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What’s Up with Harley?

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For years Harley Davidson has been on the upswing, so recent slow sales have been disturbing, and not just to the companies stockholders.

The consensus is that Harley owners have been getting older, as a group, and the average age is now a serious issue.  After all, unfortunately, no one can keep riding for ever.  Many older riders are choosing to hang it up.

The result is that Harley needs to make an abrupt shift from its traditional $20,000 motorcycles to something more attractive to younger riders.

Harley’s response?  the 500 and 750 Street bikes that have, in fact, been selling primarily to younger and newer riders.  These bikes are good looking, work well, and have newer designed water co0led engines.  Riding position is slightly different from the traditional bigger bikes that Harley makes.

The other side of the coin is, of course, that there are many innovative and fun to ride motorcycles in the same eight grand price range.  There are about nine basic types of motorcycles, and in this group you can find any number of bikes that do many things well. Quality control has to be top notch, and features are available like you would not believe.

Harley may have two advantages, however, that may save the day.  First, there is a cachet that only Harley has, and new riders know and respect the brand.  It remains to be seen, but probably resale on these bikes will be very high.  Second, Harley has always had the most after market parts, which makes owning one of their bikes a lot of fun, and potentially something very special.

Another key will be the most interesting.  Harleys always have the most events, and there is that Harley culture.  Harley will have to adapt or build a new structure for these younger riders if they want to go forward with the same kind of brand loyalty and pride they have enjoyed in the past.  This is certainly doable, but it will just as certainly require a lot of finesse.

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About the Author

Michael Padway is a motorcycle accident attorney who lives and breathes motorcycles. He has been practicing law for over 35 years and riding for even longer. Riding motorcycles, writing about motorcycles and defending motorcyclists is what he does, and what he does best.