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Old 09-20-2012, 09:27 AM   #1
Neon Samurai
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Harley and the Mid-life Crisis

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ng...urces_geo.html

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Harley's Midlife Crisis
As its riders age, are sales figures born to be mild?

Harley-Davidson turns a hundred years old this month, and business is vrooming. Some 264,000 of its heavyweight "hogs" were shipped to dealers last year. But there's a bump in the road ahead: Harley's best customers are now middle-aged men—baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964—and that doesn't bode well for future sales.

The median age of American motorcycle buyers was 32 in 1990; in 1998 it was 38. Harley's typical buyer in 2001 was even older at 46. Boomers' love for the brand makes sense. Harley's reputation as the tough-guy's bike of choice blossomed when boomers were young and impressionable. Plus, many riders can't afford the motorcycles, which can cost around $20,000, until middle age. The company's decision to market its leather-jacket image to white-collar workers helped bring it back from the brink of bankruptcy in the mid-80s.

Yet the same demographic that saved the legendary motorcycle company will cause it trouble in a decade or two. By then, boomers may be getting too old to buy motorcycles. The smaller, post-boom generation that arrived as birthrates declined in the 1960s probably won't supply enough potential consumers to step into boomers' motorcycle boots. And they're unlikely to feel particularly nostalgic for Harley's Easy Rider image and trademark engine roar.

Today bikers in their 20s prefer to ride something flashier and cheaper. So Harley is retooling its appeal with sportier-style cycles (like the V-Rod) and less expensive models. And it's going after a new demographic: women. The company's female buyers have already increased from 2 percent in 1987 to 9 percent in 2001. Since 1999 some 40 percent of the more than 16,000 people who have taken the riding lessons offered at many dealerships are women.

Of course, the aging baby boom won't be a bust for every industry. Demographer Cheryl Russell predicts that boomers who backpacked around the world in their youth will have time and money to set out again—this time in a bit more style. So travel businesses should prosper in the future. Another winner, already on the rise, is in the alcoholic beverage category. "Every generation has its own association with alcohol," Russell explains. "The World War II group drank hard liquor. Baby boomers will be drinking a lot more wine."

—Margaret G. Zackowitz
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Old 09-20-2012, 09:59 AM   #2
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I'm a 'tweener - too young to be a boomer and too old for gen-X. H-D has next to zero appeal to me. Only one that interests me is the Vrod - actually only the Street Rod version. Harley has better get cooking NOW if they want to survive after the boomers trade in their baggers and start shopping at http://www.thescooterstore.com/
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Old 09-20-2012, 10:00 AM   #3
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i agree, i'm in the demographics they are looking at, and i test rode some HDs 2 yrs ago, did nothing for me.

but i do think alot of people my age that are non-riders still like the HD image.
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Old 09-20-2012, 10:06 AM   #4
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Ive had two HDs...ok but there is better parts
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Old 09-20-2012, 10:10 AM   #5
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Christ how old is this article? Wasn't the 100th anniversary in 2003?
I'd still buy another Sportster as much as I hate the new chassis, but it wouldn't be my only bike. None of the big twins, nor the "lifestyle" has ever had any appeal to me, though.
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Old 09-20-2012, 10:23 AM   #6
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I went the other direction, i still have two harleys in the yard, but for my 61st birthday last year i bought myself a cbr600 and signed up for trackdays,and then later built a crf100 for tmgp racing...I have done harleys for years, so my bucket list went a different direction.
and yes the 100th anniverary year was 2003.
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Old 09-20-2012, 10:27 AM   #7
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Article says: August 2003. Doesn't matter. H-D showroom today looks just like 2003.
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Old 09-20-2012, 03:17 PM   #8
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i like the vrod. its grown on me.
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Old 09-20-2012, 03:30 PM   #9
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No sentiment towards the brand at all from me.


I don't hate the brand or the riders. It just draws no appeal.
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Old 09-20-2012, 03:59 PM   #10
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Unlike boomers, most GenX/Yers don't hold much brand loyalty. May be it's the information age, but gone will be the day when H-D has a huge customer base that are guarranteed to trade in their old Harley for a new one, again and again. For a brand that is built on lure of the H-D "mystique", that'll be a hard sell to buyers that are used to evaluate based on merits instead.
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Old 09-20-2012, 04:29 PM   #11
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im still waiting to get my first H-D. I want a carb sportster or dyna. If anyone knows anyone with a basket case or something inexpensive, look at my thread in the cruiser lounge.
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Old 09-20-2012, 11:50 PM   #12
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I really like H-D, just hope one day I can afford a bright shiny brand new soft tail.

Just to expensive for me right now. One of the big reasons I like triumph so much is their classics line...... And very affordable.

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Old 09-21-2012, 06:58 AM   #13
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9 year old article, published one year after the V Rod made it's debut.
HD has made some serious inroads into the 30 year old market, particularly with the Sportster and Dyna line.
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Old 09-21-2012, 07:49 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick View Post
HD has made some serious inroads into the 30 year old market, particularly with the Sportster and Dyna line.
Would still like to see them develop the old Blast engine into a street tracker type bike. As much as I like Buells, I never liked the look of the Blast although it was a fun bike to ride, so I would go really retro with the Aermacchi ERS styling coupled with the 1/2 XL engine.
But that's just me.
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Old 09-21-2012, 08:04 AM   #15
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I believe the next 10 years will be interesting, not just for HD, but for the motorcycle industry as a whole.
I think we'll see a shift towards smaller displacements and simpler models.
With 600cc sportbikes rapidly approaching the $12k mark, there's a gaping hole for an under $8k mid sized standard/semi sportbike.
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Old 09-21-2012, 08:18 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick View Post
9 year old article, published one year after the V Rod made it's debut.
HD has made some serious inroads into the 30 year old market, particularly with the Sportster and Dyna line.
I agree.

My cousin is 21 and just bought a nice Dyna and he couldn't be happier.
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fkn kdogg just started staring at me like i'm bout to jump off this bike and murder some dave c. i was thinkin ok lets see what i did to this man to make him hate me and how fast can i run
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Muhammad.........Nostradamus..........Kdog
The cycle continues.
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Old 09-21-2012, 08:23 AM   #17
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The new water-cooled heads H-D is cooking up will be interesting.
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Old 09-21-2012, 08:36 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Volfy View Post
The new water-cooled heads H-D is cooking up will be interesting.
Possibly, but the technology is being developed so they can run leaner/hotter to pass EPA mandated emissions, not to make more power.
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Old 09-21-2012, 09:14 AM   #19
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My bike COULD be construed as a midlife crisis...but, starting about 5 years ago, I KNEW down the road I wanted one. Because of recent events I said, fk it, why not?



Midlife crisis? Maybe, but being that I'm only 33, I hope I have more than 33 more years left in me
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Old 09-21-2012, 09:33 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick View Post
Possibly, but the technology is being developed so they can run leaner/hotter to pass EPA mandated emissions, not to make more power.
To me, it is more about the fact that H-D is doing any tech development work at all. Other than the VRod engine, which they had to get Porsche to help out, there hasn't been a whole lot of engine R&D since the switch from Evolution to twincam more than a quarter of a Century ago.

With H-D, it's all about the packaging - fat forks here, smaller tires there, bags, no bags, speakers, no speakers, frame-mounted fairing, fork-mounted fairing. Shopping at H-D feels like looking at the menu at Taco Bell - you know everything on it is made with tortilla, meat, lettuce, tomato and cheese - whether they call it a burrito or a gordita.

I like Taco Bell, but for 30 large, I'd like to have fillet mignon rather than grade-E meat.
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