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Whoa!, there, Tex.

Here's the thing, though...someone needs to. Because even Harley riders like motorsports (even if it's only NASCAR), and if there are no sponsors, there is no racing. And even if not one single H-D owner gives one whit about MotoGP, they still benefit from the series.

Would the Sporty be rubber-mounted without Buell figuring it out first? Would Buell have even needed to figure it out (or refine it) without ProThunder or Formula XTreme? For that matter, would Buell even exist as we know it (or at all, for that matter) without racing, and the lessons it teaches? What about the new dog-ring tranny on the Sporty, that they borrowed from Buell, that Buell learned from racing (well, and from BMW)? And the new six-speed in the Dyna: could they have done it without the fruits of racing? Sure. WOuld they have?

Someone needs to make sportbikes, because even though I've owned two Harleys, and think they're great for what they are, and wouldn't mind having another, I just can't bring myself to ride something that is, performance-wise, engineered to the lowest common denominator, no matter how good they look.

At a minimum, racing drives development at those companies that compete against Harley. And while I like Harley (even used to own the stock, before i got poor) I do not think that "development cycle" is in their vocabulary. I do not think that they (or any company) would spend too much money on bettering the product without competition. Success in competition has historically been had from the ownership of superior product. Advance in product has come largely from racing.

--Historical digression...from distance racing Indian developed the closed-loop "recirculating" oil system. Harley did not choose to adapt to catch up. Instead, they started an ad campaign to the effect that "Why would anyone want to recirculate the oil? Then dirty oil gets into the engine. Harley's total-loss oiling system is better, for the reason that fresh oil is always suppied to the engine.-- Has their attitude changed substantively? If not, why not? If so, how much of that change is due to evolution of corporate culture, and how much is due merely to the application of outside force, namely competition? Lastly, contrast the entrenched attitude, or "corporate culture", at Harley versus that at Honda, by way of semi-random example, with specific reference to development and advance in product function. (Big Red because the corporate culture there, as built and directed by Soichiro, centered about racing and excellence in product development. Form, usually sadly lacking, if any, followed distantly behind function.)

And by the way, I am also convinced that the reason they made no money building sportbikes (VR1000) was due to lack of will, not lack of ability. Can they build a performance engine, when they apply themselves? Yes. Witness the V-Rod. Can they build a truly sport-quality chassis, with the application of focused intent? Yes. Witness the XB chassis.

So while I do not want to have to try to make money building sportbikes, I sure am glad someone does.
 

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Sweet. Martha told me to "bake, bake, bake those cookies and sweat it out for parole."
 

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Re: Whoa!, there, Tex.

Even if you race a bike that is so advanced/oddball/useless-in--the-world as to be unsellable, it can still (and very frequently does) throw off tech that trickles down, thus improving the gene pool of the showroom models. The development cycle backwards? That doesn't seem logically possible. The parts and computer codes must be developed before they're put on the bike, even the one-off racing bike.

As to your well-put comment about chap-11 candidates...I think you'd concede they're a different case. The big factories race to a) produce trickle-down tech, b) to torture-test that tech for production readiness, and c) gain publicity. I contend that if the Big 4 were as bad at it (money-wise) as you seem to say (or as you say Harley evidently was) they'd be out of business. I therefore must conclude (not theorize) that there must be some quantifiable benefit to the Big 4 from racing that outweighs the cost. I further conclude that Harley's racing was unprofitable because it was the one arena in which their marketing department couldn't translaate the benefits to the customer base. Enter Buell, both the man and the company, to lend credibility to the ethos of product development for its own sake.

Now, as to the Chapter-11 candidates that you mention. There are two possible cases. First, that these men are unserious, that racing is such a passion for them, any smidgen of profitability is disregarded in favor of racing, in the big legues, at all costs, especially the costs of other people's money. These would deserve bankruptcy, and more, disgrace.

The second case is that these men are taking the ultimate gamble. If they, like ninety-nine per cent of their peers, lose, oh well, into the dust-bin of history they go. But if they win, even one race, suddenly they're Andrew Carnegie. For these men, usually ex-recers themselves, the idea of retiring to a life of mediocrity, maybe writing for a magazine or signing tee-shirts at the shows, is unthinkable. They are competitors. It's arguably the ultimate combination of American capitalism and American Perseverence and Ingenuity. I may not be such a man. But, as I said, I sure am glad they exist.

And you never answered my questions about comparative corporate culture. In sum, where would Harley be, development wise, without foreign competition? (Or, for that matter, would they *be* at all without protective tarriffs from The Gipper?) I contend that Harley's culture is "Why develop what can be advertised?" And I'd love to hear a cohesive, logical argument to otherwise explain H-D's progress and course.
 

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Re: Once again longride is wrong again...

in defense of longride...your citations say merely that the Japanese execws were present, not that they ride. And as it is reasonable to assume that this was a work-related and work-sponsored event for them, their "passion" for the sport is also not established.

So he is not demonstably wrong on those points.
 

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That's fair, with a caveat.

Harleys are made in the upper midwest, which has a riding season roughly four to six months long, with cold, hard winters. I therefore feel justified in expressing skepticism in your assertion that "Willie G rides every day." And even if he did, this is merely evidence that he understands the social good of riding, for example, or may be due to any of a number of causes, and does not constitute demonstrated, incontravertable proof of "passion" on his part. And even if it did so demonstate, we have yet to establish that "passion" is necessary to build a quality ride. I point you to your own borderline-racist comment about the Japanese.

Secondly, you point out that they were loosing ground to the British in the 60s, despite the probabliity that British quality control may not have been better. (I contend that British quality was better, but not as good as that of the Japanese during the same period, hence the sales results of that time.) But even accepting your assertion that Harley quality was no worse than the British, fine. If you'll notice, I never stated that build quality was the one determinig factor. (Although, in personal digression, I can state that after two Harleys, I'll be happy to own another one when they can spend on bolts and washers that don't rust...even my '78 Caddy has such minimum basic parts standards, like galvanization.) What I do claim, to use your example, is that the Brits must have offered *something* that Harley didn't in the 60s, whether it was quality or "soul" or handling or price point or some other such. The Brits MUST have had something over Harley, for the simple reason that they sold when Harleys didn't.

Therefore, my comment about competition was not meant, I hope you'll see, as a derogatory comment against Harley, but was intended to point out a basic truth of human organizations. That is: without outside stimulus (in the form of competition) ANY society (governmental, corporate, or otherwise) will not improve, for there will be no apparent need, and will wither and die. This is a necessary part of natural selection. To wit: the reason Harley had its lunch handed to it in the 60s by the British and Japanese was because they had no real competition in the post-war years in the big-bike market, (as Indian was realistically defunct), and got fat and lazy. Evolve or die. (I further contend, purely from personal experience with the brand, and only as personal observation, not necessarily as rational argument, that the quality that Harley has now, which gives it an advantage over its competitors, is not stellar build quality, though that seems good enough, but rather their marketing department. for the Japanese, you might argue that specsheet superiority is their magic bullet. If so, I might respond that the magic bullet for Harley is their ad group.) Be all that as it may, if you overspecialize, you breed in weakness; another law of natural selection.

This was my justification for the purchase of Buell, that Harley uses them for development, primarily to be accomplished in the arena of racing, so that even Harley, who does not race directly, benefits from racing, as, I argue, does the entire sport. Thus my first assertion that a healthy racing industry works to the good even of those who aren't all that interested in it. My second assertion came from the first, and was simply that even those riders uninterested in racing ought to care about its survival. As they say about the culture wars against religion: first they came for the Jews, and the christians were silent. then they came for the Buddists, and the Christians were silent. Then they came for the Christians, and no one was left to help. Likewise the riding culture and industry and sport. If the Tru Bruthorhood stands by while the gub'ment goes after the Racer Boyz, soon there won't be anyone left to help when the gub'ment goes after the cruiser riders.

And lastly, the reason my posts are long is largely because of the willful imprecision in many remarks. Ad hominem attack and ideological invective do prove the case, so I try to avoid those, and accuracy and precision take time, and apparently, space. I hope that, although somewhat verbose, no one walks away from my substantive posts unclear as to my meaning or intent. If they do, I can only resort to the question of whether sufficient care was taken in critical and careful reading.
 

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Not far enough...I can't reach my outdoor rotisserie! And my corporate sponsors are at the door!
 
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