Born To Be Mild

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 6:24 pm

I swear, I get some of my best stuff from NPR’s Marketplace.

The stock price for all-American motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson dropped 17 percent today, on news that their projected earnings for this year will be less than expected. Most analysts blame a sluggish economy, combined with higher energy costs.

H-D is in a bit of a bind, because the Baby Boom Generation—which helped saved Harley from bankruptcy by pouring their not-inconsiderable wealth into the company throughout the 90s—are starting to move past their motorcycle-buying years. The company is working hard to develop a following among current twentysomethings in order to fill a serious projected sales gap in the coming years.

The answer to this problem seems obvious to me: Harley-Davidson needs to retain their current loyal customers by branching out. If your average Boomer was hot to purchase the cherished hog of his fiery youth in the previous decade, imagine the money this venerable symbol of American pride and vigor could rake in in the next decade with the rollout of their brand-new line of Harley Davidson Signature Senior Scooters.

2 Responses to “Born To Be Mild”

  1. Joe Says:

    H-D can always try to update their line of motorcycles with other products that incorporate technologies developed since the 1950’s. Imagine the Harley-Davidson Segway.

    Alternately, H-D could target cycle designs popular with the upcoming generation. For instance, scooters seem to be rising in popularity amongst 20-somethings so maybe a H-D/Vespa joint venture. Imagine a moped with a chopped out front end and a stubby chrome tail pipe projecting from the mini V-twin dangling beside the rear wheel. Honestly though, Harleys are like Cadillacs with tail fins, symbols of style and prestige from three generations ago.

    This is not to say there is no place for older technologies. I think it would be fun to own a 45-year old Cadillac with tail fins and a convertible top. I would not commute to work with it but, as somebody who enjoys driving, I think it would be great for weekend road trips. I don’t think most people could get any more utility out of a H-D and, considering the premium charged for a Harley, the Cadillac might be cheaper to purchase and maintain.

  2. Uncle Andrew Says:

    Harleys may be the greatest motorcycles on earth. I wouldn’t know, because I’m not a motorcycle enthusiast. However, they share a trait with other American muscle machines that I truly despise: noise as cachet. I really hate the sound of a 454 with cherry bombs and a glasspack muffler, and similarly I do not care for the thrombotic rumbling of a hog. Both seem to convery the same sentiment: “this country is so rich in resources that we can throw monstrous amounts of energy out our tailpipe in the form of noise and still have enough left over to endanger ourselves and others on the streets. God Bless America!” Gimme a Porsche any day. They waste as few ergs as possible in the form of noise, preferring to use that energy to move the wheels.

    Off topic rant over. As to your suggestions: I have a lot of trouble imagining big, strapping Harley-Davidson teaming up with euroweenie Vespa. Reminds me of a hilarous scene I witnessed on the highway in Hawaii one day. Giant moke in grease-stained jeans, sleveless denim jacket, motorcycle boots, and a silver German coal-scuttle helmet with the point on the top….driving a Yamaha Razz.

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