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Pan America™

At the EICMA (Esposizione Internazionale Ciclo Motociclo e Accessori), motorsports show in Milan, Italy, earlier this week — Harley-Davidson debuted two new bikes.  Important to note is the difference in the terms “launch” vs. “debuted.”

The Milwaukee MoCo has aimed one of motorcycles at a market segment in which Harley-Davidson has never really participated.

It’s my view that Harley-Davison is slowly trying to build higher walls to keep “enemies” (competitors) from invasion. Marketing types call this “relevance” and “barriers to entry.”  Multiple financial reports from the company clearly indicate a struggle to fire up a new generation of riders.  The growing presence of electric vehicles is undeniable, but the premium-priced electric (LiveWire) motorcycle — is a non·start·er in terms of revenue!

And at the same time, there’s been an invading army (BMW, KTM, Triumph, Yamaha, Honda or Ducati counterparts) of adventure touring bikes (ADV).  Importantly, this segment is where customers seem particularly excited to buy new models year-after-year.  Even Italy’s floundering boutique bike builder, Moto Guzzi, has had to double the workforce in its Mandello del Lario plant to keep up with demand for the new V85 TT adventure bike ($12,990).  It’s simple.  A fresh new design, a fresh new motor, and a capable around town, comfortable on freeways and durable enough for off-road riding gets customers excited to put down money!

We could have a long-debate on why Harley-Davidson spent millions of R&D dollars much too early as part of their electrification strategy and if the mainstream motorcycle market is ready to encourage motorcyclists to switch to electric vehicles.

But, lets return to the point at hand.

The first new motorcycle is an adventure touring bike (ADV) called the Pan America™.  Astute readers are likely to have déjà vu as it looks very similar to the Pan America concept motorcycle teased out back in 2018.

The Pan America has a new liquid-cooled 60-degree V-twin engine labeled the Revolution Max that displaces 1,250-cc and is reported to make 145 horsepower and more than 90 pound-feet of torque. Impressive stats, especially for the MoCo, which typically has built larger displacement engines with less power and more torque.  The new ADV motorcycle differs from traditional Harley models.  The first item, is exchanging the belt-style final drive for a chain drive that allows simpler gearing changes and improves on the ability to repair if something goes sideways on the trail.  The ADV also leverages a rear trellis-style subframe for strength and reduced weight, which allows motorcyclists to mount different types of adventure-isk luggage to it.

Other advancements include new radial monoblock four-piston caliper brake system developed in collaboration with Brembo and an inverted fork setup, which is common on ADV bikes.  From a styling perspective, you’ll either love the bird-beak nose and squinty cyclops-like headlight or not.

Harley-Davidson® Bronx™

The second new motorcycle is a middleweight class and called the Harley-Davidson® Bronx™. It’s reported to have a smaller 975-cc version of the Pan America’s Revolution Max engine and produces 115-horsepower and 70 lb.-ft. of torque.  Style wise, the Bronx looks somewhat cookie-cutter in this crowded “streetfighter” market segment.  From press photos the motorcycle appears to be belt-driven.  Both motorcycles will roll on new co-branded Michelin tires.

Harley-Davidson says that it’s aiming to have both the Pan America and the Bronx in showrooms by the end of 2020.

Huh?!  A year away?

I like the adventure touring bike (ADV) lineup, but if I was in the market to purchase, it’s unlikely that I’d stall buying for a year to purchase an unproven ADV motorcycle.  I also think it will be a mistake if the MoCo expects its Harley-Davidson name to garner an ultra-premium price in this new segment as it has in the EV market with the LiveWire.

The Pan American should launched and be in showrooms in March 2020, not “late” 2020.

Photos courtesy of Harley-Davidson

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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It became evident today, that creative instincts, an innovation mindset, deep brand and consumer experience along with bottom-line orientation is no longer enough for Harley-Davidson executives.

I’m talking about Neil Grimmer (Twitter) — a San Francisco-area entrepreneur and previously, the Founder/CEO of a personalized nutrition life science company Habit, joined Harley-Davidson on April 5, 2019 as president of Harley’s global brand development.

200 days later it’s been reported by the Milwaukee Business Journal he is “no longer with the company.”  Of course that is an executive management euphemism for ‘You’re Fired’ — however, in the parlance of our times and to clarify he was — sacked, dumped, bounced out, canned, axed, eighty-sixed, let go, ran-off, given walking papers, given the pink slip, or given the old heave-ho.  To put a more cheery spin on it:  one could say he was “constructively discharged,” or “freed up for the future.”

In a memo to employees it was communicated that Harley-Davidson management received multiple complaints about Grimmer’s code of business conduct.   I’m being snarky, but apparently, those day-long seminars in workplace sensitivity never paid off?!

It’s been my experience that company execs get fired because of poor change management, maybe ignoring customers, or for tolerating low performers, or for denying reality or worse, for too much talk and not enough action.  But, it could be as simple as his ‘left coast‘ leadership style was just inappropriate for the MoCo’s particular culture.

I’m sure Mr. Grimmer is an extremely accomplished executive, but the reference by CEO Matt Levatich of multiple violations is a BIG deal.  The MoCo has a set of core values and principles along with a Code of Conduct HERE for employees and suppliers.

It’s not clear if Harley-Davidson has an executive non-fraternization policy, but clearly they prescribe to conducting business with honesty and integrity.  In addition, they prescribe to providing a workplace free of harassment based on personal characteristics and do not tolerate harassment of employees by managers or co-workers.

Harley-Davidson (HOG) stock was up today!

 

Harley-Davidson Code of Business Conduct:  HERE
Harley-Davidson Supplier Code of Conduct:  HERE

Photo courtesy of Harley-Davidson

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Harley-Davidson, Inc. (NYSE:HOG) reported the third quarter 2019 financial results in a press release HERE.

Key indicators the motor company reported was revenue from motorcycle and related products fell 4.9% Y/Y to $1.07B in Q3.  Motorcycle shipments were down 5.8% to 45,387 and gross margin fell one point to 29.9% of sales.  The company stated it expects shipments of 38,500 to 43,500 motorcycles in Q4 and 212K to 217K for the full year.

In other interesting financial sound bites; Harley’s Q3 marketing spend was up over 30% with efforts on the LiveWire and LowRider S television spots running in major markets across the U.S.  International retail sales were up 2.7% driven by growth in both developed and emerging markets.  In addition, Harley-Davidson gained 2.2 percentage points of market share during the quarter within the Touring and Cruiser segments, which represents approximately 70% of the total 601cc plus industry.

In the attracting more people to riding and keeping riders riding space (i.e. the 2027 strategic imperative) — in Q3 the company gained deeper analysis and insights on why people engage, participate and disengage from riding.

Lets call it a “participation lifecycle!”

H-D Marketing and Brand Amplification

Harley-Davidson now has an acute focus on how to influence each customer at their buying decision points to build the total number of committed Harley-Davidson riders.  By 2027,  the company will expand to 4M total Harley-Davidson riders in the U.S., grow international business to 50% of annual HDMC revenue, launch 100 new high impact motorcycles and do so profitably and sustainably.  Lastly, Harley added Amplified Brand as a growth catalyst in the More Roads to Harley-Davidson’s growth plans.

For example Harley-Davidson refreshed their brand look at major events during Q3 including Sturgis, World Surf League and Spartan races and recently announced we will be the presenting sponsor at next summer’s hotly anticipated Hella Mega music experience tour featuring Green Day, Weezer and Fall Out Boy.  The Hella Mega Tour being promoted by Harley-Davidson is the co-headlining tour of rock bands Green Day, Fall Out Boy, and Weezer. The tour was announced on September 10, 2019 and includes dates from March to August 2020.

Navigating Section 301 Tariff Process

You can’t have a finance report these days and not talk about TARIFFS!  The dizzying series of trade and tariff events over the last few months has pushed the trade war front and center into Harley-Davidson.  How to navigate the Section 301 Tariff process, prepare for any impact etc., is a challenge in of itself.  For the full year 2019, Harley-Davidson now expect impacts of recent EU and China tariffs to be approximately $105 million. This is a $5 million increase from prior expectations and is driven by an increase in Section 301 tariffs, which continue to shift with the breeze as part of global trade negotiations.

It appears that some developed nations will slip towards recession, and governments and companies keep hoping the signs of economic weakness in China would push all the parties to a “deal” table faster.  Harley-Davidson looks to continue mitigating the impact of tariff increases through tariff classification, tariff engineering, first sale, and other methods.  Some of which may have an impact on U.S. manufacturing jobs.
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Q3’19 Press Release:  HERE
Investor Slides:  HERE
Transcript of Q3’19 Financial Call:  HERE
More Roads Plan:  HERE
Hella Mega Tour:  HERE
Section 301 Tariffs:  HERE
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Photos courtesy of Harley-Davidson
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Somewhere on CA. Highway 139

Somewhere between Bieber and Sheepshead on CA. Highway 139, you’ll find yourself in the middle of nowhere.

Add to that being kissed with semi-warm September sunshine and you’d be in a place that many of us on motorcycles call happiness.

Sure we could set the cruise control on Interstate 5, but the fun ride to Reno, Nevada for the fall Street Vibrations Rally is coincidently also the shortest route leaving Portland to Eugene (Hwy 58) to Klamath Falls then on OR39 which becomes CA139 through much of the Modoc National Forest and Tule Lake to US 395 into Reno.

Interestingly, OR39 runs through the mixed-up little town of Hatfield.  The California map says it’s in California and the Oregon map says it straddles the state line, which at least in practice, it does.  The actual location of the state line is a bit confused, because Hatfield is an unincorporated community in both Siskiyou County, California, and Klamath County, Oregon.  At any rate, the junction of Oregon Route 39, California State Route 161, and California State Route 139; all three routes terminate at a four-way junction in the community.

If you live in the Northwest you know that the Oregon summer ends and autumn starts for many motorcycle enthusiasts by making the pilgrimage to the 25th annual Street Vibrations Rally.  It’s often the last nice weather ride of the season.  Nothing replaces wind in the face on the Harley-Davidson, a playlist with heavy bass, and a distant horizon when needing a little adventure.  Some may argue that the make and model of the motorcycle doesn’t matter, that the joy comes solely from the open road—frankly, they’re right.

Street Vibrations officially closed on Sunday.  Over five thousand people were expected to attend the multi-day event and from my vantage the number of riders in town for the celebration exceeded that estimate.  There were over 250 vendors with motorcycle gear, food stalls and six stages of great live music!  Most notable was Heartless—a tribute to Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart and they delivered the sound and spirit of the sisters classic rock-n-roll songs.   Video snippet below:

 

On Friday we rumbled along the 26-mile route from Reno to Virginia City—called Geiger Grade Road—with thousands of other riders who cruised into the historic mining town.  The route offers several curves along a cliff side and views of rolling hills with sagebrush to the pine tree-covered mountains.  It’s a thrilling experience, but the road routinely catches riders off guard and can become an accident quickly.

We soaked up the 81°F day and continued riding the loop to Carson City Harley-Davidson for more motorcycle accessories, themed art, crafts, apparel, music and ended the day back through the Carson (“wind tunnel”) Valley.  Mainstream meteorology suggests that “windy” conditions are anything sustained above 15 miles per hour, but we joked later that our helmets began inflicting what felt like a wind concussion on that segment of the ride.

I-5 Return Route With Cold, Rain and Wind

Speaking of navigating hazards… they are part of everyday life for motorcycle riders—we’re experienced riders, and typically get the local weather forecast before riding. If extreme temperatures are predicted, we might consider a different route and/or a different departure day if it’s practical. It was clear from Friday’s weather reports we’d be riding through less-than-ideal conditions—read MUCH COLDER and wet.  What?  Rain at Street Vibrations!  We enjoyed the 80°F temperatures  Wednesday through Friday, but now fast-moving storm along with a freeze watch was in effect with heavy rain expected Saturday mid-morning and all day Sunday.  In addition, the Oregon passes would receive snow down to 3500 feet and we had at least two major mountain passes to traverse above that altitude.

Postponing our departure wasn’t an option so, we opted to end the festivities early and leave on Saturday and avoid the worst of the early winter storm.

Estimating wind chill is a complex calculation involving ambient temperature and wind speed.  It goes something like:

Temperature’s Influence = ( ( Predicted High Temperature – ( Temperature Base = Your Minimum Acceptable Temperature – ( Predicted High Temperature – Your Minimum Acceptable Temperature ) ) ) / ( Your Ideal Temperature – Temperature Base ) ) * 100 then factor in Wind’s Influence = ( ( Low, High and Gust Wind Speeds Averaged – Your Minimum Threshold For What’s “Windy” ) / ( Your Minimum For What’s “Hazardous” – Your Minimum For What’s “Windy” ) ) * 100 and finally there’s Precipitation Influence, Minimum Visibility and the wildcard algorithm of Road Conditions.  When in doubt always multiple by 100!

If you tracked all that, then you’ve likely developed a customizable motorcycle weather application for the iPhone and already talking a “deal” with the motor company.  I’m not a mathematics wiz, but I know for a fact that warm and comfortable riders have more fun!  Thirty minutes outside of Reno did not fail to disappoint—bringing heavy black clouds, cold torrential rain, hail showers along with snow on the higher elevations of the Plumas Mountain Range.

Riding in the rain doesn’t make me unique—it’s one of the things you do on the road.  Motorcyclist spend the money on riding gear with features or materials to keep warm(ER) and dry.  But, very cold temperatures and the first major rain of the year in Nevada means the oil rises to the top of the highway in a soapy like mess and combined together makes a person go from “Get your motor running” to “Sux2BU” pretty quick.

No one thought we were “cupcakes” just because we didn’t want to ride in the cold/rain/snow.  Fortunately Harley’s heated gear has gotten far more user-friendly over the last ten years and we pressed through the worst of the weather for 560 miles and now have another story to tell.

Arrest Stats for 2019 Street Vibrations.

Photos take by author.

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UBCO 2×2 Electric Utility Motorcycle

I like watching the proverbial fire and brimstone post-apocalyptic movies as much as the next person (think: Mad Max, Twelve Monkeys, The Book of Eli, I Am Legend etc.,), but the Hollywood creations often incorrectly portray motorcycle transportation with flashy visuals and entertainment over realism.

Speaking about realism, September is National Preparedness Month (NPM) which highlights a time to focus attention on the importance of preparing families and homes for disasters that might threaten our lives and property.  It’s spearheaded by the U.S. government and this year’s overarching theme is “Prepared, Not Scared.”

I’m not sitting here eating peaches from a can and going all Eagle Scout on you, but being prepared when potential disasters occur by developing and practicing a family emergency response plan, assembling a disaster supply kit, signing up for alerts on mobile devices, setting aside emergency savings, and maintaining adequate insurance policies for our homes are important steps for disaster preparedness and valuable for everyone.

National Preparedness Month (NPM)

You’re likely thinking, hey Mac, the Harley is full of fuel, it get’s nearly 50mpg and I’ll just grab my “Bug Out Bag” and hit the road when the time comes.  But, what happens in a major crisis when the fuel production and distribution stalls or ceases?  Meaning Bob,  the local tanker truck driver is going to stop making his rounds to the gas stations and go find his family so no new fuel is distributed.

For that type of scenario a small, efficient electric motorcycle might be a great option — yes, you guessed it — I’m suggesting that you purchase a new $30K LiveWire Motorcycle that Harley-Davidson introduced last month.  Let’s call it the masterfully disguised “Prepper Bike” vs. an urban ride.  I can even envision a Harley-Davidson  marketing campaign to include a free survival knife and bandana when you purchase the motorcycle!

I’m being sarcastic, and was thinking about the UBCO 2×2 electric utility motorcycle.  It can be charged from solar panels in an off-grid location, which offers good range and maneuverability.  It has a lot of interest with those who need to bug out and want to keep a low profile.  Any motorcycle enthusiast who grew up riding the Honda Trail 90, will instantly relate to the 2×2.  The UBCO bike will only do 30mph, but it can carry up to 400 pounds (including rider) and cover 50 to 75 miles per charge. It’s nearly silent, and uses a 2-wheel-drive system for improved off-road performance — a feature that’s reminiscent of the classic ROKON gas-powered utility bikes. The battery packs are removable and interchangeable, so you can carry a spare to double the range. There are even USB ports and a 12V outlet for charging other devices such as your phone, GPS, lights, or tools.  The UBCO 2×2 starts around $7K and a spare 48Ah battery pack is $2K.

A sidebar:  The concept or story behind UBCO started in New Zealand.  UBCO had been actively visiting and investigating the U.S. market when it was contacted by Technology Entrepreneur Bob Ralston.  An investment opportunity was consolidated with Spring Capital in Eugene, Oregon and a dedicated distribution company was established in Eugene.  The idea of a Utility Electric Vehicle (UEV) that would transform the way people ride, work and play rolled out.

Even if uninterested in the EUM (electric utility motorcycle), discover your inner Scout and learn about the 130 Survival uses for a Bandanna that you are likely already wearing!

I’ve said it often, and will say it again: emergency preparedness is valuable for everyone!

Photo courtesy of Ready.gov and UBCO

Preparedness Resources:
Off Grid:  NPM 2019
Ready Gov:  September 2019
Preppers Bandanna: 130 Uses
Financial Preparedness: Finances
Community Preparedness: Neighborhood Prep

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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

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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

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