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Harley-Davidson Experiences Steep Drop in U.S. Sales; Stock Price Drops Dramatically in Morning Trading on July 18

Several financial news reports reflect a dramatic Harley share price drop this morning following announcements of declining sales. According to this report from CNNMoney, Harley-Davidson (HOG) shares were down more than 10% in morning trading today after the company announced an expected decline in sales for the year of 6-8%, and a 9% drop in U.S. sales last quarter. The sales decline is expected to result in some reduction in Harley’s work force, as well.


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183 Comments

  1. ed peatross says:

    adapt or die its that simple.

  2. Montana says:

    Time to think out of the box Harley, as BMW did with the GS series. Lots of Americans would rather buy American, but you don’t offer them anything except variations on foot-forward cruisers. How ’bout employing that terrific V-rod engine in a GS style bike or a sport-tourer?

    • Bob says:

      Wrong engine by miles, leagues and light years.

      Harley needs to rethink more than just platform development…

  3. scott k. says:

    I would suggest reading ‘The Reckoning’ by David Halberstam. It tells of the decline of the American automobile industry and the rise of the Japanese automakers. H-D smacks of making the same short sighted mistakes.

  4. BMWsailor says:

    I wonder how much of HD’s problem in this youngest generation is so attached to iPhones and less to real world experience? I’ve been riding for 45 years and it seems there has been a demographic shift up in age. I’ve also seen this my my other passion small sailboat racing.
    From another site published in 2015 “The average age of a motorcycle owner has increased from 40 to 48 years of age since 2001.”

    I know there is all kinds of videos of young people acting stupid on bikes. But that doesn’t mean more sane young riders just that the idiots always get the most air time.

    • Bob says:

      Oh look, another boomer talking shit about Gen Y and iPhones.

      That line of reasoning was tired before you repeated it, and it’s twice as tired now.

      We Gen Y riders want authentic bikes – just look at the cafe racer craze – but we need to be able to afford them while saddled with debt and limited consumer credit. And, spoiler alert, Harley hasn’t been authentic or real in decades.

      They make fake marketing-driven shit, and we know it. Why would we ever pay a premium for bullshit?

      • BMWsailor says:

        Well you are certainly passionate about your opinion but passion is not an argument. The fact is that the average age of motorcyclists has increased dramatically. Average as in all, not just Harley riders. Couple that with the fact that the gen Y people spend dramatically more hours, 100hrs/month, on the web. Which is 20hrs/month then boomers.

        https://www.statista.com/statistics/305697/monthly-time-spent-only-by-generation/

        • Dave says:

          The average age has increased because of urbanization. More young people move to cities from college because that’s where the opportunity is. Driver’s license acquisition is down because fewer young people are interested in owning vehicles, period. Those who do, find that cars are getting better and cheaper, with CRAZY low loan rates.

          It is older HD (and to a lesser degree, BMW) customers who have driven the avg. age up because after the recession, they were the ones left with the most disposable income.

          The motorcycle industry is responding in a similar way to the auto industry, with better values in entry level products (lots of small displacement bikes, low price, high perf. standards). Unfortunately for HD, they’re rightly seen as “old man” bikes. They’ll need to compete more directly with the Triumph Street Twin in riding posture and overall experience. There isn’t anything “sporty” about the Sportster.

  5. Mr.Mike says:

    My kids are in their 20’s and to them HD cycles are for people their parents’ age. They get much more excited when they see a 70’s era cafe racer or a scrambler. Given the economic state of many Millenials I don’t see how HD can sustain their $20K bike selling habit in the volumes they require. I give them credit for making the boom years last as long as they have, but without major change in their product line the run had to end eventually.

  6. Mick says:

    Looks like America is getting great again.

  7. Your Uncle Bob says:

    That Street Bob is one of the funnest motorcycles. It isn’t as fast as a Hayabusa or as quick as Ducati, It’s just fun to ride.

    • todd says:

      It isn’t as fast as most motorcycles. But you’re right, it is fun to ride a motorcycle.

    • Gary says:

      Yup, so great I can barely stand it.

    • Colorado Canine says:

      For many, the H-D chickens have come home to roost…

      My motorcycling background has always been more sports / touring (ST) centric, but back in the nineties I special-ordered a new H-D FLSTF through their military overseas program with a pretty significant down payment. Three weeks before returning to the States, H-D military sales notified me that the color I had ordered was “no longer available” and my only choice had become basic black. It was fundamentally a “take it or leave it” conversation. I immediately cancelled the order and purchased a new Ducati 900SS/SP upon returning to the U.S. I’ve never regretted that decision and would not own a H-D product based on that experience.

    • austin zzr 1200 says:

      gonna test ride one on Friday to get the free T-shirt. Will report back on the funness

  8. beasty says:

    The Schadenfreude is strong in this thread……

  9. Vrooom says:

    Harley is running out of overweight dentists having mid-life crises. It’s time they come up with bikes that appeal to younger people, quick, light, and affordable. Meanwhile their shares are trading for magic beans (OK, down about 20% over the previous 90 days).

  10. Tank says:

    Polaris just reported motorcycle sales down 13% for the quarter. It’s not just Harley.

    • ApriliaRST says:

      When do other manufacturers report? Soon, I assume.

      • Bob says:

        MIC numbers are out. Harley down, Polaris down, most of the Japanese flat or slightly down, KTM way up. Ducati and BMW up slightly, IIRC.

  11. ApriliaRST says:

    Maybe people who lean toward buying Harleys are pulling back as consumers because they are not sure of the impact on their future finances when they might need the money for health care. Or not. In any case political turmoil is not good for segments of the economy that depend on discretionary income. The last time Harley lacked buyers, the country was in the middle of the Watergate scandal. I’m not going political with my comment, nor do I want to discuss the merits of our current politics, but do defend the idea that uncertainly is the enemy of spending on non-essential products. No product is less essential than a Harley; cheaper, similarly functioning bikes are available and even cheaper cars can be found.

    • slipjoint says:

      I have never heard anyone speak of their health care status when considering a motorcycle purchase. Yes, you are going political with your comment.

      • Dave says:

        I don’t see it that way at all. You’re probably not going to have conversations about it but the point is valid. We know HD attracts the ageing demographic and even in the current climate, healthcare provisions are shifting around. Example: My sister in law’s healthcare stopped paying for her diabetes prescription and it’s very expensive for her to afford out of pocket. They’re trying to find another medicine that works, but you can bet she’s not shopping for expensive goods right now. Healthcare is becoming a major expense for most Americans, of course it, like any financial drain is going to effect luxury goods business.

    • randy says:

      As a Buell fan I’ve been saying it for years, “The geezers are down to their last bike or 2”. They needed to diversify long ago to get new blood into the bikes instead of the cliché bikes. They did the MV thing more to get into Europe than the diversity as MV didn’t have a fun, cheap, introduction. The health care thing is more true than most would like to believe. There is most likely some more REAL expensive procedures in their immediate future more pressing than a motorcycle they can’t move around the garage or pick up after the inevitable drop.

  12. Gus V says:

    The lack of innovation has hurt them to a large degree, the Japanese and Euros are moving full speed with new technology on their bikes, also looking to keep weight down as well. If they want to keep the brand alive they have alot of catching up to do. I beleive they can, no other choice.

    • Bill says:

      Sometimes Harley Davidson gets no credit for what they do. I had a 1982 Sportster-four speed transmission, non-hydraulic valves, one front disk, solid mounted engine, chain final drive, carburetor and a two gallon tank. My 2008 Sportster has a five speed transmission, hydraulic valves, two front disks, rubber mounted engine, belt final drive, fuel injection and a four and a half gallon tank.

      • Dick says:

        Progress indeed.. in 1982 their bikes sported 1920’s technology. In 2008 they were almost 1940’s competitive.

    • ApriliaRST says:

      > and a four and a half gallon tank.

      Progress!!

  13. Provologna says:

    Even if HD ceased to exist, I have no sympathy for at least one reason: HD has been riding a huge cash bubble for the last 20-30 years. IMO they could and should have invested in bikes comprising modern technology with modern performance specs. Would it really have hurt to build a butt kicking XR750 street bike, or maybe even an XR900? How ’bout a nice sport touring bike? An adventure bike? Sell them right next to their typical hogs or pigs or whatever they are.

    Fail, fail, fail. Thirty years ago San Francisco’s City Bike said HD’s demographic was shrinking, and would lead to shrinking sales numbers. Maybe they were thirty years too early, but it might finally be happening.

    How much has HD performance improved since the mid-80s Evo motor?

    • oldjohn1951 says:

      I agree with Provologna. What were they thinking when people asked for a street-legal XR750? They cranked out whatever they wanted, the public with cash in hand be damned. When I visited a local HD operation, the tatted-up sales dude told me that “I can do this with the bike and I can do that……” Hey, get a clue! You are a DOMESTIC manufacturer. You should be able to offer way way more than any import from any place on the planet and you’re telling me what I can do?! I’m the customer–you exist for me not the other way around. If HD tanks it’ll be because they forgot that business axiom.

  14. bmbktmracer says:

    I’ve been searching for a motorcycle on ebay for the past two months. Just judging by the listings, Harleys must have become very popular starting in 1995. From that year forward, the ads are dominated by Harley. I imagine the glut of used motorcycles is really taking a bite out of new bike sales. It’s pretty easy to find a low-mileage, 5-yr-old Harley for less than half the price of a new model. Further, many of the used bikes already have the loud pipes and chrome doo-dads that crowd seems to like. My guess is that sales are returning to normal after a 20-year Harley “bubble”.

  15. JR says:

    It’s time to get rid of the current HD CEO.. who got rid of the American Made Buell XB,s so he could build non American Street 750 and 500’s What goes around comes around. It’s pay back time. America First.

    • chuck Smith says:

      Right, because there was such a strong market for Buell when not hamstrung by the MoCo. Where is Buell right now? Hmmm…. last I heard some group was selling his company for pennies on the dollar. Convenient to blame HD but Buell didn’t understand the marketplace and people that actually pay money for bikes didn’t give two shits about his unique engineering solutions. So yes, I guess HD and Buell both got exactly what they deserved.

      • Dave says:

        It is HD’s fault that Buell didn’t succeed, but it’s not so nefarious. HD dealers and salespeople just don’t present an environment that attracts sport bike customers and were never interested to. HD was unwilling to distribute Buell outside of their dealer network and that was that.

        After Buell went independent, he didn’t have the product or distribution network to get anywhere and again, that was that.

        As for “what they deserve”, what is that supposed to mean, exactly. HD is still the #1 brand in America (and I see them in Europe everywhere I go, too) and there are many happy Buell riders clocking their miles today. It’s not as though either of these two companies did any damage to motorcycling.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      The previous CEO got rid of Buell, not the current. And Buell was on the chopping block well before then. Buell was an asset drain on the company at time when the bleeding had to stop. It wasn’t a popular decision, but HD probably made the right choice.

  16. Tyler says:

    Small bikes saves motorcycling. Other makers are on board with this mantra, HD (and Polaris/Victory) will get there eventually. I am waiting for my 2019 Aermacchi-HD Sprint 350.

  17. Dave G says:

    Won’t be long now. Harley will be looking for yet another bail out in the form of tarrifs. Two obvious reasons for the lack luster performance, no pun intended. It appears that Indian sales are having an effect on Harley, and they can’t hear the millennials over their loud pipes…