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Get ‘Em While They’re Young: Harley-Davidson Acquires Manufacturer of Childrens’ Electric Two-Wheelers

It has always been considered a valid corporate strategy to develop brand loyalty with the youngest age group interested in your product category. Did you drink Coke as a kid? Maybe you still do. Did you ride Honda motorcycles as a kid? Maybe you still have a favorable impression of Honda motorcycles.

Harley is hoping that youngsters will “StaCyc’d” for the brand from the moment they purchase their $649 EDRIVE two-wheeler manufactured by StaCyc, a newly acquired subsidiary of Harley. The StaCyc models, available with 12″ or 16″ wheels, feature electric motors like Harley’s LiveWire models (which are slightly more expensive at $29,799).

Here is the announcement from Harley-Davidson:

MILWAUKEE (March 5, 2019) – Harley-Davidson, Inc. (NYSE: HOG) announces today that it has acquired StaCyc, Inc., producer of the 12 and 16 EDRIVE, electric-powered two-wheelers specifically designed for kids. 

StaCyc, which entered the market in 2016, currently designs, markets and sells their EDRIVE models for kids, with an MSRP range of $649 to $699. StaCyc EDRIVES are sold in the U.S. through powersports dealerships, including 29 Harley-Davidson® dealerships, online and in specialty bicycle retailers. 

“We’re thrilled to have StaCyc become part of the Harley-Davidson family,” said Harley-Davidson Senior Vice President of Marketing and Brand Heather Malenshek. “The StaCyc team shares the same vision we have for building the next generation of riders globally and we believe that together, we will have a significant impact in bringing the fun and enjoyment of riding to kids everywhere.” 

The acquisition of StaCyc expands Harley-Davidson’s electric portfolio and reinforces its commitment to lead in the electrification of motorcycling. Harley-Davidson previously announced plans to launch LiveWire, a premium, high-performance electric motorcycle in fall 2019 and future lightweight and middleweight electric motorcycles at various price points starting in 2021. The StaCyc electric two-wheelers will provide an entry point for the youngest riders to enjoy the thrill of riding. 

As a subsidiary, a Harley-Davidson branded version of StaCyc’s 12-inch and 16-inch models will be sold through select Harley-Davidson dealers. The branded products will be available in the U.S. in the third quarter of 2019. 

StaCyc branded EDRIVES will continue to be sold through StaCyc’s existing distribution network. 

Since its inception, StaCyc has inspired more than 6,000 new riders to join the sport through its fun and upbeat brand that focuses on sharing the love of riding through its line of kids’ electric two-wheeled products. The company has served as a catalyst for engaging riders at an early age and has been first to market with an entirely new category in both the motorcycle and bicycle markets. 

“After a few conversations with Harley-Davidson, we realized that the ethos of our brands and our commitment to bringing more riders to motorcycling were incredibly aligned,” said Ryan Ragland, Founder of StaCyc. “The opportunity to work with the team at Harley-Davidson and have the support to carry out our mission to create the next generation of riders is exciting. Together we’re building a plan that fast-tracks our ability to help the industry create as many riders as possible.” 

The StaCyc acquisition is the latest example of how Harley-Davidson is investing in opportunities that inspire increased ridership in the near-term and deliver sustainable growth for the future as part of its More Roads to Harley-Davidson plan. The accelerated plan, which was unveiled in 2018, focuses on building the next generation of riders through new products in additional motorcycle segments, providing broader access to the brand and products and a commitment to supporting and strengthening dealers globally. 

Harley-Davidson previously unveiled its plans for its full portfolio of motorcycles, starting with LiveWire, which will be available for sale later this year in the U.S. Preorders in the U.S. are now open and the company announced today at the Geneva International Motor Show that preorders for Canada and Europe will begin in April. 

“We’ve said previously that we believe electric vehicles are where global mobility is headed and they hold great appeal for existing riders as well as opportunity to build new riders,” said Malenshek. “As we lead in the electrification of motorcycling, we’re demonstrating our commitment by delivering a full range of electric products for a vast audience who will be inspired to imagine and discover what is possible from Harley-Davidson.”


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70 Comments

  1. ABQ says:

    I just want somebody to mass produce electric bikes that are cheap enough to buy at Walmart. If they were like mountain bikes, that would be nice. If they were like the custom bikes in a lowrider magazine, that would be great. If they just made them to look like the original Harley-Davidson, with the batteries hidden where the gas tank was, that would be genius.
    https://www.harley-davidson.com/content/dam/h-d/images/museum/usa/explore/hd-timeline/timeline-content-1903-carousel-2.jpg?impolicy=myresize&rw=511

  2. Christo says:

    You would think that we as motorcycle riders would be happy that ANY motorcycle company would be doing something positive to get our kids interested in riding. So what if it is HD? When the kids get old enough to buy their own motorcycles they will pick what s right for them. I believe we should be encouraging motorcycle companies to get involved in our young, not trying to drag these companies down for trying to do something positive.

  3. Tank says:

    For many years Harley has been associated with loud, outdated motorcycles. Wouldn’t it be funny if they became the motorcycle company that makes the quietest, most modern motorcycles. Harley could be to motorcycles what Tesla is to cars. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Harley buy Zero Motorcycles.

  4. Ian Danby says:

    WHAT THE..?! Sorry ’bout that, for a minute, I’d forgotten, kids of course, are indestructible. GRUMPS

  5. todd says:

    Why do they call this a “prototype” when its already been available for nearly four years?

  6. Anonymous says:

    What does JAP mean?

    • mickey says:

      J.A. Prestwich (John Alfred Prestwich English engineer made Jap engines and motorcycles from early 1900s to late 1930s I think)

  7. Sam says:

    I was at my local Harley Davidson dealer last week to look at the FXDR 114 and the very large dealership was PACKED with people, looking at and buying bikes, visiting the service dept that by the way is alone bigger than some Powersport’s (JAP) delaership’s and buying excellent quality clothes and accessories.

    A free Buffet lunch was being served and there were lots of families with kids:)

    I was at 2 JAP powersport’s dealers the week before and both had maybe a half dozen people walking in a daze wondering why no one would even talk to them and anyone who did, had no idea about the bikes.

    I applaud Harley for capturing new markets from HD diapers to $40,000 Gentlemen’s luxury touring rigs.

    HD will be around forever.

    By the way, I have 3 almost new JAP bikes in my stable currently:)

    • Two takeaways here:

      You ended up not buying the FXDR 114

      People will feign interest for a free buffet lunch

      • lol says:

        Yep, free lunch, the herd will stop in.

        Japanese dealerships are frequented by the rare and more exotic species of knowledgeable and actual motorcyclists.

        • Precisely. About 50% of the time I ever go into a (metric) dealership is to take delivery of a bike that I have bought. Even if you are interested in HD, why not pay $9K for a slightly-used, older version on craigslist? Its not like you are missing huge technological leaps (at heart, they are still air-cooled, pushrod tractor motors)

  8. Blaster says:

    I think they should curb the adult diaper market with genuine harley davidson branded diapers. They could get a tarrif on the competition that absorb more than 750cc. Yeah I owned a VFR700.

  9. mickey says:

    Wow, I actually like the name Jump Start. Conveys exactly what they are trying to do with the market. Good job Tom.

  10. Twindog says:

    I hope you have a better reception in the dealers than I did with my Buell.

    • bmidd says:

      I can’t wait to see the angry kids in the service department complaining about loose fasteners.

  11. Ricardo says:

    Absolutely nothing wrong for HD to get into other markets and continue to build the brand on younger generations. Guess what? every other company out there is doing it. With the internet and social media craziness, a good amount of kids no longer go outside to play and get some exercise, no less will they be doing it when they get older if we parents don’t get them outside to play. So getting their interest now is a good investment for the future.

  12. Kent says:

    I for one appreciate Jeremy’s comments. HD is doing more than most to keep the market and interest in motorcycles alive. For all those that want to bash Harley wake up and see how many other brands have closed dealerships in the last few years.
    As a rider that has owned many different brands I enjoy my HD for their steadfast dedication to the industry.

  13. Ron_Luning says:

    I have 2 of these bikes in the 16″ size. Previously, I tried teaching my (then) 3-year old to ride using an OSET 12.5 model. It was VERY heavy. These STACYC bikes are featherweights in comparison. The batteries are more or less the same as a few different power tools on the market, but cost $160 to replace. I haven’t had to yet.

    So now I’ve got an almost 5 and almost 3-year old both riding these bikes, and the only real complaint is the handlebar diameter is way too big for kids to use effectively. Their hand size combined with the large diameter bar makes it nearly impossible to use the brake lever. Other than that, it is a much better first bike than an OSET or Kuberg.

    That said, H-D might as well kill the brand now. They’ll only F up the whole thing. I owned a Buell 1125R back in 2009, and setting foot in just about any H-D dealership was like walking into an alien planet. It was a bad fit from day 1 for a Buell rider. Notice they never even brought Alta into the H-D dealerships at large, probably because they saw the financials weren’t working for Alta from the get-go and had the intention of just taking whatever IP they could before the company ran out of money. Hopefully that’s not the same case here.

    Similar to Buell, STACYC is not a good fit for what H-D is good at. These little bikes are for parents who actually LOVE riding motorcycles, not just looking like what they think is a bad-ass, to get their own kids into LOVING to ride as well. Nobody buys H-D below a certain age because their products are dynamically inferior. Those customers don’t care if their kids like to ride motorcycles, or know proper technique, because the majority of them don’t actually like it and can’t do it themselves.

  14. austin zzr 1200 says:

    Harley fans will see this as ‘strategic’ others see it as capitulation. Boomers are over-saturated (in more ways than one), genx-z think Harleys are a joke, so you try to appeal to their kids. Pathetic. My kids ride bicycles. When they are 18, they will free to try something motorized.

    • gpokluda says:

      Well, I hope you don’t own a business or run a business for someone. Marketing to kids is probably one of the smartest things a business can do. Sure, the kid won’t buy the bike, but the parent or grandparent sure will.
      Aside from that, from a historical perspective, there has been a long relationship between bikes and motorcycles which has simply morphed into eBikes. Checkout the eBikes Yamaha makes. There is a Triumph bicycle on the showroom floor of the local Triumph dealership. Motorcycles are direct descendants of bicycles. This is a very good move by H-D.

      • austin zzr 1200 says:

        you miss the point…completely. Those other bikes you mention are not aimed at pre-teens and they come from innovators. HD wont be around long enough for this younger demographic to earn anything. By all means, buy one for your grandkids.

  15. Rc says:

    Only umpteen thousand dollars for a black & orange kids push bike they will outgrow in 6 months…

    • Dave says:

      The article says: “an MSRP range of $649 to $699.”

      $699 < "umpteen thousand". When they grow out of it, you sell it, like I do with my daughter's bikes when she grows out of them.

  16. MGNorge says:

    My very first thought regarding this story is that Harley is wanting to take a page out of the Apple playbook. When Apple made the push into getting their products into schools hoping the brand “stuck” with them when they got older and went to buy their own. I’ve seen that being just the case with several people I know.

    • Bob K says:

      Our school had some Apple IIe’s when I was in high school. Bought a IIc and AppleWorks for the house, learned Basic. Got into engineering school and needed anything IBM style or UNIX because Apple couldn’t run the software. Still can’t. People buy what they need.

  17. cagefree says:

    Or maybe this is a brilliant move by HD to capture the aged out riders in nursing homes. Gangs of these cruising the hallways and flower gardens would be pretty intimidating.

  18. Tank says:

    A bike kids don’t have to pedal, because kids aren’t lazy enough.

    • Dave says:

      This is positioned as an eary in-road to motorsports, not a bicycle substitute, which is why they’ve sold them in motorcycle stores, not bicycle stores (where electric adult bikes are the #1 growth driver). Given the average of new motorcycle purchaser is now 50, we’re in a “do something, even if it’s wrong.” situation.

  19. Jabe says:

    And with each bike they could include some stick-on tattoo’s….

    • paul says:

      You are on to Harley’s real motive here… merchandising aimed at the youngsters. H-D branded sneakers, bouncing balls and skipping ropes.

  20. Steve says:

    Harley needs to compete at the lower (less expensive) end. All the other mfgrs have great entry level bikes that are affordable. And unless you’re going touring they work for most riding. Electric bikes aren’t feasible, yet. But do keep working on them. Who knows. In the mean time, Harley needs to attract new riders with something they can afford. Remember the Blast? How about a stripped down 883? A parts bin special. You gotta get that price down to where these millenials will part with their Starbucks/IPhone $$$!

  21. takehikes says:

    Grabbing at straws. Motorcycles have been marginalized by circumstance and frankly the manufacturers and the product lineup. In particular HD blew it. The rode the one phony pony they had way too long. Its near impossible for them to first do a complete mind set change and second to revamp their whole lineup in time. I have no doubt we will end up with some company being the “Heritage” HD manufacturer at some time in the future to keep them on the road.

  22. Sean Rubin says:

    When I can walk into a Yamaha dealer and buy a good performing 700cc bike, for $6500 brand new, or even cheaper if I get a left over, why would I spend thousands more for an entry level HD, that does not have near the same ability….This why HD is failing.

    • Jeremy says:

      People have always been able to walk into a Yamaha (or most any other make) dealer and buy a cheaper motorcycle that could ride circles around a Harley. And yet Harley thrived for decades despite that. Whatever Harley’s problem is, I don’t think this is it.

      • Ralph W. says:

        HD “thrived for decades” by selling a fantasy image based on some movie characters from many years ago. Some people thought that by riding that brand and dressing up in the outlaw biker costume they looked cool, wild and daring. The desire for that fantasy image is dying out as the generation that indulged in it is dying out. Younger generations are not interested in that particular fantasy.

        • Ken says:

          ^^^This^^^

        • CrazyJoe says:

          Madison Ave / Hollywood marketing BS is not why I like Harley’s. Easy Rider through Sons of Anarchy. Honestly I always thought drug pushers should be shot. It was seeing those old photos of pressure war Harleys, Indians and Hendersono that made me dream. Nothing turns me on like a Road King.

        • Jeremy says:

          I agree that lifestyle/fantasy was definitely part of the sale. I also agree that HD’s particular brand of fantasy is quickly going out of style. Harley may have held on to their own fantasy a little too long, but they are actively trying to do something about that.

  23. mickey says:

    Gentlemen, meet the “Short Circuit”

    • Tom K. says:

      Catchy!

      So what’s the over and under on where the pictured bike will be priced now that HD’s on board – $9995.00? If they don’t like Mickey’s choice, there’s always “Cattle Prod” or “Jump Start”. Too bad somebody already has “Taser”.

    • Mick says:

      With the Bupkis Head motor.

  24. Tommy D says:

    What was the reason most of the boomers bought motorcycles? Because we had access to Rupp’s and other low cost motorized stuff as kids. When we got older we bought real motorcycles. This is the way to save motorcycling. Give kids access to motorized machines that will make it past mom and not piss off neighbors that don’t like listening to ICE machines run around the neighborhood. The boomer wave of Moto success that was created by Honda, Rupp, and other lower cost motorized machines that gave us all and addiction that needed to be fed as we aged. I doubt H-D will manage this correctly. I am hoping they build stuff kids and adults can ride in back yards across the country. Imagine Flat Track styled electric machines that could be raced in a back yard oval much like a CRF100 with out the noise? Something teen sized yet robust enough for an adult? Make them upgradable with stage 1, 2, 3 options with up to 5000 watt motors (8bhp)… Come on now, you know you’d want one.

    Regarding StaCyc… They are a great intro to motorized two wheelers. My local Honda shop sells a bunch of them and the owners love them and come back to purchase CRF’s for their kids. They are a strider style machine that even a 3yr old can ride. I wonder if the Honda shop will still be able to purchase them?

    • Anonymous says:

      I honestly cannot recall any of my motorcycling buddies, including myself, ever owning any kind of mini-bike. That is not to say that the mini-bike didn’t lead on to a motorcycle for some people, I just know a lot of us got motorcycles without that step.

      • Tommy D says:

        I’m curious if you were in the Baby Boomer age group. That is the birth year of 1946 to 1964. When I was a kid they were everywhere.

  25. Mick says:

    No front brake at all. Typical. All it needs is a big automotive looking rear brake pedal and instructions on how to lay ‘er down to avoid a crash.

    • blitz11 says:

      Good catch on the front brake – i totally missed that. Let the brainwashing start early.

      I agree that it’s a good move – start early, build the passion, have customers for life. Maybe it can save the industry.

    • Dave says:

      The non-motorized equivalent of this (known as a “kick-bike”) has not brakes at all below a certain size. Pedal bikes of this size often only have a rear coaster brake. Small kids are so light that it’s pretty easy to stop them and they don’t understand the dynamics of front vs. rear brakes. It just makes them crash more.

  26. endoman38 says:

    Just hoping to tap into some of StaCyc’s modern technology.

  27. Kevin P says:

    Wow one of the first Harley in 45+ years that isn’t overweight. In the 1960s Harley made 250 dual sports that were light. All kidding aside this is a smart way to draw on young riders.

    • todd says:

      Harley never “made” a 250. Maybe you are thinking of Aermacci or when AMF bought a Yamaha based bike to resell. This little bike is likely designed and manufactured by a Chinese company and H-D purchased the rights to put their stickers on it and sell it at their dealerships for a 300% markup.

  28. Moose says:

    Bwahahahahahahahahahaha

  29. Darwin Holmstrom says:

    Given that the average age of Harley customers is somewhere between 67 and dead, they will be buying these for their great grandchildren.

  30. al says:

    Way to go Harley, teach them young that bicycling doesn’t need to be exercise. Count me out once again as always.

  31. Dino says:

    I think the bigger advantage would be just getting kids on motorized two wheelers. Brand loyalty would be a bonus for Harley, but just trying to get more kids interested in something more than video games and Uber, would be a huge win for the whole industry..

  32. todd says:

    Maybe this slipped by them unnoticed but, Harley needs to sell to the parents. As far as I’m concerned, this parent won’t be buying any H-D products.

  33. Jim says:

    Hey, is that the base-model Livewire?

  34. Anonymous says:

    Sometime within a year or so, Harley will sell the company back for $3.99 🙂

  35. gpokluda says:

    I for one would like to see Harley survive. I’m sure they know that there is no silver bullet that is going to fix decades of misguided strategy so targeting a very young population, especially with an effective social media campaign, may be one of those small steps that helps to get the Motor Company back on track. I will say this, a kid down the block got an electric bike for Christmas this year and she rides that thing every chance she gets.

    • Jeremy says:

      Harley still sells a huge number of bikes, parts and merchandise. They may have to make themselves smaller in the future, but I have a difficult time seeing HD go away altogether. They are finally starting to innovate and try new things, so they aren’t taking this lying down.

  36. articcat says:

    I don’t think most kids are going to have a loyalty to Harley Davidson when they get old enough to buy (if they even buy) their own bike. Getting rid of Buell was a massive mistake. Buell could have helped develop bikes that Harley does not seem to have the expertise to build.
    By the way, looks like Buell may be back on the scene
    https://electrek.co/2019/03/05/motorcycle-pioneer-erik-buell-launches-new-electric-motorcycle-brand-fuell/

  37. Anonymous says:

    Harley had a nice looking kid’s bicycle in the mid 1990’s. Kids that rode them would now be in their late 20’s to early 30’s. Are they buying Harleys?

  38. azicat says:

    I would run far far away if I was the CEO of a company that HD expressed interest in acquiring. Everything they have touched so far has experienced scorched earth. It was a miracle that MV Agusta survived.

  39. Black Bart says:

    HD is in trouble. The Motor Company is in the deep end and sinking fast. This whole Live Wire electric bike is more a millstone about the neck than floatation device. What is HD thinking?

  40. Goose Lavel says:

    Don’t they make helmets in kids sizes?

  41. ApriliaRST says:

    One look at the LiveWire and kids will snap ’em up. I hope.