I would have to say expand their line. They build cruiser motorcycles, which is great for those who like that style. I believe that they should start designing different engines, online 4's, OHC v-twins. I'd like to see more superbikes out of them. The only thing they have on their competition is value and gas mileage. I had a Honda shadow 1100 and got horrible gas mileage compared to a sporty or dyna. Sputhe tried to sell them their 60 degree Vtwin for their touring line but they decided to stick with the Evo. I think what's holding them back is they dont want to lose the image. I believe they should keep making bikes with that "Harley" sound, but expand and refine their bikes to out perform, out last, and out class the competition. I think that until their performance numbers come up, they'll have a much harder time finding buyers. I mean c'mon, 96 cubic inches and only 67 horsepower?
Drop back on the lifestyle crap. They're a motorcycle company, not a lifestyle company. This can get phased out slowly, but seriously. Motorcycles and related stuff, not "lifestyle that may or may not include a motorcycle." The lifestyle was cool for a decade or so, but the younger set of riders thinks it's funny more than awesome. good ,i agree. http://www.usbphoneworld.com/battery-hp-compaq.htm l
As far as products, their model line is varied, but many models share the same basic platform. I agree that they should not have dropped the Buell line, as that's what the younger riders, (and future new bike buyers) are into, but it is what it is. If I could suggest they introduce just one product,(as if they need my advice), it would be to introduce a product that would actually sell beneath the Sportster models. The sportster is a great product, but it's viewed by many, whether rightly or not, as a beginner or ladies bike, and the price point is just too high compared to it's mid weight cruiser competitors. The Blast appeared to be a great beginner bike, forgiving in handling, inexpensive, and lightweight. But style-wise I it feel missed the mark on the biker image that HD sells so well. Picture a Blast motor, (they already have the development and tooling), in a rubber mounted traditional dual shock drop-seat frame. The forks and handlebar controls could be direct Blast stuff to maintain the rake and trail, and reduce design and tooling cost. The oil tank moves forward to where the rear cylinder would be. This gets the existing sportster seat (and all it's profit making upgraded versions) lower to the ground for the shorter or less experienced. Half the cylinders and heads cuts down the top heavy feel of the Sportster for newer and women riders. Sixteen inch wheels get an even lower center of gravity, quick turns and easy handling at low speed. It would be blingable with all the fringe and chrome of the "HD lifestyle lovers" but should cost significantly less than the Sportster. The "lifestyle crap" sells, and "motorcycle as fashion accessory" draws a lot of people into riding in the first place. With more people commuting on bikes for economy, a single cylinder Harley might be due for a comeback. It also might, as a smaller bike have more appeal in emerging markets like China, India, and Malaysia. In marketing to the wanna be biker bad-girls here in the good old USA, HD could invoke a bit of their past, stick their tongues firmly in their cheek and state...
MNS - I think thats a solid idea, I really do man.
I've been looking at old Sprints (aermacchi) lately, and I hate that HD doesnt do more like that line. I have a 1125R, a S3 (track only, but still), I am interested in a small cruiser just to get from here to there and score awesome MPG etc Plus it'd be something you could REALLY customize. Face it, sportbikes dont get the same treatment when it comes to customizing. "oh cool, you painted your wheels a different color..." etc Just doesnt have the same feel as the guy who is making his own gas tank and oil tank etc. Plus it'd make for a good cafe project
I would turn HD into the US Honda. Sportbikes, sport tourers, a big Goldwing thing, V-4's... the only US motorcycle company for 40 sum years and they can't make a dirtbike or even a flat track bike? Ghey. They make ONE cool bike, the XR1200, and they don't even offer it for sale here to start off. Azzhat move.
If the Harley heads weren't such cowardly vaginas they would run a real motorcycle company, instead of a Tshirt store that sells bikes & assless chaps too. "We don't want to compete in other markets with other brands."
Fkuc HD. If they hadn't been propped up by the government they would have been driven out of the market decades ago, and we may have had a few of the smaller companies that they drove out of business over the years....Excelsior, Buell, lord knows how many other companies they have screwed US riders out of.
But yeah, kill them or turn them into Honda. Either way works for me.
I don't know, the world is getting smaller every day. As people in other parts of the world see their average incomes rise, and local infrastructure improve, many of the second world's middle class just might want the image of American freedom. Harley could be just as effective as Hollywood in exporting their brand image. The trick is to have the right product for the market. a six hundred pound sportster is going to have a hard time on a muddy rutted back road.
Take the V-Rod engine lighten it up put it in an Adventure Touring bike with 19 inch front 17 inch rear tubeless laced wheels.BMW has been selling bikes like that by the boat load for 30 years,now Triumph and Yamaha are selling their versions of that style bike and from what I hear (locally) they are selling quite well.If they did it right they would sell very well I think.
@Hybrid- Totally agree about the car industry, good point. GM especially comes to mind.
They used to have an adventure tourer, it was called a Buell Ulysses, I'm sure a Rotax was in it's future, it was probably the most highly critically praised bike "HD" ever sold, and apparently they didn't like it enough to keep selling it.
Well quite frankly I'd build a sportbike. You can argue that it was already done but it really wasn't. HD bought a majority of stock in a sportbike company and then tried to sell them in HD dealerships. They were owned by HD but Buells weren't HD's. For many people, they just didn't see the difference. The customer walked into the dealership and didn't see a HD sportbike, they saw another name. To them it was never HD but something foreign.
HD needs to reach out to a larger demographic by bringing in the sportbike crowd. They need to build a from the ground up HD only sportbike. I'm 49 and still a sportbike guy. There are many older guys that I've spoken to that would buy a sport bike if HD built it. As you know for many of the HD crowd it's an image thing. When asked about their sportbike they could say yes, it's a Harley instead of having to repeat and explain because no one has ever heard of Buell.
I'm a very big Buell fan and am on my 3rd. If you're listening HD, build your own sportbike and increase your market share. Directly compete with the jap sportbike companies. Lord knows you have the logistics and capital to make it happen.
good thread. Coming back to H-D dealership Next week. I will work hard to make sure the Buells get the damn attention they deserve. My last year at my last shop - they were 20% of my sales - I am looking to make that goal a reality again.
My first thing to do - push for sponsorship here (just as my last dealer was) so that I can abide by the rules and get the Buellers the deals, parts, and service they need - want - deserve.
Their current bikes, for what they are are good, but too heavy, too expensive for me.
Buy Motus. Bring the price down to be affordable. Buy Confederate. Put the Vrod motor in something other than a cruiser. Sport Touring motorcycle. Lighten up the XR. Make it really look like a flat tracker. Unit construction motor. Lighten it up. Slick trannys. Take a look at BMW, Triumph, Honda.
Hire Roland Sands as your model designer. Have you seen his new BMW design? wowl.
Problem, the dealerships and current buyers would not accept something other than a cruiser.
Problem. The current other buyers in the market do not want to go into a HD dealership. Ask Buell Riders how they were treated. Then you will understand.
I think they are currently stuck in their mold. That is their culture, and they do not have anyone at the helm that to radically make the change.
Customer service! -allow browsing of parts diagrams online or include with bikes. -allow search/purchase of parts online. -unify the experience customers get at different dealers. -send dealers to customer service classes.
More bikes -more styles. I'm no HD expert, but I REALLY only see only 4 styles of HD: Sportster, VROD, "naked" cruiser, "faired" cruiser. After that they all look the same, with the exception of any chrome accessory you can buy. -throw in a streetfighter/cafe racer -something useful for everyday commuting, focus on easy maintenance, handling, and not being afraid to get rained on. -beginner bike, with loss of Blast, they need something to teach riding classes on, as well as get first timers on a bike.
How cool would it be if they had ALL the Service Manuals online so that customers always had access to the most up-to-date information? No obsolete manuals lacking updates. All the Technical Updates, Product Improvement Programs, Recalls and virtually every piece of information in one place.
And the Parts Manuals . . . . wouldn't it be fun if you could browse the parts manual, drill in and . . . simply by clicking (after you were logged in as a registered owner) have the part at your door in 24-48 hours with the closest dealer in your zip code getting credit . . .
Online scheduling of service with uniformity in policy and procedure from one dealer to the next . . . . the ability to shop many dealers as one . . . to spec out precisely what you want, regardless of location, and work with your local dealer.
A completely integrated system . . . . .
Take it one step further . . . when you buy the bike, it comes WITH an iPad Mini, instead of an owners manual, that has everything from all the years sales and promotional literature, copies of all your paperwork, access to the owner, service and parts manual, a complete (always up to date) accessories catalog and an always up to date calendar of events.
The idea of building a company and a product that places an amazing ownership experience at the epicenter of the relationship.
Hmmmmmmmmmm . . . now what kind of company would do that?