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Thread: Is Harley-Davidson Dying?

  1. #136
    Registered User STEVENRANKIN's Avatar
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    So I just got my BMWMOA magazine in the mail.

    I am still trying to figure out BMW's thoughts and mind set in regard to building the R1800.

    Like the author of the article in the magazine, time will tell if BMW wins or looses. It will be an interesting time.

    Harley is declining for sure, and perhaps will die. I told my tale of woe regarding the company I worked for a tale of attempts to branch out into new avenues, to diversify. IF Harley has upper management who act properly, and don't have their heads up their rectums. They will survive.

    Same goes for BMW.

    As far as I am concerned, All of the motorcycle and auto industries will die or radically change in the next 30 perhaps 20 years. Be this from the younger people starting at their smart phones for all they need, to the outlawing of gasoline powered vehicles. The Center for disease control could in the swipe of a pen declare motorcycle too dangerous and ban them. The insurance companies could decide to stop paying for accident injuries suffered while riding.

    Won't matter much to me, I bought my last new motorcycle 36 years ago, BMW never build anything after that which could convince me to buy new. In 5 or 20 years, my riding will most likely be over. Perhaps then I will join a fishing club and discuss the best places to park my butt and wet a line.

    For now, I am going riding, cheers, St.

  2. #137
    Registered User Anyname's Avatar
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    Based on my observations, Harley Davidson could be a profitable company if all they did was sell T-shirts and Doo-rags.

    I think they are in for some hard times since the supply of good condition used HD bikes makes for tough competition for their new machines. I can't imagine they will fold though.
    BMW R bike rider, horizontally opposed to everything...

  3. #138
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    I hear that all the time. How would they survive when t-shirts and the other merchandise is only 5% of the company's income?? No question that general merchandise is very profitable, but HD is not going to survive or die because of it.

    Actually the financial division, (loans for motorcycles to customers) is a way larger income producer.

    Go to HD's web site and find their annual financial reports. It is all there.
    From the only real Fargo, ND!

  4. #139
    sMiling Voni's Avatar
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  5. #140
    Dances With Sheep GREGFEELER's Avatar
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    Voni,
    Thanks for the link, but the article by my reading really didn't provide any parallels between BMW and H-D - at least not contemporary comparisons. IMO, H-D's biggest problem is how they have painted themselves into the dwindling "Boomer" corner of the M/C market. BMW, and almost all other bike companies are struggling with the overall decline of the general motorcycle market, but within that market, BMW is very competitive. Said another way, if by some miracle the overall sales of motorcycles in the U.S. (and the world) were to go back to pre-Great Recession levels, BMW and most other bike manufactures would be doing well. However, even though H-D might enjoy a small temporary bump in sales, they would still have the same problem they have now of sitting by a dying campfire.
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  6. #141
    Registered User 36654's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GREGFEELER View Post
    Voni,
    Thanks for the link, but the article by my reading really didn't provide any parallels between BMW and H-D - at least not contemporary comparisons. IMO, H-D's biggest problem is how they have painted themselves into the dwindling "Boomer" corner of the M/C market. BMW, and almost all other bike companies are struggling with the overall decline of the general motorcycle market, but within that market, BMW is very competitive. Said another way, if by some miracle the overall sales of motorcycles in the U.S. (and the world) were to go back to pre-Great Recession levels, BMW and most other bike manufactures would be doing well. However, even though H-D might enjoy a small temporary bump in sales, they would still have the same problem they have now of sitting by a dying campfire.
    What if they went back to the levels of the mid to late 1990"s? Strong economy, healthy wage growth and US budget surpluses? They survived at that time. Why is the "bubble" market of the pre-Great Recession your benchmark?
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  7. #142
    Dances With Sheep GREGFEELER's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 36654 View Post
    What if they went back to the levels of the mid to late 1990"s? Strong economy, healthy wage growth and US budget surpluses? They survived at that time. Why is the "bubble" market of the pre-Great Recession your benchmark?
    The "Great Recession" was my example because bike sales peaked at about 1,000,000 in 2006 (the highest since the boom years of the mid-1960's and the mid-1980's) but then fell to less than 500,000 per year and have stayed there since. In the 2006 era, the oldest Baby Boomers were 60, in 2020 they are 74. The point of my post is that H-D bet the ranch building bikes appealing to the Boomers, and they road that tide for many years making tons of money. But, as the Boomers age out of buying bikes, H-D doesn't have products comparative in the general bike market, so, even if the general market were to increase, that wouldn't roll back time for the aging Boomers, and therefore wouldn't help H-D.
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  8. #143
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    Quote Originally Posted by STEVENRANKIN View Post
    I am still trying to figure out BMW's thoughts and mind set in regard to building the R1800.
    Me too! Big displacement cruisers which HD bet the farm on for boomers seems to see demand waning bigtime. Since boomers are indeed well aged I would have thought the perfect model to develop for what remains of boomers and near boomers would be a machine that is fully featured, just like the heavyweight machines boomers have been riding, but much lighter to match the requirements of aging riders. Many to most older riders appreciate ligher curb weight and ultimately many seek it out. The problem is they end up having to give up premium features they were accustomed to. Here's what I'd have rather seen BMW develop and I'm nearly certain it would do quite well:

    BMW T1000GT! This model has EVERYTHING feature-wise that RTW has but with ~100lbs less curb weight. It won't be cheap, just like lightweight bicycles involve a premium cost for materials and design. Here's BMWT1000GT's feature list:

    • 948cc power plant w/ 110hp
    • Belt Final Drive w/ 50K mile change interval (loved it on my F800GT--clean, quiet, lightweight, efficient, maintenance-free)
    • Full on comfort: upgraded & heated seat w/ a focus on the primary rider, electric windscreen, heated grips. As riders age they typically ride solo more than w/ a pillion so market accordingly.
    • Full on tech: ABS Pro, Ride Modes, Dynamic ESA, TPMS, Shift Assist
    • Sport Styling hiding RT-like ergonomics.
    • Trimmed fairing/side cases, similar to RS models
    • All in a 510lb package fully fueled, w/ side cases.

    You will not find this machine anywhere in the current lineup. I really like the screen on the RT and adjust height regularly depending on conditions, but you don't see an electric screen until you get to RTW on up for curb weight, but there is nothing necessary about this. Older folks would probably enjoy a sporty design scheme but w/ true relaxed ergos for touring etc. The P:W ratio of T1000GT is about the same as my '16 RTW due to the lighter curb weight.

    This model if done as I'm seeing it would be the only reason I would sell my '16 RT. I would love to have all of its features w/o the weight as I age. I'm sure I'm not alone and when you visit forums dedicated to lighter weight models often it's older riders who tire of the weight. Then, they need to farkle up the compromise to get something close to what they really wanted. Instead, BMW puts on the 1800. Good luck selling lots of copies of that!

  9. #144
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    I been saying this for years! In the early '70 I had a 350cc when others had 650cc. Then had a 550 when others 750 or 1000. The largest I had was a 1150 when others had 1200 to 1800.
    Now have a 800 which I am happy with. So in 2026 baby boomers avg will be 80.
    Bigger is not always better in the motorcycle world.

  10. #145
    Quote Originally Posted by ncpbmw1953 View Post
    ... Here's BMWT1000GT's feature list:

    • 948cc power plant w/ 110hp
    • Belt Final Drive w/ 50K mile change interval (loved it on my F800GT--clean, quiet, lightweight, efficient, maintenance-free)
    • Full on comfort: upgraded & heated seat w/ a focus on the primary rider, electric windscreen, heated grips. As riders age they typically ride solo more than w/ a pillion so market accordingly.
    • Full on tech: ABS Pro, Ride Modes, Dynamic ESA, TPMS, Shift Assist
    • Sport Styling hiding RT-like ergonomics.
    • Trimmed fairing/side cases, similar to RS models
    • All in a 510lb package fully fueled, w/ side cases.
    No thanks! That bike is WAY too heavy.

    I would want that bike to weigh less than 400 lbs. It doesnít need a 1000cc either - - 750 will do fine.

    If weíre going to challenge BMW to build something attractive to aging riders, letís give them a real weight challenge. They are going to charge us through the nose regardless, letís make them deliver something beyond run-of-the-mill.

    But I agree with you on the R1800. Based on the hyped marketing roll-out, that bike is targeting hipsters, not aging riders. It holds zero appeal for me. Time may prove otherwise, but I predict a flop.

  11. #146
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    Good luck with a 750 cc at 400 pounds or less. 600 cc sportbikes come in around that weight and manufacturers put a lot of thought into building them lighter. 500 pounds seems reasonable to me.
    From the only real Fargo, ND!

  12. #147
    Dances With Sheep GREGFEELER's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PoorUB View Post
    Good luck with a 750 cc at 400 pounds or less. 600 cc sportbikes come in around that weight and manufacturers put a lot of thought into building them lighter. 500 pounds seems reasonable to me.
    Excellent point. In my opinion a lighter motorcycle is not always an absolute improvement - it depends on the riding application. Just as you wouldn't want a 550lb. dirt bike to do competitive MX racing, I think a long distance touring bike of 400lbs would be at a disadvantage relative to a 550lb to 600lb bike several ways. First, it would react to wind and wind gusts more, and secondly it is much harder to design suspension on a 400lb bike to carry a range from 150lbs to 350lbs than it is on a 600lb bike. Having said that, there are people touring on all sizes of bikes (such as the G310s at under 400lbs) and apparently happy with their choice, so to each their own.
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  13. #148
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    SO TO EACH THEIR OWN!

  14. #149
    Dances With Sheep GREGFEELER's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EUGENE View Post
    SO TO EACH THEIR OWN!
    I will add that I am really intrigued by the R1800 and think it is a beautiful bike. I have always admired the styling of classic BMWs from the 20's and 30's and I love the way BMW has used so many of those styling cues on a fully modern design. I've heard a number of people criticize BMW for not making a "modern" airhead like Triumph has done wit their classic vertical twins, and now here they have reached even further back, and I hear a lot of "what is the point of this?" comments. I think BMW is smart enough to know that if they ever did offer a modern airhead it would be a total market failure. I say that because they are selling a lot of motorcycles both in the US and worldwide, and these bikes are some of if not the most technologically sophisticated on the market. I'm not saying that much technology appeals to me, but their current bikes clearly appeal to a lot of people with the money for $15,000 to $20,000+ motorcycles. I don't see a market there for a "simple" BMW like the vintage airheads.

    So, why the R1800? I believe this is a narrow market bike designed as much to generate buzz and expand the image of BMW motorcycles as it is to generate sales. Think back to the K1. Very expensive and therefore exclusive, radical departure from their bread and butter bikes, and intended to make a technology (introduction of Paralever on a non-GS bike, floating front disk rotors, 4-piston front calipers, 4-valve K-bike engine, Motronic fuel injection, new forks, etc.) and identity statement: we are not your Grandfather's BMW any more!

    The R1800 is not a technology platform but it will make a major impression on Millennial riders, and many older cruiser riders. Many people in the entire motorcycle market are talking about, so in a way it's already bought BMW millions and millions of dollars of free advertising and market awareness. Many Millennial's will not be able to afford it (some can and will buy it), but they will remember it. And many existing cruiser riders will buy it as well. Imagine the conversations when just one R1800 shows up to a 100 cruiser ride? In our haste to bury Harley-Davidson we need to remember that not all cruiser riders are aging baby boomers. I personally know a number of guys in their 40's buying new Harley's. That market may be shrinking, but it's never going away.

    I am not in the market for a bike like the R1800 (well, if I won the Lottery), but I sure would like to ride one. Why not?
    Last edited by GREGFEELER; 06-17-2020 at 05:27 PM. Reason: Wrong word
    Greg Feeler
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  15. #150
    Registered User STEVENRANKIN's Avatar
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    My latest discussion

    My latest discussion at my friend's shop ended with bad news for motorcycles and dealers.
    For all dealers with major overhead, sales are down and operation costs are up. This is NOT going to get better. There will be a point where the loss of sales means red line financials. We just lost a local Harley dealer.

    Young people are NOT riding as they did in the golden years which created the boutique Harley, BMW, Honda dealerships. This type of dealership will either get supersized such as Max BMW, will just hang on, or close. The sales are never going to get back to the golden years.

    Forces outside of motorcycling such as environmental groups, health and safety, insurance groups have motorcycles and independent driven cars in their sights to be eliminated.

    In some countries gasoline or Diesel engines in new cars will be banned after certain dates. I am sure motorcycles will be next.

    The CDC in the US has motorcycles in their sights as being too dangerous.

    We are living in the twilight of the golden years of motorcycles. Will they exist 10 years from now, probably, who knows after that. I have said in either this post or others, once some do gooder, politician gets into power or a do gooder group becomes powerful, all it takes is a stroke of a few pens and we are in four wheel self driving cars. This could happen in 5, 10, 15, 20, maybe longer years. For me, I am not worried. I will be gone tomorrow or in another 20 years. Only God knows when. As long as I can get parts to keep my two airheads running, Harley or BMW can do what they want. Perhaps one day, dealerships will be mom and pops shops again. History is like a pendulum sometime. St.

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