Did Harley-Davidson just ditch us younger riders?


You’ve all probably heard by now that Harley-Davidson wants to “go back to its roots”. What does this mean, and why are people panicking about it? Clearly, H-D still plans on going on with LiveWire, Bronx and Pan America. What are we really losing?

What is this new direction (the old and new one)

First of all, let’s take a look at the models that Harley-Davidson had planned for the future (which are supposedly not part of their roots).

First, we have the H-D LiveWire that most of you have already heard about. It’s an electric motorcycle, which is a first for Harley-Davidson, but it comes at a hefty price.

Well, we knew it would be pricey, but even for an electric motorcycle, it was a shocker.

Second on the list is the H-D Bronx (which many speculated would be named the Barenuckle, or something…) which is a naked motorcycle. This motorcycle sparked some excitement in the community among the younger generation.

You could almost say that this would be the ICE version of the Livewire since they both have a similar shape and riding position.

Then, we have the H-D Pan America, which is an adventure touring bike. Somehow this doesn’t seem all that contradicting to what Harley-Davidson has been doing for years.

I was like, “oh, I wonder if it comes with saddlebags”. I mean, it’s a touring bike with a V-Twin engine. It’s perfect for kinda old people… not really (I’ll disable comments on this post).

You see, all three these models are still going ahead, as far as I know. But for the rest of the models that were planed, they’re going to the archives. This would also include the cafe racer bike they had planned, and who knows what else.

Scraping these other models is apparently part of the new plan to get Harley-Davidson back to its roots. But this is all based on what someone said and it wasn’t all that clear what they meant.

So far, I don’t think it’s something anyone should be worried about. Harley-Davidson still makes cruisers and now have the naked bike which we younger riders were waiting for. And I think the Pan America is a huge plus. Really, it’s a good looking bike (and I’m not at all into adventure bikes).

Only one of these models has launched at the time I publish this article, and the electric model has been way overpriced in my opinion. It’s hardly the type of thing that will get new riders to buy a Harley-Davidson.

So, is it too soon to say that the plan failed? Yes, definitely. But there are some other problems that should have been addressed regarding the brand and what younger riders make of it.

The roots of Harley-Davidson

The American motorcycle manufacturer, Harley-Davidson, has been known for its V-Twin engines, belt drives and its wide range of cruiser style motorcycles. It’s kind of strange to think that they would build anything else than cruisers, right? It’s a tradition.

I mean tradition is important. We do things in certain ways that make sense. We know it works, so we keep doing it over and over again until we forget why we are doing it. And you might ask me how this cruiser tradition got started. So, I’ll tell you…

I don’t know.

It doesn’t really matter all that much how it got started or how it became a tradition. What does matter is if it makes sense to keep doing it. And yes, it is still worth doing. A lot of people ride cruisers, including many younger riders.

But you cant expect anything to last forever. The type of motorcycles we ride isn’t the same as what it was a hundered years ago and it won’t be the same a hundred years from now. It’s obvious that you should expect a decline in any style of motorcyle over time.

Why aren’t the younger generations taking to Harley-Davidson?

The younger riders choose to rather ride other types of motorcycles, instead of cruisers and don’t seem to get attached to the iconic H-D brand as the older riders do.

There are a few reasons why this is happening, and H-D is partly to blame for it. It’s a result of their own doing, or failure to prevent it, in some weird way.

First off, well done for developing the Bronx! In my opinion, that is definitely the type of motorcycle that will attract the younger riders.

As for the Pan America, I’m really not an adventure enthusiast so I don’t really have an opinion here. But if advpulse.com says it’s a winner, I wouldn’t disagree.

Still, we really need to know why Harley-Davidson hasn’t been able to connect with younger riders over the last decade or two.

It’s simple but very strange. It’s the way Harley-Davidson sold their motorcycles by allowing the most familiar owners group to exist today, called HOG (Harleys Only Group).

This is where the problem probably originated and spread out to other people. The fact that one could think that they are better because of what they own.

Before we go further, I’m not saying that all HOGs are like this, or that all Harley-Davidson owners are like this. No, it’s most likely only a small percentage of the people. But those are the people you remember.

What exactly am I talking about here?

There’s a couple of things that stand out like some H-D owners won’t greet you (with the wave or nod) if you don’t ride a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

On top of that, some even do the unthinkable, by stopping you to say “hey, that two-finger wave is only for Harley owners”. Where the f##k did you get that idea!

I wrote an article about this whole stupid idea: Is the two-finger wave only for Harley owners?

Anyway, there’s a bit of a snob thing going on. Some people really think that they deserve you show them respect, while they just receive it. Dumbasses!

What do think happens when someone greets you, and you ignore them? Do you think that they want to be like you? NO, they probably want to serve your guts.

That’s exactly what’s happening, and why younger riders unconsciously swear that they will never be like that dude (or ride the bike that made him different).

If Harley-Davidson was really interested in connecting with the younger generation, they should have done away with HOG, or make some really cheap scooters so that anyone can own a Harley. Then you aren’t so special anymore…

I bet someone is going to try telling me that kids today shouldn’t be so sensitive and grow up.

Okay, sure thing. I agree! But they still not going to buy it…

You know, the weird thing is that I’m a huge fan of Harley-Davidson’s motorcycles.

One of my top favourite bikes is the Fat Bob. But I don’t look down on other people just because of what I own, or what some piece of paper says about me.

Those individuals who do this know who they are. Harley-Davidson didn’t ditch us younger riders, they did.

My conclusion

  • Glad they didn’t throw away the Bronx.
  • Don’t see a problem with their current product line.
  • Harley-Davidson makes good motorcycles.
  • Kids don’t want Harleys because snobs ride the name (for about six months).

Final words

Yeah… I don’t always get so worked up. If you think a have a valid argument, or even if you don’t, you can subscribe to my monthly newsletter. It’s basically just the top four articles of the month and then something interesting.

Featured image by @ashamcha on Instagram.

I always try to keep my articles interesting and informative. And I’m always thankful when they are shared on social media platforms or Pinterest.

Two Motion

I don’t see myself as an expert in every topic of motorcycling but my articles usually relate to new experiences that are relevant at the time of writing.

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