Biker News & Biker Lifestyle

Harley Davidson 115th Anniversary Celebration changes: Company to focus on Bikes & Not Parties. Will company Recover?

By James “Hollywood” Macecari

News just breaking from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Harley Davidson has decided to concentrate on motorcycles instead of paying the big money to bring in known bands to play the 115th Anniversary Party. That’s the first thing that Harley Davidson has done right in a very long time.

The company is right to save the money it would be putting out for high priced over the hill bands. It’s going to need all the money it can get, if they cannot turn around the trend of low motorcycle sales.  With a terrible 4th quarter 2017 ; making only 8.5 million, the wizards over at corporate better get out those magic wands and start casting a spell.

While they are casting that spell they should try and get better engineers because the company is doing poorly in the design department. If you look at the two new Sportster models released, no effort whatsoever was put into them. You could build one of those out of a basket case Iron Head for Pete Sake. At least try and appear like you give a damn about what you’re putting out there.

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The winds are shifting, not in Harley Davidsons favor either; I get it, I really do the tough times the company is facing right now. Don’t throw in the towel on your designs though. That is the bread and butter of the company. Ok, well maybe the second important thing behind the companies clothing line, but you get the picture. Without good designed bikes the company will no longer exist. People are already getting tired of the sky high prices and moving to the metric market. Can’t say that I blame them. The Metric Market is putting out some pretty hot designs right now. Add in the fact they are priced right and have better reliability no wonder Harley is getting kicked in the balls.

Get back to the basics. Get back to your core who made the company into what it is today. Harley Davidson has to give us a reason to start returning and buying their products. Sadly, right now they haven’t done so. I have a 2001 Fatboy. Had dozens of Harleys over the years and was always a loyal customer of theirs. Not so much anymore. I’ve seen the light over the years lol. It’s more about profit than customer loyalty. Combine those ill feelings with poor product selection, the same old stuff, just a different year in front of the model name, not much exciting anymore. No reason to back the company like in the old days. Other motorcycle companies are putting out far superior products and treating customers as they should be treated. So unless Harley Davidson starts doing a 360. It’s probably headed down the path off doom and gloom.

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Source: Journal Sentinal

Harley-Davidson Inc.’s 115th anniversary bash in Milwaukee on Labor Day weekend will be more about the bikes and riding than big-stage concerts.

New venues, including motorcycle racing on Bradford Beach, will distinguish the 115th from Harley’s previous anniversaries, which attracted hundreds of thousands of riders to Milwaukee from all over the world.

Some things you can expect:

  • Lots of street parties across the city with live music, but no headline acts like Aerosmith or Bruce Springsteen.
  • Motorcycle field games such as “slow races,” T-ball, barrel rolls, plank rides and “weenie bites.”
  • A “moto-carnival” at Veterans Park with high-wire motorcycle thrill shows and the Wall of Death from the Full Throttle Saloon in Sturgis, S.D.
  • Racing on Bradford Beach, where bikes will tear through the sand on the Lake Michigan shoreline.
  • “Run What You Brung” drag racing and Flat Out Friday flat-track racing.

“This is an anniversary like no other we have thrown before. We really want to bring that thrill and adrenaline rush of motorcycling to the city,” said Heather Malenshek, vice president of marketing for Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson.

The 110th anniversary, in 2013, was noteworthy for Summerfest-stage concerts including Aerosmith, Kid Rock and Toby Keith. Harley also had at least 50 acts playing side stages, including Joan Jett, Chance The Rapper and Chevy Metal, a cover band that had a surprise guest appearance by Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl.

Not this year, though, as Harley focuses on motorcycling instead of big-name bands.

“The 110th was great, but we were all kind of sequestered into Summerfest listening to music,” Malenshek said.

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“This anniversary is about getting people out riding, and watching some fun parts of motorcycle culture, and inviting some new folks in to sample it a bit,” she added.

Harley says the changes are in response to feedback the company received from its previous anniversary parties in Milwaukee.

“It gets us back to some of the roots of motorcycle riding,” said Bill Davidson, vice president of the Harley-Davidson Museum and the great-grandson of company founder William A. Davidson.

“We have a strong pull for people to come to Milwaukee” even without the headline music, Davidson said.

Unlike the 110th, where some people paid $95 for a ticket, most of this year’s events are free and don’t require tickets.

“It’s a much simpler approach than we’ve had in previous anniversaries. People were buying tickets without necessarily knowing what was included,” Malenshek said.

The Harley-Davidson Museum’s 20-acre campus will be the center of many of the activities, including motorcycle field games, a custom bike show, tattoo artists and live music.

And there will be block parties in neighborhoods that didn’t have them during the 110th.

“One of the things we learned from the 110th was the headline acts are fine, but what people really enjoy are the street parties,” Malenshek said.

“We will have more street parties at this anniversary than we’ve ever had before. There will be lots of great music all around the city. But I think the key message is that music will be the support rather than the big act. We are putting the motorcycle culture at the center of our strategy. That will be our headline act.”

Some 125,000 bikers attended the company’s 105th anniversary bash, which dominated Milwaukee’s lakefront in August 2008 and featured a Bruce Springsteen concert.

RELATED: Harley’s 105th combines thrill of the ride with family reunion of sorts

This time around, the lakefront’s Veterans Park will be the stage for motorcycle riding events such as the moto-carnival and rider skills competitions.

Indoor flat-track motorcycle racing returns to UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena on Aug. 31, with a crazy mix of bikes ripping around a tiny board track coated with Dr Pepper soda syrup.

“We had record-breaking crowds at last Friday’s Flat Out Friday race at the BMO Bradley Harris Center,” Malenshek said.

RELATED: Mama Tried motorcycle races, custom bike show, put Milwaukee on the Hooligan map

There will also be “Run What You Brung” racing, where anything goes, at Great Lakes Dragway in Union Grove.

And there will, of course, be a Sunday motorcycle parade that kicks off at 45th St. and Wisconsin Ave. and continues east through downtown.

The seven area Harley-Davidson dealerships will host demo bike rides. For anyone wanting a feel for what it’s like to drive a motorcycle, without going on the road, there will be stationary bikes that you can climb aboard, rev the engine and shift the gears without fear of falling over.

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“The museum will be a big part of that, too. We will have folks from the Harley-Davidson Riding Academy to talk with people about what they should expect,” Davidson said.

The dealerships won’t have their traditional Milwaukee Rally this year, as the 115th anniversary supplants it, but they will have their own parties and live music.

“We are going to have a lot of riding planned. Folks are going to see a lot of this city and this region,” said Chris Urban, Harley’s marketing manager.

This summer, the Harley-Davidson Museum will host scores of events leading up to the anniversary party, including Thursday Bike Nights.

And for Labor Day weekend, there will be organized group rides to Milwaukee from Seattle; San Diego; Portland, Maine; and Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., with those rides culminating at Veterans Park. Harley dealerships from across the country are also planning their own pilgrimage to Milwaukee.

The 110th anniversary included events on six continents and a big party in Rome.

This time around, the focal point of the international events will be Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic.

“In July, we will have a full-blown celebration in Prague, which is a beautiful place from where you can access about 85% of Europe. There is tremendous riding in that area,” said Malenshek, who will ride there from Scotland.

Europe will be Harley’s main international stage this summer, with about 100,000 people expected to ride to Prague from 56 countries, but there will be events in other places, too, including Japan and Australia.

Harley also is ramping up its social media for the 115th.

One Monday in every month leading up to the anniversary in Milwaukee, motorcyclists will share their stories online through Harley’s #MotorcycleMonday.

The authors of the best 115 stories will receive a commemorative stainless-steel rivet displayed on the grounds of the Harley-Davidson Museum.

 A complete list of events and activities, including organized rides, tour routes and street parties, as well as lodging and camping, is available online at

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  1. It’s a shame to see Harley in this shape but it’s their own damn fault. Between the limited edition trucks, clothing line and all the other crap they got too big a head. Hell, I like Harleys and always will but I’ll be damned if I ever buy one new off their lot. Not when a Sportster costs the same amount as a car and anything bigger can cost the price of a pickup. I can find people all day long selling them off used at a fraction of the cost.
    It’s just a name you’re buying after all. I think of it like blue jeans. Back in the 90s there were mooks all over the place paying $100 and up for those Tommy Hilfiger jeans. Hell I can get jeans for $20 that are just as good the only difference is there’s no “designer” name on the ass of them.


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