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Harley’s Matt Levatich: Time to Surprise People, and Not Just With Project LiveWire

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If you were as surprised by Harley-Davidson’s Project LiveWire as we were, the shock probably has not worn off. Many observers thought Harley was “asleep at the switch” as it continued to churn out nothing but air-cooled heavyweight cruisers for a seemingly dying breed of customer.

Now take a look at an interview provided to MCN by Harley’s president Matt Levatich. It turns out Harley has not only been awake, it has already thrown the switch. You should read the entire article, but here is a quote from Levatich beginning with a reference to Project LiveWire:

“It’s our biggest and boldest new product since the company formed in 1903, and it’s just the start of the future for us. We need to change people’s perception of what Harley-Davidson is all about. We used to make motorcycles for Americans, which we happened to sell all over the world. Now we make global motorcycles for everyone.”

There is no doubt in our mind that Harley-Davidson has the financial resources and the engineering prowess to do just about anything they want to. You have to wonder where this will lead.

98 Comments

  1. JR says:

    Everything boils down to money. Harley shut down Buell because it didn’t fit their business plan of maximizing profits. And dealer’s never really accepted Buell since they only wanted to promote machines that would benefit their bottom line. So now all of a sudden they plan to sell a water cooled 500 and 750 along with testing the waters regarding an electric machine. Interesting.. Well guess what.. it’s now the end of July 2014 and none of this so called new stuff is anywhere to be had at the H-D dealer I visit. So the dealer’s may give the same cool response they provided Buell over this “latest new stuff” if the sales don’t materialize. I’ll give you three guesses as to what will happen sales wise, and the first two don’t count.

    • adaleb says:

      Speaking of money and profits, I see on Bloomberg Businessweek that ole Matt banked a cool $3.7 last year. Not bad for a few days work (and not that he didn’t earn it… they paid it, so he must be worth it, eh?). That’s alot of Street Glides and leather jackets…

    • Dave says:

      With Buell, HD allowed their dealers to fail and now they’re back to where they were- enjoying success today with the end in plain sight (no young buyers). HD will mandate their dealers carry and sell the new Street models (and require them to meet goals) or they’ll allow dealers outside of the current dealer network to carry & sell them. I’m betting the dealers come around. They want to increase their customer base too.

      • adaleb says:

        Haven’t been in my local H-D dealer in over a year, but something tells me they will never have the new 500 and 750 front and center when you walk in the door. They’ll be hidden in the back with the old Buells. Put the coffee mugs, baby bibs, and do rags up front – much better.

  2. rapier says:

    I’m waiting for an electric car with a mirco turbine generator or some other petroleum engine, for off the grid charging.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Al8elCF816g&channel=mr2000jp
    (I’m talking recharge,not running on it.)

    Probably not possible on a bike but the peace of mind that an onboard generator would bring would be a huge thing for electric vehicles.

    The electric bikes are cool and if I had big coin for a second or is it a third bike I’d be in, but I don’t.

  3. JR says:

    For those who like to complain about the made in the USA Harley air cooled, low maintenance V-twin engine with it’s decades of proven reliability.. they must have a screw loose. And how Buell modified the two displacement engines they used made it even a lot more fun. If you never owned one of them, and maintained it properly, then you must not know what you are talking about. I would like to have confidence in some of the other non-USA new motorcycle engine designs and bikes, since Buell under Harley was shut down. But I can’t get past their high revving, goofy sounding, water cooled, labor intensive multi valve adjustments. Let alone their archaic rear chain drive.

    • adaleb says:

      Agree completely. It is amazing just how good the air cooled Buell motors were. However…, H-D still only caters to their base (successfully we might add, – beyond their wildest dreams).

      Could they not dust off the last year Buell Lightning air cooled Thunderstorm twins they have on the shelf, and come up with something cool? H-D badge; 100+, easy, effortless, horsepower at the crank; light weight (true!); rearset pegs; tall seat; belt drive; regular bars; etc., etc. The answer is, yes; they could any time they want, but don’t worry, they won’t. They will always make more profit on a Heritage Softail with fringe. Why they can’t even put this motor in a lightweight Sportster is beyond me.

      I still have my 2000 Thunderbolt S3T, and I’m planning on giving it to one of my kids in the coming year. I’ll end up with a Ninja 1000 ABS with bags, or a Concours 14. Too bad I am not looking at H-D for my next sport touring bike. But in the end, it doesn’t matter. They will sell bikes whether I buy one or not. They have their audience, and all the thoughts posted on this board won’t change a thing (however I love the fact that every time this topic comes up, Dirck gets about a hundred postings of rants and raves…).

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      You are concerned about the reliability of other makes compared to a Buell? Bahahahahahahahahahaha! Ahhhh.

      The belt and hydraulically adjusted valves are nice touches for a street bike, so I can understand your sense of loss. The engine is a love it or leave it affair for most. It is impressive compared to a Sporster engine, but little else in its displacement group.

  4. John says:

    I don’t recall Harley making a motorcycle for me. Buell….almost, except for the awful engines.

    I would love to buy a Harley that represents what I want. Livewire at least makes me think it’s possible someday.

  5. JR says:

    Here is my two cents on the subject of Harley motorcycles, and this is based on owning 15 machines since 1970, to which 7 have been Harley’s with a range from a new 1973 350 Sprint to a new 1996 Roadking. Adding that the machine that changed my thinking as to just what could be done was owning a new 2004 Buell XB12S Lightning. So… Harley needs to either re-produce the Buell XB Lightning with all it’s design features or… incorporate the Buell XB design and features into a Sportster model. Meaning.. 1203 cc, 395 lbs dry, 103 HP, air/oil/fan cooled, rear fixed axle belt drive with the tension idler etc. There are people that want big heavy expensive motorcycles that exceed the cost of a new car, and that’s fine for them. Or machines that are water cooled, high rpm, high maintenance with 185 HP that cost an arm and a leg, and that’s fine also if that is what the selected few want. As for me, give me another Buell XB for pure fun and forget about expensive portable drills on wheels or not made in the USA water cooled machines.

  6. Charles O. Slavens says:

    Below is a proposed 30 second TV commercial for Harley’s Wildfire electric bike. This version is aimed at new expanding group of potential buyers… young, environmentally aware, urban, and looking for a thrill.

    The Darth Vader voice underscores the threat…. a wrong decision will imperil the
    future of our planet and the human race.

    Let’s give HD some help here! Please REPLY with your own version

    … Just re-write the version below.

    Charles O. Slavens

    SCENE 1:
    VIDEO – FI – A dark mountain ridge silhouetted against the upper limb of a rising moon – CUT

    SFX – high pitched whine of a jet engine winding up

    NARR – Darth Vader voice: “The future is in your hands.”

    SCENE 2:
    VIDEO – CU a single headlight flares…a pump zoom back to a long shot of a rider outlined against the full moon. The moonlight is reflected in the centerline of the highway. — CUT

    SFX — whine approaches and shrieks past, changing tone dramatically via the doppler effect.

    NARR – Darth Vader voice: “The key to survival on your planet lies with you.”

    SCENE 3:
    VIDEO – low angle medium shot of the bike at speed from the front as the headlight flares. The camera moves to the side and the bike drift by, revealing details. — CUT

    VIDEO — Close up of the Harley Davidson logo. — CUT

    SFX – jet engine whine continues

    NARR – New voice (Alan Sklar)…. “Rising to lead is a quint essential icon of American ingenuity – Harley Davidson… long a symbol of ability and American resourcefulness.”

    SCENE 4:
    VIDEO – The biker is now in the Holland Tunnel whizzing past large trucks. — CUT

    SFX – The ever-present whine of the jet engine is loud, echoing off the tiled walls.

    NARR – “It’s coming… the beginning of something new”

    SCENE 5:
    VIDEO – Dawn is breaking in Downtown NYC. We’re in the financial district. Our rider dismounts, takes off her helmet and shakes out her hair. In the background we see the façade of the NYSE. — CUT

    NARR – We see the path… it’s going to happen.

    SCENE 6:
    VIDEO – Our rider walks past a low angle look at Wall Street’s charging bull in the foreground. — DISSOLVE

    NARR – Harley Davidson is moving forward with what is great about America.

    SCENE 7:
    VIDEO – HD/Livewire logo — FO

    SFX – music up and out.

  7. Kevin says:

    In my opinion, an electric bike will be practical when it has a windshield, lockable bags, at least 75 lb-ft torque, and a range that allows a full day of riding — around 400 miles. That would give the bike more than enough range for commuting during the week and all-day rides on Saturday and Sunday. This would not allow interstate touring, but it would fill the bill for most riders most of the time.

    • Dave says:

      100 miles fits the needs of most riders, most of the time. There are very few riders who ride more that 100 miles in a day, frequently.

  8. mickey says:

    Neither a Harley Basher nor a Harley Lover. To me they are just another company manufacturing motorcycles. I do wish they would build some alternative bikes (not electric) that were more sport touring and naked standard, but truth is people wouldn’t buy them (I probably wouldn’t)even though people say they would. Harley does what Harley does best, makes a bike for a very specific clientele and market base. As long as it works for them, I suppose that is what they will keep on doing.

    • adaleb says:

      +1. Well said. They do know what they are doing, or they would not be making a profit. I also think the folks that tune in everyday to read Dirck and Gabe are probably not H-D’s core customer base.

  9. Al says:

    “Biggest and boldest new product….” – like ZERO or any other actual E-motorcycle, the range will be extremely limited, battery charge times way too long, and the bike will be way too expensive to buy in relation to what you get – and it will stay like that for at least the next decade.

    Top of the line ZERO S ZF11.4 incl. additional “Power Tank” = 88 miles range at 70 mph, battery load time 9.9 hours, $ 18000 bucks…..give me a break.

    Besides, I like the sound of a real engine.

  10. Tom R says:

    Don’t forget the crappy brakes.

  11. John Smith says:

    It might be an American Brand but they don’t act like Americans!!! Downturn in the market, sell everything that isn’t nailed down, including the future. Oh yea, Honda did that too. It’s lifestyle brand, read POSERS, they are the 99%ers. They sell geezer glides and t- shirts. If you are into that, God love you, go crazy.

    If they want to start making motorcycles, it’s a long climb back. The “V Rod” hasn’t sold worth a poop, it weighs a ton and is slow for what it is. If I want a big, fat bike I’ll but a VMAX, at least it’s kinda fast. The new 500 and 750 will be flops, hide and watch.

    Your core market is geezer glides and cloths, get over it.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “It might be an American Brand but they don’t act like Americans!!! Downturn in the market, sell everything that isn’t nailed down, including the future.”

      well if you think about it, that’s actually VERY American, or at least the definition that’s come to be in the past 25 years. to paraphrase Billy Joel, Harley sure as hell didn’t start that fire… it was already burning.

    • richard says:

      so a cool 48 or a dyna low, or a breakout is a geezer glide…the young are buying Harleys like crazy….things have changed…i guess you could call a Gold Wing a Geezer glide too ! the young bucks dont ride em.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        I have seen lots of hipster types (and also un-hips) riding recent Sportster line offerings, and honestly those bikes are a good match for this most recent generation who value fashion first, care little for performance and can’t use any tool more sophisticated than a screwdriver.

        • Norm G. says:

          re: “those bikes are a good match for this most recent generation who value fashion first, care little for performance and can’t use any tool more sophisticated than a screwdriver.”

          there’s an app for that.

  12. frostbite says:

    I have read most of the comments here and the old Harley Bashing is going on again – when are the Harley Bashers going to realise that the predominance of of this sort of diatribe & behavior is coming from misinformed inbreeds … How dare you try and force “YOUR” bigoted opinions on Harley Riders and denegrate the history of Harley Davidson.
    For once in your life button up your mouth and TRY to appreciate motorcycles for what they are – a Freedom Machine – you should at least ONCE in your life go and talk to some Harley Owners – most of them won’t bash or rob you and may even have a civil conversation with you – after all it is YOU who have the “ATTITUDE” and NOT the HD Rider/s …..

    I personally don’t care what anyone rides and have been through a lot of motorcycles in my riding life – including Japanese, German, Italian, British and American motorcycles and have never had so much negative treatment from ‘average’ motorcyclists untill I was riding a Harley – I am tired of the attitude from the misinformed miscreants who knock someone elses ride – SHUT your MOUTH, get on your bike and ride into the sunset and damn well ENJOY IT – What ever YOU ride …..
    frostbite.

    • kent_skinner says:

      Stop running straight pipes on them, and I’ll shut right up. However, The Motor Company advertises *directly* at the Bad Boy(tm) market. They call their aftermarket parts “Screaming Eagle”.

      When they tone done the “volume = freedom” crap, I’ll turn down my attitude towards their riders.

      * I live 1/4 mile from a freeway. I head loud cars and loud bikes. The *vast majority* of them are HDs. I hate straight piped Hondas just as much, but there aren’t as many, and Honda doesn’t advertise that way.

    • joe b says:

      From reading your comments, it seems this guy Matt is doing the Bashing? Why would they make something different from what they have promoted for years as being the only real motorcycle? You seem to have gotten pretty confused, its not the riders, its the bike. Read, if you can, their comments.

  13. Jamo says:

    People confuse technological advance with motorcycling. Technology may make for a better spaceship, but beyond a certain level of comfort, performance and reliability, it doesn’t make for a better day’s ride.

  14. rider33 says:

    I would like to believe that Harley will wake from its 80’s/90’s slumber but an electric bike (teeny tinny numbers) and an import knock off 750 are not likely to do it. On the other hand Polaris seems to have gone from clean slate to pretty damn nice bikes in about 2 years with Indian. If they kick out a sporting Scout with say a lively 900 I think it’s game on. Harley makes statements, Polaris makes new, interesting, useful bikes.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      I don’t see where Polaris has produced anything more “useful” or “interesting” under the Victory or Indian nameplates than Harley Davidson produces. They are directly competing products with very similar value propositions. The statement is the ONLY thing that is different. In fact, I’d say H-D has a leg up with far more variations available to appeal to different sub-segments of the cruiser market.

      • Gronde says:

        Victory’s lack of variety is what keeps me out of their showroom. Big ugly bikes and nothing else. Would it kill them to produce something sporty? Even Harley tried with the Buell line and the XR1200.

        • GKS says:

          Harley tried and apparently failed with both Buell and the XR1200. They shut the doors at Buell, which now appears to be thriving with new models and an influx of cash from Hero of India, while the XR1200 is just gone.

          Interssting that one of the reasons cited for shutting down Buell was that Harley wanted to focus on their “core business”, that of heritage v-twins. Now, a few years later, they show a streetfighter styled electric concept bike with a promise of more surprises to come.

  15. dino says:

    Newer Harleys ARE a lot better than the older one, but I don’t know how you set a new course in a ‘ship’ as big as Harley, Inc…

    They certainly can engineer whatever they want, but if they can’t convince their own sales and service, they certainly can’t convince the faithful to accept anything but a big air twin. Unless they do that, they may as well set up two entrances for their dealerships… Faithful, and New World… Ready, set, pick a side!

  16. Michael H says:

    Harley has entered the uncharted waters of the post-Willie G. Davidson era. Things Willie G. would never approve (liquid cooling, the 500 and the 750) are starting to come to market. Baby steps, and for sure there will be some missteps along the way. There is a tension between the company’s design heritage and the rapidly changing demographics of the motorcycle market. Millennials who should be the MoCo’s newest market are having trouble scraping up money to move out of their parents’s homes. The job market is pretty rough for guys in the trades, a usually reliable market for Harleys in the past.

    And at the same time, two new competing lines (Victory and Indian) have been launched by Polaris, a serious player with serious capital. If you think Polaris is a small-time player in the heavy motorcycle market, you’re not paying attention. They are selling a LOT of bikes, doubling their assembly plant in Iowa, and have a good dealer network considering how new the brands are.

    It’s going to be interesting to watch what HD will do.

  17. Tank says:

    Harley Davidson (HOG) and Polaris (PII) reported earnings today. Harley said sales were impacted by the weather, Polaris motorcycle sales were great. I guess the “faithful” don’t like to ride in the rain.

    • Gronde says:

      People fail to remember that Victory/Indian only offers 2 engine choices. With Harley you can choose from Big Twin, V-Rod, Sportster (2 sizes), the new 500/750 and various CVO’s offering increased displacement. Seems like a little more choice than what Victory offers.

  18. P.murphy says:

    I have a Harley.I’ve owned three of them. Lets see.. Project Rushmore and Live wire.. Build a bike that water cools a quart of water to the head around the exhaust valve and back add two 1980 technology bikes to the Harley line up and call it a revolution. Very Sad. Come on Harley take the v-rod motor and put it in a updated aluminum frame with a single sided swing arm and add adjustable suspension and now you may have something to get excited about. My 012′ Ultra rode like crap, eight hundred dollars in shocks and eight hundred more in a front end kit to make it ride and handle like it should of out of the crate. I’ll be back for another Harley when they finally get to the twenty first century and build a true touring bike, with a true water cooled block, with a integrated transmission and real suspension components. When the new updated wing is announced I’ll be trading back to one..

  19. Paul says:

    The horrible suspension on it for one.

  20. Jamo says:

    For many. many years I rode German and Japanese only. Tourers, sport-tourers, standards and sport bikes. I was scared of even going into a Harley dealership and I thought they were all ape-men and half breeds, because that’s what the moto-journalists, who were selling for Japan, told me. Finally, I got tickt that my new bikes were not coming out with self cancelling turn signals and I bought myself a used Harley Dyna, which all have them.
    My eyes were opened. Harleys are twice the motorcycles those others are, in every way. Twice the involvement, twice the satisfaction, twice the substance, style, fun. It used to be twice the price, but not so much any more. You just try a new Super Glide Custom w/103. Best bang for the buck in moto-dom.

    I even rode the Street 500. I’d prefer the 750, but what a great bike! If you dn’t like Harleys, IMO, it’s because you are laboring under a misconception.

    I’d never go back.

  21. Jon4uu says:

    Wow, lots of Harley Haters here. You’d think these comments were coming from foreigners, not Americans. I’ve owned dozens of different motorcycles, three of them were Harleys- a 94 Springer Softail and two Ultra Classics. All three were great bikes- never let me down on 70,000 plus miles of open road. Their dealer network is unmatched and the aftermarket is unlimited. Most people that think Harley’s are crap have never owned one and most of the bikes you’ve seen “broken down” on the side of the road are people who modified the bike after it left the showroom. I’m no Harley fanatic (currently ride a Triumph Tiger and Kawi KLR650) but for eating miles and miles of open American highways, a touring HD is a great way to do it. Ride what you like, but don’t bash your brother biker for what he chooses to ride.

    • Scotty says:

      Wella Harley IS a foreign bike to the rest of the world.

    • mickey says:

      Personally I respond to everything, racing, motorcycles, cars as an enthusiast, not as an American. I don’t give em a big ol break just cause they live on the same patch of dirt I do. No excuses.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Because it is an American company, one would expect responses to be more emotional from Americans who feel H-D’s products bring shame (or pride) to them through the concept of association. It is funny how emotional (both ways) people get about this brand.

      While a Harley doesn’t fit my idea of what a motorcycle should be, and I don’t understand what it is about them that makes them “better” than other offerings out there, I would never judge those that choose H-D’s as their mounts. I think it is cool that they just chose to ride in the first place.

  22. Neil says:

    At my local dealer I started the Street 750 with its overhead cams the other day. It’s a start. They were talking nearly 9 grand out the door which is insane, but it sounded nice. I think the old Harleys have their place but that motor design is an OLD design, engineering wise. It was designed with less bore and stroke, the 45 degree motor. That was ok. But I would welcome changes. It’s 2014. Offer something stripped down. Use less materials to build it, a bobber, and thus make it cheaper. Just a raw beast.

  23. Jeremy in TX says:

    A lot of criticism here. I am not a Harley Davidson fan. I don’t like cruisers, and H-D’s have always been uglier (I know, I know – eye of the beholder), more expensive and poorer performers than most of their competitors’ offerings. And the fact the the brand thrives on a particular culture and has its own fashion police has always been a turn off for me.

    That said, they have surprised me several times in the past:

    1) The V-Rod. Looked killer and performed great for the cruiser class in my opinion. Dissed by the Harley purist because it wasn’t “real”, dissed by other cruiser customers because… well, I don’t really know why. Perhaps the V-Rod only impressed people like me who would never buy a cruiser.

    2) Closed Buell. That shocked me, but it was a good move on their part. H-D didn’t understand that market, and the return on capital on the Buell line was probably pretty pathetic compared to their primary line of business. I’ve also always felt that if they really wanted to take the sportbike / sport-standard market seriously, the Harley Davidson brand would actually be a more powerful medium to sell it under.

    3) The LiveWire. It shows at least some people there are thinking outside of the box, and it shows that they are also capable of designing a good-looking motorcycle.

    I have no doubt there is a lot of internal friction in that company right now as the different schools of thought wrestle for direction, but I suspect they will surprise me again.

    • mechanicuss says:

      Your post reminds me of the skeletal anorexic person who stands in front of the mirror and sees fat. It’s a cruiser company, for crying out loud!

      1. The Vrod is “dissed” and doesn’t sell because it is an avant-guarde abortion of style and twisted odd ergonomics. They will never sell in big numbers.
      2. They closed Buell because the bike didn’t sell and never would. Maybe you wanted one… you and the other 3 guys… but that doesn’t pay the electric bill. The majority of American bike buyers dont want to rip around with their ass up in the air emulating F1 knee draggers – most just like to putt around on a sunny eve in comfort with the wife.
      3. The Livewire is totally useless and will be a distant afterthought soon… You can’t go anywhere outside your neighborhood on one!

      Friction smiction – their market is not yours – suggest bopping down to the Honda dealer and slurp a snow cone.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        It appears that all you did was agree with each point I made (albeit from a different perspective.) You must not be having a good reading comprehension day. Or maybe I’m not? Happens to the best of us.

        Anyway, the point was that H-D, a company that most people regard as one that sits on its laurels and never takes chances, made several big plays over the past decade or so that really surprised me. I’m sure they will surprise me again.

        And thanks for the snow cone tip. I hope they have coconut.

  24. Ricardo says:

    To all the Harley haters out there, HD had already taken a big step in 2002 with the introduction of the V-Rod, a motorcycle that still today can not be copied, great power, great design and equal or even better reliablity than any other out there. So it has been done and I think it will continue….

    • Michael H says:

      Too bad that HD has put very little design and development into the V-Rod since its inception. No touring model, no other derivatives at all.

  25. takehikes says:

    He said nothing, sales are flat. They backed themselves in to a corner….trying to hang on to the “lifestyle, heritage” BS while trying to build something relevant. I suspect they employ more in t-shirt and douche bag bandanna design than motorcycle creation.

  26. dave says:

    Around here every bike you see is a Harley so I do not think they really need to do much different. Young guys are riding loud Harleys with apehangers women are riding Harleys. I am not riding one but I am in the minority.

  27. stinkywheels says:

    Is this the same shortsighted, easily panicked, Wall Street, cookie cutter CEO that cut Buell and gave away MV? What part of the world are these new bikes supposed to modernize? The average Geezer Glide rider (I’m one, had to try one) is on the high side of 50, maybe 60.How many years do they think these old duffers can handle a 700+lb bike? Do they think they’re gonna step down to a low power, low tech 500/750? How many more bikes do they think they’re gonna buy? What revolutionary world bike is in the works? What a tool! We won’t all drink the Kool Aid!

  28. adventure seeker says:

    I tried to buy a new Harley but the salesman wouldn’t take MSRP++. Was the saleman hardhead or you name it.

  29. adventure seeker says:

    Interesting! I took a two-thousand mile ride and four major parts feel off the bike during the trip. Three HD Service Managers had the same answer for me: Harleys run better and faster with fewer parts. Harley Davidson Headquarters said, “Thanks for telling us about your troubles with your motorcycle.”

    • Jose Barreira says:

      Yes, same here. A friend got an NEW HD and we took it for a ride. Two days later parts where missing, things wore not working so we took it back. The guy at the dealer told us. “What a great opportunaty for you to buy extra parts… ????????”

  30. joe b says:

    I didn’t realize I was “Stunned” by the release of the livewire? More like “Huh”? Harley sells one kind of bike, a big twin. I guess the other thousands of motorcycles sold here in the USA, aren’t for Americans?

    • MGNorge says:

      A fella at the office announced at lunch, “Did you see where Harley has an electric motorcycle now?” The story was all over the news but it seems to some people’s ears it’s now offered for sale. Hardly (no pun intended) can you blame them when so many people think Harley when you mention motorcycles. Hmm, rather similar to iPhones when you mention a smartphone.

  31. allworld says:

    The best thing HD has ever done for the motorcycle industry was to let Eric Buell go and to sell MV Augusta back to the Castiglioni family.
    HD’s biggest problems going forward will be Hero Moto Corp. and Honda.

  32. MGNorge says:

    “There is no doubt in our mind that Harley-Davidson has the financial resources and the engineering prowess to do just about anything they want to. You have to wonder where this will lead..”

    It also takes a corporate culture that nurtures innovation, which allows the engineers a free reign. But even then that’s no guarantee. They will need to perform a balancing act between the typical classic Harley owner of yesterday, today, and tomorrow along with providing advanced products for those looking further down the road.

  33. Crug says:

    Just found an astonishing statistic about Harleys…accordingly, 98% of them are still on the road today….the other 2% made it home….

  34. Crug says:

    I’m sure since your average HD is north of 20 grand, the electric “rarer” version will be just short of a home mortgage…and have a 20 mile range, which is slightly better than the gas version if you factor in the frequency I see HD on the side of the road broken down…

  35. skybullet says:

    Harley is in a delicate position. They panicked, sold Buell and MV Agusta at big losses. Now they are encouraged by media types (read, non-motorcycle people) to produce an electric bike with a loud speaker that sounds like a jet engine. Harley dealers supposedly could not warm up to Buell and now they are hot to produce an imitation motorcycle? Good luck with that!

    • SDMike says:

      I agree that they have an uphill battle. However, I have to take exception to your depiction of the sound produced by the bike. It isn’t a loudspeaker that makes that jet turbine noise. The chose to drive the belt via a bevel gear, which is where the distinct whine comes from. If its any consolation, you’re not alone in this assumption as there are many people that didn’t watch the full launch video where the drive system was explained. I lay the blame on the many journalist reports for not accurately describing some of these technical details.

  36. ABQ says:

    A salesman at the local H-D dealership told me:
    “These are good for bar hopping and getting around town.”
    The best thing H-D can do right now to raise its appeal is to make bikes that are good for riding beyond their salesmens imagination. For that they would need a decent sized fuel tank, a gas gage that works, something that tells you what gear you are in, a temperature gage, a culture that is based around riding and not just looking ugly…

  37. adaleb says:

    FJR, Concours 14, Trophy SE, K1600GT, R1200RT…? Nah, still a foreign language to these guys. Maybe a Thruxton or a Ninja 1000 ABS? “Nah, we can’t raise that seat and put those pegs back, impossible…”. Ninja 300? EBR 1190SX? 1190RX? “Absolutely, totally, positively not possible…”.

    They lost a lot of us long ago, and they lost my 20 year old kids probably forever.

  38. Blackcayman says:

    show us the pudding

  39. kent_skinner says:

    “We used to make motorcycles for Americans”

    No. You sold bikes to a subset of Americans. Many, many Americans want to buy an US made bike, but have zero interest in your bullshit image, loud pipes and single focus (cruiser) models.

    If you want to sell bikes to Americans other than cruiser riders, make some bikes that aren’t in the same mold as every bike you’ve made since day 1. An electric bike is a massive first step towards getting out of the rut you’ve steered into.

    You had great possibilities with Buell and MV, but you pissed both of those away.

    I’d start with a new dealership model. Get rid of the guys who didn’t care about selling Buells, because they won’t give a damn about an electric bike either. DO you think they’re going to say good things about a foreign made HD 700? These are the morons who call a Sportster a “girls bike” while they are *on your payroll*.

    I sincerely mean it when I say good luck. You’ve painted yourselves into a corner better than any other company could ever hope to. You have a lot of work ahead of yourselves.

    • kent_skinner says:

      I forgot that I stopped posting here because my posts rarely get past the state of “awaiting moderation”.

      I guess my tone isn’t fit for this website.

      • MGNorge says:

        Well, here you are! Share your thoughts…

      • KenHoward says:

        With the huge number of bikes Harley continues to sell every year, that’s an interesting “rut” to be in (and a pretty large “subset” of Americans). And “painted themselves into a corner”? They dominate the cruiser market. You’d better get in touch with them in a hurry, with your acute business sense, before they lose any more money!

        • kent_skinner says:

          They sell one kind of bike; cruisers.

          Would you call BS on Ford if they had this same interview “we make vehicles for Americans” but only sold pickups. Yeah, but they sell so many pickups…

          Also, this: “In 2009 our strategy completely changed. Before that we were merely adequate in what we were doing, but until we lost 40% of our sales there was no motivation to be better.
          You obviously didn’t read the article.

    • JBoz says:

      Yep. My experience in the Syracuse, NY HD dealership. Went in to check out the new Buells way back when and when a salesperson finally approached me as I was standing in front of the ONE Buell on display all he tried to do was stear me to 100’s of HDs siting static. Walked out, never been back.

      • mugwump58 says:

        Been to the same place with similar results. It’s notable that none of the young flat trackers from NY are sponsored by these guys.

  40. Roberto says:

    This is news?

  41. Chris says:

    Wow, water-cooling? What an concept! Harley will be able to build engines that are actually powerful instead of engines that merely SOUND powerful. But, of course, they will still need to say pa-tay-tah pa-tay-tah pa-tay-tah.

  42. Michael H says:

    Shorter version: We’re seeing a lot of happy Victory and Indian riders at motorcycle events, so we need to wake up and modernize things a bit. But not the rock-and-roll engine.

  43. Rooster says:

    Uh-huh.. I don’t see it…. pardon my ignorance BUT this guy seems like another Kool Aid drinker..

    Honda can do whatever they want and they really nailed it with Next Gen Interceptor!!
    Folks around the world want to buy American motorcycles, not “Global Motorcycles” these guys are all so confused..

    • Gronde says:

      Honda would have nailed the Interceptor better had they dropped the complex V-Tec and just increased the displacement to 1 liter. Honda really needs to listen to VFR riders when they design their next VFR. Slow sales is bound to kill the new VFR until they get it right.

  44. mugwump58 says:

    Streetable XR 750

  45. Gronde says:

    He didn’t really say anything!

    • He did say the company changed b/c their sales dropped by 40% . That reactionary approach is not a good enough reason to last the next 100+ years. So, it was encouraging to read one additional line where he states they need to “free” the company.

      Good luck Mr. Levatich in changing the company. A wide variety of bikes serviced by skilled & genuinely enthusiastic techs for these new bikes should be welcomed. It just might take a while, especially after the 2009 treatment of people & products that worked hard at directly answering your own question, “‘Why not do this?’

      I never understood how so many “faithful” concluded that a variety of bike genres would be detrimental to their big twin product lines.