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This is terribly sad.

For H-D in the short-term, it's probably the right thing to do. For the long-term, I think it could turn out to be a mistake. But we all know public companies don't usually think long-term these days, especially companies that are bleeding money.
 

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I've heard that "common wisdom" too many times. Yeah, lots of young guys like sportbikes, but lot's of them like HDs and choppers as well. I sure did when I was 22 and out of the service. The fact that the chicks dig the HDs is a factor too.... a big one.
In this case, common wisdom is pretty much on the money. The average H-D buyer is 49 years old as of 2008, which is nearly a decade higher than the industry average. Of course there are lots of younger folks that dig H-Ds, but, in relative terms, it's probably not enough. The Dark models have helped a bit, but their ultimate impact remains to be seen.

As I've droned on about before, H-D's demographic problem is fairly unique because it's not so much a demographic that's their core customers, but a generation of people (Baby Boomers). While there will still be a significant number of people who are drawn to the H-D style and brand--including some younger ones--there will likely be fewer and fewer as the years go by, which will ultimately be a real problem. Add to that the increase in "value" and "savings" thinking that the economic recession has brought on, and you may see a significant drop in purchases even from the Boomers, who are at or nearing retirement.

H-D was already running out of customers at their previous production levels, which, no doubt, led to the sub-prime financing debacle that is the company's biggest problem right now.

It's not a figment of everyone's imaginations; there are real challenges for the company long- and not-so-long term.
 

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Never argued with any of that. But broad claims that "young guys don't like Harleys" are patently false because I know many who do. If one said that "young guys can't afford Harleys" that would be a more accurate statement. But the baby boomer problem in the US bike market affects all brands. Most of your buyers of big ticket Japanese bikes are boomers too. As the boomers get too old to ride all manufacturers are going to be hurting in the US market. Of my unscientific sampling of my kids' (20s) friends only a very few care about owning motorcycles at all. Of my motorcycle riding friends' kids very few care about riding as well. They seem to like bikes, just not enough to bother to own one except maybe a scooter here or there.

Thinking that only Harley is in serious trouble is wishful thinking. The boomers are buying the vast majority GSes, K12s and FJR1300s and they will be the ones buying the new VFR1200s.
I'm not sure where you got the idea that I think only H-D is in trouble. The whole industry is down massively; we just happen to be talking about H-D. And I agree that as the boomers thin, the entire industry will be feel it. In fact, most consumer industries will be hurt. No disagreement there. But H-D, from a demographic standpoint, is probably in a little weaker position than the rest. There is absolutely sound logic to getting younger riders into the fold earlier. How they do it without alienating the core is the really tricky question. In a very real sense, H-D is a victim of its own brilliant success.

To LR's point, most companies wax and wane. But H-D's rebirth in the late 80's was based largely on patriotism, some government intervention, nostalgia and the identification and adulation of people of a certain age group. In the future there probably won't be quite as many people with the same sensibilities. Will there still be a lot of them? Yes, but maybe not enough to sustain the company as it is.

For the last few years there have been a lot of people who insisted that H-D could never find itself in the position it's in now. But the signs were there. The bad economy--and H-D jumping on the sub-prime gravy train--just made it that much worse. Profits were down 84% in the third quarter. And it could be even worse than that.

I want to see them survive and flourish--even if I don't aspire to own one of their products--because it's good for the industry as a whole. But I do think the company is at a point where a strategic shift (and maybe not even a dramatic one) might be called for.
 

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I only have one question to ask: Who here is going to pony up for an 1125? If you aren't, why not?
I can give you a few reasons:

1. The H-D dealers around here barely spoke to me when I asked about Buells. And the one that did was condescending and not well-versed in the product. I wouldn't buy anything from those halfwits. And all of them dropped Buell, anyway.

2. Unfortunately, the 1125 is butt ugly (which, aside from the crap dealers, is the bike's second biggest problem).

3. I like Triumphs better.

4. I'm conserving cash until the "Great Recovery" happens, or the government raises taxes again, whichever comes first (and I suspect it's the latter and not the former).

(Truthfully, if I felt better about the economy, and if someone around here sold them, I would seriously consider buying an 1125R at the firesale price, bad looks and all. With a few tweaks, it would probably make a wicked sport-tourer/trackday/do-it-all bike.)
 

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Have you ever read such gold-plated BS as that HD idiot's driveling about 'leveraging" and "playing up our unique heritage" or whatever the fock that moron was saying?

I like that banker's comment about HD selling Hondas.
F*ck, it's worse than I thought.

I (almost) completely agree with HFL.

I wouldn't take H-D's financial reporting as gospel, but it indicates that Buell was a minor problem at worst. H-D is getting killed by its financing division and flagging sales of H-D motorcycles and merchandise, not Buell and MV.

They have no cash, other than what they've borrowed. (What the f*ck did they do with it the last 20 years?) They can't afford to support three brands, so they're shoring up the most valuable one, even though it's probably suffering the most. No brainer, really, at least for the short term.

They better hope that the economy rebounds relatively soon and there core customers start buying bikes again or they're in deep ****e. They don't seem to have the resources to do much else.
 
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