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You're all wrong. Er, or maybe you're all right, sorta.

I'm going to disagree with all of you. And agree with all of you at the same time. Not that anyone should really care.

A Buell cruiser is a bad idea. If Buell has something to hang its hat on, it's the fact that they build a super-nimble sport chassis. To make a cruiser would not only be an infringment on Harley, but dilute the Buell brand. Now, if you're saying that maybe Buell should develop a chassis for a Harley tourer/bagger, that might be an idea as long as its badged a Harley. The problem with that is the R&D money H-D would have to pay to develop this new chassis when, by their estimation, they've got perfectly good touring bikes already. H-D is not known to do a lot of R&D and that philosophy of keeping those costs down and keeping their product line virtually the same for decades has made them a lot of money.

However, I do agree that Harley is reaching market saturation (and have stated it ad naseum--Jungkvist is too new to have suffered through my ramblings). Remember, everyone, H-D was almost dead in the early 80s. And they got themselves in that position as a result of decades of indifference to changing times, technology and attitudes. Don't think that this couldn't happen again. It certainly could, despite H-D's marketing might. The H-D tune is starting to sound a little old, now. And H-D's core constituency is getting older. They're going to have to replace all of those riders as they leave the sport. And it's a big number. And then they still have to try to grow. While I know some 30 and 40-somethings who would still like to own a Harley, I know more who would never own one.

Plus everyone and their dog seems to own a Harley now. The cool factor is kind of warmed over, don't you think?

With their success, H-D has also gotten themselves in a bit of bind. They've been so successful at branding the Harley experience, they're going to have a tough time changing the perception of what a Harley is when, and if, they ever need to. Not a bad problem to have right now, but in two, five or ten years, they may have to reconsider their strategy. One of the cardinal rules of marketing is to always keep evaluating your position in the market and to never rest on your laurels. Times change, and they better figure out a way to change with them. A great example is what Cadillac has done.

They've completely remade and upgraded their product and image while still keeping some of their traditional brand essence. But it took a lot of money, a few false starts and over 10 years to do it. That's why you've got to think ahead.

That is where Buell could come in. But I've got to disagree with my friends Sarnali and Buz. The worst thing H-D/Buell could do is to fold the Buell bikes into the H-D nameplate. Very few sportbike/naked/non-harley buyers would consider buying a Harley sportbike. In fact, Buell is already suffering from being percieved as H-D's red-headed stepchild. What H-D really has to do if it really wants Buell to succeed is to separate the Buell brand farther from the Harley brand. That means separate dealers, separate sales forces, separate R&D for all the bikes' components, etc. Then as the Buell brand grows into maturation as a technology/image leader on it's own (with H-D's largely unseen backing), they could use the new-found Buell cache to help H-D transition into the future--in essence bringing Buell back to the H-D fold. Or, to put it another way, the child helps the parent to be reborn.

I think that's a good strategy for both H-D and Buell. I just don't see H-D skimming from the current gravy train to finance the strategy. But what do I know?
 

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Re: You're all wrong. Er, or maybe you're all right, sorta.

I think H-D tried some separate Buell stores. Santa Cruz was one location. I still think it should say H-D on the side. Youngsters could start on the Buell style and move to the cruiser style as they age.

I don't know why you suggest H-D doesn't do much R&D. I know this sounds silly, but it takes quite a bit of R&D to make old stuff work like newer stuff. Pushrod engines need to meet EPA and CARB guidelines. Springer front ends need to work at modern speeds. Its' not cutting edge yet still needs engineering to work properly.

Harley suffered in the 70s and 80s due to crappy quality control. Look how many people still bought them even though they were known to be shyt.

Cadillacs are still ugly even with Led Zeppelin in the background.

You're still in the GPTB but you're pushing it buddy!
 

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The Toad
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Re: In answer to, good,sarnali...

I didn't think you were slamming anyone, sorry if you got that idea.

I think Harley will do just fine. Maybe not as well as with the baby boomers, but lots of young people like them. It's still hard to beat a large displacement high torque engine for 2 up Interstate riding. Most riders don't go for sportbikes. Even amongst the 20-30 demographic cruisers still outsell sportbikes.

As far as "decades old technology" goes much engine technology was developed long before WWII. Mercedes fielded 4 valve DOHC racing engines for example. My dad rode an inline4 Indian when he was young.

What we have today is an ability to make features that once were insanely expensive now affordable in production vehicles. We even see titanium bits now... an unheard of thing prior to the huge amount of money the military spent perfecting production of aircraft with titanium parts.

So, I don't see any reason the V-Twin should disappear. Any more than singles will disappear. Unless someone can find a way to make a competitve MX bike with two cylinders.
 

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The Toad
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Re: You're all wrong. Er, or maybe you're all right, sorta.

What you say sounds reasonable. And I would agree fully, except that people have been making that prediction for decades now and HD is bigger than ever.

HD will survive for the same reason that Ford and Chevy do. Many people will buy crap if it's labelled "Made in USA". You only need to see how many Ford Focuses there are out there to know that what I'm saying is true.

And since I don't think Harleys are crap I think they'll do better than Ford.
 

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The Toad
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Re: I have heard...

Quite correct. I knew a guy a years ago who put the 74" stroker kit in an ironhead Sportster, along with a number of other goodies (two front cylinderheads w/two Mikunis, titanium rods, etc.) I don't know what it dynoed but I do know that it charged out of the hole like a bat out of hell easily stomping any inline4 it encountered.

Of course, he had to tear it down and rebuild it about every 5K. But, man, what a rush.

And that poor man's XR1000 style two front heads treatment was pretty trick.
 

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Re: I have heard...

Well that's basic marketing... ya can't announce a new modern watercooled twin a year before you release it because you'll kill sales of your existing bikes.
 

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Re: If I may interject here....

Company's useing rock classics to flog their product's should be drawn and quartered

The only one that worked was Jaguar using "foolish Dreams"
 

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Well said, all of you...

As, has been stated, I haven't been around very long, so I don't know when I'm visiting the Dead. However, it has been nice to get a primer on the various opinions on this subject.

Alvin Toffler, I'm not; only the future will tell, when it gets here. My guess is that we'll all be right, and wrong, to some extent. Over the years, numerous good ideas have languished in motorcycle, and car, showrooms, while more established, less rational rides went out the doors. Hey, markets are screwy.
 

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Re: If I may interject here....

I really liked hearing Queen's, I Love MY Car, again. Great song! Now, if someong could just figure out how to use Iggy and the Stooges, I Just Want to Be Your Dog, for a mattress company :)
 

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Re: You're all wrong. Er, or maybe you're all right, sorta.

You're probably going to kick me out for this. But what the hell.

The fact that Harley separated the Buell stores in a couple of places does not a strategy make. They would have to make a huge committment to Buell to do this properly. They would have to provide lots of financial and materail support to get it right, and possibly, suffer through some losses. And they'd have to commit to a long term strategy. I doubt their shareholders would like it, but shareholders are very often wrong. They look at quarter to quarter results, understandably. But pandering to shareholders has killed many long-range strategies.

If the Buells were to become H-D's, they'd really have an uphill battle trying to sell them. I essence they'd be attempting what is known as a "line extension." And line extensions that overreach the relevant are usually not accepted. I would argue, that with Harley's current market position and brand image, sportbikes are a stretch. I'm pretty sure this is why Buell is still just a niche manufacturer--they're still considered Harleys by many. Another rule of thumb: You can't stay a niche manufacturer forever. You either have to move into top 10 or so in the market, or you are going to die eventually. The only way around this is to create your own category, which is exactly what Buell has tried to do with the "streetfighter" label. Problem is, they're still in Harley dealers, with Harley salespeople (who don't really give a crap), with Harley stuff everywhere around them. This is not how you build a sustainable brand. Kind of ironic since H-D has been so succsessful cultivating their own brand.

Point 2: You're right, Harley did suffer with poor quality during the 70's and 80's. But that was really only part of the problem. Harley sold a good amount of bikes, but their market share and positon was completely ravaged by the Japanese who were building bikes that were more desireable. Better performance, better reliablity, and better price. Plus they were different than Harleys. I was too young to ride streetbikes in the mid and early 80's, but I remember people talking about how they loved their Japanese bikes because they were so powerful, reliable and"refined." No one really taked about "character" then. Then a funny thing happenend: Tastes began to change for a large amount of people. Harleys started to become more desireable. Everyone seemed to have a Hondakawasukiha, but a few wild ones on the fringes still had Harleys. That was alluring. H-D wisely capatalized on this. Hence the cruiser boom was born. Let's also remember that that was only about 20 years ago. Not really a long time. So the claims that "people have been predicting the end of the cruiser boom for decades" don't really hold water. It only seems like a long time.

To put the time frame in perspective: In roughly the same period, Volkswagen went from being the world's most successful car maker, to near-extinction, to boom again. Now they seemed to have leveled off some. To say that Harley's fortunes are now set in stone forever is a mistake.

Now it seems like everybody's got a Harley. Hell, even Harley owners make fun of the "newbies and sheep." I'm not saying H-D is going to go away, I'm just saying that to maintain relevance, it is entirely possible that they may have to evolve in the not-so-distant future. We look at H-D as this unassailable monolith. No one is unassailable in the marketplace. Other companies are always working on ways to chip away at you. And things will always change. You only have to look at H-D's entire history for proof of that.

Lastly, I didn't say that Harley spends no R&D money. I meant that it takes a lot less money to refine their designs that to completely revise their models every few years. The spend a lot less R&D money relative to other high-performance manufacturers. Cruisers, especially Harleys, are relatively low-cost, high mark-up and profit items. Currently, there's no need for them to spend a lot in R&D.

Oh, and you may think that Cadillacs are ugly, but there's no doubt about how successful they've become.

Maybe this only got me probation?
 

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Re: You're all wrong. Er, or maybe you're all right, sorta.

If you care to, see my reply to Buz above. The Harley boom began again only about 20 years ago. They were also in a funk for about 15 years. Things can change, and usually do. Trends burn out. I'm not saying Harley's going away, nor do I wish them to. I'm just saying that they may need to evolve in the future. They were smart enough to see that in the 80's. The future may require a different change to maintain their position in the market.

And I think you would agree that even Ford and Chevys are light years ahead, relative to the competition, than they were 20 years ago.

By the way, I don't think Harley's are crap, either. They're fine for their intended purpose. I just don't think that, as they are, they will continue to hold the same allure. We'll see.
 

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Re: If I may interject here....

I don't love it, either. But guess what? It's working.

But I think their success has more to do with a good product that is marketed well than just Led Zeppelin.
 

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Re: Well said, all of you...

Very true.

But what I'm talking about as everything to do with the irrational, not the rational. I'm talking about perception, not reality. Although, as you know, in marketing, perception is reality.

However, as you say, markets are screwy.
 

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Re: You're all wrong. Er, or maybe you're all right, sorta.

Just double super secret probation.

I'm sure the bling bling hip hop factor is what made Cadillac so popular. At least the Escalade.

I'm sure living in NY as you do, every Joey is out rolling in his Cadillac without a shirt and his gold chains on. It's the new IROC which once stood for Italian Retards Out Cruising.

We'll see what Buells future holds. Sales have picked up over the last two years. Heck they outsell the VFR by double in this country I believe. That's one of the holy trinity of motorcycles!
 

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Re: You're all wrong. Er, or maybe you're all right, sorta.

Believe it or not, the new Cadillac drivers, at least around here, seem to be just the opposite of what you described. Of course, I live in a pretty affluent suburb (not that I can really afford it); you wouldn't even necessarily know it's pretty close to NYC. But I'm around New York quite a bit, so I do notice who's driving what. Then again, I don't travel to Sheepshead

Bay much.

Actually, I think Buell did fairly well this year. But they're going to have to continue to grow significantly to be viable. In a marketing sense, they've actually done quite a few things right. It just seems H-D is not fully behind them sometimes where it matters.
 

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The Toad
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Re: You're all wrong. Er, or maybe you're all right, sorta.

I certainly hope they don't keep the allure. I'd like to own one again. I just ain't gonna pay the ridiculous prices for a used one. No way.
 
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