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Harley-Davidson Pursues New Horizons with Street 750 and Street 500 Models

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Harley-Davidson announced yesterday the development of new, liquid-cooled “urban” models, the Street 750 and Street 500, each featuring a newly designed Revolution X engine.

An entirely new platform, according to Harley, makes both bikes ideal for tight urban maneuvers, and the promotional material, including the videos we have seen thus far, focus on busy city environs.

The bikes will not actually be in dealers until 2014, and we do not have a lot of details at this point. Here is the press release from Harley, followed by a video promoting the new models. You can also visit this web site set up by Harley.

Harley-Davidson (NYSE: HOG) is continuing its monumental ride, which began with the introduction of Project RUSHMORE in August, by revealing two new Dark Custom™ motorcycles designed for young urban riders around the world.  

The Harley-Davidson Street™ 750 and Street™ 500 motorcycles – the first all-new platform from Harley-Davidson in 13 years – are built for urban environments with all-new liquid-cooled Revolution X™ powertrains, nimble agility and the sound and look that lets everyone know they are genuine Harley-Davidson. 

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“These are the newest motorcycles to join our Dark Custom lineup, which helped make us the number-one selling brand to young adults in the U.S. for the past five years,” said Matt Levatich, President and Chief Operating Officer, Harley-Davidson Motor Company. “Both the Street 750 and Street 500 were designed with thousands of hours of input from young adults in cities around the world. This input guided both the attitude and capabilities of these motorcycles. They are proof that being customer-led continues to be a core driver of our product development process.” 

Urban, Authentic Harley-Davidson

The Street 750 and Street 500 from Harley-Davidson are built for an urban environment. Each motorcycle features the new Revolution X engine, designed to match the demands of stop-and-go traffic with nimble agility, while delivering instant throttle response to escape city gridlock.   

The Revolution X engine will be housed in a new, narrow and lean chassis built for agility, with a super-low seat height, new suspension and broad handlebar sweep that provides confidence and maneuverability when managing tight turns and fast moves. Both signature Dark Custom motorcycles feature a premium, minimalist style that serves as a blank canvas for riders to customize. 

“These new bikes are leaner, yet still have a mean streak – they’re the real deal, made of real steel.” said Mark-Hans Richer, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Harley-Davidson Motor Company. “They’re designed to handle the abuses of urban environments and provide authentic opportunities to customize.” 

The Harley-Davidson Street 750 and Street 500 will be rolling into dealerships in select markets starting in 2014. More information is available at the Harley-Davidson web site.  

Video of the Harley-Davidson Street platform reveal in Milan, including an in-depth walk-through of the motorcycles, details on their design, and a Q&A with Richer will be available at here.

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226 Comments

  1. TF says:

    Sounds like the power to weight ratio of a ’78 Plymouth station wagon.

  2. TNT says:

    Once the aftermarket gets ahold of these things, I’m going to bet a new 750 will outrun the 883, and possibly the 1200 sportsters.

  3. kaye says:

    All this fussing about it not being a REAL Harley….maybe not….to me that isn’t the point. IF you ride a bike….you’re my friend. I don’t care what you ride as long as you ride safely, using common sense, obey the rules of the road and love the ride.
    I don’t ride a Harley, because I’m a grandma, and a poor grandma. I DO LOVE the sound of a Harley and one day I may have one….but I don’t belittle those who can’t afford them. I don’t belittle you guys on the Harleys for not having a Yamaha, like I do. Just so I can ride down the road with the wind in my 40something face. Just because you HAVE a Harley doesn’t mean you are better than me OR can ride better than me. Some of you can’t…..I saw that happen! :)

  4. David Duarte says:

    Nobody here knows for sure whether or not these bikes will sell well or not (including me). I’m not a huge fan of Harley, but I think these bikes are a step in the right direction. Not everybody needs or wants a 6/7/8 hundred pound bike. I’m glad to see that these bikes are much lighter, but 480 still seems like a lot for this class of bike. I’m also glad to see that these bikes are water cooled, six speed transmissions and styling that’s more standard than cruiser.

  5. JR says:

    America needs to manufacture machinery here in America.. to put people back to work so they can afford to purchase all the good and services required to survive, and then some right here in America. The then some in this case are motorcycles. So lets see if I understand Harley’s new management picture and plan here. In 2009 we shut down American Made Buell’s so 5 years later we can import cheap motorcycles made in India and pass them off as American Made Harley’s. If anything was learned from 911 it’s that you protect the home land first.

    • denny says:

      Aren’t big Hondas made in States though?

    • MarkyMark says:

      JR,

      Those Street models sold in the States, Canada, and Mexico will be built in Kansas City, MO. Those of the new model sold internationally will be built in India.

      MarkyMark

      • mickey says:

        My understanding is they will be “assembled” in Kansas from parts shipped in. Big difference from being ” built” in Kansas IMO

        • Dave says:

          HD’s made in Milwaukee are assembled from parts shipped in. What’s the difference?

          • mickey says:

            No difference to me, but you can see by reading the comments it matters to a lot of people whether something is supposedly ” American made” or not.

            Ask Jake lol

          • jake says:

            If it doesn’t matter, then why doesn’t the MoCo just ship them from India directly and quit trying to pass these bike as being “American Made”. Why? Cause it matters and they know they can’t fight fair. Like people on Affirmative Action, they need the extra help. Without the illusion and extra bump of being American Made, Harley knows it can’t make it on its own merits. Unless people assume cause it’s a Harley, it’s also “American Made”, no one is going to buy “Indian Steel” on its own merits for the price they want to sell them at.

            From a Harley forum: “When will the Street 750 & 500 forum be up under Harley-Davidson motorcycles?”

            On the Harley forum, there is not even a picture of these bikes on the front page. They won’t even put them under HD motorcycles.

            American Iron Mag, the leading Harley mag in the country. Not one pic of these revolutionary Harley bikes on their cover.

            Why not? Cause these bikes are not “American Made”. It matters to them. You LOL at them as well.

            And for the last time, assembly from 100% Indian made parts does not equal American Made. Everyone knows this. Quit trying to promote the company line and obfuscate the truth.

          • jake says:

            Would Geronimo be remembered and respected today if he chickened out and ate ham sandwiches with “The White Man”, instead of standing up and fighting against all odds? What if Sitting Bull did hi fives and belly bumps with Custer? Sh*tting Bull would be his name today not the great Sitting Bull.

            What about no new taxes from G. Bush or I’m not a crook by Nixon?

            Are A. Rod, Clemens, or Braun still heroes, liked, and role models now that we know they were roiders?

            The same applies to HD now that its has stabbed the American Worker in his back – it will be voted out of office, not liked or seen as a role model, and it and its slogan of “American Made” will hence forth be known as “Sh*tting Bull”.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            How has H-D stabbed American workers in the back? You are going to have people in KC building bikes that weren’t building them before. That sounds like a good thing to me.

            Geronimo and Sitting Bull are remembered for their courage and determination, but in the end, they lost the war. H-D would rather not.

  6. christow says:

    I agree with the ’84 VT500 Ascot comment. It looks so much like that motorcycle that I once owned and loved. I hope this one sells better than the Ascot did..I bought a “noncurrent” one for 2K as a young college kid because they just didn’t sell….

    • zipidachimp says:

      once owned both a vt500 ascot and a vt500 shadow at different times. don’t understand why they didn’t sell, the rectangular headlight was a bummer.
      at laguna seca WSBK last september, a beautiful restored Ascot was in the paddock. couldn’t take my eyes off it.
      If you think about it, honda could bring back any number of retro bikes which appeared at the wrong time for the market to appreciate. I’d love a new ascot. current bike styling is way too ‘sharp end’ or me!
      but, check out the new Enfield cafe racer, lovely!

    • cycleruss says:

      I bought a new Ascot in 1983, loved it!
      Put over 51,000 miles on it, no problems
      Heard comments from friends that it was to small for them.
      Was hoping Honda would have made an 1100cc version of the Ascot.
      But they went bigger with the Shadow instead.
      I miss that Ascot.
      This might be one Harley that I would consider owning. Someday.

  7. GT says:

    Smart move by Harley. These will go over well to graduates of the MSF Basic RiderCourse who want to only buy a Harley. These are motorcycles that an instructor can recommend for new riders. These are a great starting point to allow new riders to start out on Harleys and stay in the family as their skills and experience increase. Regardless of your like or dislike of Harley-Davidson, this is definitely a win-win for them and the new rider. They may also appeal to our aging population looking for something smaller and simpler.

    • jake says:

      Aren’t you afraid of the brand being watered down? From a Harley forum: “People like to put Harley on a pedestal and wrap it up in an American flag, but the Harly-Davidson MoCo is no different than Walmart or McDonalds..Increase stock prices and keep earnings high. It’s a company that sells chinese made apparel/accesories, and it also sells motorcycles.”

      Do you really think it is good for the MoCo if people begin to equate Harley Davidson with Walmart and McDonalds?

  8. Hair says:

    Way to go HD. In the past just about every 500cc bike on the road could own a Sportster.
    Now a HD might add a 500 cc bike to that list. :)

  9. Auphliam says:

    I used to get upset reading some of the comments here. I would ask “How could people I identify with (ie Motorcyclists) be so prejudiced about a certain manufacturer/make/model/style?”

    Anymore, they make me laugh. Ever article, everyone is poised with their ready made statements about ‘Pirates’, ‘Squids’, ‘Beemer Owners’…yada yada yada.

    Reminds me of when, as a child, I would go to the local diner with my father and here all the back-n-forth between the Wops, Micks, Fins, Swedes…Hilarious :/

    • jake says:

      You are not better, you are just more of a generalist. All groups have an inclusion and as a result an exclusion. So you want to group all motorcyclists the same, but then you still distinguish them from cage riders, when you could group all as motor vehicle riders…and so on and so forth. If that distinction offends anyone, then you could group everyone as breathers or p*ssers, or whatever. Get the point.

      Some people are just more perceptive and specific than you. There is a difference between squids, pirates, and Beemer owners. They drive drastically different bikes and have drastically different sets of values and tastes.

      What’s so wrong with pointing out some of the differences?

      • Scotty says:

        Perceptive? Really? The things that unite us are stronger than the things that divide us. I don’t care what bike someone rides, if they are having trouble at tyhe side of the road I’ll stop and help. Cut any ride of any bike, and they bleed red.

        • mickey says:

          hey,I sometimes make fun of ( take your pick) HD pirates, Wing owners, Ducatistas, Beemerphiles, Brit nuts, concrete ADV guys, Scooter nuts, anyone who takes a perfectly good motorcycle and makes a stripped thing with flat black paint, solo seat, wrapped headers and high bars ( forget what they call them…I call them ruined bikes) but regardless of what someone is riding, if they are standing on the side of the road with their bike, I am stopping to see if they are alright or if I can help. If you are on two wheels, I support you even if I occassionally jest at your expense. I would expect no less from others.

          • Scotty says:

            Thats about it Mickey. I ride a Guzzi, but I don’t I’m better or a more real motorcyclist than anyone else. After 40 years…I found what I like the most thats all. But there is hardly any bbike I couldn’t find something to like in it.

  10. Kagato says:

    FYI the new mills are SOHC, with screw and locknut adjusters for the valve clearances–I think I found that on the CW site.

  11. johnny ro says:

    Look at the size of that radiator shroud.

    Do I want one? No. Would I ride it if it were free? No. Do I even want to see one from a distance? No. Will I step foot on the premises of a Harley dealer for any reason? No.

    Sorry Harley, you gave up competing on quality and performance back when the Suzuki GT500 blew past you and that was chasing a 350. You had a brief moment when you enlisted Porsche but chickened out.

    The SVP of marketing burbles on happily about vision and style and the feel some market segment will have when they picture themselves in their pirate costumes, on their adventure.

    Yes they will sell.

  12. EZ Mark says:

    Bottom Line:
    70 pounds LESS than a 750 Honda.
    $740 LESS than a 750 Honda.
    Radiator and no pushrods.
    Harley badge on the tank for the sheep and wannabe sheep.
    Sounds like a sales winner to me.

  13. mickey says:

    Google “Honda VT 500 Ascot” and look at the first picture on the screen and tell me these don’t look a lot alike.

  14. Mike Simmons says:

    Finally! A modern day Harley! Way to go MoCo, I knew you could do it!

  15. Paul Mitchell says:

    There is a world outside America you know ! These bikes if priced correctly ,ie cheaper than a Sportster to both buy and most importantly insure , will I predict be very successful for Harley Davidson .

  16. mickey says:

    Anybody notice the real Harley in the background following the Asian kid on the new Harley? See welcomed into the family already.

    • jake says:

      Yea, as in welcome with a ten foot pole. Notice how far back the presumably real American on the real Harley is from the Asian kid on the fake Harley. It’s as if the real Harley is embarrassed to be seen in public with the fake Harley and is only within the same zip code cause it’s forced to be.

      The real Harley is saying, “if I wasn’t so broke and destitute, you (new member of the family) would be disowned and history, but since I am penniless and impoverished, while you are rich and growing, I’ll just have to put up with your annoying self…but you still have to ride the fake Harley.”

      • Glen says:

        How can it bet a “fake Harley” if Harley built it?

        • jake says:

          From a Harley forum: “There was a time not too long ago when Harley actually stood for something. American made, air cooled, big iron. For better or worse, those days are offcially over. Those new Harleys look like a copy of the other multitudes of foreign made, water cooled, smaller displacemnt engines. Nothing new here except that it now has a Harley logo on it.”

          What’s the difference between this bike and a Suzuki with a Harley badge pasted on to it? None. People can tell a real Harley even without the badge. They are that distinctive. Not so this one.

          Just cause Habib in India gets a measly paycheck from HD does not make this a real Harley in the eyes of most of their faithful, and I happen to agree with them.

        • jake says:

          Also, Harley has never had an Asian in any of their ads. This is the first…and what is he riding? Not a real, traditional Hog, but a fake one made in India, while a real American is riding a real Hog in the distant background. Just a coincidence? I think not.

          Just from the ad and whose riding what, you can tell even Harley makes a distinction between the two bikes. One is more authentic than the other.

          Hey, I didn’t make the distinction, Harley did. I’m just responding to it.

          • MarkyMark says:

            Jake,

            The new bikes that are sold in North America (i.e. Canada, US, and Mexico) will be made in Kansas City. Those sold internationally will be built in India.

            As for all the things Harley stood for, it cannot stand for those things alone and survive; their main demographic, well off, middle aged white men, is shrinking. If they don’t expand their customer base, they won’t survive.

            MarkyMark

          • jake says:

            In life, there is the straight and narrow path, and then their is the wide and crooked one. Harley still had a choice. It could choose to age gracefully with its core constituents and stick up for its core values, becoming a smaller but still much loved and respected company in the process. Believe me, if you stand by the people who form the core of the Harley faithful, then they will stand by you, even up to the very end. They would make sure your survival is never in jeopardy.

            But no, Harley chose the easy way out and decided to whore itself out to the rest of the world and to people who don’t really care about it or what it has stood for. To them, Harley is just one among a number of companies. Just another pretty face in the crowd. Nothing special or sacred there for these people.

            In the short run, Harley going Benedict Arnold and selling out to globalism may payoff, but in the long run, Harley will pay a steep price. It just irreparably sullied itself, turning its back on the people who truly loved it, for mere short term, temporary gain, and the superficial adoration from the anonymous masses.

    • Simon says:

      Is that the Castro district in San Francisco?!

  17. TimC says:

    What is this hipster BS

    • TimC says:

      By “BS” I mean, what f—ing hipster is going to pick this over a Monster.

      • VLJ says:

        A broke one, most likely.

        • goose says:

          Just a quick reminder Harley is number 1 is sales to the 18 to 35 age group, I’m not sure where Ducati falls but I’m betting they are not #2 or #3 or…

          Goose

          • jake says:

            Who said any of them were hip? Being hip cannot be reduced to a mere age bracket. It’s a state of mind, a way of life, a set of self instilled and self realized values, along with a love for shopping at thrift stores.

            How many hip individuals between the ages of 18-35 will you find studying Engineering at the major colleges? Some but you will find 10 times more dorks and geeks. So being hip is more than just a chronological age.

          • Scott the Aussie says:

            Totally hip finger poppin’ daddy-o beat 8 to the bar! You dig?

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            No. 1 in Heavy-Weight Cruiser sales says the fine print. This is their attempt to be number one in the lightweight market.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        Metrosexuals ride Monsters. A hipster wouldn’t be caught dead on a Monster.

  18. Mike G says:

    I predict these are going to be shunned by the American riding pubic. Harley sells nostalgia, and these are about as nostalgic as a mid-1980s Shadow.

    • jake says:

      And you predict correctly. Harley sells nostalgia ** plus Americana. Harley execs must be batsh*t crazy to think Indian made Harley’s will go over well with their core blue collar, red, white, and blue buyers and fans…either that or they are that desperate to take such a risk and such a hit to their carefully crafted and up till now untarnished image. Harley maybe in dire financial straits.

      If you own Harley stock, it’s time to sell. Lord only knows, the Big 4 probably already sold their shares in HD months ago.

      • Yoyodyne says:

        Only the ones sold in the international market will be made in India. The ones sold in American will be made in Kansas.

        • Yoyodyne says:

          Make that “sold in America,” though I guess “sold in American” has a certain irony to it.

          • jake says:

            Once a Hindu Harley, always a Hindu Harley. Made? More like screwed together in America. All parts will still come from India.

            Does Harley really believe their traditional customers are that blind and stupid to fall for their it’s still made in America line of bull?

      • FAST2WIN says:

        They are designed here and will be made here for the American public jakey. I dare you to name a single product that is made in the USA and has thousands of parts in it that does not have foreign content in it. It’s going to sell weather you think so or not. Ad as far as stock goes H.D was down to 8 bucks in bad times should you have sold then too. Wise up and smell the Coffee Americans like Harleys, get over it. Go ride what ever it is you ride and try to be so holier than thou.

        • jake says:

          And I dare Harley to stick the true foreign content of these bikes for everyone to see and then try to sell them, without any subterfuge, to the American public. Sure, even normal Hogs are composed of 50 percent or more in foreign parts, but 100%???. You don’t think there is a difference between 50% and 100%?

          From a Harley forum: “Certain brands come with certain expectations. The thing with the MoCo is they not only wave the American Flag, they shove it up everyone’s *** and stuff it down our throats.

          I have no problem with that when their bikes are assembled here even if they do use foreign parts in their bikes. But I’d be damned if I’d buy a completely imported biked while they sing the Star Spangled Banner at me.”

          Good luck selling a 100% foreign content bike to the faithful in the U.S. and having the audacity to refer to it as “American Made”.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      They are going to be shunned by the people who think they are the only ones who know what a “real” Harley is. The rest of the riding public will accept them just fine so long as they are good bikes. I suspect HD is going to sell a lot of these.

      • jake says:

        Who else knows what a real Harley is other than the true believers who have been buying Harley even before Harleys were cool and the in thing? These people have been paying 3 to 4 times the average profits margins to Harley just make sure that last great American motor company is healthy and thriving.

        They’ve been more than loyal. And they deserve loyalty back in spades. But what do they get in return for all their effort and support over the years, even during the hard times? Made in India Harleys. What a slap in the face to the faithful.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          No, they’ll keep buying the same Harley’s they’ve been buying. New buyers will buy these new ones and guarantee Harley’s future, which was waning. And if you are a North American buyer, they are ALL made in the USA.

  19. MGNorge says:

    If these sell in any great numbers it will be because they have H-D on their tanks. Through the years the Japanese have produced every variation of smaller cruiser/nakeds with limited success so if these sell it’s because a large portion of today’s riders, or want to be riders, are overly brand conscious. Not until I swing a leg over them will I know for sure but I doubt any tangible improvements over what’s been offered before. New to Harley does not make them new.

  20. ABQ says:

    All this time we thought that the Japanese cruisers were a knock off of Harley. That table has turned. This is an improvement, right?

    • Dave says:

      I always considered Japanese cruisers improvements on Harleys..

    • jake says:

      There has always been a gentlemen’s agreement between Harley and the Japanese to keep off each other’s turf. Now that desperate Harley, cause Americans are now too poor to buy their expensive bikes in sufficient numbers, has been forced to go Japanese, the Japanese may see this as a license to start offering more attractive cruiser offerings.

      Actually, we are seeing happen right before our eyes. Look at the Bolt, the first Japanese cruiser offering with any sense of style. The next Bolt might not even have tank seams. Of how about the new CTX’s of Honda. An attempt to redefine what a cruiser is.

      So yes, it’s an improvement.

      • goose says:

        Another load of BS form the Harley haters club. Harley’s sales and profits are up, not down. Show me any facts to back up either that there has been any agreements about turf or Harley sales are down.

        Here are some facts:
        http://finance.yahoo.com/news/harley-davidson-posts-second-quarter-110000561.html

        Opinions are fine but saying things that are simply not true doesn’t serve anyone and makes you look like a fool.

        Goose

        • jake says:

          Short term and long term are different:

          “Currently Harley dominates the U.S. market, making around 185,000 of the 452,000 motorcycles that were sold in the U.S. in 2012. Far fewer than the 273,000 bikes it sold here in 2006. Compare that total market volume to India, which totals in excess of 10 million motorcycle sales year and you can see why Harley is eager to explore new markets.”

          Sales still down by 30% from 2006. And likely ever to recover again.

          “To be fair, revenues and unit sales have enjoyed a nice bounce since the pits of the financial crisis. But Harley will never get its old mojo back for one critical reason that is completely outside of its control: demographics.

          Down the road from my house in Dallas, there is greasy drive-in burger joint called Keller’s … a place I’ve been known to frequent a little more often than my doctor might recommend. On any given weekend, you might see a dozen or more bikers parked in the lot, showing off their chrome-laden Harleys. And nearly all of them are over the age of 45. Most are over 50.

          This isn’t a coincidence. Harley Davidson is a brand whose sales depend disproportionately — almost exclusively, in fact — on middle-aged Caucasian males. Riders younger than 40 generally lack the time, interest or the bankroll to buy a Harley. But by the time they get into their 60s or older, the noise and joint pain have begun to make riding lose its allure. You might still ride in your 60s, but you’re doing it less frequently and you probably aren’t buying a new bike.”

          “The company has aggressively expanded its marketing efforts to attract younger men, non-Caucasian men, and women, to modest success. Per the demographic site, management writes:

          ‘In 2012, U.S. sales of new Harley-Davidson motorcycles to our ‘outreach’ customers — young adults 18-34, women, African-Americans and Hispanics – grew overall at more than twice the rate as sales to our traditional U.S. customer base of Caucasian men, ages 35-plus.’

          But realistically, there is no replacing the white male Boomers. And this means a very rough decade ahead for Harley Davidson.”

          Harley sees the writing on the wall. Building bikes in India and then importing them back to the U.S. is what it is – a clear sign of desperation on the part of Harley.

      • Scott says:

        Not sure about this so called gentlemen’s agreement. Yamaha has been producing Harley cruiser copies (air cooled push rods with belt drive) for 15+ years. The other three have too, albeit with radiators.

        • jake says:

          Harley’s weren’t always the epitome of cool. The Fonz drove a Triumph; Chips, Kawi’s; Mad Max/Road Warrior, Japanese bikes; Purple Rain, a Honda Magna. It was only in the late 80’s when Harley became the icon of cool. You have to ask why?

          The Big 4 played a large part in the rise of Harley. What Harley does is not hard. It only looks special because the Big 4 as group refuse to infringe on Harley’s main attraction – it’s styling. It’s just a styling exercise. Even Cleveland Cyclewerks, on a shoestring budget, making bikes in China, can approximate the same minimalistic, masculine style to a satisfactory degree. Anyone have any doubts that a large Japanese global corporation couldn’t do the same or better with ease?

          So the question is why haven’t they and why have they forfeited the U.S. cruiser market to Harley since the late 80’s. Obviously, they have their reasons – it was in their interests to do so – but they ain’t talking.

          • blitz says:

            I thought Prince rode a KZ400 or KZ440.

          • Cowpieapex says:

            Harleys were the epitome of cool back when your gramma and gramps were working on your momma!
            Easy Rider had rocked the American cinema years before you settled down to watch Happy Days with your after school milk and cookies.
            I’ve watched 20 years of Japanese and now English efforts to reinterpret the Harley paradigm and applaud not only the credible copies but also the cultural oddities these clones represent.
            The ultimate answer to whether these bikes will sell has so much more to do with how they perform because they very carefully break very little new ground in the styling department.

          • jake says:

            Then how come Harley almost went bankrupt in the early 80’s and required Gov. intervention to survive? Ponch, the Fonz, Brando, Mickey Rourke in Rumblefish, Prince – none of these guys rode Harleys back then when trying to look cool, which is unthinkable today.

            In the Karate Kid, or even up the Lost Boys, the cool kids did not ride Harleys. In Grease II, the bad guys rode Harleys, but the Hero rode a homemade Triumph.

            Sure, there was always a core group of Harleys fans, but they were considered a counter culture outside the mainstream composed mainly of outlaws, wrench monkeys, and idiots who cared more about nostalgia than competent, functional bikes. Only in the late 80’s did Harley go mainstream.

            Remember the Billy Jack movies. All the bad guys who raped women and raised chaos who he beat up, they all drove Harleys. I don’t think he rode a Harley though.

          • jake says:

            Two things drove the growth of Harley in the late 80’s. The deindustrialization of America, causing Blue Collar workers to rally around the flag (remember Reagan and his flag waving) and the professionalization (more people going to college) of America.

            With the first, it’s easy to see how Harley benefited, but the second requires some explanation. As more and more people became professional, their work became more and more ephemeral, esoteric, and less tangible. Career success, moving on up, depended more on politics, maintaining the status quo, toting the company line, and sucking up to the right person more than how hard or how smart you worked.

            Such a life made a large group of these people feel de-masculinated. They longed for the simple values when their parents worked simple but real and tangible jobs – when men were men and women were women, when they could see the world in black and white terms, before all this multiculturalism and liberal relativism which dominates today.

            Just as people who moved to the city long to get back in touch with nature, with trips to parks and such, while when they were out in the boonies, they couldn’t wait to live in the cities, so moderm professional Americans have nostalgia for and idealize the simple values back when people were not required to be so fake.

            Riding a modern Harley says what? It shouts that you are a rebel, an individual, and definitely not a sell out. Of course to afford a modern Harley, you have to be a sell out, unless you build one yourself – probably why all Harleys, even the 30K ones, have that slightly unfinished, I built it myself look.

            Anyway, that’s why such people are so desperate to find a way to tell the world (and themselves) that they are not fake and not sell outs, that they are real. Harley has made a killing over the past few decades providing just such vehicle for these people to express themselves and accommodating their need to play back to basic primitivism on the weekends.

          • jake says:

            Anyway, the Japanese foresaw all these trends on the horizon in America back in 80’s. They realized given the proper opportunity that Harley could make a killing, able to charge 3 to 4 times the profits which they as foreigners could garner, no matter how good or well styled their bikes were.

            So they decided to get out of the way and figured out a way, I suspect, to also profit from American people’s desire to pay so much for a bike. In business, when people are willing to pay so much extra for a product, so much beyond common sense or it’s tangible value, then you get out of the way and let the people fork over their cash like a raging river.

            A way to also dip into that cash flow can be figured out later.

          • Dirck Edge says:

            The river known as Apple is flowing so fast competitors are standing on the shore in their dry swim trunks.

          • Cowpieapex says:

            Let me corroborate your media observations with my own real world experience. Yes in the ’60s the dirtbag stereotype was all too real. In my own rural neighborhood outlaw bikers on jury rigged choppers cut a wide swath with multiple deaths of civilians and scooter trash.
            My early role models were men such as my uncle on his R60/US BMW or the fireman down at the station who rode a sparkling red BSA A10. My first bike was a ’69 Honda 350 followed through the years by BMW, Ducati, Triumph, BSA,… I never seriously considered being seen on a Harley until I bought my Buell Thunderbolt in the ’90s.
            Image indeed was a liability back in the day. Why else would Honda advertise ” You meet the nicest people on a Honda”? But the second nail in Harley’s coffin in those days was the appalling build quality and tone def styling of the AMF years.
            I find it particularly remarkable that the styling brilliance of Willie G. Davidson was able to singlehandedly pull the company back from the abyss.
            His effort on the XLCR missed the mark because it looked high performance but rode like a boat anchor. With the low rider he captured lightening in a bottle by taking the “bad boy” look away from the scooter trash and selling it fully formed with shiny chrome to the working man. Trust me, those bikes were still turds, but they weren’t selling performance they were selling style. In subsequent decades the quality was engineered back into the company to put them on par with the world.

        • Blackcayman says:

          That’s right – I don’t believe there ever was such an agreement – For sure Yamaha didn’t enter into such as they more closely coppied HD design than the other 3.

          • jake says:

            And that’s why of the Big 4, Yammie is the most successful at selling cruiser. But you really don’t think it could do much better if it wanted to and be even more successful? Cleveland Cyclewerks styles their teenie weenie bikes better and more to American tastes than Star. You really think Yammie couldn’t outdo C.C. if it really wanted to?

            I guess you also don’t believe the Big 4 own large stakes in HD, and as a result, probably make more profit for themselves from a Harley sale than a sale from one of their own metrics?

          • Dave says:

            After enduring a large displacement tariff in the 80’s (remember 700cc bikes?) I don’t expect that the Japanese makes would agree to any kind of no-compete with HD.

          • jake says:

            Sure they would. Why do you think the tariff in the 80’s was lifted to begin with?

            These kind of agreements exist and are very common among manufacturers. Why do you think manufacturers with uncanny consistency limit themselves to certain niches time after time when everyone else can see how so much money could be made if they just stepped outside their own self-imposed stereotypes.

        • jake says:

          More things change, the more they stay the same. As I said, when people desire to fork over money with emotion rather than their heads, then you let them, even if you are a supposed competitor. All businessmen love people forking over money with emotion. It’s their collective wet dream.

          You can bet there are many, many different factions with their spoons out looking for a way to discreetly dip into that mother of all cash flows. Pretty soon, if not already, that cash flow will look like a oil pipeline in Nigeria (everyone siphons oil out in Nigeria at their own discretion).

  21. Tomo says:

    Would I buy this over a Honda or Yamaha? Dunno, the concept is intriguing. HD trying to bring in the young, urban hipster is a good idea. I hope the product delivers.

  22. RAD says:

    This is a great move for HD .
    Sure we are going to have nah Sayers here or some where else.
    I ride trials bikes dirt bikes and Harley’s as well .
    I hope they sale millions of them.
    The 883 is no longer a entry level Harley .

  23. Michael H says:

    Hipster-Davidsons.

    Kudos to the MoCo for trying something new. These bikes are clear evidence that Willie G. has left the building, a clean-sheet design with OHC and liquid cooling. Will they sell? MoCo marketing believes that they will or else the board of directors wouldn’t have green-lighted the investment.

    Three issues: At those prices will they be built offshore (killing the made-in-‘Merica HD vibe); will the prospective buyers be welcomed into HD dealerships by margin-savvy salespeople; and will they bring and end to the Sporties?

  24. Tim says:

    Maybe I’m crazy but I am 50 and this bike is exactly what I’ve been wanting. Smaller, watercooling, Great look! all of the big four cruisers are so obvious at what they are aiming at But Just plain Ugly. Although more of a standard than cruiser, I am saving my pennies.

    • blitz says:

      I think you hit it…it’s really more of a standard than a cruizer. It’s not for me, but I think it is perfect for my wife. She’s bored with her rebel, yet the CX500 is too tall. This fits the bill perfectly. There’s really no other bike out there like this (well, new. the honda ascot was sort of), so it has a niche in the market. Good for HD.

  25. denny says:

    They are both v-twin I suppose including 500cc version. As H-D had been traditionally more heavy than needed (lacking optimisation) and in context of what chief marketing offices speaking of “real steal” says, it makes me wonder what kind of ‘spark’ the smaller version will generate. Even with some 450lbs and that would be super-lightweight in H-D standard, it would have to have close to 50hp, which I doubt it will have. Cannot see how this new product can live on sound alone.

  26. jim says:

    Someone please tell me this is a joke. Looking at the other bikes introduced in Milan, Harley comes up with THIS? No, you’re just kidding, right?

  27. Gary says:

    It takes cojones to produce a video showing suspension bottoming out over a tiny pavement ripple.

  28. Dale says:

    Dirck, Gabe,

    Are you able to confirm that North American models will be made and assembled in Kansas City?

  29. Tom R says:

    I thought for a while that H-D was partially asleep at the wheel, at least in the small cruiser market (the 883 notewithstanding). This low-cost India manufacturing connection, coupled with a small “modern” cruiser design, is going to attract shoppers that previously had no choice but go to the Japanese manufacturers for something in this segment.

    H-D will get younger buyers into their showrooms that can be more easily captured for their future trade up to larger and more profitable models. The company is not as vulnerable as many might have believed.

  30. Yoyodyne says:

    Lordy, the fork gaiters look ridiculous.

  31. John says:

    This is a great step for Harley and one that has been needed for a while. I love my Dyna, but my kids will really dig these bikes. Should be affordable as well.

  32. VLJ says:

    “These new bikes are leaner, yet still have a mean streak – they’re the real deal, made of real steel.” said Mark-Hans Richer, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Harley-Davidson Motor Company. “They’re designed to handle the abuses of urban environments and provide authentic opportunities to customize.”

    Bwaaaa…

    Ummm…

    BWAAAHAAA!

  33. PN says:

    Good move, though isn’t Honda et al. already making this bike? Younger buyers find globalization nothing new so they won’t care that it’s not made in the USA. Harley’s Showa forks never were either.

  34. Tom R says:

    Very smart, very smart indeed.

  35. Ron Gordon says:

    My wife still won’t ride my 883 Super Low because it says Harley on it. We bought both of our Buells from Harley Davidson and she has no problem riding hers because it doesn’t say Harley on it. Approach from the other side and what will the faithful think of these machines having the name Harley on them? My girlie bike is already looked down on because it is omly an 883, all stock and isn’t really a hughly overweicht and underperforming “real” Harley.
    I actually think I am looking forward to visiting dealerships when they bring in these new machines. Harley didn’t know how to handle Buells and now they are going to have to explain these things to the usual crowd. How entertaining will this be. Grab your popcorn and sit back and grok.

    • jake says:

      “Approach from the other side and what will the faithful think of these machines having the name Harley on them? My girlie bike is already looked down on because it is omly an 883, all stock and isn’t really a hughly overweicht and underperforming “real” Harley.”

      It will turn the faithful’s stomach and make them want to puke…and then rip off their Harley tattoos with their bare hands.

      If they looked down on your 883 that much, imagine how much the faithful will look down on a “Made in India” bike that’s water cooled and designed to sell to poor people and non-Americans?

      It’s going to be a laugh riot.

      • Andrew says:

        The fact that it might ruffle the feathers of ‘the faithful’ could well be a part of appeal for the buyers of this model :)

        • jake says:

          Would rather ride a Honda Shadow to one of those Harley bars and act as if I belong, than one of these Hindu Harleys. Less chance of getting beat up and spit upon.

          Don’t know how much appeal getting beat up and laughed at has, but then I’m past my prime and I don’t pretend to understand the concerns and preferences of the younger generation.

    • VLJ says:

      “My girlie bike is already looked down on because it is omly an 883, all stock and isn’t really a hughly overweicht and underperforming “real” Harley.”

      Oh, if it’s a stock 883 then it most certainly is highly overweight and vastly underperforming, so it’s every bit a “real” Harley.

      • Ron Gordon says:

        “Oh, if it’s a stock 883 then it most certainly is highly overweight and vastly underperforming, so it’s every bit a “real” Harley.”

        It certainly is all of those things. It is also not the same kind of fun as the Buells, Honda, and Suzuki in the garage. These new Harleys will be, as are all motorcycles, fun to ride in their own way. Every bike I have ever owned has been a joy, even the Goldwing. I hope the same for all riders.

  36. Bob says:

    I like the bikes and HATE the marketing. Authentic…..really? (made in India!) Urban….really? (Since when did urban hipsters ride 750’s). Nimble agility…..really? (480#!).

    Never-the-less, the bikes are cool and I like them.

    • Dave says:

      I think I read that the US bikes will be made in Kansas City, Mo. Global bikes made in India.

      The “faithful” are dying off. HD needed to do something to attract younger, less financially established customers. Big step in the right direction imo.

  37. Dale says:

    Finally a clean sheet design from H-D! Nice to see something new for a change. Now, if they can just “Standardize” the new 750 motor into an XLCR….

    • Dale says:

      Still can’t get over the words “water cooled”, and “six speed”. Maybe the world is freezing over…?

  38. SupraStar says:

    480lbs for the 500cc model!!!

    Porky things, aren’t they?

    • Andrew says:

      Well, old Suzuki GS500 was around 440lbs dry – and that was UJM not a cruiser, so 480lbs is not unreasonable. I know GS500 was no match for supersports, but I also know it never had any problems dealing with traffic on the roads and I think for entry level bike like the Street that will be sufficient.

      • todd says:

        Where have you been? The GS500e was 375 pounds dry.

        • Andrew says:

          Apparently I was referring to the original GS500 from 1980, but I must admit that was not my intention. I asuspect late models that I was actually thinking of were in reality a fair bit heavier than the ‘optimistic’ figures quoted by manufacturers at the time, but that’s besides the point.

  39. jake says:

    In the short term, they might sell but these bikes spell the end of Harleydom. A Harley with an Asian in their advertisement rather than a good ole boy American???? When’s the last time we have seen this? Like never. A Harley built in India???? Water cooled???? Cheap enough for poor people to afford???? Gasp, Gasp…Gasp at all this.

    It’s like going to a church only to find out your long time pastor who you thought was the last pure person on Earth has been molesting the kids. The religion is crumbling when Harley sells out America to focus on Non-Americans.

    Why don’t you just go and sell the purple heart to the highest bidder while your at it?

  40. Jeremy in TX says:

    It’s about time. They will sell a ton of these.

  41. Crim says:

    I’ve owned and loved a few Harleys. I guess it’ll be like the rest of them. Poor suspension and disappointing power but a nice bike none the less.

  42. Terry Thompson says:

    The engines are probably highly detuned, so as not to out perform the 883 sportster, which is slower than a 400cc scooter.

  43. mickey says:

    They will sell a boat load of them

    Reminds me of a cross between a VT 500 Shadow and a VT 500 Ascot circa mid 80s

  44. Gham says:

    Looks like a Wee-Rod

  45. Scotty Guzzisti says:

    Very interesting and I think a very wise move, but as you say it might not play to well to the faithful. I like the fact they are both a lot lighter than a 883.

    Clearly aimed at a different sort of person to me though – judging by those vids! No wide vistas and tors and country roads and camping and views. Its the City.

  46. Mean Chuck says:

    Nice v-twin Nighthawk! Although marketed squarely at the douchebag hipster crowd, it wasn’t as bad of some of the other ad vids lately.

    • Selecter says:

      Pics on the H-D website are hilarious. Beards? Check. Rolled-up jeans? Check. Cheesy 3/4 helmet and goggles? Check. Overall thrift-store look? Check. Predictable, but entertaining anyway. They managed to make their ad-photo hipster douchebags even douchier than Triumph did on their website!

  47. Hot Dog says:

    It’s ok to wear fork boots, really, it’s ok. It looks like a nice clean design. I wonder if the “Faithful” will accept or shun it, like they’ve done to the V-Rod. Now one of the future Sheeple can start out on a little piggy before they graduate to a big hog. I think I can hear a collective sigh sounding like, “Say it ain’t so…”.

  48. halfbaked says:

    Shut the front door and lock it I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t see on MD first! Even so I had to look outside and make sure pigs weren’t flying. Two blank sheet of paper designs from the Motor Company looks like they’ve been busy up their in cheese country.

  49. SecaKid says:

    What took so long?

    • Norm G. says:

      business 101. make what you can sell, not sell what you can make.

    • david says:

      Small bike, small profit, not going well with Corporate Harley! Now economy is still in recession, big bike sale unsustainable. Time to get new young, women, or Asian riders into riding with Harley brand. Anyway the new bike looks boring. Where is the innovation?