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  1. #1

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    May 2019
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    Default Harley-Davidson CEO Steps Down

    Harley-Davidson CEO Steps Down After Five Years of Declining Sales
    Long-time employee Matthew Levatich is stepping down as board begins search for turnaround leader.

    The decision was seemingly amicable and understandable. Harley-Davidson, while still a respected name within the motorcycle industry, has seen sales and earnings steadily dwindle since 2014's peak for both. Last year's top line fell another 8%. Zeitz commented in the press release, "The Board and Matt mutually agreed that now is the time for new leadership at Harley-Davidson."

    ...

    Bernstein analysts noted as far back as 2018 that millennials weren't as interested in motorcycles as their predecessors were at the same age, and to the extent they were interested in two-wheeled transportation, they weren't all keen on big, loud, heavy bikes. Consumers are increasingly interested in more convenient, lower-maintenance motorcycles, including electric bikes. While Harley-Davidson has responded to that shift with its all-electric LiveWire, the high price point of just under $30,000 has already proven a major hurdle.

    ...

    Harley-Davidson shares were up more than 5% in Friday's after-hours action following the announcement.

    https://www.fool.com/investing/2020/...-years-of.aspx

  2. #2

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    Levatich never appealed to me, for some reason, but he was eminently qualified and had been with the MoCo since 1994 . To me, the new bikes are ugly. Couple that to trying to sell to millennials, trade tariffs raising costs and an ageing traditional customer base? I don't know... Good luck to the next guy.
    Last edited by Hoghead; 02-29-2020 at 8:21 AM.

  3. #3

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    Agree with the ugly new bikes.. Also uninspiring.

    Somewhere I posted about my last trip to the dealer. Mrs. wanted to try on some really top end leather riding gloves. (She has one of their branded leather riding jackets and loves it.) I wanted a calendar. Sales dude attacked me (I think he wanted to rape me) and tried to sell me some hideous looking bagger. He was going on and on about all the technological crap it had on it and all I could think was: "Wow.. You couldn't pay me to leave with that thing."

    I really liked the Sportys better than the new big twins. They're visually interesting, at least.. And they have character. Dunno what they run like, but I liked looking at it. It was appealing.. And that's always a good starting point. I might even rent one for a day next year and see?

    Selling to GenM types is going to be tough. They're thrifty and the Harley brand has lost the "cool" factor with them. They seem to like the older ones, actually. I know mine gets attention from them because: "Is that a kick starter? Cool!" The ones I see riding Harleys are on Sportsters. I guess they don't like the looks or the price, or both, on the big twins? It probably helps that used Sportsters are so cheap now I always expect to see a bargain bin full of them at the Dollar Store.

    And the "cool" factor matters, I think. I mean, just to be blunt about it, if I wanted to go fast or if I wanted the best value? I wouldn't own a Harley at all. They're neither of those things and they haven't been during my entire adult life.

    But they are cool and there is no replacement for that.

    I'm not a marketing expert, but if I was and I worked for HD? I would be thinking very, very hard about how to recapture that cool factor and rebrand. Maybe even redesign and reincorporate the kicker? I know greenie bullshit dictates a lot of the changes they have made and the 45 degree design isn't optimal anyway, so they had no choice in some of this... But I also know that "cool" sold Harleys forever and if they lose that and are left to compete with the Metric Bikes and do so strictly on the merits? They're going to lose overall.

    I remember reading years ago. that one of the most popular "dream vacations" for people in Japan was riding across the United States on a Harley Davidson motorcycle. I don't think their choice of the locale or the ride was a coincidence.
    Last edited by confab; 02-29-2020 at 10:29 AM.

  4. #4

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    Well put. Indian figured out (after the ugly Polaris disaster, styling killed that brand) they need to look cool and have over 100hp not to suck.

    The Harley aftermarket is largely based on restoring reasonable HP to otherwise crippled machines whose rich boomer owners can afford another four or five grand or more, but those people are aging out. There's a rather large group of Harley owners who have never ridden a modern motorcycle with serious horsepower. You can't make 200 reliable hp on a street Harley but you can buy it easily in the form of a Jap bike, and Harleys do not steer or stop in the same league as a modern motorcycle.

    Cue gummers muttering "its good enough for me" but they are not the new customer base and will be dead soon. Their ridiculous howls about how their fossils are peak motorcycle are even more epic in the Britbike world.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by farmall View Post
    You can't make 200 reliable hp on a street Harley but you can buy it easily in the form of a Jap bike, and Harleys do not steer or stop in the same league as a modern motorcycle.
    Yeah.. That is absolutely true. Anyone who thinks different just needs to see some waspy faced metric pass them on the back wheel at about 60 mph one time. I don't think that is the path forward for Harley Davidson. Not that they couldn't do it technologically, but the end result won't resemble a Harley. Maybe as a niche market? But Harley has always been the top end cruiser.

    They're customizable. The big twin is kind of like the GM products of yesteryear in the sense that you can mix and match components with relative ease. Maybe that sort of adaptability is out of fashion now? But it gave big twins an advantage over the metrics in many ways growing up, because you could do so much with them.

    And they were visually interesting. Older big twins were fascinating machines to look at. I guess the best contrast I can think of is the Indian with the lego motor. We saw a bunch of used ones at the places we stopped, so we had plenty of time to study them. Not much there. You see one? You've seen them all.

    I know regulatory mandates and production realities dictate a lot of things today. More than ever before. So, you can't just throw it all away and go backwards even if it were advisable, and it isn't. But I really think less may be more in the street cruiser market.

    The bagger guys are older, as you say, and they want what they want. Touring is its own thing. Maybe endless gayness is useful to them? I'm GenX so perhaps I don't know what the M's and Z's want? But if the choice were mine, I would like to see a modern bar bike offering from HD. Something cool and minimalist looking as the bikes I see here. I'd like a modern engine and a drivetrain that looks like more than an uninspiring block of metal hanging in the frame.

    Interestingly, the Japanese seem acutely tuned to what made Harley Davidson great and they're always aping them. The ABATE course featured a bunch of little Rebels. Those things are clearly pint sized, Harley rip offs. The Mrs. bought her Shadow VLX because it's a little Harley. It has everything but a tank mounted dash, and I'm surprised they didn't steal that, too.

    Honda has a raked bike now. What are they shooting for? The Harley cool, obviously!

    https://powersports.honda.com/street/cruiser/fury

    They're all wannabees, though. But they are good wannabees and if Harley wants their reputation to continue for another generation? They are going to have to step up to the plate and defend it.

    You aren't going to out GSXR Suzuki and you aren't going to out Goldwing Honda.. But Harley Davidson never needed to and their product was so cool it added value in ways the others could not.

  6. #6

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  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by farmall View Post
    Well put. Indian figured out (after the ugly Polaris disaster, styling killed that brand) they need to look cool and have over 100hp not to suck.
    .
    If y'all want to know what talking out of your ass looks like, read no further. What kind of mushroom you chewing on, old man? This kind of authoritative yet completely wrong bullshit is why idiots feel so empowered these days. Thank you for reminding all of us never to listen to you. (Polaris's "disaster" has to be among the most successful relaunches of a brand since Bloor - and don't kid, as much as the Steves consolidated the brand post-Gilroy, they weren't sinking the dollars for a new platform like Polaris did.)
    Last edited by MadRiverMoCo; 03-13-2020 at 1:29 PM.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by MadRiverMoCo View Post
    If y'all want to know what talking out of your ass looks like, read no further. What kind of mushroom you chewing on, old man? This kind of authoritative yet completely wrong bullshit is why idiots feel so empowered these days. Thank you for reminding all of us never to listen to you. (Polaris's "disaster" has to be among the most successful relaunches of a brand since Bloor - and don't kid, as much as the Steves consolidated the brand post-Gilroy, they weren't sinking the dollars for a new platform like Polaris did.)
    I thought Farmall was referring to Victory being the disaster?

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