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On a ride
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4,996 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
And the Board of Directors had to implement your suggestion or idea, what would it be?

- A new model?
- A new class of bikes?
- Lower prices? Higher prices?
- A new dealer management/training program?
- Acquisition?
- Invest more in government lobbying?
- Invest more in product/engine research?
- Do something with Buell.
- Do nothing, pass out bonuses to all employees for a job well done.
- etc.

More than a few say... Put the Revolution engine in a touring chassis/model.

Some think H-D should buy KTM, learning from and expanding into off road and high performance street bikes (They're even an orange and black company!). Part of the thinking is the baby boomer generation is getting older, their targeted market is shrinking, there is a need to offer products for a different ago group.

Hmmmm...
 

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I think they should make their products attractive to the age group and market they want to attract by good marketing, not by trotting out products that don't fit the Brand and Image. Harley stands for something, if you dilute and confuse it, you risk a lot. The V-rod was pretty daring, but it's still a cruiser, even the mid pegged Road Rod is not a huge departure from what they already do - like a sportster in a vrsc platform.

Acquiring KTM would not be high on my agenda, continued development and improvement to get away from the negative reputational characteristics would be - beter power and performance from ALL engines, better breaking, better handling. I would want to be seen to be making BIG advancements in these areas.

If people want a dirt bike, they're not thinking Harley, and if Harley make one, then what do people think the brand means anymore? Bad move if you ask me. Same with overly SPORT oriented bikes. Use Buell if you want to do that.

I would definitely work on the dealer relationships and make sure they are better trained and meeting customer needs a lot better than they seem to be based on what I read. I think going forward customers will insidt on the bike they buy having very service focussed, friendly, honest and knowledgable dealers for sales, service, performance upgrades and accessories. People won't put up with anachronistic inverse snobbery bad customer service crap anymore, they'll get another brand if they think they are getting disrespected, looked down on or if they think the dealer doesn't give a shit.
 

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2007 Ultra Classic
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1,285 Posts
It could be a very simple thing to improve.

The Screaming Eagle system sometimes goes too far for too much money.

How many times have you heard a friend say, "I did a big bore and now it runs like it should have in the first place."?
 

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I would probably introduce a new model that runs an alternative fuel. (Won't say too much, but I am working on an alt. fuel bike now. More details later.)

I've always been a firm believer in the saying "You get what you pay for." And sadly that saying doesn't often apply to the modern HD, or many custom bikes out there. In fact you tend to get less than you pay for. I understand how competition can inflate costs in some areas, but I've said this in a couple chopper forums and it applies here too.. "If someone is able to build the same product at a lower cost, change your product a bit to keep the market appeal." Its not rocket science, or at least it shouldn't be. Its just creative productivity.

Another area I think I'd focus on is salesman knowledge. I may be young by comparison to some in here, but I remember the days when you could walk into a dealership and talk to someone that actually knew how to answer a technical question without having to surf through a book or computer.

Just my two cents. :cool:

Badger
 

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Scooter Degenerate
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33 Posts
Some think H-D should buy KTM, learning from and expanding into off road and high performance street bikes (They're even an orange and black company!). Part of the thinking is the baby boomer generation is getting older, their targeted market is shrinking, there is a need to offer products for a different ago group.

Hmmmm...
Hey Stevie... if i were a board member i'd be all over KTM. I think that HD is a way better fit than Polaris... apparently so does Polaris.

Harley perhaps more than anyone else in the biz has made a business of selling image. Their scooters are a manifestation of that image. As we both know, image can be a hugely fragile and fickle thing. I'm not privy to their demographic info but i'm guessing that the average age of their customers is way... way older than they would like it to be.

I think KTM would bring much to the party from a technical standpoint. They are also V Twin believers which is a crucial part of the Harley design ethos.

Jess Rooke showed just how totally cool a KTM could get in American guise when he dropped a 990 KTM Twin into his Board Track effort. Outstanding.

Harley would provide KTM with a hugely expanded dealer network and KTM would draw a much younger crowd into the Harley dealership. I would not for a moment underplay the KTM orange & black livery. It should be considered a serious asset. Of course to make all of this work, Harley would have to let the Austrian guys keep on keeping on with their passionate pursuit of road bikes.

I would pursue a bike similar in feel to the Rook effort and bring it to market
with a neat 120 out of the box horses. Powered and suspended by KTM... sculpted by Willie G's team with maybe a little help from Rook.

In any move like this you'd be looking for the downside.

The downside would be that Harley would own Europe's second largest maker of Motorcycles ( perhaps soon to be the biggest) expand it's product base by a huge number... have a serious foot into the Sport Bike world... have a whole bunch of seriously smart motor guys on the payroll... appeal to a much younger consumer... and be in a far better position than they currently are to define the future of 'bad boy cool'.

You and i have shelled out some cash for what amounts to be a whole lot of yesterday Stevie. I'd bet against that kind of yesterday selling big 10 years from now. But then WTFDIK? :D
 

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If I were the King of the forest,,,

first, I would stop extorting my workforce by threatening job moves, its disrespectful. Second, pare down the number of models being offered to streamline production, and reduce the costs of documentation, enginneering, administration, and inventory. Pay a little less attention to Wall street, and a little more attention to all of the customer base.
Now that H-D has real competition form within the U.S; most of whom are selling engine sizes at, or above 100 c.i. its time to produce an engine of 110-120 c.i.as the standard engine, with a 6 speed gearbox for every big twin model. H-D has been playing catch-up for years now, and even then only grudgingly. Its time to trump the competition, not react to them.
The styling dept. would be the next stop, Too long have new models been a mix n' match of available components. and styling has been lukewarm at best. (the 02' VRSC exhaust is a great example of poor styling) Fresh blood, and ideas are sorely needed there.
Lastly, Domestic content of all bikes,parts,accessories, and clothing. I feel that too many of the motorcycle's components are being produced off shore, and most of the trinkets are from China, or other parts of Asia.I would realign the purchased components business to favor U.S. producers, but all of their parts would have to be produced wholly within the U.S. I believe this issue to be important enough to reduce dividends to stockholders, and reduce compensation packages to all members of management in all sections, and divisions above the grade of floor supervisor.This would cover the cost increases for the higher quality domestic components.
 

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COB
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1,984 Posts
Buy Suzuki. Buy 2% more of Buell and change the name to Harley Davidson. Mix all the engineers together, throw a VROD and a FatBoy on a stage, tell em "Fix these bikes obvious problems, build me a sport bike."
 

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Harley stands for something, if you dilute and confuse it, you risk a lot.
I find that statement somewhat interesting. It stands for something these days because the marketing company behind HD wants it to stand for that. HD is a FOR PROFIT corporation. It's marketing that wants you to think you just joined a family by buying a HD. It might be a family, but it's one with a brother that is always asking for money!

HD has an obligation to its share holders to increase value in the company. They do this by increasing revenues, market share, profits. That generally translates to trying to get as much money from us as possible.

So yes your are buying into a certain image by purchasing a HD bike. And you are buying some history. But these days it is an image upheld by marketing as a means to be as profitable as possible.

Personally I'm just happy to be a part of a family of riders. No matter what they are riding. Most I meet are great... once in a while there might be a second cousin that can be a real A*hole, but they are easy enough to ignore.
 
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