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Archive for the ‘Adventure (ADV)’ Category

Manufacturing Plant for Harley-Davidson Pan America™ 1250 – York, PA

As promised, here is a post on the Harley-Davidson Pan America™ 1250.

I’ve previously posted on the Pan America all-new Revolution Max 1250 engine HERE. To recap, it’s a liquid-cooled V-twin with variable valve timing that produces 150 horsepower with 94 pound-feet of torque at 9,500 rpm and is attached to a six-speed transmission. The engine features maintenance-free valves, thanks to hydraulic valve lifters, crankshaft connecting-rod journals, offset 30 degrees creating a 90-degree firing order, forged aluminum pistons, a 13.0:1 compression ratio, which requires 91-octane fuel. The engine is a “stressed member.”  Meaning the front frame, the mid-frame, and the tail section bolt directly to the powertrain. According to Harley, this design results in a stiffer chassis and less weight. The frame is mounted to a cast-aluminum swing-arm that minimizes unsprung weight.

Start of Harley-Davidson Pan America™ 1250 Manufacturing in York, PA

The base Pan America uses conventional Showa suspension with 7.5 inches of travel at both ends, while the Special trim gets an Ohlins steering damper and semi-active electronically adjustable system with Adaptive Ride Height (ARH) technology ($1,000 option), and with Vehicle Loading Control, which senses the rider’s weight, a passenger, and/or luggage to select optimal suspension sag by automatically adjusting rear preload.  It will also lower the bike over an inch when stopped. Once moving again, the bike automatically lifts itself back to an optimal ride height. The Pan America has a bucket load of acronyms: Cornering Enhanced Linked Braking System (C-ELB), Cornering Enhanced Traction Control System (C-TCS), Drag-Torque Slip Control System (DSCS), Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) to impress all your ADV posse riders during set up of your Jetboil camp stove!

Harley-Davidson Pan America™ 1250 “In the Wild”

The motorcycle has a 19-inch front and 17-inch rear cast-aluminum wheels. Harley-Davidson worked with Michelin to create the Scorcher Adventure tires and the Anakee Wild tires that are also available with a more aggressive block-pattern tread. Tubeless cross-laced spoked wheels (additional $500) are also available. Brembo monoblock four-piston calipers that squeeze dual 320mm discs up front, and a single 280mm disc in back. The motorcycle uses a corrosion-resistant 304-series stainless steel exhaust system that’s Euro 5 compliant and features two mufflers – one below the engine and the other on the right side. The radiator shrouds are guarded by a crash bar and there’s an optional two-inch bar riser that doesn’t require lengthening the cables.

Harley-Davidson Pan America™ 1250

The motorcycle has smart rider aids that are all based on Bosch’s six-axis Inertia Measurement Unit (IMU) that makes the anti-lock brakes, traction control and other safety features lean-sensitive. In addition to traction control and ABS, the Pan America offers electronically controlled linked braking, Harley’s drag torque-slip control (this automatically modulates engine torque to reduce wheel spin) and hill hold control. The base model uses a Daymaker Signature LED headlamp, and the Special is upgraded with the Daymaker Adaptive Headlamp technology, which utilizes the ABS IMU to determine the motorcycle’s lean angle and automatically projects additional light into corners. All other motorcycle lights are LED.

Manufacturing the Harley-Davidson Pan America™ 1250

Electronics are plentiful on both models and include: Four rider modes: Road, Sport, Rain, Off-Road, and Off-Road Plus. The base features one customizable mode and the Special offers two customized modes. Both models use a 6.8-inch TFT touchscreen instrumentation that pairs with your mobile device. The screen’s touch feature is disabled when the Pan America is in motion. Missing is Apple CarPlay or Android Auto integration, but Harley instead chose to handle all the media and navigation integration with Bluetooth and an app.

The four-position windscreen is adjustable in a range of 1.8 inches by using “one” hand.  There are heated grips on the Special model with standard cruise control. Fuel capacity is 5.6 Gallons and the curb weight: 534 pounds (Special: 559 pounds).

Harley is asking $17,319 for the base Pan America and $19,999 for the Special. For comparison, BMW’s base R1250 GS starts at $17,995 with a relatively extensive list of available options. The more expensive GS Adventure starts at $20,345.

Harley-Davidson took a lot of time researching, understanding and developing a motorcycle for the ADV market. They’ve used components from the same trusted brand names that you’ll find attached to a BMW, KTM, Ducati, Honda, Yamaha or Triumph. They’ve engineered a power plant which in of itself is most impressive. They have lineage with building Baja-winning dirt bikes in the 1970s, along with dirt track racing experience and with Buell one could debate that they had a semi-Adventure Touring motorcycle back in the early 2000s.

I imagine somewhere in a Milwaukee conference room a marketing exec said “Bring It On“…  Bring on that competition!

Previous Pan America posts:
Harley-Davidson Explores The Unexpected
Harley-Davidson Announces New Movie Telling Origin Story Of ADV Motorcycles
Can Harley-Davidson Stay Relevant With Pan America and Bronx

Photos courtesy of Harley-Davidson

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Harley-Davidson® Pan America™ motorcycles

A lot has been written in the motorcycle media with photos of high mountains, plateaus, deep forests, beaches along the Pacific coast, fantastic riverbeds and deep mountain lakes that provide an epic backdrop for an exciting motorcycle launch.

Of course, I’m talking about what has been labeled the “real deal”—a highly capable, uncompromising large-displacement Adventure bike—the Harley-Davidson® Pan America™ motorcycle.

Harley-Davidson® Pan America™ motorcycle

Journalists cheered… remotely of course.  There were tears and applause, then more tears as the press fell apart during the historical motorcycle launch. Even Jochen Zeitz, chairman, president and CEO Harley-Davidson, made a cameo as a film actor riding — yes, RIDING — an actual motorcycle.  It was in the scenic landscape of Kenya, Africa no less.  The narrative is how he traveled to the vast wildlife preserves to lasso the twin Adventure Motorcycle and bring it back to America!

It’s the new AMERICAN adventure touring motorcycle that the motor company wants you to grab a tent stake, a Jetboil camping stove and join in on the outback camaraderie. Even the NY Times marked it as a “New Era” for Harley Davidson.

Not only were journalists drooling to throw a leg over the new Adventure Bike, Harley executives were exuberant for “knobs and tread blocks” to throw some dirt on the competition and share with the world what they’ve teased out for several years now. In this under two minute video you even get to meet workers from the H-D factory in York, Pennsylvania — the talented folks who assemble the new motorcycles. It’s pretty cool!

You might recall the new Adventure (ADV) model was revealed during an onslaught of online-presentations, keynotes and of course streamed worldwide across every social channel platform. It also included Jason Momoa (“Aquaman” actor) talking about his epic riding adventures.  Because who can’t relate to a Hollywood produced video of a multimillionaire actor’s motorcycle experiences? If you missed the initial launch you can replay it HERE. Or if you have time at work and want to watch a 25-minute video with dramatic musical overdubs about how this isn’t Harley’s first dirt rodeo check it out HERE.

I’m not sure about you, but I’m challenged to recall the last time I shipped a motorcycle overseas and tasted the bright red African soil on Kenya roads humming the tunes from the soundtrack of the Disney’s “Lion King.”

But, I’ve really wandered off the trail.

BMW R1250 GS

In this post, I’m NOT going to pontificate on the tsunami of Pan America jaw dropping impressions. I’ve previously posted on the Pan America engine HERE.  I promise that I’ll cover the Pan America motorcycle spec sheet in a future post.

I want to review the BMW Group with its four brands BMW, MINI, Rolls-Royce and BMW Motorrad. Harley-Davidson is going up against the world’s leading premium manufacturer of automobiles and motorcycles.

For nearly 3-years, (since early 2018), Harley-Davidson has been “pissing” on BMW Motorrad’s parade without the courtesy of calling it rain!  Using a drip, drip, drip teaser marketing strategy, while pre-broadcasting their intent to enter the Adventure motorcycle segment.  The same segment that BMW Motorrad owns. It’s important to note that BMW achieved it’s 2nd BEST sales result in company history in 2020 and doing so during a world-wide pandemic!  Sales stats are below.

BMW R18

After a couple of years listening to Harley’s ADV bluster, BMW launched their own salvo at Milwaukee with the new BMW R 18: a nostalgic touring and supreme cruising motorcycle. BMW borrowed from the famous R 5 models for both technology and visual impact, shifting the focus back onto the motorcycle essentials: purist, no-frills technology and the most powerful “Big Boxer” engine (1802 cc) as the epicentre of riding pleasure. This happens to be Harley-Davidson’s wheel-house.  The motorcycle features and stats are impressive, but equally important is the BMW collaboration with Roland Sands Design, Mustang seats and Vance & Hines exhaust systems.

Will the blue-and-white roundel aggressively defend its Adventure segment sales crown?  You bet, because BMW appeals to a youthful and more dynamic consumer and making money is important to any business.  But, lets get one thing out there on BMW immediately; I’ve encountered numerous riders who claim they used to own BMWs but switched brands due to the absurdly high cost of everything—parts, service and the motorcycles themselves. We could debate that Harley-Davidson follows the same premium parts, service and motorcycle strategy too.

BMW R 1250 GS Adventure – Edition 40 Years

Clearly 2020 was a tough year for the motorcycle industry, but let’s double-click on BMW.

BMW Motorrad delivered 169,272 BMW motorcycles and scooters to customers. However, the German brand sales dropped in 2020 (the first in nine years), which they considered a positive result considering the pandemic circumstances. The Bavarian press team is busy spinning its 2020 motorcycle achievements with market launches of thirteen new models and sales figures being the second-best sales (previous best year: 175,162 vehicles) result in BMW Motorrad’s history (which they are), though the success varies greatly by region.

BMW R18

In Europe as a whole, BMW Motorrad saw its sales volume drop by 5.3%, though Germany (27,516 units) and France (17,539 units) both had record years for motorcycle sales, posting 4.7% and 1.4% gains respectively. Those gains were offset by significant losses from Italy, Spain, and the UK/Ireland. BMW Motorrad didn’t provide the 2019 figures for these countries, nor their percentage drop, in its 2020 sales press release, but scrapping the internet and through mathematical deductions in my HP 12C, these sales numbers follow percentage decreases: Italy (-10.7%), Spain (-12.5%), and UK/Ireland (-23.9%).

We also know from past reports that the BMW R 1250 GS and R 1200 GS models claimed top honors as the bestseller in the lineup and the company is market share leader in the Adventure segment. In terms of motorcycle models, the GS is supreme, with over 59,000 units of the company’s boxer-twin ADV bike (R1200GS / RS1200GSA) sold in 2019. You read that correctly.  Just one model with two variants accounts for one-third of BMW Motorrad’s sales and in the U.S. it accounted for around 7.6 percent of BMW’s global motorcycle sales.

Oh, did I neglect to mention the BMW racing crew with first podium finishes in the FIM World Superbike Championship (WorldSBK) and the successful entry into the Endurance World Championship (FIM EWC) with the new BMW S 1000 RR?

And, I haven’t even started comparing the Ducati Multistrada V4 S Sport, KTM 1290 Super Adventure, Honda CRF1100L Africa Twin or Triumph Tiger 1200 lineup.

You’re likely thinking about now… Mac, you’re just one of those doubters.  That’s fair, but after reading a significant number of top tier media reports, watching a fair amount of YouTube interviews with motorcycle magazine writers, I have just one question. Why did so many riders/writers have unplanned dismounts?  Several of the riders laid down their 574 pound Pan America on the sandier trails during testing at that remote camp in the Mojave Desert, about 100 miles north of Los Angeles.

Did a year of the pandemic downtime diminish their riding skills or is it the motorcycle?

Harley has been enjoying about half of all new motorcycle sales in the U.S. over 600cc, but I remain a bit skeptical that the motor company can enter a new market segment where the Bavarian manufacturer dominates even with how good the Pan Am motorcycle is right out of the crate!

I hope to test ride the Pan Am soon.  Today, I’m having an expresso, but tomorrow I could be heading out on the TransAmerica Trail.

Photos courtesy of BMW Motorrad and Harley-Davidson.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Revolution® Max 1250 Engine

On February 22, 2021, Harley-Davidson® officially unveiled the multi-year teased then full-frontal hyped all-new Liquid-Cooled V-Twin (Revolution® Max 1250 Engine), which powers the new Adventure (ADV) segment (Touring and Sport) motorcycle called the Pan America™ 1250. The Revolution Max 1250 engine is assembled at the Harley-Davidson Pilgrim Road Powertrain Operations facility in Wisconsin.

The new engine is tuned specifically to deliver the desirable power characteristics for the Pan America 1250, with an emphasis on smooth low-end torque delivery and low-speed throttle control applicable to ADV off-road riding.

Harley-Davidson is bent on piloting across a dusty path into the deep-sand of the Dakar trail by taking on the most iconic and recognizable adventure motorcycle — the BMW GS. The GS, a direct descendant of a Dakar winner, has spent decades proving its capability in the remote parts of the world, with each generation improving on the last.

Revolution® Max 1250 Engine

Revolution® Max 1250 Engine Summary:

Displacement: 76.3 cu in (1,252 cc)
Bore x Stroke: 4.13 in (105 mm) x 2.83 in (72 mm)
Maximum horsepower: 150 @ 9000 rpm
Maximum torque: 94 ft/lbs @ 6750 rpm
Peak RPM: 9500
Compression Ratio: 13.0:1  (Piston crowns are machined)
Valvetrain: Chain-driven, DOHC, hydraulic self-adjusting lifters, intake & exhaust VVT; four valves per cylinder
Cooling: Liquid
Transmission: 6-speed
Primary Drive: Gear
Final Drive: Belt

 

More Revolution® Max 1250 Engine Details:

  • 60-degree V angle of the cylinders.
  • Single-piece aluminum cylinders with nickel silicon carbide-surface galvanic coating.
  • Rocker covers, camshaft covers and primary cover are lightweight magnesium.
  • Liquid cooled engine and the engine oil is also liquid cooled. Oil cooling jets are aimed at the bottom of the pistons.
  • The two crankshaft connecting rod journals are offset by 30 degrees which creates a 90-degree firing order.
  • The engine requires premium-grade (91 octane) fuel.
  • Four-valve cylinder heads (two intake and two exhaust) — exhaust valves are sodium-filled.
  • Cylinder heads are cast from high-strength 354 aluminum alloy.
  • The engine has Double Overhead Camshafts (DOHC) with Variable Valve Timing (VVT).
  • The engine features roller-finger valve actuation with hydraulic lash adjusters and has multiple internal balancers.
  • The engine has two spark plugs per cylinder, dual down-draft throttle bodies with an 11-liter air box over the engine and washable conical air filter.
  • The is a unitized powertrain, i.e. the engine and transmission are housed in a common case.
  • There is a six-speed transmission and the clutch is mechanically actuated with a large-diameter cable.

Harley-Davidson stated that the Pan America adventure motorcycle powered by the Revolution Max 1250 engine can achieve a top speed of 135 mph (217 kmh)!

Similar to the crossover in the four-wheeled world, the adventure motorcycle segment has now been expanded, thanks to Harley-Davidson.

Images courtesy of Harley-Davidson.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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It’s real, and it’s spectacular. Fastest I’ve ever clicked “buy.”

Wait! Not so fast. What are you talking about Mac?

Today was historic. The original film starts out greeting thrillseekers, music lovers and conversationalists all across the frozen plains.

You had me at; “You’re here by the grace of your lineage.

But, I’ve wandered off the main trail.

Our “movie hero,” Jochen Zeitz, chairman, president and CEO Harley-Davidson, was an actor riding — yes, RIDING — an actual motorcycle.  That in of itself might be a first?!  There he was in the scenic landscape of Kenya, Africa no less.  Traveling to the vast wildlife preserves to lasso the FIRST twin Adventure Motorcycle and bring it back to Made in America!

Nothing to see here Buell owners.

The emotional exhaustion of this past year must have gripped Mr. Zeitz’ soul, as he peered out onto the Segera Retreat, where a herd of zebra graze, swishing their tails in unison to keep the flies away.  Where a long giraffe at the outer edges of the garden keeps him company as he ploughs through a lengthy to-do list waiting for the Milwaukee employees to wake up.

Today Mr. Zeitz must be just thrilled of simply being alive and to share his wisdom with the motorcycle adventure world.

At the film preview, Journalists cheered… remotely of course.  There were tears and applause, then more tears as the press fell apart during the historical Harley-Davidson Pan America launch today.  Harley-Davidson told a syrupy sympathetic story with dramatic musical overdubs on how the motor company always made off-road bikes. The film narrator described that this isn’t Harley’s first dirt rodeo. You might recall, that back in the 1960s and 70s, Harley offered a variety of small dual-sports, and even briefly got into the motocross game. Harley filled the gap in their lineup by purchasing the Italian motorcycle manufacturer Aermacchi. Not too long after, Harley gave up on the idea of small dirt bikes and sold Aermacchi, which eventually became the company we know today as Cagiva.

It’s fairly evident that the motorcycle press has become nothing but “exhausting love letters to consumerism.” I’ll save my cynicism as a more legitimate response to a product launch once I have a chance to fully review the stats vs. just post another emotional reaction.

We all know that Harley-Davidson is trying to break into the popular adventure motorcycle scene with the 2021 Pan America 1250 and Pan America 1250 Special. The motorcycle and dealer network will compete with some of Europe’s top players, including the BMW GS 1250, KTM 1290 Adventure, and the Ducati Multistrada V4. Harley-Davidson pricing begins at $17,319 for the base model and $19,999 for the Special. The models will arrive at Harley-Davidson dealerships in spring 2021.

For me, it was an immense privilege both physically and spiritually to witness the Pan America launch via film/video. #sarcasmalert

Image courtesy of YouTube: Harley-Davidson Original Film (25:45 minutes)

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Drum roll please…with a rim shot!

Harley-Davidson released the secret recipe for “The Hardwire” — a new 5-year strategic plan rolled out oddly on Groundhog Day.  You can read the press release HERE.

Groundhog Day, the comedy film starring Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell and Chris Elliott portrays a cynical TV weatherman covering the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, who becomes trapped in a time loop forcing him to relive February 2 repeatedly.

I reviewed the Harley-Davidson press release and like the film, the motor company seems to be in a time loop spewing marketing or business verbiage that doesn’t mean anything. The release reads like quotes from the books “Crossing the Chasm“/”Blue Ocean“/”Good To Great” / “Tipping Point” / “Outliers.”  I’ve never read all of these books, but I sound MBA literate if I quote them. And, besides, most biker enthusiasts probably never read them either to call me out on it.

Below are the main topics of Chairman, President and CEO Jochen Zeitz’s, The Hardwire = with my snarky management euphemisms added for clarity:

The Hardwire Strategy

Profit Focus: Don’t leave money on the table = Be as greedy with them as possible.
Selective Expansion and Redefinition: We’re all about value-add = Unlike our competitors who seek to add no value.
Lead in Electric: It’s best-of-breed = We hired a market research firm to say that.
Growth Beyond Bikes: This is the next big thing/new thing = Some of our 20-somethings have told me this is really cool.
Customer Experience: We’re customer-focused/proactive/results-oriented = That can’t be bad, right?  This is motherhood and apple pie stuff.
Inclusive Stakeholder Management: We need to monetize/strategize/analyze/incentivize = When in doubt, stick “-ize” on the end of a word and it will sound action-oriented.
People: I know you’ve been burning the candle on both ends = Get ready to do some more.
Planet: It’s basic New Green Deal blocking and tackling = How could you screw this up? I also played high school football and those were the best days of my life.
Profit: We want this to move up and to the right = I failed high school algebra but someone said this means we’ll be making a lot of money if this happens.
Financial Targets: It’s about synergies/1 + 1 = 3 = I don’t get the math either, but it sounds like more and more is better, right?

Metaphors or marketing euphemisms are always interesting to me.  Eu·phe·mism — a word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing. For example, a famous feature of the World Fair in New York in 1964-65 was something called the Dynamic Maturity Pavilion — basically a garden with benches where those of mature years could rest.

Maturity is a positive concept; it implies that a person is fully developed in body or mind. And as a “seasoned” motorcyclist I’ll need to wrap my head around reliving The Hardwire.  We’ve seen this film before. I’ll need to sharpen my pencil and circle back to fully understand the paradigm shift.

In the meantime, I know we’re all on the same team here, rowing in the same direction, and it’s not about me, it’s about us.

Photos courtesy Columbia Pictures and Harley-Davidson.

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H-D 21 Virtual Broadcast

The H-D 21 virtual broadcast was an all digital event to announce new 2021 motorcycles, parts and accessories.

The new model launch yesterday came less than a year after the motor company reported plans to streamline its product portfolio by 30% while overhauling its launch timing (historically every August) and go-to-market practices for maximum impact.

As soon as the media, dealers and consumers logged into the Harley-Davidson online portal, I knew this year’s product launch was going to be … different.

The event opened with a long video montage on the joys of the motorcycling experience.  I watched Jason Mamoa gush about his Harley family, or “Ohana” — you’ll remember him as Aquaman.

As someone who has served time in the trenches creating marketing campaigns, this was the traditional entertainer-as-a-promotional vehicle initiative.  The idealized figure introduced Harley-Davidson CEO Jochen Zeitz who teased the audience with a number of motorcycles and projects that he apparently can’t speak about yet.

Huh?

As the motorcycle launch wore on, with a selection of motor company smooth-talking prognosticators from various departments sharing bits of information about updates to Cruiser, Touring and CVO models, the value of an all-virtual Harley-Davidson product roll-out actually became less clear. The new products, which we usually look forward to, felt less exciting. It’s hard to determine the viability of any product by watching a slick video about it in a browser. The discussions about the Harley-Davidson future of motorcycling felt less like revelatory conversations and more like a TED Talk that I’d scroll past in my Twitter feed.

For me the serendipity of discovery was gone. One of the most exciting parts of a product launch has been finding out about something or learning about something new through pure chance. At a virtual H-D 21, that’s a virtual impossibility.

Street Bob 114

But, I’ve digressed.

Cruiser Updates
Harley stated that the Street Bob 114 is the lightest Softail model to be equipped with the Milwaukee-Eight 114 engine. The legendary Fat Boy receives refreshed styling for 2021, getting brilliant chrome instead of satin chrome on the engine and exhaust, the front end, the rear fender struts and console.

Touring Models
The 2021 Touring lineup includes three baggers that feature the Milwaukee-Eight 114 motor: Road King Special, Road Glide Special and Street Glide Special. The Street Glide Special and Road Glide Special get new two-tone paint options, and a choice of a blacked-out or bright chrome styling treatment – a choice between dark and sinister, or brilliant and more traditional.

Fat Boy

Road King Special and Street Glide Special models get a new brilliant Daymaker LED headlamp. All Harley-Davidson Touring models that are equipped with the colour touchscreen Boom! Box GTS infotainment system that now have Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. The feature requires a wired connection to a smartphone rather than going through Bluetooth.

CVO Models
Custom Vehicle Operations (CVO) motorcycles are the poster child for Harley-Davidson’s styling and performance. The Milwaukee-Eight 117 V-Twin engine is exclusive to CVO models as standard equipment. For 2021, the CVO Street Glide and CVO Road Glide models receive all-new Harley-Davidson Audio provided through an exclusive partnership with Rockford Fosgate.

CVO Limited

The audio systems, featuring speakers and amplifiers, were designed specifically for Harley-Davidson motorcycles. These components will also be made available through Harley-Davidson Genuine Motor Parts & Accessories for 2014 and newer Touring models equipped with a Boom! Box infotainment unit.

The 2021 CVO models (CVO Street Glide, CVO Road Glide, CVO Limited and CVO Tri Glide) all feature new paint options and styling features. All four CVO models are also equipped with RDRS safety equipment, including Cornering Enhanced Electronic Linked Braking, Cornering Enhanced ABS, Cornering Enhanced Traction Control, Drag-Torque Slip Control, Vehicle Hold Control, and Tire Pressure Monitoring System.

Pan America 1250

Pan America Global Reveal
The upcoming and over exposed Pan America 1250 adventure tourer was previewed in the virtual launch broadcast, but the most important details weren’t provided as it’s official launch is set for February 22nd. Mark your calendar and register for the event HERE.

It will be interesting to compare how this virtual launch broadcast performs in attracting potential motorcycle buyers and if it will drive demand for products or make an emotional connection to the Harley-Davidson brand.

It’s been my experience that: “People don’t buy “what” you do, they buy “why” you do it.”  — Simon Sinek

Photos courtesy of Harley-Davidson

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Santa Wish List

Santa wasn’t good to the motorcycle industry in 2020.  It was the sort of year at Harley-Davidson where every week, you’d say “what just happened?” Soft sales and even negative growth along with company shutdowns then longer term layoffs followed by strategic plan “walk-backs” and then the high profile dumping of a Tennessee motorcycle dealer over racist Black Lives Matter posts followed by an ever discriminating consumer to boot.

Speaking of feet, did you hear that having footwear industry expertise is the new turnaround skill set for executives at the motor company?

As the motor company executives sit virtually in the Zoom conference room and wonder what happened to the year, I can’t help but believe there are some major things on their Santa wish lists.

So, I’ve followed the science (parody alert!) and highlighted below what I think a few of the top executives want for Christmas:

JOCHEN ZEITZ, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Harley-Davidson: Santa, I “charged” up and shorted out ex-CEO Matt Levatich on that EV motorcycle, but I got the head honcho job with the industry’s most iconic motorcycle manufacturer.  Did you know they have a cult-like following similar to my favorite thing — a Scottish Bailey guitar?  And to think that I’ve never even been photographed riding a motorcycle. I can’t think of anything more to ask for. Oh wait – listen up Santa, please help that Pan American be our rock star and displace BMW R 1250 GS Adventure bike sales. Santa, I need your help to move the company from The Rewire, to The Hardwire and now with marijuana being legal in Madison, my new strategic plan will be called The Higher Wire. Santa, I’ve never been to the White House for dinner and I wrote a book about my transcendental awakening with a Benedictine monk.  It’s my turn!  Please let the spinner land on my name. Lastly, can you help people forget about that botched “Gone Girl” firing of Michelle Kumbier and the $660K departure gift?

JULIE ANDING, Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer: Santa baby, it’s cold outside. It’s not a Christmas party. It’s a non-denominational Zoom holiday mixer. More inclusive. With my team of over 200 HR professionals (“I say H, and you say R”) streaming video around the world, I posted a fun memo about the decisions made at the company Zoom holiday party will have consequences that will haunt them for the rest of their professional lives. I’ve got doughnuts. I’ve got jelly and sprinkles, but not cronuts because they’re a bastard pastry.

AMY GIUFFRE, Vice President and Chief Communications Officer: Santa, please let 2021 be “If the dream is big enough, the facts don’t matter” — a.k.a. the Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf school of bubbling optimism to distract the media and bloggers with superfluous BS so they ignore our fundamental problems. As the motor company leader of the world’s foremost authority on brand marketing please let my cutting edge hoo-ha marketers develop a comm’s strategy that will last longer than Aquaman in theaters!

JON BEKEFY, General Manager Brand Marketing: What the font?  Please Santa, I’m seeking stoke so, let the famously irreverent Enthusiast magazine right a wrong, while I write a song on the largest number of variable text sizes and drawing types ever used in a print magazine. We commissioned a student that designed a flyer for the H.S. prom to perform the magazine eye test. I’m a huge fan of Gliko Modern and Gliko Modern Condensed with Body copy set in Freight Text.  Oooh, so many fonts and so little time. I’m rather preoccupied with condensing the regular widths of every page and reducing The Enthusiast page count to a total of three on the next spread.  Is Santa seeking stoke?

BILL DAVIDSON, Vice President of the Harley-Davidson Museum: Hey Santa, I’m still working here and I bleed black and orange. Did you know I’m the son of William G. “Willie G.” Davidson? Just because the pandemic has closed the museum, I remain busy creating ways to bring light and meaningful impact to motorcycle enthusiasts.  In fact, I sketched a new color book that has cryptic clues, puzzles to solve, and you can uncover a mystery through an interactive story adventure in the museum gallery.  We’re doing this in collaboration with The Pabst Mansion and the Pabst Brewing Company. Pass me a cold one!

GINA GOETTER, Chief Financial Officer: Santa it’s not my fault.  The prepared foods at Tyson Foods taught me a lot. Please let me milk this “new in my job” for just a while longer.  What do they expect?  Miracles on Juneau Avenue!  Doesn’t it matter that I’ve been here less time than ZEITZ?   I do have a motorcycle endorsement.  And, my calculator is newer than Jonathan’s!

JAGDISH “J.A.G.” KRISHNAN, Chief Digital Officer: Santa, it’s all hands on deck. Open. Click. Buy. At Bose, I helped close 119 retail stores after digitization and all I want for Christmas is to be that invincible-gungho digital hero and repeat the success for Harley customers. I’m calling it The Wired Buyer plan. It’s no longer about taking care of every person who walks through our doors – whether that’s helping with a problem, giving expert advice, or just letting someone take a break and listen to a great rumble.  We’re going all in online and will digitize the entire customer experience. Now where are those IBM server rooms on Juneau Avenue.

JONATHAN ROOT, Senior Vice President, Harley-Davidson Financial Services: Santa, I’ve been busy creating forecasting models, assessing risk in investments and ensuring all accounting activities comply with regulations, but I need a new platinum edition HP 12C calculator.  The minus button on my current Texas Instruments model quit working.

PAUL J. KRAUSE, Vice President, Chief Legal Officer and Chief Compliance Officer: Santa, I’ll make this short and sweet.  Please tell us who is behind that NWHOG.com blog?!  We have an important legal document gift we wish to serve send over to the Northwest Harley Blog editor. By the way Santa, trespassing involves entering a chimney without consent, but by wishing for presents and sending letters we’re good to go on the legal front!

LUKE MANSFIELD, Vice President Motorcycle Management: I’m dreaming electric Santa. Think Serial Number 1! It’s a simple process that leads to a complex outcome, but I think I can optimize your gift delivery experience so you’ll be home for Christmas.  Sure you have the reindeer and elf idiosyncrasies, but consumer tastes are changing fast and they want those gifts immediately after they Open. Click. Buy.  Santa you need to adapt & disrupt.  By the way, we’re developing a new delicious lemon flavored drink for our motorcycle enthusiasts.  It’s called ‘Harley Harley‘ and will be a standalone new brand in the U.S.

BRYAN NIKETH, Senior Vice President, Product Development and Operations: Please make Indian Motorcycles go away like “Gone Girl” Michelle Kumbier.  We are tired of being embarrassed in our own backyard when it comes to American cruisers and we don’t want that company bragging about their superior performance anymore.  Santa, save the gifts for the laid off 70 employees in India because I’m flying over when the pandemic ends to discuss Harley’s continuing restructuring of the region. It’s the largest motorcycle market and the exit was hastily announced. Lastly Santa, can you find that blogger at the 105th Anniversary trying to take a photo during our plant tour. We ran his butt right out the building before he was able to take pictures of the lunch room, but the Six Sigma manufacturing team learned later we’re missing a crankshaft bolt.

I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to the time when I can throw away my mask. Visiting all my family and sitting around the table sharing stories, eating good food and laughing together again.  And of course, getting on the motorcycle and riding across the U.S. at pandemic-free events!

Thank you for your readership during this past year. Merry Christmas, happy holidays and best wishes to you and yours in 2021.

Photo courtesy of the author.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Jason Momoa (i.e. “Aquaman”) collaborates with Harley-Davidson

How often have we recently heard… “We continue to face challenges during these unprecedented times.” — Harley-Davidson CEO Jochen Zeitz opening statement during the July 28, 2020 financial call.

I’m not a grammar nerd, but “unprecedented times” is a tiresome word.  Stop saying it Mr. Zeitz – and it’s also inaccurate!

We are not in an “unprecedented” time.

This isn’t the 1930’s Great Depression, the worst economic downturn in the history of the industrialized world. There’s been no dot-com bubble (i.e. Internet bubble) that was caused by excessive speculation in Internet-related companies in the late 1990s. It’s not the real estate bubble of 2008 and the follow-on market crash, recession and unemployment that was linked to the “subprime mortgage crisis.” There is no automotive industry crisis of 2008–2010 where declining automobile sales and scarce availability of credit led to General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford facing insolvency without major government intervention. It’s not the 1918 flu pandemic, which killed 675,000 Americans and the worldwide death toll was estimated at 100 million. One pandemic death is too much, but the COVID-19 deaths are currently nowhere close to that, thankfully.

Q2 2020 HOG Earnings Report

So, stop using these new most-hated sayings: “unprecedented” times, it’s the “new normal” and “we are in this together” mantra.

And, who’s the “we” here? The point is “we” are not all on the same team in this pandemic. Everyone is dealing with it in their own way. The restaurant employee who’s been unemployed for months isn’t in this together with a Fortune 500 CEO.  The nurse on the front-line treating pandemic patients isn’t in this with the marketing manager who can work from home.

It’s not “unprecedented” for me to rant about something while being largely sequestered at home for nearly five months. But it is what it is, I guess.

Back to the Q2’20 financial call… and some key comments made during the call:

  • The Harley-Davidson culture has suffered. The company has seen five consecutive restructuring’s every year in order to basically chase the downward trend in sales.
  • The Rewire” strategic vision is now being replaced by “The Hardwire.” (more on this at the bottom of the post)
  • Extending the 2020 model year through fall (historically launch was late August) and now new bikes will arrive in dealer showrooms early 2021.
  • Used motorcycle pricing increased about 6% throughout Q2, certainly, higher than Harley has seen in any previous quarter.
  • Harley continues to see strong potential in Adventure Touring and will launch Pan America globally in 2021.
  • Harley has streamlined the structure, which now requires approx 700 fewer positions and approximately 500 employees laid off.
  • H-D is not willing to sacrifice the strength of their legacy in a quest for pure volume growth going forward.
  • Increased recognition on the role of digital technology as a critical priority in the future for Harley-Davidson.
  • H-D will focus on roughly 50 primary markets that generate the vast majority of their retail sales and shipments.
  • Surprise!  Planning to add a Sustainability Officer to the team who will further H-D commitment to the planet and to society.
  • New brand building approach and social media campaign directed by “Aquaman” i.e. Jason Momoa (video of Mr. Momoa touring H-D Museum)

Q2’20 Numbers:

  • Harley-Davidson posted a loss of $0.60 per share for Q2’20
  • Worldwide retail sales of new motorcycles were down 26.6% versus prior year and Q2 revenue of $865 million was down 47% year over year.
  • U.S. retail sales in Q2’20 were down 26.7% versus prior year.
  • EMEA declined 29.8%, Asia Pacific was down 10.2%, and Latin America saw declines in Mexico and Brazil and finished the quarter down 51%.
  • U.S. market share of new bike registrations was 38.5%, down 8.1 percentage points
  • Motorcycle mix shifted from touring to cruising versus Q2’19, which reduced average motorcycle revenue per bike.
  • Credit losses were down due to lower delinquencies and lower repossessions helped by H-D offering of payment extensions to certain customers.
  • While Q2 results were again terrible, Harley-Davidson was still able to sell over 31,000 motorcycles in the U.S. during a global health crisis that closed off its retail stores.

During the financial call, Mr. Zeitz announced Harley will have yet another roadmap to follow: “The Hardwire,” the motor company’s third visionary plan in two years.

You might recall “The More Roads to Harley-Davidson” plan unveiled in July 2018 which stated the development of 100 new models over 10 years, giving more attention to international markets than in the U.S. market, and putting a much greater focus on electric vehicles.

That plan was largely abandoned earlier this year when then CEO Matt Levatich abruptly left the company and was replaced by chairman Zeitz. The “More Roads” was replaced by the vague and loosely defined “The Rewire” plan, which incorporated some of Levatich’s plan, but would instead focus more on key markets and products to drive the bike maker’s profitability and growth potential.

Now we can look forward to a new 5-year strategic plan; “The Hardwire,” which will be grounded in enhancing the desirability of Harley’s brand and protecting the value (i.e., keep pricing elevated) of the iconic products.” The Hardwire roadmap is expected to take over in the fourth quarter and serve as the strategic plan for the company to follow through 2025.

Photos courtesy of Asphalt & Rubber and Harley-Davidson

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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Remember that outsider who kept Harley-Davidson on the road?

Keith E. Wandell (retired H-D CEO) grabbed the handlebars at the company in the heart of the economic crisis in 2009. Harley lost $55 million that year, as buying a motorcycle stopped being an option for many consumers.

Wandell made some big statements. “Don’t let Harley-Davidson become General Motors!” Look in a mirror, he told staff – Harley was already so far down that same path [as GM] “it wasn’t even funny.”

Wandell took bold action and made quick decisions to focused the company on doing what many say it does best: Making big, powerful, premium-priced cruisers.

Keith Wandell

Keep in mind, this was when the great recession and credit crisis sent shockwaves through Harley-Davidson. In less than one year, bike shipments dropped about 25 percent.

Wendell cut the workforce – at least 2,700 hourly workers and 840 administrative employees. The economy was in the tank, the motor company had a big union labor force and old manufacturing processes.  People were just churning and everything was upside down at the company.

Imagine…

I’m not talking about celebrities’ filming themselves singing John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’, from their multi-acre estates and whining about their COVID-19 pandemic isolation.  Never has disproportionate privilege been so apparent and I for one am really fed up with their self-serving need to be in the public spotlight with style-over-substance videos.

But, I digress…

Mark-Hans Richer

It is equally important to recall Wandell’s right-hand “stunt man” — you may remember him as that over-the-top marketing genius who had women screaming, grown men crying and Oprah jumping up and down, chanting: “Everybody gets a car!

I’m talking about Mark-Hans Richer, who was Sr. VP, Chief Marketing Officer at Harley-Davidson, prior to his 2015 departure. Granted, Richer is currently employed at Fortune Brands, but with the mass exodus at Harley-Davidson and salary decreases across the executive staff it’s plausible to pull him back into the H-D team.

Richer, generated the most bankable kind of publicity: controversy.  He made the difference between a motorcycle brand being a rock star versus more employees working in the rental lot.

He’s the charismatic dude that dropped a Dyna Super Glide on Pope Francis at the Vatican.  Then turned around at a press briefing and said, I would be really upset if you felt our strategy was about “meeting the nicest people on a Harley” because I can tell you that ain’t the strategy.  Later he pontificated that a Harley costs less than “another tattoo, a parking ticket, a gas station burrito, and a lip ring” in an appeal to what makes millennials tick.  In 2002, he helped the company get named Company of the Year by Forbes magazine.

110th Anniversary Celebration

In a university commencement speech, he stated: “Everything I ever learned from business, I learned from Willie the Wildcat stuffed animal,” a business he started right out of college.  Richer secured the first major worldwide sports sponsorship for Harley-Davidson at UFC and was instrumental in X-Games marketing.

No, I don’t have a man crush.

Richer was a key contributor of the “Ride Home” anniversary events.  Do you remember when returning to the mecca of motorcycling in Milwaukee was truly an EVENT i.e. the 110th Anniversary festivities featured 60 bands, including Aerosmith, Kid Rock and ZZ Top.  Remember that 3 ½-hour set by Bruce Springsteen and E Street Band at the 105th Anniversary?   How about when Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl, committed a major sin on stage by cracking open a Coors in Miller Town?

100th Anniversary Celebration

There was the surprise headliner (Elton John) and outright disaster for the centennial anniversary. Musical highlights included Billy Idol, Kid Rock, Joan Jett, Poison, REO Speedwagon, the Doobie Brothers and Tim McGraw for the 100th anniversary so, people booing and walking out might have been overstated in the media.

Then came 2018 and time to celebrate 115 years of the open road.  Harley-Davidson CMO, Heather Malenshek tells the media the event is all about returning to its roots with a focus on the motorcycle, not the entertainment.  Huh?!  It was an unmitigated flop for entertainment.  She very quietly departs the company in October 2019.  Coincidence?

Indian is challenging Harley’s cash cow, the Road Glide.  BMW has market segment share in the ADV or “adventure motorcycle” sector and recently introduced the new R 18 touring, cruiser configuration to compete head-on with Harley-Davidson and Indian.  Rumors started circulating recently that Honda is introducing a new 1100 Rebel to compete directly with Harley-Davidson.

Pan American

Harley needs more than anything a fast start for a new model to become a breakout hit.  Is that the Pan American, ADV?

The ADV segment is crowded and entrenched with BMW, Honda, KTM, and newcomer Ducati, among others with decades, of dirt-tested refinement.  Harley doesn’t have the luxury of burning up stacks of cash on a another “vanity project.”

The Milwaukee motor company has a very narrow window to establish that hit. Gone are the days when a slow seller can be nurtured into a hit.  Here’s looking at you LiveWire and the “Field of Dreams” marketing of distressed or stigmatized merchandise!  I truly wonder if acting president and CEO Jochen Zeitz or Harley-Davidson management really understand why the LiveWire product is failing?

It’s logically time to recall Mr. Wandell and “CMO head-honcho,” Richer back from spending their days taking lunch at the Polo Lounge and crank up the H-D buzz machine.

What the media’s hourly drumbeat of “panic porn” on the COVID-19 trauma has shown us, cannot be unseen.  A motorcycle-less Los Angeles.  Coyotes wandering on the empty Golden Gate Bridge.  A quiet New York, where you can hear the birds chirp in the middle of Madison Avenue.

We’re in it. Stores are closed. Restaurants are empty. Streets and multi-lane freeways are barren.  Body bags in tractor trailers.  The Oregon beach is an eerie ghost town.  The economy has collapsed and a devastated 22+ million Americans have lost their jobs in four weeks.  It’s a dark feeling of rust, rot and ruin.

Illegitimi non carborundum.” The Latin phrase loosely translates to, “Don’t let the [COVID] bastard get you down.”

Motorcycle enthusiasts are the ones who understand why dogs stick their heads out the window.  In the famous words of a previous H-D CEO, Jeffrey Bleustein, “We (Harley) have to pretend ten fiery demons are chasing us at all times,” and “make the right bikes, at the right time, and get them to the right place!

Let’s all take a deep breath and get ready for a potential Harley-Davidson tsunami. What is about to be unleashed will be the greatest campaign ever created to get you to feel normal again.  Every brand will come to our rescue, dear consumer, to help take away that darkness and get life back to the way it was before the crisis.

The great American return to normal is coming and you won’t be able to ignore that deafening motorcycle exhaust noise.

Photos taken by author and courtesy of Harley-Davidson and Wikipedia.

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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New Year’s Eve is one of the largest global celebrations, marking the last day of the year and for this year marking the end of the decade.

Are you one of those? You know… the type who likes to argue that 2019 isn’t *really* the end of the decade. Because there is no year 0 in the Anno Domini system which our calendars are based on and the first year ever was year one (1) therefore, the first year of any and all subsequent decades is the one ending in one (1).

Merriam-Webster offers up that it’s defined by popular culture and common usage so, decades end after the 9 year and I’m holding steady with that definition to close out the decade!

Lets move off the Anno Domini system.

A new year is a naturally introspective time, it’s a renewal—starting with a clean slate so’s to speak. Most will consider the year’s past challenges, celebrate the year’s past accomplishments and look forward to the future. It often provides a time to set new goals. Maybe a new motorcycle adventure, new gear, a new project bike, set a new mileage goal, turn the motel miles in and really tent camp at the 80th Sturgis Rally or maybe you dream of a cross-country adventure on Harley’s new Pan America(ADV) motorcycle and resolve to ride the Trans-America Trail across the U.S. from coast to coast—off road!

I don’t typically make a New Year’s resolution, but I think if pushed for something in 2020, I am going do more of what I enjoy—ride more, learn something new with a wrench, and improve my riding. Then again, I resolve to ride more often than annually anyway.

Some of you are already aware of this, but for those who aren’t, Team Oregon has an outstanding rider training program for all skill sets. Check them out.

Happy New Year to you and yours! Lets ride into a happier year and watch out for yourselves and watch out for your brothers and sisters in the wind.

Photo courtesy of Harley-Davidson

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