MotorcycleDaily.com – Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

MD First Look: 2011 Harley-Davidson Blackline

Harley-Davidson looks like it’s being slowly nursed back to health, thanks to a combination of TALF loan underwriting (that has since been 100% paid back) of its consumer lending arm and the radical liposuction of personnel and extraneous operations (RIP, Buell). But all the cost-cutting and fat-trimming in the world will do no good if a motorcycle company can’t sell motorcycles, and that’s a problem for H-D. Its core customer group—Baby Boomers—is hitting retirement age, and although they’ll probably be riding strong into the 2020s, their numbers are dwindling, and their kids and grandkids aren’t buying motorcycles (all motorcycles, not just Harley-Davidsons) in the same numbers, for whatever reasons. I’ll leave the speculation to our posters, as if they need our permission. To court younger buyers, H-D created the “Dark Custom” lineup in 2007, with a lean, matte-finished bobber look dominating the new products. And the latest installment is the 2011 Blackline.

H-D’s Dark Custom-izers started with the Softail platform, distinguished by its hardtail-look rear suspension—just right for a bobber. The Twin Cam 96 motor with “Cruise Drive” six-speed transmission gets a gloss-black powdercoat treatment on the cases and covers, with a few tasteful hints of chrome. The chassis gets a new satin-black finish on the frame and swingarm, and an FX front end with blacked-out triples and fork lowers. Braking is with a four-piston caliper and single 292mm disc in front and a single four-piston caliper in back. ABS is an available option. Wheels use spokes and black-finished aluminum rims, with a big 21-inch tire in front and a skinny 140-section rear tire. Skinny is the new fat, I guess. Ready to ride, it’s a mere 683 pounds—not bad for a heavyweight cruiser.

The Blackline gets all-new bodywork to finish it off. The fenders are minimal, the fat, curvy tank is brand new and the seat is as low as a dual seat can get—just 24 inches with a rider on board (26.1 inches unleaden). The handlebars are an interesting new two-part “split drag” design, black finished and internally wired for a clean look. The forward-mount controls match the long, low stance of the bike. It’s a 21st-Century take on the Billy Bike from Easy Riders to the Captain America of the new  2012 Victory High-Ball.

Will the fresh and minimal styling be enough to draw in new riders? Well, it sure will get them interested, but at a starting MSRP of $15,499, it might be a little out of reach for younger buyers, who are probably more interested in bikes in the sub-$10,000 range. I’ll look into how well the Dark Custom range is doing meeting its goals and report back at a later date.

133 Comments

  1. RJ says:

    Nice bike in black. The Softails are counterbalanced, solid mounted are really smooth, but needs some aftermarket horsepower parts. Only thing I hate is the handlebars. They are two separate parts mounted to the top triple – looks odd to me… But check it out and see for yourself….

    Report this comment

  2. Nate says:

    How exactly is this different from the Night Train?

    Report this comment

  3. Burt says:

    I’m not a Harley fan.
    But I do think all the anti-Harley folks–and I DO
    love all of you–are a bit crazy to bury Harley so
    quickly. People were burying them in the 1980′s but
    their success shows that was crazy. I think they
    are smart. The baby boomers are not dead yet. Harley
    will change when they need to change.
    And at least Harley has survived selling motorcycles,
    without having to sell quads and watercraft.
    (Harley selling watercraft–there’s a joke in there
    somewhere, maybe with a large selection of anchors.
    Ha,ha.)

    Report this comment

  4. Ross says:

    Same old same old…. nothing new, ever.

    Report this comment

  5. Randy says:

    I’d never buy this or any other HD new. I’m a little tonedeaf with the “crusier” styling. But I do have a 2003 883R (1200 conversion) that’s moderately fun to ride. I’ve had many other bikes – BMW, Ducati – they come and go. The Sporty survives, can explain it exactly.

    Report this comment

  6. Dannytheman says:

    I think this Blackline is beautiful. I have test driven the Victorys every year, I love the engine, but I hate the way they mount the accessories, so much that it drives me nuts.
    It is an odd mix of Japan and America, not ready for me yet.

    That Blackline is very sexy!

    Report this comment

  7. Jeremy in TX says:

    To each his own, but that is lame, dorky bike. At least the owners will look cooler than the guy on the Victory High-Ball.

    Report this comment

  8. William says:

    I get the impression that the management at H-D is unable to create new designs or use new engine designs for FEAR of alienating their core buyers. I remember the hand wringing and drama surrounding the release of the V-Rod because it was water-cooled and designed by Porsche instead of another in house push rod design.

    I heard many negative comments from H-D faithful at rides, rallies and meets I attended. Riders of other brands were generally positive in their comments and reviews of the V-Rod when it first came out.

    I used to have Sportster (’82 ironhead bought new) back in the day. I liked it at the time but almost immediently spent money on accessories (chrome baby chrome). I sold it after two years and 19,000 miles because it was falling apart (literally). It is clear from walking into an H-D dealership that the real profit in those stores is made in parts and accessories. That’s where they make the money.

    What is the one thing you never see on the road? answer – a stock Harley.

    Looking at the success that Triumph has had by creating new bikes in different categories. Sure, they still have their classic line, but the real sellers are the Speed/Street triples, and in 2011 they will probably sell boatloads of Tiger 800s. No one is complaining about how they abandoned their core market. They still sell Bonnevilles and scramblers, but they’ve branched out, something the management at H-D is unwilling or unable to do.

    Even BMW moved away from airhead boxer twins a long time ago. They improved their flat twin bikes and still sell them to their faithful, but now they have a huge market based on the excellent F series upright twins.

    What would have happened if H-D had introduced a sport model from Buell or MV and badged it as a Harley? Would the bikers have stripped their H-D tattoos off their arms or burned down the dealerships? Would the dealerships not know how to handle a new breed of customer interested in performance instead of styling?

    They sold off MV and killed Buell in order to concentrate on their “core brand”. Well, that kind of limits the new markets they will be able to expand into, and if you don’t grow, you stagnate and eventually die.

    Report this comment

  9. Will says:

    I am 57 and have been riding for three years. I looked at Harley-Davidson motorcycles but just couldn’t pull the switch. Too heavy, too loud, too low, too expensive, and not enough suspension travel. Why not rework the sportster chassis and create an American naked standard. Less rake, a 30 inch seat height(or adjustable), raise the suspension for improved suspension/handling/ride characteristics, get the weight below 500 lbs., install quieter pipes, throw in a free handlebar fitting/switch out, and get the price to $7,000 – $7,500 and they may attract some younger buyers. They probably would have made me a customer. What do you think? It is time for HD to offer a variety of models like other manufacturers. Keep the traditional cruisers but offer a clear choice.

    I purchased a 2009 Kawasaki ER-6n. An easy, comfortable, great handling ride.

    Report this comment

  10. chris says:

    WAITING FOR THE SO CALLED MOTOR COMPANY TO ACTUALLY COME OUT with EITHER SOME THING NEW AND GROUND BREAKING IS LIKE LEAVING THE PORCHLIGHT ON for Jimmy Hoffa,how long do they plan on remaking the old copies of outdated overpriced junk. They proved their stupidity in the way they handled Buell and MV Agusta and to hear them say they want to stay with the core customers and they are not interested in the as they call it the adrenalin market EX. sportbikes proves they are to stupid to exist much longer. And by the way I am an ex harley owner and would never go back.

    Report this comment

  11. Curtis says:

    I’m 44 and shopping for a Harley. But it’ll be the fourth bike in my garage, and it damn sure won’t be new. The price of used Harleys is getting reasonable, but the premium you pay for a new one is absurd.

    Report this comment

  12. Bob in Monterey says:

    All I see are new paint schemes on a very old and expensive idea. These beasts seem to be more about fashion than gettin’ down the road. Their marketing guru’s seem to be focusing on the idea of motorcycling, rather than actual motorcycling. I’ve not got Frank’s riding experience, though. I didn’t start riding until 1970. I didn’t get it then. I don’t get it now. Many people do. More power to them. The problem is that pool of folks is obviously shrinking and HD is obviously not listening. Also, I don’t know how they came up with the idea that young people want “dark.” I don’t see that on the road – not even on Harleys.

    Report this comment

  13. MikeD says:

    Great, another H-D with 1920′s Farm Equipment Technology at Formula 1 Car Prices…keep it up H-D, u ain’t getting any of my money (^_^ ).

    Report this comment

  14. J$ says:

    Frank

    Yah DITTO…It always kills me when naysayers chime in about how crappy HD is but they never have actually ridden one OR maybe they rode one back in the 70s and think a leaky old 30 HP Shovel Head is the same thing as a new 103 CI injected twin cam that is virtually maintenance free other than oil changes/tires/brake pads. That’s like saying all new Fords suck because your uncle had a pinto back in 76 that exploded… Look, over the past couple years Ive gotten dozens of friends and/or acquaintances to take a test ride on a new HD and everyone of them were very surprised at how much they enjoyed the smoothness, power, and comfort of the modern HD. And yes I do own a Harley but I am not a pirate or Kool Aid drinker. I own 4 other non Harleys currently as well as 25 other non HDs over the years. Lets face it, ALL manufacturers have lemons, good models, bad models, ups and downs. But please for the love of all that is holy… Take a test ride BEFORE jumping on the bash wagon.

    Report this comment

    • scott says:

      in the last two years i’ve ridden a sportster, an ultra classic and a road king. i will grant you that the “newer” engines require less attention than the amf days, abut the bikes are still heavy, unresponsive in the corners and rediculously over-priced in comparison to other bikes that out-perform them for half the money. i own two hondas, one yamaha, one kawasaki and one triumph. i don’t own a harley, but that’s on purpose and after riding their current offerings. i have buddies that ride them, and more power to them, but stop trying to compare them to the state of the motorcycle art. they are fun, like a restored muscle car, but they cost like a new beemer.

      Report this comment

    • falcodoug says:

      Frank, see my last post.

      Report this comment

  15. Kjazz says:

    Frank, I’ll be frank with you…. enjoy it while you can. Because like it or not, your marque is already dead. They just have not read their obituary yet.

    Report this comment

  16. todd says:

    Typical Harley, paint it a little bit different, throw a bunch off letters at it and see what sticks and call it a new model. Get a grip Harley!! Never had a desire to own one and never will!!

    Report this comment

  17. Tom Shields says:

    Looks pretty much like every other Harley to me.

    Report this comment

  18. Ren says:

    Man, I’m so discouraged. I like the ride, think it looks cool, but honestly I have zero rider experience. I’m saving up to take a riding course for my license and it has been my dream as a teenager to get myself a Harley, not a Victory, not a Rice Burner, a Harley. And no matter my financial ups and downs I could NEVER afford one. I bought a good used little truck so I can make my first and last purchase of a Harley be a brand new one, but I STILL can’t afford it. I’m medium height 36yr old 220lb guy but damn these things are heavy and so I troll around reading comments from you guys who know sh!t about riding and motorcycles and it makes me wonder if I’m gonna get ripped off and get a crappy feeling ride. I got crappy back from working too hard and I want a nice ride with good braking because I don’t want to be a statistic. Had my eye on the Dyna Wide Glide because of the “chopper” like look because I can’t afford a real chopper and I love the Crossbones a lot. Any recommendations? I don’t want to sound like a little girl but its been burning in my blood to get me an iron horse and just cruise and enjoy life, so I’d appreciate any cool comments and honest assessments. Thanks, Ren.

    Report this comment

    • kpaul says:

      Best thing to do, Ren, is try as many bikes as you can. Buy used so if you don’t like it it’s not a big investment. But make sure to get the proper gear and training (MSF course). I have ridden 2 Harley’s and I didn’t get the same wet dream feeling Frank did. I have tried Buells, Duatis, Triumphs, Honda cruisers and sport bikes, Yamaha sportbikes, Kawasaki sportbikes. I love sportbikes and consider them the safest bikes to ride if you follow the traffic laws and don’t speed too much. Sporbikes can stop fast, turn quick and if necessary accelerate quickly out of trouble. For cruisers the Honda cruiser was superior to the 2 HDs I rode. The brakes were better, it was smoother and even sounded better. But I am not a cruiser fan. If I slow down and stop riding sport bikes, I will probably get a Ducati Monster or Triumph twin.

      Report this comment

  19. scott says:

    please, harley makes 3 bikes. the v-rod, the sporty brick and the ultra brick. what’s to review.

    Report this comment

  20. Mr. Mike says:

    There’s a lot to be said for Harleys – nice lines, nice sound, shiny parts, many ways to customize – but they seem way, way overpriced. I would consider buying one as an around-town bike if it were priced reasonably. I don’t know how HD will be able to continue charging a premium for just the name once the buzz from the cool-aid people have been drinking wears off.

    Report this comment

  21. Frank says:

    It’s always funny reading negative Harley comments by riders who’ve never ridden a mile on a Harley-Davidson. Can you accurately comment on food you’ve never tasted? A car you’ve never driven? Of course not. But the endless bashing of Harleys by these people goes on. The exerience of Riding a Harley is so different from any other motorcycle, it can’t be understood any other way than riding a Harley several hundred miles in various situations from boulevard cruising to LD touring. The comment about Harley-Davidson’s ‘survival’? Well, we can add another opinion to the thousands who’ve predicted The Motor Company’s demise for the last 100 years. Put simply, It Ain’t Gonna Happen’. Millions of Harley devotees will spend their last dime to keep the company in business. That kind of loyalty doesn’t exist for Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Star, Moto Guzzi, Triumph etc…. I’ve ridden since 1967 on all Major brands in all conditions. I’ve owned several Honda ST1300′s, Nighthawks, Shadows, Suzuki Bandits, dirt bikes and more. Once I rode a few miles on a Harley, it all changed. I’ll never ride another brand. It’s a bond-for-life when you connect with the machine and it’s unique sound and feel. So slam-on non-Harley-riders! To The Faithfull, you’re wasting your time. We know. You don’t.

    Report this comment

    • kpaul says:

      Right well Harley took TARP money Frank so there goes your theory of surviving on their own without the help of Uncle Sam. If they hadn’t taken the TARP money would they still be here? or would HD be much smaller. Think about it Frank. Loyalty from buyers who are too old to ride anymore ain’t worth much Frank. HDs market is shrinking and Buell was their best hope to attract large numbers of young riders. I have ridden 2 paint shakers (Harleys) and I found them to be crude, heavy, slow and clumsy. I felt like a sitting duck in traffic. At least with my sportbike I felt like I had a much better chance of avoiding an accident. Kind of like the old BMW commercial. Of course I ride for fun not to show off my loud pipes or to be part of a “brotherhood”.

      Report this comment

      • Air Kooled says:

        From my reading of this, the FED was afraid there could be a “credit freeze” from the banks when the financial markets were melting down, so the government offered a short term loan to these companies financial arms in order to make sure they could keep running. A Sen in PA pushed HD to take the loans so they would minmize any lay offs in his state. Been riding HDs since I was 17 (1980). No other bike interest me, you just don’t understand. Hey ride what you like but Harley knows what keeps them going.

        Report this comment

    • falcodoug says:

      Frank I have ridden a few Harleys and honestly I don’t get it. Yes if motorcycles were just invented yes a great bike but with all the advancements with engines, brakes, frame type’s suspension, weight reduction and technology the other brands offer why? The only rational I can think of would be to be riding a one of a kind oddity. When I was younger I owned a 1973 VW Thing with drum brakes, windows that you would lift on and off of the doors which you could lift on or off. I had a 20 gallon tank because it only got about 15 mpg, top speed was 55 to 65 mph and at that speed it rattled much you had to yell so the passenger could hear you. It even had a gas fired heater that was next to the gas tank that you would have to clean the glow plug from time to time or you would have no heat, which by the way flowed out right on the top of your right knee. I replaced the motor twice and the transmission once and tuned it constantly on top of that it was orange. But I loved that car and drove it for 13 years and to this day wish I never sold it. If that is what your talking about I get it.

      Report this comment

    • Tim says:

      And let’s not forget the tariffs in the 1980′s on import bikes…another goverment intervention that saved Harley’s butt.

      I would love to see Harley succeed. I’m an American, and I like to see Americans have good job opportunites. Unless and until they wake up and realize that they need to evolve the brand, and not just continue to sell the same over-priced, overweight, underpowered machines, the writing is on the wall. They will either evolve, or they won’t be around in anohter 15 years. It’s that simple.

      And, Frank, I have ridden a number of Harleys. Heck, I had a Harley ruin my day on the most beautiful twisty road I’ve ever been on in Maui. It was so heavy and steered so poorly 30 minutes into the ride I was ready for it to be over. That was a ride I had been looking forward to for months. I spent the entire ride thinking how much fun that road would have been on my Triumph.

      Everyone has different tastes. My friends who own Harleys tell me I just don’t get it. I tell them they’re right, I don’t. There was a time when I really wanted to “get it”, but every time I rode one it just reaffirmed to me that they’re not very good motorcycles. The fact is, kids riding today’s sport bikes are not going to gravitate to Harleys when they get older. The bikes are just way too different from what they are familiar with. They’ll want light and smooth, not heavy and rumbling. They’re never going to get it, and Harley will be screwed.

      Report this comment

      • Scott in the UK says:

        Well Frank, all I can say is there is no other motorcycle like a Moto Guzzi, they have been going since 1921 and inspire brand loyalty like no other….its a unique sound and feel. And the bonus is that Guzzis go around corners properly. Its fun that.

        Report this comment

  22. Harley is like the windows wallpapers, zero excitement

    Report this comment

  23. kpaul says:

    Great comments guys…I hate it when I’m right. Years ago I predicted Harley’s decline because of the demographic issue ( that was right before I predicted the economic downturn and financial crisis) and the bad economy has accelerated the decline. Back then folks said I was nuts and that Harley was recession proof. The also said, wrongly, that younger buyers would buy Harley’s when the got older. Well I see more folks on MD are saying the same things I have been saying and the decline in HD’s sales numbers prove it. Yes Harley can remain profitable but it’s market share will continue to decline. Younger buyers will buy Japanese and Italian bikes because manyy grew up driving Japanese and European cars not American cars. They don’t think Harley’s are nostalgic but bikes for old men “boomers”. HD’s only hope was Buell. They killed Buell just as it was coming out with break through models. You win an AMA championship and then you discontinue making bikes. Boy that makes a lot of since.

    Report this comment

  24. Jeffy says:

    I bought a new 2003 Dyna Low Rider, after the 1 year warranty ran out it started leaking
    oil. WTF. Im thinking of buying a new bike this year and really like the Yamaha V-Max, till i saw the price – 20 thousand! Ill keep my leaky harley!

    Report this comment

  25. William says:

    They wouldn’t have to shred them at all. Just tear ‘em apart and sell the parts, they should be interchangeable with every model they’ve produced since 1948.

    Report this comment

  26. Vrooom says:

    Are people really saying “I never liked Harley’s before but this is different”, it looks just like every other Harley to me. And that passenger seat was never intended to carry a passenger despite the photo of the happy gal on the back. At 45 I really don’t know anyone who’s saying it’s time to get a Harley, the oldest guy I ride with is 66 and even he says that the appeal of a really heavy, bike with less than top of the line handling and braking doesn’t grow with age. He’s thinking of downsizeing to a V-strom 650 with ABS, great handling and braking, and a wet weight that’s 200 lbs less than what’s claimed for this Harley (and likely 8K cheaper). Not saying no one will buy this, but I don’t see it turning around the aging rider population problem they have.

    Report this comment

  27. Daryl says:

    I appreciate what you’re saying but I think your comment is very ironic given the Harley seat she’s riding on in the above picture.

    Report this comment

  28. JT says:

    Man, I ride Harleys but this one is laughable. They made this bike for 10 yrs, I was called a night train. They drop it from the lineup for 3 yrs and bring it back as new. Nice.

    Report this comment

  29. Steve D says:

    The children of boomers will be riding Adventure bikes. There are already trends showing this. Unfortunately HD killed their only entry into that segment (and it was a nice one) when they killed off Buell. I somehow doubt that HD will be reinventing itself anytime soon either. Everything I’ve ever seen or heard from the HD world is insulary and isolated. They are heavily invested in the whole “it’s not a motorcycle, it’s a Harley” mentality. When folks stop drinking that $15,000 anu up koolaid then they’re going to be in big trouble indeed. And I doubt that there is an unlimited supply of TARP dollars coming from Washington. It may be a case of change or die/shrink for the Old Milwaukee brand.

    Report this comment

  30. Tom says:

    What is Harley’s “Trade in your Old Harley for a New Harley!” program.
    They should pay top dollar for the old Harley’s and then shred them into scrap. (Sort brings a whole new definition to the term “Chopper.”) That would reduce the excess supply, and drive up demand for a new model. Harley’s never go obsolete or get driven to death, the way all other bikes and cars do.
    The owner dies before the bike does. Which is a serious problem for Harley.
    Maybe the US government could implement a Cash for Choppers program.

    Report this comment

  31. Neil says:

    All said and done, it’s fun to ride pushrod Harleys. I have an ’08 Nightster. For the money I have ridden many other Japanese standards which I enjoyed. The Harley bests them with its instantaneous torque and a laid back pushrod powered cool. It starts endless conversations when I park somewhere and draws looks from cagers at the lights (stock pipes). – This new Harley Blackline looks like Starmaha which has already been there, and the price is out of the league of the average young person’s salary these days, but then, look at the price of the 600 Sport Bikes these days. Our whole economy is getting priced out of itself.

    Report this comment

  32. Steve says:

    The British bike industry died because it didn’t keep up with the Japanese. At some point, hopefully before HD dies, they too will realize that heritage is not enough. Triumph prove that it can be done, so why can’t HD do it too ? Painting the frame black just isn’t gonna cut it. Evolve or die !

    Report this comment

  33. It may be true that the baby boomers are growing older, but remember that all those sport-bike riders on their plastic shrouded crotch-rockets are also growing older (asuming their bikes don’t kill them). When they grow up and get married they are going to want an adult bike and their wife won’t want to perch on a 6 square inch seat, f-feet in the air with nothing to hold onto. Their option will be either a genuine harley or a Japanes clone. Isuspect most will want the real thing. I’ve got 4 bikes in the garage, two Yamahas, 1 Kawasaki and 1 Harley. The older I get the more I like the Harley. Kepp riding mates!

    Report this comment

  34. Eric says:

    Hmmm.. another bloated bike that never left the ‘good ol days’. I have to give the Milwaukee boys credit for their marketing skills. I would not get one, but as I get older, and the bikes from other manufacturers get smaller and smaller (thanks to the moto-rags).. eventally, a Harley will be the only bike that will fit me :-(

    Report this comment

  35. Scott says:

    I would like to see the Moto-journalism world (and Motorcycledaily.com could lead this charge if they chose to) say to Harley: “Look, if you can make minor revisions to existing models and slap a new paint job on it and call it a ‘new’ model, good for you. Go for it. Take those suckers for all they’ve got.

    . . . but please don’t expect us to feature these as ‘new’ bikes. There are a lot of interesting things going on in the motorcycle world that will get top billing over these bikes.

    Report this comment

  36. ALFY says:

    I don’t own a Harley (I have a 2008 B-king and a 2004 Firebolt). I am 46, and could afford to buy it, but $15500 + taxes, fees, freight, alarm, + add-ons installed by the dealer, and the unwillingness of the latter to negotiate = $18000 OTD, no thanks. It is a neat bike, as a third bike. Parts are not too costly and will be available for years. It is simply unreasonably too expensive for a bike, period. High cost and the dealership network ‘tudes are the greatest problems HD will face in the future, at a time when younger, computer savy riders/buyers are used to negotiate car prices down $1000s on the web. Of course some models are less expensive but the dealers and the unwanted add-ons will still have to be dealt with.

    Report this comment

  37. Fuzzyson says:

    Harley=Same tired bikes with a new coat of paint.

    Report this comment

  38. Thumper says:

    I have an ’04 Road King which I have cherried and built. It currently has 46000 miles on it. I am 56 years old and broke. I certainly don’t need another Harley. The only other Harley I would consider is the V-Rod.

    Report this comment

  39. David M says:

    Harley’s biggest competition is the thousands upon thousands of very low mileage used Harleys now, and soon to be, on the market

    Report this comment

  40. jay1975 says:

    Looks like a custom Deuce. They seem to just take a bunch of parts from discontinued models, piece them together and call it a “dark custom”. Where the h3ll is the originality. You can’t make the same product for decades and expect new generations to fawn over it, unless you are AC/DC of course.

    Report this comment

  41. MarxMyth says:

    I think Harley’s problem is that they try to appeal TOO MUCH to their home crowd. It’s great that they listen to what their fans want, but there should also be an effort to bring in new riders (which there doesn’t seem to be). Perhaps it’s merely a case of living in the HD bubble that keeps them from taking steps into the present. I’m not anti-Harley but they haven’t done anything to make me take notice of their company.

    Report this comment

  42. Trpldog says:

    Been riding since 1974. If Harley goes belly-up I wouldn’t lose 1 second of sleep. I hope getting rid of Buell bites HD bigtime. Their HD bandana clad Vietnam flashbackers are all but gone. Their nonstop marketing hype and smokescreen image production machine is about to become nothing more than a blip on the motorcycle history radar screen. The big bad black macho steam engine is out of fuel and out of track.
    It boggles my mind that the HD pack- rat mentality went as far as it did. I think they should apologize to Erik, humbly offer him and the Buell crew 20 million to come back and save HD’s backside from the inevitable.

    Report this comment

  43. Zombo says:

    I haven’t lusted after a cruiser styled bike in close to 30 years , but they and their loud pipes are everywhere in northern NJ when the weather gets halfway warm . Maybe the sales of new ones are down , but my eyes and ears say there are plenty of used ‘noise bikes’ with idiots dressed like pirates riding them ! Arrrr ! Let’s ride to a barrr !

    Report this comment

  44. Kjazz says:

    Sounds like Tim thinks like I do about this. The Boomers are on their way out of prime motorcycle buying/riding years. Some will continue. And some will continue making money to afford it for another 15 years, or so. But it’s the backside of the bell curve. Unless Harley somehow cultivates a new crop outa the Echo Boomer…..well, goodbye to Harley.

    The front wave of the Boomers grew up on American, then British machinery primarily. But the latter half and everyone since then has had a different perspective. Japanese, and others have provided immense product choice. There’s no way that a company built around 1930′s technology will remain what it has been so far. They make a wonderful 50 year old motorcycle, I’m not saying the bikes are junk. They are cool and solid. But so is your grandparent’s solid wood console zenith television with HI-FIDELTY SOUND!!!!

    C’mon Harley, pull your head out.

    Report this comment

  45. jimbo says:

    The XR1200R is the only peach in H-D’s filled-to-the-brim box of lemons. The XR1200R would be pretty irresistible with about 20 more hp.

    Report this comment

  46. janetvillian says:

    Don’t own a HD, can’t see it in the near future, but….HD has an amazing engine in the V-Rod…put that in an Electra Glide and I WILL reconsider. Yes I’m 60, in the age group HD is trying to sell these air cooled relics to….

    Report this comment

    • stinky says:

      Sorry, but not many feel the V-Rod is that amazing of an engine. It puts out adequate power (just barely) but is so darned big that it can only really be used in an Electra Glide, and again, those are old folks bikes. This company REALLY needs to try and attract some new non nostalgic riders, real riders.

      Report this comment

  47. Jim says:

    Wow. Kids these days must be making some cash. I can remember when I picked up my first Kawasaki LTD (used) I was hesitant to throw down the grand it cost me. Now kids are looking in the ‘sub’ $10k range?

    Manufacturers need to:
    * Make them smaller – no one starting out needs a big motor
    * Make them cheaper – no one can afford these damn things
    * Make them unique – this looks like it rolled out of 1950

    Maybe I’m just old.

    Report this comment

  48. Tim says:

    I’m 51 and at the tail end of the baby boom generation, but I’ve never had a serious desire to own a Harley. I grew up riding inexpensive, reliable, and light Japanese bikes. But if a 51 year old doesn’t “get it”, how do they expect the generations behind me to get it?

    They finally had a bright idea, in buying MV Agusta, so their product line would appeal to younger riders. They spend millions upgrading those beautiful bikes, only to give the franchise back to the family who sold MV to them in the first place. Their current CEO is an idiot, pure, plain and simple!

    If a company doesn’t evolve their products, they will not survive long term, and Harley has shown no willingness to evolve their products.

    Also, if they want to try to appeal to younger riders, they need to find a way to cut costs and lower their prices. My wife and I make around $200,000 per year, but there is no freakin’ way I’d spend $15,000 or $20,000 or more on an antiquated motorcycle. How can they expect kids making $40,000 a year to do that? I might drop $18,000 on a beautiful MV Agusta Brutale, with a lot of expensive alloy parts, and the heavenly MV sound, but I’m not dropping that kind of money on a dated plow horse.

    Report this comment

    • Jamboa says:

      I do not beleive they spent any R&D on MV. They did not keep the brand long enough to take a dump! Well yea that is wahat they did , they took a dump. They dumped MV Agusta.

      Report this comment

      • Mickey says:

        Actually after selling MV back to the family for the equivalent of $1 they gave MV $38 million for development.

        …then they hit US up for Tarp money to stay in business

        Unbelievable really.

        Report this comment

    • jimbo says:

      Part of the equation employed by HD to determine the number of bikes each dealer receives is the dollar value of HD “lifestyle” merchandise (T-shirts, bandannas, leather vests, tattoo ink, etc). Lifestyle gear is first and foremost to HD’s survival because HD makes more profit selling image (lifestyle gear) than motor vehicles. Anyone can buy a T-shirt. Few people with the money to afford an HD are naive enough to buy one.

      So much for the so-called “motor company”. It’s actually an image company.

      The thing I find most ludicrous about HD is the “uniform code” of its adherents. I am most reminded of the way so many little prepubescent and adolescent girls used to dress themselves like Madonna back in the day before she adopted her phony British accent. Very strange to see adult men dressed like the Village People and taking themselves seriously.

      Report this comment

  49. donniedarko says:

    “A mere 683 lbs” (^_^)

    There not getting new riders with that product imo either. HD seems to have lost more of its soul..

    Report this comment

  50. Brent says:

    Nothing new here, bits & pieces from other H.D. models. The H.D. design department must still be hung over from their Christmas staff party. I can’t decide if it’s a Kawi 900 custom or a Star 1100 custom with a H.D. badge on it. Raider-more bike-more motor-less money !

    Report this comment