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At Harley-Davidson, The Old Formula No Longer Seems To Work (Opinion)


It has been widely reported that Harley-Davidson stock is performing poorly as a direct result of declining sales and profits. Take a look at this Chicago Tribune story, for instance, or this Bloomberg article. The Tribune details the closure of Harley’s Kansas City plant, together with the moving of Kansas City production to York, Pennsylvania. The result will be a net loss of roughly 260 U.S. jobs.

Long term, the bigger problem for Harley is a declining demand for its huge, cruiser motorcycles … the mainstay of its business for decades. Before an industry-wide slump beginning in approximately 2008, Harley was making money “hand over fist”, and making efforts to diversify its product line – internally with Buell and through the acquisition of MV Agusta. In 2009, Harley decided to pull back and focus on its cruiser business … dumping both Buell and MV Agusta in the process.

What Harley-Davidson is left with is a product line that has appealed, almost exclusively, to a generation of riders that is disappearing. If you have been to the Sturgis rally in recent years, you will know what I mean. Harley riders (and their passengers) are typically old … some of them very old. They have the disposable income, but not the life expectancy, to keep the brand afloat.

Harley-Davidson’s recent efforts to bring younger riders into the brand, including the introduction of smaller-displacement, less expensive models, haven’t borne enough fruit to keep investors happy. Now, Harley is touting an aggressive move into electric motorcycles as an element of its recovery.

A Harley spokesman has said it will spend $25 million to $50 million per year over the next several years on electric motorcycle technology, with the aim of becoming the world leader in the electric motorcycle market. On seeing this, I literally laughed out loud. While Harley clearly has a strong brand, that brand is associated with a somewhat distinctive sound (remember “potato potato” and the efforts to trademark it?), and a culture bedded in ICE.

Frankly, the move towards electric motorcycles sounds like an act of desperation, rather than careful calculation. I think that Harley will be, in effect, abandoning the core of its brand by this effort, and, instead, heading into the teeth of fierce competition with more aggressive, entrepreneurial players. I don’t see any advantage accruing to Harley in this fight from the loyalty it has developed with ICE cruiser riders.  I hope Harley proves me wrong.

Perhaps, just about any effort Harley makes at this point is “too little too late.” While the entire industry struggles with the aging demographic of motorcycle enthusiasts, and the question of how to bring younger riders into the fold, will the Harley-Davidson “lifestyle” that appealed so strongly to a dying consumer base attract younger, entry-level riders? Bandannas, leather and an exclusive (us versus them) attitude – an attitude that “we are a real cool club and you’re not a part of it” – an asset, or heavy baggage going forward? Time will tell.


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301 Comments

  1. Sparrowhawk6 says:

    I have owned all sorts of machines in my years on and off the road. Everything from Busa and K1200S to 800GS and 1190ADV_R. Last year my lovely 67 years young wife who had never been on a motorcycle told me if I got a flying couch she would like to go with me. I bought a H-D Limited and off we went. She did 15,000 miles with me last summer. I had not been on a Harley since the mid 70s and had never owned one.

    I have to tell you I own a fine motorcycle (2017 Limited). The dealership (Paradise Harley) is by far the best I have ever been in or dealt with. Yes, my newby wife was treated like a rock star! I still wear leathers that sport GSXR logos(no bandana), and would not ride around the block without full gear on. I have ridden to Deadhorse AK and all over the US and Mexico. Great people on bikes are everywhere! Sure there are some pricks….I wave at those SOBs too!

    Will H-D survive? Hell I don’t know. I figured this whole corrupt shootin match we live in would have folded many years ago. I will ride till I can’t go anymore, the country will roll till it can’t go anymore- worse comes to worse- we are all sitting around a fire barrel sharing whiskey and tellin lies about the old days when men were still a little bit free.

    Ride hard, stay lucky….tomorrow is promised to no one.

  2. Curt says:

    The move to electric bikes for HD is ludicrous but I understand why they are ignoring the obvious. They’d rather go electric than admit that their reluctance to add sporty, lightweight chassis to their brand was a major mistake all of these years. I remember a kid in PHX had a HD MX-250 when I was competing in MX with my Husky 360CR during high school and everyone thought, Cool! But the bearded, chap wearing execs couldn’t handle the thought of the brand becoming “diluted”.

  3. ADB says:

    What Buell could have done with “$25 million to $50 million per year over the next several years.”….

  4. kjazz says:

    Part of the problem is…..the REAL owners of Harley Davidson are simply trying to make money via their “ownership” in the motor company and that HD stock is up against Financial, O&G, Google or whatever else the “owners” hold in their portfolios. So the forces (investors wants) imposed upon HD management and creative staff really have little to zero “give-a-shit” concerning the boutique motorcycle product that HD is. Really it’s a motorcycle product or hand towels, or pharmaceuticals etc. as far as the investors are concerned. They want a return…NOW. So ditch this 100+ year product line and try something that may be the biggest fad ever seen in motoring. Wow. If HD was allowed to right size itself, remain nimble etc. they could eak out another 100 years building a boutique product that catered to HD enthusiasts; or whatever they become over the next era. But current scale and appetite for earnings are gonna force them to fuk-up.

    • gary t says:

      Wow , this thread keeps on going.
      kjazz seems to voice my concerns about the company.
      I feel it is difficult for a publicly traded company to have the passion needed to be very successful in todays motorcycle market. I’m guessing the bikes on the showroom are different than the bikes in the designer/engineers garages.
      I just saw the 2 “new” sportsters with the AMF era paint designs. Not sure what to think about those, as custom builders have been doing that for at least a year or two now. And the “Tallboy” handlebars? nope. nope. nope. not for me.
      Come on HD, please lead the trends don’t follow them.
      Lastly, any rumors on an updated sportster?

  5. Jerry says:

    I think if the Harley Riders were more welcoming of other brands, they could start to turn riders into New Harley Riders. In my area it’s Harley or nothing. I started riding my Honda with some Triumph guys, and guess what. I started to want a Triumph. Guess what I just bought.
    A Triumph. Pretty sure if those Harley riders that told me to go away could have influenced my purchasing decision. I love to ride, and have friends to do it with makes it even better no matter what they ride.

  6. Nick says:

    I’m 32. Made the transition from sportbikes to a V-rod Street Rod at 24, then a new Street Glide at 27. I am about tired of the lack of effort from HD. They must bring something to market that actually makes power…something EXCITING before I bail ship. I don’t want to leave but they sure are making it hard to stay. I’ve ridden all of the latest 107/110’s, M8’s, etc. at demo days and it just isn’t cutting it any more. They almost had something with the V-Rod’s Revolution engine but handicapped it with a 5 speed transmission and negligible improvements over its’ 15 year lifespan. That platform could have been so much more…a little more power, an extra gear, and any chassis OTHER than a power cruiser. My Street Glide is a turd and I’m not interested in spending $10k to make it exciting. Develop a modern, water cooled engine and use modern materials to minimize weight. A Harley that accelerates, brakes, and turns with some vigor. Market it hard enough for customers to recognize the benefits so that the air cooled boat anchors are considered 2nd best. Just look to Ford Motor Co…despite all the nay sayers their engineering and marketing efforts have effectively pushed the Ecoboost V6’s to be considered the superior engines in their product lines. I’m not saying I agree but my point is that it can be done despite the obstacles (peoples’ resistance to change).

    • Neal says:

      Sounds like you need a second bike. The street glide is great for light traveling but not for dynamic riding.

      Try a Z900.

      • Nick says:

        Hi Neal,

        I agree with your comments. I’m an open minded person with motorcycles of various disciplines. I own a second street bike for sporting and it’s not an HD. I also have ridden the Z’s and no doubt they are lightweight and powerful but the buttery smooth I4’s lack a bit of character. My point is the most exciting news HD has had to offer is a “new” engine with 80 WHP in a “new” chassis which weighs 700 lbs. I just don’t see how that helps bring in a new customer base or keep customers like me buying new motorcycles…unless I just must have that new NAV screen.

        • mickey says:

          I just rode 100 miles and my hands and feet don’t tingle from vibration…. This motorcycle has no charachter at all.

          • Nick says:

            Read what I said again s-l-o-w-l-y. It wasn’t that. Go ride your Z. I’m here to discuss what isn’t working at HD…the topic of the article

  7. Dan says:

    The pessimism regarding Harley’s situation is also being felt by just about every other manufacturer and as other people have pointed out, Harley has a long way to go before they are in any kind of financial trouble.

    There is one problem that may be unique to Harley though, and that is their dealer network.
    I have listened to Buell owners many times describing their dealer experience, treating Buell products like an after thought, probably because they didn’t bring sales profits that were anything close to the traditional line. I suspect the same thing has happened to the Street product line, so regardless of the next generation product, Harley will have to ensure their dealer network is “on board”.

    • gary t says:

      Our dealer (Surdyke in Festus MO) gets it, my 17 year old daughter gets rock star treatment there. Someday she hopes to have an 883 iron. One condition…..(Dad says “no tattoos”)
      I have owned 2 tube frame Buells and one Rotax powered 1125. No dealer problems at all on my end. Staff at Widman HD in St. Louis seemed to really like them back in the day. I’m surprised at all of the “HD should have never gotten rid of Buell” speak currently. That certainly wasn’t the chatter a decade ago.
      Random thought: Does HD really want, or need to come out with a hugely successful “value” bike? It isn’t what the companies’ success has been based on in the past. They are in a tricky spot moving forward. If history repeats, they will get it figured out, then their biggest problem will be other companies copying their designs. Oh yes,I just went there!

  8. Dave says:

    I am 60 years old and there isn’t a Harley that interests me even a little

    • paul246 says:

      Same here. I’m 63, can buy what I want and am not interested in H-D bikes. I have gone to numerous H-D demo rides, I’ve ridden every model they offer. I wish them well, though.

      • mickey says:

        Same here I’m 67.. however they certainly could offer something I might ride, they just refuse to do so.

    • gary t says:

      I’m 53 I would love to have a Roadster….no wait, a Fat Boy with those awesome wheels….Or a Fat Bob with those fat aggressive tires and dirt bike style bars.
      Or a CVO 117 Road glide in gunship gray!
      I guess I aint dead yet!

    • Scott says:

      I’m only 54 😀 … But honestly, the Livewire electric concept is the only Harley I’ve ever seen that made me think, “Hmm, I could own one of those…”

      And before I’m accused of judging without trying… I’ve ridden everything from an XR1000 to a V-rod Muscle to a Road Glide (as well as a couple of Buells), and they just don’t do a thing for me. Sorry.

  9. Joe says:

    I too think of the Harley Davidson brand as ‘my father’s bike’, even as I turned 50 years old myself. In my mind, they are the Lay-Z-Boy of motorcycling – you love them, but you’re not ready to sit in the sleeping chair.
    When it comes to younger riders, I am waiting to see if the 20-somethings latch on to Honda’s new Rebels. If they can customize those, MAYBE they will step up to ‘a real bike’. Better yet, I wish Harley would challenge Honda and create a Sportster with comparable size and price point. A relaunch of the 500 and 750’s would help. It would be so much better if they actually grew their own customers.

    • joe b says:

      I have had similar thoughts, for years “I wished, Harley would make”, but those models never materialized. Instead, it just another version of the same old-same old. I have friends that own them, “You gotta ride my bike”, when I do I am not impressed. I dont get that whatever it is, I am supposed to get. Possibly because I have owned hundreds of motorcycles, and was a factory trained BMW HONDA SUZUKI line tech, I dont know. Perhaps I am not their audience. I wish the best for HD, they worked hard to put all the other American manufacturers out of business, now the sole surviving American brand, figuratively speaking.

    • gary t says:

      When a guy is dragging the back fender on a 12 o’clock wheelie on a big twin, would that be considered the “reclined” position ? My fav is the dresser using the hardbags as wheelie bars
      Search Harley wheelie. These Lay-Z-Boys are gettin it done.

      • Scott says:

        Yeah…

        You can search “gold wing wheelie” and get similar results. Doesn’t mean it’s the best tool for the job…

  10. Mark says:

    Harley’s problem is they’ve gone all in on the “dress like a pirate” lifestyle crowd. If they want to follow a workable, successful model, they should follow Triumph’s lead. Triumph still has their classic line with their Bonnevilles, etc. Then they have their modern sportbikes with the Daytona 675s, Street Triples, and Sport Triples. And they have adventure bikes like their Tiger line and cruisers with their Rocket and Thunderbird lines. They’ve successfully kept their classic roots while expanding their consumer base.

    Harley needs to take a page out of their book. For goodness sake, Harley’s original claim to fame back in the day was actually having fast bikes and racing. All of that seemed to foolishly get thrown out the window around the 1960s.

    • Snake says:

      “Harley’s problem is they’ve gone all in on the “dress like a pirate” lifestyle crowd.”

      It’s not that, really, and you show it with your example of Triumph.

      What Harley is selling, is NOSTALGIA. The *problem* is the the largest demographic for that full-on nostalgia feeling, the Baby Boomers, are one foot in the grave (thankfully…). The Baby Boomers represented a demographic that was willing to accept the nostalgia with all of the fixings: the old-style look, the old-style feel, the old-style ‘lifestyle’ and the old-style expectations. That included expectation of product performance.

      Triumph is also selling nostalgia with their Modern Classics line but, as that name actually implies, they are selling “today’s nostalgia”: it *looks* like yesterday’s iron but it is expected to perform much closer to today’s levels of expectations. This has attracted a younger crowd than Harley, those into a cool old-style look but not willing to accept the penalties that said look might have as baggage.

      So, while Harley continues to market to the same demographic, a DYING demographic, selling their similar, and familiar, legacy experience, Triumph looked to their history for inspiration but NOT for rules.

      Harley is currently so stuck in their own legacy that they can’t get out, even as their legacy becomes of less interest to modern buyers. We keep saying that we’d buy a more modern Harley, but their management simply doesn’t want to give it to us – they believe that their core values, their core branding, is 100% sound.

  11. Pablo Escobar says:

    IMHO: performance water cooled V-4 engines. Pushrod air-cooled tells the newer demo: old technology.

  12. Scottie says:

    The current crop of teenagers has a petty large and useless segment that believe games, online porn and personal automated flying cars are real life. There is however another group that does extreme things that it make my triathlons look pretty lame. Reality is that neither of these groups will be on H-D in the near or distant future.

    So should H-D roll out sport bikes, scooters and standards? Probably not. Everyone else has got that covered.

    So I’m a critic without a solution.

    • Neal says:

      A muscle bike with a “standard” frame set up would fit right in. Like a Kawasaki Z bike with American finishing. The Roadster, Fat Bob, and Street Rod are almost there but the frames just weren’t designed for standard foot placement. I take that back, the Sportster frame works just fine with mids with a thick seat.

      • adam says:

        its called a buell cr1125. they already made it

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          And it flopped, so they kind of need something else.

          • adam says:

            they finally put a good motor in a buell (rotax) and it was actually very competitive at the time in the class. they dropped buell the following year. hd motors are a joke. they put out hp numbers like a single 450. charge 20 grande for a bike that cant get out of its own way and cant stop either. not a good formula for success.

          • adam says:

            check out the indian 1200 ftr. it puts out reasonable hp numbers its not to heavy and it seems like it handles pretty well. have to wit and see what its like when they drop it. i guy like me that grew up on street bikes might actual throw my leg over something like that. currently own a triumph speed triple

  13. Rustee Nuttz says:

    I think “Tank” has a great idea if they made it into an adventure bike with spoked, tubeless rims. Keep the weight under control and concentrate on reliability. I have been riding for sixty years and had twenty-three bikes, all Japanese of various sizes and types. I cannot buy into the Harley lifestyle. I am a motorcyclist, not a biker. I wish Harley well but they are not for me.

    • Grover says:

      I’ve owned two Harleys and currently ride a Road King. I’ve never bought into the “Harley Lifestyle”. It’s not a requirement to ride a Harley Davidson. I have no tattoos, no bandana, wave to everyone, never been to Sturgis, have no pot pot belly and have a little wife that’s in great shape. My bike has stock pipes with a stock motor and no garage queen (2014 with over 30,000 miles). I know I’m in the minority but there are many other Harley riders with similar qualities. I’ve also owned many Japanese bikes and am considering adding an adventure bike to my fleet as no single machine will do it all. The Harley gets me and my passenger to far away places in total comfort, just like a BMW or Goldwing would. I hope the Motor Co. makes it and adjusts its product to appeal to a new generation as it would be a shame to lose all the history behind Harley ( not to mention many jobs) because of poor foresight and planning.

  14. J Wilson says:

    While I’ve always been a fan inasmuch as I admired H-D for the several back-from-the-brink turnarounds they’ve made in my lifetime, they were never for me, just not my thing. Two random thoughts:

    1) I once was stopped at a light and a couple pulled up on an obviously brand new, expensive H-D bagger, I’m guessing some ‘Lectra Glide variant. Gorgeous paint, metric tons of chrome, nice looking bike . . . . . and as they sat there waiting on the light to change, it just shook like a paint shaker, and I kept wondering why would I ever spend that kind of money to do that?

    2) The H-D myth is just at odds with reality. When most people, including riders who prefer other makes, think of H-D, all they visualize is the ‘typical’ beer-belly, half helmet, vest and open finger glove dude with a beard, and all the Doofus Gone Wild images from Sturgis or Daytona Bike Week. And that a Harley is cheap to own, and customize, like those CroMagnons on TV. This is a ‘brand identity’ that’s just not sustainable, but it’s kept H-D painted in that corner my whole life. And in light of their current pricing, model range, and a changing world, a recipe for the spot they’re in.

  15. gary t says:

    I do not find a billion dollar a year company investing 25-50 million a year in future technology so laughable. Nor do I see the “excitement” in an American company downsizing.
    In the near future I think HD needs to give 10 Street 500-750s to custom builders and see if they can do anything with it. If not, abandon it, start over. They need a killer, entry level affordable bike. (They cannot control the baby boomers getting older, riding becoming more dangerous,the way their customers dress, or choose who to wave or not wave to. But they can control the bikes they build and price.)
    While I love the company’s history and really think they make a great bike, It seems profit seeking may have watered down the passion of the Street design team.
    After they build a bike that newbies want and can afford, offer the new rider course for a cheaper price. I remember the success of the $3995.00 Sportster. Do something like that again guys. Make America great again!

  16. Greeny says:

    I wonder how many “Harley is failing” articles have been written over the past one-hundred years. I wonder, out of those articles, how many of those authors thought that they were delivering some brilliant prophecy in their rants while they pontificate. Yet, I continue to see brand new models continuously in production. I’ll bet the author will be dead before Harley-Davidson.

  17. Joe lewis says:

    Don’t cry for Harley Davidson quite yet. While their base is aging, they still OWN motorcycle business in the US. They made over $692,000,000 in net profit in 2017. There total sales were up over 2016, not down. They did just about $6b in sales.

  18. Fred says:

    There will be no Christmas Cards for the HD Board for your POTUS Trump.
    All week he has been pumping up US Industry with increasing jobs in Manufacturing with those 4 words Made in the USA.
    HD well knows that the writing is on the wall for old V twins cruisers. But they have the same problem that loggers have when the last stand of tree’s is left in the forest. Same for fishermen when they kill the golden goose with continuous over fishing, They know that they have to stop and find a new business, but take the old way till the Bank forecloses.

    The Market of loyalists declines due to the Son’s wanting a new path from the Fathers. This is Human nature, hence the turn to Polaris bikes. HD have to hang in till the Grandchildren of the HD ‘rediscover’ the big V twin interstate, with the electric motor and loudspeaker exhaust popping out potato, potato.

    • mickey says:

      That clientele is getting old and not buying as many motorcycles is hardly the presidents fault no matter who is in the office. The president can’t make younger people love and buy motorcycles. Just like he can’t make them love and buy spinache or baggy jeans.

  19. Dan says:

    My brother in law in the midwest is a blue collar electrician die-hard Harley guy with a HD tattoo even, recently sold his bagger and just bought a new Victory. That can’t be a good sign for HD.

    • Bob S. says:

      The fact that there are still new Victory motorcycles in the showrooms is very telling. Given the state of current motorcycle sales volumes, I guess it will take a while to get all of them off the showroom floors.

  20. tuskerdu says:

    The only HDs that really appealed to me were Italian – aermacchi! I owned two.

  21. Frank says:

    The above pictured Harley is a classic, and beautifully styled bike. I’m hoping for the health of all existing brands, room for new companies, and their continued improvement and evolution.

  22. Artem says:

    So. We are thinking about Honda CB?
    I’m

  23. Mike says:

    With Porsche announcing $7.5 billion in electric vehicle research spending over the next five years, I don’t know what HD thinks they’ll accomplish with $25 million a year. I mean, it’s better than nothing, but that is not a serious effort.

    • Austin ZZR 1200 says:

      I’m sure they are investing more on hard-candy paint schemes

    • Bob S. says:

      I’d venture to say that the scope of Porsche’s electric vehicle research will be vastly broader and deeper in depth than that which would be required for the comparatively simple task of developing a production ready electric motorcycle. I’d think they’ll recoup much of their investment by patenting and licensing new technologies that result from their research, which I’d guess would be beyond Harley’s goal.

  24. Michael Haz says:

    Harley has problems, but it still remains the largest seller of motorcycles in the US, by a very big margin. The MoCo isn’t going away.

    It has – let’s call it a Willie G problem. It is fully locked into its classic design themes, and good as they may be, they are also limiting. Polaris, on the other had, had no design history with Indian that stood in the way of introducing a smaller, less costly liquid cooled model line. HD could do that, but the traditionalists would scream, as would the dealers and salespeople accustomed to selling big bikes with big profits.

    An HD touring bike costs the same as a nicely equipped Accord or Camry. That is too much money for most riders. And the HD Softail line is nice, but it, too is pretty pricey. HD has a high cost structure, as to its dealers. Dealers sell only one product, unlike many Polaris shops whci sell other motorcycle brands and non-motorcycle powersports stuff.

    It isn’t going to be easy for HD to fix its problems. They can’t wait around for the demographics to swing back, and the product line is pretty limited.

    • mickey says:

      Don’t think that is correct Michael. I think you’ll find that Honda is the number one seller of road going motorcycles in the US. Harley sells the largest number of bikes over 750cc. Harley’s total unit sales volume is not that large. I’d have to dig to get the total numbers.

    • todd says:

      Michael, it’s not total volume that’s the problem, it’s the fact that they have sized their company to produce a certain level of profit. If that drops, they will find them selves having to lay people off, close down plants and cancel some key contracts. Since HOG is a publicly traded commodity, it has to remain profitable. It cannot show losses and retain a reasonable valuation. Smaller organizations might have a little more margin and may not be so easily influenced by investors so they can weather a downturn.

  25. Don says:

    As the Boomers age out of the game more and more bikes go on the used market. How are all those used bikes going to work their way through the system without seriously affecting new bike sales? Especially with folks complaining that the desirable new models are kind of pricey?

  26. mickey says:

    Well if Gunner gets his wish in the electric bike thread, Harley may be eating cake and champage if they outlaw gas engines by 2025 and Harley has invested in electrics. On the other hand I believe ice engines have a few more years than that where they will still be viable. In which case Harley and the other manufacturers as well need to start figuring out what those coming behind us are going to buy. We ( we being of retirement age or slightly below that.. Say 46 years old and above, can carry them for maybe another 25 years ( at 67, more like 10 years for my age group) but we can’t carry them forever. Then there is the autonomous thing looming in the future. Interesting times in the motorcycle industry.

  27. Mick says:

    I certainly don’t think that they are going to get anywhere with the current electric that has been making the internet rounds.

    Harley doesn’t go outside their comfort zone very well at all. They tried to update their line with the V-Rod. A company who sells motorcycles to people with who are looking for a certain aesthetic, should not be in the business of designing an ugly engine that they had to send to Porsche to make work.You can design an ugly engine OR farm it out to make it work. You can’t do both. You just make yourself look stupid.

    So now the company is putting together what looks like a full sized version of a cheap plastic electric Harley blob that you would buy a four year old. I wonder if they will start calling it a blobber?

    • RyYYZ says:

      H-D totally dropped the ball with the V-Rod. They had an opportunity there – a new, modern engine. They could have put it into something that us non-traditional-HD buyers would have considered. A standard, a sport-touring bike, something, anything other than the long, low drag-inspired thing that they did put it in. No reason they couldn’t have had that market as well as continue to sell to their traditional buyers, but no, H-D was too short-sighted to envision anything other than cruiser buyers. And while there are traditional cruiser buyers who appreciate performance and modern engine design (note the boatload of Scouts and Scout 60s that Indian has sold), the V-Rod was unappealing to them in many ways (styling, mostly).

  28. joe b says:

    The elephant in the room, is difficult to describe, but in part this is happening to other manufacturers. Honda, has long been criticized for loosing direction, making bikes no-one asked for. Some of the others have had their small crevice of sales opening attacked by other brands, now with stiff competition, see what they once had as their little corner of the market disappear. Motorcycle market is saturated with too many products, too many used bikes, too little new buyers.

    • Austin ZZR 1200 says:

      Harleys now list for less than equivalent metric bikes on Craigslist.

      • beasty says:

        Generally speaking, no they don’t.

        • Selecter says:

          Depends on the model. I can pick up a pretty minty, low mileage ’03-’06 VRSC model of some sort for $5000-$6000. This is roughly the same (maybe a -bit- more) than the equivalent Warrior or other big “muscle bike” model.

          H-D tourers do carry a premium over the metrics, except for the Gold Wings, whose resale beggars belief, frankly.

          Oddly, I think the model I’ve seen around here in that age bracket going for the most money is the Rocket III… for whatever that’s worth.

        • Austin ZZR 1200 says:

          check again, the HD bubble has burst

          • beasty says:

            I check every day. And while I’m sure you wish it was so, HD’s, generally, still sell for more than an equivalent metric. I’m sure, nationwide, exceptions can be found, but they are few and far between.

      • red says:

        In my neck of woods, not what I’m seeing and it’s not really close. Especially if you’re talking big twins.

        of course they cost ~25-50% more to start with, but the used price percentage diff roughly holds.

  29. Curtis says:

    HD is in bad shape but the motorcycle industry in general is in bad shape. In the U.S., motorcycle sales are 1/2 of what they were 10 years ago. Motorcycles are too expensive, riding is too dangerous with distracted drivers, and young people don’t seem to have the interest they once did.

    • cinderbob says:

      That’s it in a nutshell. I have been riding for over half a century, and at 69 I probably don’t have many riding years ahead of me anyway, but today’s drivers have so many distractions that it is really making me question whether I should keep riding. For example, studies show the average text requires a driver to take there eyes off the road for five seconds. Folks, that is an ETERNITY for a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed to be pilotless! Sadly, it has become much more dangerous to be on a motorcycle on today’s streets and highways, and the older I become, the more precious life is. I have no intention of letting some distracted fool cut my life short. At least a cage affords some degree of protection.

  30. Vrooom says:

    Harley screwed up with MV Augusta and to a lesser extent Buell. With MV they had a known brand, dealership support finally well established, a great bike. But the Harley dealerships were not a friendly place for those looking for something that wasn’t a cruiser. Interestingly, a few local Harley dealerships here have taken on Triumph. The rumor is they sell more of the Scramblers and Bonnevilles than the rest of the brand line, but still that’s exactly what Harley should be selling itself. Honestly I’ve owned one Harley, and despite having 7 bikes, I don’t see another one making it into my garage unless they design something lighter, better handling and more reliable for long distance riding.

    • HS1... says:

      That is so true. My local Harley dealer represented Buell, and for some reason, Ducati. If you went and asked about either of those two brands you were insulted and then ignored, well, until you walked the gauntlet through all the Harleys and the learing to get back to the exit. Beats me why a business wouldn’t want to sell expensive inventory. The experience kind of made you think that a 350lb guy might eat you on the way out.

  31. Fred says:

    HD is suffering from aging riders and competition from Indian. HD’s and Indian’s fate seem parallel however – wonder how Indian will fare?

  32. Kitty says:

    My very 1st motorcycle, back in the late 60s, was an H-D. I’ve been riding ever since, but that was my 1st and last H-D. One was enough for me personally. I’m not an H-D hater, and I don’t care what anyone rides, but for me personally lots of other brands and models have kept my 50+ year ongoing riding career vibrant.

  33. i drove a V-ROD for a weekend, wow what a piece of … it vibrates like hell its heavy.. come on!
    viva M109 R

    • I tried to test ride a V-Rod once. The check engine light came on before I got out of the dealer parking lot. Too bad, it was the HD I thought I might be most likely to enjoy.

      • Austin ZZR 1200 says:

        Traded a GF’s v-rod for a week. Traded it back after two days for my ZZR. Couldn’t stand it. Rode like crap and I felt like a d-bag riding it.

  34. SausageCreature says:

    Here’s something that’s always puzzled me. HD has, for the most part, staunchly avoided making bikes that don’t appeal to their core customers/fan base. I’m not sure if HD themselves have ever said why, but it seems that most motorcycle journalists and forum posters claim that HD wishes to avoid angering it’s core customers, and therefore is afraid to try anything new or release updates to existing models that deviate more than a tiny bit from what was offered before. Basically the theory is that they’ve been too afraid of losing their existing customers to try and lure any new ones.

    But this reasoning never made sense to me. Is your typical hardcore Harley guy really going to say, “What? In addition to my favorite FLXHLXFLHXTXLHWTFBBQ UltraLowWideSoftSpringerTailGlide, they also built an upright standard bike with liquid cooling and a seat height over 26 inches? THAT DOES IT!!! I’M BUYING AN INDIAN INSTEAD!!!” I don’t think so. They would probably just shrug, ignore the new bike (just like they do with Buell, Street, VROD, etc) and carry on as before.

    • sherm says:

      But sausage, how can they get to it when you just gave them a terrific idea for their next model. Maybe after the WTFBBQ goes to market, they will have time to think about that liquid cooled thing, but not if you come up with another terrific idea.

  35. Ricardo says:

    For all the Harley haters out there, HD had a great motorcycle nobody of you haters wanted or cared to give it a chance. The V-Rod with 9000 RPMs red line, 115 to 125 HP and handling to match it, and the looks that some other companies copied too!.
    So PLEASE don’t say Harley did not try hard enough, the company did, the public just didn’t care to give it a chance to change the image of the hard core leather wrapped rider.
    And yes, I am a V-Rod owner, great bike that I can keep up with riders on sport bikes, I also own a Ducati 999, a Cagiva Alazzurra 650 and a couple of vintage Hondas. I like all types of bikes as you can see…

    • Selecter says:

      Handling to match? That was the VRSC’s biggest vice, aside from the awful seating position on every single model they built! The engine was the only good thing about them… they turned like a truck. Actually, the brakes weren’t half-bad IME, either, so there is that, too.

      What Harley-Davidson had was a great place to start building a bike, and enough complete lack of know-how to execute.

      A lot like the XR1200X… it made less power than an XB12S, weighed over 100 lbs. more than an XB12S, had poorer brakes than an XB12S, and, like the VRSC, handled like an oil tanker with no rudder. I still don’t get the love for that “sporty” Harley-Davidson. Buell did it right; H-D did most definitely not.

      What’s even more insane to me is that H-D can make a 900-lb. touring barge with great steering feel and nice, linear response. They could not make their “sporty” models do the same. For chrissake, why not?

      • fred says:

        When I rode the XR1200 (XR1200X? – it’s been a few years), I thought it was the best HD I’d ever ridden. Much better than the V-Rod or any of the others. I can’t compare it to a Buell, as I never rode one.

        I never had any motivation to buy a Harley, but I liked the XR1200/X.

        • Mark says:

          If you thought the XR1200 was nice, you should ride a Buell XB12S sometime. Great bike, pretty crappy support by most HD dealers.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      The Vrod is the motorcycle no one asked for. It didn’t check the right boxes for the Harley faithful, but it was still a clumsy, overweight cruiser with more focus on form over function – the opposite of what those of us who could appreciate the engine for would want the motorcycle to be.

  36. paquo says:

    a$$less chaps, a scowl, does not wave and goes really slow in the left lane lol

  37. Tank says:

    A 700cc single cylinder bike- 6 speed, 4 hydraulic valves, center stand, upright riding position and no plastic, something like a Royal Enfield (not another Blast). Make it look and feel like a Harley. They need a bike that will appeal to new and older riders.

  38. ze says:

    “Harley riders (and their passengers) are typically old … some of them very old”

    AND FAT SOME ARE VERY FAT !

    • Austin ZZR 1200 says:

      Yes, very very fat.

    • Tom K. says:

      I’ve probably got less than 50 miles of lifetime Harley riding time, and have gotten fatter and fatter since the last time I rode one, I cut myself last week and leaked waffle batter all over the floor. So you can only imagine the effect they have on folks that own them.

  39. todd says:

    They need to ditch their name and spin off a new brand. I don’t know of any sub-baby boomers that are interested in the H-D brand, there’s just too much baggage and image that needs to be retained. Non-riders I’ve talked to have suggested they would want a light dual sport bike IF they were to ride anything at all. Some like the idea of electric motorcycles but H-D would not be the sort of dealership they would want to enter for that experience.

  40. PN says:

    If H-D struggles, I really don’t care. In fact, if it went out of business, I wouldn’t miss it at all. It has been projecting a ton of pretension for way too long. Go to Sturgis and get drunk and maybe get a tattoo.

  41. takehikes says:

    Simply their bad decisions coming home to roost. They put all their marbles in one bag, a big one, but still one bag.
    Going to be lots of cheap HD’s in barns and garages all across America for sale. Millenials are setting you up for a fire sale.

  42. ABQ says:

    Young kids these days…they don’t even know how to hitch a team.

    Seriously, many kids don’t care for any vehicle other than a bicycle. And the older people can’t push around the big bikes that Harley makes. But, the biggest problem is that they cost MORE than a car.
    As for me, I saved money for 13 years to buy a Harley. Then I got hit by a car. Uninsured motorist coverage paid me enough to buy a Harley Free Wheeler trike. We are at the point where we have to get hit by a car to afford a Harley??? Yep. That would explain it.

  43. Miles says:

    The article above this announces FIM’s new Ebike category for 2019. Two articles below is a lightweight electric off road bike.Indian has finally built overhead valve street bikes (only 70 years late). Formula 1 umbrella girls got the boot earlier this week from the new owners. As Bob said, “Oh, the times they are a-changin”.

  44. Mark says:

    I’ve owned and ridden many brands of bikes. Started in the Honda Cub. Loved it and wish they would sell them again in the states. Owned several HDs as well. The problem, as I see it, is the aging public. I like HD’s but now they are too heavy for me due to my age. I am considering a three wheeled bike. The only factory three wheeled bikes are the Can Am and HD. I prefer two drive wheels in the back. Problem is the cost. A person can buy a really nice car for what a HD three wheeled bike cost.
    HD is caught between a rock and a hard place as I see it. Older people can’t ride the heavy bikes and younger people won’t buy them. As others have said they need to change their mind set to the who is riding today and what they are looking for.

    • EZ Mark says:

      I don’t see where Harley is caught between anything.
      They can sell the big twins next to other types of bikes.
      The question is, can they make smaller, lighter bikes for a reasonable price that can perform with the Japanese?
      The Street 750/500 is very poor quality compared to the Big 4.
      I imagine a 250 or 400cc would be even worse.

  45. Evan says:

    And they will want too damn much for the electric bikes too. STOP. Harley should make a line of affordable, gas engine, entry bikes that appeal to cash strapped hipsters and youth. The graybeards that put 30K in a Harley will join the T-Rex. Imagine cool Enduro style, and street bikes for both on and off road, small engines, light weight…fun. Seriously, these would sell.

  46. FreddyJ says:

    The next generation seems to define themselves more by their life experiences rather than what they own. The list at http://time.com/money/2820241/10-things-millennials-wont-shell-out-for/ includes cars and homes, and I would expect motorcycles to fit into this category also. What they might be more interested in is renting a bike as a part of a specific experience. Many Harley dealers rent motorcycles, but most of them are too big & expensive. I expect less-expensive rentals and/or the https://www.twistedroad.com/ concept to gain momentum with the younger crowd…

  47. Jim L. says:

    When I saw photos of Harley’s new Fat Bob my response was this bike looks pretty cool. Then I saw the foot pegs way out front, the seat much too low for my comfort level, and I realized that I could never ride this thing. I am a 60 something with 2 bikes in my garage, an older Speed Triple and a KTM Superduke. Often I hear that when you get older you slow down and buy a Harley. For me as I get older, I feel weight will be the big factor. Nothing Harley builds is a light weight motorcycle.
    I would like to see Harley succeed, but they just don’t have anything I could buy.

    • joe b says:

      So true, I agree.

    • Jim Adam says:

      Maybe you should try one before writing it off. The low seat makes it easy to mount and flatfoot the bike, and the forward controls do away with knee pain. They also have a low center of gravity so they feel much lighter than the weight would suggest. The bike is getting stellar ride reviews.

      • CrazyJoe says:

        I find a klr or a honda nc 700 harder to handle at slow speeds than a harley.

      • Jim L. says:

        Last summer I swapped bikes with a guy that owns a 2015 Street Bob. It had an upgraded motor so it was pretty quick. The KTM still easily outran it.
        You are correct about the low center of gravity, but the riding position killed me. I felt like I was hanging on the bars when the speed got above about 40 MPH and my back was really sore after about 45 minutes. I also felt that I didn’t have complete control because I couldn’t weight my feet.
        That said, the new Fat Bob does look great. It also looks like they have upgraded the brakes and suspension to something closer to what I am used to.

  48. Tommy See says:

    80 percent of the owners have to be loud . Funny how most of us grow up and enjoy peace and quiet. They will sell a lot of the new electric bikes.The Name will always march on.

    • Lynchenstein says:

      If nothing else, I think the Harley electric will at least look good. None of the electric bikes on sale right now look good to me at all. I’ve never enjoyed the Harley ride experience, but I’ve often admired the appearance. Perhaps a good-looking electric bike could be a winner. I’m going to wait and take a test drive before making up my mind.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        I agree. It is not just a beautiful electric motorcycle, but a beautiful motorcycle in general.

        Of course being Harley Davidson, they couldn’t resist the urge to do something silly – adding gear whine in the case of the Live Wire. I can’t see how that could possibly not get on my nerves after a while, but I really should hold judgement until I try one.

      • Tom K. says:

        As much as Harley engineers value torque above all else, electric is a natural fit. And, who says an electric motor has to run in a circular plane? A V-twin linear electric motor with two reciprocating pistons, driven by phased stator windings in the “cylinders”, would allow them to keep their signature engine style and still make less horsepower than a traditional motor with equivalent amp draw, just for the sake of Heritage (there’s gotta be an electrical engineer (or a clever ten-year old) who can describe that better than I just did, but you get the idea – think rail gun).

        Anyhoo, a couple of calibrated oil drips, carbon-colored wrinkle paint, and you’ve got something for everyone, maybe they could call it the “Blackhead”. Juice Boy? Voltster?

        • mickey says:

          That’s pretty funny

        • bmidd says:

          You win. I couldn’t figure out a way to describe how Harley would take current technology, dumb it down and make it less efficient than you did…very clever.
          I can’t wait to see the voluminous accessory catalog and the way Harley paints a bike a different color and calls it a “Bold New Model”!

  49. dman says:

    I realize the whole industry is struggling, at least in the US, but I don’t think Harley’s core problem is young people not being interested in bikes. When I started riding as a teen in the early ‘70’s young people couldn’t afford Harley’s, and at least where I lived we didn’t aspire to them either. Honda could grab you with a Scrambler or a CB350 then you could stick with them to a 750, and later Gold Wing or CR or Shadow or Interceptor, not just upscale but across the spectrum of bikes. It’s very similar to where Detroit was back then … except 40 years later Detroit offers a broad range of vehicles. But even now, Harley’s lineup is like GM in the ‘70’s: a zillion variations of the same big bike, the Big Twin being like GM’s BelAir, Impala, Caprice, SS, plus Olds, Buick and Pontiac variations. Then there’s the Sportster, a little cheaper, but not really economical: that’s their Chevelle/Cutlass etc. The newer overhead cam 500 and 750 are like the Corvair or Vega … a little more advanced technology but not really interesting. Harley needs to be a full line manufacturer, maybe on road only, from 250 on up, Sport, standard, Cruiser, and touring, to compete with the Japanese. It took Detroit a while, and they still get distracted by big pickups, and can’t quite do luxury or near-luxury sport sedans right , but at least Ford and GM now offer a broad product line from entry to high end. Harley needs the same.

  50. My2cents says:

    So many opinions so little content. If you exclude the people who haven’t ridden a Harley-Davidson then you’re left with people either love the brand or those who choose not to spend that amount of money. With markers like “too slow”, “outdated” and “over priced” being thrown around like rice at a wedding. The Japanese motorcycle manufacturing tidal wave of the late 70’s and early 80’s chased the Harley-Davidson domain with inexpensive cruiser models which borrowed drive trains from previous years standard models, and in some cases reverted to two valve heads from four. The next generation of Japanese cruisers slowly blended into V-Twin formats with a mix of either liquid or air cooling. One could only imagine a young engineer at a Japanese factory being told to build a new motorcycle with air cooling, two valve heads, and oh ya it has to have more vibration. It is no wonder so many Japanese workers were jumping out windows in the late 80’s.

    Short story long everyone is still chasing Harley-Davidson and always will. Scrap yards full of old motorcycle parts rusting away with few people even slightly interested in them, except Harley-Davidson. If 70 odd horsepower with 110 ft/lbs isn’t your cup of java so be it. For me it is about the ride and I don’t care what I ride just as long as I can, but riding a Harley-Davidson is a awesome pleasure.

    After all these years of riding when I hit a restaurant late in the evening and my motorcycle it carefully parked where I can see it but yet somewhat masked by shadow generated by those sodium vapor lights. A trained eye can see the outline and I admire it’s beauty in my eye. The waitress brings me a menu and pours a hot coffee and makes small talk but within seconds asks “you riding a Harley?” to which I have to answer no. The moment is gone in a flash, you know they never ask if I’m riding a Honda, KTM, Yamaha, Star…what the hell is that anyways?, BMW, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Moto-Guzzi, etc. You see it’s not really the woman who impresses me it’s the ease in which people outside of the inner circle of all brands of motorcycles, the non riders and how they relate to what is motorcycle to them.

    I ride them all enjoy them all and really think Harley-Davidson builds a great motorcycle with the most fantastic paint and chrome. I always loved the expression “If I have to explain then you wouldn’t understand”.
    Oh by the way the new 4 valve engine is a great engine with power everywhere, I can’t wait to ride the 114.

    • Tom K. says:

      If some pharmaceutical company hadn’t copied (and morphed) the name of Yamaha’s first entry into the cruiser market, and then applied the name to the drug intended to turn a parabolic hose into schedule 80 pipe with the express purpose of promoting more love in the world, it all may have been different. But I’ve got to admit, they created a better ride than Yamaha did.

  51. Gham says:

    Last year I bought a 2009 HD Ultra,it looks like new with 24K miles and will probably last me the rest of my riding (touring) life.Paid less than half what a new one cost and got 24 months warranty in the deal.There are so many great used options available I’m not surprised it’s killing the new market.

  52. JVB says:

    The British Motorcycle industry was in a similar place in the late 60’s. How’d that workout for them?? Don’t think HD will die, but the global demand will be a small fraction of what it is now. I was shocked at how many HD there were in Europe. Took an Edelweiss tour last summer and after BMWs, HD was the second highest number of bikes that I saw; say what???

    Buell should never have been cut. Too late …

  53. Jim S says:

    I have dismissed Harley-Davidson since I was an adolescent. I would buy if they made something that looked like it wasn’t from 1903. The XLCR was close and the XR1200R was closer yet. But I wanted a smoother engine that didn’t sound like a John Deere Tractor. I will sacrifice the flat tracker seat for a full length comfortable seat. Honda was close but missed with the 1983-84 VT500FT twin. The look was right but it needed to be at least a 750 or a 1000cc. I want Harley-Davidson to survive but better model choices and embrace a real standard/modern naked as well.

  54. Harold Klassen says:

    I’ve tried to like Harleys, I thought about a sportster, now they only make them low, and you’re a girl if you buy one. I even went to a dealer once and was steered quickly from the sportster to something bob 20k bike as the one I really wanted, not! I just don’t like sitting with my feet out front and butt on the back tire, what is they don’t get? They’re entitled to build any bike they want and I’m entitled to buy any bike I want. The look pretty, just not for me, too bad. Indian is going the same way, too bad.

  55. oldjohn1951 says:

    HD doesn’t listen. When I went to the local dealership all I heard was what “I can do with this bike.” Get a clue HD: it’s what YOU are going to do with the bike for me. I’m the customer. You are there for me, not the other way around. Being a domestic manufacturer, the amount bikes, color schemes and options should take up pages and pages in the sale book. HD has what should be the distinct advantage that comes with domestic production; the ability to give the customer whatever they ask. But when people with cash in hand asked for a street-legal XR750, HD just trotted out what they wanted to build while expending the least amount of effort possible. Nobody was fooled and both efforts failed.

  56. MikeG says:

    Since the 1980’s employee takeover and help from the so-called “free market” GOP in the form of tariffs, Harley rode an unexpected wave of popularity. They improved the product just enough to make them legit vehicles, if not top shelf motorcycles. Popular culture and a demographic of riders with enough disposable income created robust sales, and it was fertilized by wistful nostalgia and a (mostly phony) bad-boy image.

    But waves are, by their nature, cyclical. And some waves reach the shore, the tides turns, and then that’s the end. Could this be it for Harley? My guess is that electric bikes won’t be a savior, and I don’t picture them diversifying their line up to legitimately become a full-scope provider. Sadly, what I predict is they will drastically reduce production to meet demand, and their products will become like those $35,000 Indians of a few incarnations ago. Specialty, parade bikes more-or-less.

    Full disclosure, I’m a former moto industry type with motocross and road racing and extensive test riding experience. I never thought of owning a Harley until a few years back and I bought an FLHX. It’s great. When you’re 50+, not every ride needs to be MotoGP, and the Harley is a satisfying compliment to my sport bike for local stuff, as well as a competent touring rig with a quick change of seat. It’s a keeper, though, and I’m certainly not going to be one of those new-Hog-every-two-years types….which brings me to my last point: How much of Harley’s business model has relied on tricking people into buying “heirloom” bikes that are instant “classics” only to trade them in on a new “heirloom” classic before they pay off the last one? I think that strategy is going to fail, and that might be part of what we are witnessing.

  57. Mark says:

    It seems to me as if Harley Davidson has a tragic flaw in their Corporate personality that will cause their own self-destruction … They will bring the entire she-bang down while staying true to their supposed roots…. That being said, I find the @ss whipping provided by newcomer Indian on the track in 2017 an indication of how this all is going to play out. Crash and burn baby – bring out the XR750!! btw..probably could sell a shitload of those today??

    Anyway, I will say it once and I will re-peat it again.. Harley Davidson needs desperately to get the corporate MBA/PhD/BfD butt-heads out of charge and bring in some riders. But this will never happen because HD isn’t selling motorcycles, they are Selling a lifestyle. We still hear this junk about betting the future on electrics. Yeah, I want a HD scooter to ride to starbucks…Wait till all of these people who own the $20-$30k big twin cruisers die – there will be so many used bikes that no one will be buying new. Sportglide is Nice but I will never be able to afford one while I am working till eighty…

    Sorry to say, it looks like another American tragedy in progress….

  58. Rokster says:

    I am 100% convinced that Harley could have been in the same position as Triumph and BMW if they brought out a line of light, powerful flat track/roadster/scrambler-like bikes. HD has such a strong racing history that it boggles the mind that they are simply ignoring that rich legacy, even while it is clear for all to see which bikes are selling like crazy currently. And you can see they are halfheartedly trying (Roadster) but they just don’t have the balls to do it right. Incredible…

    • Mark says:

      This is spot-on. I’d love to have an street-tracker style bike that weighs around 400lbs and has about 100 horsepower. Something that’s as comfortable to ride two-up as Triumph Bonneville.

  59. A P says:

    All those comments on “why kids and young adults don’t get into motorcycling” and not one mention of the major issue… Insurance. Up here in the Great White North, a new rider can expect to spend several $thousand PER YEAR to ride at most 7-8 months. At 65 with 40 years no-accident record, I “only” pay $900/yr on an F6B.

    The insurance industry sees motorcycles as a huge loss segment, plus the autonomous vehicle lobby knows motorcyclists will never “fit” with their plans to eliminate non-autonomous vehicles. Motorcycles are simply too small and too quick/maneuverable to be easily detected.

    • JVB says:

      it’s not the 19yr olds on sport bikes driving up rates. it’s the old RUBbie (Rich Urban Biker) on some $30K HD that dumps it in the parking lot with $50 of chrome damage.

      • A P says:

        Sorry, NO! The problem is that the insurance industry (at least here in Canada) has been allowed to split the motorcycle segment away from the general non-commercial vehicle risk pool. Yes, there is a small amount of “subsidization” of motorcycle risk in the general vehicle pool risk transfers, but not nearly enough. Despite both the Hurt Report and MAIDS showing that in bike/car collisions, the vehicle, not the bike is usually at fault. And multi-vehicle collisions are well over 50% of all motorcycle claims.

        Whether single or multi-vehicle scenarios, one disability-producing claim can cost an insurance company $millions. How many parking-lot tip-overs will it take to match that?

        And the motorcycle industry response to the obvious negative impact the current insurance system has on new riders? Nada, zilch, zero… but there’s all sorts of industry resources for any “new” racing series, and a recent “rediscovery” of low-tech, small displacement bikes. But no matter how low the sticker price on a bike, if insurance premiums remain exorbitant, the potential young riders will spend that cash in other ways that don’t fill insurance corporate pockets.

        Put another way, in Ontario, a new rider’s yearly insurance premium, EVEN ON A USED 250, will buy a new iPhone and a ton of video game time.

        There’s yer problem.

  60. Neal says:

    An 883 should be competing with the CBR500. Harley needs to cut back on the overstyling and cut back on the price. If you could get a basic 883 with simple wheels and simple finishing for $7k, Harley could actually develop a younger customer base. So much of what Harley does these days is try-hard fashion styling. The Iron 883 is a mess of surface treatments and overwrought wheels now. And the Street bikes are just awful products.

  61. Bubba Blue says:

    Well, how’s Suzuki doing? How’s Kawasaki doing? It isn’t just Harley. It’s $20,000 motorcycles. When bikes were $4K-$8k they made some sense.

    I’m afraid it’s going to happen. Harley-Davidson will decline. I’d love to buy a new Harley. $22,000 for a Road King? No possibility. Ain’t gonna happen. $15,000 for a Low Rider? Uh-uh.

    You can get pretty nice Camaros, Mustangs and used Corvettes for the price of some of the big Harleys.

    [My advice, forget all the infotainment systems and save $2K/bike. Or, they cost the manufacturers about $250 and they’re all profit. Profit that’s going to kill them. Stereo’s don’t work goo on motorcycles. You’re supposed to have ear plugs in anyway. Motorcycles are a way of getting away from it all, not of buying into it. On the new Harleys, Hondas, Yamaha Cruisers, you ride while watching an LCD screen. What’s that all about?]

  62. Max says:

    Never use acronyms without at least one reference. WTF is ICE?

  63. Neil says:

    Every dealership has sales people out of some 1977 movie. Harley, get with the program. Build a Harley village around your factories so every worker does not have to be owned by the bank and thus need huge wages to pay all that interest. Labor costs reflect cost of living. So work together to save that money and reinvest it.

  64. Tank says:

    “Harley Davidson stock is performing poorly”- and that’s when the market was at record highs. What’s going to happen in a down market?

  65. arrowrod says:

    Ive been trying to buy a Sportster since 1960. Every ten years, I dutifully go for a test ride.
    They are atrocious. Very heavy vibration, and slow.
    To my eye, they are gorgeous.
    That’s 58 years.
    It’s 2018, and Harley can’t make a 100 HP, greatly reduced vibration, 400 pound Sportster.
    Apparently Indian is going to build a flat track replica bike. WTF?

  66. Pete says:

    Just a few comments: I have a 2007 Road King with over 60k miles. I do most of my own maintenance. I have had zero problems outside of normal wear items such as brake pads and tires. Your comment about an “exclusive attitude” rubs me the wrong way. Over the years I have previously owned a Suzuki, a Honda, another 2 Harleys, and a BMW. My best 3 riding buddies have a Suzuki, a Honda, and a Harley. Outside of some good natured teasing none of us could care less what the others ride, just happy to have some good buddies to ride with. You’re right on about the aging demographic. I’m 59 and unless, God forbid, the Road King gets crashed or stolen I’ll probably be sticking with it for as long as I continue to be blessed to be able to ride.

    • RyYYZ says:

      Well, many of us have extensive experience with H-D owners whose mouths are forever running about “Jap crap”, “get a real bike”, “I’d rather push a Harley than ride a Jap bike”, delusional ideas about performance, group rides (unescorted parades is more like) holding up traffic and getting upset if someone wants to get past them, all that stuff. Like many stereotypes, it didn’t come out of nothing.

      Riding a sport bike, these days I just don’t want to get stereotypes as one of those “Ride of the Century” idiots stunting and disrupting traffic on the highways (never mind the stolen and unlicensed bikes and assaults on drivers).

      • Pete says:

        That’s unfortunate, but I am sure there are plenty of Harley riders like you mentioned out there. There are also a lot of us who have had multiple brands of bikes and like and respect them all. I sorta still wish I had hung on to my Beemer…

        I know what you mean about group rides. “Unescorted parades” is a very accurate description. Running red lights and speeding way to fast. Not to mention at least a beer at every stop! I’ve been on a few group rides and poker runs but never again, way too stressful for me. And I do remember running into a few Harley riders that made disparaging comments about my Beemer, though on the flip side I also met Harley riders who were very interested and complimentary towards the same bike.

        All in all, I find most bikers I’ve met, Harley or not, are pretty decent people but there will always be a few douche bags…

  67. EZ Mark says:

    As I approach 60 years old, riding 900 pound motorcycles is more like work than fun.
    My Yamaha is under 500 pounds and more fun than any cruiser I’ve ridden, with better handling to boot.

  68. Pacer says:

    Harley f#@ked up. If they had let Buell do their thing they would have a strong presence in the meat of the market, naked and adventure bikes. Buell may not be perfect, but they were innovative and unique. When they came out with the fuel in the frame bikes, the plan was for a 150 horse turboed 1200. Harley was afraid their customers would not be able to handle it. There’s the problem. They were so self centered they thought Buell was supposed to be a Harley side kick, not it’s own brand. I went to dealerships to look at Buells and the salesmen were obviously not into it. Harley thinks the sun revolves around them, and well it looks like the sun moved.

    Now all that said, I like Harleys. Ridden enough of them to understand, and appreciate them. They’re just a one trick pony.

  69. KevinF says:

    I’m 55 and in the heart of HD’s target demographic. 8 bikes in the garage, but zero Harleys. My preference in a new bike is for standards or sport models, 100 HP and up. Harley offers anything I want, as long as it’s a V-twin cruiser. No thanks.

    Harley-Davidson is in a tight spot. Sport riders wouldn’t consider the brand even if it offered a new sport model today, and its loyal customers are aging.

    HD still has a large portion of the US market but it must embrace a new strategy that isn’t exclusively V-twin cruisers. You meet the nicest people on a Harley? 🙂

    • Tom K. says:

      Got to admit, that sounds much nicer than “Better my Sister in a cathouse than my Brother on a Honda”…

      I remember one db telling me to “Get a Harley” at a stop light once (I was on a Yammie). I told him that “I can have all the Harleys I want, all I have to do is roll off the throttle and my mirrors fill up with them”. More than a little animosity on both sides back in the 70’s, I guess.

  70. clasqm says:

    Indian caters to the same market segment as H-D. Last I heard, Indian couldn’t build bikes fast enough to stock their dealers. In the long run, a better product will obliterate “lifestyle” loyalty.

    Electric bikes are actually a great niche for H-D right now. Think about it. Everyone and his dog builds liter-plus adventure bikes, but who can compete meaningfully with BMW? Do you really want to build a superbike to take on Ducati et al? Do you think taking on KTM in off-road machinery is a good idea? In any one of those, it would take years of development and millions of $$$ just to become competitive, and only then can you start to become a leading option. There’s no way to do all of them at once.

    In the electric segment, every big manufacturer is just testing the waters and H-D would only have to compete with startups like Energica and barely-established Zero, now that Polaris has killed Brammo. The first manufacturer with brand recognition to move in there in a big way will have an enormous advantage.

    Electric bikes come in broadly road-only and dirt-capable models, but they have not yet splintered into a thousand sub-categories like gas bikes have. Apart from some overpriced pieces of exotica, most ones available are “go anywhere, do anything” bikes like we had forty years ago. That makes it much easier to enter that market.

    And yes, we will all end up riding electric. The gamble is whether this will happen in 5 years or 50. If H-D read the signs right and the shift is upon us, then they may make it to their 200th anniversary. If they got it wrong, well …

  71. DoctorNine says:

    Harley-Davidson needs to imagine a 100cc hybrid starter machine that kids can get when they are 14-15 years old, and learn to ride on. Then they can take that idea and size it up, as their new tidal wave of hybrid motorcycle aficionados grow into larger bikes.

    It’s possible. With imagination and marketing. They could survive.

    • todder says:

      Those are called trail bikes. I always thought to reach young riders, you have to start with simple dirtbikes and move up to an entry level enduro. Electric dirtbikes are starting to get exciting with no noise, instant power and lightweight. Once they get hooked, potentially graduate to street machines.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        The problem with dirt bikes is that few people have anywhere to ride them. There isn’t anywhere to get away to these days for younger kids, not that most parents will even let them get out of sight to go somewhere to begin with. And if they did, would those parents let their kids rid off on a death machine, no roll cage, no airbags? It is sad to say, but I suspect most kids can escape further on the internet than they can out their back door.

        I think one of the main problems for all motorcycle makers right now is that the culture around growing up has evolved into something quite different during the past 20 – 30 years.

  72. randy says:

    not building something like this fake concept hoax this:http://www.motorcycledaily.com/2012/04/a-beautiful-hoax-2013-harley-davidson-fxdx/ is why I have stayed away.

    • Neal says:

      Have you seen the new Fat Bob?

    • Blitz11 says:

      What i found interesting was the “turnover” in the posters. Many of those who posted then I don’t see now, and many of those i see post now didn’t post then. (I would guess that this site has higher readership now than it did back then.)

      To me, it just goes to show that everything changes, and one had better be adept at change, or you’re going to be passed by. I think Harley will survive, and progress, but if it wants to hold market share, it, too, has to change.

      To be honest, if they did a performance softtail FXDX, i am on it.

      That was a good find.

      • mickey says:

        hmm I was surprised how many of us were posting then and still posting now. that was nearly 6 years ago. An eternity in internet speak.

    • nickst4 says:

      Sorry, but to a non HD enthusiast, that hoax bike looks like any other HD Definitely well within the mould of all of them, barring the USD forks which don’t make it into a new style…

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        I agree completely. It just looks like more of the same. Probably why it was such a good hoax.

  73. Bill says:

    First; I own a Harley and a “non-Harley” so I’m not stuck on the brand. Decades ago, you bought a used Sportster as a first Harley and eventually bought a “Big Twin”. Or not. But buying a Sportster was your way into the Harley world at a lower cost than a Big Twin. By shifting advertising for Sportsters to the female gender they have alienated many prospective buyers and by making so many models of Sportster “low” only, they have lost some tall customers to other brands. By reducing demand for their “entry-level” bike they lower their market share. And, of course, raising production levels above demand is only sustainable for a short while.

    • Neal says:

      This is it exactly, they focused so much on lowering the seat height that Sportsters are now near useless.

  74. CrazyJoe says:

    Kind of wondered why their dealerships reminded me of Euro car dealerships and how much it drove up the price. They are priced high but fit and finish are great and most of them look great and continue to do so as they age. I saw a Ducati recently the white plastic wasn’t as breath taking and the wheels were a faded pink. Sad really. Compared to a Road King.

    Motorcycling is kind of tribal isn’t it. The stuff that used to make people go out and buy a honda cub or a scrambler is long gone. At least ignored by the motor press. You have to fit into a category. I ran across a dozen or so kids in Tennessee. I doubt there was a bike over 300 cc among them. There was even a few scooters in the mix. No one popping wheelies or acting bad ass. Just out for the ride.

    • MGNorge says:

      Your comment on the stuff that made people go out and buy a Cub or a Scrambler is long gone caught my attention. I agree and I find that sad. I’ve always felt the tiddlers offered the stepping stones for first putting the bait out there, setting the hook, and then opening up a lifelong relationship with motorcycles. I don’t see that so much in today’s bikes, at least not in the same way. Competing with today’s young and their attention to personal electronics and their penchant for staying more centered indoors is going to be difficult. Compare that with us who grew up in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s who were outdoors all the time. Motorcycles were our freedom machines, smelling of gas and oil, that took us where we wanted to go.
      Harley has remained too focused on those who grew up with bikes in their blood. It has been lucrative up until now but they seem slow and confused as to just how they form themselves for the future. Afraid to leave the past and unsure of their next step.

  75. robert says:

    Last one out the factory turn out the lights-it’s coming we all knew it would not last forever-they had a mighty good run-it will be fun to watch it all fall apart-question how many do they need to make to stay in business

    • Dan says:

      what is fun about an American company falling apart and people losing their jobs? I don’t even own an Harley but feel bad to see them in this downward spiral.

  76. kawzies says:

    To me it’s incredible that Harley has seen this coming for so long and just cannot deal with it. It’s like in Austin Powers where the henchman is screaming for 5 minutes as a steamroller comes at him at 3 MPH.

  77. Doc says:

    Reading the comments is interesting to say the least.

  78. Paul says:

    I test rode a 2018 114 Cubic Inch Fat Bob last week in San Diego. It is the only updated Harley I considered in years as a potential purchase. While light-years beyond the paint shaker engines of past Harleys, the test ride confirmed that Harley has far more work to be done. A 1900 CC engine that produces only 71 rear-wheel horsepower is pathetic. The turn signals are flat-out dangerous: Instead of a single turn signal button on the left stalk, Harley has separate turn signal buttons on either stalk that aren’t push to cancel. And the small instrument panel no bigger than a pack of cigarettes forces you to take your eyes of the road too long to glean any useful information, especially to confirm your turn signals are off. I’ll stick to my KTM Superduke GT that produces 150 rear wheel horsepower with 2/3 the engine size, and weighing 200 less pounds. Harley simply isn’t competitive.

  79. marloweluke says:

    BMW got it right. They were perceived as old men’s touring bikes, good for long miles in the saddle and high mileage reliability. Very boring and their customer base was dwindling. They saw the trend that Harley is now caught up in and started to make the S1000RR/R/XR series and arguably beat the Japanese at their own game. Of course they have their own niche with the 1200GS series, but at least they have a wide model range from small singles (310cc) to 1600cc inline six tourers. I would never have considered buying a BMW ten years ago, but I would now. HD never.

  80. Martin Owings says:

    I think part of the problem is HD mostly competes in only one category (cruisers and touring cruisers), the Street models being the lone exception. In previous decades the competition for cruisers was far less of a challenge. Now all of the majors from Japan and even Europe have amazingly good motorcycles that compete in that category. I think it is time Harley starts building things other than heavyweight cruisers. They HAVE NO off road or dual sports, NO real sportbikes. Electric motorcycles could be a start if they make them affordable or unique in a meaningful way. I think they just need to start making stuff more people want rather than sticking to one niche. But, it is hard to overcome 100 plus years of history.

  81. oldridertom says:

    Interesting responses. From where I sit up here in British Columbia things look a little different. Our local HD dealership could not keep bikes in stock this year. They took bikes that were allocated to other areas and sold them. They were open 7 days a week (unheard of for any other brands) and a lot of their customers were younger. That may change but I think that building strong customer loyalty has been a large part of their success. Lots of “Party in the Parking lot” weekends. Those who think Buell could have been the saviour of HD forget the glee with which he bragged about crushing Blasts to make way for his new models, probably alienating more than a few Blast owners in the process. Not a good way to build customer loyalty and I would have fired him also.Electric bikes? Why not. Its all the rage and they have to do something to grow the brand. I loved their proto E-Bike and look forward to see what’s coming. A lot of folks say they have to change the products they are making and then dish out the crap when they change the products they are making.

    • Provologna says:

      From a business perspective, Eric Buell appears to be one of the dumbest apes to ever get control of a motorcycle marquee.

      • ApriliaRST says:

        > Eric Buell appears to be one of the dumbest apes to ever get control of a motorcycle marquee.

        What Buell needed was an actual purpose-designed engine. Whose fault was the lack of one? Once out of the control of Harley’s product planners, that was the first thing he did. Many of the Buell motorcycle’s issues could be traced back to trying to make a silk purse out of the Sportster’s sow’s ear engine. No motorcycle was more effed up by that than the Blast. No wonder Erik was excited to crush them.

        • Pacer says:

          I think Buell just needed money. He was was constantly begging for funding, and compromising to get it.

        • Mark says:

          True, but Erik Buell did a helluva job with that Sportster engine! I loved my Buell XB12S. Folks still put Buell heads on Sporty engines for the power. With all their R&D money, why couldn’t Harley do that without waiting for Buell to do it?

  82. Phil says:

    I’m concerned that Harley is just “the canary in the coal mine” regarding age related demographics in motorcycling (and even more widely, for all things motorsport).

    Cars are becoming more like “white goods”. For many buyers, how the car connects to their cell phone, is more important than engine performance. These are not people who are going to buy two wheels anytime soon.

    The problem is compounded by the fact children these days often don’t ride bicycles (parents just ferry them around in the family SUV). They will never ride motorcycles as a result.

    Think about almost any sport you like (except soccer, because its a potential money spinning career), and they are all having trouble attracting the young. Why… because its easier to sit in front of a screen, and be amused without any personal effort.

    It’s frustrating, as all us motorcyclist know – that first ride on a bike will change your life forever. However if the young aren’t interested, its a huge problem for manufacturers and consumers alike.

    • Bryan says:

      Now you are really seeing the picture. Motorcycles in general are threatened in the USA. The generation coming up want very little to do with them. They aren’t interested in the lifestyle and in general either ignore them or belittle them. Shoot, a lot of them don’t even want a car anymore. I drove UBER for a year or so and a lot of my customers didn’t own a car and didn’t want to. Most viewed personal transportation as too expensive and unnecessary.

      • Dan says:

        part of the problem is that traffic is congested in so many urban and suburban areas that driving is no longer fun at all. When I took my last car out for a test drive from the dealer lot I couldn’t even take it above 45mph, just sat in traffic. No wonder they care more about bluetooth connectivity and other gadgets than a powerful engine to idle along in traffic. I can see why a lot of the younger generation aren’t interested in cars.

        • Max says:

          I agree. People try and make it generational, but I think it’s more locational. I see plenty of young people in the country enjoying motorsports. Riding thru a city is something that’s about as exciting to me as getting a root canal.

    • 70's Kid says:

      I think that you make some very good points here sir. After reading through every single reply, at the time of this posting anyway, yours is the one that really gets to the heart of things.

    • Larry Kahn says:

      “that first ride on a bike will change your life forever.” Very true. Was 12 years old, hot for a go-cart, tried a friends Bonanza BC1100 mini-bike, scared the crap out of me and I was hooked. That was 70 mc’s and 50 years ago. Never did get a go-cart but do have a Miata now…close enough.

  83. downgoesfraser says:

    We received our first Goldwing at the dealership I work for this week and that that bike looks even better and smaller in person. Pictures do it no justice. Harley? pfffffft

  84. Moto-Kafe says:

    Harley-Davidson: “Embracing Technology”……from the 1940’s.
    Wow……remember 15 years ago (maybe longer??), when you had to “order” a H-D, wait weeks to get it, and then pay top $$$ for that bike?? What goes around (arrogant H-D lifestyle)…..comes back around…..to maybe bite you.

  85. PBrasseur says:

    HD needs to diversify obviously, demographics should be no surprise. What they need above all is to make high quality bikes, light-weight, with good ridability and solid performance. And they need to address more than the vintage market.

    Take a look at Triumph, that a good place to start.

  86. Sleeping Dog says:

    HD’s future will be something like this. Over the next couple of years the company’s market value will continue to decline. Eventually they will be bought out, either by a private equity firm or an major player in the ‘power sports industry.’ After this happens they’ll be a major effort to cut costs, they’ll break HD’s unions and cut wages and benefits. While they may keep final assembly in the US, component production will go to east and southern Asia.

    While I’m not a HD fan, I’ll still hate to see this happen.

  87. Jim says:

    The company that spent decades milking the “Lifestyle” gravy train.
    The arrogance of the dealerships who looked down on the rest of the sport.
    The owners with their contempt of all things not “The Motor Company”.

    Just deserts.

    • Provologna says:

      Yeah, I totally get that, but I still feel some ambivalence about H-D’s impending demise, which I suspect happens in my lifetime. If it happens, it shall be an epic closing, the passing of an era.

      Remember Oakland H-D dealer/ex-Hells Angel Sonny Barger? 15+ years ago he declared his disgust with his own clients, the dentists, LAH-yerz, and other professionals with enough money to buy one of his bikes.

      Would that not be insane if some Asian investor eventually buys the name?

    • PatrickD says:

      I think that Triumph are the cool ‘non-performance’ brand these days.

    • SmokinRZ says:

      And then they sponsor Sons of Anarchy which only encourages the douche bag image and behavior. My friend lives a few miles from the Waco Twin Peaks shootout and couldn’t rider his BMW GS for 6 months without fear of getting pulled over. I’m tired of explaining to people that I’m a motorcyclist not a biker.

  88. Josh says:

    Off topic, but similar mindset I say the same thing about Barrett Jackson 50’s and 60’s cars.

    Look and sound cool- but that isn’t going to support the big money sales prices forever…not to the next coming generation.

    Back to bikes- I am interested to see what Indian brings out next.

    Until then, I love my CB1100..even if the young kids don’t.

  89. Bob S. says:

    I’m shocked that anyone at Harley Davidson would think their future is in electric motorcycles. It shouldn’t take a battery of industry consultants to figure out that any electric bike will be the antithesis of why people buy Harleys, or rather once did.

    • ben says:

      well said, and right on- for the current clientele. However, I bet this is a market research driven decision specifically based on the opinions and input of 20-somethings.

      In addition to riding streetbikes, I ride and race off road dirtbikes. Hare scrambles, GNCC type stuff. Being around the young crowd that dirtbike racing draws,I have overheard several young people discussing electric dirtbikes.

      It seems so odd to me because I could not care less about electric vehicles, but I think the young generation that has grown up fooling with electronic devices , virtually since birth, are somewhat interested in E-bikes . I don’t want to say they are really fired up about E-bikes, because as far as I can tell , young people are not fired up about anything at all. iphones and social media maybe

      • EGS says:

        Ah-ha! I see what’s happening here. First, Bob is ‘shocked’ that HD would consider electric bikes then Ben chimes in about ‘current’ clientele. E-bikes, ‘shocked’, ‘current’ – all very funny (especially since I’m not certain you meant to do it)! Way to ‘amp’ up the responses…

  90. Shmitty says:

    HD maybe late updating their ICE product line, but like it or not, electric is coming to replace it and quick. The automobile industry is approaching a tipping point for electric cars and that will have a huge impact on costs per unit. Harley knows that it’s in desperate need of new customers and sees it’s erstwhile nemesis Technology as it’s new salvation. Like many others have said, HDs demise has been forecast many times before, yet they remain. I don’t know about anyone else, but I wish them all the best.

  91. gt08 says:

    Every Harley owner i know, like to say how much they have pay high $$$ for theyre bike.
    Sorry, but they only showing they know nothing to the sport.
    So good ridance of they re noise at night, not wawing back, etc…
    Maybe Polaris will catch up too and restore Victory with bike more more modern in the like of Kawasaki Concours, Z900RS and thing like that.
    Time will tell !

  92. WadeB says:

    I think HD is getting a bad rap from most of the folks here. The new bikes are a real improvement and the upgrades have gone beyond incremental and are in fact substantial. And the electric bikes are going after a different set of riders than those that frequent these sites. Honda did the same with their bikes in the late 50’s and 60’s and look where that company has gone.

    I have not yet owned a HD but I think I will add one to my collection of bikes. The new 8 valve motor is a great engine with smooth power, excellent rev range and is better in significant ways than it’s predecessor. And the bike has decent to excellent brakes and suspension for a cruiser. I am just now approaching cruiser demographics but for street riding, I appreciate what Harley is doing. I won’t be getting rid of my dirt bikes, naked bikes or sport bikes but I do like riding some of the touring Harley’s-the Road King especially. I want one and as soon as the kids are out of school I will have one.

    Put your honey on the back and take a weekender two up and see what your spouse or significant other thinks. She may dig the zippy racing crouch but after a weekend on the two-wheeled Barcolounger you may have a case of multiple bike syndrome too.

    Just don’t expect an adjustable wrench to work well as a hammer. Approach the current crop of Harley Davidson bikes with an open mind and consider the design parameters and you may just be impressed. Though I am not a fan nor a target of electric bikes, perhaps next gen bikers will. And growing the market with a different type buyer is clearly Harley Davidson’s objective.

    • bmidd says:

      Amazing they have a 4 valve cylinder head…it’s only 2018. I hear most of the new models have close to 3″ suspension travel too.

  93. ben says:

    I am one of the constant Harley bashers you may see online. Always snickering about the weight, lack of competitive power, idiotic costume required to operate a Harley,silly wannabe badass image etc. But I would like to own one some fine day- and I will if they ever build something I will buy.

    I am 43, have owned and ridden every other type of bike since I was first licensed at 16 yrs of age. Never have I even come close to buying a Harley. I was very interested in the Buell Ulysses and nearly bought one. I was intrigued by the XR1200 and went to the dealer to look at them a few times. I bought neither one because I was not thrilled with the motor. I wanted something competitive and powerful. The ancient air cooled sportster motor is not in that category. And in the case of the XR1200, I could not get past the fact that it was a solid 100 pounds heavier than the competition. lame.

    as for the rest of the HD lineup, I can say that they are apparently very nice for cruisers, but I am not at all interested in feet forward, lay-z-boy cruisers.

    I am probably in the minority on this last point, but I can tell the HD people that the only type of bike that interests me less than grandpa’s old putt putt harley cruiser is an electric cruiser. good lord how lame

  94. Tank says:

    We need another ‘Easy Rider’ movie or a ‘Then Came Bronson’ series.

    • Tom K. says:

      “…or a ‘Then Came Bronson’ series”

      I’m pretty sure that Triumph agrees with you…same for “The Wild Bunch” with Brando. Maybe they need to remake “Old Dogs” – naaah. You’re spot-on about Easy Rider, but both Fonda and Hopper are busy doing stair-lift and walk-in-bath commercials.

      The Boomers created the “modern” Motor Company, and the decline of both are similarly tied together.

  95. mickey says:

    Can Indian be far behind?

    • Jabe says:

      Was wondering the same thing.

    • ben says:

      my 60 year old neighbor who has never ridden before bought two new indians in the last 8 months, one scout and one gigantic tech laden land yacht . He was more interested in the modern aspect of the fresh indian designs than he was being a badass HD guy. They all look like grandpa’s antique putt putt to me though. The scout is pretty zippy and nimble at least

      • 70's Kid says:

        If your neighbor were under the age of 40 then your story would have my interest. As it is, this just serves as another illustration of the larger overall problem this industry faces.

  96. skybullet says:

    Harley= Yesterdays technology without the stigma of low price. They are selling Image not a feature set. Most dealers could not figure out how to sell Buells (or didn’t want to). They should have bet on and funded Buell as the future, maybe with a lighter version of the V-Rod engine and built a performance image around it.
    Right now their biggest competition is used Harleys. Indian Scouts are racing and winning, the Japanese are innovating, KTM, Ducati and BMW offer significantly better and improved bikes every year. Time to start offering really new and appealing products, not quick fix adjustments for the stockholders. PS: Electric Bikes are the polar opposite to what is needed, remember the Cadillac Cimarron?

  97. MacSpoone says:

    Just a random question, but does anybody remember when Hardly Ableson needed the government to slap tarrifs on imported bikes to help them stay afloat, nevermind competitive? Poor management and poor designs were the reason, and it appears that despite a slew of engineering changes, that’s still the problem.

    Getting rid of Buell was a huge mistake, and continuing to make overweight, underpowered ugly as sin pigs masquerading as motorcycles is their primary ongoing problem.

    Millenials don’t want them because they’re too big, too slow, too ugly, and still too damned expensive. Fix these problems…if they can…and they’ll solve the problem of poor sales.
    .
    Story, end of.

    • Dale McVey says:

      And let’s not forget that Sochiro Honda offered financing and their R&D Dept to Harley at the time of the tariff. Sochiro’s logic was “competition improves the breed”. (paraphrased)

      • Blitz11 says:

        Soichiro Honda was the ultimate “bad-ass.” He was all about winning, being the best. A gambler whose risks paid off. Industry is different now – not about winning, but high salaries for poor management. Sad.

    • 70's Kid says:

      “Millenials don’t want them because they’re too big, too slow, too ugly, and still too damned expensive.”

      Are you talking about Harley Davidsons or the older generations of riders who tend to follow websites like this one (myself included)?

      Either way you’d have a point.

  98. Rapier says:

    The manufacture of high volume, big ticket, consumer products in the US for profits high enough to satisfy ‘investors’ in public companies, is essentially impossible. Harley has been stupendously successful for a couple of decades now, except it’s cash flow profits have been modest.

    Now take Tesla. Tesla has consumed tens of billions of dollars of capital, has not ever made a dime of profit except perhaps by arcane accounting standards, and is worth more than Ford as it’s stock remains a darling. While one can posit a steady increase in Tesla sales any hope of profit in any foreseeable future is a pipe dream. Tesla does not have to depend upon profits however, nor does Amazon.

    None the less let us decry Harley.

  99. Jabe says:

    Tattoos, black leather and noise can only be cool for so long….

  100. DP says:

    Well written, objective and unbiased. Little alarming, but who guarantees anyone’s existence in this competitive world?

  101. Steven Whorley says:

    Harley is in a real bind! Current demographics will not buy into the “bad boy image” they’ve been selling for decades. They do make a damn fine cruiser that is capable of much better performance. Hire the Japanese to put the Sportster on a diet, improve the suspension and brakes, and put a comfortable seat on it! Trimming 100 lbs is do-able.

  102. Allansb says:

    I find the comments interesting, but they generally miss one factor, and that is Indian. I have a Springfield and have had a Scout (I also have a couple of Yamahas and an Aprilia), and I’m always surprised by the positive reactions I get from Harley riders. I see a younger set of riders as well as women than you would have on Harleys. A lot of this is the result of the Scout which is a light year ahead of the decrepit Sportsters. There are also a lot of Harley riders who really appreciate the bigger Indians after riding them even if they won’t switch for lifestyle reasons.

    But apart from the direct competition, you need to see what’s popular in Europe. Retro bikes, like Yamaha’s XSR, are huge sellers. They have the power, the electronics, and light weight which works for us older folks.

    Harley seems to partly get it. The new Softtails are lighter and handle better. But it is still only one class of bike. Even the Street models are shrunken versions of the same thing. Coming out with the Livewire won’t fix anything. I may attract some early adopters but those folks are few and far between, especially those who will be able to pay the price. Keep in mind, Tesla’s are THE thing but they still only sell in small numbers.

    So we will need o wait and see. Harley is a large company with the funds to try things, they just need to want to.

  103. rider33 says:

    no, the electric bike is not the answer, not even close. Nor is it really on strategy assuming they still have people who understand such things. The problem with being highly successful with branding and then mining that too long is it is very difficult to get out from under it when you need to. The new softales are a step in the right direction, a truly competivive sportster at a fair price would be as well. The right move would have been to get out of Erick’s way and let him develop bikes that speak to a different segment and generation. Sadly, that ship has sailed. Plan B is going to take a while and cost a whole lot more money, ask Polaris about that. Brands are funny things, as a marketer you think you control them but really, you can only influence them at bit, and then only if you are very, very good at what you do. Default to the easy answer one too many times and eventually you find the brand controls you. The irony in all this is that Harley is starting to produce some of the best bikes they have ever built. Unfortunately, there are just a great many people who would never give them a second glance. That’s a problem in any market but in a declining, aging market all the more so.

  104. Grover says:

    It ain’t over till it’s over. Let’s see where Harley is in five years. Most riders tend to slow down as they age and Harleys have been popular for that reason. Less Ricky Racer in the mountains and a more touring-biased mindset for the “mature” rider is usually the motivation behind buying a Harley Davidson. Remember, older riders are dying off and younger riders are becoming older…

  105. Jeremy in TX says:

    Unlike many here, I don’t think HD was being foolish for dumping Buell. HD never really understood the non-cruiser market, but I think they realized that Buell didn’t either.

    I believe HD’s biggest problem is that they are all about excess. HD builds gaudy, expensive motorcycles for the most part with little regard to function. The target market they cover just does not related to the very dated image HD is built on. If everything I read about the millennials is a least mostly accurate, they want the opposite of excess and flashy and take pride even in being able to get more out of less.

    Harley stayed still too long. That is usually a terrible strategy for any company. I agree that trying to be an electric motorcycle leader is a desperate act. Electric motorcycles are still too expensive for the target audience, and they are impractical for anything beyond commuting.

    Buell (and MV) was the wrong answer to diversification, but I think they were right track. They could have made some very appealing non-cruiser motorcycles under their own brand and have been much more successful. Prices would have had to have been more competitive and margins thinner, but that is how staying relevant goes sometimes.

    • DP says:

      What they could have done instead of coupling with ‘bridge too far’ (meaning crazy exotic MV) should have been attempt to hook up with Jawa of CR. They are hanging there with their nails and need investment badly while still quite popular. In turn, inexpensive and relatively good quality motorcycles could have enriched N/A market. It did not happen.

  106. Marc says:

    Went to my local HD dealer to check out the Buell when they started selling them. Met at the door by a couple of salesmen,asked where the Buells were. They pointed to the rear of the showroom and walked away without saying a word. At that moment I realized there was no support for the bike. Last time I went into a HD dealer. I suspect an electric bike will have even less support. On a side note why hasnt HD put the vrod motor in a dresser?

    • clasqm says:

      “Why hasnt HD put the vrod motor in a dresser?”

      +1 I’ve been asking that for years and years.

  107. Don E. says:

    Maybe Harley should diversify by making billiard tables and bowling balls.

    • joe b says:

      Ah-hhh, “Bowling Balls”. Right, got it.

    • Tom K. says:

      That’s hilarious, but bittersweet for me. Pop worked for AMF in the bowling alley division (he installed and sanded them) in the 60’s and 70’s, and we had an AMF pool table in the basement (it was pretty nice, actually). AMF made all kinds of stuff back in the day – I remember Harley selling dirt bikes back then, I don’t remember if they made them or just rebranded them. Your post makes me want to do a little surfing and see if anyone did an article about the fall of AMF and the rise of Brunswick with respect to bowling centers. I remember a company named “Ripley” which had a big piece of the bowling center business back in the 50’s and 60’s, I still have one of their balls (it came from my uncle, and like an idiot, I drilled and used it). Maybe there is a similarity here – the decline of the “sport” of bowling and the decline of motorcycling in the U.S. probably mirror each other, although separated by a couple of decades.

  108. Stu says:

    I believe Harley needs some new technology. Just look at the signal light on one in the picture, is that a bike from 1960 or a new 2019 model? They are interesting machines, but com’on, do something new.

  109. Wes says:

    A thoughtful piece, from a credible source. I’m a long-time motorcyclist, and pretty much an old-school one. I like beautiful motorcycles that work and fit me. The Paul Smart Ducati was a beautiful bike that didn’t fit me. The BMW R-Nine-T Racer is another. So I admire them from across the room, but don’t have them in my garage. Harley makes several bikes that work and fit me, and that are handsome enough to make me look back over my shoulder as I walk away. I’m still scratching my head over the V-Rod; guess they should have taken a different vector, but that motor was–and is–fantastic. I do think they need to modernize the Sportster platform, and quickly. I also think they’re on the right track with the models with upside-down forks and twin discs up front. Cruisers deserve good brakes, too. They’re getting their act together on the electronics suites, too. I never bothered myself with cruise control or sound or GPS. Until recently. Perhaps I’m old and lazy, but all of those things I didn’t used to care about now have me thinking.

  110. joe b says:

    Many of the posts below, support Dirk’s assessment, many are long time motorcyclists. I didn’t read them all, but is there interest in Harley from youngsters? Harley’s brand image, and followers, in itself, makes it “Old Mans Bike”. Just on that, youngsters are shunning it. I have never owned a Harley, though that was the bike I wanted in high school, a XLCH fastest bike in its day. I have ridden many through the years. Its not for me, if I had to explain it, you wouldn’t understand. When Harley peaked in ’85, many thought it was its high water mark. They have had their day. Nothing stays the same, Life goes on.

  111. DeltaZulu says:

    Hardley-Ableson; The art of turning gasoline into pure noise without the side effect of power.

    • joe b says:

      Hardly-Not-Able-To-Run. Few give AMF credit for their development work, that gave the new EVO motor its reliability, they just want to trash the Japanese made items, and say words like “Bowling Ball”. Simple things like rubber manifolds, knock pins to keep the cylinders from walking, and reliable oiling, electric starters, made them a bike for the masses. I like Harley’s, I just dont want one. I think its been wonderful to see so many people find motorcycling, through the Harley brand. Its one of the things in life, that made me see, I am not like them.

  112. chris says:

    The new soft tail bikes that have taken the place of the Dyna chassis bikes are a 100% improvement over the 2017 models (go ride one) you will be impressed! How ever the problem I feel is that they are WAY to expensive and it is a little too late those changes should have been made years ago . Also as many others have written Harley should have never gotten rid of the Buell brand they should have let Erik Buell design the bikes he wanted to make all along , Harley Davidson is way to one dimensional and needs to diversify and they must do it the right way by making the best smaller bikes that show world class performance at reasonable prices and a dealer network that will embrace these changes.

  113. Gary says:

    I think Harleys are beautiful, but they are, first and foremost, fashion accessories … image machines. Which is fine so long as they stay in style. It appears millenials are not adopting the Harley image. Instead, they are going the Bonneville route. Fashions change. It appears Harleys are being left out in the cold. Pity, that.

  114. Tom R says:

    This is going to sound spiteful, though it is not meant to.

    Having worked in the retail motorcycle dealer business with most brands other than Harley, I have frequently sampled the occasional H-D trade in. I’ve always kept an open mind when comparing them to what the rest of the world designs and builds, but each and every time I come away wondering what anyone sees in them. The old line attributed to PT Barnum about “a sucker born every minute” always runs through my head as I fitfully try to adjust to the Motorcycle Design Incompetence inherent in every Harley I have ever ridden-which numbers 20-30 examples.

    For a couple of decades I have believed that their chrome/leather/noise/tattoo lifestyle strategy can only carry then so far, and it now appears to be finally ebbing. It was a good run, but couldn’t last forever.

    • Austin ZZR 1200 says:

      totes magoats, Tom. Every time I ride a HD I am hoping to find something worth buying. And afterwards, I have a little less respect for those who ride them. Sorta like el Caminos. Why? Just why?

    • DP says:

      Interestingly I am observing lately this “chrome/leather/noise/tattoo lifestyle” on Ducati aficionados. I wonder where did they picked it up. From their own V-twins?

  115. Bud says:

    Viability of the electric motorcycle concept aside, does anyone really think HD is going to make the battery powered bike they would be willing to buy? Do they have the engineering prowess?

    On the other hand Harley owners already own trailers I guess.

  116. Mike says:

    Most of the guys that bash HD haven’t spent any time on one, and if they have, it was one that was built a long time ago. I too never liked Harleys, until they started making them better back in the mid 2000s. These days HD is more modern than most of you give them credit for. Yes, they all look old-school, but underneath all of that is a well built, well thought out machine. I have owned almost 100 motorcycles and 12 of them have been HD.There’ssomething very enjoyable about riding a HD that I don’t get from riding other bikes. Right now I own a 2016XSR900 that I truly love for the excitement and performance of it. I also own a 1998 customized Sportster that is enjoyable to ride too, at a much slower pace. The new Softail line of HD does appeal to me, maybe not like the XSR does, but in a different, and harder to explain way. Buells were great and I have owned two of them. Harley has suffered sales slumps before and have always figured out what to do to get sales to rise. I am sure there are new things in the works, and we all might be surprised by what shows up next.

  117. Denis says:

    As a long time Harley-Davidson rider, I find this article very thought provoking. Speaking on a personal level, I have owned and continue to have an interest in other brands. I own a Harley for one main reason and that is simply this—I like them!! A couple of things that I have observed over the years: If you want to own a motorcycle you have to have four things in order to keep one in your life. These four things are Time, Money, Health and Passion. Harley-Davidson has been real good at stoking the Passion part, but if you lack in any of the other three, you will have no lasting interest in motorcycling. Just take a good look at today’s generation. Time and Money are two things that seem to be very elusive to them. I see countless Harleys for sale where the owner states that they have no time to ride. They have no time to ride because the biggest part of their lives is there job and that is where you get the Money. But without Time, these two things cancel each other out. Passion and Health are two things you have to be born with. So, I guess what I’m trying to say is this—If the old Harley riders are fading away, they can only be replaced with new riders that have Time, Money, Health, and Passion. Harley-Davidson has survived through thick and thin and I hope they will always be around as a brand of choice.

    • william says:

      Your 4 items are a pretty good description. That seems to fit me.

    • Dino says:

      Well said..
      I am not a Harley owner, but my friends are, and I get it. For a cruiser kind of ride, they do great. And newer Harleys knock out all the old stereotypes.
      But to the article’s point, is electric the way to hook the younger market? Is it close enough to the Harley Brand to make marketing sense? Not sure I would think so, but if they are gonna do it, they need to get in, and do it right. And that means getting their dealers all in. Or better yet, set up separate shops for the new line. If they couldn’t get dealers to support Buell, I don’t see any way the dealers would give electric any serious chance. The market they are going after likely would be put off to step into an HD dealership as they stand now.
      Go all in, or repeat the Buell and MV debacles. (Or bring Buell back and let him do it right…)

  118. Smokey says:

    Harley improvements have come a little too late. There about 5 or 6 years too late in their improvements for engines and chassis, Also, they should have a much needed lower cost sportsters option (and lower weight) and maybe even their 500 & 750 based on the sportsters verses those overseas models. My 1994 Sporty was a beast, with all it vibration from it’s ridge mount engine, lack of suspension and brakes and stiff clutch! I put 36,000 km on it before I sold and it made me know it.. it’s ashame if the brand goes under. Electric is not the solution…

  119. jim says:

    I suspect HD’s only route to survival is to go private and become a “mittelstand”. That means a radical shrink to fit and product focus. What will happen is they will hang on way too long until some jackal does a leveraged buyout, cashes out and leaves the empty shell holding the bag.

  120. bmbktmracer says:

    This truly seems to be a company governed by the philosophy of putting all of one’s eggs into a single basket. All those decades of big sales, both motorcycles and merchandise, and what’s to show? A slew of models all cut from exactly the same mold of being too heavy, too slow, with barely 3 inches of wheel travel, and all marketed to a single demographic that’s now reached retirement age.

  121. Andrew says:

    HD has one option, and one option only, to save their brand. They need to reduce prices! Competitive pricing will overshadow any perceived “aging” of the brand or it’s riders. A 25% drop in msrp would work wonders for the number of units sold.

    • Jay1975 says:

      That is it. Why spend $16,000 and up for a bike that has less innovation or power compared to a bike that costs $12,000?

  122. falcodoug says:

    Check Craigs List. This has been coming for years.

  123. Tommy D says:

    When I was a kid my first job was as a janitor for a large computer manufacturer. They paid me a good wage and full benefits. That same job today has been sub contracted out to some company that pays people crap and doesn’t deliver any benefits. I got a good start without student loans to worry about. I feel kids today are in a tougher market. You hardly hear of any young people financially doing the stuff I did at their age. Rent, car, insurance, food, have all gone up but the pay hasn’t. I hear India’s middle class is BOOMING. They are at the bottom of that inflation ladder. We are at the top.

    • Tom K. says:

      Man, have you ever got that right, I’ve been decrying the loss of the U.S. blue-collar middle-class for years now. The recession of 1980-1984 changed the U.S. dramatically. I had a factory job in the late 70’s in Chicago making Kool Aid that paid between $7-$10 per hour depending on the job (you bid on the job based on seniority). Since we’re on an MC site, a KZ1000 went for about $2500 back then, so you could purchase six-to-ten of them on an annual salary of $14-$20K. How much would you have to make today to purchase six-to-ten Z1000’s? I guarantee you’re not doing that making Kool Aid or loading trucks. I don’t blame the Millennials for rejecting traditional capitalism – although many of them are doing very well, many others are drowning in educational debt or working (comparable) jobs for half of what we Boomers made, adjusted for inflation. Boomers drove MC sales in the U.S., and young people today just don’t have the disposable income we had. This may not be the only reason the sport has declined, but it has to be a large one.

  124. alan says:

    Well, they can always sell more t-shirts

  125. Dave says:

    I, like many others cut my teeth on Japanese bikes. Good quality, reasonable price and performance kept me there for most of my life. Harley never appealed to me because they are/were just the opposite in my opinion. In the past 15 years or so KTM had gotten my business because all the right box’s were ticked. I would absolutely love to own and ride American but until a bike is made that fits what I’ve come to expect I won’t. I wish HD had kept Buell going, I was very interested in what was offered.
    Low power, overweight, ill handling bikes I will never own. Come on Harley build a good bike, break that stupid mold. I know they can do it. And bag the electric, its just a pipe dream.

  126. Trpldog says:

    I’ve ridden for 45 years and if HD went belly up and left the scene completely, I wouldn’t lose one second of sleep. Shoulda kept Buell.

  127. allworld says:

    You can’t cry over spilt milk, but HD blew it big time by dumping Buell and MV. I don’t see a clean clear path for bikes branded as HD appealing to younger riders. I would love to see some innovation into electric bikes, but they are a long ways off of “world leaders”.
    What they need is a new Marque, with a new image and new products. Yes something other than oversized air cooled V twins. They need to get over themselves and recreate their culture. I look a smaller company like Triumph and see a divers line-up, not a huge line-up but a little something for everyone.

  128. red says:

    Most of us have predicted this scenario for years, decades now, and we keep being wrong. Or early at least. But it’s pretty clear at this point trouble is brewing. I also thought Buell might be the eventual salvation, but they kicked him to the curb.. Not sure what they’re gonna do but better be dramatic branch from status quo. and soon-ish.

  129. dt175 says:

    didn’t you OLD guys see their presence at the X games? they had a track on the back and a ski on the front, upside-down fork. plus, h-d, as a finale, chewed up the half-pipe w/ a hillclimb on studded tires. the gold went to the oldest x-games winner ever…

  130. yellowhammer says:

    Wow, quit without a fight? Just close it all down due to a sales slump? Or, convert the entire line over to dirt bikes, scooters, and electric bicycles? That wont get manbun skinny jeans millenials out of mom’s basement (if that’s who they are after).

  131. Blitz11 says:

    So, i read with some interest H-D’s problem. My wife has a street 500 which she loves, averaging about 5K miles per year. She has done 400 mile days on it, relatively comfortably. It’s been reliable, pretty easy to work on, and once i changed brake pads and brake lines, its biggest deficiency was addressed. She doesn’t care about fit and finish – just wants a reliable bike her size. It meets her needs.

    SOO, long story (too long already?), i thought, Hmmm, maybe i’ll buy a cruiser to enjoy life in the slow lane. I looked at a low rider, and it doesn’t even come with ABS standard. A Low Rider with ABS and a Tall boy seat (i’m 6’4″) was $16,600. Wow! Sort of shocked. I rolled my Yamaha super tenere for $12K out the door (including TTL) with factory hard bags, and 4 years of YES. That was in 2014, but you can still find deals on a Tenere.

    It’s not out of the running, but I’d have to think for quite a while to drop that much coin on that bike. Hard to see the value proposition.

    H-D isn’t dead – this drop in sales might be a harbinger for the direction the economy is going to take in the next year or two. Interesting times lie ahead.

  132. Don says:

    Harley has got to be, what, half the big motorcycle market in the US? Now imagine what the motorcycle industry would look like here in the US if they were gone.

    • Austin ZZR 1200 says:

      So your point is that we should be subsidizing HD for some reason?

      • ApriliaRST says:

        > half the big motorcycle market in the US?

        And besides, that “half the market” figure includes aftermarket, including companies like S&S.

        Harley is going to have to learn to stand on it’s own, and I agree the move to e-bikes means a totally different Company will come out of it. I wonder what the e-bike line of clothing will look like? 😉

  133. Martin B says:

    Maybe if they make an electric Zimmer frame…

  134. RonH says:

    They were going in the right direction with Buell and were too stubborn to realize it. The way they handled Eric Buell was disgraceful too. Indian seems to be doing well in the cruiser category. HD is failing because of poor management decisions period.
    My guess is there will be another heavy import tax on foreign motorcycles to manipulate the market.

    • mechanicus says:

      “…HD is failing because of…”

      Uhh, please. ’14,’15,’16,’17 worldwide sales were well over 250,000 bikes each year! That’s 1 million motorcycles sold in 4 years. Failure? It’s still a viable brand. They will have to adjust, like any market fluctuation dictates, sure, but “FAILED”? – dont make me laugh.

      • Tom K. says:

        Yep. I am old enough to remember Harley’s resurgence – the acquisition from AMF in 1984 by (mainly) employees, the intro of the EVO soon after, and their huge leap in quality (both perceptive and real) soon after that. I remember reading in the late 80’s or early 90’s that their sales were in the 30-35K units per year at that time, while sales could have been maybe 40K – they kept supply five or ten percent below demand to keep prices high and the brand “exclusive”, dealers were having “bidding wars” and customers were willing to pay the price. Their dealers were mandated to close “older/smaller dealerships and open the “boutique” stores you see today. They’ve invested in Engineering over the years to the point where their engines are becoming as good as their paint and chrome have always been, and that’s a Good Thing. Not my cup of tea, but plenty of people are still throwing down plenty of money for them.

        Bottom line, I believe Harley will never go away, but will it be able to sustain the current 250K bikes per year? Not a chance – their global sales will shrink back to some sustainable number, and then (hopefully) level off. So, the question one needs to ask (before buying stock, not necessarily a Softail), is “What happens to a company with declining sales?” I’d be nervous if I were a dealer with a huge store and mortgage to match, that didn’t have the good fortune to be part of the trend for the last twenty five years and pay down the mortgage. But the Motor Company should probably start manufacturing 10% less than what they can sell again, and see if they can gain back that aura of “exclusivity”. The last thing they need is to be perceived as “Japanese”, with new, 3-year old product sitting in showrooms. If you like the bikes, then buy one, but I’d avoid the stock in coming years.

        • Sleeping Dog says:

          From an ownership perspective i.e. Wall Street, HD is a one trick pony, motorcycles, where sales across the industry are declining. HD is ripe for a take over.

          Too bad HD sold that RV/trailer company they once owned. The RV market is booming, driven by retiring baby boomers.

    • Buckwheat says:

      Ditto on Harley’s poor decision to dump Buell, which could have had a fully diversified line by now had Harley managed the line responsibly.

    • ApriliaRST says:

      > They were going in the right direction with Buell and were too stubborn to realize it. The way they handled Eric Buell was disgraceful too.

      Good points. Surely the dealers as a group should take a lot of that blame. That said, my local dealer and another a hundred miles south of me really supported the Buell brand well. And they both met a lot of push back from the faithful. Little wonder the dealers were unenthusiastic when the knuckle dragger sector of purchasers were so negative.

      • Scott says:

        So you know those dealers are rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of selling electric sport bikes…

  135. Provologna says:

    For decades H-D has had a weird business model: the quantity of MCs the dealership received for resale was directly related to their dollar sales of non-MC lifestyle clothing/accessories (everything not a MC and not a MC part).

    I agree with Dirck. It’s too little and too late. Lack of planning may be H-D’s death knell.

    I would not even consider for one S buying an H-D over an Indian, with 20% greater performance for the same money. Brand loyalty is one thing, but that’s just indefensible.

    If/when Indian finally makes a real performance nekid, you can kiss H-D good bye. City Bike newspaper accurately reported this outcome, but they were about 25-30 years premature.

  136. William says:

    Electric does not seem to fit the old crowd, but if their existing bikes lack appeal to attract a new crowd then they have to do something different. Most other motorcycle segments already have many bikes to choose from already. Could they compete with a sport bike? That looks tough to do. I don’t see huge numbers of electric motorcycles out there yet, so opportunity exists here. Maybe they see it as the next big thing and it would be good to get in on it. So in some ways it makes good sense.

    • ApriliaRST says:

      > Could they compete with a sport bike?

      If it were up to me, the next model Harley or a thrice-revived Buell should do to break out of their self-inflicted mold would be a pair of dual sports. One smaller and more off-road oriented and another bigger, a redesign of the Ulysses.

      • william says:

        Some dual sports would be interesting to see, good idea. Why not a full offroad 2 wheeler with ATV tires for the sand dunes riding. That would be a new direction for them. They seemed to put all their eggs in one basket by making cruisers only. Their reputation has helped them with many loyal buyers, but with younger people I think that reputation is hurting them. They have time to make some changes. The EV market has about nothing right now, so its open.

    • Fred says:

      From my point of view, HD has appealed to and attracted a loyal, passionate, fanatical, and even rabid fan base who is willing to pay a premium price for image, status, and self-validation with little regard for performance.

      As I see it, that is also a very accurate description of the EV crowd. The more I think about it, this seems to be the natural progression of the Harley market. Tesla buyers should be easy marks.

  137. Mark says:

    For years Harley Davidson has resisted improvements to their product in favor of marketing bandanas and mean scowls. Now it’s come around to bite them on their aging wrinkled backsides. I’m not sorry to hear this news.

    • Austin ZZR 1200 says:

      dont forget a faded, barbed-wire tattoo on a flabby forearm and type II diabetes. HD is seen as kind of a joke by most under 30…

    • Gentleman Rook says:

      Agreed entirely. No one can sell sizzle better than Harley; darn shame they don’t have any steak to back it up.

    • ApriliaRST says:

      > Harley Davidson has resisted improvements

      It depends on what you call an improvement. Harleys have unparalled build quality. My opinion, of course.

      • Gunner says:

        Unparalled build quality…? What? You can’t be serious (even if I respect your opinion, of course…).
        Please, give us some clues regarding what you think of other manufacturers, please. If HD is the quality norm, then I wonder what to think of the best of Japan for instance, like Honda for example. Poor build quality….really? You may think whatever you like about the style and design of their bikes, but when you compare their technical solutions and ability to simply work for years and years even as neglected ride-to-work tools, then I am afraid HD and most Europeans are way behind.
        My simple opinion, of course!

        • Bryan says:

          Left stock my experience is that Harleys are pretty reliable. The problem I have seen is that NO ONE leaves them stock.

      • Austin ZZR 1200 says:

        Lack of Improvement no. Lack of Innovation and breadth, yes. They had a great opportunity with Buell and blew it. They are trying with the street twins and blowing that. The ultra-reactionary move toward electrics will just help Indian. Its death-spiral time at HD

      • bmidd says:

        That might be the funniest thing I’ve read on the Internet this year.

      • Grover says:

        Harleys are one of the few bikes available with a valvetrain that requires no maintenance, no multiple carbs to sync, no greasy chain to lube, clean and tighten, 2 easily accessible spark plugs, no radiator, water pump, thermostat, hoses, catch tanks, coolant etc. Easiest bikes in the world to maintain. My last Japanese bike was a nightmare ($$$) to adjust valves, had multiple carbs to sync, used up a chain every 10,000 miles and had to have the tank removed to do simple things like filter changes and plug removals. Both bikes were very reliable though, with an easy 50,000 miles and no roadside assistance needed. The Harley made a better commuter with it’s hard bags and could even split lanes fairly well.

        • Mark says:

          And those are some great advantages. Now if they could just ditch the chrome (I hate polishing), and build a decent handling and braking standard that made 100hp and weighs 400lbs or less, I’d love for them to take my money. Heck, I still might be interested at 75hp and 450lbs or so.