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...a very sad story...HD

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by MaxPete, May 17, 2020.

  1. MaxPete

    MaxPete Lucille, Betty & Demi - I suggest but THEY decide. XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    No other brand attracts more lovers and more haters than Harley Davidson and I must admit that at various times, I have fallen into both camps. I used to find their bikes interesting and alluring but more recently, I find them over-priced and under-built. Sadly, they just cannot seem to find their way through to modern times.

    This video from Ryan F9 tells the story pretty well in my view and I freely acknowledge that it may annoy some folks and for that I apologize.

    It is, however, hard to argue with history and numbers, and the history of the numbers.

    Last edited: May 17, 2020
    RonXS, 88_pony, thuban and 6 others like this.
  2. Jim

    Jim Beyond the edge, is the unknown. Here be Dragons XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    Not sure why I never ran across this channel before.... subscribed.
    Branding and marketing.... Yes, Honda, more that any other motorcycle company opened new markets in the US.. and the world for that matter. While HD was content running ads in Easy Rider magazine and the like.... markets they already owned, Honda was busy running ads in Popular Science, Car and Driver... and I suspect more than a few in the likes of Better Homes and Garden magazine ;). Where HD sought only to solidify their base, Honda expanded theirs. Other Japanese manufactures did the same to varying degrees. The Japanese made solid bikes.... for everyone... at an affordable price. Harley Davidson... meh, not so much. His comment about one of HD's current biggest sellers being a "giant mobility scooter" was hilarious... and sadly spot on.

    His other point on the politics of trade was also accurate. I remember when Reagan imposed the 49% tariff on big bikes with the sole intent of helping Harley. I always though it odd that a group that's all about free trade would adopt such protectionist policies. It didn't work.... a KZ1000 would still blow the doors off a Sportster... at half the cost, even with the tariff. Now we're seeing tariffs against Harley at a time when raw materiel's cost more.... because of tariffs. Oh the irony. And then the head of Harley says we don't involve ourselves in politics. Well, ya f@ckin' did 40 yrs ago. Didn't help then... and ain't helping now.

    I agree with this guy... too little too late. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for them.
    EDIT: Lest anyone misunderstand, I've nothing against Harley. I'd love to see them turn things around and be a great success story.
    Last edited: May 17, 2020
  3. Tiesco

    Tiesco XS650 Addict

    I watched a review of an Electra Glide and the guy summed up my POV pretty well.

    "Maybe the same issue I have with Harley Davidsons is the same issue I have with God. I got no problem with God. It's his fan club I can't stand"
    arcticXS, grizld1, thuban and 8 others like this.
  4. xjwmx

    xjwmx It's just the unknown. Top Contributor

    they're not going anywhere. "too big to fail".

    to their credit, they did the best job of rebranding ever heard of, back in the '90s. they transformed it from association with greasy criminal morons to a prestige brand! nobody ever saw anything like that before or since.

    if they wanted to become a more useful company again though, i've thought they should build something like the 350cc they used to import. making a small affordable utilitarian bike might destroy their current main business, but put them on the road to being a useful company. risky move. do you just bank your fortune or do you risk it by going into business...
    Greyandridin, gggGary and Team Junk like this.
  5. 5twins

    5twins XS650 Guru Top Contributor

    I've been riding bikes for over 50 years, never owned a Harley. I always felt they were too over-priced for what they were. As an old saying goes ..... "best 1942 motorcycle made today", lol. Now that I'm older, I do appreciate the look and all the mechanical aspects of the older ones. Now that I've out-grown my "go fast" stage, I just might own one. But, the prices would have to come way down. I always said I could keep my 4 or 5 cheap bikes or sell them all and buy one Harley. I always stuck with the first option, lol.
    Greyandridin, thuban, JRay77 and 7 others like this.
  6. franklin270h

    franklin270h XS650 Member

    Indian seems to be rebranding itself fairly well since Polaris influence. Many are Harley-esque clones but there are solid performers in the lineup too.

    The main thing Harley lacks is appeal to younger riders. There's no pull there and perception is hard to overcome. Everytime they try to dip their toe in performance water it seems to fail miserably.
    grizld1, thuban, Paul Sutton and 6 others like this.
  7. MaxPete

    MaxPete Lucille, Betty & Demi - I suggest but THEY decide. XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    BTW - FWIW, FortNine is a great YouTube channel with really well done how-to’s and fair, balanced and timely product reviews. Ryan is a good guy and when he analyzes something, the math IS done correctly.
    Last edited: May 18, 2020
    thuban, Superjet, Paul Sutton and 2 others like this.
  8. billy icon

    billy icon test pilot,gunnie pig, and all around experiment

    I have liked his channel for quite some time, but dont allway agree with him, but hey perspective right, altho hes right in this video

    i find even myself a juxtapose I have two harleys one chopper one bobber, but I love to build and play with the xs650s even more,
    Last edited: May 17, 2020
    thuban, Superjet, Paul Sutton and 3 others like this.
  9. billy icon

    billy icon test pilot,gunnie pig, and all around experiment

    Jim likes this.
  10. franklin270h

    franklin270h XS650 Member

    I don't envy Harley's bigwigs at the moment. Well they aren't being poorly compensated for the efforts, but still.

    One problem with everything about your brand being "iconic", the 45 degree V-twin, heavy chassis, bigger footprint needed to make a really good one, etc, forces them to play in a narrower sandbox than most. Japanese motorcycle makers don't really have such limitations because changing often is the only constant they've all had.
    Greyandridin, thuban, gggGary and 5 others like this.
  11. 2XSive

    2XSive At least one screw loose behind the handle bars XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    I own a 2000 Harley that was under-powered with what was then the relatively new twin cam 88ci motor and the spring loaded cam chain tensioners that were known to grenade at less than 15,000 miles. Once I repowered it with polished/ported heads, bigger valves, high lift cam, hydraulic cam chain tensioner, big bore kit, free flowing mufflers and air breather, and a tuner I can connect to my computer to set the advance curve, it is a bike I really love and will never sell. She's a torque monster now. I bought the original bike for the right used price knowing this would be the direction I'd take. That is still the issue for Harley at least here in the U.S., you look at the used market there are 2x as many used Harley's for sale for every import bike. Why pay up and buy new when there are very nice used bikes for sale? The warranty from buying new just isn't worth it. I remember back in early 90s that you were put on a 2-3 month waiting list if you wanted a new Harley. They couldn't keep up. That buying demographic has changed, with the older generation still preferring to buy used and personalize it from there. Harley just ousted the CEO and the new guy seems to have the right approach but time will tell... https://www.businessinsider.com/har...or-the-motorcycle-company-jochen-zeitz-2020-5
    JRay77, Jim, Paul Sutton and 2 others like this.
  12. Team Junk

    Team Junk XS650 Junkie XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    The airplane company's had it right for years. Building cheap trainers that encouraged brand loyalty. I learned to fly in a Piper Cherokee 140. Still love that airplane . Would not hesitate to recommend a Piper. Also made me prefer low wing planes.
    I grew up riding Yamaha dirt bikes and have preferred Yamahas ever since. The 2 stroke twins made me a sport bike guy so Harley was never an option for me. When I was about 12 a local Harley dealer's son would ride with us on his Baja 100. That was a hell of a machine and I think Harley really did a disservice to it self by getting rid of Aermacchi which somewhat became Aprilia.
  13. MaxPete

    MaxPete Lucille, Betty & Demi - I suggest but THEY decide. XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    One thing to remember in all of this is that to us, the North American and European motorcycle markets are big - but the fact is that we are a very tiny part of the bike-buying world (under 4% of the global total - see the data below).

    For every ST1300 or GL1800 (or Concours or FJR) sold by the J4 or Road King Superglide Chromematic Brontosaurus sold by HD in North America or Europe, somewhere else in the world, somebody is selling literally hundreds of other bikes. Some of those “someones” are Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha and Suzuki and yes, a few Bimmers, Ducatis, Triumphs and KTMs as well (along with Royal Enfield, Hyosung and others whose names escape me) - but it ain’t Harley Davidson. If you go to India or China, or Indonesia, or anywhere in Africa, you see domestic brands and J4 bikes by the zillion on every road - but you’ll wait a looooonng time to see a Harley go by.

    Here is some real data to consider (from Statista.com - 2018 Global Motorcycle Sales):
    • Asia-Pacific: 108.8 million (more than 82% of global motorcycle sales)
    • Africa-Middle East: 10.1 million
    • Central & S. America: 8.1 million
    • Western Europe: 3.03 million
    • North America: 1.93 million (less than 1.5% of the total)
    • TOTAL: 132 million sales globally
    So, as Ryan said, 30+ years ago Harley Davidson chose to double down on a very small market and now it is aging-out on them and meanwhile they have nothing to sell to any other larger markets and they have nothing to sell to the shrinking pool of domestic (ie. North American) riders who are selecting other brands (as confirmed by Harley’s own sales data).

    ...and yes, you do see a lot of Harleys on the road - today - but their sales figures don’t lie and so give it a few years and I suspect that number will shrink as the owners age and stop riding. Finally, I suspect that a lot of the Harleys you see on the road today were sold new 5-15 years ago when things were perking along well for them (and they were failing to develop appealing new products). It’s the new sales that really matter to a business - not how many you see on the road today. That only tells you about history.

    If you go to a BSA vintage rally - you will see a lot of BSAs - but just try to buy a new one....

    I’m not happy about it - but the conclusion seems inescapable from the data and as some journalists say: “facts matter”.

    Mailman, JRay77, Team Junk and 6 others like this.
  14. Superjet

    Superjet XS650 Guru Top Contributor

    Good read Pete thanks for posting. It’s hard to ignore the data about the sales and I agree with it. JC
    MaxPete, Jim and Team Junk like this.
  15. 650Skull

    650Skull Dinosaur Lives Top Contributor

    When the yuppies used the, Harley bad-boy, image to give themselves the weekend Yuppie Harley bad-boy image, Harley fell over-themselves and i guess thought the genre would never end........

    The Asian market has been around for generations............Harley wouldn't lower there standards to be seen in that market and the market has never been a large CC one.....they wouldn't go back to smaller CC bikes to tap into it.......starts at the top ..........They used to, but dropped the smaller cc when the Japs and others have retained and refined it

    Have now with the 500 today and gives themselves the out from tariffs and they don't have to build in the states.......To little to late..???...........

    Also have priced themselves out of the market with substandard showroom bikes and using the exorbitant $ aftermarket add-ons to make the bike handle and perform as it could/should............
    MaxPete, JRay77 and Jim like this.
  16. JRay77

    JRay77 XS650 Addict

    I was influenced a lot by my father. I'm 43yrs old. As a little one my father had a KZ900 and later a KZ1000. Like Jim said, these bikes hauled ass and were a fraction of the price. My dad always talked about how cheap he could commute with these and he was never late for work. Lol. Put me on the gas tank for rides. "Harleys are a rich mans bike" he'd say. "I tune mine up once a year and done." The AMF Harleys were my youth. Probably why my dads deep rooted hatred for them as well. For me, it's never been about the brand, make or model, it's been about the attitude of the riders. Where I live, Harley people, it's a religion of a false idle. Talk shit and can't fix their own shit. They're like Power Rangers, the rider attire all has to match the bike. Promoting image of badass. Well guess what, real men don't flex nuts because real men know they have nuts. Period. Twice this year I've had neighbors want me to work on their Harleys. I have my garage door open and they see I work on bikes. It's my hobby. Not my business. Roll their eyes when I tell them it's a Yamaha. Guess what? These Yamahas run, I fix them and don't beg for help. They love my Triumphs tho. Why? All they know is the name. Triumph = a lot of god damn maintenance. Haha They don't even know, well the most of em. I had an XS with the Yamaha off the cover. One dipshit swore it was a Bonny. Can't tell by the tappet cover? Shifter location? Heart shaped cover? I don't know why I let these people piss me off. Anywho, good guys on here. Intelligence. Harley has lost its way and it ain't comin back. I'm so full of spite because of their riders, I will ride my XS and Triumph over their grave. Harley Douchebags.
  17. billy icon

    billy icon test pilot,gunnie pig, and all around experiment

    I was raised on a triumph trophy 500, litteraly, when I was a baby and I wouldnt sleep, my dad would lay me on the gas tank and go around the block, and then I guess I would fall right asleep once brought back inside, it had strait pipes with no muflers,,,

    hmmmm and now I have bikes coming out my ears, and allays have to be building another one... hmmm
    Greyandridin, MaxPete, JRay77 and 3 others like this.
  18. Mailman

    Mailman Hardly a Guru Top Contributor

    Another Iconic brand BMW, this was their heritage model, improved over the years.

    1929 Horizontally opposed flat twin engine With shaft drive

    90 years later, 2019. Horizontally opposed flat twin engine with shaft drive.
  19. 2XSive

    2XSive At least one screw loose behind the handle bars XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    I resemble that remark! Call me what you will. I love my Harley, but love my XS as well. Ride both, depending on the trip at-hand, but am putting more miles on the XS simply because a majority of my riding is less than 100 - 200 miles a pop. I like my 3-1 ratio though. Three XS's to one Harley, lol. Harley Douchebag it is....
  20. Vincenthdfan

    Vincenthdfan XS650 Addict

    Holy crap...stereo type much?

    I too was hugely influenced by my father (who died when he was 57 and I was 37 at the time). He rode Harley Sprints, Knuckleheads, Panheads, Triumphs, Yamahas, etc...

    I'm 55, have owned more bikes than I can count over my lifetime both street and dirt. Still have about 20 some odd bikes hanging around the house, from very early XS-1, XS-1B, XS-2, CT-1's, DT-1's, KTM's, DR650, DL-1000, 70 Triumph Bonneville, etc.

    I grew up riding and wrenching on Yamahas, even worked in a Yamaha shop through High School years.

    As I got older in my military career, and having wrenched on pretty much every kind of aircraft in the US Air Force inventory, my Dads words about "nothing feels like leaning my big ole Harley through corners, leaning her over on the Primary..." started ruminating through my mind.

    Yeah, I bought me a 2001 Harley Road King, tailored it to fit me and found out what it was that Dad was talking about...that Road King now has over 73,000 miles on it that I have personally put on it. The bike fits and feels like an old familiar glove, its become part of the family.

    I ride it both in his memory and as a tribute to my Dad. I dont dress like a pirate, dont hang out in bars and I wrench on every square inch of every bike I own.

    Hell, I couldn't afford to take all my toys in to be worked on, so I have no choice but to wrench on my own! But honestly, I wouldnt have it any other way.
    Last edited: May 18, 2020
    Greyandridin, 2XSive, MaxPete and 5 others like this.

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