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Old 04-26-2005, 08:19 PM   #51
pdad13
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Default Re: Harley's changing customer base and the motorcycle in US culture...

You know I've been watching this for awhile now. Used H-D's are coming down in price, slowly but surely. I figure you've got about another 5 years and you'll be able to get one for a bunch of old tires.



Heh, heh.



On a serious note, other analysts have been saying that Harley is beginning to run into a market saturation problem--their customer base is getting older and just about everyone who wants one has one. Seems to me that H-D can see this. Smart move cutting production.



The V-Rod and Street Rod are pretty clear indications that they're trying to appeal to the next generation of Harley riders. They may not be big sellers in U.S. right now, but the move may pay off handsomely in the near future. I'd really like to see them put some more effort into Buell.
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Old 04-26-2005, 08:40 PM   #52
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Default Re: Harley's changing customer base and the motorcycle in US culture...

Well, I'm not sure how much more I would know. You've raised an excellent point yourself. Only about 15 years ago, the Caddy brand was about as lifeless as most of the people who bought their cars. They've done a remarkable job. Imagine how deep the shyte at GM would be without them.



It's easy to say that Harley can do no wrong. But brand dilution and market saturation is doing damage that isn't immediately evident. It happens to all megabrands eventually. Thing is, I think H-D is smart enough to reload before too long. Not to beat a very dead horse, but that's why we've got the V-Rod and Street Rod. Those models may be ahead of the curve right now in terms of H-D's current customer base, but they may be invaluable to refreshing the brand in the future. (Remember the first Northstar V-8?) Those may become watershed models in the evolution and rebirth of H-D in a few years. I'd like to see them put more effort and resources into Buell, too. We'll see.



However, if younger people are not taking to bikes as much as we all like to think, the whole industry has got some work to do.

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Old 04-26-2005, 09:03 PM   #53
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Default Re: Harley's changing customer base and the motorcycle in US culture...

You're right. H-D is not in a crisis. Most likely they'll be fine for awhile. But smart companies don't just cover their eyes and wish everything will stay the same forever. You can bet that Harley is planning for the future (ahem, V-Rod, Street Rod.)



And don't forget that H-D was getting their a$$es kicked not so long ago. Almost no one but nostalgia buffs and biker gangs rode them.



Everything is cyclical. A lot of people have lost a lot of money on once-great brands and companies that "could never fail." Remeber Apple in the mid-80s? They could never fail, too. Except they failed to see the future of the PC industry and were relegated to a small niche player for many years.



Markets are very competitive. All of the competitors are looking for the leaders to make a mistake so they can exploit it. And being that H-D is such an image-oriented brand, they may be particularly susceptible to changing fashion.



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Old 04-26-2005, 09:38 PM   #54
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Default Re: Sooner or later...

Ah, no you wouldn't!!
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Old 04-27-2005, 01:42 AM   #55
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Default Re: Harley's changing customer base and the motorcycle in US culture...

Its always the baby boom in the US. For whatever reason boomers all decided that once the kids finished college they'd go buy a bike, and of course it had to be H-D. Then they find out that bikes can be uncomfortable after a few minutes (especially for those with aging diseases - backaches, arthritis, etc.), it might rain on you, and they can crash which hurts. And worst of all, if you actually RIDE, that gleaming bike you bought to show your wild side can get dirty. AND THAT MIGHT HURT YOUR EVER APPRECIATING "INVESTMENT"! (This is where you KNOW that sanity has left the owner).



So with hundreds of thousands of almost new H-D toys around, and a limited demographic, it was only time before (once again) the market saturated. Sorry, the kids all ride sport bikes.



But the real question for H-D is outside the US. Honda sells 5,000,000 bikes because they sell lots of little ones in the vast world that isn't visible to us American navel gazers. And while H-D sales are way up overseas they are still a tiny piece of the market, and while many European and Asian riders secretly want one, the bikes are way too expensive, too big, and too easily stolen for those markets. It's not clear that H-D can move out of the high end overseas without damaging its well cultivated "lifestyle" message, and in any case the Asians will continue to dominate the low-mid range. But there is definitely an opportunity for them, because the lifestyle message does play well outside the US.



Anyway, my prediction is that inside the US, within 5 years, second hand Road Kings, Fat Boys and custom choppers with 2,000 miles and an inch of car wax on them will be a dime a dozen at estate sales across America. At which time serious riders like us will be able to pick up a nice one to add to the stable for a few thousand bucks just like with older Beemers. Unless they all get exported!



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Old 04-27-2005, 04:12 AM   #56
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Default Re: Harley's changing customer base and the motorcycle in US culture...

It is well documented that HD is the most recognizable brand name in the world. People buy a Harley instead of a Kawasaki for the same reason that they would rather buy a 1983 Ferrari 308 than a 2005 Mustang GT. Both cost about the same at around $ 26,000, but the Mustang is a far better car in EVERY way.

Who is going to be the envy of all his peers?



I have 4 Buells that I paid about $ 50,000 for, and are now worth about $ 15-20 K max. If it were 4 harleys, they would still be worth $ 50 K, because they are Harleys. Does not matter that the engines etc. are the same. It ain't a Harley.

That sounds lame, but that is the way it is.

Everyone talks about a "turnaround" for Harley. I was around for the "Tunraround" in '83 that was engineered by Vaugn Beals and 13 other HD managers. They have been smart enough to take, and more importantly KEEP Harley at the top for 20 years. I would strongly suspect that they are smart enough to keep them their for another 20 years.

And think about this: Harley sold 300,000 units last year, and made nearly 1 BILLION in NET profit. Harley finally sold the 50,000th Vrod, the slowest selling model, and it took 2 years to do so, with no major model changes. It Takes Honda 3 1/2 years, and a complete re-design after 2 years to equal that WITH THEIR BEST SELLING MODEL! The CBR600F5



Honda sold 11 times the number of units worldwide that Harley did, and netted less than 1/3 the profit that Harley did!



Also, HD builds, and sells, more bikes over 700cc than all of the other bike manufacturers combined.



Just some food for thought before we start burrying HD just yet..........



A Buell, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Honda, and Moto Guzzi owner
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Old 04-27-2005, 05:10 AM   #57
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Default Re: Harley's changing customer base and the motorcycle in US culture...

HD is an American icon which for several years now can no longer claim "Made In America". I doubt any other brands can either. Please correct me if I am wrong.
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Old 04-27-2005, 05:41 AM   #58
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Default Re: Harley's changing customer base and the motorcycle in US culture...

What is your definition of "Made in America"?
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Old 04-27-2005, 06:04 AM   #59
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Default Re: Harley's changing customer base and the motorcycle in US culture...

Magnum never drove a Mustang.
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Old 04-27-2005, 08:43 AM   #60
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Default Re: Harley's changing customer base and the motorcycle in US culture...

Same here, the Taco Bell sportbike crowd here just are not people I have much in common with.
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