All motorcycle manufacturers must contend with changes in tastes & demographics (age, gender, location, etc.). For several years there has been a lot of talk about the increase in the average age of the Harley-Davidson buyer. The investment in the 2010 Street Glide Trike model seems to be in-line with that statistic, while another investment in the Nightster has been successful in attracting younger buyers. The Nightster took little investment to generate quick sales, relative to an entirely new motorcycle with a new engine. Equally important, it attracted new buyers to the brand. What other models can HD build with relatively low investment that would attract a younger buyer and/or first-time HD buyer? What do you think of these possibilities? (keep in mind, the goals are to add new models in order to attract new and/or returning buyers at relatively minimum investment)…
Here are a few ideas:
1. Continue the Nightster’s success with a Café Sportster line (“Café-ster”) Café Racer – (Shown above)
Closely related is a Cafe GT style alternative – Walt Greenwood wrote about this previously.
2. Big Twin Sportbike
Curt Winter has spent more than 10 years building variations of an HD-based Big Twin sportbike. The latest model is the “TC-Sport” for Twin Cam Sport. He has dialed-in the Big Twin engine placement and frame geometry. Harley could introduce this model as a late 2010 model if they began working with Curt in the remainder of this year. Relatively-speaking, this would not require a huge investment or time-to-market. The result would generate new buyers to the brand today. For example, Curt has received a lot of interest in the TC Sport from Buell riders wanting a continuation of the tube-framed Buells but with the Big Twin motor. In addition, local HD dealerships have contacted BTR Moto after customers entered the store with pictures of the TC Sport in hand. A variety of enthusiasts (young and old) at Alice’s Restaurant have also inquired about this bike. “Why doesn’t Harley make something like this?” is a common inquiry. If you have ever been to (or have seen footage of) Alice’s, the area attracts a variety of discerning enthusiasts.
3. Sport Touring Revolution
The V-Rod Muscle is a cool bike. The V-Roehr is a cool bike. Wouldn’t a hotrod sport tourer get new traffic into HD dealerships? The Sport Touring options on the market today are all fairly sedate in terms of character (possibly too much refinement in the engine, regardless of the performance?). How about some hotrod soul to go with the sport touring comfort and luggage?
The Sport Touring Revolution model would take more investment than the other 3 mentioned above. However, HD can continue to extend the existing Sportster line like they have done with the Nightster and/or bring in someone like Curt Winter with a proven prototype to efficiently and inexpensively market new models with immediate impact.
• Rich Christoph was 27 when he designed the Nightster.
• Curt Winter was in his late 20’s when he began building a sport chassis for the HD Big Twin.
• I am 39 and have been riding motorcycles for 16 years. I have not yet owned a Harley Davidson, but I would purchase any of the 4 bikes proposed. I also believe some buyers older than 40 would be interested in these bikes.
Doug offers some interesting ideas on a future direction for Harley Davidson. The key idea, as he points out, is developing new models with minimum investment. Not all of these ideas will resonate with current HD customers, but that’s the idea, bring in a whole new group of younger customers. Of course, these might be a hit with some current customers. too.
– The Kneeslider –