Harley needs to face the fact that, even though in their distant past they had some 'race' bikes, they are a cruiser company. They've no go fast technology or manufacturing experience. Triumph can't build first tier race bikes and they've got all new equipment. Heck, Harley's still proud of their overhead valves and (wow) overhead cams!!!!
Give up, Harley, even your drag race bikes are 90 percent aftermarket pieces!
Harely will never be successful in road racing until they build a road racing customer base. Until then there will never be any real motivation for Harely to do well.
Had they came out with some real street bikes to put out on the street at a resonable price and started to build a base to work from then they would have a reason to race and win. Right now what do they have to gain from winning an AMA race or championship outside of pride? Not a damn thing. They are just wasting their money and time.
Personally I think Harely is going about this ass backwards but what the hell do I know.
in these days of runaway technology and the costs asscociated with winning races, HD is just hoplessly outclassed. Their streetbikes don't even resemble the bikes they're racing so there's not even any halo effect at the dealership monday morning.
ironically, they've probably got enough in the war chest to put together a competitive team if their hearts were really in it, but their committment is only talk, sad to say.
i just don't think there's a way for them to justify what it would cost for a sportbike with HD on the tank to win, when they don't even sell sportbikes (and don't start harping on me about BUELL---that's a sportbike chassis with a cruiser engine---what an absurd idea)
i believe it's time for them to hang up their racing effort and just do what they do best: build cruisers. why should they pretend to be something they're not? what they are is quite remarkable enough.
HD has always maintained that racing was _very_ important to them. It's important to their _identity_ not to their sales. Because they have the money (there's no doubt about that) they can spend a bazzillion dollars if that's what it's going to take for them to achieve their goal. The problem is, they don't know what to do, what to spend on, to get the results.
They have finally totally revised their race management this year. The former director is out, a new one is in, and they have an all new R&D group.
Previously, they closed their shop and went to the races. When they were on the road, nobody was developing anything new. Now they have a whole second operation that does nothing but develop new stuff. This is separate from the team that races.
However, the new effort has yet to produce any significant results -- on the track or on the bike in terms of parts.
People are watching to see if the revamped effort is going to produce a result or if they are just going to refluff the same ol same ol.
It seems to me like they need to give up some more of what they've held on to for so long in order to make progress.
There are a lot of people that would like to see them do well, but nobody is going to say "well yeah, 11th place but it's the only REAL superbike man. Made in USA. Yeah!"
No amount of chrome and BS can produce a race result.
The only way Harley will ever be competitive is to fire their engineers and hire every person they can get from Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha. The VR1000 is what you get when a tractor manufacturer tries to make a race bike. The VTX1800 is what you get when a racebike manufacturer tries to make a cruiser---smooth, fast, powerful.
I think the most revealing thing I have ever heard about Harley was a comment in a review for a Dyna Glide. The reviewer was stunned that no oil leaked from the engine cases.
Make no mistake, I have romantic notions of cruising on a blue Fat Boy with jeans, a t-shirt, a black leather jacket and a shotgun al'a Terminator 2, but let's face it, Harley-Davidson motorcycles are probably the most poorly engineered vehicles on the road today.
If Harley really wants to win races it needs clean thinking. Can't even start with the v2 concept... blank sheet, engineered for max hp lowest weight, ANY configuration. Harley, even now with fuel injection and all that super duper high tec stuff (!) they're getting into, are strangled by their corporate retro thinking.
Whilst I distintly dislike harleys and would never own one... I am intreagued by the thought of a real sporty bike with a harley name. Why not? It's even in their 'heritage'.
Just think of the advertising:
"real amerikin aluminium!"
"will take you places... faster"
"whitewall low profile tyres"
Uh oh, I just had a bad thought.. squids on Harleys... well, maybe that will save some premium Jap engineering from being splattered by squids;-)
even the basic engine design is a far stretch from the engines they sell to the public. One piece cranks, two piece rods, flat bearings, 4 cams. th eonly thing a dragrace Hd has in common with a street Hd is the paint. As a Hd owner I find is pathetic that they choose to run such non competitive machines. time to join the 20's century.
Aprillia successfully developed a truely competitive, non-90 degree WSB V-twin in about 3 years, with less resources than HD!! There's no excuse for HD, just incompetance and arrogance, IMHO. They don't have to be successful at this venture, and their customers don't really care if they fail. Aprillia, OTH, cannot afford a poor showing.
Don't count them out yet. The longer the race program fails, the more reasonable HD headquarters seems to be. They have new people running the program this year, and they are viewing this season as a rebuilding year. They apparently have a very good handling chassis, they just need more power. I think they should check out the Aprillia, as the engines are similar, and they need to let go of the round fairing and go through some aero studies.
They should learn from Ferrari. They tried to do everything themselves, but a few years ago they hired an international crew of the best designers, managers, and of course a driver capable of winning a championship. I am pulling for Pascal and Mike as they are decent guys, but I would think a development rider with experience with twins would help immeasurably. Is Troy Corser available next year?
Heeeellll no! Troy Corser loves Aprilia, and for good reason. They support him all the way. If he wants more power, WHAM!, he's got more power. Sharper handling? Here you go, Mr. Corser! He just signed an agreement to stay with Aprilia's SBK effort indefinitely because he likes it so much. Think you'd get the same sort of support and speed of technological development at H-D? Erm, nope!
All of this HD bashing is incredibly lame. One of the strengths of Harleys as street bikes is that there are so many aftermarket parts available, so you don't need to ride the same exact bike as the guy down the street if you don't want to.
The Japanese 'big four' manufacturers are not the only ones who can build a winning race bike. Anyone ever heard of Ducati? How about Britten?
A Buell is much more than a sport bike chassis with a cruiser engine. A stock Buell engine puts out almost twice as much horsepower as the HD motor from which it is derived. No, my Buell is not as refined or as powerful as my Hayabusa, but the experience of riding a Buell (or a Harley) is very different from the experience of riding a modern hi-tech Japanese sport bike.
The HD racing program needs to improve, but abandoning the company's heritage is not the answer. As for the comments that Harley riders don't care about racing - there are an awful lot of bikers who would be very proud to see the orange and black on the podium, and the factory should do its best to give us that. I don't think that there is any question that HD can afford to build a competitive race bike, they just need to shift their focus away from the lawyers (remember the attempt to trademark the sound?) and let the engineers do their thing.
Steve Schiebe is no longer the head guy for the H.D. race effort. John Baker is the leader for their revitalized effort. Gemini racing, which used to do all the development in-house, is still involved with the project but at a lesser level. All the development was brought in-house to H.D. with some of Eric Buell's engineers involved. Harley has basically started throwing cubic dollars at the bike to make it competitive. There have been strong rumors tying them in with Porsche. I really see good things on the horizon for the black and orange machines.
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