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Harley-Davidson LiveWire

The Harley-Davidson LiveWire electric motorcycle was officially unveiled in January 2019 at CES.  A lot of marketing hype surrounded the unveiling of the motorcycle with claims of it being the start of “a new focus for the brand that would inspire the next generation of riders.”

Then yesterday, Reuters broke the news that Harley-Davidson had stopped production and delivery (temporarily) of the LiveWire electric motorcycles, after discovering an issue related to the vehicle’s charging equipment. It was reported that the company discovered a “non-standard” condition during the final quality checks of LiveWire, which it already started shipping to dealers in late September.  There were glitches found in the product which has prompted additional testing and analysis.

Interestingly, Webster defines glitches “as a sudden, usually temporary malfunction or irregularity of equipment.”  A glitch like this is not something riders want in a $30,000 purchase!

The LiveWire motorcycle uses a Combined Charging System (CCS), which is a single connector pattern that offers enough space for a Type 1 or Type 2 connector, along with space for a two-pin DC connector allowing charging at up to 200 Amps.  As part of the announcement, the motor company informed current owners to NOT charge the motorcycles through standard home outlets and use only ChargePoint (direct-current stations) charging stations at authorized Harley dealerships to reload the battery.

Well isn’t that “a jolt” of inconvenience?!

For most riders, you’d like to start your day fully charged!  Meaning home charging is normally done at night while you eat, play with the kids, watch TV, and sleep!  There are two Harley-Davidson dealers in the Portland, Oregon metro area that have installed ChargePoint stations.  Finding an alternative direct-current charging station to reload the motorcycle battery on the way to work and then waiting for a couple hours is certainly not ideal.

Charge Locations – Portland, Or. Metro

There are couple of things to know about public charging: the 3 different levels of charging, the difference between connectors and the charging networks.  Riders can go directly to a dealer or try and locate charging stations using ChargeHub.

Knowing your motorcycle’s capabilities is very important and consult the dealer if not understood!

Public Chargers Levels:
Level 1 is the standard wall outlet of 120 volts. It is the slowest charge level and requires tens of hours to fully charge a 100% electric vehicle.
Level 2 is the typical EV plug found in homes and garages. Most public charging stations are level 2.
Level 3 chargers, also known as DCFC or DC Fast Chargers are the quickest way to charge a vehicle. Not every electric vehicle can charge at level 3 chargers.

In general, electric motorcycles are in a phase of adoption known as “the chasm,” (See: Geoffrey Moore’s technology adoption curve) a gulf separating early adopters from the majority of consumers.  It’s a treacherous position in the life of new technology/products, and often determines their success or failure.  One could debate that Harley-Davidson is targeting a market that does not really exist: young, “green” and affluent first-time motorcyclists.

This unattractive “glitch” will be over soon enough, but it does little to promote value creation and owning a Harley-Davidson electric motorcycle.

UPDATE:  October 16, 2019 — An unidentified H-D source tells Forbes:  “This is an issue with the 120v [charging] system, which includes an on-board charger, so it could be a vendor issue with that charger, a wiring harness issue, etc. The point I’d make is that the QC [Quality Control] process worked…there’s an issue, it was discovered before the bikes were shipped to dealers and customers, and I assume it will be fixed.”

UPDATE: October 18, 2019 — TechCrunch reported that Harley-Davidson has resumed LiveWire production.  “After completing rigorous analysis this week, we have resumed LiveWire production and deliveries,” Harley-Davidson said in a comment emailed to TechCrunch. “Customers may continue riding their LiveWire motorcycle and are able to charge the motorcycle through all methods. Temporarily stopping LiveWire production allowed us to confirm that the non-standard condition identified on one motorcycle was a singular occurrence.”

Photos courtesy of Harley-Davidson and ChargeHub

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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Customize It And Stand Out

According to Reuters, Harley-Davidson Inc. has laid off 40 employees in Milwaukee at their general merchandise division.

It’s not a large number of employees, but most unfortunate if your career “rug” was just pulled out from underneath you as someone impacted by this reorganization.

Important to note is that Harley-Davidson’s second quarter earnings report, released July 23, 2019 reported general merchandise sales of $64.6 million, a 5.8% decline from 2018. The company saw a 4.2% decline in the first half of 2019 from 2018 in general merchandise.  It’s also no secret that Harley-Davidson continues to see a decline in motorcycles sales in the U.S. and abroad as it works to adapt to changing clientele.

In the Reuters report the motor company stated the general merchandise division re-org was to manage it’s business with “focus and discipline.”  That statement reads like a quote from the Six Disciplines playbook.  Was the division previously an over-committed reactionary one with no focus and discipline?  That euphemistic “focus and discipline” term seems to be more about flattering management because at the end of the day it’s a “reduction in force,” which is an old school straightforward term.

SAVE, SAVE, SAVE

And speaking of general merchandise — have you noticed the significant up-tick of emails from Harley-Davidson corporate or your local dealer?  I follow Harley-Davidson on multiple channels to stay current on their events and product announcements and always get a number of emails, but I’ve seen a dramatic drum-beat increase over the last couple of months.

It’s starting to have a feel of desperation to survive and meet sales quotas.  Here are a couple recent examples:

Motorclothes, Last Chance to Save Up to 50%…
Harley-Davidson VISA…Reap The Rewards…
End of Summer Sale…
Customize It and Stand Out…
Finance Interest Rate Specials…
Schedule a test ride today…
The 2020 Models are here…
Ride into Fall sale…
Performance Workshop this weekend…

Why is email solicitation so popular?  Because it’s a free alternative to tele-marketing and direct-mail campaigns.  The cost of sending an email is minimal compared to the cost of printing and mailing paper and the email “opportunity” goes directly to your inbox for review.

I predict we’ll see more and more sales email as the motor company works even harder to capture and retain our interest.

Photos courtesy of Harley-Davidson email blasts

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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2020 CVO™ STREET GLIDE®

It’s a slang expression and in general has the meaning of knowing if something is worth the trouble of trying to get it.

And in this case I’m thinking about the MSRP on Harley-Davidson’s 2020 lineup.

In 2019, the 10 models in the touring family: Road King; Street Glide; Road Glide; Road King Special; Electra Glide Ultra Classic; Street Glide Special; Road Glide Special; Road Glide Ultra; Ultra Limited Low; and Ultra Limited had starting prices which ranged from $19,289 to $28,089.  The new 2020 models starting prices range from $19,499 to $28,699.  The three 2019 CVO (Custom Vehicle Operations) models: CVO Street Glide (starting at $40,889); CVO Road Glide (starting at $42,339); and CVO Limited (starting at $43,889). The new 2020 CVO models are priced below.  I’m no Financial Samurai, but that’s getting squeezed!

But wait a minute.  Maybe it’s time to just accept the reason why the average new motorcycle price is so high is because the economy is booming and people seem to have money to spend. If people weren’t cashed up, prices would decline instead of rising to these historical levels.

So, let’s look briefly at the new 2020 models…

2020 CVO™ TRI GLIDE®

Harley-Davidson launched new models and a saddle-bag full of new technologies that are featured on the Low Rider® S model, the all-electric LiveWire™ model, a new CVO™ Tri Glide® model and a “re-styled” Heritage Classic.  Not mentioned in Harley-Davidson’s press release were the models which will not be returning for 2020: the Superlow, 1200 Custom and Forty-Eight Special, the Electra Glide Ultra Classic, the Ultra Limited Low and the CVO Road Glide. Also gone is the Road Glide Ultra, which is officially being replaced by the Road Glide Limited.

The LiveWire motorcycle as previously noted is powered by the all-new H-D Revelation™ permanent-magnet electric motor rated at 105 horsepower (78 kW) and producing 86 ft. lbs. of torque.  You may recall that back in January, Harley-Davidson made a splash at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, with the LiveWire and stated they would start deliveries of the $29,799 all-electric motorcycle by this fall.  The motorcycle was initially rolled out for “beta testing” back in 2014 to H-D brand fans, but since then, the motor company has been working on fine-tuning the design and overall electrification.  Unlike an internal combustion engine (ICE), the H-D Revelation can produce 100 percent of its rated torque the instant the throttle is twisted, and 100 percent of that torque is always available, resulting in incredible, acceleration for an exhilarating ride. The LiveWire can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 3.0 seconds, and 60-80 mph in 1.9 seconds. And the high-voltage battery provides 146 miles (235 km) of city range or 95 miles (152 km) of combined stop-and-go and highway range as measured using the MIC City and MIC Combined tests.  The H-D Revelation motor is cooled by a water jacket, with coolant circulated through a small radiator, and is positioned longitudinally and low in the chassis to lower the motorcycle’s center of gravity, and aid maneuverability.

2020 Low Rider® S

The Low Rider S focuses first on performance. This motorcycle places emphasis on power, handling, and enhanced rider control, while maintaining the typical character of the Harley-Davidson. The motorcycle employs the Softail chassis, enhanced by premium suspension components tuned for aggressive riding and powered by the Milwaukee-Eight 114 engine.  The Low Rider S is really rooted in the legacy of the Low Rider models of the 1980s, that has a devoted following which spread world-wide from origins in Southern California.  The 2020 Low Rider S model has a base price of $17,999.

The Heritage Classic model has been restyled for 2020 “to give the bike a more appealing and nostalgia look of Harley-Davidson chrome.” The Heritage Classic is powered by the same Milwaukee-Eight 107 powertrain as the 2019 model and retains the same mechanics as its predecessor.  The base price for for the 2020 Heritage Classic is $18,999.

The Road Glide Limited, which replaces the Road Glide Ultra will offer the rider new premium luxury-touring features. The model is intended for long-haul touring and is equipped with the distinctive aerodynamic Road Glide shark-nose fairing with triple split stream vents that limit rider head buffeting. The motorcycle is powered by the standard Milwaukee-Eight 114 engine. The base price for the Road Glide Limited is $28,299.

2020 CVO™ LIMITED

The CVO Tri Glide is the newest addition to the company’s line of premium CVO motorcycles and labeled as the ultimate three-wheel motorcycle.  The trike will uphold the CVO standard for advanced technology, exclusive components, and attention to detail that is expected of CVO’s. The CVO Tri Glide will utilize the Milwaukee-Eight 117 powertrain that is unique to CVO models.

Base price for the 2020 CVO Tri-Glide is $48,999.
Base price for the 2020 CVO Limited is $44,039
Base price for the 2020 CVO Street Glide model is $40,539

The H-D™Connect service rolled out which is a cellular telematics control unit (TCU) that functions as an (LTE) enabled modem connecting the 2020 LiveWire™ and select 2020 Touring models to the cloud.  The service is built on the IBM Cloud and Panasonic’s OneConnect™ service.  It’s a ($12/month fee-based service – FREE 1st year) service that remotely connects the rider to their motorcycle through the Harley-Davidson App via a smart phone.  The built-in cellular connectivity with the IBM Cloud, IBM artificial intelligence (AI), analytics and Internet of Things will enhance the rider’s experience as well as keep the rider in the know with motorcycle status, notifications and alerts.  The press release, web site and product documents note that the service is not available in all markets and availability will vary.

H-D™ Connect

The motor company also launched the new Reflex™ Defensive Rider Systems (RDRS) — unlike previous model years Linked Brembo Brakes with ABS, the new system is a collection of technology designed to match motorcycle performance to available traction during acceleration, deceleration and braking, utilizing the latest chassis control, electronic brake control and powertrain technology.   With features like: Cornering Electronically Linked Brakes, Cornering-ABS, Cornering-Traction Control with modes, Drag Torque Slip Control, Vehicle Hold Control and Tire Pressure Monitoring (TPMS) the motor company upped it’s game to give the rider confidence and control in less-than-ideal situations.  Important to note is that RDRS is not a system to directly influence vehicle direction. This is a key difference between motorcycle RDRS and Automotive Stability Control. The rider is ultimately responsible for speed, steering, and path corrections.  The RDRS features are standard on the 2020 LiveWire, Trike and CVO models, and optional on all 2020 Touring models in the U.S. (except Electra Glide®Standard models).

Boom!™ Box GTS infotainment system has evolved with the latest look, feel and function of mobile phones and tablets and with durability and features designed specifically for motorcycling. Every element has been optimized to enhance the rider’s interaction with the motorcycle and connectivity.  Most notable is the GTS processes faster, has more memory and is much more responsive.  Start-up time is reduced from 21 seconds to 10 seconds,  Time to FM Audio is less than 6 seconds and Route calculation time is reduced from 10 seconds to 2.5 seconds.  The GTS replaces the Boom!™ Box 6.5GT system on MY19 Ultra Limited, Ultra Limited Low, Road Glide Ultra, Road Glide Special, Street Glide Special models, and is a factory-installed option on Street Glide, Road Glide and Ultra Classic models.  What DID NOT change and deserves a shout-out is the current audio sources are maintained: AM, FM, WB, XM, A2DP Bluetooth streaming and Digital Mass Storage compatibility!

Heather Malenshek, Harley-Davidson Chief Marketing Officer stated that “Harley-Davidson offers riders a host of new models, gear and accessories for 2020 as we leverage our unmatched ability to blend style, performance and technology in products designed to elevate the motorcycling experience.

Clearly rider and motorcycle assistance systems are rolling out faster and getting better at Harley-Davidson.  The advance technologies provide incremental improvements and make for inspiring marketing collateral.  But, the picture looks different for more price-sensitive customers when you shine a “Daymaker” headlamp on cost competitiveness.

The accelerating motorcycle costs are a good reminder that whatever you’re going through–whatever financial pressure or squeezing stress–the question at the end-of-day is–is it worth what it produces? i.e., is the juice really worth the squeeze?

UPDATED: October 1, 2019 — Previously neglected to include the role Panasonic Automotive has in connecting Harley riders to their motorcycle through a cellular connection to the telematics control unit (TCU) utilizing Panasonic’s OneConnect™ service. The OneConnect™ service complements the Harley-Davidson App and the new Harley-Davidson Connect service. Together, these systems link LiveWire riders with their motorcycle through their smartphone providing features such as motorcycle status, tamper alerts and vehicle location and service reminder and notifications.

References:
H-D Media Kit: (HERE)
More Roads to Harley-Davidson Plan: (HERE)

Photos courtesy of Harley-Davidson

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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The number of businesses investing in the Internet of Things (IoT) technology continues to grow.  Harley-Davidson is one company that recognizes the benefits and has started to leverage IoT both internally as part of their manufacturing process and externally with the new H-D™ Connect service.

WTF?  Isn’t this a motorcycle blog Mac?  You lost me at that inter-web-thingy!

First off, lets set some context with a bit of IoT background:

The Internet of Things (IoT) is used across industries such as manufacturing, logistics, healthcare, agriculture, automotive and industrial markets.  Think connected cars, smart buildings, smart homes and smart city grids.  You’ve likely interacted already with internet-enabled appliances (refrigerators, washer/dryer, garage door openers), there are smart TV’s, there are wearable health trackers.  Need more specifics?  Think RING doorbells, NEST  thermostats or Philips Hue lightbulbs.  Just a few product examples that highlight IoT-based value creation.

The key point here is VALUE creation.  It involves performing activities that increase the value of a company’s offering and encourage customer willingness to pay.  That is the heart of any business model.  Simply connecting a “thing” to the Internet isn’t enough—you must be able to ensure that the data generated by that thing can be leveraged to enable new business benefits.  Whether that benefit is reducing your business’ costs or enhancing your customers’ experiences with new services, the systems chosen to power an IoT deployment must work reliably, be easy to manage, and help you get to real business.

That’s enough context.  Let’s circle the discussion back to motorcycles.

You may not know, but Zero Motorcycles produced a prototype of its first electric motorcycle in 2006 and began marketing them in 2008. In 2013 the company produced a mobile app enabling communication with the motorcycle using Bluetooth; effectively using the Internet of Things (IoT) to connect owner, motorcycle, and service facility.  The app allowed the rider to configure their motorcycle in a number of different ways. For example, it can be configured for a more energy efficient ride or for a higher performance ride using only the app. One of the rider benefits is that the app can also inform you of your current battery capacity as well as an estimation of how far you can travel on the charge.

In addition, the Zero Motorcycles can communicate directly to the manufacturer, dealer, or repair shop. Most vehicles today can communicate with the mechanic by being plugged into a computer, but it requires a trip to the garage. The Zero Motorcycle app allows the motorcycle to send that diagnostic information directly to the mechanic over the internet no matter where you are.  If a rider experiences mechanical problems with the motorcycle, all they need do is to tap the help button located in the app. The information is transmitted and the rider can get troubleshooting advice on location as well as having the company schedule a service appointment if desired. Rather than taking days to get your motorcycle into a mechanic for diagnosis, it is all done in minutes.

Now lets chat about the new H-D™ Connect service; a cellular telematics control unit (TCU) that functions as an (LTE) enabled modem connecting the 2020 LiveWire™ and select 2020 Touring models to the cloud.  It’s built on the IBM Cloud and launched earlier this week.  The H-D Connect (a $12/month fee-based service – FREE 1st year) service remotely connects you to your motorcycle through the Harley-Davidson App on your smart phone.  The fact that Harley-Davidson marketing boldly claims they “will lead the electrification of motorcycling”, is a stunning statement-of-hype when they basically imitated a 6-year old service from Zero Motorcycles!

H-D Connect uses built-in cellular (LTE) connectivity with the IBM Cloud, IBM artificial intelligence (AI), analytics and IoT to enhance the rider’s experience as well as keep the rider in the know with motorcycle status, notifications and alerts.  The rider is always “plugged in”.  Riders can check the battery charge status or the fuel level, available range, tire pressure (on TPMS-equipped models), ride mode (on equipped models), odometer, Infotainment software updates where applicable, and riding statistics.  There is even a GPS-enabled stolen vehicle tracking feature that lets riders share the motorcycle location with law enforcement.

It’s been reported that Harley-Davidson used IoT sensors as far back as 2013 along with other applications to keep track of production on its manufacturing facility in York, Pa., and can complete a new motorcycle every 86 seconds.  But, clearly Harley-Davidson’s desire to make money in the internet-connected space is not limited to physical motorcycle sales; other revenue streams become possible after the initial product sale, including value-added services, subscriptions, and apps, which over time might even exceed the initial purchase price of the motorcycle.

As more and more of our daily life is internet-connected and “recorded” by computers communicating with other computers, riders (myself included) have a legitimate concern about security.  There’s been very little information made available from Harley-Davidson in regards to how they will ensure the privacy of both rider, their riding data and the motorcycle stats.  How often are data logs taken from the motorcycle, streamed to the cloud and then reviewed, stored and archived?  Is the data encoded in a proprietary format, is it encrypted and who can review the data?  Does it require a double-top secret decoder?  The LTE cellular link is ideal to connect the motorcycle and it’s sensors to the dealer and motor company, but it also seems fairly simple to obtain or review that data for evidence that might be used later against the rider.

Any new technology hooked up to the web has the potential to become a surveillance device, even if it’s original purpose was benign.  Law enforcement “cartapping” or using “things” for surveillance has been possible for years, but maybe we should dwell on the benefits that we as a society can reap from this technology.  The new H-D Connect service and Harley-Davidson’s Internet of Things (IoT) platform may provide a reduction in motorcycle fatalities, provide increased benefits of predictive driving in real-time and a more energy efficient future once we’re all inter-connected to smart city grids.

We’ll know soon enough if Harley-Davidson’s internet-connected motorcycles and services actually increase the value of the company’s offering and encourage customer willingness to pay more.

Additional Information:

How Many Turns in a Screw? Big Data Knows — WSJ Paywall
IoT Makes Motorcycles, Helmets Safer, Smarter — Information Week
Harley-Davidson to Redefine Riding with IBM Cloud — IBM PR
How Smart Connected Products Are Transforming Companies — Harvard Business Review

Photos courtesy of Bosch and Deloitte

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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What:  Replacement Rear Reflectors Missing from Kit. Without the rear red reflectors, the motorcycle has reduced visibility to other drivers, increasing the risk of a crash.

NHTSA Campaign Number: 19V574000

Potential Number of Units Affected — 12,733  (All markets (except Japan) are affected)

Summary — In April 2019, Harley-Davidson’s Technical Subcommittee (TSC) is notified by their Parts and Accessories Engineering group that the current P&A Detachables Tour-Pak kits for 2014 – current Touring models have been sold without reflectors to replace the original equipment rear reflector that may be removed on some models to install this kit.  An investigation was initiated.

Harley-Davidson Motor Company determined that the P&A Detachables Tour-Pak Luggage Conversion Kits (Part No. 53000291, 53000291A and 53000567) were not equipped with reflectors to replace the factory-installed rear reflector, which may have been removed when installing this kit. Installation of these kits may cause the vehicle to fail to meet federal regulations that require motorcycles to be equipped with a red reflex reflector on the rear of the motorcycle. The absence of these reflectors could reduce the rear conspicuity of the vehicle, possibly increasing the risk of a crash.  As such, these motorcycles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 108, “Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment.”

Remedy — In August 2019, Harley-Davidson initiated a recall on certain Touring and CVO Touring motorcycles, including 2017-2019 FLHTCU, FLHTCUL, FLHTK ANV, FLHTKL, FLTRU, FLHTK, and 2016-2019 FLHTKSE, FLHTKSE ANV, and FLTRUSE models equipped with a Harley-Davidson Detachable Tour-Pak Luggage Conversion Kit (Part numbers 53000291, 53000291A, and 53000567). The kit did not include replacement rear red reflectors for the ones that are eliminated by installing this kit.

Harley-Davidson has notified owners, and dealers will install the replacement reflectors, free of charge. The recall began August 19, 2019. Owners may contact Harley-Davidson customer service at 1-800-258-2464. Harley-Davidson’s number for this recall is 0629.

REFERENCE DOC: https://static.nhtsa.gov/odi/rcl/2019/RCLRPT-19V574-9143.PDF
SERVICE BULLETIN: https://static.nhtsa.gov/odi/rcl/2019/RCRIT-19V574-0248.pdf

Notes — Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236, or go to http://www.safercar.gov.

Photo courtesy of Harley-Davidson.

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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2018 CVO Lineup

It’s arrogant at best and obscene at worst.

I’m talking about the CVO pricing that Harley-Davidson management approved for the 2018 models.  Now that we’ve had a couple days to digest the euphoric feeling of the new 2018 models, we’re left with a gnawing and burning sensation in our stomach that even a spoonful of sodium bicarbonate won’t put an end too.

I can’t help but wonder if the new head of design, Brad Richards, who replaced Willie G. after more than 40 years is singing that new Taylor Swift single, “Look What You Made Me Do,” after going full-tilt Goth and dripping black on so many of the new designs.

2018 CVO Street Glide

Unless you’ve won the lotto, you’ll be crunching numbers very late into the night to learn how to squeeze a new Harley CVO into the garage without breaking the discretionary entertainment budget!  They are expensive!  In a small way, we have Polaris to thank for exiting the market with Victory motorcycles and reducing Harley-Davidson pricing pressures.

I’m reminded of the Mylan EpiPen scalping gone wrong in the pharmaceutical industry.  Will we see the motor company deploy industry “experts” to justify the value of overtly expensive models and purport to quantify the net social benefits of belonging to the riding “lifestyle?”  If they do, it’s likely to be based on a complicated economic model and include scholarly speeches, articles, blogs and conferences to lend prestige on the whole “we’re doing everything in manufacturing to keep our prices down” lobbying blitz.

2018 CVO Road Glide

The fact is, Harley-Davidson is a luxury brand cleverly disguised as a blue collar, workin’ man’s brand.

Millions of marketing dollars are spent every year on campaigns to drive home the point that it’s name is synonymous with regular, working class folk.

But, have you seen their luxury price increases on the 2018 CVO models?  Harley-Davidson has exceeded the price range of BMW and Ducati, two brands with a public perception of being expensive toys for the upper-class.

Most of us will never get to experience the CVO results of Harley-Davidson’s labors for ourselves, thanks to prices ranging from $40,000 to $43,000.  Specifically the MSRP pricing is:

2018 CVO Road Glide — $41,399 (not available in 2017)
2018 CVO Street Glide — $39,949 (+$2150 above 2017 price)
2018 CVO Limited — $42,949 (+$1950 above 2017 price)

2018 CVO Limited

I’ve written about Harley-Davidson’s sales and marketing woes.  Much of it outside their control, but we can’t absolve the motor company of any responsibility for these arrogant price hikes.  Harley-Davidson owns this one.  The pricing backlash has already begun across the motorcycle forums and the whole thing leaves a bad taste in consumers’ mouth — of all age groups!

For example, the CVO Limited jumped $1950 from 2017 to 2018.  Beyond paint, there are NO significant upgrades on the 2018 model.  Looking at web pages indicates the only “NEW” item was the addition of a Bluetooth wireless connection module to the stereo.  This may have been as simple as a firmware update to the BOOM stereo system.  Let’s assume it was a hardware addition.  A Cardo bike-to-bike intercom with dual handsfree to connect up multiple bluetooth-enabled mobile phones retail for less than $300.  That would mean the price increased $1650.

Let’s look at the 2018 CVO Street Glide — Harley-Davidson removed the radiator and abandoned water cooled heads as the lowers now have speakers along with another power amp to drive the sound “bubble.”  They’ve provided similarly configured models in the past.  The company added Bluetooth wireless connection to the stereo and created a “NEW” Gun Metal grey paint, however, they jacked the price up over $2100 above the 2017 model.

The CVO Road Glide is a bit trickier to do a price comparison as the last time they offered a similarly stripped down version of the CVO Road Glide was back in 2013 (remember the Cat Whisper paint stripe scheme which was priced at $33,999?) and it was based on the old 110cu.in. engine, old radio and outdated fairing, frame etc.  Harley-Davidson skipped a year and then for 2015 they offered up that behemoth CVO Road Glide Ultra at $36,649 which included all the accouterments which was based on ‘Project Rushmore’ enhancements that other touring bikes received.  It’s not a pure apple-to-apple comparison, but this basically equates to a $7,400 price increase over a 5 model year period.  Which is incredible given the low rate of inflation and manufacturing cost reductions.

Are the financial analysts really scratching their heads wondering why riders don’t line up to lay down these $$ on a motorcycle?

In fairness, Harley-Davidson does make some decent, affordable bikes in their Street lineup.  But they still have a bit of that stigma — which is backed up by most of their current lineup — of putting heritage before innovation and that’s turning some of the riding youth away from the brand.  Harley isn’t as strong a competitor in terms of bang-for-the-dollar with the likes of Triumph, Ducati and the Japanese manufactures.

Even the blue collar, workin’ man who can afford a nice bike will certainly take a look at the local Indian dealer and realize that the competition is making all-American cruisers that indeed have an appeal and nearly every model is priced less than a new Harley-Davidson.

It boggles the mind how according to Harley-Davidson management, the new 2018 motorcycles are less expensive for Harley to manufacture, with simpler frames and more commonality of parts yet they’ve rolled out what looks like an orgy of price scalping.

Photo courtesy of Harley-Davidson

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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2018 Softail Lineup – Eight all-new models

When is “new,” “all-new,” “brand new,” “built from the ground up new,” “the newest,” “newer and refreshed,” advertising claims of an existing or previous Harley-Davidson really new?

Is there no objective basis by which to measure when a motorcycle is actually “new?”  What do you think?

It’s been reported that motorcycle enthusiasts are holding on to their old, reliable wheels for longer stretches of time, but Harley-Davidson wants to change that and has rolled-out the “brand new” 2018 #FreedomMachine models. Dealer launch video is HERE.

Send in the millennials and let’s make a deal!

Or in other words,  what the company is hopeful for after the ‘largest ever product development project’ was undertaken.

All-new Softail mono shock rear suspension

They may not look very different, but the 2018 changes to the engine, frame and suspension over shadow any “new” colors, new handle bar position or new seat thread design.  “All-new” is really what we’ve been promised to modernize these traditional bikes and it’s not a rehash of the old.

The quick read is that the Softail and Dyna product lines, as riders have known them previously, are gone.  The Dyna family is discontinued and the Dyna nameplates are now Softails!

Softail Big-Twin cruiser models

That’s the provocative and on the 2018 model revamp, all of the models that used to be in the Dyna’s lineup — the Fat Bob, Low Rider and Street Bob — rolled into the Softail lineup — Softail Slim, Heritage Classic, Deluxe, Fat Boy and Breakout — Harley completely redesigned the Softail chassis.  Not a minor cosmetic change, but a complete overhaul of the entire frame and suspension.  The new under-seat mono shock rear suspension aims to offer improved ride quality, traction, and control while the triangular swingarm maintains the classic lines of a hardtail frame.  The revamp also includes key accommodations for last years release of the Milwaukee-Eight, the first four-valve-per-cylinder heads engine packaged into the classic 45-degree V-twin.

From the styling department, all the new 2018 bikes have a much darker and aggressive paint scheme.  It’s largely a brooding “protester” feel with colors matched and with a “masked” or blacked out engine. There are smaller changes to individual models such a color-coded inner fairings, new wheels (including a 21” one for the Road Glide) and different exhaust finishes.  Oh and don’t forget that riders can now pair Bluetooth headsets with the stereo to remain wirelessly “connected” — on its top-of-the-line touring models.

I’ll address the hype right here: Your motorcycle and your smartphone are starting to have a lot in common, though only one can be used to take a selfie — at least for now.

115th Anniversary Eagle Badge

Lastly, the motor company announced the 115th Anniversary edition motorcycles.  There will be two limited-edition, serialized designs with 115th Anniversary Eagle and special anniversary paints available on nine different models in 2018 to celebrate the birthday.

But, what about that peculiar

In the social media and PR launch extravaganza for the 2018 line up earlier this week, Harley-Davidson quietly discontinued the V-Rod.

Discontinued V-Rod

The 2017 V-Rod Muscle and Night Rod Special are the final iterations of the VRSC (V-Twin Racing Street Custom) line.  You may recall this motorcycle had the Revolution engine that was co-developed with Porsche and based on the VR-1000 Superbike that Harley used in competitive drag racing.  It had a hydro formed tubular frame, a gas tank under the seat with round-topped airbox cover up front posing as a gas tank.

This was often referred to as the Harley for the non-Harley motorcycle rider and was a testimony that engineers and the brand were capable of doing something very different.  It was introduced in 2001 and discontinued 16-years later.

It would seem that Harley-Davidson is no longer “building products that fulfill customers dreams on the drag strip!

Photos courtesy of Harley-Davidson

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