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Discussion Starter #1
I was reading on Motorcycle News recently that Harley are introducing a Cafe Racer model to the European market. I don't know if it will be available in the US. MCN went on to reveal that HD patented the bike and one other model in the EU so obviously there is intent to sell them. It's just a matter of when, and in what markets. Here's pics
from MCN:


Harley "Flat Tracker" above.

I dunno....most new bikes just don't really pique my interest. The Cafe Racer......I dunno, maybe......but I bet they'll be priced in the ridiculous range if they even make it to the US.....sean
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thought I'd revisit this thread as I've watched a couple three videos on youtube lately. Fort 9 has one on the "Death of Harley Davidson" and another channel, Different Spokes has posted a couple on the same subject.

The common denominator seems to me to be prices. Like HD has abandoned the core customer base that kept the company afloat during the lean years. That the working class can no longer afford to buy a new HD (truth) or justify a mortgage payment for one. (also truth)

I'm not saying I agree or disagree with either sentiment as I just don't pay that much attention to HD. Not that I completely dislike their bikes, that is not the case at all. I'm just not ready to give up on sports bikes and recline (or is that decline?) into the cruiser riding position.

Anyway, of the three videos I've watched, the second of the Different Spokes videos comes closest to where I sit with the current HD situation. I don't wish them ill, not in the least. I want them to survive into the next century.

Not only because they're an iconic brand, but because they're an American brand, and they employ Americans. I don't want the company to go away. There is something fundamentally wrong with where the company has ended up. That something is what has to change.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Here's a few more youtube videos that I've watched on the subject including the ones previously mentioned:




 

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You want to start a fight? Throw one of those videos up on a Harley forum!!! Sweet Lord, I posted the Fortnine video on a Suzuki site and some of those members own Harleys. OMG!!! They come out with bats, brass knuckles and pitchforks!!!

Don't EVER say anything negative about Harley!!! 😂😂😂
 

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The CEO throwing in the towel is a sign of serious trouble and he's the guy who would know. If he thought it could be fixed it he would do it and bask in the sunshine instead of bailing. He probably didn't want it to happen on his watch and didn't want it on his resume....

All of these videos share a common theme: Harley's prices are too high...way too high, and shafting the ever diminishing ranks of the customers they do have at the dealerships ensures they won't come back.
 

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By the way, Suzuki owners who also own a Harley show they've already got one foot out the H-D door because real die-hard Harley riders wouldn't be caught dead on a foreign made bike. Actions speak louder than words.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
All of these videos share a common theme: Harley's prices are too high...way too high, and shafting the ever diminishing ranks of the customers they do have at the dealerships ensures they won't come back.
They do exactly that in fact, but that's just the overtly evident side to me. There is an underlying statement made that isn't so evident.

From my view point and reading a little between the lines, the dealerships are really much of the problem. For all the successes they've given Harley, they are actually much of the reason behind the failure of the more progressive models Harley introduced.

If you're shaking your head in disbelief or disagreement, let me elaborate. I'm going to start with Buell because that was really the first major foray by HD management into something radically different.

If you owned a Buell, and went to a Harley dealership looking for some warranty help or even just to get some basic work done, the dealerships would stonewall you.

They didn't want anything to do with Buell. Ask any Buell owner and by and large they'll tell you they were treated like redheaded step children.

The answer to the why, is outlined pretty well in one of the videos. The dealers weren't interested in anything they couldn't make a 100% margin on.

Over charging a witless but financially well off Tour Glide owner is one thing. Trying the same on a Buell owner who is likely more mechanically savvy and less willing to accept the "Harley Tax" is quite another.

I've literally listened to those witless but well off owners BRAG about how much money it cost them to get this or that done at their favored dealership.

The fact that anyone else could have done the exact same thing in a half hour for free in their garage doesn't even compute with those guys. And those guys are who the dealership is going to cater to. Less work and mo' profit.

That attitude contributed to the new sales performance of Buell motorcycles. It did not end the company, that was the ineptness of the Harley management coupled with the dealer issues.

My second example is two more recent debacles. One being the V-Rod line and the other being the Sportster XL1200R, which was mentioned in one of the Different Spokes videos.

The same mentality applied to VRod line that dealerships took with Buells. For much the same train of logic. There were no high dollar after market do-dads to sell owners of those bikes.

They already made good power, so no need of pipes and filters and jetting work or bigger bore kits. Thus, once the sales were made, next to no support followed. There was not much of an aftermarket for them either. Again, no expensive do-dads to sell for 100% margin.

The XL1200R I suspect was among the same lines though I've no real knowledge of how those were received. They made good enough power that there wasn't a huge market for any aftermarket or even HD branded performance parts.

That and the typical customer buying an XL1200R was likely more interested in going fast around corners, rather than hanging all manner of tassles and farkles from their bikes.

I suspect that both the VRod and the XL1200R while loved by the public on a certain level, were received by the dealers less enthusiastically for those reasons.

I further suspect that the factory intentionally did not release a bunch of expensive go faster parts for them because they didn't see the need to. Hence the dealer network had no interest in supporting those bikes.

Why would they, when they could rake an owner over the coals for an extra $15K worth of work and go faster parts on an already $15K Dyna or $20K Fat Boy? The aftermarket parts network was already huge for those engines. The VRod and XL1200R...not so much.

That I think is the subtext to the videos. The part where there is no blame laid at the feet of the dealer network for the failure of the models that could have carried HD into the next several decades given the time and development cycle of aftermarket and factory performance parts.

The deeper subtext though is the possibility that the dealer network could sabotage sales of any model line they didn't like isn't something anyone in the HD universe wants to acknowledge.

Combine that, with the fact that younger riders are a diverse group, and the potential riders are more diverse yet. Simplicity seems to be what the current trend in tastes is.

I think that's why you now see so many younger guys sorting out older and simpler motorcycles and putting them back on the road rather than lining up at a local dealer for the latest and greatest sport bike to hit the pages of Cycle World.

Also, as was pointed out in one video, what the older crowd finds cool and hip, the younger crowd actively steers the opposite way. While I'm closer to the older crowd than the younger crowd, I can see where they're coming from.

I mean, most of us rebelled against what our parents thought was cool. In fact, if our parents thought it was disgusting or immoral most of us made sure to indulge in that activity as much as possible.

I get it. It's the way life is. I also get that an American icon is in trouble. Maybe not as badly as is being portrayed but in trouble none the less.

Harley weathered economic down turns before. I'm fairly confident they can do so again. What they have to do to make that happen might not be pretty. It might not be what people want either.

What ever they do, I want them to be around when I can no longer ride a sport bike and need to recline into Harley-dom to continue riding. I'm hoping that isn't until I'm well past 70. Or even 80.

Maybe that's part of the problem. I'm 53 and see a Harley as an old man's bike. No one wants to be old before they're ready. Hence I'm not riding a Harley until I can't ride a Ducati anymore.

If I think like that, maybe younger riders think the same way. If so, HD might be in more trouble than I think.
 

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I'd add to notice the metric brands. They all seem to have one go-to cruiser and then the rest are sport(ier) motorcycles or ADV bikes. In other words, look at the competition to see what they're doing and then compare to Harley.

My dad used to ask, "Are you watching TV? Or is the TV watching you?". Same concept can be applied to motorcycle manufacturers. Harley ONLY produces cruisers. The metric brands are going in a different direction. So if you're "forcing" a motorcycle style on the public it appears that the public is going with the sportier motorcycles. Therefore, Harley is in trouble. Not only that, since going to the stock market HD must make their shareholders happy. 4 straight quarters of loss ain't gonna do that.
 

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I've literally listened to those witless but well off owners BRAG about how much money it cost them to get this or that done at their favored dealership.
I spoke to a guy in a custom shop over ten years ago and he said he'd spent £23,000 on extras for his HD, the price of the bike wasn't included!!!
I called him a twit and walked away.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Illustrates my point exactly. That more than one of us, in 2 different countries even, has the same experience tells the collective us that my experiences were no fluke
 

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I blame the high prices most of all. When I teach MSF BRC classes,I have all of the students tell me what their dream bike is, for the purposes of an ice-breaker. I've had classes where 10 of the 12 students say H-D, never had a class where less than 50% said H-D.

Now, I want a Nissan GT-R, and it ain't gonna happen for financial reasons. I suspect a lot of students who say it is their dream bike may never realize their dream....
 

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I am both polarized and polarizing. After what H-D did to Erik Buell, I will not deal with them. Period. What with their customer base now reaching 60, 70 and 80, their electric bike should be a golf cart ( remember AMF???) or mobility scooter. Heck, they'd be huge in Vegas and Sun City.
 

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I am both polarized and polarizing. After what H-D did to Erik Buell, I will not deal with them. Period. What with their customer base now reaching 60, 70 and 80, their electric bike should be a golf cart ( remember AMF???) or mobility scooter. Heck, they'd be huge in Vegas and Sun City.
I feel the same way. They screwed Erik Buell over royally. Ironic, since he could have been their gateway to younger customers, if only they would have given him the freedom to do so. Dealer arrogance and short sighted corporate management is what put them in this mess. Their only hope now is that the new CEO can somehow turn things around. Otherwise I don't think they'll survive another five years.
 
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