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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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Recall Notice: 21V225000

NHTSA Campaign Number: 21V225000

Harley-Davidson is recalling certain 2019-2021 Sportster (XL) motorcycles and 796 headlight assemblies that may have been sold as replacement parts for 2005-2019 Sportster, 2005-2017 Softail, 2005-2017 Dyna, and 2005-2011 V-Rod motorcycles. The glass bulb within the headlight assembly may fail, causing a loss of both high and low beams.

Obviously, a loss of both headlight beams can reduce visibility and increase the risk of a crash.

The interior of the bulb shield in an unknown number of XL Headlamp Assemblies, part number 68297-05A, may have been produced with a glossy, chrome finish. If this condition is present, the resulting thermal conditions may cause a hole to develop in the tip of the dual-filament bulb, which in turn may allow the sealed gas to escape from the bulb, thereby causing the powered filament to fail prematurely. Investigation of this issue indicates that switching to a different beam (high to low or low to high) to restore lighting causes the second filament to fail.

Affected Motorcycles

The specific make/model/year is in the attached chart and the potential number of units affected is 31,346.

The remedy is that Harley-Davidson is notifying owners, and dealers will install a headlamp bulb shield, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin April 12, 2021. Owners may contact Harley-Davidson customer service at 1-800-258-2464. Harley-Davidson’s number for this recall is 0177.

Reference NHTSA Document (PDF).

Photos courtesy of Harley-Davidson and NHTSA.

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Senate Bill 574

Do you have that déjà vu feeling?

Remember the 2019 House Bill 2314?

Now we have Oregon Senate Bill 574 which has passed the Joint Committee on Transportation and been sent to the full senate for consideration. The bill would legalize lane sharing under certain conditions.  Lane Filtering, Lane Sharing, and Lane Splitting (i.e. “white lining”) all basically refer to a motorcycle rider positioning its way through slow-moving or stationary traffic.

Lane Splitting Example

According to the bill, the type of conditions in Oregon include:
• On highways with a posted speed limit of 50 MPH or higher
• Traffic on the road must be stopped, or moving at less than 10 MPH

 

 

The rider:
• May travel no more than 10 miles per hour faster than traffic
• Must not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic
• Must safely merge with traffic, if traffic speed exceeds 10 miles per hour
• Must pass traffic traveling in the same direction

Riders cannot lane-share:
• Between a traffic lane and the curb and bicycle lane (on either side)
• Between a traffic lane and a row of parked vehicles (on either side)
• On the right side of the rightmost lane of traffic, or the left side of the leftmost lane of traffic
• In a school or construction zone

You likely either love it or hate it, as lane splitting is a controversial subject that doesn’t seem to promote any middle ground. If you have some passion around this topic, now is the time to contact your senator and request their support for S.B. 574.

Visit laneshareoregon.com/#getinvolved for more details.

UPDATE: June 1, 2021 — The Senate Bill 574 stats:

  • Passed full Senate and House floor votes, with 3-to-1 bipartisan majorities
  • Had 17 sponsors, with a nearly even split of Democrats and Republicans, House and Senate, from rural, urban, and suburban districts
  • Received written support from over 600 Oregon motorcyclists
  • Was endorsed by many Oregon businesses and organizations
  • Received a “Do Pass” recommendation from the Joint Committee on Transportation

Clearly, Senate Bill 574 was one of the most widely supported bills in the current legislative session and is an acute illustration of elected officials successfully working together to support Oregonians.

Then – Gov Brown Vetoed the Bill on May 26th, citing public safety concerns, including noncompliance and enforcement.

Images courtesy of Oregon Legislature and 4X4 Blazer 1776.

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Concerns over ongoing restrictions forced the cancellation of the Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally planned for July 9-12th 2021.

Organizers came to the decision due to the State of Oregon’s restrictions, and having no line-of-sight to a method of safely hosting this event while still being in compliance with the state’s guidelines. “The show must go on” is in our DNA, we are now working through the ramifications of this unfortunate situation.

I’m of the viewpoint that organizers likely made the decision that hosting an event for a few thousand people with mandated indoor/outdoor occupancy limits and social distancing requirements was too risky due to enforcement and liability issues. Additionally, the pandemic’s adverse impact on manufacturers and industry vendors has led to significant supply delays and shortages, which adds even more risk for small businesses.

Maybe in 2022…

Images courtesy of Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally.

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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.

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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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TAKEAWAY: The Q4 2020 Harley-Davidson retail motorcycle sales in the U.S. — the company’s biggest market — fell for the 16th straight quarter!

FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE DETAILS: Yesterday, I posted that Harley-Davidson unveiled “The Hardwire” — a new 5-year strategic plan.  My snarky responses were largely based on what I viewed as the motor company ‘selling the news’ with a lack of granular detail or disclosure around a growth path forward. It was a brutal Q4’20 and full-year financial result. Followed by executive management’s murky 2021 outlook.  The street wasn’t happy and the result was a 17% drop in share price followed by another 2% today.

My blog post today will be on the fourth-quarter and full-year 2020 financial results with less commentary.

The Hardwire Highlights 

  • The Hardwire includes investing in the Touring and heavyweight Cruiser segment, expanding into untapped segments of Adventure Touring and creating a new division dedicated to electric motorcycles.
  • The motor company views Inclusive Stakeholder Management in the context of people, planet and profit, as all three are now embedded in the past and future success of the company.
  • The motorcycle maker plans to give stock grants to its employees, inspired by a program devised by KKR & Co Inc. executive Pete Stavros.

Q4 2020 Highlights

  • Reported fourth-quarter adjusted loss of 44 cents per share. A big miss and notable executive mismanagement of expectations as the street consensus estimate was for a profit at 24 cents.
  • The revenue decreased by 32% at $725 million compared to previous year.
  • The company suffered a net loss of $96 million compared to the previous year’s profit of $13 million.
  • The loss per share was 0.63 and the adjusted loss per share was $0.44.
  • Total revenues from the Motorcycle and Related products segment, which constitute the bulk of the firm’s overall revenues, plunged 39% year over year to $531 million in the reported quarter.
  • For Q4’20, Harley-Davidson retailed 33,925 motorcycle units globally, down 14.1% year over year. The company’s retail motorcycle units sold in the U.S. slid 14.5% from the year-ago quarter to 17,274. Sales in the Middle East and Africa, Asia Pacific, Canada and Latin America declined 2.2%, 9.6%, 30.2% and 50.9%, respectively, from the year-ago period.
  • Revenues for Parts & Accessories (P&A) were up 13.3% from the prior year to $146.4 million. However, revenues for General Merchandise (GM) — including Motor Clothes apparel and accessories — dropped 13% from the prior-year quarter to $49.7 million.
  • The selling, general and administrative expenses (SG&A) increased to $276.4 million from the $266.4 million compared to fourth-quarter 2019.

Full-Year 2020 Highlights

  • Consolidated revenues for 2020 came in at $4,054 million, declining 24% from the prior year’s $5,362 million. Moreover, the company’s adjusted earnings per share for the year came in at 77 cents, tanking 77% from the $3.36 per share reported in 2019.
  • The motor company streamlined the product portfolio, reducing the planned number of models by almost 30%.
  • Paid dividends of $0.44 per share for the full year
  • Re-set motorcycle model year launch timing to align with beginning of the year seasonality
  • Exited 39 markets to focus on the approximately 50 highest-potential markets
  • Reduced total dealer network by approximately 160 net global dealers in 2020

Jochen Zeitz, chairman, president and CEO, Harley-Davidson summarized the financial call: “The entire Harley-Davidson team put forth tremendous effort in 2020 and we now have the right organization, structure and strategy in place to make step changes in our performance and enhance our position as the most desirable motorcycle brand in the world.”

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Harley-Davidson.  The author does not own or does the author plan to purchase and/or sell any $HOG stock.

Photo courtesy Harley-Davidson.

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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

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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.

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