to infer motives or subtext that are not there along with plainly misunderstanding what's clearly written.

    Well, it's my observation based on their actions. They simply have not expanded beyond their basic range of product except for their temporary attempt with Buell.

    I am not talking about features. I'm talking about they haven't changed the basic category of their product since the 90s (besides again their Buell mess). They have not expanded the range of product in response to the changing demands of the market.

    That's a statement about the reaction of some in the market to the style of motorcycles Harley makes, not on the technical merit of what's under the covers. Those same people won't buy a Triumph Bonneville either, or an Indian, or a Honda Shadow, or a Royal Enfield. All of those are antiquated [style] of motorcycles that Grandpa likes.


    Again it's not about the features or options but about IT'S A CRUISER.

    Compare this to the automobile market. Back when gas in the USA was over $3/gallon there was a lack of interest in full size SUVs and most manufacturers quit making them. This wasn't because those big SUVs didn't have nice entertainment systems or comfortable suspension, but because that category of vehicle had a reduced demand. This is what I'm talking about with CRUISERS. and if Harley made anything else, then they might be able to weather this storm, but if the market demands fewer heavy cruisers then Harley will suffer more than anyone else because they don't have a diversified lineup to make up for the losses in cruiser sales.

    I could care less about Harleys. And if you had read anything I have written you'd know this. I am only commenting on their ability to earn money for their shareholders, which is totally divorced from the appeal of their product for their current customer base. I don't have any brand loyalty to any motorcycle company, not one way or the other. Now, I'm not interested in cruisers so I don't want a Harley or an Indian or any other cruiser. And this is kind of the point. I don't have to not like Harley to not want their products. If they made a parallel twin 350 standard that weighs under 400 lb with MSRP under $8k then I would serioulsy consider test riding one, probably recommending it to friends. Or if they made a 500cc twin middleweight adventure bike, I'd have to take a good look. But they have chosen not to make products for a huge portion of the market, which happens to be the part of the market I am in, so I just don't care about Harley at all. You like cruisers, great! buy one. But stop pretending the reason people don't buy Harleys is because they have some kind of intrinsic hatred for the company or they just don't understand the advanced features or refinement or whatever.
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  4. Big John Sny

    Big John Sny Long timer

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    this was better, less emotional language.

    So your argument is that they only build bikes in the Cruiser/Touring/Retro segments, and that these are dying. Is that correct?
    You are also suggesting they would be better served to build in the middle to small, lightweight arena.

    I would disagree with this argument. This range of motorcycles is the most competitive and has the lowest margins. It is a market segment almost totally driven by cost. No company with US manufacturing could compete in that market. If they off shored more of their production it could help, but then they are in a segment that still has very low margins. It is like when I was younger and the Kragens and Chiefs were just starting to come in with their life time warranty parts. A lot of the rebuild shops started to go under. Why pay 2000 to get your chevy 350 rebuilt when you can pick one up at Chiefs for 1500 dollars with a lifetime warranty. why rebuild an AC Delco starter, ect. Of course these places are having those items rebuilt overseas, on an assembly line, with little to no quality control. No need, it has a warranty. At this same time my granfather's machine shop was very successful. Why, because he dropped all the high volume, low margin stuff in the biggest part of the pot and focused on import, diesel, farm equipment, in other words, all the stuff that the high volume guys were fighting over. This way he could put margin back into it. The diesel and farm equipment places placed higher value on it being right the first time, so they valued his high quality control. When you are trying to play in a high volume low margin segment, an important thing to remember is, there is only one "low price leader". The reality, there is no reason that Harley would be the best at building high volume, low margin product, especially to the point that they would be able to do it for less than everyone else. The problem with the segment you propose, is that most consumers in that bracket are highly cost driven.

    I would argue that retro is also not a dying segment. It seems to have made a pretty good resurgence, but again, has a lot more competition in it than it did just a decade ago. I would argue that these are less cost conscious customers. Ther are willing to spend more money for less performance. Like the bikes you mention in you post bonneville, the scrambler, guzzi v7, sportster, I see a lot of the younger crowd that seems to be flocking to these bikes. Since they don't have the disposable income, I do see them buying a lot of these used. Ultimately I see this as a good thing for Harley's future, since the sporster is probably the easiest to get replacement/customization parts for.
  5. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer Supporter

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    It is true that smaller, lower priced bikes have a lower profit margin. I still think Harley needs to branch into that area. They would need to manufacture them overseas and they probably still wouldn't have the lowest prices. As long as they are in the ball park price wise they could probably still sell them by capitalizing on the Harley name and their very large dealer network.

    They need a certain volume to keep their large dealer network alive. The volume of their "legacy" bike probably won't won't be enough so they need something to fill the gap. If they lose a bunch of dealers then the sales of their high profit legacy models will take an even bigger hit.
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  6. Big John Sny

    Big John Sny Long timer

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    My concern is their previous attempts in that area have not been stellar.
    Although I like some of their current street lineup, it has not met wit much success, and the Aermacchi stuff has mostly the reputation as mentioned on the last page.
    (Lol, I have two of those bikes as well. :p)
    (Not running, of course)

    Maybe the question is, how do they get into that segment while still capitalizing on some of their core competencies. Are their small bike segments that exploit undersquare engines or still utilize steel chassis?
  7. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer Supporter

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    That is a very good question. This is something that maybe they need someone from the outside of their organization to research and come up with a plan of action. Like you mentioned, it hasn't worked for them in the past so they need to try something different.
  8. sluagh

    sluagh not fade away

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    Just my personal observation here. I think the main things that draw many Harley riders are:
    1. Made in America
    2. Easy to work on. Lots of aftermarket parts.
    3. Certain mystique about a big, loud, flashy motorcycle.
    4. Dealer network.

    I think items 1, 2 and 3 are of declining interest to potential buyers.

    After owning 2 and now a KTM I am no longer interested in a Harley because

    1. Too heavy
    2. Ponderous handling and cornering
    3. Limited to maintained, paved surfaces.

    Not sure how representative I am on this view but I am right in the middle of the primary Harley demographic.
  9. liberpolly

    liberpolly Nu, shoyn, nudnick!

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    Except for that time when a motorcycle enthusiast named Buell built for them motorcycles that now would be a growth segment and their golden ticket to the future, but the bean counters in Harley killed it.

    QED.

    Similar story with MV Agusta.

    That's the whole point I am trying to make you understand - bean counters only understand steady growth in the comfort zone, it takes a visionary and an enthusiast to go out of it, while knowing where to go to meet the demand that will exist only in a few years.
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  10. liberpolly

    liberpolly Nu, shoyn, nudnick!

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    Bingo. Even if money is not an issue, why needlessly suffer when one can buy a bike that does all the same things Harley does, but is much lighter, and more comfortable due to better suspension and reasonable ergos?
  11. liberpolly

    liberpolly Nu, shoyn, nudnick!

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    There is an elephant in the room that you're refusing to address - Harley owns the Cruiser/Touring/ segment, it does nothing but Cruiser/Touring/ segment, and their sales are cratering. What are they supposed to do?
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  12. liberpolly

    liberpolly Nu, shoyn, nudnick!

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    I hear Buell is still designing motorcycles :) Maybe if Harley approached him with more humility and less crazy demands of using their heavy hulk of the engine in sporty bikes, it could work?
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  13. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer Supporter

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    I don't know if Buell would be the best choice or not. One thing I do know is that whatever they decide they need to learn a lesson form how they handled Buell. Neither Harley or most of its dealers ever supported Buell. Whatever they decide, they need to support their decision.
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  14. sluagh

    sluagh not fade away

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    It will be interesting to see what they do with the Bronx and PanAmerica. I suspect these were on a path to commercial failure. HD really can't afford another false start like the Livewire.
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  15. liberpolly

    liberpolly Nu, shoyn, nudnick!

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    They need a visionary and an enthusiast, and to anchor him with some solid bean counting, but absolutely free of politics or adherence to the brand image.
  16. liberpolly

    liberpolly Nu, shoyn, nudnick!

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    Yeah those looked pathetic.
  17. ddavidv

    ddavidv The reason we can't have nice things

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    There is already a trend away from heavy ADV bikes. The PanAmerica will most certainly be too heavy because it will carry their heavy V-twin engine.
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  18. Big John Sny

    Big John Sny Long timer

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    I th
    ink the Panamerica looked a lot better than the Multistrada.
    That style of bike is inherently not the most beautiful thing.

    I actually think this is still a strong area for them to go in. A lot of older riders choosing the touring bike with off road flair bikes these days. This hits many more of their strengths than a light small to mid sized bike does.

    These customers care about fit and finish.
    These customers care about customization options.
    They are touring so the strong dealer support plays well for this.
    Harley actually has been running TT events for more than half a century so they have a good experience building a heavy bike that can catch some air and hold up to it.
    These customers are pro accessorizing and gear - Harley is good at selling quality (and expensive) branded gear.

    It much more closely follows the crowd that they already play to. It is the model Ducati followed with the strada, and they had no real heavy off-road experience at all.
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  19. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer Supporter

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    I think the Bronx is a good looking bike. The Pan America? Not so much. Would either bike sell? My crystal ball is broken at the moment but this I know, if they treat those bikes like they treated Buell then they will be a failure.

    I think that in addition to the Bronx (if they still bring it) they should build a smaller version, maybe 500-700 cc, built overseas and sold for a reasonable price.

    I think they should think about re-styling the Pan America and also offer a smaller, less expensive, built overseas model.

    I'm sure Harley is doing market surveys to see if either of these bikes are likely to sell.
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  20. Zebraranger

    Zebraranger MotoMore

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