I think the last sentence of that article is the truth, or for the most part at least. Today's teenagers, and young adults are into the sportbikes, or the majority of them. Yes, their sales are showing an increase of female riders, as well as african-americans; but isn't that to expect with all the equality finally. In my mind, what HD needs to do is just continue doing what they've been doing the entire time, produce solid products; which would include new models aimed at the new rider-base. The young adults today in-time won't be able to handle the physical task of riding crotch rockets, and will resort to a cruiser ( such as a HD). In short the HD rider-base is going to be passed from generation to generation.
But not unless they can compete with the prices of other cruisers and standards. ( V-Star )
I think they will do ok, changes ahead? Yes, believe it or not I think they will actually start copying the Metrics in many areas. The V-Rod is already a major step in that direction(liquid cooling, etc.) although it's only one bike it's basically Harley's metric bike.
Street Rod/V- Rod is a move in the right direction for a Cruiser that is competitve and attracts younger buyers while maintaining the image. The Buell line needs some work on their motors and they could be very competitive. But the big void is Bang for your buck. They need an 883 and 1200 sportster that looks good and has attitude. Maybe a chopped version. (Hugger Rear Shock, Regular front shocks, Traditional Sportster Tank, Drag bars, and a softail look headlight would make a nice little bike at the price of a hugger.
IMHO the best thing HD could do for sales is bite the bullet and put a real motor in the Buell line and put the Harley name on them. Next move, put them in the front of the store where the customer can see them and price them under 9K. Let the beer bellied "bikers" cry all they want and watch the sells climb.
But, if they want my business they are going to need to start winning races. (Buell)
I was actually planning to go buy one of the new Buells this week. But not after the problems I saw them having last Saturday. No way. I've decided keep looking. KTM perhaps or a Multistrada?
They can make all of the excuses they like, but it was poor quality that lost them both the Daytona 200 and my business.
Bottom line, it's going to take a lot more than marketing to get my business.
Also, as I age, I find myself less and less interested in cruisers. I was still in my teens when I sold my last cruiser and bought a 750 Kawi standard. So, at least in my case older doesn't = a desire for a cruiser type bike.
I like Harleys. Really I do. But they need some better offerings. They need to hook up with Storz and sell a street tracker for about $9999 that is more that a black and orange paint job and a high pipe. And they need to continue modernizing the running gear on the softails and dynas. The fatter tires of late are an improvement, but more needs to be done. I shouldn't have had to buy a Yamaha RS Warrior to get a cruiser that's fun to ride. The V-Rod is not worth the money they want for it, period. It should be in line with the other muscle cruisers, certainly under $15k.
So I,m going to call my chapter the B.O.G.S,[Black Owners group],I actually think it,s a smart idea to market to blacks and hispanics.I think a Night rod is cool,but I can,t afford the bling price. I dig the buell lighteneing cg,but you guys just scared the hell out of me!
The success of Harley-Davidson since the eighties has been directly related to baby boomers reaching the peak earning and empty nest age of life, combined with HD ownership being a fad among sports figures and other celebrities. Because HD has achieved icon status among that demographic, the quality and performance of the product has been the least important factor. But fads fade, and the numbers of boomers who ride will taper off as they get too old to ride. Another problem is that part of the appeal of HD for those with lots of disposable income is that HD's products have been priced out of the reach of a lot of people; exclusivity adds cachet. But now there are lots of custom bike builders, and a Big Dog or other custom has a lot more cachet than a Harley. And don't count Victory out as a factor. They are playing to the Harley customer base, building a better-performing, higher-quality product in the same price range and creating factory customs that don't look like "just another Harley." They are growing slowly but surely, just as Toyota and Honda did in the American car market.
They are making in roads in the female rider market. They sold an Electra Glide to my sister-in-law as her first bike! From a sales perspective those will add up, if their customer's stay alive.
As a forty year old life long rider, they're going to have to put some real work into the engine, chassis and suspension to interest me. They've got to compete with BMW for the aging rider market (I'm not there yet!), and BMW has a lot to offer.
Besides, that new Zook M109R ,if that is a sign of things to come,whether you like it or not[ I dig it],they better be looking over their shoulders.If they try to start to market to blacks,well blacks are going to start looking,just like they do now to japan for value ,money and longevity,and will not give a damn if it,s a hog.
>The young adults today in-time won't be able to handle the physical task of riding crotch rockets
Yeah: but HD should be warned that this isn't the European experience. Over here in the UK sportsbike riders don't graduate from sports bikes to cruisers: they graduate to sports tourers, super-motards and tourers that they comfortably put their wives on the back of and blast through France on at 150mph.
Once you allow people's early experience of biking to be dominated by sportsbikes, they will always have a leaning in that direction, and are unlikely to want to go back to the soggy performance of Harleys. Look what the resurgence of Triumph has involved over here: you guys may all be buying Bonnevilles and Rockets in the US. Over here in the UK I see way more Daytonas, Sprint STs, Tigers and Trophies...
This was a first run for this bike, the proverbial shake down to see what's going to fail in a racing situation.
These bikes are a "race only" version of the streetbikes. The problems were basically clutch problems, and they are being addressed.
Remember that this is basically a "real world" street bike that handles so well that it should be raced. It was never designed to be a 200mph crotch rocket, so there's bound to be some shakedown issues.
As for their street bikes, myself an many other XB owners will probably tell you that problems are negligible, maintenance costs are low, and the fun factor is extremeley high.
On track days it's interesting to see how well they handle as the Ducati's (air cooled) are slightly faster in the straights, but they Buells are jammed up behind them in the corners.
I ride 50k to the track, do 8 hours of track days and ride it home! No drama, no problems. Only issue is that the fuel tank is so small I have to fuel up during the day.
Buells have their quirks, but once you start rolling on the power and you fell that torque (xb12) it's a hoot.
I look at it this way, I get 4000k out of a rear tire, and it's worth it. I ***** when I don't get 12000km out of the tire on my road king.
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