Early today, at motorcyclenews.com, they had an article about the new H-D with the Porsche-designed water-cooled engine. Then when I went back to look at it a few hours later the story was gone. Did anyone else see that?
Anyway, the new bike looks absolutely awsome. I'm not a Harley kind of guy at all, and had never considered buying one before, but this bike rocks!
Last I looked (9:30am PDT), HD stock was up $2 to about $48.35 a share. It has been a solid performer for the last few years. Although I'm not a Harley guy, I have to congratulate them on a job well done. HD has gone from the brink of destruction to a robust, healthy company that has pulled itself up by it's bootstraps.
They have taken their market niche and expanded on it in ways no one thought possible in 1984. They have brought up the quality and performance of their bikes, wisely expanded into branded clothing, listened to their customers and stayed loyal to the cause (of cruiser bikes), all the while keeping the bike manufacturing in the USA (clothes I don't know about). Along the way they made the smart move of getting Buell as an in-house brand, capitalizing on the naked bike market and giving Erik the resources to make a better machine than the product planners at HD HQ could ever come up with.
Now they have a new bike and new motor on the horizon, a machine that, at least for HD, looks more forward than backward. I don't like the look very much personally, but the new engine does drag them into the real world of performance, at least in a straight line. I'll be interested to see what Buell comes up with.
So, congrats, Harley, from a reluctant admirer. I may not be in the market for one of your bikes, but I'll keep watch and see what you do with your bright financial future. Don't rest on your success and stock price. Now's the time to take some chances, to maybe make a mistake, in order to get the attention of non-HD riders like me all around the globe. How about a true street sport bike? A V-twin dualsport? A true sport-tour machine? Or an affordable, reliable, rideable, no-attitude machine for beginners, in the spirit of the Honda Nighthawk 750?
Except that it had some problems with reliability at least the first year out, Harley already has the easy-to-ride "no attitude" beginners bike you asked for (the Buell Blast). It's no Nighthawk 750, but what in the world makes you think that's a beginner's bike? It's more a "returners" bike for people who've come back to the timeless virtues of a "standard" layout. Note the Nighthawk 750 is descended from the original CB750 which was among the fastest crotchrockets on the planet once upon a time, and that was the relatively "mild-mannered" old SOHC engine! No wonder motorcycle fatalities are up when totally green beginners are led to believe they should start out with a lot more bike than they have any business on. Some people actually think 600 sportbikes are "beginner" bikes when they have some of the highest power to weight-ratios of ANY production vehicle that doesn't require a pilot's license.
The stock is definitely a better ride than the bike. Looks like America's taste for driveway and trailer jewelry has yet to be quenched. Also, the analysts who've been calling HDI "overpriced" all these years could learn something from the Motor Co. As for me; I went from three Harleys to a vfr 800. Life's too short to spend on my knees polishin chrome and getting abused by the dealers.