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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

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.

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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.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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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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In August 2016, Harley-Davidson agreed to pay a $12 million civil fine and stop selling engine “Pro Super Tuners” deemed illegal after-market devices that caused its motorcycles to emit too much pollution.  I previously posted about this topic HERE.

The motor company also agreed to spend about $3 million to retrofit or replace wood-burning appliances with cleaner stoves to offset excess emissions from the sale of “tuners.”

It’s important to note that the EPA legal action had a significant chilling effect on the performance parts market at Harley-Davidson dealers and many other after-market manufactures.

As previously disclosed, the settlement resolved allegations with the EPA, that the company sold about 340,000 “tuners” enabling motorcycles since 2008 to pollute the air at levels greater than what the company certified. Harley-Davidson did not admit liability and has always maintained that it disagreed with the government, arguing that the tuners were designed and sold to be used in “competition only.”

Even though the settlement had not yet taken effect, a U.S. judge this week approved a revised settlement with Harley-Davidson and dropped the requirement that it spend $3 million to retrofit or replace wood-burning appliances with cleaner stoves to offset excess emissions.

Multiple environmental groups along with a group of 10 states sharply objected to the revised settlement by U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan.

Photo courtesy of Harley-Davidson

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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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According to a SEC, Form 8K filing, Harley-Davidson (i.e. acting CEO Jochen Zeitz) promoted Lawrence G. Hund to chief commercial officer and will be responsible for the global sales function including the company’s motorcycle Parts and Accessories, General Merchandise and Harley-Davidson Museum businesses effective today.

Hund will be responsible for building and supporting growth strategies, cultivating opportunities in new and existing markets, and increasing demand for Harley-Davidson products globally.

Lawrence G. Hund

I previously blogged about Mr. Hund back in 2009 when H-D re-hired him HERE.  He returned to Harley-Davidson from Tygris Commercial Finance Group, Inc. where he worked only 8-months as its Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

Mr. Hund is 64, and has been the President and Chief Operating Officer of Harley-Davidson Financial Services (HDFS), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Harley-Davidson, Inc. since 2009.

Jonathan Root, 46, vice president of insurance at HDFS, will be promoted to senior vice president of HDFS and take over Hund’s previous role.

Photos courtesy of Harley-Davidson and SEC

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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1970 Harley-Davidson XR-750

I’m talking about the Harley-Davidson XR-750, which last month marked the 50th Anniversary since it’s debut.

From 1953 to 1969,  Harley-Davidson manufactured the KR750, the backbone of American dirt track racing.

The motorcycle engine was an air cooled, side valve 4-stroke 45° V-twin (flathead), 45.125 cu in (739.47 cc) displacement built for racing.  Unique for Harley’s at that time, the KR model shifted on the right, like a British bike, which worked great for dirt track.  It wasn’t until 1975, when DOT specified that all motorcycles sold in the U.S. had to have a standardized, left-side gear shift.

Harley-Davidson Flat Track Racing

Prior to 1969, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) rules for the Grand National Championship were structured to favor “sidevalvers” (side-valve engines) rather than overhead-valve (OHV) engines.  The intent was to deliberately favor American made bikes such as those from Harley-Davidson with their side-valve engines, and disadvantage the competition which was mainly from British manufactures i.e., Triumph, BSA, and Norton. The AMA rules allowed side-valve engines of up to 750cc capacity but OHV engines were limited to 500cc. The 50% engine size advantage stacked the odd in the favor of the side-valve bikes.

As you might imagine, the British manufactures complained…about everything—the rules, the manufactures, the officials, the drivers, the races, and the racing itself.

Harley-Davidson XR-750

As a result, in 1969, in prep for the 1970 race season, the AMA approved that all professional Amateur & Expert dirt track and speedway engines could be 750cc, regardless of configuration or valve style. This rule change eliminated the 250cc penalty for OHV engines that had existed since 1933.  Many British manufacturers begin designing and developing OHV 750cc engines for competition. To be approved by the AMA (for Class C competition), a motorcycle must be a standard catalogued production model and at least 200 units of the same model with identical engines and transmissions and must be available for inspection and/or purchase within the United States.

XR-750 Engine – Ported and Polished Heads

Unhappy with the decision, but with a desire to continue the racing legacy, Harley-Davidson set out to create a new overhead-valve racing motorcycle.  The Milwaukee motor company leveraged their OHV V-twin racing engine based on the Sportster XLR.  However, it’s engine had a displacement of 900cc (55 cu. in.) and would need to have its capacity reduced to 750cc. Harley-Davidson engineers accomplished this by decreasing the engine’s stroke from 3.81″ to 2.983″ and increased the bore from 3.0″ to 3.2″ bringing the engine in just under the 750cc maximum.

The AMA approved the Harley-Davidson “XR”, a 750cc V-twin overhead valve engine, for Class C competition on Feburary 27, 1970. It had been tentatively approved in late-1969 as the “750 Sportster”, but the motor company lacked having 200 units available for inspection at the time. The motorcycle is dubbed the “iron XR“, or “Iron Head,” due to its steel cylinders and heads.

Even Knievel

For the 1972 race season, there were a number of changes.  A vote was taken on November 18, 1971, and the AMA Competition Congress voted to allow qualified women to compete in all forms of AMA Racing.

The Water-Cooling was approved, as long as it is an integral part of a production motorcycle.  Titanium frames were outlawed from all AMA competition. The AMA approved the Harley-Davidson XR-750, an updated version of the XR, for Class C competition on April 12, 1972. The updated engine used aluminum cylinders and heads to address the overheating issues that plagued the XR model. However, due to delays in getting all 200 units completed, it wasn’t approved in time for the Daytona 200, but debuts at the Colorado Springs national on April 30, 1972.

Speaking of aluminum heads, they were made, then shipped to Jerry Branch of Branch Flowmetrics in Long Beach, California to be ported and assembled. The new cylinder head design included larger valves. The cylinder heads were then shipped back to Harley-Davidson’s factory in Milwaukee for fitting to the new engines. This V-twin engine was not quite of the same dimensions as the Iron Head. The bore was increased to 3.1” and the stroke reduced to 3”. Carburetors were 36mm Mikuni, one for each cylinder. The exhaust systems were mounted high on the left side of the motorcycle well away from the carburetors.  Power was 82hp at 7,700rpm giving the bike a top speed of around 115mph.

Harley-Davidson Flat Track Racing Team

Branch wrote engineering books on his engine air flow work and eventually sold Branch Flowmetrics to Mikuni in the late 1990s.  Branch was the only independent company to ever supply Harley-Davidson ported and polished heads!

In 1972, Harley-Davidson was the first-ever “Grand National Manufacturer’s Championship“, which compiles the highest finish of each brand at every Grand National Championship event.  Between 1972 and 2008, the XR-750 won 28 of 37 AMA Grand National Championships. The XR-750 racked up more wins than any other motorcycle in AMA racing history and earned the description of being the “most successful race bike of all time.”  In addition, the XR-750 became a cultural icon with legendary stuntman Evel Knievel at the handlebars. Evel Knievel began jumping an XR-750 at the height of his career from 1970 to 1976.

Harley-Davidson created one of the greatest bikes in the history of American motorcycling.

For 2020, the Harley-Davidson Factory Flat Track team will use the updated Harley-Davidson® XG750R flat tracker, powered by the liquid-cooled, fuel-injected and race-tuned 750cc Harley-Davidson® Revolution X™ V-Twin designed for the Street 750 motorcycle.

Full details on the Flat Track team can be found HERE.  Flat Track racing news is HERE.

Photos courtesy of Harley-Davidson

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