By: James “Topfuel”Macecari
Harley has been “King of the Road” for 113 years, many of its competitors have come and went, it fought two World Wars, faced down a Great Depression. The list goes on and on what this great American Icon has wrestled with for the title “King of the Road”. Every kid growing up riding a bicycle at some point or another wanted that bicycle to be a Harley Davidson, I know when I was a kid I wanted mine to be, I use to look up to the Bikers that lived on my street in amazement.
Harley has changed with the times since it’s inception, it taught the masses what American quality and workmanship were all about, most of all Harley taught all of us what is was about to be American. Every generation found something in different when experiencing a ride on a Harley Davidson. They found freedom, adventure, pride and most of all a brotherhood and sisterhood that is unmatched by any other brand. Let’s just say that Honda, though it might be a good bike, don’t carry the same pride as someone who owns a Harley Davidson.
Now don’t get your panties all in a bind, Harley isn’t the only good bike out there. Sure Victory, Indian, Honda and even Yamaha has some good models out there, but take a double look when one rides by and see where the design all started from. The V-Twin and road design all came from Harley, they do say the best form of flattery is when someone duplicates a good idea.
With all the good Harley-Davidson has done for this country and it’s customers, it still has some work to be done in the modern age. The new generation of biker is not the same core customer base Harley use to depend on. Old timers were just happy getting out in the wind and tearing up the asphalt, today’s generation is more sophisticated thanks to an overabundance of technology and expectations. Harley was able to catch onto the accessories market, they made it a point to involve aftermarket companies into the mix, which was a fine decision to do, especially since those accessories sell bikes.
In my opinion, though the company has relied too heavily on the clothing and accessories market. I believe that the company needs to put more into development of new models, yes the lines out there are the ones we have grown to love, why not try what Ford and Chevy have done? Bring back some nostalgia to the mix with today’s technology. Now I know companies like S&S make the Shovelhead knockoffs, but what if Harley came out with a special edition FLH with a brand new Shovelhead design? Talk about a scooter flying off the showroom floor.
Could you imagine if Harley brought back a Panhead or Knucklehead design with current technology? These are idea’s that can get the stagnant sales moving again at Harley, plus it would put pressure on the other manufacturers like Indian and Victory to up their game. This competition would not only be good for Harley but for bikers as well, let’s face it Harley and the others are starting to price out the core buyers.
Pricing is another issue Harley needs to seriously work on, especially with the talk of another recession looming. It is true Harley is an investment now, unlike the days where you could pick one up for a few thousand dollars, but when you start pricing too high then you run the risk of oversaturation in the used market and you can’t sell new.
One other issue that really needs to be dealt with by the company is their dealerships, the customer service in most of the dealerships is god awful unless you are a part of their HOG chapter. The company is finally campaigning for a more inclusive female presence and you have the dealerships treating any women walking through the door like some idiot, I’ve seen that one myself. Most of all the dealerships need to educate their employees on the product when I go up to the parts counter to order something I expect the employee to know what the hell I’m talking about, not give some dumb look.
I’m hopeful Harley can make some positive changes to the company, after all, this is a company that sprung an entire lifestyle. The company was great this whole time leading up to today, but does it have the leadership to recognize some of the issues it has to take it into the future? Only time will tell.
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