While many people continue to discuss Harley’s future bikes, the financial folks have projected continued drops in Harley’s stocks. According to Barron’s, RBC Capital Markets analyst Joeseph Spak says retail sales for the company could drop by 10 percent for the quarter. We’ll see if he’s accurate on April 23, when Harley reports its numbers.
Harley’s stock started its long decline around five years ago from its high at $74 per share to about mid $30s. Spak said he would guess the company will see a year-over-year decline of 20 percent in shipments to dealers. The decline in shipments is directly tied to sales. If dealers can’t move the bikes, they won’t take any more shipments of them.
Part of the issue for Harley are tariffs. Europe imposed 25% punitive tariffs in response to President Trump’s policies. Those tariffs have negatively impacted Harley, and continue to do so. With the original 6 percent tariff that was in place before the 25 percent punitive tariffs, that puts the total tariff at 31 percent.
Those tariffs are expected to rise to 56 percent in June of 2021, according to Barron’s. The tariff issue is what prompted Harley to move European production to Thailand. It’s a move that angered many people in the U.S., including President Trump.
Spak says Harley’s production move could be permanent. He said that Harley “is quickly approaching a point of no return on the shifting of production.” He also said it would be smart for Harley to let the savings from the production move make an impact on the company’s bottom line. He thinks Harley should become a smaller and more profitable company overall.
I’m no financial analyst, but even I can see Harley has a major problem on its hands. The company is in a tight spot. While the prospect of a new electric motorcycle strategy could make a difference, it will take a long time for the company to turn things around with electric bikes if it can at all.
Harley’s issues are multifaceted. The company can’t find the answers by wrapping itself in the American flag anymore. It’s seeing ailing sales here in the States and issues selling abroad, and in its pursuit to sell more bikes abroad it’s angered the audience it wants to sell to in the U.S.
As much as I’d like to see Harley continue to be the juggernaut it was five years ago, I’m not sure it can be again. As Spak said to Barron’s, Harley’s best option might be to become a smaller company overall.
If you thought the future of Harley-Davidson and the motorcycle industry, in general, was all about high-powered electric motorcycles, you were wrong. I see speedy electric motorcycles as part of the HD portfolio for sure, but it will only be one part, and likely not the most important part.
As Cycle World points out, the recent purchase of StaCyc hints that Harley has grander plans for its lineup. One that hits multiple ages and multiple areas of the market. Gone are the days of HD catering to one specific area of the market. The company seems to have learned its lesson.
The publication lays out a groundwork for Harley to have bikes at four different levels in the industry. The first level is for little electric bikes for kiddos (StaCyc), the second level is for electric bicycles for adolescents and adults (think your typical e-bike), third level is for lower-powered electric scooters and small electric motorcycles, and the fourth is for machines like the LiveWire (but hopefully much better than the LiveWire).
It’s an idea I stated when the news of Harley buying StaCyc. If Harley can get a kid riding a Harley electric bike when he’s young, he’ll want one when he grows up, too. Cycle World doesn’t discuss what would happen to its gasoline-powered bikes. I would assume those would stick around for quite a long time. People won’t want to give up on gas bikes, and Harley will still make a boatload of money selling them.
With that said, the future is electric. Harley-Davidson could be setting itself up for success. It needs to, too, with the way its bike sales are currently going.
In the world of professional motorcycle racing, development is a constant grind.
Hooligan flat track racing is the same. But here, the upgrades are done by racers and builders on tight budgets. Not massive teams of engineers with eighteen-wheeler trucks full of SnapOn tools.
So we’re fascinated by the way Scott ‘T-Bone’ Jones of Noise Cycles has rebuilt his fire-breathing Street Rod 750 tracker. It’s the same 2017-spec XG750M he raced with last year—but it’s evolved radically since then.
As the season ended, Scott and teammate Brandon ‘Gonz’ Gonzalez had a clear idea of how to build a better racer…so they did.
“The concept for this year was to make a functioning bike,” Gonz tells us. “This meant making the bike narrower.”
“The last version paid homage to the XR1000, but in doing so the bike ended up wider than what was ideal to race with. The exhaust sat high and wide, to the point where it was uncomfortable to ride. That had to change.”
The initial idea was to build a new one-piece body, out of fiberglass. But after taking inspiration from pro flat track and supercross, the guys started wondering if they could simply adapt a set of motocross panels to fit the Street Rod.
“Our friends at SMCO happened to have a Husqvarna FC450, which is my favorite motocross bike” says Gonz. “So we borrowed their plastics to test fit.”
The fit, amazingly, was close to perfect. So Noise acquired their own set, and massaged it to fit—fabricating mounts to attach the panels to. Most of the cutting happened on the left, where some plastic had to be trimmed away to make space for the left cylinder head and exhaust header.
Scott then fabricated an aluminum fuel tank to hold just enough fuel for race runs. It attaches to the Street Rod’s backbone and the left side of the frame, with rubber grommets to dampen vibration. And yes, it took some crafty sculpting to utilize the maximum amount of space available.
Seat specialists Saddlemen hooked Noise up with a new seat pad up top. And 270X designed, printed and applied a custom decal kit.
Scott and Gonz considered trimming the rear frame rails more (they’d been cut for last year’s build), but they decided to focus their attentions elsewhere. After all, they were building the bike up in a 4×8′ space they’d cleared in Scott’s home garage, wedged in between multiple other projects.
Just a handful of mods stayed on from last year. Scott’s still running the same wheel combo: a 19” Sportster front wheel, with a 19” V-Rod front wheel adapted for the rear, fitted with a quick-change sprocket.
The engine hasn’t been touched much either, and still runs an S&S Cycle air cleaner and a Vance & Hines FuelPak3 tuner. And the cylinder heads are still flipped. Yes, you read that right: Scott went to considerable lengths last year to flip the heads, so that he could run a high, left-side exhaust without a crazy tight radius bends in the headers.
But he hated burning his pants on the exhaust all the time, so he decided to change it. And since flipping the heads back was too much effort, he had S&S manufacture a custom system that would exit on the left, then shoot through to the right.
Gone is the Red Bull oil catch can that Scott dug out of a trash can and taped to his bike last year. A custom-made aluminum unit has replaced it. Other tweaks include an MX foot peg on the right, and a custom shifter setup on the left.
The cockpit’s sporting Pro-Taper bars and a Pro-Taper clutch levers, a Motion Pro throttle and Scott grips. The rear brake’s been upgraded to a Lyndall Racing rotor and a Honda CRF master cylinder.
Scott’s Street Rod is also sporting an all-new and vastly improved suspension setup. Up front, he’s got the same S&S Cycle triples and risers the Indian factory team runs, with a custom stem.
They hold a set of Yamaha R6 forks, making the front end lower, lighter and tunable. There’s a pair of 15” custom valved RWD shocks out back.
Geometry-wise, the Street Rod now has a slightly shorter wheelbase and a touch less rake. And with narrower bodywork and a longer seat, Scott can use a lot more body English. It makes for a much more responsive bike and a much happier racer.
It’s also one of the most interesting Hooligan bikes we’ve seen. You’d think MX plastics on a Harley-Davidson would look weird—but it works surprisingly well.
Maybe we’ll see more of this style out on the track…
Where is the line between meticulous and just plain nuts? Because we’re sure Albert ‘Ash’ Aeschlimann crossed it at some point during this astounding build. What started out as a simple ’48 Panhead custom turned into a seven-year project—with hardly any of the original bike remaining.
Doing things ‘the right way’ is an essential part of Ash’s day job. He’s a technician at a major science museum in Switzerland, and before that, he studied architecture and worked as a carpenter. After hours, he makes magic in his workshop under the Ash Kustoms banner.
These days he draws inspiration from Japanese builders like ACE Motorcycles and Heiwa. He’s self-taught, and handles most tasks himself—outsourcing only specialist stuff like upholstery, paint and casting.
This project started off as a total basket case spread over multiple boxes. The more he tore into it, the more Ash realized that many of the parts were beyond repair, or not worth using.
During the build, Ash decided to build himself a new workshop. That ended up taking three years—and by the time he was done, his ideas about custom bike building had shifted. So he binned a whole whack of custom parts he’d already fabricated for his Pan, and started over.
The original 48 Panhead wishbone frame is one of the very few original parts now left. Wedged inside it is a 93 ci S&S Knucklehead motor, mated to a six-into-four transmission from Baker.
But even though both the engine and gearbox were new, Ash just couldn’t leave them alone. He’s replaced all the Allen head fasteners with hex or slotted numbers, for a more retro vibe.
Then he de-chromed all the shiny bits, matt-finished the polished aluminum bits, and reworked the S&S billet oil pump to look like a cast part. (The motor got a Morris Magneto ignition too.)
The S&S motor is sporting some slick detail work. Ash designed a venturi-style brass insert for the intake, then had a jewelry maker cast it in brass. And the kickstart has been modified with a pedal from an old Swiss military bicycle—Ash machined a new stainless steel axle for it, and replaced the rubbers with knurled aluminum parts.
The Panhead now rolls on custom wheels, built up from 18F/16R Akront rims by Special Wheel Company in Ditzingen. With a 36-spoke hub up front and a 40-spoke hub out back, finding a matching pair of rims was quite a job.
The rear hub is a Harley part with a hand-made cover. But at the front, Ash needed a big brake to cope with steep Swiss hills. So he’s used a repro Honda RC-162 system, with a hand-made air intake. According to Special Wheel Company, it’s the biggest drum brake hub they could fit to the 18” wheel.
All of the Panhead’s bodywork is custom, hand-shaped by Ash in his workshop. The oil tank’s particularly neat—Ash took inspiration from old hot rods, and decided to cast it out of aluminum himself.
So he built a wood form, sand cast it in two parts, and welded it up. It wasn’t quite perfect, so he then painstakingly filled in any pores with his TIG welder.
Almost everything else on the Harley is custom or modified. The front brake lever’s an original Panhead fitment modified for two-cable operation. The foot controls and their linkages were all made from scratch, and even the floorboards are one-offs.
And what you can’t see, is that every pivot point has a brass bushing and washer.
The handlebars are custom-made, and incorporate the light and horn switches—the latter taken from a classic Vespa. The speedo’s an old Smith Chronometric unit, and measures the speed at the secondary chain via an old Ford speedo cable. (Ash set it up like this purely so he could tuck the cable away).
There’s also a Smith oil gauge, with a modified dial to match the speedo.
The bike’s kill switch is from a B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomber, and sits on top of the fuel tank. Ash used it as a homage to early bobber culture—when GIs returning from World War II started modding and racing motorcycles.
A lot of Ash’s inspiration comes from airplanes and old race cars. In this case, it was the ‘Bardahl Special’ Indy 500 racecars from the late 40s. So he sought to replicate the deep, glass-like paint job sported by machines from that era.
It took ten coats of black nitrocellulose lacquer to do the trick. Ash gave the job to the only company in Switzerland still allowed to use that type of paint: the Italian vintage car specialist Autolackiererei René Sahli.
Other nods to the original Bardahl Specials include the gold rims, white exhausts, and the custom-made oil catch can.
The saddle upholstery is just as exquisite as the livery. It has a hole in the center for quick access to the oil tank, which almost gave upholsterer Rene Wenger a heart attack.
There are probably hundreds of details that we’ve missed—like the cloth-wrapped electrical cabling, the safety wiring, and the subtle drillium.
But whether you’re far away or up close, Ash’s Panhead is a stunner like no other.
Harley-Davidson is under a microscope right now: its every move is dissected, examined and critiqued.
And there have been plenty of moves lately. They’ve killed the Dyna while relaunching the Softail. They’ve announced a barrage of new models, including the Livewire. But although revenue is holding up at the moment, sales figures have been declining for several years—and were down 10% in 2018.
It’s a challenging time for the Motor Company. So I sat down in Milwaukee with Harley’s VP of Styling and Design, Brad Richards, to ask how they’re going to fix this. Harley’s PR lead Joe Gustafson joined us too, and both were raring to go.
Bike EXIF:There’s a lot of pressure on Harley-Davidson right now. People expect every new bike the company releases to be ‘the’ bike to turn things around.
Brad: It’s so funny that you should say that. It’s as if you’re the Rolling Stones or the Beatles, and your entire library was forgotten before whatever single you’re putting out. That’s what you’re judged on—the latest track.
You really think that we’re just going to abandon the core, and start doing other things? The messaging has always been that we’re going to embrace electric … because it breaks down so many barriers for new riders. There’s no transmission, there’s no clutch. It’s very simple to get involved in two wheels, via electric.
But we’re also going to innovate with our core internal combustion product as well. The only reason that I think folks are letting us get away with the electric stuff—and not everybody is accepting of it, but most people are—is because we haven’t abandoned our core product. If you think about Pan America and the Streetfighter and so on, those are bikes in the middleweight space, and we’re clearly innovating and investing in the future of that product.
So when I hear people saying ‘Oh, Harley’s lost their way, they’re making an electric bike, it’s all over…’ you’re exactly right, they’re only looking at the electric product. I feel like they need to look at the rest of the portfolio too.
Right after announcing ‘More Roads,’ you released the FXDR 114. Detractors were saying that it’s too traditional a Harley and won’t attract new riders. And some older Harley fans didn’t quite get the modern styling. How do you manage that tension between the brand’s history, while still looking forward from a design point of view?
Brad: I think it’s a great question. If you look back at the history of Harley-Davidson—from the birth of the company—we were incredible innovative. People say we’ve never done an adventure touring bike—in 1903, roads were not paved. Every bike we made was an adventure touring bike.
During World War II we made a hundred thousand WLAs; that was a bike that was also intended for pure off-road use. You can argue that World War II kind of created the birth of the segment, and we were there with a product. There are still thousands of them running around today, still functioning.
So when people have a hang up on what we’ve just released. Most of the time it’s because the context in which they’re making that judgment, is the last 20 years. The boom years, the core, mid-90s through early 2000s, where our current archetype rider was defined.
The new generation wants nothing to do with that archetype—loud and proud and bold. We love those folks, and I love that part of the culture. But millennials don’t want that. They want subtlety, they want high quality experience, but they don’t brag, they don’t boast, they’re not loud, they’re not obnoxious. So we have to be able to tailor some of the products to this new generation.
It’s the same problem that we had in about 1947. Post World War II there was a massive boom. Guys came back from the military, and there was this huge investment in social free time and hobbies and so on, and our bike sales went through the roof. But by 1949, there was a massive drop-off in the sales of our big twins. The volumes were almost cut in half. And so we invested in light weight and low displacement. That’s how Sportster was eventually born.
We’re going through the same thing right now. It’s so cyclical. So it’s funny to me.
We’ve done tons of research. And the research has told us that the younger generation loves the brand. They know what it stands for, they know its authenticity and quality and the history, but they just don’t see products that they really wanna ride. So the More Roads initiative is to create bikes that appeal to that generation, because they’re giving us the permission to go into adventure touring, to go into electric, to go into Streetfighter, and other places that we’re gonna go.
It’s the tip of the iceberg. The next five years, we’re gonna blow minds. I keep thinking about the reaction we’re getting now, it’s like ‘holy smokes, wait two years from now,’ because the stuff is just gonna keep coming.
When the new Softails were released, a lot of people were upset that the Dyna was gone. But when the Dyna was first released, no one liked it. So I guess by now you’re used to weathering that storm of criticism…
Brad: You have to have a thick skin. Some of the younger guys in the studio who are right outta school, they design something, and all of a sudden the feedback starts coming out on Instagram. They’re like ‘Holy smokes!’ It’s okay…most of the folks that you meet love what we’re doing and understand what we’re doing.
When Pan America [below] was revealed, and the feedback started coming in, it was pretty polarizing. There was some great stuff and there was some pretty bad stuff, and what I told upper leadership at that time, was, the worst thing that we could have done is release a design and no-one commented on it.
I personally love all the feedback, whether it’s good or bad, and I love people that bring it to me and are very frank, and ask me why we’re doing what we’re doing. As a designer, I wanna do things that are compelling, that are remembered. Our team wants that.
And are we gonna have home runs every bike? No. That’s impossible. But we’re gonna have some really compelling product, that in the future will be in the museum, and people are gonna say ‘You know what? That’s the moment when they pivoted, and thank God they did, because they’re still in business today.’
Joe: You look at Softail, and you look at what was added to the conversation. You look at Dyna, and people like performance, they want the feel, they want the look. And Softail’s lighter, it’s smoother, and it’s faster.
Yeah it’s better, in every way.
Brad: I have a Low Rider S, that’s my favorite bike [below]. And that was the first bike that I did when I got here with the team. We had a hole in the life cycle plan, and we needed something quickly, just to be totally frank, and all the parts and components were there. And we all knew what was happening with Dyna.
So was that your ‘twilight’ Dyna?
Brad: Yeah, we wanted to make the ultimate Dyna. That’s why I’ll never sell mine, I think it’s gonna be a collector’s item. But having said that, and as much as I love my bike—and I put money into it, upping the performance and suspension and doing all kinds of things to it like everybody does—when I went to Spain and rode with you guys on the new bikes, there’s no comparison.
The new Softails are just infinitely better motorcycles. And if you talk to anybody who really does this stuff and takes it seriously—Mark Atkins [Rusty Butcher], Speed Merchant, Noise Cycles—the guys who are riding our new bikes, taking them apart and customizing ’em. They all know that the new bikes are infinitely better too.
Are you feeling a lot of pressure to progress on the tech front? Premium bikes like the FXDR 114 and Road Glide [above], for example, don’t have some of the same tech (like switchable rider modes) that their competitors do.
Brad: We look at everything. I wish I could take you to the test track in Yucca, Arizona, and show you all the things that we’re experimenting with.
We are not static any more. We are embracing these things, and we are exploring all avenues of technology, and motorcycling. Because all of these things that you’ve described, make motorcycling safer, and easier, and it breaks down barriers for people to get into the sport.
Joe: If you look at Livewire [below], it’s got riding modes, it has a six-axis IMU, it has cellular connectivity. I could be sitting at lunch and know when my bike’s being charged.
But that tech (in Livewire) comes at a massive premium.
Brad: Livewire’s a halo product. It’s a halo product for EV, but it’s also a halo product for connectivity and all these other things that Joe just described. These things eventually become less expensive, and we do integrate them into the rest of the product line.
But let’s be frank. It is not a bike that’s been designed for millennials, from a price point. And the EV technology’s expensive right now. Battery technology’s incredibly expensive. It will get less expensive, and it’s going to change, but Livewire’s really about the first product from a major OE, that’s very compelling, very well engineered.
I think that there was a misconception, in the way it went to market for some reason—it didn’t really come from us—that it is the answer to the millennials.
From a design point of view, Livewire does hit that sweet spot between modern, and keeping with Harley-Davidson’s design language. But how did you figure out the smaller electric vehicles, from a design point of view?
Brad: We had the one that’s in between a dirt bike and a mountain bike—the one that was at X Games [above]. But we felt in the studio that there might be something that was more like a 70s minibike [below]. Because a lot of us that ride Harleys, grew up on a little Briggs and Stratton minibike.
So it was like: “What if we took this, and did the modern interpretation of that?’ And all of a sudden you have this whole new generation of younger folks, learning to ride a Harley-Davidson on something like that.
A lot of the baby boomers, and what we call our core customers, are sort of ageing out of the sport. They’re embracing things like boating and RV-ing and camping. And really, that is a migration stream that’s happening. So I said, “What a great way for that generation to reconnect with Harley-Davidson, by having a couple of these strapped to their Airstream trailers.”
We wanted to do something that was very friendly, very approachable. But the trick is, that when you get on it, it’s gotta be fast as f–k. We called it the ‘Angry Little Bastard,’ that was its nickname. So you have this little thing that looks like a kid’s scooter, you get on it, and it’ll outrun a Sportster ’til 3rd gear.
Joe: From a riding situation—no license, torque, speed—it pulls so many notes of what people love about motorcycles into a new package. That’s really what it’s all about. We were at X Games with these concepts, people that didn’t even ride…it kind of pulls at those heartstrings. ‘What is this? I love Harley, I want this.’
I guess online commentary always leans towards being more negative than positive… was the reaction different when people saw the bikes in person?
Joe: Oh absolutely. Think about on Bike EXIF with the seat argument. ‘You can’t sit on that seat, there’s no way that’s gonna be fun!’ Then you see it in person. I would challenge a lot of Bike EXIF commentators to say if they saw that bike in person, they would love it.
There’s a lot of riding scenarios, that you gotta look at those two concepts where it’s not, you know, “I’m gonna buy this bike and I’m gonna go to Sturgis.” It’s: “I’m gonna buy this bike, and fit it in my life.” Which is a really cool aspect of these bikes.
Brad: It was all about getting people to embrace two wheels, because that wasn’t happening with the current state of product that’s out there.
I love the smaller electric concepts, but personally I think Livewire’s too expensive for everybody.
Joe: If you look at the package of that product—it’s performance, it’s the riding suite, it’s connectivity. So it’s not price point. It’s, “What experience are you trying to get for that?”
Brad: I’d argue that there are some customers who have never looked at Harley-Davidson, because there hasn’t been an EV product. If you read some of the feedback, it’s “never been interested in Harley-Davidson, never noticed the brand, until they agreed to do this. Until they showed this.”
When I said Livewire wasn’t designed for millennials…the experience was. But that wasn’t necessarily our primary objective. Our primary objective was to do a very compelling motorcycle in general, with this new EV technology. And put it in the Harley-Davidson lineup, designed with Harley-Davidson DNA and ethos.
So was the motivation more about a solid product than massive sales?
Brad: There are a lot of people at Harley-Davidson that are much smarter than I am, and figure out business cases. We don’t set out to lose money on anything. But a product like this, there’s a different nuance to it, because it’s about the future. And it’s about trying to attract a new customer to the brand.
And frankly, there are a lot of places in the world where internal combustion will eventually go away. And so we want to have something for those folks. So that is the other piece that’s very important to think about.
Because again, going back to the beginning of the company, I argue to people that in 1903, Harley-Davidson was Apple. In 1903, most people didn’t go more than, like, 14 miles from the farm they grew up on. All of a sudden here comes this product that allows you to go 100 miles from home in a day. Your social network has just increased in a magnitude of a hundred.
Changing gears back to gas and oil for a minute; when Pan America and Streetfighter [above] were announced, it was very subtly mentioned that the new motor would be coming in a 500 cc, 750 cc, 950 cc and 1250 cc versions. And I immediately thought, is this going to replace the Sportster?
Brad: We would never walk away from Sportster. Sportster is like Mustang. I had this conversation with a friend last night, the design director of Ford. We were talking about Sportster and talking about Ford. In the early 80s, they created the Ford Probe—remember that thing?
He said the Probe was the new Mustang. They felt the technology, and space age…this was gonna do it. And they researched it. And it just absolutely tanked. So at that point they decided, ‘you know what, let’s just keep Mustang around.’
A lot of companies have extremely equitable iconic names in their brands, and sometimes, for whatever reason, they start to challenge whether those are still of value to the overall big picture and ecosystem. I think there were probably some conversations at Ford Motor Company that time, and somebody said ‘yeah we don’t see value in the Mustang name anymore, the new generation doesn’t care about that.’ And obviously they were proven wrong. Thank God, because that’s one of the best selling cars that Ford has.
So I love Sportster. I love internal combustion, Harley V-twins…that’s my passion. I can’t divulge future product stuff, but you know, the company would be in some kind of dire straits to walk away from the Sportster name and brand.
Pan America, Streetfighter and Custom [below] are pretty progressive, design wise. But take a bike like the Sportster Iron 883…is there room in that new platform for an updated Iron? How do you still develop bikes that appeal to core customers that want a ‘typical’ Harley?
Brad: One way to do it is to have an extremely modular platform. And so, again, there are certain iconic products in our lineup that we will continue to embrace. It’s very exciting designing Harley-Davidson motorcycles, because of all the passion that our customers have.
You evolve the product. And what we showed with those first three models, I think that shows the diversity that we’re really after. And showing what we can do when we really decide to move the needle in a way that’s going to attract a whole bunch of new incremental customers.
With those new models, are we looking at better performance, lighter bikes?
Brad: Have to. Because to your point about some of the metric competition, you can find bikes that are a lot less expensive than a Harley-Davidson, that have some of these performance attributes, that are more compelling. So we have to move the needle on everything. It’s gotta be lighter, it’s gotta be faster, it’s gotta be more of a visceral experience.
We can’t walk away from the connection that you have emotionally to a Harley-Davidson when you ride it. It’s not the same connection I have when I ride one of my Ducatis, or ride a friend’s Yamaha. They’re great bikes, but emotionally they’re the most un-compelling. They’re appliances to me.
A Harley-Davidson is not a disposable product. It’s something you hand down to your son or daughter. We need to continue to do that, with even the electric product and all the technology that we’re embracing, the Harley DNA needs to come through. That is our special sauce, we cannot walk away from that.
A lot of people see you as a company that just makes cruisers—are you trying to break that perception, trying to get back to being perceived as a motorcycle company?
Brad: Yeah. I think that everything we’re doing is proving that’s our goal.
More Electrics and Possible Ride-Sharing Are Coming
We all know what Harley-Davidson is focusing on a greener, electric future to help the brand pivot as it attracts a new customer base. A recent report from CNN suggests the company is seriously looking at electric scooter companies like Bird and Lime for its future.
“It’s a huge opportunity,” Marc McAllister, vice president of product portfolio at Harley-Davidson, told CNN. “For people who are using Bird and Lime today, how do we give them a much better experience with a Harley-Davidson brand and lifestyle?”
The company doesn’t exactly have plans to roll out its own version of the scooters just yet. It seems Harley is just studying the market and trying to decide how it will fit into the sharing economy. One option for Harley-Davidson would be to just brand a bunch of the scooters that already exist. Many of the scooter ride-sharing companies out there use the same model. Harley likely won’t do that, though.
Its approach will most likely use something more like the small electric concept bikes that it showed off a while back. Instead of selling them outright, though, it could look to some kind of ride-sharing solution.
Arun Sundararajan, a professor at New York University’s business school and author of “The Sharing Economy,” told CNN he thinks Harley could position itself as an alternative to Bird and Lime. He said that it shouldn’t try to compete with those companies directly. I have to agree with him. Haley should let Lime and Bird do their own thing and find a path that is their own. What that path is, though is yet to be seen. However, one thing is certain, the future Harley-Davidsons will look far different from the bike’s it’s currently known for.
What do you do when your customer base gets too old to continue using your products? You target their grandchildren, of course. At least that’s what Harley-Davidson is doing. In the company’s quest to do a Benjamin Button-type turnaround with its customer base, it has purchased the electric stability-bike company StaCyc.
Honestly, this could turn out the be a genius long-term strategy. If you grow up zooming around on a little push bike Harley-Davidson, you’re bound to want one when you grow up. Will this bring Harley boatloads of cash in the short term? Probably not, but it could pay off 15 to 20 years down the road.
I mean, I still remember the remote-controlled Harley-Davidson motorcycle I had as a kid. To this day I still have a soft spot for Harly Sportsters. I assume I will buy one someday (it’ll be used), and I’d chalk that up to the toy I had as a kid.
Anyway, let’s talk about these bikes for kiddos. There are two different models, the 12e and the 16e (12-inch frame and 16-inch frame). Kids can push the bike around to get a feel for the balance and how it rides. Once they’re comfortable with that, they can use three different power modes to zoom around the neighborhood.
The lowest mode goes about 5 mph, the medium mode goes 7 mph and the high mode does 9 mph on the 12e. The 16e does the same on the low mode, 7.5 mph on the medium mode, and 11 mph on the high mode. Both bikes can run between 30 and 60 minutes per charge with a 30 to 60 minute charge time.
I genuinely do think this is a good long-term move for Harley. It could work out, too as long as the company doesn’t slap a super high price tag on these things as it does with everything else.
When the Harley-Davidson LiveWire debuted, the bike was hit hard by consumers and media for not being good enough and for being way too expensive. We joined in on this dog pile. The bike simply didn’t appear to offer enough to be a competitive bike.
Well, Harley has made some updates to the model and they’ve made the bike a little more interesting. Here are the big updates that you should probably know.
First off, the bike’s range was increased from the 110 miles that the company originally stated to 140 miles per chargein the city. The highway range sits at 88 miles if you travel 70 mph. That’s an improvement, but not a life-altering one. Harley also noted 0-60 mph in three seconds flat and 60 to 80 in another 1.9 seconds.
The charging time for the bike now sits at 0 to 80 percent in just 40 minutes and 0 to 100 in an hour with a DC fast charger. That’s quick, but
Charging Stations and Low Volume
As Asphalt & Rubber points out, the more impressive changes may come from the dealerships themselves. Harley plans to add a DC fast charger at each of the 200 locations that plan to sell the LiveWire. That’s a smart move by the company to bring people to the store regularly.
Asphalt & Rubber also notes that projections for the sales of the LiveWire look decent, and there’s a chance that Harley could meet the small volume goal it set. If the company sold 1,000 units nationwide, it would mean the Harley sales folks would only have to convince less than one percent of customers to go electric. That seems like a doable feat.
Still, the price of the LiveWire hasn’t changed, and it won’t. The bike is supposed to be Harley’s halo machine, which is how they justify the high price, but when there are other electric motorcycles out there with more range and power for far less money, it’s going to be a hard sell.
Harley-Davidson’s big dresser motorcycles are what many people think of when they think of the brand and for good reason. Harley sells a lot of these big bikes. What if you wanted one of them without all the luxurious features and amenities on it? Well, you used to not have an option. Enter the 2019 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Standard.
The Electra Glide Standard reduces the Electra Glide Ultra Classic down to its essentials. This eliminates all the extra features and lets you just focus on riding. Harley calls it the “bare essentials with all the modern capabilities.” That sounds like my kind of bike.
I’m a sucker for stripped down machines. I prefer a more basic bike. The more crap on there, the more things that will go wrong. This just gets in the way of you riding, and I’ve owned enough bikes that needed a lot of work. All I want to do is ride, and I imagine the Electra Glide Standard would be a good bike to eat up some miles with.
The bike gets Harley’s Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine, batwing fairing, chrome trim, standard saddlebags, cast aluminum wheels, the same quality suspension on every Electra Glide, and that’s about it. The minimalist display and lack of additional technology and features makes it a stripped-down machine, and I love it.
The best part about the bike is that it comes with a $19,000 price tag, which is about $5,500 off the Electra Glide Ultra Classic’s price. If I wanted an American touring motorcycle, and I didn’t want to break the bank or get a bunch of extra features definitely consider this machine.