Saturday, December 11, 2010

Harley-Davidson

I have never owned a Harley or any other motorcycle. By all accounts, their quality has gone up over the years. So, why are they on the list?

Because, I have wanted a motorcycle since I was a kid. I have rented scooters in the past, and I have always liked smaller machinery. If I ever buy anything, I would like it to be American. I find Harley frustrating.

The only thing Harley ever made that I wanted was the Buell Blast. It was a 500cc single. That's bigger than I would want, but it's small enough.

They could make an American scooter equivalent by making a modern version of The Silent Grey Fellow. They could do a lot of things, but they're stuck somehow. They're not quite frozen in time or frozen in amber, but they definitely aren't going anywhere.

Right now, Harley-Davidson has 3 major problems.

1. Overcommitment to one engine. Just as GM clings to the small-block Chevy, Harley clings to the big 45 degree V-twin. Both are great motors, but not everyone wants one.

2. "Bigger is Better" mindset. For a while, they were running a promotion guaranteeing a good trade-in deal for those moving up from a Sporster. While the Sportster is the smallest Harley, it's still too big for a lot of people. For some, it's the right size. Nobody at Harley has a clue about that.

3. There is nothing for beginners. I saw some imported scooters in front of a Harley dealership in Thousand Oaks, but I suspect they're the modern counterparts to the small machines they once sold from Aeromacchi: Junk not to be taken seriously. Afterthoughts. They need a solid product range. Right now, a beginner has to start on a motorcycle made by someone else.

I hope they read this.

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