As any crappy Harley Davidson shirt will tell you, the humble company was established in 1903. Out of a shitty 15x10 shed in the middle of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the northern United States, where these bikes continue to be produced. Any die-hard Harley Davidson will defend their obnoxiously loud V-twin that sounds like it is having a hard time staying on due to bad ignition timing. At any motorcycle meet-up, an older man standing beside their thirty thousand plus Harley will tell you, “Been riding since 1979, all kinds of bikes. Finally got a Harley five years ago; nothing else puts a big smile on my face like every time I ride it...”. And this is exactly the pressing issue that this ancient company has. Their followship was born not much after than when the company stopped making bikes without flat-head motors back in 1973.
Don’t get me wrong, this is the perfect clientele to sell high-end sports cars and luxury SUV with over 400 horses to. They are also able to afford these huge luxury motorcycles and are happiest when they can throw their young second wife on the back and have time to ride freely with no commitment. Millennials, on the other hand, have a hard time taking on risk. This generation (to which I also belong) is, generally speaking, a bunch of pussies that still live at home. You can’t blame us either; the housing market is at its all-time high (especially in large cities), most of us are under-employed, and would rather ride in an uber than own a car. This is the market that the big four japs have always taken a shot at successfully. Today, you can get a high-performance Kawasaki ZX-6r brand new from the catalogue pushing over 135 horses for under $13k CDN. Getting the same amount of power and agility from a HD is unheard of. Oh, wait, unless you’re talking about buying the holy saver (as speculated by every motorcycle magazine) - the Livewire. It is the all-electric Harley that no millennial is able to afford, with a ticket price of over $34k CDN. But why would a millennial want that kind of power and performance, when all they are looking for is a decent mode of inner-city transportation? If you are thinking that they probably wouldn’t, you are right! Harley executives have their heads so high up their ass that their answer to this was the 2020 HARLEY-DAVIDSON STREET® 500. With a starting price tag of over $6k, it's not enough to entice me to go and buy this over one of the cheaper Hondas or Suzukis. Maybe it’s my head that is up my ass instead though, who knows. Plus, even if I did buy one of these machines, I would face hell from both sides - the jap riders telling me that Harleys are crap, and the HD riders telling me that my bike is “not a real Harley.”
Harley is doomed if they do, and doomed if they don’t, to put it simply. This is why if you are reading this, and you happen to be someone who works for HD with even a bit of influence in the decision making process (and be able to finish this article without getting offended), you should follow this advice. Stop pissing your customer base off by having HD made out of the United States. I understand that you may want to save on tariffs, but this in itself is hurting your brand image. If you want to create small dinky bikes like your Japanese counterparts, don’t do it with your HD badge. Instead, acquire a company such as the well-known Royal Enfield or AKT, and start making smaller bikes under their badge. Continue to help youngsters get their licensing on a Harley, and continue your venture into the adventure and on/off road business. In fact, you may have just won me over with the new HD Pan America and the Bronx. The last piece of advice: For fucks sake, not everything needs to have a V-twin. BMW still makes parallel boxers alongside several other thumpers, in-line twins, threes, fours and even sixes. I would love to see a boxer HD. This turned into a pointless rant and is for entertainment purposes only.
E. & O. E