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Harley-Davidson’s Disappointing Financial Results Point to Turn-Around Plan

Harley-Davidson Pan America adventure model prototype

Harley-Davidson’s stock price dropped more than 20% yesterday after reporting a loss for the prior quarter. This report by Reuters provides details.

Cost cutting, and steps to improve efficiency are already in place, while Harley is trying to reduce trends such as a continual sales decline in the North American market. New products, including electric vehicles and ICE machines in new markets, such as adventure bikes, are all part of the plan to bring Harley-Davidson back to profitability.


  1. Emoto says:

    …forgot to say in my prior post:

    Every company blabs endlessly about cost cutting. Often it means ending up with vendors supplying less expensive parts, which can mean lower quality, just what HD needs.

    The electric HD is a VERY expensive item and will not sell in the numbers required to add much of anything to the bottom line.

    The “Adventure” HD will probably be given the same stellar treatment by dealers that Buell was. They won’t sell very many of them.

  2. Emoto says:

    Turnaround-schmurnaround! Ok, so they pull back from a few markets. And they concentrate on making the bikes they are selling fewer of as time goes by? WTF kind of plan is that?

  3. hammer says:

    It is very likely that a another company is going to end up owning Harley Davidson. In the long run, I think that may be the best thing that can happen. Hopefully, new owners will spend some money on research/development in order to bring different bikes to the market. Triumph, Husqvarna, Montesa and other iconic makes eventually found the right owners and appear to be surviving in the current environment. With off road motorcycle sales up almost 50% in 2020,new owners would most likely recognize the value of getting off road bikes/4 wheelers in the Harley lineup. HD has nothing to offer except big v-twin street bikes. You could say Indian is in the same boat, but Polaris has 4 wheel off road vehicles and snowmobile sales to help their bottom line. Indian can outlast Harley in the current environment due to Polaris having additional income sources. It will be difficult for Harley to survive in its current situation if they cannot afford to invest in additional research and development.

    • huls says:

      And for how long have you been a motorcycle industry analist and where is your track record?
      Literally everything you state in your post is wrong.
      I thought all the haters gathered at or some site?
      H-D’s future is bright, no doubt about that.

  4. Brian says:

    Harley has a niche and every time they try to break out of that niche they fail – miserably. Just my opinion but if they were smart they would drop-kick the bean counters and go back into their past and pull out a recipe for a lightweight, simple, easy to work on, low cost, V-twin. A V-twin with no pretense of being the fastest, best handling, or technically sophisticated, but instead a beautiful, visceral machine that appeals to everyman. I would be happy to lead the charge and I’d work for two beers a day along with a ham sandwich.

  5. TP says:

    In human affairs, things come and go, like the rest of us. It sure looks like Harley is going.

  6. Harry Henderson says:

    Be a real shame if Harley goes out of business. Best darned paint shaker I ever had was the front fender of a Harley at idle.

  7. Lonesome Crow says:

    HD is the Montreal Canadiens of motorcycles. Way past it’s prime. Like the sweater, you know it when you see it. Instantly recognized, loved by many, hated by just as many and clinging to past glories while other brands/teams speed by. A relic in a sea of change that hasn’t, well, changed.

  8. bandit says:

    Bring back the DELUXE and the SPRINGER
    Make two DYNA models-one a standard wire wheels with tubeless tyres twin discs
    The other with premium shocks inverted front end maybe a small TFT screen
    All models with twin discs and pillion seat
    All models with 117 cu in If really have to produce different output motor put the 131 in touring models
    Start on producing more power and losing weight

    • Jeremy says:

      If they can’t make money on the (large) quantities they are still selling, I doubt they could drop the price 20% and somehow salvage the situation. Clearly, the margins on the bikes themselves must never have been that spectacular despite the high asking prices, or they wouldn’t be suffering like this. It would appear that the financing, apparel, and parts/accessories business units were responsible for the bulk of HD’s profitability.

      I wonder if it isn’t time for them to start looking overseas for production. They could always keep some “heritage” models that are still made in the USA to cater to the purists, but I think they could achieve a win-win with some models that offer broader appeal by producing them overseas. Unfortunately, I think the cost of the HD labor force may be as much a factor in the downward spiral as lack of imagination from their upper management.

      • todd says:

        No, there is still plenty of margin on these bikes; lots of profit. What is bad is that their sales volumes are decreasing so their bottom line is shrinking. It’s still huge but it’s shrinking. Investors and the board do not want to see a decrease in profits or market share, they want to see growth or a reduction in costs (typically workforce is the first to feel the pinch). They still make huge money, there’s just no more bonuses until the numbers start to head back up somehow.

  9. Cash says:

    Last summer I started doing a poll of bikes I passed during my typical six hour ride. Each time I saw a bike I would categorize it as Harley, other V-twin, sport bike or adventure bike. I typically lose interest after about an hour.

    Conducted the poll on three different occasions. Harleys represented 85% of what I passed, other V-twins 5%. Sport bikes (which I ride) and adventure bikes made up about 10% between them.

    If I went to the DMV I’m sure I would see a broader mix of the categories which tell me that Harley owners at least ride their bikes and there are a lot of them.

    • mechanicus says:

      Good unbiased observation; I have seen same. Even with their troubles and their leftist board of director’s seemingly suicidal plunge into woke green-ness, HD still sold over 140K motorcycles last year – a little less than BMW. Indian doesn’t report units sold, but I have seen 32K as a number (verify?). Ducati only sold 5.5K worldwide.

      So, obviously there is still a following and a market for HD’s products. They are going through adjustments, sure. Cut them some slack while they realize that in the end the pragmatist wins over the SJW in business. Tough lesson, but I think the brand will survive; leaner and with wounds and maybe owned by some Sino/Euro capital holding company, but still relevant.

    • todd says:

      I’ve often done the same on my (much shorter than yours!) commute into SF. In the 30 – 50 bikes I see in a day, about 10% were cruisers, a little over half of those being H-D. The majority of bikes fall in the hooligan category, or what the industry calls “nakeds”. FZ-09s, SVs, Super Dukes, Ducatis, etc. this class is about 50% of the total. The next quarter of bikes are sport bikes; R6 and R1s making the greatest appearance, Gixxers, etc. The remaining 15%-ish a mix of Adventures, dual sports, motards, and vintage bikes. It really all depends on where you live.

      • Jeremy says:

        Indeed. Where I live, I mostly see adventure and dual sport bikes. The local terrain and culture have a lot to do with what kinds of bikes one sees.

  10. Sean says:

    The only HD I’ve been remotely interested in my life was the upcoming Bronx. And they killed that before it was even able to take its first breath. So, I guess HD gets whatever fate it deserves because they own their own destiny and the Livewire and Pan America isn’t going to save them.

    • Grover says:

      I believe the Livewire was cancelled also. That leaves them with the Pan America to save their bacon – not a great situation to be in. I believe the Bronx would have given them a chance at new life, but once again the (probably) non-enthusiast decision makers at Harley have no ability to interpret what the market desires, though they all have impressive educational degrees that allow them the position they earned at Harley. I can think of no other reason why they would make the decisions they make.

    • Don says:

      I hadn’t even seen the Bronx. Just looked it up. That’s the most appealing Harley I’ve seen. I think in that market they have to compete somewhat based on performance though. That’s never been their strong suit. Interesting. I’d guess they weren’t seeing interest in pre-orders, but in some ways it seems like those interested would be checking it out online, rather than going into an HD dealership, where there isn’t anything they’re interested in, and you feel out of place among all the people playing dress up like a badass biker.

  11. SVGeezer says:

    If as many people as are commenting were buying Harley’s they would be in great shape!

    Been riding since 76, er-1976, but never a Harley. Did want a Buell Firebolt so bad it hurt a bit. Their touring bikes make good sense and everyone, even sports bikers, who road them praised them. The rest of the bikes make little sense for actually riding as they are very poor at critical areas, but they sell for some reason. The buying base seems to kill most good ideas. The V-Rod could make a wonderful touring bike but it’s not a “real” Harley, even the Sportster isn’t a real Harley as not separate transmission. A true track bike should be insanely popular, but they don’t want that either.

    Just glad I’m not running the company. And as an addendum, all riding groups have riders and posers. Riders don’t care what you ride as long as you ride. Posers…. Well you know, and Harley posers aren’t the worst, that belongs to the Euro brands. (Talking about you, Ducati)

    • Snake says:

      Agree with you! I was waiting for a bike with the Revolution engine that wasn’t a C-clamp riding position dragbike…and never got it. A complete and utter waste of potential.

      But that is, very very very sadly, Harley in a nutshell. They constantly write *themselves* into a boxed corner of demographics and market – only one type of rider need apply – and, from Buell to the Revolution, pretty much write off everyone else.

      So for the last year or so they doubled-down on that. With their “Harley faithful” demographic…aging right off this plane of existence. Apparently management didn’t bother to notice until their sales tanked far beyond “bad”.

      Idiots leading the blind.

  12. Jeremy says:

    I honestly think if HD took the Sportster line in the direction that Ducati went with their Scramblers – light, sporty motorcycles using classic elements to create a modern look – they would have something special. Young and first-time riders seem to really like those bikes if casual observations in my locale ring true elsewhere. Heck, I like them, too.

    Also, if again casual observation reaches further than the people I talk to, automatic transmissions would do much to get people into riding. I’ve lost count over the past 10 years of people who said they like the idea of a motorcycle, but not if they have to learn to use a manual transmission. Honda is starting to get some traction with their DCT, but I think cruisers would be an ideal medium for automatics since weight isn’t as much of an issue, they are not performance oriented, they are low to the ground, and they are somewhat flashy – things that appeal to many potential new riders.

  13. Marco says:

    I’ve been riding motorcycles since 1973. I’ve owned nearly every brand and type of bike, but bought my first Harley Davidson in 2018 – a beautiful Street Glide. I’ve added Ohlins Suspension and 14” front brakes. It rides and handles well now that I’ve dropped $2500 on upgrades that should be standard from the factory on a 26K motorcycle! I’ve liked other HD models: The XLCR, the XR1200X, the original Street Rod and the air cooled Buells. Unfortunately, in each case, HD was not committed enough to these models to build, evolve and market then to fruition. My fear is the same thing will happen with the LiveWire (Great bike, too much $$$) and the Pan America (TBD). They also need to build the new “XLCR” using the 1250, not the 975 engine and mono shock as well as the 1250 Sportser replacement. The COMMIT to these products with evolution, accessories and refinements. If Harley Davidson doesn’t take their survival seriously, the buying public won’t either…and get a motorcycle CEO. The company is WAY too top heavy in general – go lean or perish.

  14. Ralph Glorioso says:

    At age 84, I’ve owned 86 motorcycles. I never owned a “big twin” H-D due to cost and weight. However in 1995, a friend let me ride his new Road King with a Corbin seat. I put maybe 30 miles on it and thought I’d gone to Heaven! I realized then and there that there was more to riding a Harley than “image”. I still ride my ’21 Royal Enfield 650 around the Texas Hill Country and am very impressed that not less than 3/4 of the bikes I see on the road are Harley big twins.

    I don’t know the answer for The Motor Company. I wish I did, but there is a place for these big, old style touring bikes. LiveWires, Streets, Pah Americans, Bronx are not going to make it. Harley may need to be satisfied with being a “niche market” product, making not as many, selling them all, perhaps adding a low buck big twin.

    • Kermit T Frog says:

      Well written, sir. Thank you for your thoughts on this. I do appreciate them and would think others here think the same!

    • huls says:

      You are absolutely correct sir. The touring models are without equal and I have ridden almost all of their competitors. What strikes me is that there are always some people who are compelled to advertise their dislike of this brand of motorcycles. I can only assume that there is an agenda there. Why else would you go through that trouble?
      For so many years Harley-Davidson motorcycles have taken me to parts of the world I would otherwise never have visited and made me experience adventures I would otherwise never have. I am truly grateful for that.

    • Gary says:

      I test rode one once. Great bike. Big, comfortable, good looking. Also did not have enough power to get out of its own way. A buddy of mine owned one … big fella, and since dead (RIP) … the bike literally could not accelerate up a Sierra Mountain grade, with him, his wife, and his gear aboard. My bike at that time (K1200LT) was not a speed demon, but I found myself having to wait for him to catch up at the top of each climb, because the Road King could not maintain the legal speed. Like a big semi.

    • Don says:

      I think you hit it and I think the new Harley boss is thinking the same thing. Fewer bike sales it will be so keep the margins high and let the size of the Company shrink if it must. Maybe they can engineer a piece of the (still new) electric bike market but “niche” is the operative word here.

  15. Michael Hendrickson says:

    I have a 2015 FLRT Freewheeler, which I bought new. I have never had any problems with it. No buyers remorse. No desire to sell. In fact it keeps getting better the more I ride it.
    As an amputee it is the perfect mobility vehicle for me. if only I could drive it through Walmart to do my shopping.
    As for H-D short comings:
    They could redesign the Street lines so that they don’t look like (cuss words). Give them some power and make them larger than minibikes. For the price that they want, they should be competitive.
    As for the Sportster line: Put a six speed on them, or a CVT.
    If they wish to attract a generation of buyers that have never seen a manual transmission, have an automatic option.
    As for the line formerly known as Dyna: Make them stage 4 as standard and stop yanking our chains to buy different upgrades. H-D should have been built that way to begin with. do it right the first time or go home.
    As for the touring bikes: They are as big as cars and cost more. Those are not motorcycles. They are two wheeled cages.
    H-D needs to focus on being competitive, not traditional. You need fast bikes that we can afford to ride. And add on some automatic transmissions that newbies can ride. Dump the novelty electric bikes.
    As for the trikes: They are mobility vehicles for the handicapped and elderly. And I enjoy the Freewheeler because it gives me the motorcycle experience in my frail condition and everybody I meet likes it. It was even agile enough for me to tank slap it in an emergency, both left and right, without flipping it. But trikes are a niche market, and expensive. The only thing I would change on them is to put an eight gallon gas tank on them, and maybe a CVT for the disabled.
    As for the PanAmerica prototype: Thou shalt not compete with KTM Adventure, BMW-GS, or all of the others. You are not that kind of motorcycle company. Besides the Adventure bike market is flooded and starting to go down.
    Basically stay cool, sound cool and look cool, with more power as standard and add a CVT to some bikes. And listening to your customers would be your most profitable innovation that nobody does these days.

    • Kermit T Frog says:

      Excellent observations sir, especially so from your standpoint and I truly enjoyed your thoughts on the trikes and the Sportster models. Thanks for the sound input!

  16. Harry Henderson says:

    I knew Harley was toast when I walked into a showroom and there was 3 times as much floor space for clothes as there was for bikes.

    • Kermit T Frog says:

      Even amongst the Gods, your wit is legendary…

      So dealers sell clothing and that’s somehow wrong? So they have 3 times as much floorspace (you accurately measured and calculated this, correct?) dedicated to clothing as to motorcycles? Wow. You think it’s somehow wrong that they might sell more shirts in a day than bikes? Cool beans, ace.

      Geez-Louise! That is awful of them! They should ONLY sell bikes and bike stuff like stuff that goes on your bike kinda stuff. Thanks for your marketing insight as now I know that selling goods such as clothing is indicative of a business being “toast”. All profit is evile! Smirkers unite! As said elsewhere…Lighten up Francis.

    • huls says:

      Apart from the fact that the margin on clothes is about 5 times that of motorcycles.
      Very very smart move by H-D. I’m sure someday you’ll understand. Perhaps after you graduate.

  17. motorhead says:

    Harley Davidson decision makers are forced to satisfy hundreds of demanding money-loving investors and executives first, and neglect the customers and line employees.

    On the other hand, Triumph decision makers need to satisfy thousands of bike-loving customers first, then remind one man, Mr. John Bloor, that his complete ownership is solid because of happy customers and employees. Big difference, and that’s why Triumph is doing great, HD is dying a non-slow death.

    • Kermit T Frog says:

      So now it’s eeeeeevile to expect a return on one’s investment(s)? I think it’s great that Bloor owns Triumph outright but I fail to see how that makes HD “bad” because they are publicly traded. I think Honda is publicly traded. Kawasaki too. Suzuki and Yamaha? I would think so…Think. That is the BIG difference here. I think, not feel.

      I’ve seen multiple years of different Triumph models nailed to showroom floors. This is your definition of Triumph is doing “great”. Pfffft! 😉 Smirkers unite!

      Lighten up, Francis.

      • motorhead says:

        Try working for a large, publicly traded company for a couple decades and you’ll see how and why customer-satisfaction is at the bottom of the priorities, earnings is at the top. Just saying. Nothing wrong with making a butt-load of money, but I prefer the John Bloor way of making that money.

      • Gary says:

        Not evil. Short sighted.

  18. Alex McDonough says:

    I live in Milwaukee and Harley only hires temps now. They are toast unless they decide to completely pivot or just make lawn ornaments.

    • Kermit T Frog says:

      “Toast” rears it’s fugly head again…Hmmmmmmm…Harley is turning into toast! That must mean they are going to stop making bikes and concentrate on TOASTERS!

    • Gary says:

      I don’t know how to break this to you, but EVERYONE only hires temps now. Welcome to the gig economy.

  19. Alex McDonough says:

    Harley has been stuck with an owner base that is loyal to the brand but mostly cannot afford new bikes but trades older ones. New bikes are already stupid expensive and Harley may be the worst of a bad trend.

    I took a MSF course with the members of St Paul, MN HOG and it was pathetic how poorly their “bikes” were at dealing with the real world obstacles.

    If they want to keep making dinosaurs, they should go away.

  20. Gary says:

    I sure hope they can pull out of this tailspin. Would hate to see them go. But that’s what happens when you build bikes that are basically fashion accessories. Fashions come and go.

  21. Ricardo says:

    HD needs to get their act together, you can’t just launch an electric bike costing $30k in any economy these days. I was ready to purchase one when they announced it IF the price was similar to the others in the market at around $15k. Then looked at buying a used touring model for that same amount, but high mileage and high price again, so I purchased a 2012 BMW K1600GTL for $11K ! ! and 20k miles so a great deal. I still own my 2003 VRod which I love, but now discontinued all together.

  22. tuskerdu says:

    It is all very sad. The PA is horrible.

  23. Scotty D says:

    If Harley is looking for the electric bike to save them, good luck. Simply put Harley has not innovated any new products in decades. Getting rid of Buell hurt them as well. I just don’t see it ending well for HD

    • Dave says:

      Got rid of Buell when they really needed to get rid of a lot of their dealers and replace with new ones. That’s admittedly a hard choice when he legacy brand is doing well, but the writing was on the wall, and it was written in Japanese and German,

  24. Gary in NJ says:

    Whenever the comments exceed 100 on Motorcycledaily you know it’s a hot topic. This one is just getting going too. I would hate to be the HD marketing guy that has to read these comments.

    I had hope for HD when I saw the Livewire, but HD disappointed me with the price. I had hope for HD when I saw the Bronx, but HD disappointed me when they removed it from their product roadmap. This Pan America…it’s just too ugly to like. It looks like the box it came in. HD disappoints me yet again. And don’t even get me started on Buell.

  25. JR says:

    I have two suggestions..
    Bring back the 1993 Harley Sportster XLCH design.
    Bring back Mr. Erik Buell and the 2004 Buell XB12S Lightning.
    “America First”

  26. Harley’s cost too damn much! Especially in this bad economy. Why can’t they figure that out?

  27. Warren says:

    well, they should have listened to Eric Buell when they had the chance!
    He had Plans for an American dirt bike, Street bikes and sport bikes.
    But no…..and he went on to win the Daytona 200 with the engine HD refused to build.
    After that it was all HD could bare, the only visionary at HD gone….
    Don’t get me wrong, I grew up in a HD household and rode many makes and models of motorcycles growing up. HD kept on the path of stagnation and non growth, I guess the trauma from the failure of the inline four set the future tone…
    In my opinion the current design team needs to find a new profession, The Pan America’s face, the Bronx and the rims on the “new” Fat Boy 114 are hideous! But I’m still very interested in checking out the PA, Super model body, Pelosi face. Yeah, I owned a V-Strom 1000. LOL
    The exclusivity, price, and the same old 700-900 pound lumps in a different color just don’t cut it anymore. If they don’t price the PA well below BMW, KTM and Triumph, things are gonna go south extremely fast! It’s a sad state of current affairs for the American Icon!

    • Kermit T Frog says:

      Buell is more idiot than savant. People did NOT want his bikes not even after he got a better motor. He’s far from being a genius except at convincing others to put up their own money to finance his failing foolery.

      “Visonary”? Oh puhleeeeeze…Hindsight is said to be 20/20 unless your head is up your butt.

      That describes Buell perfectly.

      If every person that claims to worship the ground Buell floats above had bought the bikes, he would still be in business making something worth buying by the masses who aren’t asses.

      Yes I grow weary of those that genuflect at the Alter of Buell. 😉 Other than that bit of dross, I agree with much of your excellent words. 🙂

      • Motoman says:

        Please tell me you don’t feel the same way about John Britten..

        And we await your certainly-long list of contributions to the Moto industry.

        • Kermit T Frog says:

          I am aware of who Britten was but don’t really care about his body of work even though he was quite accomplished in his field. Buell is ego driven beyond the norm..

          Your words regarding awaiting my “long list of contributions to the Moto industry” (as if that were the primary pre-requisite to criticizing Der Buellmeister) read as though you are 13, i.e., “I know Buell is but what are you”, LOL! Buell is a monetary leech with an ego the size of Baltimore. You childish attempt to belittle my assessment of Buell’s offerings by stupidly trying to say that if I have not contributed shinola to motorcycling then I have no basis/right/credentials to say Buell and his offerings suck. Your attempt is that of a bewildered yoot. A fawning flunky. A yes-man. A follower. Someone that bought a Buell at full price, i.e., a Buell-fool.

          Here is the truth: If Buell’s bikes were that great and thereby worth the asking price then they would have sold. He has failed miserably no matter the financial backer. For the money, they sucked. When their price was halved, they at last, sold.

          • Mick says:

            Yeah yeah yeah. You don’t like Buell. Throw him under the bus and ride off proudly on your scooter.

            HD provided negative support for Buell. They saddled him with the Blast. They stole his engine project, we’re too in competant to finish it, sent it to a car company for help, then put it in some ridiculous looking thing that didn’t sell well at all.

            When they pulled the plug on Buell it was making money and providing jobs here in America. Their excuse was that they weren’t making money fast enough with all the negative support they were getting.

            For that, HD richly deserves the the troubles they are now having. Will they learn something? No.

            When people stop buying their bikes, they will stop buying their clothes too. They are probably pretty bummed about the doo rag going out of style. They perfect T shirt accessory.

      • Uncle Stashu says:

        It’s ok, because we get weary of you genuflecting about pretty much anything…….

        • anonymous says:

          Wow. You’re deep.

          Your words are an ocean of holy perspicacity and we are ever so blessed to be drowning in the depths of your hallowed humor. Truly, you must be the seraphic one himself, Erik Buell writes among us. All hail motorcycling made flesh.

          Cue the self-flaggelation of His acolytes, PBUH. It’s ok, because we get weary of your kind sucking up to pretty much anything Buell and blaming Harley for his incompetence. Go invest your own money in a startup by that idiot. Put up or shut up.

          Erik Buell…PBUH.

          • Uncle Stashu says:

            PBUH? Not familiar with that acronym. Please enlighten me. Anywho, sorry you lost your shirt investing in Buell motorcycles. Sorry that you were forced at gunpoint to invest, along with any others that did so. There really should be a law against that. 🙁 BTW, my comment was not in defense of Buell as much as it was directed at Kermit, whose schtick grows old sometimes. 🙂

            P.S. Kudos on the use of the thesarus when replying. I am now wholly aware (and in awe!!) of your superior intellect. 🙂

  28. mechanicus says:

    C’mon man, here’s the deal. This thread is like the “Two Minute Hate” in Orwell’s novel “Nineteen Eighty Four”.

    • Bill says:

      LOL seems all of the HD threads here are like that. Racer site.

      • Tom K. says:

        Nope, it’s more of an “Enthusiast Site”. Some interest in racing, some in getting dirty, some in touring; but mostly “riding”. And an overwhelming interest in honest assessments, by both Management and readers/commenters.

  29. MGNorge says:

    My biggest issue with Harley is that they’re a Harley. There’s a negative stigma in my mind to the brand. So embraced by the dark motorcycle club types for so many years that stigma just came along with the brand. I’ve never looked at motorcycling as the way to show off anti-authoritarianism with a middle finger to the “system” and that’s unfortunately what I see when I see a Harley rider dressing the part. I know I’m not alone in that assessment either. Harley even played to that crowd and those of many ilks wanting to play the “bad boy” on weekends. Which brings me back to the time in my life, and many kids around me, when motorcycling became real for us kids, the 60’s and 70’s. As we grew up in a world of minibikes and go-karts, Honda and the other Japanese brands were right there to serve. I could on and on, but it brought motorcycling into everyday life with no pretensions, it was just fun! That fun has been like a life-long shot in the arm. Could kids today be as passionate? Not sure.

    • Tom K. says:

      There’s a lot of truth in what you’re saying. In the same period Honda’s tag line was, “You meet the nicest people on a Honda”, HD riders were proclaiming, “Better my Sister in a wh*rehouse than by Brother on a Honda”. I remember a lot of hostility from HD riders in the late 70s’s because we “rode Jap”. I told one guy who started crap at a light, that “I have all the HD’s I want, my mirrors are full of them”. He revved his engine really loud to punish me, LOL.

    • Joel says:

      Totally subjective observation . . . almost 100 percent of the time that a passing rider does NOT do the ‘wave’, they are riding a Harley. At pre-Covid motorcycle gatherings, I occasionally get the ‘rice-burner’ comment about the Japanese bike I’m riding. It’s an ingrained culture that I will never identify with or waste any of my time trying to understand. Harley will never see a dollar of my money.

      • Grover says:

        I ride both metric and Harley and everybody waves to me. Heck, they even wave to me on my dual sport, Harley riders included. You must be doing something wrong.

  30. Who in their right mind greenlit this ghastly thing?

    • MBJ says:

      I agree completely. A big part of HD’s problem is their design team. Most look like they were found on the back of a 9th graders Social Studies notebook.

  31. TP says:

    And nobody is mentioning that Harley adventure bike looks ghastly. Ugh. It looks heavy and old and uninspired. And why would anyone want to look at that motor?

  32. RyYYZ says:

    Like all the non-vaporware motorcycle companies out there, I wish them well.

    I think they have some work to do even on their bread and butter products to stay competitive with Indian, their only real competition in the heavyweight cruiser market (Japanese models are moribund).

    And I still think the Pan America looks like a surprised Rosie the Robot from the front. But I also think beaks look stupid, and yet they keep selling…

  33. Schmuck says:

    I’m really torn here, I’ve owned one Harley, an FLH, and I enjoyed it, and I want to own another, but…

    But, it was heavy, slow, and no cornering clearance. In all honesty, though, I can live with heavy, and I can live with slow, but what I can’t live with is 32* of cornering clearance, so I sold the bike. I’m presently on an R1200GS water boxer and love the bike, but I’m also looking to add a tourer soon. I’d love to go back and get another FLH, but the cornering clearance thing again.

    Which means I’ll likely end up on a Gold Wing or K16.

    • Tom K. says:

      Side note, the “degree” sign is “alt248” on your keyboard, I had to write temperature nomenclature about fifty thousand times in my working years. As to your comment, I agree, I HATE making sparks when I am trying to make time. That, and the “gynecological exam” seating position of cruisers is a terrible idea, it puts your weight on your tailbone instead of through your legs if you get into rough road.

  34. People don’t have jobs or are fearful that they may lose their job due to the pandemic. Luxury items like motorcycles are the first products that get hit. That being said your commentary about Harley is way off.

  35. Tommy D says:

    As a Boomer that grew up during the mini bike craze of the 60’s I think products aimed at the young adult group is the only way to save the industry. Toy grade electrics need to be replaced with Honda, Suzuki, Kawi and even H-D electrics with dealer support and upgradability. This generates traffic past the big bikes. Electrics are the way to go as they will make it past moms and neighbors so apt to ban noisy little dirt bikes. They won’t make a lot of revenue but they will generate brand loyalty. H-D has poor direction. They were flush with cash and didn’t invest into bikes that sold like crazy last year. The $5-6K price point. They could have easily made a gorgeous flat tracker single or even Street 750 powered flat tracker. NOPE they came out with the ugliest bike they ever made. The Street 750. This is what it should have looked like.

  36. The kids want sport bikes, the middle age want adventure bikes,and the old want cruisers.Harley is in trouble with no way out.

    • Uncle Stashu says:

      So, no middle aged people are going to get old??

    • Joel says:

      I’m 62 and just bought a Honda CRF250. I also ride a Yamaha FJR and a highly ‘enhanced’ GSF1200 for track days. I must be multi-generational. 🙂

  37. Tank says:

    The biggest problem for HD is that if you want one all you have to do is go to Craigslist. Too many used Harleys for sale.

    • Steve says:

      Yup! Bought my first Harley, a 2006 Sportster, off Craigslist.
      11,000 miles and brand new condition – $4,000! Why pay more for the same thing?

  38. Mick says:

    I’ll never understand the appeal of Harley Davidson products. I was about 14, which would make this about 1975, when I took a close look at one for the first time. A neighbor had one out in his driveway and some of the other neighbors were looking it over. So I joined in to see what all the fuss was about.

    Upon arriving I thought the guy was showing off his handy work at restoring an old relic. But I soon found out that he had just bought the thing brand new. To say that I was unimpressed is more than a bit of an understatement.

    I was one of those kids that rode my dirt bike to the motorcycle dealers every spring to check out the new models and marvel at the new innovations. Inovations were a thing back then, especially the dirt bikes.

    My one word I ternal description of a Harley motorcycle is “jalopy”, and has been since that day back in 1975. Even though I now live in an area where they are incredibly popular.

    It seems that Harley’s problem is that my opinion is becoming all too popular everywhere but here.

    My opinion of where I am sentanced to live is pretty low too. If only my native soil were a tax haven.

    • Junk says:

      Here is some fun news, in a recent product liability matter concerning HD and one of their gas tanks, the plans provided by HD for said gas tank were dated from back in the 1940s. When updated plans were requested from HD, their reply was this is the latest ones we have……good grief

    • Mick says:

      Weird story.

      I lived in Milwaukee during the 100th anniversary party and hosted friends who wanted to attend. For quite a while they were promoting a secret front line act for the party downtown by the lake. Speculation was rampent.

      The first friend to show up wanted to tour Buell and eat at Dos Amigos. I bit, we ate at Doe Amigos frequently and I was a wanted to check out Buell’s early bikes.

      They actually looked me right in the face and denied that Buell’s early work ever existed…at Buell. Kiss goodby my slightest interest in anything Harley Davidson until further notice/forever.

      Some friends live on The bluff overlooking the party and were watching it from their rooftop deck. The secret headliner turned out to be Elton John. Certainly not a bad act in general. But he is a British gay man playing for a Harley crowd.

      Far worse is the he followed Kid Rock, who has an excellent show that covers a surprising of amout of musical genre.

      Kid finishes and Elton rolls out. My friends said that you could see the mass exidos of people who went home to hit the sack

      • Tom K. says:

        Not weird at all, I remember shaking my head at the time when hearing that. Elton John? Not Bob Seeger? Or Springsteen? Or a dozen more appropriate acts? Heck, “War” (if they’re still around), or maybe Blood, Sweat, & Tears, or even Lukas Nelson (if Willie and Hank Jr. showed, LOL), or Sheryl Crow. But Elton? But as I thought more about it over time, maybe Elton did best personify the “new” Harley Davidson customer experience. In fact, it was perfect. I have to wonder, though, whether they asked Willie G. his opinion.

  39. Hot Dog says:

    I never drank the kool-aide probably because I didn’t need a different persona. Harley’s image has always tried to be that of an outsider. They alienated many but still attracted the masses. Now the old outlaws are starting to hang up their costumes and admit they’re just not into it anymore. I’m the guy that Harley should’ve marketed to. I’ve owned 20+ bikes, turned 68 recently and just bought a 300cc adv bike. What the hell am I thinking? Ah, gravel roads, tank bag with a map, old yellow panniers, dive bar food, cowboys looking at me like the fool I am and I get to have fun. It’s in my blood, I anticipate in 20 years from now I’ll be looking for a couple of D cell batteries, so I can power my electric adv down to the local pub. I’ll gussy up to the bar, as only a weathered old dog can and tell lies about my past. I wonder if the barkeep will ask me if I know of any Harley parts, since they’re no longer made. I wonder what time will bring? Harley, you shot yourself in the foot on this one. I hope you survive, but it ain’t looking good.

    • Tom K. says:

      Something tells me you won’t have to lie. Especially when you’ll be competing with stories from guys whose most dangerous thrill came from dropping their smart phone into water, and then saving it by packing it in uncooked rice.

  40. TF says:

    Harley needs another movie that will make young people want to buy and ride Harleys. The trouble is, Hollywood is in the same shape that Harley is in that they seem to be happy to sell the same old tired product to the same group of customers (comic book re-makes for 20 something video game addicts).

    • David M says:

      Or a remake of Then Came Bronson ? I often wonder how much of HD’s success should be attributed to that show.

      • Tom R says:

        Who is Bronson, and where did he come from? Oh yeah, I remember one episode in which he launched his Sportster down a hillside and somehow repaired it back to running condition using nothing but his incredible skills and a rock as a hammer. MacGyver before there was a MacGyver.

        I think that’s where I first understood the concept of “suspending disbelief”.

    • MG says:

      Maybe a kick-ass Sons of Anarchy movie will do the trick?

      Truthfully, I think things ebb and flow, and that Harley had a good run selling nostalgia. Then the market place demanded “new nostalgia.” Guys buying “classic” motorcycles that they were tired of after a couple of seasons and traded in for one that had a few more cc’s or a better sound system. At some point, the used market is flooded with this business model, and how is the Motor Company supposed to compete with that?

  41. motorhead says:

    For Harley the best they can do is exactly what Ford and GM did. Make a range of low- to high-priced Mustangs and Camaros, and cancel every other car model. These Mustangs and Camaros have another 15 year run left in them, at ever dwindling numbers. The future is smaller, nimble, electrics. Let it go, Harley, the ride is over. Indian and Triumph will be in the same place in 10 years. Harley, you just go there first, so run with it.

    • RBS says:

      What Ford and GM did was to eliminate all but the best-selling/image cars from their lineup and vastly expand their range of SUV’s and crossovers, because that’s what people are buying. Ford and GM are adapting to the market.

      Harley DID have a plan to phase out their throwback bikes and replace them with what is selling for most other motorcycle companies: big adventure-style bikes, and comfortable sportbikes. They also were looking at electric bikes for the future.

      Instead, now, they’ve mostly doubled-down on their throwback bikes. This is a big bet. It might work, or it might send the company into a death spiral. We will probably know which it’s going to be in only a couple of years.

    • scooby666 says:

      I don’t see Triumph in this position at all in 10 years. They didn’t ignore the younger generations like Harley has. They produce quality motorcycles for both young and old. Triumph produces fast, light, nimble, and powerful motorcycles that attract younger riders as well as their classic lineups for the older crowd. Harley keep pumping out the same old, heavy, archaic designs over and over. They haven’t released a single motorcycle that ever made me want to think about purchasing one in my lifetime. 1940s tech at 2021 prices. No thanks!

      I bought my 2001 Sprint ST new for $10K while my dad dropped $26K on his Road King. He hardly rides his and I’ve got over 30K of memories on mine. Last year I bought a new T100 and absolutely love it. When I want to be a squid, I take out the ST. When I want to go for a nice long drive, I take the T100 out.

      Here’s a great video that explains this better than I can:

      “Harley Davidson Fails While Triumph Succeeds”

      • motorhead says:

        Scooby, incredible link, thanks! I read up on the owner of Triumph Motorcycles, John Bloor who bought the old Triumph building, then the brand, then took over the business and revived it. Couldn’t be further from the crony capitalism of the US. Father was a coal miner, John dropped out of school at age 15 due to health reasons, started his own house building business at 20, and now one of the wealthiest private home builders in the UK.

        By contrast, HD is owned by investors, managed by investors, and ever since the 2008 financial crisis has been buying back shares in order to provide dividends to share holders, all the while slashing costs, abandoning customers and employees. Not unusual, my own corporation has done this since 2008.

        There are no true Bike People making the decisions HD (though plenty of financial and MBA people), just as there were no true Car People at GM, and no Electronics People in my own company. They know nothing but money, and they squandered the chance of borrowing cheap and investing in bikes, cars or electronics companies to better serve their customers and community; but they know how to borrow cheap to buy back shares, and manage costs to serve themselves and their wealthy cohorts on board. Sad. So yes, HD will and must die. They have no Bike People making their decisions. At Triumph, Bike People are making all the decisions.

  42. motorhead says:

    The Sturgis Covid Party may not have increased their customer base, either.
    The secret to motorcycle growth remains with kids aged 10 to 20. A ten year old brain locks in motorcycling forever, trust me. At 20 years old, you believe you can finally afford a nice bike. How do you reach those kids?

  43. SparkyK says:

    John Bloor of Triumph has laid the perfect blueprint for breathing new life into a brand that had relied on nostalgia in the past. Harley would do well to make the same moves they did.

    • Jeremy says:

      You mean they should stumble along for a while trying to gain traction with performance-oriented bikes only to salvage victory by introducing a line of air-cooled, twin-cylinder, nostalgic motorcycles with underwhelming performance?

      Just kidding. Triumph succeeded (in my opinion) by introducing multiple lines, in their own flavor, priced for the masses. Though I’m sure the Bonnie’s funded a lot of that success.

  44. TP says:

    Harley’s been living in a mythical, distorted past of social posturing for the past 40 years. If it disappears along with the Petroleum Age I say good riddance. The future belongs to the innovators.

    • Scooby says:

      Once the Petroleum Age disappears, unless you are wealthy, you won’t have enough money left over to buy a fancy electric bike or car, as most of your spare cash will be spent on your energy bills. The solar and wind future you no doubt envision will mean massive spikes in energy costs, as there is nothing now, or in the near to mid- or even long-term future, that comes anywhere near the energy density of hydrocarbons. The brave new world the greenies envision is long on utopian hopefulness, but ignorant of the realities of the poor market performance of low-density, ‘sustainable’ energy. Not to mention the heavy tax burden that will be required to subsidize those poor-performing alternatives. Affordable hydrocarbon energy is the friend of the poor and working class; green energy will be great at one one thing, however — creating more and more poverty stricken people. One only need look at California’s energy policies and the resultant high prices to get a taste of the future you are so eager to embrace.

      • Dirck Edge says:

        Scooby-You state this as fact, but it is opinion, to some extent, and speculation. Certainly many disagree with you on this topic. The hidden “cost” of petroleum, which you ignore, is the toll on the environment. This toll will impact the poor more than any other group, but it will impact us all, particularly the young.

        • fred says:

          Dirck, you state your opinion as fact, also. Fortunately, or unfortunately, Scooby is correct, and you are not. Petroleum has been a net positive for the environment. Cities were drowning in animal excrement prior to the automobile. Wood and coal consumption caused a great deal of pollution. Ignoring the realities of history does not make you a great prognosticator of the future.

          • Dirck Edge says:

            “Petroleum has been a net positive for the environment” … science disagrees, but many ignore science these days. Historically, petroleum has certainly powered cities, autos, motorcycles, etc. to our benefit, but I don’t think that is the issue raised by Scooby.

          • fred says:

            Sorry for replying to myself, but can’t reply to Dirck. No, science does not disagree. Some “scientists” who get paid to raise FUD about petroleum disagree. Science led to the discovery and use of petroleum, which led to the greatest advancements mankind has ever known. I could say more, but it’s your forum, and you clearly have fallen for the lies of those who would take us back to the dark ages.

          • Motoman says:

            fred, you and Scooby sound like an episode of fox and friends or some other right wing conspiracy theory talk show masquerading as news. If it was up to you we’d still have leaded gas and you’re kids would have an IQ of 50. Rabbit hole is pretty deep, watch that first step.

          • Tom K. says:

            Petroleum has done us far more good than bad, and we have decades to repair any damage its use has caused before the effects become truly detrimental to mankind. As someone way smarter than myself said, “Mankind didn’t leave the Stone Age because we ran out of stones”. Same thing with hydrocarbons, we will transition away when the alternatives are clearly better. It’s almost impossible to predict with any certainty the ultimate effect of global warming or the effect of our response to it. That being said, we surely don’t want to ignore it, but our “solutions” should be appropriate, calculated, measured, and verifiable. The human misery should we simply abandon the use of hydrocarbons tomorrow Greta-style would be enormous. We need to be Smart in our response to a problem that is very real, but in my opinion, manageable.

        • Jeremy says:

          Dirck, I guess you missed the sign that said, “Don’t feed the animals.”

      • Motoman says:

        So Scooby, wife and I are shopping for a retirement home and one of our requirements is fully off the grid. We have many options whether we build ourselves or not. No energy cost at home for the rest of my life. That doesn’t fit your narrative does it. World is what you make it.

      • motorhead says:

        Today a gas car engine costs $5,000. Today an electric car engine of equal torque costs $500, and requires no maintenance. Today car battery costs are cut in half every two years. Electric cars and motorcycles will soon be affordable to anyone earning a minimum wage. Gas engines, coal power plants, natural gas…thankfully and finally fading away.

      • Dave says:

        Doing things the cheapest way never works out in the long run.

        Petroleum was necessary to build our society and it will have its place and usefulness forever but we’re going to have to come off of it for a lot of things. Electric vehicles will event be cheaper than ice vehicles are now, it’s just a matter of economy of scale. So will renewable energy. We can save more of the petroleum for durable goods, where there aren’t many good alternatives.

      • Gary says:

        Fun fact … Germany is already at 46 percent renewable energy. That’s a fact, not conjecture. Their economic outlook, which involved migrating to 100 percent by 2050, seems A-Okay.

  45. Bob says:

    The PA is very interesting to me. If the rumors are correct, HD are planning to deviate from their price hubris and offer it at a very competitive price. They need to undercut the king of the segment, the BMW GS1250, in order to build a new reputation in a new segment. According to all the rumors, that is what they are doing. I am very interested in the PA as my next ADV bike. The only other HD I have been remotely interested in is the Roadster…which is gone.

    I personally have come to like the appearance of the PA. Its definitely unique. The BMW GS takes a while to accept in terms of appearance as well. It looks more compact than the BMW GS. Rumored specs are 145+HP, under 550 lbs, and starting at $17k. That is a viable product in the segment.

    I agree that, overall, they have plenty of premium priced bikes, they need to build some cheaper and less fancy bikes. Certainly the electric bike segment needs an offering at half the price of the current Livewire. After the PA launch, they should go after the Bronx and maybe even a smaller variant to replace the awkward Street series. Maybe even import some low cost single cylinder bikes and leverage their Aermacchi history with some low cost scramblers. Royal Enfield seems to be cleaning everyones clocks with the INT 650 and Himalayan. I’d love to see them offer something like the Fantic Caballero (Euro only bike).

    They may need to abandon their location. Union wages drive up cost and HD is probably saddled with the worst union burden of any of the brands. Indian are built in a lower cost NW Iowa city, with cheaper labor rates I am sure. Perhaps their CVO bikes can stay with the expensive labor of Milwaukee, as they seem to sell for insane prices. Globally, the healthy brands are moving bikes to Taiwan and other low cost countries to compete. Sorry, but the time of being able to compete with expensive labor is over…

  46. My2cents says:

    Harley-Davidson’s biggest problem is their own customer base. The Adv market is a good choice to branch out and although that segment will eventually fade out it still has life yet to live. As far as looks all adv motorcycles are fugly, but useful like a Swiss Army knife which is also fugly.

    • Bigshankhank says:

      This is something I’ve been saying for years. Saving this company for long term success is going to take something bold, and that means cutting off the old customer base completely. Sweep the old bikes off the floor, brighten up the showrooms, make them more innovative and develop a wide range of small displacement through to a just a couple of lines of “heritage” bikes based on current models. When the boomers and crusty barge captains walk in and gripe about it, tell them to their face that either they are buying or they are walking out but that their opinion is no longer welcome. Make their weekend dealership events more friendly to younger customers with activities and events that they might care about. Getting involved with the X-Games like they did years ago was a step in the right direction.
      Also, go back to the older philosophy of AMF and diversify away from just bikes. How many boomers in RV’s and campgrounds would love to have a legit HD generator? Or an HD pit/campground bike or a golf cart? Scooters, lawnmowers, watercraft, there is so much that other motorcycle makers are involved in that HD is just leaving money on the table.

      • fred says:

        LOL The “AMF philosophy” was terrible 40 years ago, and still is. H-D needs to figure out how to attract new customers without alienating their current customer and fan base. Telling all your current customers to take a flying leap is not a plan for success. Side-by-sides and generators might be good additions to the product line. Too much diversification at once probably isn’t a good idea, but could probably be done over time.

  47. bmbktmracer says:

    Hate to admit I pretty much agree with everyone. The future isn’t found in a hyper-ugly giant-sized ADV. Back in the day, when superbikes had 70 HP and flexed like Gumby, riding “fast” was a blast, even though we weren’t going all that fast. The bikes are so good now… It’s like a Camry. Even the 4-banger is faster and better handling than almost anything from the 60s and 70s. So, we don’t need MORE power and MORE weight! We need more utility so we can ride the things to work and the store. We need less weight so we can park them in smaller hi-density housing garages. We need the things to look cool because why else would one buy a Harley? I chuckled when someone mentioned Hodaka, but in a way he’s right. Give the market small, light, efficient, reliable, and cool. And put someone in charge of the company that’s passionate about motorcycles. There’s not a single model in their bloated lineup that I find appealing. They’re the ONLY brand I can say that about.

  48. Elam Blacktree says:

    Mickey is right: Harley will never make it back. That means that those who want to buy an American bike will have to buy an Indian. If you look at the numbers, the motorcycle division of Polaris is now pulling in 31 percent of the money that Harley does. And they did that is just seven years. If Indian brings a small bike to market, and a reasonable price, it would likely sell well, IF it is a decent bike. For me, I would trade my current bike to get a 750cc Indian tracker replica. Give it 70 horsepower, and a price of $7,999 and Indian would sell 10,000 easily the first year. Hell, my wife rides, and she might want one also. And one more thought: Polaris, you need to purchase the rights to the Hodaka name, and make a line of small bikes that we all can afford. An electric Ace at $4,999? I’d buy one.

    • bmbktmracer says:

      Makes one wonder why companies spend billions on marketing research when all they needed to do was make a call to Elam.

  49. todd says:

    Harley, take a long, hard look at this web site. This is what kids want. Give up trying to sell to old guys, even old guys that are transitioning to “Adventure” bikes. Every person I have talked to that was interested in starting to ride points to these Scramblers when I show them what’s available.

  50. JC says:

    BS. Harleys don’t cost more than BMW or KTM or Ducati. Has anyone here priced the 850GS or the new Multistrada? The commenters here want Harley to build anything but Harleys, then they wouldn’t buy one anyway. The problem that Harley has is that their demographic is getting old and not buying new bikes. It doesn’t help that you can buy a 20 year old Harley and it isn’t much different than the current model. Selling aerodynamic standards or 600cc sport bikes isn’t going to save HD. They simply need to cut their production way back and sell what the market allows rather than trying to grow a company with a shrinking audience. They still sell a lot more bikes than their competitors. They just don’t sell as many as they used to.

  51. David Mo says:

    According to a recent story in the Globe and Mail in Canada, Harley’s unit sales were down almost 50%. Yet, Indian sales were up more than 30% for their quarter ending December 2020. This isn’t purely a story about the economy or demographics and aging bikers.

    • motorhead says:

      Improving unit sales by 30% is easy when your market share is only 5% and an exciting product. Improving sales by 30% is impossible when you have 90% market share and an exciting product.

      Harley’s curse is they have had too much share for too long in the geezer market, and younger geezers prefer too many other brands, like BMW, KTM, Ducati, Triumph, anything from Japan, and even Guzzi. I like MotoGeezer.

      • David M says:

        Quite correct and it’s an important point. But it doesn’t alter the fact that the two company’s sales changes are both material and going in opposite directions.

  52. Jim says:

    I remember the days a HD dealer could name their price and call the 1st or 2nd name on their waiting list and make the sale.
    Those days are long gone never to return, along with Harley’s future it seems.

  53. VFRMarc says:

    The beef against HD has always been high price and low tech. BMW has been successfully marketing a basically low-tech motor (the opposed twin) for what seems like a hundred years. What’s their secret to staying relevant in the market with this old school product? Performance and innovation. The motor has gone from a pushrod OHV to variable-valve timing via a shifting overhead cam setup. Electronics control everything from alarns to suspension. The bikes are fast and comfortable. Yes, they are expensive. But if “premium” is the market HD is going to aim for, they better study BMW, if they haven’t already. If they have and are still losing money, shame on them.

    • Wendy says:

      I beg to differ, HD is making the most technologically advanced pushrod V-Twins they can. As everyone has pointed out, they are trying to meet a small market. BMW riders see an advantage in things like shift cams, all electronic wizz-bangs etc. H-D rider want the comfort and camaradarie of the brand. You can get that with a fifteen year old Harley. They compete with their own used market.

      • MBJ says:

        Wendy, the key word in your reply is “pushrod”. It’s archaic tech. About the only other place you find pushrod motors any more is NASCAR and everyone knows how far NASCAR pushes the technology envelope.

        As far as “HD is making the most technologically advanced pushrod V-Twins they can”, Honda had a pushrod V-Twin every bit as technologically as advanced as a current HD in ’78. The CX500.

  54. Skybullet says:

    I was in the expensive toy business (Sailboats), entry level to high dollar, many brands. When someone spends discretionary dollars they need to be excited, even compelled, to make a relatively expensive commitment for pleasure. As several have said, Harley’s core customer base is aging (but they still have $$ to spend). Would a really trick Trike get them excited? Not a rehash of the aftermarket conversions or the Can-Am/Slingshot but distinctly Harley style with comfort and function. Is Willie G still alive? Better to spend the money on R&D than hemorrhage $$ until their dealers fold. My first new bike was a Harley 165! I have had a bunch of bikes since then but another Harley was never considered.

  55. Marc says:

    Went in to a HD dealer looking for the Buell, salesman point to the back of the room and walked away. Had no interest in selling the Buell.
    Went to the bike show when the 600/750 HD’s came out, they didn’t even bother to bring them to SoCal.
    Lack of commitment by the dealers/HD to bringing in new riders is killing the brand.
    As for this latest attempt to bring interest with the $30k electric bike and whatever the Pan America is suppose to be just another failed attempt by a company that is living in the past and not committed to the future.
    Most of the other brands are at least trying to bring in the young with a variety of lower priced smaller bikes.

  56. hammer says:

    Harley had their chance to progress with modern/more diverse bikes when they owned mv and buell.They instead chose to become the “Cadillac” of motorcycles with their high end dealerships and expensive accessories while neglecting quality and innovation. They cashed in on this for some years but they may end up like many other brands that were too slow to change (Norton,BSA,Ossa,Maico, etc.) and are no longer here. KTM seems to have figured out the best way to survive is to constantly innovate and take on the big four in every arena except cruisers.

  57. Reginald Van Blunt says:

    100 % of the first 20 comments are dead nuts ON !
    IMO, 1. Historic overhead built in to any long term business, has to be drawn and quarted, quick quick.
    1a. Get rid of all the models and concentrate on 4 or 5.
    1b. Get rid of all the WEIGHT from those remaining models.
    1c. Stick to the heritage and functional classification of those 4 or 5, but make them efficient.( includes aerodynamic )
    2a. Make 1/2 of those models NORMAL ergonomics, feet where they belong.
    2b. Have one model a Buell like performance bike, just much better design quality assurance.
    3a. Price has to come down to the current acceptable value for a 2 wheeled vehicle with no roof.
    3b. Hire some modern engineers to avoid the 2nd worst reliability neck and neck with BMW. Basic logical design, not goofy.
    IMHO. That is all, and make them smooth to look at and ride.

    • Neal says:

      In other words, redesign and reengineer every product and participate in completely different market segments.

      • Reginald Van Blunt says:

        There is a place on the road for baggers and chubby cruisers ridden by tough guys and gals with decorative jewelry stuck on their hats, but not an entire motorcycle manufacturer product line.
        Adapt or die.

  58. John says:

    Lots of valid points.

    1. A German tennis shoe ceo running HD just screens cost cutting, increase profits then bail back to Puma

    2. I too want HD to survive even though their bikes aren’t for me

    3. For years I’d go into a HD dealer and got looked down on by the sales staff because I don’t ride a “real bike”. I currently own a Ktm 1290 super adventure (yeah it’s a real bike, Aprilia tuono, Ducati desert sled and Ktm 500 Exc. NOW HD wants my business after years of looking down on my type of bikes for their hideous adventure bike.

  59. fred says:

    I really want Harley-Davidson to succeed. Unfortunately, they don’t build bikes I like. Even if I liked the bikes they build, they charge more than I am willing and/or able to spend.
    It seems like a difficult position they have backed themselves into. Are they a limited-quantity, upscale, premium-dollar brand, or a bike of the people? Volume or exclusivity? They push patriotism, but only the elite can afford the bikes.
    If you build entry-level bikes, you “cheapen” the brand image. If you don’t built entry-level bikes, new riders discover they can have a lot of fun riding on other brands.

    Brand loyalty usually starts fairly early. As riders age, most of us realize that brand loyalty isn’t quite as logical as we used to think, but we still tend to stick to the familiar. It’s a lot harder to capture a sale if you haven’t captured the heart within the first 2-4 bike purchases.

    • mickey says:

      I see lots of Harley riders in my area. None of them appear to be among America’s “elite”.

      Thing is their main vehicle, the one they run around in most of the time, drive to work etc, is usually a 10 year old domestic 4 door or pick-up.

      New car or new Harley? They will choose the Harley everytime and drive a clunker car or truck.


    • EZMark says:

      I remember when Harley sold a whole line of entry level bikes made in Italy, from 125cc to 350cc. They even had a scooter years ago.
      Maybe Harley should look at Honda’s recent success with the Grom/Monkey/Super Cub/Trail 125 series.
      Or they could go outside the box and make a side by side like the RZR. My local dealer said if it wasn’t for the SxS’s they would be out of business by now.

  60. joe b says:

    Well, everybody has been saying the same thing about Harley for years. Their base is dying off, and they dont have a product other than a big twin with classic styling. they have 50 variations of the same bike. They do have a NAME, and it can be something in other countries, like India. I probably wont be around when they do finally quit selling, but till then, they will limp along on one foot, dragging the rest of the company as baggage. When i was in high school, i really wanted an XLCH, which was the fastest bike in that time. In the last few years i’ve looked at a few, but passed. When I go to the Harley shop, it has a lot of peoeple there, looking. Harley is still big, and it looks like Daytona bike week will go on this year, like Sturgis. I cant see them making anything that interests me, or any of my friends.

  61. Montanasan says:

    Harley’s going to replace some of the best looking bikes in the world with some of the ugliest and expect them to sell? Only recent MBA grads could come up with that idea.

    Harley’s proven in the previous 3 1/2 decades that motorcycle appearance trumps technology and performance, so whatever they create in future, it must look more like a Greyhound than a Bulldog.

    Maybe MV Augusta stylists can help them out?

  62. John says:

    You guys have it all wrong. Harleys are the perfect bike for the average American: fat, ugly, relying on age old accomplishments and boastful of its heritage while giving the finger to innovation. How can it go wrong?

    • Montanasan says:

      You must be one of those kind, tolerant, understanding types I’ve been reading so much about.

    • John says:

      Cry me a river. Go buy a Harley and be proud.

    • I am one of those fat and ugly [also very old(78)] riders. I built a panhead chopper in the mid 70’s and bought 2 Buells in the 2000’s.All of these were good machines and loads of fun to ride. I did a 450 mi. day on my RE INT650 yesterday and will explore some desert roads on my Himalayan tomorrow. Can HD build some machines I might be interested in?

  63. Relic says:

    The farmboys and backyard mechanics have aged out of the workforce. Replaced by a generation of video game experts who don’t know a box-end wrench from a hole in the ground. Same crap with Boeing.

    • Sissy says:

      Harley’s big problem is not an aging workforce; it’s an aging customer base, members of whom hang up their helmets (or do-rags) for good each year.

      Rather than coming up with a coherent plan to expand the brand’s appeal, Harley’s management has spent the last couple of decades doing stupid crap.

      It bought MV Agusta in 2008 for $109million and sold it back to the original owners less than 2 years later for 3 Euros (about $4). Harley bought, mismanaged, and closed-down Buell, with Harley management admitting that they didn’t have any idea of whether Buell was profitable at the time.

      Harley hyped the electric “Livewire” for years and then released it with a jaw-dropping $30K price (thud!).

      The stock price is dropping not only because the losses are mounting, but also because Wall Street sees no evidence that Harley has a clue as what the market wants.

      • Lynchenstein says:

        Couldn’t have said it better. Harley needs a shakeup from top to bottom and front to back. Electric bicycles and chrome-plated cast iron anachronisms aren’t going to cut it.

      • fred says:

        Hello?? Can you read? The “farmboys and backyard mechanics” were never in Harley’s “workforce”, they just aren’t out there earning the money they used to use to buy Harley’s.

        • kt says:

          I read your post, and when you said “same crap with Boeing” it seems pretty clear you were talking about the workforce at Harley, not the customers, since not a lot of farmboys and backyard mechanics buy planes from Boeing. If you had left off the Boeing part, then you might take it as customers, but “same” means same, last time I checked.

          • Relic says:

            I’m sure everyone can recall an experience with a dim witted millenial. It is true as well that all modern cars, bikes, washinv machines etc are computerized. Programming is a necessary skill, although my third highest score on supermario didn’t help me in life.

          • fred says:

            It wasn’t my post, but you seem to read better than I do. The Boeing reference doesn’t make sense unless he’s referring to the H-D workforce. It still seems to me that the problems is the aging-out of the H-D customer base rather than the H-D workforce, but that apparently wasn’t the point being made.
            Please accept my apology.

        • Sissy says:

          I read it, as did kt who replied to you earlier. And I read the line about Boeing, which sealed the deal that the comment was about the “workforce,” not the customer base. There were not a lot of “farmboys and backyard mechanics” buying $30K motorcycles or Boeing jets.

  64. Marcus says:

    Their plan moving forward is to make Harley an even more ‘premium’ brand…. In other words they are going to hike prices. Yes, charge more for a product that is grossly overpriced to begin with.

    I doubt that this strategy is going to work but then again I’ve never run a motorcycle company. Who knows? Maybe the customer?

    • motorhead says:

      Going more premium has been their strategy for years. It got them to where they lost 20% in stock price yesterday.
      When America was saturated with premium Harleys, Milwaukee did the same trick in Asia. It worked for a while. Now Asia has their own premium brands. India is going full premium retro with BSA, Norton, and others, referencing old Bollywood movies that showed these ancient brands. Those brands are in their soul and making a revival. Steve McQueen and Marlon Brando put many an English bike into people’s souls.

  65. The Bo's'n says:

    Go big or stay home I guess, but I wouldn’t have tried to go head to head with the GS1200. A 750 or 1200 Scrambler or street tracker would have been my bet. I realize the middleweight market is crowded, but it is the trend.

  66. Kermit T Frog says:

    A new 2021 CVO Tri Glide out the door will run a buyer well over $50,000…And you still get wet. I would sooner take that money and buy A Camaro SS convertible. At the least there’s more physical content in the making of the Camaro than in the trike. And I don’t get wet.

    It’s the same with all large and expensive motorcycles. Our reality is that they are far too expensive for what we get out of it.

    For years the tide of buyers for Harleys was high but now that tide isn’t just kinda low, it’s out. The same is true for pretty much all motorcycles here in the USA. For some, it’s because they’ve got better things to do for fun. For kids, they’re mostly just dumb, fat, extremely lazy and live in their phones. For most enthusiasts, they look at what the cost of a new motorcycle is and say no thanks because it doesn’t do anything real world better than their current bike or any number of discounted leftover models and don’t even mention the land of used bikes. That’s where the deals can be had.

    It’s the Island of Misfit Joys where the realities of life are made all the more real by the true cost of ownership. Buyer’s remorse, anyone? This is where the passion of the moment meets the pain of reality. And those who waited are sometimes rewarded. Two-wheeled timeshares.

    I’ve done the math and I can afford the 2021 Guzzi V85. If I retire, I can still afford it but not comfortably. If retire I will have time to ride it more. If I don’t retire, it will be there waiting in my garage. Sitting. Either way so long as it’s not the goose that stole my golden egg, I will be fine. My 1200 Sporty is already waiting for me. Hmmmmm…

    It’s like RVs. On the paper of your mind you can see yourself “going places” but reality is your RV is parked in your driveway, in front of your home or on some lot for most of it’s life. Kinda like a condo on wheels version of the timeshare. That same money that goes to the RV payment, insurance and storage fees works out to quite a bit. In many cases a year or even less of those payments could send you around the USA staying a fairly nice hotel or resport or even to Great Britain, Europe or Australia. And back.

    I don’t really know what they answer is but I do know it isn’t “more”. Motorcycles like a great many other products, just aren’t worth their cost. We have to decide if what we want is wanted enough for us to set aside a “need” or two.

    If Harley and the rest of the manufacturers cannot figure out how to make riding not only affordable but attractively so then we won’t be witnessing “fire sales” but something more akin to “estate sales”.

    • VLJ says:

      Absolutely excellent post. You hit the nail on the head, in terms of the major issues: kids no longer being interested in motorcycles, and new motorcycles pricing themselves out of the realm of most people’s ability to justify/rationalize the purchase. Often times, the latter is a particularly vexing issue for the former. Those few kids remaining who might be inclined to get into motorcycling simply cannot afford the overall cost of the hobby, with the sky-high cost of insurance being the final nail in the coffin.

      Want to slow the decline of new, full-sized motorcycle cycles in America, as well as the rest of the western world?

      Cut prices. Drastically. Instead of trying to outdo each other with ever more complicated, mostly worthless electronic gadgetry, ditch everything except the one technology mandated by federal law for cars: ABS brakes.

      That’s it. Skip all the Tri-Axis gyro CPUs, the ridiculous number of ride modes and traction-control levels, wheelie control, phone-based app interfaces, etc.

      Reduce weight, end the HP wars, simplify…simplify…simplify.

      A perfect example: Gibson guitars. Until a couple of years ago, they were circling the drain. They were the H-D of the guitar world. Overpriced, outgunned relics that only wealthy doctors and lawyers who wouldn’t even use the things were able to purchase. Vanity purchases, similar to all the pricey H-Ds that barely get ridden to the coffee shop a few times before eventually being sold off two years later with 2,452 miles on the ODO.

      Gibson replaced their CEO, and the new guy immediately did three things.

      One, he upgraded quality, fit and finish, consistency. He didn’t accomplish this by reinventing the wheel. Instead, he took a common-sense approach. He installed bright lights at each work bench. He set up a system of checks and double checks, before the instrument left the factory. He mandated correct build tolerances, with individual accountability.

      Two, he simplified the crap out of the product line. He streamlined it down to the basic bread-and-butter products his customers have been demanding for the past decade. He completely eliminated all the “forward-thinking” electronic gadgets that the previous regime added to the guitars in an attempt to lure younger buyers; i.e., answer to questions no one was ever asking. He made Gibson produce what people wanted, without all the needless marketing fluff.

      Finally, he took a huge chunk out of the purchase price. Whereas before his arrival Les Paul Standards, the bread and butter “halo” product of Gibson guitars, had risen to the $3,700 range, effectively pricing themselves right out of the working musician’s ability to purchase a good Les Paul, he immediately cut the price down to $2,499 while simultaneously producing the simplified, higher-quality instrument people wanted all along.

      Instead of spending money on crap no one wanted, he put all the money into making a better core product that his customer base could actually afford.

      It worked. Big time.

      Think of all the endless layers of gee-whiz crap that is on nearly every high-end ADV or sportbike. Now imagine those ADVS with all that crap stripped away, leaving nothing by ABS, heated grips, and cruise control. Take all the endless modes and levels on an R1M or a Panigale, and shitcan the lot of it.

      World travel-ready, liter-class capable ADVs for $13-15K. Liter-class sportbikes, too. Highly capable middleweights for $8-10K. All with adjustable ergos, but not a lot of extraneous nonsense.

      Think that might move the needle just a bit in the right direction?

      • Reginald Van Blunt says:

        VLJ – Excellent example, and TQM always works for a better product, with the added benefit of employee motivation improvement.

      • motorhead says:

        Affordability is a huge problem for anyone under 50 years old these days. Not like my old days.
        The other problem is, youngsters are thinking more of “doing” rather than “having,” in my opinion. Let me explain. My dear wife and financial adviser reminds me often that “Tom, you ‘have’ cameras, but you don’t ‘do’ camera things. You have a boat, you don’t do boating. You have musical instruments, you don’t do musical things. You have a motorcycle, you don’t…” You get the picture. Young folks can’t collect extra stuff the way we boomers did, and frankly, it makes no sense. It’s a tough problem.
        I believe eventually kids will have have and do electric motorcycles.

        • mike says:

          Motorhead, I think you are getting closer to the root cause. I really don’t agree with VLJ’s comparison to Gibson though. Harley makes a great quality product but they can’t cut back on “models”. Why? Because the only reason for those models is to TRY and make them look different from the others, and by others, I mean the last 5-6 decades of models… That’s the issue. Since the Evo motor and platform, they’ve been pretty solid bikes. So, you have 47 years worth of used stuff out there (and a lot of it) that looks pretty much identical to new stuff. (and performs only marginally worse) In an age where young’uns are into Steam Punk, Burlesque, Roller Derby, etc. you would think HDs would be attractive. They’re not because HD has retained the same look since the beginning and there’s a ton of them out there. Back to Gibsons. So, they cut back models and did better. Why? Because OLD Gibsons are worth so much a new Gibson is a deal. (unless you’re like me and know Godins are out there cheap) That’s not the case with HD. Old ones (unless REALLY old) can be picked up cheap. Lastly, HDs image is old. less than shapely, Boomers that don’t wear helmets and dress like line dancers. I think that’s why Triumph has done so well. It was different. Just my 2 cents worth. Oh, and if Triumph is listening, go back to the 360 degree crank! If I’m going to trade in my 02 I want the new one to sound like a Triumph…

      • Neal says:

        What you’re describing is exactly Honda’s strategy of the past decade. I’d love to see HD fight Honda in the fight to get everyone on a cheap, simple bike. HD would need to put out something other than a feet out, rear weight biased cruiser though.

    • todd says:

      Riding is very affordable, not sure where you get your data. I bought a new 690 Duke marked down to $7500. An equivalent car, (GTI?) would have cost me $30-35,000. I don’t know how people afford to drive.

      • Dave says:

        A few years ago I bought a ‘01 Honda VFR for $3k. At 20 years old, it’s a higher tech, higher quality product than anything HD has ever made and it costs me less per year to own than most people drink in coffee. And I ride it.

        I reiterate, if we’re looking at $20-50 bikes as a reason why riding is too expensive, it isn’t a riding experience we’re really thinking about, is it?

  67. Rendell says:

    Their motorcycles are WAY overpriced for what you get. A smart 5th grader knows that.

    • Stuki Moi says:

      Since they’re losing money, they’re likely not all that overpriced for what they cost to build. Or at least, what they cost Harley to build. Hence the focus on cost cutting and improving efficiency.

      In mature markets, efficiency is eventually what wins out. You can’t have others out there, able to do what you do, cheaper. Hiding behind some supposedly “visionary” designer, or “tradition,” or “the brand” may work for awhile, but eventually customers will wise up and start demanding value for their money. And if you can’t deliver, they’ll go to someone who can.

      • todd says:

        Harleys are one of the most mass-produced motorcycles available with very low development or engineering costs that were probably amortized in 1979. Like all consumer products, price is determined by the folks in brand and marketing as how they want the value of the bikes and brand to be perceived against the “competition”. H-D makes money hand over foot every time they sell a bike. They are still making tons of money it’s just that the amount is dropping. There are many motorcycle companies and even car companies that would love to have the levels of income that H-D has, at the moment.

        • Stuki Moi says:

          I don’t know this for sure, but I do suspect you underestimate the costs of simultaneously: Staying emissions compliant and acceptably powerful, and of keeping their designs air cooled. Doubly so air cooled front-rear 45degree twins.

          There are reasons the rest of the air coolers are increasingly either water cooled, have their cylinders out in the breeeze, or are pet projects of Honda execs. The latter two also being rather pricey for what you are objectively getting.

          Also, if you ride a new Harley back to back with an Easy Rider era one, the differences, handling included, are startling. Much more so than immediate looks would indicate. Which is another cost driver.

          In general, imposing hard constraints on your engineering effort, the way Harley does on their look and “feel”, has a way of making things harder and much more expensive, than if you allow yourself to simply pragmatically engineer for lowest cost to meet certain objective measures. Yamaha’s air cooled Tourer/Bagger combo, isn’t really all that much cheaper than Harleys. Despite bikes like the MT-0x’s leaving little doubt Yamaha is hardly lacking in the efficient-engineering department.

  68. Gary in NJ says:

    Here’s the dilemma HD faces; continue to make products that its historical customers have always purchased (yet those customers are no longer buying those products because they are actually dying off), or develop new products to develop a new customer base (but those customers don’t like the HD brand). It seems to me that HD has boxed themselves into a corner. The correct action is to build a new customer base (because the existing customer base shrinks with each passing year). But building a new customer base takes investment in product, and an investment in developing new customers. HD squandered its success over a decade ago, and no longer has the ability to remain a viable company. In short, HD requires outside capital to survive. It’s AMF all over again.

  69. Grover says:

    The design of that fairing/headlight on their ADV bike is one reason why they’re in trouble. Another is they’re always 5 years late to the game. It ain’t rocket science. Sheesh!

  70. Tank says:

    If Harley can’t figure out the US market, how can we expect Japanese companies to figure it out. Smaller bikes is a good idea, but the ones they put out look cheap.

    • MarkB says:

      The heavy cruiser segment exploded in the 90’s and into the early 2000’s driven by a segment of the population that is aging and slowly getting too old to ride. It was a fad of a previous generation. Fads come and go and they can try as they might the newer generation are just not that interested, sales are down for everyone, buckle up its the new norm, one day it may circle back again.

    • paul says:

      The U.S. market is rapidly becoming irrelevant. It only got to be as big and successful as it was through its position of having the U.S. dollar as the world reserve currency. This allowed Americans to live well beyond their means for decades. That is about to come to an end. Harley’s demise will barely be noticed through the dust of the market crash that is just around the bend. Used and left over HD’s will be selling for pennies on the dollar.

  71. MarkB says:

    I looked at their plan and I see nothing significant. Same marketing practises targeting same demographics, same, same. Only thing I see different is a few cost cutting measures and an electric bike push and this ugly as hell adventure bike. Nothing to recoup the loss of sales. THis adventure bike and electric is a small niche bike and can’t make up for the bleeding. I don’t wish them any bad will, but nothing I see nothing that is going to help them in their supposed turnaround plan.

  72. Neal says:

    They are killing off all entry level products. It’s hard to sell fewer units at a higher unit cost as a strategy if you’re already about the highest priced player in the market.

  73. Anonymous says:

    C’mon man. The Pan America doesn’t look any worse or better than any other ADV bike. They all try to outdo each other every year with abject ugliness.
    The haters are gonna love this report.

  74. mickey says:

    I read yesterday they lost 96 million in the 3rd Q of 2020.

    They are not going to make it back with that abomination of an ADV bike or with the Livewire. I hope they have a back up plan to their plan to return to profitability.

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