Harley-Davidson Myths Debunked

I noticed a couple of other biker bloggers picking up on this article written by Rick Barrett of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, but failing...

I noticed a couple of other biker bloggers picking up on this article written by Rick Barrett of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, but failing to come up with any decent comments. The article explained that Harley-Davidson is losing its customer-base due to the aging of baby boomers and the price disparity with metric bikes...


So, I read the article and decided to comment. For example...
But now the demographic challenges are substantial. Executives must bridge a generation gap between boomers, who turned the brand into an icon, and younger riders, who may have no brand loyalty at all. Harley also must continue its efforts to attract women and minority customers.
This is a fallacy. It's not that baby-boomers tended to ride Harleys, it's that older riders tend to slow down, and take it easy. These baby-boomers were once riding dirt bikes, cafe racers, and sportsters, and then opted for Harleys to slow down and take it easy. There's an entirely new crop of middle-aged riders coming in to buy Harleys, year-after-year.

The writer also falls for another fallacy, that price is the reason why younger riders opt for metric bikes...
Yet some analysts worry that the price of a Harley - about $7,000 for a Sportster and up to $30,000 for a deluxe touring bike - could send younger riders to the smaller, less expensive motorcycles offered by Japanese manufacturers.
Not true. Younger riders opt for motorcycles offered by Japanese manufacturers because of the styling and performance, not because of the price. Those youngsters with extra money on hand will often buy Ducatis and BMWs, proof that price isn't what's driving the market.

The author also has completely misunderstood the concept of static design, instead believing that Harley cannot develop new bikes because of stubborn old riders...
But the need to attract a younger crowd presents a dilemma, because Harley can't afford to offend customers who have been faithful to the brand for decades and who won't necessarily embrace new types of bikes.
Harley riders aren't offended by "new types of bikes", on the contrary they want new types of Harleys. What they demand however, is access to a vast array of customization choices.

The reason why Harley has the largest aftermarket support is because they retain the same designs and parts year-after-year, decade-after-decade. On the flip-side, take a look at Honda, the largest manufacturer of motorcycles in America. Their aftermarket support sucks because they keep changing everything. That makes it difficult for the aftermarket industry to gain a footing.


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  1. By saturating the roads with old guys and their wives on Harleys, Harley has destroyed its brand.

  2. I would rather ride my H-D in my 'Dotage' (under 60)than a CROTCH ROCKET ANY DAY. My need for speed, popping wheelie days are over. Having raised my family IT'S my turn to appreciate the wind in my hair & thunder under my ass. So watch out kids or that wheelie may attract a ticket to death. Enjoy the ride.



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