Biker Lifestyle

Harley Davidson in free fall #harleynolongerking

By James Macecari

It’s no secret, Harley Davidson was once an icon of the motorcycle industry. If you grew up anytime before 1994, all you could dream of while riding your bmx was that one day you would be riding a Harley. Flash forward, 2017 has seen Harley Davidson make mistakes that have shifted a lot of bikers away from the desired brand of choice.

Take for instance , those born after 1994 prefer Japanese brands such as Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki. Why is this? For one, the generation of Harley’s best demographic has gotten old. The loyalty that demographic had for Harley stood by it through thick and thin, stood by it during the hard times, through bankruptcy, during the god awful AMF years, even through it’s shift to a more brutal period of forgetting who it’s true customer base was.

Just like it’s great American workers, blue collar and prideful people, Harley Davidson chose to negate those who were with them through thick and thin for a base that, yes had the money to afford a 20,0000 bike, but in the process negated those who stood by it for all those hard times.

Fast forward to present. Those hardcore customer base is now older, more educated in the fact that Harley has lost its luster, instead they choose to ride competitors products. Why is that? For one , the old saying is holding very much true. “If you want to ride and not have no worries, ride a Honda or Suzuki, if you want to learn too work on a bike, ride a Harley”. The product Harley has been putting up for the market is overpriced and far less Superior to the competition, that’s evident in all the recalls and scandals that Harley has had these past couple of years. Another big drop in the Harley pheonomeon is that the younger generation really don’t care about the Harley image. The other bikes out there are less expensive, have better warranties, and actually do what they are meant to do without breaking down all the time or subject to recall

In this new era or Trump and American first, Harley Davidson made a trip to the White House earlier this year. They sat there with all those bikes that were Made in America. That’s always been the thing with them hasn’t it? Made in America. Well not what? 6 months later they decide they will open a second manufacturer plant overseas. Can you imagine a Harley being made overseas and not in America? That move riled alot of long time Harley fans and loyalist. I personally own a Fatboy, most every bike I’ve owned was a Harley and I can tell you that move infuriated me. It was a big kick in the nuts hearing that. What happen to American Made jackasses running this company so many stood behind all these years?

Can Harley succeed in reviving industry

I put a link to an article above . It asks if Harley and Indian can revive the industry. My personal thoughts are no. Indian owned by Polaris is a beautiful product, it’s sales are starting to rise, but it also cut out the Victory brand, that brand was starting to build and become the alternative to Harley and in my opinion was a huge mistake for them. Polaris chose to go with it’s most expensive brand, that in itself just put it out of the competition for younger riders.

Harley is no longer attractive to those coming into the lifestyle. Most people are seeing the company for what they are. A company that betrayed not only itself, but the people who stood by them all these years. So the answer to the artical is simple regarding Harley’s ability to bring in the new generation, a resounding no.

As the generation of the old gaurd keep getting older, it’s sad to say, the likes of Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha will become the face of the motorcycle world. After all they can make a touring model for under 10,000. You would be lucky to get a damn Sportster for 10,000 off the showroom floor.

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5 replies »

  1. Yes and no….. I started ridingin 1965 on a Royal Enfied Bullet 350 . It took me around a college for almost 2 years very reliably (maybe why they still make them in India) and taught me to ride. I went in the servive and in Monterey Ca. in 1967 bought a Triumph 650 scrambler. I had the bike when when I came home from Nam in early 70 and had to have those new disc brake and got a brand new Bonneville. I took the bike to New Jersey while my wife at the time followed in a VW. I rode it back to Calif. in 1971 – in winter , and got a house next to the Monterey Loser house on 19th st Pacifac Grove. Sometimes these 1%ers were nice to me and for no reason would threaten me- souring my 1%er experience for next 15 years…. I traded the Bonny for a new 1973 BSA Firebird n 1974 and rode that until the early 80s when I decided to try a Sportster after a brief fling with a BMW R750 . The new Sporster XLCH was really hard to start , and sufferedelectrical and carb problems worse than the Limey bikes ! In 85 or 86 I bought the first V Twin Suzuki and road it into the 90s trouble free. It was this period when I develop 1%er friends and they were decent to me and actually warned me of and protected me from the crazy members.I still had the Harley urge and traded my well worn Suki in on a San Jose made Hard tail chopper with a Pan head and disc brakes ect. It was fun fun a few years for occasional use until my later 50s , I saw my dream bike a 2005 Road King Classic. Well that 88 has turned into a 97 with good lowered suspension anf many other upgrades and chops. I have done all the work, having learned on the Pan Head and Sportster and aquired the special tools. The Harley needs almost no repairs after I got it perfect 3rd tome around. Now as to dealerships. none of them are cheap, Harley no worse than Honda or others. My son and his wife ride Ducati’s (now owned by Harley) , and those dealers are very expensive and they need alot of it ! Another son has a Harley water cooled V twin Hot Rod for almost 10 years and loves it, pretty low maintence on that too. All in all Harley Dealers are no more rip off than other dealers IMHO. I think their aquisition of Ducati might really end up producing a superior product. Just my $.02


  2. The biggest problem is the newest generation wants nothing to do with riding they are scared or prefer to play video games. The proof of this is the fact that even scooter sales are down and one thing college kids used to buy is a scooter. They were great on gas, anything under fifty CC’s you didn’t need a motorcycle license. The younger Generation is just scared, Because they Have been coddled. Also a big part of why MC membership is down.


  3. “Harley is no longer attractive to those coming into the lifestyle.”
    Your college about the lifestyle is a bit off, and for you to even think about that is much of Harley’s problem as I see it…
    Most of the younger people coming into motorcycles don’t WANT a “lifestyle”, they actively avoid Harley BECAUSE of the Harley “lifestyle” of dressing up like pirates, branded from head to toe in HD branded items like faithful sheeple. They don’t want the image of fat guys, dressed in leather with obnoxiously loud exhausts revving their engines at every stop light.
    Many now want bikes to ride for commuting or for pleasure, not to look at, buy endless chrome upgrades and jewelry for their bikes. They aren’t interested in standing around looking at each other’s bikes and comparing shiny parts. They just want a bike that is affordable, reliable, nimble, handles great, and has low maintenance.
    Harley has come up a lot in quality/reliability since the AMF days, but the company is reluctant to produce anything other than the same old product with different paint from year to year. I’m sure Harley would never have come out with the new M8 engine, if it weren’t for the stricter emissions standards being forced upon them (and all other motorcycle manufacturers) around the world.
    Harley doesn’t want to alienate those customers who are afraid of change, yet those are the same people who are aging out of the motorcycle market.
    When your entire advertising budget is designed to push heritage and lifestyle, and yet the majority of me customers want innovation, convenience, performance anf economical ownership, without looking like the rest of the dress up characters in your group, you find yourself in the predicament Harley Davidson currently finds itself.


  4. If what you are saying is true then wouldn’t Harley make their new motorcycles look like Asian motorcycles instead of the other way around? Shadows Vulcans and Bolts all are cheap looking copies of the Sportster and the large Asian touring motorcycles now have the batwing fairing. Where did that come from? It is my understanding the Harley Davidsons made overseas will be sold overseas to avoid tariffs. This seems like good business to me. Another point, I lived through the AMF years and they were not that bad. It is true that some of the Sportsters were not the best but that was due to big brother forcing HD to put the shifter on the left so after 77 it was ironed out and those bikes were some of the best ironheads. The final years of the shovelhead had the same internals as the evolution which turned out to be one of HD’s biggest successes.


  5. Harley Davidson is now is all about the $, and it needs to be to survive!
    Unfortunately, they have to produce bikes that are cost effective to manufacture yet still retain the attraction that HD always has!
    But the new bikes all based around the same soft tail chassis are no longer the traditional Harley’s of the past!
    Unfortunately these bikes now no longer have the character of those that they replace and I personally see this being the undoing of Harley Davidson as the marquee that it once was!
    The new manufacturing plant in India, will as time passes also produce the Harley Davidson’s sold in the US!
    It’s all about money and the share holders profits!
    Big business!
    Those that supported HD through all those years of the Japanese Invasion are now growing old, getting to that age where they either hang onto the bikes that they already own or hang up their helmets and gloves and jump on the ‘gofers’.
    We no longer matter as we are not considered as future customers……… unlike the ‘young’ behind us!
    Hence the Indian made 500 and 750!
    They’re not Harley’s by any means but those that are buying them, have no knowledge or interest in the HD legend!
    They only want a bike with the HD logo that starts easy, rides easy, and is not too powerful!!!!
    They like the image, but don’t want the complexities that go with it!
    Honestly, let’s face it…….. can you imagine a ‘Bollywood’ Indian riding a real HD with attitude……
    About as believable as a John F. Kennedy being assinated by Lee Harvey Oswald!