After seeing the images of all of those Harley Davidsons riding in snow, jumping hills, climbing mountains and generally taking their riders everywhere makes a person wonder, was it a fluke that these riders decided to do things like that or was it expected, even encouraged by Harley Davidson itself?
I started looking through some old magazines for the ads and, sure enough, Harley’s ads talk about being master of both trail and highway or winging away from streets and highways and getting out to the lake. It seems taking your Harley on the back roads and trails was expected and part of the riding experience. No highway bound chrome dressers here, it’s camping and vacationing and going where the cars didn’t go. You certainly could ride the highways if you wanted to, but you could just as easily go off road. No bad boy images here, just fun with your friends and family.
Somewhere along the line, things changed. The Wild One with Marlon Brando is sometimes credited with turning bikers into tough guys, followed by an endless series of B movies with weak plot lines, loose women, bad boys and motorcycles.
It’s a crazy thought, but suppose HD tried going back to its roots, showing one of their bikes, maybe a Road King or Street Glide on some dirt road, even (Oh, the humanity!) getting a little dirty, or better yet, sponsoring a couple of guys and making a movie like The Long Way Round only riding a big Harley or even a Sportster instead of a BMW. You don’t need a BMW GS to get around everywhere, you just need a sense of adventure and some determination. These guys proved it. Maybe some potential buyers would start to look at Harleys in a new light. Can’t hurt, … or maybe I’m just being crazy.
Related: Sportster off road conversions