I fully undersatnd why they don't build a sport bike. Not their market. Not their technology. Cruisers dominate the sales charts. And, they don't want the rapid depreciation of sport bikes to devalue their current offerings (sport bikes must become obsolete immediately to showcase newer technology and I wouldn't consider Buell in this race). To violate this business model when the market is eager to play would be foolish. The only reward would be their ego, and at what cost???
Yes, its amazing how much money you can make in the Good Ol U.S. of A. when you know what real American riders want. Thats why more than half of all bike sold in the Land of the Free are are cruisers. Its what makes us different, individual, manly and womanly.
But the cognisenti know that its more than just the bikes. Its an entire lifestyle, right down to the black leather vests and fingerless gloves. Leather fringe, engineer boots and a complete lack of effective cranial protection complete the ensemble. Call it a brotherhood, if you will. We, the cruisers, the true rugged individualists, the true Americans, stand tall among cyclists, resisting the urge for performance, protection, even common courtesy that suborn the minority of the biker body politic. Wed rather don a full baklava with Santa hat and beard for the Toys for Tots, but never shall So distinctive are our chosen vehicle and accoutrement we fairly shout our individualistic status to all in eye- and ear-shot. Even the reek of our unwashed locks binds us together as fellow lone wolves, so add nose-shot to the list.
Yet dare not appellate us conformista, a sobriquet redolent of decadent Euroculture, replete with Bauhaus, socialism, existentialism and other unnatural political and design philosophies, for too often these ideas result in machines pandering to a faux-sophisticated desire for function, comfort and style. Nor shall we be pilloried as commonkaze, recalling a Zen-like insistence on oneness with the cycle, oneness with the track, ride right past the service bay and dontcha look back. Rather, our handle reflects the American experience, at once as comforting as butterfat and as sweeping as the great malls Paramus Park, Woodfield, The Block in Orange, and of course, the Mall of America. Yes, we are none other than the cookiecutteurs. American as wretched excess, familiar as chocolate chips.
The cookiecutteur apprehends that true value in a two-wheeled machine is rooted in precisely the same substrate as that of a solid national currency precious metal. Yet the cookiecutteur goes a step beyond the mercantilist. Rather than settle for a mere paper representation of bullion in a vault, the cookiecutteur hews a machine out of as much of the ferrous stuff as an oversized rear and a bicycle front can support, slathering the entire creation in the one metal outshining gold, silver and even platinum chromium, sweet chromium, the opiate of the gods.
Yes, the powerful sun glinting off a half-million pounds of chrome spread lavishly over as many cookiecutteur machines is enough to drive every lesser cyclist off the High Plains and Black Hills come the second week of August. No mere automobile dare tread these happy hunting grounds of old, choosing instead I-94. After Crazy Horse well see Willie G. carved on a mountainside, a giant wide glide rising from the valley below, as if it spontaneously emerged from the soil of this great country
Should the blinding flash of chrome prove insufficient warning to lesser vehicles to make way, the cookiecutteur announces his presence with the full-throated fanfare of straight pipes. Such music to the cookiecutteur ear sends even wild beasts scurrying to their boroughs, leaving the open road to those most deserving American souls the cookiecutteurs, butts down, feet splayed forward, arms high above shoulders, inhaling the open road, alone save a multitude of brothers, soaking up the sunburn, the windburn, the Taco Bell trots, the road rash, the brain damage, and, yes the sore butt that is the badge of honor worn by those who dare to recline as they ride.
The cookiecutteur. If I have to explain it youll never understand.
They may not be able to build a decent sport bike, but I really don't care as I don't ride those anyway! But then again Rolls Royce doesn't make a sport car either, and no one things anything strange about that!. They do make one helluva Touring Bike though!
03 HD Electra Glide Classic - Fuel Injected
00 BMW K1200LT (73,000 miles and counting)
88 HD Electra Glide Sport/Watsonian Cambridge (big side car) (175,000 miles and counting on that one)
I'd love to buy a decent, reasonably priced American naked/sportbike. I'd bet plenty of others would as well. Buell could do it if they had a good engine/transmission available (V-rod engine, good idea bad execution for this application). V-twin, 4, I don't care. Harley has the technology available to make a suitible engine, why don't they? To say their business model precludes increasing market share I would say is inaccurate.
I guess the question I would have is "What is more important, profit or market share?" If it is market share, then they might build other products like dirt bikes and sportbikes. If it is profit, I imagine they would stick to cruisers.
Triumph makes sport bikes and nobody buys them. If Harley made a motorcycle that was in the same price range and performance as the Triumph, then people would buy it? Not a chance. All you have to do is look at the new 2000-2002 Kaw ZX12's that are sitting in the showrooms that were a bit slower than expected and priced a bit high. Plus with sportbikes you get the added albatross of having to redesign it every 2 years. It's a loser all the way around for Harley to even try. There is no possible way to compete with the Japanese, unless you are willing to lose money on every sport bike you make like they do.
H-D alredy has both profit, as related in the above article, and market share. According to numbers from BMWNA, about 2% of the American populous (248M) rides. Of that market, BMW Motorad holds about 2% (~113,000) and H-D holds 38%! These numbers include all the major catagories except four-wheelers of any kind. So saith the BMWNA marketing paper for the '03 model year, which suposedly quotes industry numbrs. The dealer showed it to me.
I wonder if the Big Four Jap makers are hurting? Harley's share by itself is 38% of the entire market, and growing. The Italian bikes are desirable, and picking up share, it seems.
I'd really like to see market share numbers and trends for all the makers, to see what just how the pie is sliced.
Harley's tried both, dirt and sportbikes, maybe before your time. The bikes weren't too successful then (the XLCR was beautiful) but it wasn't a bad idea. I believe the reason was they didn't represent a good value. Market share and profitibility are not mutually exclusive, just ask Harley.
I for one am happy to see an American company do well. I'm not saying that I necessarily agree with all that H-D has to offer or how they handle matters, but I do support their continued success. I'm always a bit surprised how American's beat-up on their own success, such as H-D doing well. Cheers to H-D!