Ridelog: 2018-05-27 Memorial Day


Nothing particularly exciting about this log. Just a highway shot up to the in laws for a Memorial Day cookout. I did take some time though after dinner to ride the twilight hours up near Bull Valley. There are some very pleasant roads up there and twilight is always one of my favorite times to ride. Those 15 minutes right before the sun goes down are just magical. 

Ridelog: 2018-05-19


I have been delinquent in posting my rides this year. I haven't even tracked everything. I need to get better about that. Anyways, here is to making up on some of that. 


This was a quick ride up with a couple of friends to Wisconsin for lunch. Two of the riders in our group were doing the Tour of Honor ride challenge, which is a brilliant idea. Here is a description of what that is from their site: 

The Tour of Honor Motorcycle Ride is a great reason to hit the open road, honor our nation's heroes, and contribute to a few good charities. The event is a season-long, self-directed ride to memorials and monuments around the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii. Beginning April 1, visit as many sites as you want, with any route you choose. Finishers Certificates are awarded to those who visit any seven sites.

I wish I had found out about it sooner, but it is definitely something I will be signing up for next year. 

The Decline of Harley-Davidson

If you have read the news in the motorcycling world lately you will have seen the headlines about the declining state of Harley-Davidson. Articles have been popping up everywhere for months about the company's poor financial outlook. There is a measure of angst going around as some people are using this as a measure of the health of motorcycling in the United States. It may be true that HD is the largest US seller of motorcycles, but their declining sales may not be a measure of motorcycling as it once used to me. 

The HD condition, as I will call it, it largely a product of their own making. I would not call myself a fan of HD, but I am not a hater either. I can respect the sort of "mechanical" nature of their motorcycles. I personally am not a huge fan of bikes with tons of gadgets on them, electronics, and all that. With the exception of their top of the line bikes, HD has remained true to that image. However, their image overall is precisely what I think their largest problem is. They have spent decades cultivating a cultural identity and biker image. Up until recently that has largely been a boon for them, creating a "fraternity" of sorts for motorcyclists to rally behind. With that fraternity though has also been the creation of a mentality that "you're one of us or you aren't". 

One of HD's (and motorcycling in the US') biggest problems is the age demographics of riders. HD riders are old, as are the riders across the country in general. Those individuals tend to be able to buy a $15000+ motorcycle, but in order for the industry to stay healthy you need to get younger riders into the market. 

The new batch of millennials coming into the market don't appear to embrace the current image that HD has cultivated. Many are turning to sports bikes or adventure touring bikes. Another large sector seeing a resurgence is the café racer, "hipster", city rider. Brands like Roland Sands, Icon, and others are tapping into a new style for younger riders. Just about every manufacturer from Kawasaki, to Yamaha, are now releasing "vintage" styled bikes that appeal to a younger crowd. 

Coupled with increased pressure from a "new" US brand in Indian Motorcycles, it makes you have to wonder how HD is going to respond and if HD can respond. The market now has more options and more sub-groupings of biking identity then it ever had before. No longer are biking communities split largely between sports bike riders and cruisers and with that growing division comes a smaller slice of the pie for HD.

They have spent such a long time cultivating the image that they have, I am not entirely sure they can attract a different audience with women, younger riders and a different demographic without alienating those individuals who have been with them for decades and spent tens of thousands of dollars with them. HD may finally find itself in a position where it has to cede its dominate market presence over the coming decade.