Harley Davidson Hints at Move From Milwaukee

Harley Davidson moving from Milwaukee?They may be outlining a bargaining position for upcoming negotiations, but Harley Davidson suggested moving the company's manufacturing operations from Wisconsin as a way to slash millions of dollars in costs. Labor costs and scheduling flexibility were cited as the two major issues.

The Wisconsin plants at risk include its powertrain operations in Milwaukee. Those operations, with about 1,320 employees, are already being consolidated, and company officials have said the move would result in an unspecified number of job cuts.

The other Wisconsin plant, in Tomahawk, makes components including motorcycle windshields. It has about 375 workers, Klein said.

Harley already agreed with its union to major changes in York, Pennsylvania where one of two factories is being shut down and half of the employees laid off to help reduce overhead.

Whether or not a move from Milwaukee is really in serious contention as a way to return to profitability, it is an indication of how times have changed for the Motor Company. While a number of recent news stories have shown growing markets for motorcycles in China and India, the domestic U.S. market for Harley Davidson is still sluggish. Harley has just begun taking orders for motorcycles in India, where even a Nightster, due to tariffs, goes for over $22,000 compared to under $10,000 in the U.S. It makes you wonder, what a Sportster produced over there would cost. No one has openly suggested that option, at least no one I'm aware of, but it's probably in the minds of more than a few.

Link: Associated Press
Related: Wall Street Journal


  1. Ben Sellers says

    In general they are louder, slower and require more maintenance than any oriental bike. Not to mention the incredible price difference.Some people don’t like my view. I’m not a Harley fan. If Harley wants to stay alive big changes need to be made. I know that really makes Harley loyalist mad. The truth hurts sometimes. I’ll stick with my home built contraption. I love the K.I.S.S. principle.

  2. Tin Man 2 says

    The Harley Sportster is the same price as the Honda Shadow Imitation… We import bikes to the US at cost, and the foreign countrys add tarriffs on our products.DUH. The new Boss at HD made millions his 1st year, but he wants the people who do the actaul work to give up their Money.DUH. Anyone see a pattern here???

  3. WRXr says

    Let’s face it. The US is a mature market, and the past two years have not been very kind on the home market. They’ve done a good job of building overseas markets, particularly in Europe, but you must go where the growth is: Asia. If at least some production moves there, I would not be surprised. While it might not please the US crowd, it will probably please millions of other prospective buyers.

  4. says

    Hard to compete in the world market with those kind of tariffs. The real unfortunate thing is Harley of course isn’t the only US export that is tariffed to death. Free trade works so well! No one to blame, I have no idea where you would start the blame game. It just sucks for the good ol USA. I know our customers have to pay out the you know what just to get our parts across boarders to the north.

  5. MARK 5 says

    If HD wants to stay alive,they need to diversify.If the”Big Three”U.S.auto makers import some if most of it’s parts and motors.HD might need to do the same.Maybe starter motorcycles,250 cc up to 650cc’s.HD did it before,they might need to do it again.
    Or use the parts they have to make single cylinder bikes.It would be a start.

  6. Scott says

    Harley used to have something unique. The had management, labor and customers who all understood each other and were working toward a common goal.

    Over the past few years, I’ve seen a growing distance between management and labor and I think now, with Wandell, there is almost NO connection between management and the customer.

    Unfortunately, I think Buell was just the symptom, not the disease. The disease is that Wandell doesn’t have a CLUE about the actual product he is selling. With him, it’s all about spreadsheets and the bottom line.

    . . . but short-term fixes for spreadsheets and the bottom line could have long-term consequences that could result in a company that has nothing left of what used to make Harley so good at doing what they do (whether you personally like their bikes or not).

    I think Wandell sees a long term plan in which Harley’s will be made as cheaply as possible to, in his mind, create the largest margin possible.

    The problem is, when they’re made from the cheapest imported parts possible . . . and maybe eventually actually made in China . . . what happens to demand?

    Nobody’s going to pay $20,000 for a Chinese Harley, so he may be able to reduce cost, but he will be reducing the price they can charge at the same time.

    The more I hear about him, the more I think he’s really not a very bright guy.

  7. says

    i own a harley but i am a motorcyclist first and harley almost never gets it with there old ways they have a cult fallowing that has kept them alive. they havn’t been able to build a nice looking xr race replica. but other people can take there sportster and make it look good and they can’t even copy those guys without messing it up. thats just one example.
    there customer base and there ideas are old and that never wins anything.
    look at victory and there styling. harley thinks they know how to do everthing themselves and it shows. u had eric buell and messed that up. i think he could have designed a few bikes for them. aka victory hammer style. hey harley how about some new suspention and brakes. instead of hardware store looking parts.and some up to date forks. oh thats right u had eric in your back pockit but coudn’t pick his brain,,,go figure.. some companys fail drowning in there inability to change. tradition is one thing. doing the same thing for 50 years is a nother.i’ll ride them all for different reasons.. there will always b an old harley laying around. heck they biult enough of them… pasta one mans opinion

  8. Kevin says

    Pasta, I actually ride a Victory, so I’m no Harley apologist. But aren’t you short changing them a bit with your specific criticism? In direct competition with the Hammer, they have the VRod. It’s a sweet bike (for a Harley) and they actually did pick Eric Buell’s pocket for the water-cooled engine project (which they went on to develop without his input).

    I think these two facts kinda dull the edge of your comment a little.

  9. bblix says

    I have, at times, balked at the approach H-D takes on styling. As pasta indicates above, they frequently spec “hardware store looking” parts. I get the aesthetic, but it’s not always a well implemented one. A raw bike, should look raw; But a refined one should carry that refinement through to every level. I’ve seen really lovely parts attached to bikes with some ugly hardware.

    H-D is under a lot of pressure to change. We’re seeing it here every day. If you’ve worked with H-D, you’ll know that many of their decisions are made “seat-of-the-pants” style. This hurts them in a myriad of ways. My understanding is that one of their new VPs came from Honda (another organization I’ve worked with extensively). These two companies are 180 degrees apposed from each other in their methodologies; I’m hoping some of the Honda approach rubs off as I think it will lead to greater focus and better products.

  10. The other Larry says

    In case any of you had not noticed, the world in almost any way you care to mention, is a very different place than even 30 years ago. It’s global and it’s taking away from the top position the USA had been and will maybe someday be a world of more even distribution of all things, both good and bad. HD will go through the changes like everything else. If they survive. And to do that they may have to start making more motorcycles based on their usable merits, not moarketing bullshit. And I’ve owned four of them over the years, along with dozens of other imports. I don’t own any now (not counting my Rotax-Buell) because HD ownership/marketing turned into a joke.

  11. kneeslider says

    Some of Harley’s troubles may very well be self inflicted, but some, like the recession, are factors affecting everyone equally and companies like HD with troubles before the recession began, suffer a lot more.

    The uneven effect of tariffs, makes selling to other countries tough. No amount of cost cutting here will mean much when those countries add enormous charges at the port. Free trade, like tolerance, only works when both parties apply the principle equally, otherwise it benefits one side while punishing the other and in the export game, the U.S. is at a disadvantage.

    If Harley is going to compete overseas, the strategy needs to address different issues than if their aim is to resurrect sales in the U.S. If you want to sell in India, building bikes over there might make sense, even if it means alienating customers here. Rebuilding the brand here may keep exports below where they might otherwise be. It all depends on what HD wants to do long term. I repeat, however, the post above discusses moving manufacturing to another state, not another country, so this type of talk may not even be a consideration.

  12. MJ says

    One way to avoid the tariffs would be to send the parts manufactured in the US and set up an assembly plant over there…

  13. Azzy says

    Where does HD make most of it’s money? Parts? Bikes? clothing and branding?

    When you buy a $10K Harley, are you getting $10K worth of machine? Or are you getting $5K worth of machine with labor fees, taxes, and tons of marketing tossed in?

  14. bblix says

    @Azzy: There are hard dollars in a H-D motorcycle. Their specifications are exacting, the materials expensive. Folks can argue what they will about the performance/dollar ratio of a H-D, but they don’t spec cheap stuff on an OE bike.

  15. Thom says

    I say Harley should just go away. They’ve been so complacent for so long that they have lost the ability to adapt to the market. They WILL be gone eventually. Why wait?

  16. kneeslider says

    Articles like this are sure to attract comments from Harley bashers who want the company to fail. I’ve never understood those comments. I want every company to do its best to adapt, innovate, create and compete to the best of its ability. If they’re successful, everyone benefits, customers, employees, shareholders and suppliers. It’s a win all around. When a company goes under, everyone loses.

    Anyone who doesn’t like a company or its products is free to buy something else or nothing at all. Companies can turn around and do amazing things, but only if they survive in the first place. Support the companies you like and if enough customers agree with your choice, that company will prosper. You don’t have to wish anyone else ill for your favorite to win in the market. Be positive.

  17. Phoenix827 says

    Tin Man2, you can’t buy any Harley for a Honda price in my part of the U.S. If you like Harleys count yourself lucky. Mark in St. Louis, my contraption is a home built diesel. I run a 10HP air cooler sterling diesel with a variable belt drive. I’m averaging about 110mpg.

  18. Phoenix827 says

    Kneeslider, thanks for keeping us up to date. I will admit to not liking Harleys, but I’m not a basher. Harley has simply not kept up with the change in the market. Now they have to change or fail. I don’t wish them ill. They are much more expensive here and don’t have the performance that I can get for the same price. We need american companies, but if they go lax, they fail. Again a big thanks for the best motorcycle site.

  19. todd says

    Harley Davidson is plenty familiar with tariffs, they’ve been (successfully and unsuccessfully) lobbying congress to place them on everyone else for decades.

    If H-D established or licensed a Asian factory it could easily send semi-assembled bikes and components into that country without facing an tariffs. I think this would be the smartest first step, one which MANY companies make on a regular basis. Next step would be to lighten up their image and their “U-SUCK” marketing attitude – take a cue from Honda in the ’60s. Thumbing your nose at potential customers and new markets is not a way to win them over.

    I, for one, would seriously consider buying a Harley “Sprint”, possibly a 450cc single sporty lightweight roadster. Make another another version of it with monkey bars and a tail crusher suspension and you’ll keep the existing old fart demographic happy enough to accept it. It wouldn’t matter where they sourced all the parts and they wouldn’t be touching the twins that seem to make them happy.


  20. Richard Gozinya says

    Simple solution to the problems with tariffs would be to apply equal tariffs on those countries. That way everyone’s playing on a level field. As for Harley, their biggest problem right now isn’t the economy, the unions (Harley works with at least two) or even their motorcycles, it’s Keith Wandell. More and more, I get the feeling that he’s going to pull a Cerberus on Harley, and the company will be nothing but a memory, picked over by Wandell and his fellow leeches and vultures. I’m not the biggest fan of Harleys, but it would be a shame to see them go.

  21. Tin Man 2 says

    Phoinex27, You sir are wrong, The 883 Sportster is the Bike Honda Imitated just this year, The Harley is cheaper!! The Honda has chain drive and a Drum rear brake on its 750 Phantom blacked out Shadow. The Harley is Fuel injected, belt drive and disk brakes on both ends!! It also costs less and has a higher resale value… The Electra Glide is less expensive than the Gold Wing and BMW LT… The Super Glide is priced lower than that plastic chopper the Fury that Honda is trying to sell.

  22. Phoenix827 says

    Tin Man 2 then you need to come here and buy one. It ain’t so here. Don’t tell me I’m wrong about my town.

  23. says

    One major problem with Harley-Davidson diversifying into the small displacement market would be the dealers. Historically many of those never cared much about the Italian built bikes, and also Buell owners often tell about dealers’ indifferent attitude about this stepchild. Whether this is because the dealers earn more by selling and accessorizing large v-twins – which they no doubt do – or if it is just sheer pigheadedness, I have no idea.

    Yes, I know there are many H-D dealerships that have a better attitude than the one I described above, but too many of them don’t.

  24. Phoenix827 says

    Just for Tin Man 2. According to the the web, I can get an 883 sportster for 6999$. However, I have yet to see a bar-bones base model in a dealership in my town. You also compared it to a non-base model of Honda. Your off base. Yes the Honda shadow is 1000 dollars more, but its not a base model !!!!

  25. Boog says

    I’ve seen fancy dressers
    And they’ve caught my eye
    I rode’em to ride’em
    Then I told them goodbye
    I flirted with Low Riders
    Sportsters and Shovelheads too
    I cussed her and beat her
    And kicked her to just get her started
    A couple of times
    God knows I’ll always love
    That old Panhead of mine.

    -David Allen Coe

  26. todd says

    That just reminded me of an even better one:

    “You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em
    Know when to walk away and know when to run
    You never count your money, when you’re sittin’ at the table
    There’ll be time enough for countin’, when the dealin’s done.

    Every gambler knows that the secret to survive is
    Knowing what to throw away and knowing what to keep…”

    Maybe Keith Wandell took Kenny Rogers to heart.


  27. Yeti says

    First let me say that I am a Buell owner and my affection for Harley Davidson is waning after kicking Buell to the curb, but I have to say this… Nothing holds it’s value like an H-D. A buddy of mine just sold his completely stock ’87 Softail for $4,000 more than he paid for it new. You can’t say that about any other brand.

  28. says

    I have a 1991 FLTCU, that I will keep forever, but, when it’s time to go touring, I jump on my AN650 Burgman. It distresses me that H-D cannot, or will not, produce a machine that I want to buy. When I go into a H-D showroom, and see only new lipstick on a very old pig, it makes me sad. I own six (6) motorcycles, and would love to have a new H-D, if they would only make something that lit my fuse. Nature will not tolerate a vacuum, and this is a big and resourceful nation. A door closes, a window opens. A new and exciting generation of motorcycles will be built in America, with H-D or without them. Ride Safe and Be Well, Mark.

  29. Tin Man 2 says

    Phoinex27, So your upgraded Shadow has Drum brakes and Chain drive, Very Impressive.DUH…

  30. steve w says

    oh yeah listen to the normal whinners. They don’t like HD’s period! Well after years of watching the (I’ll be nice) Metric bikes evolve, the foriegn companies have become copy cats. Oh wait maybe they always were. But everyone might be missing the point here. Wisconsin is a lousey state for companies to do business in. That alone might be reason enough to leave Milwaukee.

  31. Thom says

    Steve W, I live and work in the Milwaukee area myself, and there’s nothing lousy about it for me. Especially considering the time I spent living out of state- and the difficulty I had even finding a job, much less one that pays as well as what I can find here. That said, I understand how that can make things difficult for employers, but it is good for the local economy. It’s a give-and-take.
    I agree with those of you who think Mr. Wandell is the reason for Harley’s troubles, but it’s not his fault alone. Harley has been snubbing us sportbike riders for years, and not just since he took the reigns. My problem with Harley stems from their unwillingness/inability to do anything but charge a premium for what is essentially 1930’s technology. My acidic tongue is mostly due to my frustration that Harley will not listen to us, the consumers, because they can convince a select bunch to purchase their sow’s ears without having to do any kind of “real” R&D. Had they produced a road-going VR1000, or not shuttered Buell, or maybe made a less-expensive product, I’d be a bit more willing to live and let live. As it is, I am boycotting Harley until they get their heads out of their butts.

  32. joe says

    For the number of years Harley have been making V twins with major tweaks to the designs of thier engines taking many years ,they should now be the most powerful and reliable V twins in existance.Unfortunatly, with the Japanese, Victory, and many aftermarket copies now producing more powerfull and reliable V twin bikes, Harley have failed thier customers. They have milked the mythical Hollywood image,relying on logo embosed costumes, merchandice and overpricing to drive profit margins for way too long. I like Harleys to look at, but value for money ? Not in a million years !

  33. MJ says

    If I had to buy a cruiser, I would not buy anything else than a Harley.

    I ride an R6 and I don’t like most cruisers/custom bikes at the moment.

  34. MXG says

    Harley could build the ‘V-Tour’. Livery could be ‘Classic’ , ‘Adventure’, ‘Inter-Continental’ etc. That V-Rod motor in a touring set-up would have the shove to compete with GoldWing et al and sound better doing it. Harley! Play to your strength!

  35. Marvin says

    Wow there is some passion about Harley, it seems quite strange from this side of the pond. If you don’t like them don’t buy them. The way I understand it if you don’t like the import rates we in the EU pay for your motorcycles you should lobby your beef producer as for some conveluted mess that only a government offical could tangle European bikes up to 500cc can be imported into the US at 0% and your beef can come into undercut our farmers. The one thing I would say for Harley is even in the UK when talking to a non-biker they assume that you aspire to own a Harley. It is still a huge name despite very low sales. Oh and Steve W the metric bikes as you put it (or bikes that I don’t have to buy special spanners for as I would say) are bound to make copy cat cruisers if there is a market in the US but I’ve yet to see a flat out european bike a copy cat. Why doesn’t Harley take a leaf from the metric boys and make a wide range of bikes if Honda has added a cruiser to their range why can’t Harley add to its line up a little. Start by putting the sportster on a crash diet lopping that back cylinder off and for the love of god get rid of push rods its 2010! The evolution engine will be 25 years old next year time for an evoulution bike perhaps. I think enough time has passed since Harley reputation for unreliability that they could relaunch in Europe with a 600 cc roaster styled an apeal to a far wider audience than they currently get.

  36. Rich says

    I really like Harleys a lot, but I have never been able to afford one. Their websites and pamphlets say one price and the dealerships have another. Even in the used market, the prices are ridiculous. I’ve owned several bikes over the years and I have never paid anything close to what they ask for Harleys. If you really want to stay in business you have to offer newer designs and better pricing to stay competitive. The exclusivity that Harley is trying to sell is getting old. People just eventually look elsewhere.

  37. Tin Man 2 says

    Rich, Harley is in no danger of going out of Bussiness, They lost money in one quarter in the last 20 years. Harley is an asperational product, Not a bargain basement plastic cruiser… People grow into Harleys and always have, a cheaper small bike would degrade the brand, let the newbees buy an Asian bike to learn on, then grow up to a Harley as they always have. As for 30s tech, that is just the Haters Mantra, Harleys are Fuel Injected, Electronic Ignition, Disk brake, Dead nuts reliable Hydralic lifter Torque monsters. Harleys have Pushrods just like the World beating Corvette, Keep your High Tech, high reving bikes if thats what you want, I will keep my Torque monster street bike, aka Harley!!

  38. nortley says

    Foreign production? I don’t believe I’ve seen mention of the Rikuo, a 45 license built in Japan. That was not an H-D owned plant, though up til December 1941 it did put money in Milwaukee. The non-cyclist powers at H-D might take a good look at Indian, and decide for themselves whether it would be easier to keep on making bikes or to try to make repeated future comebacks.

  39. Scott Hintz says

    I’m looking at three bikes: The Fat Bob, Hammer, and Warrior. If prices were equal the HD wins hands down. It makes no sense for me to buy a used one since it’s not worth the meager savings. The Victory is too close in price (more new) to the HD and just doesn’t appeal to me enough to win out. I can find 2006 Yamaha Warriors with great pushrod single crank pin engine, belt drive, aluminum frame, modern suspension and brakes and beautiful styling for half the price (or less) than both the others. I still want the Harley. Markets are unpredictable here now. Harley knows that. That is the real damage this regime is doing. Oh, and stop waiting for them to make sport bikes. Shut up already and get a Ducati.

  40. Rich_Too says

    I’m pretty sure that H-D’s financial troubles stem from the foolish subprime loans they made – not just product. HDFS is drowning in debt which is dragging the whole company down. Labor had nothing to do with this – yet they will suffer the consequences as referred to in the story. This activity is just another example of how the management team made poor decisions, and the little guy is left holding the bag.

    As Scott said, Wandell is a bean-counter at heart and not a product guy. Sadly, it was another bean-counter who pulled the trigger on making those subprime loans which got them into trouble in the first place. It will only drive them to reduce costs -which isn’t all bad – but at the expense of their heritage and workforce. This doesn’t bode well for them longterm.

  41. Boog says

    About a decade or so ago, I decided to get back into bikes after a couple of decades of forced abstinence from such “toys” due to family and job responsibilities, etc. The area I live in was going through a major “boom” at the time, with the economy very good and people moving in with lots of disposable income…you get the picture. At any rate, I decided to visit the local H-D emporium. Now this building was gorgeous! Landscaped parking lot with a special area for bikes, curved store front with columns and glass brick walls. Well, into the tastefully decorated lobby I go…dang! They had a freaking RECEPTIONIST sitting at a desk that was decorated with plants and objects d’art…I stopped to catch my breath and this elegantly dressed babe, impeccable in her hair and makeup looking so like a magazine cover photo asked me “may I help you, sir?”. After picking my jaw up off the floor, I stammered “just looking” and apologized for not having on a jacket and tie. The store was just incredible…like a bike department store…there was a clothing section, and an accessories section, etc. They had a couple of turntables on the showroom floor with featured bikes along with custom lighting. Folks, I am NOT making this up! A few months later the big swing band I play in was hired to play for a $150 a plate fund raiser for a local charity, held in this elegant facility…it was a black tie affair with a chocolate fountain, bar, catered food. Anyway, they had lots of kroozers, naturallly. NO new Buells…they had a used Thunderbolt sitting in the used section (first Buell I ever laid eyes on). To make a long story even longer, I decided that H-D products were a bit rich for my pocketbook (the used Buell was 7 grand, and not that well maintained), so I decided to get back to my roots and bought an Asian crotch rocket, which I have to this day, and it has brought me a lot of pleasure to ride. Dead nuts reliable, starts right up even after sitting in the garage for weeks in the winter, etc…

    Boy! What a culture shock from what I was used to as a kid 30 or so years earlier! Just didn’t seem like a “bike shop”, with grease on the floor and old bikes piled in corners.

    Could it be that a lot of Harley’s present troubles stem from this marketing approach? I dunno. Seems like a LOT of overhead to pay for. They were not all that friendly to me when I did not whip out my drool-covered checkbook immediately, either. Later when I was tinkering with a “project” Suzuki single, I went there to buy some 1″ drag bars for the it, and of course the parts guy wanted to know what I was going to do with them (as if it were any of his business). When I told him they were going on a small Suzuki, he told me in a snobby manner that these bars would not fit this bike as they were 1″ and not 7/8″, as if I were some young dumb-ass that didn’t know the difference…hell, he was young enough to be MY boy….sigh….

    Well, you get the picture. BTW, I have FOUND one of those classic bike shops about 50 miles from where I live now. Yes… unkempt, greasy, dark with lots of used iron sitting around in corners, some of it quite interesting. Stopped in a while back and the owner and I had a nice chat. I was a total stranger, and he took the time to talk bikes and riding with me. Guess what new brands he carries?

    Royal Enfield and Ural…he happens to be the oldest continuously running Ural dealer in the US, by the way…

    Screw it! Let’s ride!

  42. Shaswata Panja says

    Indian Government should thoroughly encourage Harley Davidson to set up factories in India. Kawasaki is also looking at moving its production out of Japan since they are the only Japanese manufacturer who don’t produce little commuter bikes in huge scale in Asian countries. India should really canvas in front of HD execs and should offer them easy land aquisition, low tax, cheap electricity and water, good connection to ports and airports and reformed labour laws …It would be an honour for India to host HD production facilities. SEZs in Western India should fulfill HD criteria.Other than that India can offer synergy regarding R&D for HD..Bangalore hosts top notch R&D centers for US, German, Israeli Tech,Auto and Defence firms…Harley would find it very attractive to work with other firms regarding developing next-gen by wire throttles, EFIs, Traction Control and other Safety features like airbags…Computer arm of Tata already provides software solutions for Ferrari Formula 1 and Road car division..It would be the most productive relationship if Harley moves to India

  43. B*A*M*F says

    It will be interesting to see what happens with HD. They have become prisoners of their own mystique. They are one of the biggest things that made Milwaukee famous. I do wish them well, but currently they don’t sell any bikes that really inspire much passion in me. Their entry level products carry MSRPs that aren’t out of line with similar bikes from other brands.

    I have stopped into just one Harley dealer in the past couple years and wasn’t impressed with the dealership. It was massive high end looking. There weren’t friendly, knowledgeable faces there to help. The whole affair was a little bit too cool for school. A far cry from some smaller shops I’ve been to where someone (as often as not the owner him/herself) greets you the moment you walk in and makes you feel welcome.

    I think Harley will go where they can sell more bikes and have market growth. I think they’ve more or less tapped their pool of new buyers here in the US for another decade.

  44. Rich says

    I’m not knocking on Harley Tin Man 2. I wish them all the best in the world and hope that they come out of this dilemma alive. But you gotta admit that many of the dealerships gouge their prices. $4,000 mark up on a new “48?” You’ve got to be kidding. Maybe one day, I’ll actually be fortunate enough to plunk down serious cash for one. But to pay for a new one is out of the question. I aspire to have one, but if I can’t afford it then I have to look elsewhere. Until then, I’ll just have to ride my trusty Kawasaki.

  45. Chris Kraft says

    I’ve seen a few posts saying you can’t get a HD for list price and that the used bikes are still ridiculously priced.

    To this I ask, have you checked recently? This year? In 2000 when I got my bike you were lucky to find one for MSRP.

    Now dealers are desperate to sell and often will make deals on bikes. I have a 2000 Sportster 1200S with a blue book value of $4250, not considering all the extras I’ve put into it. I can’t get a single interest in it at $4000 even though its in perfect condition.

    I agree with many that HD is not advancing fast enough but their current troubles, I think, are almost totally because of the economy.

    HD has a financing arm. They wrote out a lot of those loans that are now bust. There was a time, in the mid-80’s, where everyone talked about how the finance arms of the companies are what make all the money.

    I don’t want HD to fail. I live here in Milwaukee. I want them to recover and be a strong company. Why wish for an even worse economy with more unemployment.

    If you really, truly, wanted a Harley and the only thing stopping you was the price, then I suggest you go into a dealer and look around. If that dealer is a prick then find another one. We have about 10 dealers within a reasonable driving distance from where I am and I know that several of them are making amazing deals, some are even going below MSRP which never used to happen in the past.

    — Chris

  46. Chris Kraft says

    Ops. I said mid 80’s, I mean’t mid 00’s. Chrysler also had a strong financing arm and look where they are now.

    My point is that there is a sickness in HD which is the aging of their demographic, but they know about that, they are working, internally, on it.

    The economy just caused the sickness to make the decay happen at an accelerated rate.

    — Chris

  47. Doug says

    I do not understand the management of Harley Davidson these days. I do own a Super Glide, and I’m satisfied much to the horror I suppose to some on this post. I live in Canada, and even paid more than what US riders would. The details are in real metal, no plastic chrome, no crap flanges on the tank, metal fenders, and the a look that many other manufacturers have tried to copy for decades. It is it’s own brand, and I would be very disappointed if the present management trash bins what makes it what it is. Hell I do wish the prices were lower here in Canada, you don’t know how good you’ve got in the US in spite of all the whining I’m reading here. As for bashers go _uck yourselves.

  48. Chris says

    It surprises me how some that posted here got so far off tangent and bad mouthing a product that don’t even own. When the original article had to do with a management decision by HD management. However a number of people made valid points on the management of HD and Wandell in particular. When the poison from Detroit spead to HD, you can see the poor management decisions being made. Henry Ford understood that his workers had to make enough to purchase his products. Same holds to for the American worker. When we move all jobs overseas it’s no wonder the american market for bikes is down. Moving manufacturing overseas will only weaken the brand and the product. Yes, HD needs to review some of the the products and see what is viable and what needs to be kicked to the curb, but the HD workers. I am sure Wisconsin is not one of the most favored business friendly state, but somethings are not always dollars and cents. That happens when the bean counters TRY to steer the ship. I am sure HD profitability can be improved, maybe starting at the top.

  49. Walt says

    Harley has milked the v-twin architecture and traditional styling elements, like the Sportster tank and Glide front fender, quite successfully and leveraged the company’s position as century-old American icon to become extremely successful. They’re not supposed to be sport bikes and have all the build quality and technology they need. There are lots of other cruisers on the market that function as well and cost less, but Harley is the Real Thing.

    Triumph builds their twins in Thailand without being rejected in the marketplace, but I suspect Harley would have more trouble. Owners already complain about the number of foreign-made components on Harleys. I can’t believe American buyers would accept a Harley made outside the US. Built outside Wisconsin or PA (like in the low-wage, union-unfriendly South), no probem.

  50. Lohmann says

    The thing I really don’t understand about HD is the lack of forward thinking. In my eyes they seem stuck in the past. Other companies call their new bikes a ’10 model; HD named their new bike a 48…
    HD seems afraid that modernizing the lineup would mean the loss of tradition and the HD heritage, therefore keeping a lot of the old fashioned technology and ride quality.
    But take a look at Porsche; the last 60 years they’ve been building a sports car by basicly the same formula. Over the years they’ve refined and modernized the formula in a way that always kept the car at the top of the class and still it’s unmistakable a Porsche. And just as interestingly Porsche got other models, either cheaper or more extreme than the core model, to keep almost everybody happy, both customers and shareholders.
    I think that HD should have asked Porsche for advice on a lot more subjects than just the V-rod engine…
    I’ve never owned a Harley, and I don’t think I’ll ever buy an American made HD (I would love to have an Italian made two-stroke HD though). Being a European the ‘made in the US’ doesn’t mean that much to me and not being the cruiser kind of guy, means HD can’t anything of my interest after closing Buell. I do not wish HD to go down. But if they do, I think HD’s ‘living in the past is ok, just sell more t-shirts’ mindset is the only thing to blame.

  51. Chris says

    As a Harley owner, and someone that lives in Pennsylvania, I am surprised HD didn’t move from York. Works there have the entitlement attitiude that almost cost them the whole ball of wax. HD had an opportunity to make a move to the Southern US but dropped the ball by closing their Test facility in Alabama. It was a poor management decision since they would be near the New US hub for Automotive manufacturing and the technology available from the automotive suppliers close by. And the Southern states are “right to work” states that don’t stop people from doing their jobs with some of the rediculous union requirements that have destroyed Manufacturing in the North. Since HD top management comes from the heals of the Detroit automakers, they will be destined to follow the same ignorance that brought GM and Chrysler down. Short term bottom line and bean counting principles, not a good seed to success.

  52. JerseyMayhem says

    Whats with all this talk about HD making a sportbike or a light single, what are you ppl thinking? HD had Buell, theres the “sportbike” and they dissolved the company. HD is too interested in making dog collars and socks for babies than producing new products.
    IF HD redesigns their bikes, they lose their existing customer base that is currently buying their “dinosaurs”, and they are losing those who are saving for a harley, those who dream of getting a harley. Why would HD want to make a roadster, or a sportbike, or a 600cc to compete with the asian countries? Where is the motive to do so? HD has been making the same type of bikes for 70+ years right? And they have been doing great. The economy is not so hot, and they are trying to stay afloat just like everyone else.
    To all the sportbike riders saying I’ll stick to my gsxr 750 and my r6, just shut up. Have you ever ridden a HD? I ride a sportbike, i own 3 they are great, BUT there is no substituton for a HD. You ride a rice rocket, you have no jurisdiction to pass judgement on HD. You want a HD powered sportbike, go buy a Buell. They are amazing machines and I continually humiliate my friends in their r6 and gsxr 750s. HD aint gonna make a hi revving 4 cyl bike to try and win over the cry baby generation.
    Does HD has overpriced machines, YES. But they last longer than a plastic and pot metal asian “cruiser” with stickers that peel off. A HD is a better buy than any honda or yamaha or suzuki out there, and you knwo what, HD is appealing to buyers who want quality, everyone who cries about how expensive a HD is needs to suck it up. Quality costs money. My father has an original unrestored knucklehead from 1939, he still rides*, it was his fathers. I have no idea how much that was at purchase or what it would be worth today, but its lasted 70 years. Show me one of these rice a roni bikes that will last that long….
    (*rides have been reduced to a lap or two around the block once a week during the summer, it is a 71 year old bike, it looks great and runs but the engine needs to be redone, so dont get me wrong as saying that an HD is indestructible.)
    To HD:
    If you move production overseas and keep the same quality, you can expect people to keep buying. HOWEVER, if you mess up and start using crappy parts and redesign the sportster to look lik ethe honda fury(*shutters*) i will guarantee you that you will go belly up. You wanna get competitve in the asian light weight market, crawl back to Eric Buell and beg him to come back and start producing road ready 1190s.

    Just my $.02

  53. JCB says

    AHHHH…..HA HA HA HA HA HA …..SNORK AHHHH HA HA HA HA HA !!! This is funny .

  54. says

    I am astonished at so many comments of high prices for used Harleys. If one diligently searches there are smoking deals on late model used HDs, there is an enormous glut on the used market. I got a nice 4K mile 2007 Superglide for 7500 this winter,,,,i had to travel a bit to get it but is that so bad? One can make negative comments about Harleys with good reason but these newest ones are very well developed, sweet bikes and dramatically more simple in construction compared to others. I like hydraulic lifters and only one fuel injector (not stinking synking!), simplicity has it’s value. . BTW i have put a sidecar on it and the outfit is highly functional, a blast to drive and has loads of power. Now i just need the chain wallet, dew rag and fringe,,,,,,,ya right, ahahahahahahha!

  55. Tin Man 2 says

    Todd, About Tariffs, Harley proved that the Asians were dumping product into our market in the 70s.(dumping is Illegal). Tariffs were imposed on bikes over 700cc for a few years. Harley got its act together and requested the Tariffs be removed, which they were by President Ronald Regan. The rest is history, The Asians have tried to sell cheap copys ever since. Bikes like the Gold Wing and the BMW tour bikes are respected and admired by all, But Imitation Harleys are a Joke.

  56. John S says

    “Nobody’s going to pay $20,000 for a Chinese Harley…”

    Especially when all their customers (as well as former employees) are still in the U.S. fighting over the few remaining minimum wage jobs.

  57. steve w says

    I see I got a few people fired up. When I state Wisconsin is a lousey state to do business in I don’t mean for your jobs (I would hate to see HD or any company leave). It means that Wisconsin isn’t very good when it comes to Corporate Taxes. They could go elsewhere and do far better. However be aware that by putting the word out they are looking, the Governer has pubilcly stated that they will make an effort for them to stay. So no different than the York, Pa. deal they have to push buttons.

  58. Dan says

    After 110 Years the dream of mobility it’s over – for all, including the one and only “Harley-Davidson Motor Company”.

  59. Dresden says

    Harley’s management has that old school Reagan economic view. Cut production, cut jobs, and save money. Not be more efficient, and sell more bikes. They don’t care about their workers or their customers, just the stock holders. That’s why our manufacturing died in the 80’s. It was easier to lay off a few hundred thousand people to save money than it was to do the hard things, like streamline production, or just make a better product.

    Reagan and his Goldman buddies sold us all out to their stock holders.

  60. says

    yes the v-rod is more along the lines of what i would expect them to do.
    as far as eric goes it seems to me they traded away a valuable player when they need one the most..corporate is loosing touch they always do. and they get rid of everbody thats good.. replace them with cheaper less experienced people.cut cost and wonder why things get worse. instead of re-refocusing .. there a little like the car industie in that they make so many models and styles they can’t sell them all.
    in europe bmw ..mercedes ducati etc. seem to learn what there customer wants. always improving and exiting there base. u.s. builds crap loads of stuff and wonders what happened later.
    i also know the economy is way down .nobody around with funny money. buying everthing in site these are real problems for all markets.. but harley like many other peole will hafto learne how to build a better product and maybe a little less. i own one so i’m not a basher. i love motorcycles of all shapes and sizes..i hope they don’t go back to amf days …it happened once! when they where in trouble

  61. Paulinator says

    Sorry about the late entry…I’ve been following along and I’m really quite surprised that the blood-pressure monitor hasn’t even blipped over the slanted trade practices of India. How can NA manufacturing compete against $1.50 per day labor rates, ZERO social or environmental accountability AND “You can never sell your product here” sized tariffs?

    Judging by this crowds reactions, I don’t think an injection-molded Asian Harley would face any negative reception here…and it wouldn’t face any tariffs, either. The Old-timers would just reminisce about the good ole’ AMF days.

    @Shaswata Panja, if India is such a nice place to live, raise your family and do business – then why are so many of you exiling to Canada???

  62. Shaswata Panja says


    Every human being is on the lookout for better oppurtunities , same with Indians in Canada or forefathers of of other Canadians…Lets not get the discussion in that direction as it will only create animosity…I for myself think that high tariffs on big bikes and complerely built units of foreign cars (but I guess for cars it has been reduced from 125 percent in 2001 to around 65 percent now but over 200cc bikes it is still 100 percent) is ridiculous…But still the market is hungry..Kawasaki is projecting sales of 1000 units in its first year of selling big bikes (along with 250 Ninja) in India…Harley can safely look at a volume 250-300 units this year growing at a rate of 25-30 percent for the next 10-15 years..Even Ducati will sell around 150 units in India this year..http://www.indiancarsbikes.in/motorcycles/ducati-india-2nd-dealership-150-bikes-india-2010-760/ So the market is definitely there…..
    @Paulinator: I never said India is great or worse compared to any other country ..What I suggested is that if and when HD eventually wants to move out of its traditional manufacturing bases India should market itself heavily and offer HD a great deal in terms of cheap infrastructure , resources and R&D synergy so that it becomes a productive relationship for both of the partners..If US is ready to host german car companies on their soil, why not India US motorcycle companies?

    Greatest of Harley’s strength has been it stability in its design…The air-cooled V-Twin has become as much of an american icon as the V8..Harley is THE heavy motorcycle brand for people in India…Satbility in desgn like Porsche’s 911 has helped Harley in its brand image and also kept the resale value of Harleys high…Its V-Twins are perhaps the most reliable on the market right now…Heavy use of chrome and steel imparts a metal look which is very masculine even thought they might be average in performance…These attributes helped Harley into becoming what it has become….For the record Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki have suffered much severe losses in the US motorcycle market than HD..its a temporary phase But all of them will ride out…HD shouldnot change radically, evolvong slowly in the direction of XR1200s and V-Rods will help while also pushing the same marketing strategy they employed in US (modified for local tastes) in the emerging market economies …If everything pans out right I gurantee you Harley will be looking at a volume of 700-750,000 units in 10 years

  63. Paulinator says

    @Shaswata Panja, H-D is a symbol of Americana with world renown. You have identified many of the attributes of that iconic design. India will import 250 to 300 units this year? Into a population of well over a billion? Your import restrictions ARE VERY EFFECTIVE.

    BMW, Honda, etc. put factories in the US, Mexico and Canada, but there is a reciprical trade relationship that renders a mutually beneficial outcome for the parties involved.

    The American Icon was developed and work-hardened over a century into what it is. And it is fading, along with the North American blue-collar manufacturing base. I don’t think the “brand” will last one decade in the “slum-dog republic”. Oh well. We’ll always have AMF.

    Don’t get me wrong. You are probably a nice guy. I don’t own a Harley and I love Indian food…and the rickshaw will probably be the vehicle of future.

  64. kneeslider says

    @Paulinator: Your animosity toward thoughts of Harley Davidson building bikes in India is misdirected at Shaswata Panja. He simply pointed out that India might be a place HD should seriously consider if looking outside the US for a manufacturing base. Whether they should be looking elsewhere in the first place is a separate issue.

  65. Sportster Mike says

    @ Walt
    “Triumph builds their twins in Thailand without being rejected in the marketplace”

    Being English and a previous Bonneville owner when I found out the new Bonneville was made in Thailand, I went and brought a Harley! (clues in my name..)
    No, it wasn’t made in England either but it was always one or the other so I chose the other..
    As for all the Harley knockers out there – have you ridden one lately? they mostly handle OK and the rubbermount engines means you don’t get the vibes anymore
    With regards to prices I got £500 off my 883R as ‘they’ had shipped too many over to Amsterdam and the warehouse was full!! (so someone said)
    BUT yes still heavy, quality a bit iffy, goes rusty in the snow and ice, needs progressive fork springs etc but I can slag them off cos I brought one with my own money..
    Also it seems the best sportsbike Harley ever made was the Buell M2 Cyclone cos the guys over here who have got one won’t sell em… and when I jumped on one – wow what a surprise – a lack of weight and admittedly a tuned engine (as Colin Chapman said “Just add lightness”)

    Ride safe guys – 2 wheels are better than 4

  66. Paulinator says

    @ Kneeslider. You pointed out that India has effectively walled-off their market from Harley Davidson and the North American manufacturing base. Shaswata Panja confirmed that. Harley Davidson clearly would benefit from enormous new markets such as India’s. Our leaders are too busy publicly funding international trade junkets to mine new manufacturing arrangements rather than mining new markets with reasonable restrictions and barriers. I don’t know Shaswata Panja. I have no animosity toward him. He sees things from one side and I (fortunately) see things from the other. I hope my kids are as fortunate as I have been.

  67. says

    My advice to all the Harley haters out there is to not buy one. But please don’t compare them to fake plastic oriental imitations; there are Harleys and then there’s everything else.

    Consider the word “cruiser” as applied to motorcycles. The term didn’t exist until the Harley-hating motorcycle press coined in in the late Eighties solely as a way to lump fake oriental Harleys in with real Harleys.

    That’s why it’s so ironic that the same people who want so desperately for everyone to think they’re riding a Harley will tell anybody who’ll listen that their FOH (fake oriental Harley) is somehow better than the real thing.

    Compare prices, compare reliability and compare resale value and you’ll see that a Harley is the real bargain. Just look in any motorcycle junkyards in the world and see what they’re filled with: late-model Asian bikes. But not one single Harley in any junkyard anywhere.

    It’s like the difference betwen Bic lighters and Zippo lighters. One is made overseas from brightly-colored plastic and designed to be used up and thrown away while the other is made in America from solid steel and designed to not only last a lifetime but be handed down to future generations.

    I’ve put enough miles on my personal Harley to circle the globe nine times, yet the only time it’s been on the side of the road was for a flat tire. Don’t believe the haters’ Harleys-leak-and-parts-fall-off propaganda, they’re just jealous.

  68. Shaswata Panja says


    Yes 250-300 units is a miniscule number in nation of 1 Billion…I agree , But you have to see in relation to other metrics..This year Mercedes Benz and BMW are looking to sell around 4000 units in India each….MB and BMW have plants where they assemble semi knocked down kits..With Jaguar and Audi Chipping in We can safely assume the luxury car market in India as of now stands at 12,000…Mercs and Beemers cost anything above $40,000 to $150,000 …It is this demographic that will purchase he 600cc and above motorcycles which cost $15,000 above..You cannot expect the person who buys $15k car to plonk down the same money on a bike…Heavy motorcycles are extremely discretionary purchases in India…It would make me as a bike enthusiast very happy to see Harley succeed in India…Harley is building for the future ..in 10 years time India and Chinese market will bring unprecedented dividends to Harley

  69. andy42 says

    First of i do not wish any one to loose their jobs ! I ride jap bikes I live 400 houndred yards from a H D shop , the only way from the shop is past my home . At times you can’t hear your self think for the noise of the bikes comming past . one day i was at the back of my house , plastics of engine runnin me listenin for a noise and then all i could hear was H Ds . My bike is a RF900r and i could’nt hear it because of bikes over 50ft away !! H D used to have a really nice 250cc why not relook at that just dont use wireing from Italy ! And why o why break up and sell of Buell ? Why not sell it as a going consern ? The best bikes to come out of H D i really liked the Buell !! Is it just the shop near me or is it a comon thing . When you look at the shop the bikes are faceing inwards so your lookin at the arse of a bike . and darkly lit so the shop looks unfriendly and unwellcoming , and you have to press a buzzer to get in ! To me that no way to sell bikes ….

  70. todd says

    One needs to look at Todd8080’s response and wonder what H-D is doing wrong. Why do so many people buy “oriental” cruisers (does that include Victory, BMW, Ural, Triumph, etc?) if they really wanted the Harley and Harleys are supposedly so much better for the same price?

    I think H-D marketing is pushing some people away from owning Harleys. I’d say the people that buy the “Fake Oriental Harleys” do so because they like Harleys but don’t like Harley Davidson. There’s something here that H-D can learn from.

    Either that or the FOH’s are better and less expensive – or those people prefer chromed plastic.


  71. Paulinator says

    @Shaswata Panja. Does Enfield pay dividends? To whom?

    There are three things working against the prospect of an Indian clone of the Harley Davidson becoming the dizzying success that you project…rampant theft, awkward size for the congested cities and/or population demographic and peak oil. In 10 years these pressures will make an Indian H-D about as fashionable as a Hummer in the post-bubble US of A.

    Damn, I forgot to mention a loan crissis….

  72. Vic says

    @ Ben Sellers 04.30.10 at 8:22 am

    In general they are louder, slower and require more maintenance than any oriental bike. Not to mention the incredible price difference.Some people don’t like my view. I’m not a Harley fan. If Harley wants to stay alive big changes need to be made. I know that really makes Harley loyalist mad. The truth hurts sometimes. I’ll stick with my home built contraption. I love the K.I.S.S. principle.

    Harleys are simple. That’s why we love them so. What other design has been unchanged since it’s inception more than 100yrs ago? Not much. If more people would buy more American-made products our economy would not be suffering so much but instead people feel it’s ok to buy from 3rd world countries and such.

    I love my Harley. Always have and always will. I love America and I know that I’m helping keep some American workers employed rather than ‘Bob” in india or Jose in Mexico. I take pride in my country. You should try it sometime.

  73. todd says

    The “buy USA” argument never did make much sense. There are countless more American citizens employed by the design, marketing, manufacture, sales, maintenance, after-market support, and racing of foreign motorcycles than there is for domestic motorcycles. Foreign motorcycles is a HUGE US industry. You buy any bike, you support American industry. It’s that simple.

    Buy American bikes if you like that bike. Buy an Italian bike if you like that bike. Buy a Japanese bike if you like it. Buy a Russian bike if you like it. Buy a used bike and support your neighbor.


  74. says

    To todd, who said: “The ‘buy USA’ argument never did make much sense.”

    When a foreign company sets up a plant on American soil, regardless of who buys their product the profits all go straight back to that company’s country of origin.

    Now, you may think the workers building the product or the dealerships selling the product get the lion’s share, but they don’t. The lion’s share goes to the manufacturer (otherwise nobody would manufacture anything).

    So which is better, working for a foreign company and helping to send American dollars overseas or working for an American company and keeping those dollars in America?

    Perhaps a better question is, do you know what the U.S. trade deficit is? Do you know who Warren Buffet is? Here’s a direct quote from him:

    “The U.S trade deficit is a bigger threat to the domestic economy than either the federal budget deficit or consumer debt and could lead to political turmoil… Right now, the rest of the world owns $3 trillion more of us than we own of them.”

    Please stop giving my country away! All these Asian countries you’re supporting with American dollars don’t give two sh*ts about you, they just want our dollars.

    That colorful plastic wheelie toy will be a pile of junk within five years but all those thousands of dollars you sent to Japan will remain there, never to return home.

    The “selling your country down the river for a handful of cheap oriental trinkets” argument never did make much sense to me. If I could physically stop you I swear to God I would.

  75. todd says

    Like I said, I buy used and all my money goes to the guy I bought it from.

    The dealer isn’t the only guy in the loop. You must have missed where I mentioned the design house, the marketing company, sometimes the factory workers and management, the lawyers, the suppliers, the OEMs, the distributors, the importers, the dock workers and shippers, the truckers, the dealers and their staff, the dealer’s land lord, the tax board, the local service shop, the local or online parts retailer (and their line of importers, shippers and distributors or local manufacturers…), UPS, Ebay, magazines, the racers and their crew, the promoter, the track owner, the advertisers, the umbrella girls, The Kneeslider, the local salvage yard… All these US citizens with jobs get a piece of what you pay for that Kawasaki.

    I’ve worked for a large commodity manufacturer and I know that the manufacturer only sees quite a bit less than half of the retail price. Why do it? Less than half is more than nothing and someone else will do it for that if you don’t.


  76. bblix says


    Hmmm…well, all I can say is, I did pretty well all those years I designed components for Honda and Nissan. So did all the engineers, production workers, and support staff employed by those companies. So did all the American owned suppliers, their engineers, and support staff, and their American owned suppliers, etc, etc. As Todd indicates above, the web grows very large under the canopy of any one of these “foreign” companies.

    GM was about the worst OEM company to work with, constantly gaming their suppliers, hard knuckling them for price concessions. Honda, as an example, employed a much more holistic approach, working to ensure the overall health of their suppliers, recognizing that their supplier’s well being was tantamount to their product’s success.

    And are they really foreign…I mean, I can go buy stock in them. Unless you own stock in one of the “American” companies or work directly for them (or their suppliers), you benefit no more so than you do from the “foreign” companies. It’s interesting, because many of the American OEMs sourced more labor out of country (Mexico, China) than did the foreign companies. I’m somewhat astonished, after the goings on over the past decade, about the perceived benevolence of large American corporations vs. foreign based ones.

    Anymore, they’re all large MULTINATIONAL corporations, no more of one country than the other. Where their headquarters are has little bearing with respect to the whole company. Technically, the foreign companies here in the States are American companies, incorporated in their respective locale. These old tribal notions no longer apply…

  77. says

    People always use terms like “multinational” and “global economy” to cloud the issue and somehow justify their allegiance to some Asian country or manufacturer.

    It’s been a “multinational global economy” for centuries, why do you think Columbus came to America?

    International trade is great when it’s equally reciprocal but when any country, any company or even some teeny, tiny little general store in Podunk, Alabama consistently buys more than it sells, it is headed down the road to ruin.

    And if you’re going to try and convince me that Honda is “multinational” please point out the non-Japanese members in this photo of their board of directors:


    They may own plenty of American soil on which to build their factories but make no mistake, Honda is a Japanese company who makes the bulk of its profits from American consumers.

    It was disloyal Americans who bought Honda’s cheap motorcycles in the Seventies that funded Japan’s auto industry and it’s disloyal Americans who are selling us down the river right now by continuing to support Japan instead of their own country.

    Every year more and more American companies are disappearing yet people still keep pumping American dollars into Japan’s economy instead of their own.

    Ride down any street in America today and you’ll be hard-pressed to find any American vehicle in a sea of Japanese cars, yet people still keep pumping American dollars into Japan’s economy instead of their own.

    Some “Americans” are so conditioned to buying Japanese that they refuse to even look at what American manufacturers have to offer. The Honda Shadow Phantom is a perfect example. It’s exactly the same price as the superior Harley 883 Iron, which in years to come will be worth far more than the Honda (see Kelley Blue Book for historical proof, decade after decade).

    How stupid does a consumer have to be to pay the same price for a cheap copy of the better American product? I mean come on, a drum rear brake in 2010?

    Yet people still keep pumping American dollars into Japan’s economy instead of their own. Why? Out of loyalty of course.

  78. todd says

    The Honda that we all know and buy stuff from is headquartered here in the USofA, Torrance CA to be exact. Honda has 13 different companies in North America and employs over 18,000 people in US manufacturing alone (2004) – not counting the employees in all their other US operations. Then there are all the companies that support this business as I suggested; all the way down to the catering truck that stops in their parking lot at break time. I’d call this an American Company.

    Now I’ve never bought a new Asian motorcycle before but if I did, I would be keeping a lot of Americans employed by doing so.

    As far as why Harley Davidson loses sales to the “inferior” Honda Shadow I can only guess as you have done. I’d say that H-D marketing is not working or is working against them in this case.

    p.s. I like my old BMW. It was inexpensive and it’s reliable as are all the other bikes I own or have owned, including all the “oriental” ones.

  79. says

    “The Honda that we all know and buy stuff from is headquartered here in the USofA.”

    I’m not sure who “we” is, but you seem to have a different meaning for the word “headquartered” than the rest of the world. Everyone else accepts it as meaning “the location where most, if not all, of the important functions of an organization are coordinated,” not a branch office halfway around the world.

    True, “we” are Honda’s best-producing cash cow (by far), but by no means members of their homeland. Honda’s headquarters are in Tokyo, Japan.

    Try for a moment to imagine if all those Americans who work for the Japanese were instead working for American companies. Then the profits from the sale of every product those workers built would stay right here in the good old USA instead of going to Tokyo.

    Like every other Japanese company trying to sell products to Americans, Honda goes to great lengths and spares no expense to convince its target customers that it is indeed an American company.

    TV ads for its cars & motorcycles depict laughing Americans enjoying Honda’s products in American locations while American rock & roll plays in the background.

    Honda has actually managed to convince some of the feebleminded among us that they ARE an American company.

    Harley-Davidson on the other hand, while very popular in Japan, is quite proud to be an American company and does not attempt to deceive its customers into thinking otherwise.

  80. Jessica Green says

    are they really going to leave Wisconsin and never come back or are they just tricking us.

  81. steve w says

    Hummm Andy 42 I hear you but I live 4 minutes from the states largest Honda/Yamaha dealer and every guy that buys a cruiser model runs right in and puts the loudest exh he can on his immitation. He wants it to sound like a Harrrrrley. So It’s not just Harley riders

  82. Nicolas says

    Todd 8080, your argument ” Try for a moment to imagine if all those Americans who work for the Japanese were instead working for American companies ” doesn’t stand. People work for whoever can give them a job. If Honda leaves the US tomorrow, do you really think any US company will fill the gap ? Seriously ? Which one, Government Motors Company, probably ?

    “Disloyal” americans buy what’s the best on the market, their hard-earned money needs to be used on quality products. Any american company can produce the best product and get the most share of their market. Until it happens, “foreign” companies lead by a bunch of horrible and dangerous yellow men will be successful and provide good jobs to all these good american people cited above.

  83. todd says

    to put it in a little more perspective; Harley has 9700 employees (f.y.2006 which includes Buell…) in their whole company, including any not working in the US. Honda North America Inc, on the other hand, has 16 companies (13 of which are in the USA). The 18,000 US citizens I mentioned above is only counting those in manufacturing in 8 of the 13 US Honda companies.

    When you buy a Honda you keep more than twice as many Americans employed than when you buy a Harley.

    I buy bikes because I like them..


  84. Paulinator says

    @ Nicolas,

    Ask any war veteran about his/her experiences as a POW in the Japanese theatre. They’ll agree with your character discription. We live in a new era. Canadians and Americans pay restitution to displaced persons, but the Japanese still honour thier Emperor as a hero rather than recognise him for what he was – the figure-head of a brutal regime.

    The numbers do not lie. The US has hemorrhaged cash to foreign interests at an alarming and possibly irreversible rate. I am not against global trade. I am against unfair trade practices on a global scale.

  85. says

    How deep in denial does one have to be to try and convince themself and others that it’s better for America if consumers buy foreign products? Talk about convoluted reasoning!

    First of all, if disloyal Americans hadn’t bankrolled Japan’s automobile industry in the first place we wouldn’t be in this mess. Secondly, it doesn’t require 18,000 Honda employees to assemble a motorcycle.

    I’ve never owned anything except American cars my entire life. How on earth did I possibly survive all these years without stabbing my fellow Americans in the back?

    Fact: Japan had so many Kamikaze volunteers they didn’t have enough planes for them all. That’s how much the Japanese love you back.

  86. todd says

    Your simple solution assumes that American companies produce motorcycles that people want. Out of the 879,910 motorcycles sold in the US in 2008, Harley only made 206,309 of them. That means that for every 100 people shopping for a motorcycle, 77 people didn’t find anything they wanted from Harley. Some went to Victory, Fischer, or Roehr, etc but not enough to count.

    77 out of 100 people had no other choice than to buy a “foreign” motorcycle – that or nothing at all. If I was working for H-D I would be trying to figure out how to reach those other 77 people. It could be developing new models that span different segments, licensing the manufacture or importation of someone else’s bikes, reaching out to a different market segment with your existing models (female riders for instance), or forcing people to buy your product by imposing trade limitations on others (as India does for instance). Any way you look at it, America could do better if it wanted to sell American bikes.


  87. bblix says


    “but the Japanese still honor their Emperor as a hero rather than recognize him for what he was – the figure-head of a brutal regime.”

    Huh…I suppose the same can be done for the Southern US states that still honor their confederate past, no?

    As for the “disloyal” American’s buying “foreign” products…Please! We’re a market driven economy, the money goes where it it best utilized and the most value exists. I would say it was Traitorous American Auto Companies pedaling worthless product that drove the buying public into the hands of the evil empire of better made cars.

    American based multinational companies lead the world when it comes to outsourcing; They’re maximizing “shareholder value”…NOTE, that’s shareholder value, not jingoist pride.


    I don’t know where you’re coming from and it smacks of some ugly stuff…Frankly, I’m surprised you’re aren’t reaching all the way back to British Imperial attacks against American interest in the Revolutionary Era…

  88. Watcher says

    Harley Davidson only makes one motorcycle – there outdated heavy cruiser with an older air cooled motor. There bikes are heavy, slow, under powered and have poor brakes. Harley should have spent more R&D money on a new V4 motor years ago. Dumping Buell was a big mistake. I think Harley should use the Porsche designed V-Rod motor in all there bikes and scrap the old under powered V-Twin. The V-Rod motor is water cooled and at least has some horsepower to haul there heavy bikes around. Of course HD needs to pay back the 650 million they borrowed from Warren Buffet at 15% to bail out the HDFS division first. For years HDFS was giving out loans to anyone that could make it in the door at a Harley dealership. I wounder what there sales would have been without HDFS? I suspect a lot of Harley sales were form people that could not get a motorcycle loan on another brand of bike from a normal lender so they ended up with a Harley. Nation wide the newspapers are flooded with used late model Harley’s at low prices. People are trying to get rid of them at any price before HDFS has to repo them. Moving to a new location and putting the screws to the union will not help Harley.

  89. says

    Sometimes doing the right thing requires putting forth a little more effort or paying a little more. When I shop for a vehicle, it never even occurs to me to look at all the many oriental manufacturers’ offerings.

    That’s because I know how much a person’s vehicle says about them. For most people it’s their second-largest lifetime purchase (sometimes first-largest).

    Why would I want to announce to the world that I support some foreign country’s economy over my own country’s? Unless I was just trying to send the message that I want to see America fail.

    And believe me, not only is that the perfect strategy to destroy your country from within, it’s the perfect way to show you hate America. Congratulations, it’s working quite well on both fronts.

    To say that Harley doesn’t or didn’t sell a big enough variety of motorcycles is just lunacy. They’ve always had more models than you can shake a stick at.

    And to say they didn’t make enough to meet needs is equally ludicrous. The MoCo has amply demonstrated its ability to ramp up production when needed.

    For example, the factory has made more Twin Cam models than all Knuckleheads, Panheads, Shovelheads and Evos combined, by a wide margin.

  90. todd says

    OKKK mr 8080, (excuse my stutter). “They’ve always had more models than you can shake a stick at”. This is just lunacy. I’ve only seen one model too as Watcher so elegantly stated. Sure, they offer that same style bike with a different motor but, just like a Yamaha FZR vs a YZF vs a FZ, it’s hard to tell the difference and possibly not worth the effort.

    Of the 879,910 total motorcycles sold Harley only competed with 262,575 of them – the remaining volume of “Heavyweight Street Bikes” that were not Harleys. That means that, not only did Harley lose 262,575 directly applicable sales, their lack of product diversity kept them from selling any of the 411,026 non-“Heavyweight Street Bikes”. Yes, Harley has no sport bikes of any displacement, no sport touring, no “grand touring” no adventure touring, no dual-purpose, no off-road, no entry level, and no scooters to speak of. Some companies offer at least one of each…


  91. todd says

    Clarification: Harley’s market share of “Heavyweight Street Bikes” was 45.6% in 2008, a total of 206,309 domestic sales or a touch over 23% of all US motorcycle sales. “Heavyweight Street Bikes” as a market segment does, in fact, include the Sportster.

    That’s nothing to shake a stick at, in fact, Harley is THE volume leader in the US despite the fact that they compete in only one market segment. Just imagine what they would do to the other brands if they started competing with more of their offerings. Maybe then less people would be buying “oriental” or “euro” bikes.


  92. Watcher says

    Harley Davidson needs to grow up and get into the real world. The old days are gone and there is no need to have stupid names for there bikes like Fat Boy, Fat Bob, Night Train and Cross Bones. This is just plain lunacy. Harley spent 4 million dollars on a “sound lab”. This is a room that HD invites the public into to listen to Harley engine sounds and then vote on the best sound. HD needs to spend money on real R&D not “engine sounds”. HD promotes loud motorcycles. This will be coming to an end as more and more communities are enacting a noise ordinance. If there was a nation wide ban on loud motorcycles HD would be out of business in 6 months. Most people only buy a Harley because they like the way the engine sounds without a muffler. The days of buying a Harley and dressing up like a pirate and riding around town showing off with loud exhaust are numbered. Harley has spent no money on future models with real improvements. Harley’s “new” models are just a new color or more or less chrome. The baby boomers are getting out of motorcycling as they age and Harley has no one else to sell motorcycles to. The youth of America do not want a overweight and underpowered and overpriced and outdated motorcycle. HD shot themselves in the foot by dumping Buell. Buell was just getting rid of the boat anchor Harley motor in favor of the more modern Rotax motor and had a new model ready to introduce when the morons at HD axed the line of bikes.

  93. Paulinator says

    @bblix, Yah. There’s great value in toxic drywall or carcinogenic frozen fish products. I think that there must be effective testing and monitoring of ALL imported products at ports of entry. I think that the automotive bail-out cash should have been invested to seed an indigenous renewable energy industry…and I hope you are not slighting the barbaric and systematic maltreatment of common individuals who fought for a better world – YOUR better world.

  94. says

    One model? Do you really believe that? Over the years Harley has offered motorcycles of just about every displacement imaginable, from 50cc to 1,800cc and everything in between. They’ve offered dirt bikes, sport bikes, scooters, dual-purpose, sport tourers, you name it. They’ve even made mopeds and bicycles.

    But Harley learned a long time ago that every time they invest a fortune making some little kiddie bike that everyone swears they must build to survive, it doesn’t sell. Why? Because that’s not what Harley does.

    Harley makes big, sturdy motorcycles for grown men (and grown women) that are made to eat up the miles and last you your whole life. That’s their bread & butter and always has been. They leave the wheelie toyz for the wheelie boyz.

  95. Not Fooled says

    Harley makes big (too heavy) sturdy (heavy steel frame) motorcycles (??) for grown men (baby boomers) that are made to eat up miles (around town only) and last your whole life (most Harley riders only ride on weekends and in town about 2 3 thousand miles a year). What joke – Harley needs more than the one model with 30 different names that they make now. Of course it is too late because HD is broke with no money for R&D. If HD would have spent there R&D money on new models instead of new belt buckles, t-shirts, ash trays and other junk like that maybe they would not be in trouble today. The only thing new on a new Harley is this years new color.

  96. JustPete says

    Jeez, Another H-D story with another 100 comments about the same bilthering non-sence about how every H-D rider is some pirate wanna-be and how Harley needs to grow up or how they are big, slow and unreliable machines. Funny how even the mention of H-D brings out the same ridiculous people with the same ridiculous comments. If you dont like something, dont buy it. Some of you guys will never even think of owning something of thiers but cant wait to cut them down. Thats just pathetic.

  97. '37 Indian says

    It’s not the bikes they make. It used to be when they were owned by AMF, they were absolute crap. They made a very smart move by buying the company back and modernizing their product. With the Evolution engines, they finally didn’t break, didn’t leak, and the quality was obvious. They’ve even made them better with the balance-shafted twin cam motor, and after 50 years of shaking, they even rubber mounted the Sportster engine in 2004. The V-Rod showed evolutionary, forward thinking. The demand for them was incredible, but well deserved. They may be expensive, but they’re good motorcycles.
    The problem is what comes along with buying their product. You have to join a snobby, obnoxious club of bikers. You’d better not keep the stock mufflers that the HD engineers spent a lot of time designing, because it HAS to be loud. You WANT to irritate the public, have a “loud pipes save lives” attitude. Everything has to be Screaming Eagle. They all travel in groups, ride the same bike, wear the same black leather, and ignore any other brand of bike. They ride for twenty minutes, then stop at the local biker bar and show off their bikes, clothing and tattoos to each other. The ultimate deal for them is to all go to Sturgis, SD, like a bunch of lemmings. We have a similar weekend event here in Reno called Street Vibrations, sort of a mini-Sturgis. It may be fun for them, but not for the local residents. Usually there are numerous arrests, and at least several deaths from too much alcohol, reckless driving, etc. It’s dangerous on the streets because of the out of control way they ride, in an unbelievable but real reinactment of ’60’s biker movies.The cops are real busy trying to keep it all in line. I don’t even go out for that weekend, I’ll ride when they go away.
    Would I like to own a harley? You bet. Would I like to join the club? No way.

  98. todd says

    ’37 Indian has it spot on. I don’t get why the assumption is that I buy new Japanese bikes or that I hate Harleys since I suggest they could expand their market reach. If anything, I’m trying to help them out. I’m just the sort of demographic they claim they are trying to reach; young, non-Harley owner. I’ve never bought a new “oriental” bike but I think those “oriental” companies – especially Honda – have a good grasp on what Americans want. They have a model in their lineup everyone could like (except Harley-only people). They are the number one US motorcycle manufacturer AND US motorcycle importer if you include ATVs and PWCs. They flat-out sell the most stuff in the US, outselling Harley since they offer something for everyone and they don’t let their CORPORATE IMAGE get in the way of sales. Just imagine what Harley could do if they toned down the whole “Ride American or You’re an Idiot” attitude. Maybe then they could start offering other types of bikes that appeal to more people, probably even sell more of what they already have.

    Kool-Aid is a kid’s drink made in the US, good for you, I’m glad you like it. The sake I drink is Americas largest producer of sake, made in the USA, over here in Emeryville California. You should try it, if you’re Man enough.


  99. says

    I agree HD must do some things different–but it’s also a shame that another U.S company is struggling and may give way to imports. Harley has a lot of appeal–some of which is just living off their name and history. They need something new.

  100. says

    Man enough to drink sake?

    For the record, I don’t ride in groups, don’t dress like a pirate (whatever that means), don’t drink alcohol and in 42 years of riding have never caused an accident of any kind.

    My homemade Harley is featured in a five-page spread in the November ’09 issue of American-V (page 54) and is also featured in the upcoming issue of American Iron Motorcycle Bagger, which hits newsstands Tuesday.

    It has performance mufflers which are for performance, not noise. It is not loud.

    But ’37 Indian at least admits he’d like to own a Harley. Most Harley bashers secretly dream of owning one but since they can only afford rice they feel compelled to loudly proclaim that Harleys leak, lose parts, vibrate your teeth out, are slow, etc., even though they’ve never ridden one.

    That’s called sour grapes.

  101. Not Interested says

    37 Indian hit the nail right on the head as far as I am concerned. I am 32 years old and an avid motorcycle owner, collector and rider. I would not consider a Harley for the exact reasons that 37 Indian stated. I am sick of listening to the morons on there Harley’s with no muffler dressed like a pirate showing off. Harley Davidson does not make a bad motorcycle it is just HD promotes the stupid outlaw image in there motorcycles and there advertising. I loud Harley with some idiot dressed up in leather with a bunch of tattoos does not impress me. I’ll stay as far away from Harley Davidson as possible.

  102. Vic says

    37 Indian is right but you don’t have to put up with the moron Harley dealers. Why buy a new Harley when the newspapers are full of late model used ones at real cheap prices? My Sunday paper has 22 late model Harley’s listed with low miles and very low prices. Many are asking a low price or “make an offer” or the price with OBO. Most of these sellers also suckered for the extra stuff like loud exhaust and extra chrome or HP kits so this stuff would be a free bonus. Personally, I can not see why anyone would even buy a Harley Davidson as the bike is behind every other motorcycle manufacture as far as modern technology. I have been told that Harley’s have inferior brakes and horsepower and a lot of vibration. I have never owned a Harley but I have ridden a lot of them over the years and that was enough to let me know I would never buy one. A few of my friends ride Harley’s and they spend thousands of dollars on all the Harley clothes etc. They have a Harley decal on everything they own.

  103. bblix says


    Hmmm…let’s see, I’m gonna bet that the company that brought the toxis drywall over was NOT a Chinese owned company…

    Bad product is bad product no matter where it comes from. Junk made in the US is still junk. What folks need to get their mind around is that corporations care about shareholder value, they don’t care about YOU.

  104. Paulinator says

    @bblix, That American corporation was probably a nine-digit number and a mailbox in Nevada. Were the directors and shareholders accountable and capable of making restitution? If not, I’m pretty sure Obama just drafted up another bail-out. Either way, YOU and I both just got screwed. Unless we turn that toxic garbage around at the port AND at the importer’s expense it’ll just keep happening. Do you like that, bblix? Do you like when that happens?

  105. fireworks says

    You mention H-D and you get two main topics, technology, and image.

    The first is highly subjective, and has no value outside the eye of the beholder, and the second can only be talked about in generalities which starts a slag match. I know there’s not supposed to be such a thing as ‘bad’ PR but it would be smart for HD to start to try and level things off somehow. As pointed out above, they are missing out on sales to other companies for a variety of reasons.

    While I’m not an HD historian, I have read over the history of HD and it really is a culturally rich company. It has very broad ‘motorcycling’ pedigree that seems to have been completely put aside in favour of trends or fashion. I would argue that this is the real problem for HD, and where they really need to focus. While it might be highly profitable to sell an image and link that to merchandise or high margin items, it’s analogous to the large SUV addiction the domestic car makers had. It isnt’ the essence of what the company is, and when the market changes then what?

    If you take the time to review the history of HD you see the history of a motorcycle company that had enthusiasm for motorcycling. Somewhere around the end of the AMF ownership the current course seems to have been set. Buell’s demise was actually the final act in a series of steps away from being a motorcycle company. Ironically I think Eric Buell might have been involved with another HD cancellation; the FXR. Whatever vision that lead to the creation of a better performing HD was discarded, and in it’s place the more popular path of ‘customs’ was taken; from what I know the new Dyna was a poorer performing motorcycle compared to the FXR. However the FXR didn’t have the correct ‘look’ with the additional frame bracing under the seat. Along the way HD seems to have been too punch drunk to see the danger in such a strong brand identity. You can’t even sell anything resembling solid numbers of a mildly performance oriented HD. XLCR, XL1200S, XL1200R,FXDX, Street Rod, all gone. Who knows if the new XL1200 will continue on.

    I think they need to walk their own museum and stop at whatever point lead them to where they are, and then try to imagine what the company ‘might have been’ if certain decisions wouldn’t have been made. There is certainly an appetite for an American motorcycle company with history, but why is it companies like Confederate, or Motoczysz are the ones creating bleeding edge designs? Why isn’t the biggest American motorcycle company not at least surprising us with visionary innovative prototypes?

  106. Mike says

    If you take all the foreign made parts off of a HD you can`t ride it. Since the 70`s they`ve used Keihn carbs, Showa forks, Yokohama tires, Hitachi electrical components, Nippon Seiki guages etc.. so this “made in USA” thing is a joke. The fact that so many of you equate oversize & heavy with quality is disturbing. I hate all cruisers equally.If they don`t look like an HD you say they look Japanese. If they make them look like a HD you say they`re copying. Really you think everything should look like a HD.As for these legendary ancient HDs that are still around, you can keep anything forever if you want to keep fixing it.

  107. says

    Concerning Harley’s woeful and highly regrettable practice of using certain oriental parts on their products, they pretty much didn’t have any choice. After the disloyal Americans sent all their money overseas to bankroll Japan’s motorcycle & auto industries in the Seventies, American companies who once made the parts for American vehicles couldn’t compete with the Japanese vendors’ prices, since the Japanese had virtually no R&D costs (they stole all their designs) and Japanese labor was literally pennies to the dollar.

    In order for Harley to even come close to being competitive cost-wise, it had to deal with Showa, Keihin, & Nippondenso. But never forget it was disloyal Americans who created this situation. The MoCo simply did what it had to do to survive, as did all other domestic manufacturers. There were no Japanese parts on any Harleys until the second half of the Seventies.

    And in case you haven’t heard, it’s been years since Harleys came with Keihin carburetors and they never came with Yokahama tires.

    However, you’ll be pleased to know that my personal Harley has an American carb, starter, fork and all electrical components. You may not be pleased to know that there are no vehicles made today that use parts only from one country, including all the oriental brands.

  108. Joyce says

    I truly love Harley Davidsons, I love the makes, models, designs and colors of 99 percent of their new bikes. Most people who knock HD’s are doing it because, they cannot afford them or refuse to spend that kind of money for a toy. Yes, a toy, so anyone who has a come back to that statement. that it is your means of transportation. Good for you! I come from New England and riding is seasonal here.

    It’s not Harley Davison people have a problem with, it’s the mentality of the owners of the Harley. Ask them why they own a Harley? Here is the answer you will get, “it’s American made.” Than what the hell are you doing buying a brandnew, Toyota, Honda, Audi, Hyndai and Mercedes?? All non-American cars. That is no lie. “Hypocites” I have no problem with the guys who have the Chevy, Fords, Chrysler or Jeeps. It’s the hypocrites looking down on me about my Kawi bike. Sorry, my bike is my toy. I don’t have the money to spend on something I’m not driving around 12 months out of the year. However, talk to me about my Ford, an American made car ok? To many wannabees out there to look big and bad. I grew up in a family who had Triumps, Indians and HD’s. Riding a Harley doesn’t make someone else less than. My bike is better than your bike? WTF!

  109. Lance says

    What it shows is that we need to raise our terriffs in responce to other countries lack of adherence to our outlandish free trade(or lack there of) policies. I own a Harley and anyone that says it’s not as good as any foreign bikes is dead WRONG. They are by far the best bike I have ever ridden and I’ve been riding bikes for 35 years. It’s anti-American to think we should move production of any kind overseas. Wake up America and buy a US made Harley!