Harley Is Still Doomed

June 26, 2014

All Posts, Editorials, Features

In January 2010 this page published an article titled “Harley Is Doomed.” If you missed it, or you are just in the mood to kiss the past’s ass, you can find that article here.

In case you just got paroled by the Taliban, the good news is that Harley is still alive. The bad news is that Harley is still doomed. What has changed in the last four and a half years is that the motor company has largely betrayed its implicit contract with its workers; it has started to chase what the zombies who run the company call the “outreach” and “international” markets; and those zombie managers have cynically mistaken the key to Harley’s success over the last 30 years for just so much hollow rhetoric.

The success is a good place to start.

The Outlaw Machine

The secret to Harley-Davidson’s survival is summarized in the title of  Brock Yates’ book Outlaw Machine: Harley-Davidson and the Search for the American Soul. Harley became an “American cultural icon” because its motorcycles were symbols of “defiance and liberation.” And the company had some help from its customers along the way.

The depression era motorcycle clubs transformed into much edgier fraternities after the Second World War. World War veterans who bought cheap, war surplus motorcycles collected themselves into clubs that emulated small combat units. The clubs were seen as gangs of highly mobile, marauding mercenaries until the mid-sixties when they began to acquire a romantic glow. Harley-Davidson has been living off that romantic glow for the last 50 years.

As hostile as clubs may be to one another, all of the motorcycle club world endorses the same world view and lives by the same set of rules. In the beginning, in the 50s, clubs insisted their members ride heavy motorcycles built by America or her allies. The first motorcycle outlaws might have flaunted their war souvenir swastikas but they refused to ride German bikes. Within a decade, club patch holders were required to ride American motorcycles with engine displacements of 1000 cubic centimeters or more. And, that meant if you were going to ride with a club you had to own a Harley.

Cultural Icon

The symbiosis between outlaw motorcycle clubs and Harley-Davidson intensified when the United States was flooded with cheap, light Japanese motorcycles and when Harley became a division of a bowling alley supplier called American Machine and Foundry. The Japanese bikes were fun and hip. The AMF Harleys were poorly made and notorious for marking their spots but Harleys were made by American workers who fed American children and the outlaws were stubbornly patriotic. Harley was the last American motorcycle and for decades it seemed worth saving if for no other reason than that.

The iconic outlaw image was further embellished in the 1960s and 70s by Hunter Thompson, by the proliferation of motorcycle clubs founded by Vietnam veterans and by dozens of biker movies culminating with Easy Rider. By the time AMF sold Harley in 1981 the outlaw biker had become a stock character.

The new Harley-Davidson commoditized that independent, fearless, dangerous, self-reliant, patriotic, anti-authoritarian outlaw image. The company started its own motorcycle club called the Harley Owners Group. Harley-Davidsons became symbols of both an earlier America and a waning style of masculinity. Prosperous professionals could redefine themselves by posing on a Harley. Poorer men could redefine themselves by putting on a Harley tee shirt.

The image of the motorcycle outlaw on his outlaw machine is more potent now than ever but it is exactly that image and that set of values that Harley wants to discard. The company seems to think that image is growing stale as the baby-boomers, who most enthusiastically embraced it 30 years ago, grow old. The outlaw image is certainly at odds with Obama era ideals about how the world should work and who Americans should be. But then how do you explain the Devils Ride or No Angel by Jay Dobyns. Apparently, the people who run Harley are the last to notice who actually watches Sons of Anarchy. The “core” customer base Harley wants to replace isn’t nearly as inclined to watch Kurt Sutter’s show as are young men and women.

The Demographics

The smart money is betting against Harley. A report released this week by an investment company called RBC Capital Markets adds some details about why Harley is doomed.

The people running the motor company think the outlaw appeal of their machines is limited to baby boomers. In other words they think mostly old white guys watch Sons of Anarchy. And, those old white guys aren’t getting any younger. In 1990 only ten percent of Harley’s customers were 50 or older. Today 38 percent of the company’s customers are at least 50. Twenty percent of them will be dead by 2030. Fifty-nine percent of Harleys customers are over 40 which is double the percentage in 1990.

Only 11 percent of Harley’s customers are in their early 30s. In 1990 a quarter of the people who bought Harleys were under 25 and 41 percent of Harley’s customers were under 30. Now about 19 percent are under 30. In 1990 most young men who wanted to do so could get blue collar jobs. Now not so much.

Hey Everybody, Let’s Commute

Anybody who has seen Harley’s ads for its new 500 cc and 750 cc “Street” bikes knows who the company wants for customers. The models who pose on those motorcycles are predominantly Asian, Black and female. They are anti-outlaws. They don’t have helmet hair. And they do not tour Monument Valley. They do not get their kicks on Route 66. They park downtown. They don’t have adventures. They commute. People who identify with those models are the people Harley wants to attract with its new electric motorcycle, grandly called “Project LiveWire.” The Street bikes are not outlaw machines. The LiveWire is not an outlaw machine.

What Harley is signaling with its new products and its new advertising is that the motor company now believes it will go broke if it continues to try to sell an independent, fearless, dangerous, self-reliant, patriotic, anti-authoritarian outlaw image. Maybe the company’s marketing geniuses are right. But there is a problem with abandoning what has worked up until now.

If Harley-Davidson doesn’t make uniquely American outlaw machines then what does it make? Does it just make motorcycles like Honda. Do you now “meet the nicest people on a Harley?” The motor company seems to be particularly keen on making commuter motorcycles. In order to do that successfully Harley will have to compete with other motorcycle manufacturers on price. The 2014 Street 500 has a suggested retail price of $6,800. Is that cheap enough?

One problem for Harley is that there are fewer Generation X Americans than boomers so the company’s potential market is shrinking. Another, bigger problem is that Americans are facing a declining standard of living. Harley is part of that problem because it has lowered its workers salaries and it has cut jobs. In the last seven years most American manufacturers have done the same thing.

Worst of all, the young, urban hipsters Harley is courting face declining job prospects and when they enter the job market many of them are already burdened by huge student loans. The University of Phoenix already owns the money the next generation might have used to buy a motorcycle.

So who cares if their commuter motorcycle is made by Harley? What makes Harley different from every other soulless multi-national? What is it exactly that Harley is selling now? And how is Harley’s next generation of customers going to pay for Harley’s next generation of machines? Harley doesn’t seem to know. And that’s why Harley is still doomed.


88 Responses to “Harley Is Still Doomed”

  1. Base Says:

    I am with you Latigo Morgan,

    Have never bought from the factory, come to think of it not certain I have even bought any parts from an HD dealer, That’s kind of hard to believe even for my self, but then I have always been of the mind to support the small shops, local people, mom & pop dinners, thrift stores, garage sales that sort of thing.

    I digress, there was a time I wore HD shirts and certain I bought few from dealers while on the road back in the day. You know before V-Rods, electric bikes, cell phones, internet.

    Have been tinkering on my old Shovel, stalled on funds at the moment, lawyer & Doctor bills has suck the wallet dry may have to go with that rattle can paint job after all, have already scavenged and reconditioned many of the old parts, but that old mill needs a touch up on the internals. Started it the other day and you would have thought someone was fogging for mosquito’s! Yikes!

    Was hoping to get the local guru to rework it for me because he is talented, but I wouldn’t expect him to work for free, looks like I am going to have to dive into it myself and save the coin,,,,

    , Ahhhhh whatdahell!

    Still have the gizzer glide as my daughter is so found of calling it. I have no idea where she gets he smart ass attitude, regardless it keeps my knees in da breez!

    Latigo, hope the sugery went well for you lady and she has a speedy recovery.

    Y’all stay frosty out there shit is getting crazier & crazier, day by day.

  2. snackman Says:

    Then let them fail.if they close up in the next few years I won’t have to finish paying off my bike. With that said, I know a small handful of people who are riding brand new HD bikes. If you want one and don’t want to support a company that is walking out on its base, do it the way bikers have done it for a few generations now…get one used with some mileage on it, a set of wrenches and an owner’s manual and make it roll.

  3. alan B'stard MP (@alanBStardmp) Says:

    you speak some truth here. Electric bikes for the city, urban Starbucks professionals who want to get through traffic and little fuel costs

    Government has already pulled H-D from bankruptcy twice

    Sonny Barger sums it up

    ” n terms of pure work-manship, personally I don’t like Harleys. I ride them because I’m in the club, and that’s the image, but if I could I would seriously consider riding a Honda ST1100 or a BMW. We really missed the boat not switching over to the Japanese models when they began building bigger bikes. I’ll usually say “Fuck Harley-Davidson.” ”

    —- Ralph “Sonny” Barger, Hell’s Angel “

  4. Glenn S. Says:

    My latest adventures at a Harley dealership:

    Riding with a friend on his new Street Glide and he wanted to go by Timms Harley at Anderson, SC to ask a question about his new bike. While there, I ran into the nice lady that sold me my Superglide, at Harley of Greenville, 4 years ago. She asked if I was ready to trade up. I confessed that I did want a bagger, but I had almost 50,000 miles on the Superglide and that, 10,000 miles ago, Harley of Greenville only offered me $4500 on a trade-in, which I believed was an insult. She looked at my bike and later called me with a trade in offer of 8 grand if I traded for a new bike, 7 grand if I traded for a used one. She braged on Timms Harley as SC’s oldest dealership, always owned by the Timms family and that inpressed me. I’d been introduced to the managing family member awhile back, and I liked him.

    I looked at their current inventory and liked a 2012 Road King and a 2011 Ultra Classic. Then I did the math and found out that I’d come out a little cheaper (higher trade-in, lower interest rate, warranty, and with all the electronics designed to be user unfriendly, I wanted that) just buying a new Road King. They let me take an extra long test ride and my addictive personality kicked in. I loved the ride, and was gonna ride that bike home.

    Then the F&I guy ran my credit. He came up with a credit score that was almost a hundred points lower than it had been the week before, when I bought a house. He offered me financing at 21% interest, which I declined. I phoned my credit union (those financial institutions are much better than any other, today) and they came up with my correct credit score (same credit bureau, Equifax) and offered me a loan at less than half the interest rate Eagle Bank offered. Meanwhile, I negotiated with the sales people and got what I believe to be the best deal possible. I declined Timms’ clothing manager’s offer to add a new leather jacket to the cost of the bike, insisted on a stage 1 upgrade with Vance and Hines duals and NOT Screaming Eagles (to their credit, they told me they would not push the Screaming Eagle pipes), and rode the new candy apple red Road King home. The loooong way. With a few stops.

    I have no complaints about Timms Harley of Anderson, SC. My gut tells me that the people are as straight-up as a man can expect in today’s business climate. Eagle Bank can kiss my ass. I love the Road King, which might be my last bike until I’m old enough to need three wheels. (Although I covet an FXR as a second bike, at some point in time).

    Not fucking bad for an old crook and junkie that has had real hard times. Maybe Harley has joined the ranks of the evil corporate empire, but I didn’t really think about that when I was riding my new bike down Hwy 85, thinking I was probably going about 60, looking down and seeing that I was going 80 and leaving all the cars way behind me.

    The Road King and I are bonding, and I love it. I’d never ridden a bagger and it handles a lot better than I expected, better than the Dyna even, IMHO. My only complaint is that it sounds like a Chevy Caprice, but I’ll fix that when my pipes get here.

  5. Latigo Morgan Says:

    @ Glenn S. – Congratulations on the new Road King.

    Hell, just get a conversion kit when you get to where you need three wheels, and keep riding the Road King.

  6. John Deaux Says:

    Glenn S.
    Congrats on your new ride, wishing you thousands of safe, carefree miles.
    I had planned on a Frankenstein kit for the fatboy in my declining years but the grandson’s been eyeing her since he could crawl, he likes the older girls lol, so I may have to make a change in plans in a dozen years or so.

  7. Phuquehed Says:

    @Glenn S. – Right on man! I’ve always dug the road king, but the dressers just have too much stuff in the way for when I may have to work on the bike. I have a hard enough time getting to anything with it right there in the open on the Dyna, but spending an extra 30 minutes moving hard bags or whatever just will wear my back out that much faster and have me swearing and kicking the sled and trading it back for my Dyna, heh heh.

    Glad you got a decent deal and you’re in the wind on what you wanted.

  8. sherides Says:

    Congrats Glenn!

    Many Happy Trails to you and the new bike!


  9. Paladin Says:

    Glenn S,

    Congratulations on your new ride and as always, long may you ride.


  10. Rashomon Says:

    @Glenn – congrats on the new ride. I picked up a near new 2012 Roadking last year from somebody who had a mid life crisis, bought it new and when he wasn’t riding it, his wife made him sell it.

    I’d never owned a bagger before but since I got used to the low center of gravity and started throwing it around a bit, I’m definitely hooked – the recent addition of V&H two into one, a stage two air filter and a fuelpak really bought it to life.

    Ride far and have fun.

  11. BrianF Says:

    @Glenn S.
    Congratulations. You’ll end up loving that RK. My RK Classic is 12 years old now and I wouldn’t ever let it go. It’s nimble enough to grind off the floorboards in the corners, yet will haul anything you can jam in/on it. Once you get it uncorked you’ll be pleased with the power band as well.

  12. Glenn S. Says:

    Thanks, y’all. Getting used to it is easier than I thought it would be. Been riding it every day. Thought I’d get to try it in the rain but it only rained while I was working. I thought I might have to fight it until I got used to it but it handles smooth, holds a line without hardly trying, amazed at how effortless it seems to get right up to 80+. Putting V&H duals on it this weekend. Gonna do the Screaming Eagle air filter, tuner, and download to keep the warranty. Sits a little different, more up straight, but the stock seat ain’t a piece of shit like the one on the Superglide was.

    I am a happy man. All is well in my world. Other goals are on the horizon. OL didn’t really give me any shit at all about the bike. I got her the free tee shirt and she actually loved it. Hope nothing comes along to fuck things up.

  13. Base Says:

    Glenn S

    As I read your comments I could feel your happiness!

    That didn’t come off weird or anything, did it?

    Anyway, good on you raise my java cup to you this AM for many miles and many smiles. Cheers!


  14. Seventh Son Says:

    Harley is not going under. But that’s not what made me write.

    It was HILARIOUS to read these comments swearing off HD. I’m sure your clubs will all understand you rollin’ in on a rice burner or kraut machine.

    I dig Triumphs because they’re an old school bike, but there’s no way in hell I would ever rock a Jap bike.

    American iron is it.

  15. fayettenamhoe Says:

    i would rock a JAP bike even a limey bike, as a child of 8 i was disecting sturmey-archer 3peed bicycle hubs, i was a paper boy, every spoke i turned made me move faster, and way back then 3 speeds where better than a coaster brake,hahaha, i got used to living with out brakes, and costing was not an opotion, even when i whent flying off that 12 foot wall, no brakes would have saved me, i would have loved a honda trail or any thing with a motor, i left the ground with a pink girls bike, the wreckage was bloody and i had a clue, “i learned at that young age” i was not evil knievel, hard to grow up with memmories, my hero, all broken up, trying to prove, RIP

  16. fayettenahoe Says:

    fayettenamhoe Says:
    June 23rd, 2014 at 9:33 pm
    he was a rider, i remember him, his last words, get me out of here, i lit him up a smoke, found a chair for him to sit in, cradled his body in my arms and slowly sung him to death, he went out like a man, knowing he had his faults, he knew he was dealing with his demons he smiled as he drifted away, his name waS john, dear john, everyone has one, he was a mutha fucker, he still lives in my mind, his stink isbetter than channel#5

    fayettenamhoe Says:
    June 26th, 2014 at 10:01 pm
    his pussey will live on, some day maybe they or you too will fuck his children to death , he was another fucking human that got fucked in the ass, this hole they call fayettenam, i will never forget, so thank full that you won’t even get close to the madness, it was brought upon us, not your fault, thank history 1969- cheney rumsfeld, and all those rich scumbags that raped south america, still wanting to rule the world, i cry for my Harlet she came from Lebanone, where 200 hundred muther fucking marines died, and these fools in the usa, want less freedom, one issue voters that vote against their best interests

    fayettenamhoe Says:
    June 26th, 2014 at 10:03 pm
    his pussey will live on, some day maybe they or you too will fuck his children to death , he was another fucking human that got fucked in the ass, this hole they call fayettenam, i will never forget, so thank full that you won’t even get close to the madness, it was brought upon us, not your fault, thank history 1969- cheney rumsfeld, and all those rich scumbags that raped south america, still wanting to rule the world, i cry for my Harlet she came from Lebanone, where 200 hundred muther fucking marines died, and these fools in the usa, want less freedom, one issue voters that vote against their best interests, are they that blind

  17. fayettenamhoe Says:

    yes i do eat antiquated harley parts for breakfast, lunch, and nitemares, dinner is whiskey and water and pussey sideways, i learned the hard way, monkey wrench and bailing wire on the side, most parts would fit most bikes, the humans were allways the worst part of it, humans have allways been funney, i took the motorbike for the ride, but i fucked the women,— new harleys have no soul except what you put into them, memmories, hahahaha, and if it breaks down call triple AAA

  18. fayettenamhoe Says:

    she loved me, for another day, every day was my last, meow

  19. big john Says:

    article still feels a little “axe to grind” to me even 4 years later – I have read both.

    I’m 47 – been riding 2 wheels to commute since I was 13 on a moped to middle school. 18th B-day was all Harley stuff and after the Army – 2 Days after the Army – @ 22 I got my first Harley of my own.

    In between have been a few others – some crotch rockets, a lot of dirt bikes and 4 wheelers with the kids, and I’m still on a 1998 Road King Police with 60K miles and that wonderful Evo engine that my 1980’s Sportster also shared.

    I confess I’d like an “adventure bike” if it was cheap enough…but my son and I may just rent a couple KLR’s and trip thru the west/southwest one day and that urge will die off or we’ll both buy one and do more of it (we both DO love to ride dirt bikes hard)

    anyway…for street…others can have their metrics, Indian may be here to stay again…and I’m not sure what to say about Victory’s…there are a few in our club…but mostly I’m just gonna ride my Harley.

    Soul…that “something” that I can’t feel when I ride anything else…I’m not sure what to call it…but it’s worth every penny to me. I had my local HD shop go thru my bike when I got it from police service – and they keep my bike in 100% top notch shape when it needs something (usually just oil changes).

    I’m a dress shirt and tie guy – with no shower at work…so the summer in the south is not a time I can commute…but I do most of the rest of the year…and love it. I pull up to a kid in a car seat at a red light and see that smile…or I crack the throttle and hear that rumble at a red light…and my heart dances a little bit. Nothing has ever done that for me like a Harley.

    I’m sure your arguments are as correct as they were 4 years ago…but the intangible is the element you can’t predict with demographics…and there’s something about a Harley that can’t be replicated for most folks…and that’s probably why our HOG member rides are growing in # each year like crazy.

  20. fayettenamhoe Says:

    i got on the bike again, this time i fell down, before i hit the floor i said this one is for you, i pickedthe machine up, she criednd i left her in thee dust

  21. Just Says:

    The outlaws of today ride old dirt bikes,old mopeds, and fast bikes. 3,000 is the usual limit. At 45mpg might as well be driving a car. Build an agile super charged fuel injected 120+mpg on economy yet can guzzle gas when called for. Leather just looks overly perverted. Build it reliable upgradeable modifiable multi fuel and no designed to fail, Sonething very easily repairable, don’t gouge your costomer with a sixty dollar wire harness make everything repairable , make the bike something they would rather die for than lose.

  22. HollyD Says:

    I found this article when I was googling the decimation of the Harley Davidson rebel image in today’s vapid consumer-oriented world, after seeing a horrifying ad in my current issue of Rolling Stone Magazine showing “fashion week” for Harley Davidson where a bunch of posers are shown in some tough-looking stance a la Sons of Anarchy style. Holy C#*p, the rebel image has turned into an advertising campaign, the opposite of the antipathy felt by a generation of rebels whose hearts were against “the establishment” yoke.

    Yes, Harley has been bought and sold and is now operated by a group who don’t care about the past image, but only about future dollars. If the demographics will no longer support Harley’s, then I suppose there is no other way to keep them alive, and I’d rather see them “sell out” than disappear altogether. It’s still sad, however, to see things die out this way, as a generation slowly departs along with their ideals apparently. Will time wash it away completely? I hope not. CNN’s “The Sixties” documentaries can perhaps show the essence of what it meant to live in that time; to ride your Harley in that time. Peter Coyote narrates it well, as he lived it in a most real sense. I have to wonder how the rebel spirit of a generation of Harley Davidson riders will be viewed in a distant future where they zip around on their little electric Harleys. Well, scooters were huge in England, where I’m originally from, in the 60’s-70’s and embraced by the “Rockers” rebel culture there, so perhaps that will happen here….if there are any rebels left then.

    I have to agree with the points in this article, but hope he is wrong about the complete demise of Harley D. I loved learning the history behind the American motorcycle culture. Being an early “Baby Boomer” myself, I only knew Harley’s from the late 60’s onward, when chopped bikes were raging cool. By that time people (in Los Angeles anyway) were riding Harley’s, Triumph’s and BSA’s, and maybe an Indian bike here and there, departing from the “American made only” rule. Although we are post WWII Boomers, by that time we were dealing with the VietNam war and our perception shifted away from the post WWII issues. It was 1970-71–thrilling to ride on the back of one of those growling Harley beasts and cruise through Malibu Canyon on a summer afternoon, bandana-tied hair flying in the wind and wearing nothing but cut-off shorts, a swimsuit top and sunglasses. We were rebels. No helmets and no regrets. Harley was the only way to go and no one would be seen alive on some Jap bike. I suppose there was still some animosity toward the Japanese, left over from WWII. Jap bikes were for wimps, and actually I didn’t see them until much later on the streets of Los Angeles. The masculine image endured, but morphed into violent gangs who sold drugs for many bikers, much like Sons of Anarchy has glorified. I’m sad that everything has been whitewashed, tidied up, starched and reformed into a nice little advertising package to sell to the New America. I’m happy when I see a group of Harleys blasting along the freeway on their way to a Ride and I wish them well. I hope the article is wrong, and there are new recruits who will ride a real Harley and know it represents more than a fashion. It represented a freedom, a rebel spirit, and a youth culture who embraced that. I hope today’s youth may wake up and pick up where we left off, challenging the current system to change, and ride their Harleys with attitude.

    I did like Sons of Anarchy, but found it hard to watch some of the extreme violence sometimes. My friends who rode bikes in the my youth weren’t inclined toward that at all, nor are my friends who ride Harleys now. I just liked the bikes and the attitude in the show. It appealed to that rebel still inside me, that one who loved freedom from “the establishment”, and nothing said it better than a Harley.

    Growing up in post WWII culture with British parents, as I did, was different. I was raised in a culture of thrift, recycling everything, re-using as much as possible, with slogans like “waste not want not” and “Clean your plate; there are starving children in China” constantly issued by my parents. If the car engine blew up, my Dad rebuilt it; if something broke, my Dad fixed it and my brothers learned how to fix it. I love classic cars from my era and have always had one in my possession. It’s the same love as those who love the old Harleys. I hope some traditions can be passed on, and loved reading a comment above where a father rides with a son. We can only hope that the faux rebels gathering to buy the latest Harley fashion are not the complete future of this culture.

  23. HollyD Says:

    I just wanted to post a correction to my previous post from March 13th.
    “…scooters were huge in England, where I’m originally from, in the 60’s-70’s and embraced by the “Rockers” rebel culture there, so perhaps that will happen here…”

    Correction: It was the Mods who rode scooters. The Rockers rode proper motorcycles and were mostly from the North or England in the rougher part of the country. Rockers were the tough guys. Mods were the fashionable and rebellious scooter-riders mostly from southern England around London. Both groups, however, embraced rebellion of the times in their own way with their own attitude. So, perhaps in a possible future where young and hip professionals ride electric Harleys around the cities, they will embrace some form of rebellion in their own way.

  24. ChasRA Says:

    Most of us could not afford a Harley until the kids were grown and gone. If you ask most jap-crap riders, they are stuck with them until they can afford a Harley.
    H-D will stick around regardless of this missive.

  25. Shovelhead Says:

    My first road bike was a Honda. Couple hundred bucks and I was riding. But that was just until I could afford a Harley. The guys I hung around in the 70’s would only tolerate me riding a rice burner for so long.
    I ended up getting a non running ’69 Sporty, got that going with some help from my friends. Couple of years kicking that fucking pig with now, one leg bigger than the other!! I picked up a big twin Harley FLH.
    You just make it happen, although I never had any kids. Most of the guys I knew back then didn’t have a pot to piss in, just a Harley and Brothers.
    Add some Chics and booze…what else do you need!

  26. bcnasty Says:

    @ Base, I so hear you. Myself been riding for 41 years. Rode triumphs, BSA, Nortons and first Harley was a POS Flattie that now wish I still had. Tried to never get rid of a bike but for a few years the ol lady worried about my age riding 14 to 16 hour adventures talked me into new bikes. They are gone and the ones i have now are a 1973 FLH, a 1979 Ironhead rigid that rides like a crack whore but love her and my touring bike, a hopped up 1998 Dyna. My days of new are done and left a bad taste in my mouth riding twinkies so old iron is my love and outside of a few breakdowns now and again they put a smile on this ole trashs face

  27. halnwheels Says:

    I’ve read Brock Yate’s book and agree that it’s an appropriate reference. I have seen Harley-Davidson slowly morph into a consumer company, leaving behind its biker continuance. I always believed that the recent premise of H-D was to bring the golden age of motorcycling into modern times, as much as legally possible and in a superior fashion. Many of us understand the sacrifice that must be made to own such a machine. We sacrifice having the most horsepower per cubic inch; the most horsepower per pound; the best handling; liquid cooling; etc. What we get is a motorcycle in a grand tradition. Superior fit and finish; paint; chrome; and bodywork. A jewel of an engine that evokes the feelings you get when watching a steam locomotive, or a radial engine airplane. But what I have noticed is that there seems to be less of the feeling that these bikes are meant to be owned for decades. In fact, I get the distinct impression from my dealer that my 2003 is too old for them to work on. Parts availability; technical support from the mother ship, etc. Sometimes I look at an EVO or older and realize that these bikes will literally last for a hundred years. No computers or electronics, hardware that can be disassembled and reassembled dozens of times without fear of bearings not press fitting into the case any more.

    But in the meantime, when I ride my H-D I feel like on the best motorcycle out there. With 72K miles on the clock now, it runs sweetly with enough grunt to be soul satisfying.

    Ride on.

  28. Donald Says:

    Good. I hope Harley does fail, and disappears forever with all of it’s child raping, women beating, drug addled criminal filth. It is the best thing that could ever happen. Every filthy criminal out there wants a harley. They are too loud, have no speed, and frankly are just as ugly as the filth that rides them. I run a farm and sell direct to the public. Sign out front says it all. No Harley’s Allowed. I also do not allow children out of vehicles, for the simple reason they can never be trusted either, and people use their kids to try and sue others. And I will never allow a filthy harley rider on my land. If I want to see my family raped and murdered, I’ll just invite serial rapists and killers out here, which is all a filthy harley rider is anyway.

  29. Sieg Says:

    Pretty good, Donald, but tell me what happened, some guy on a Hog put it to your ol lady and got her knocked-up, or just spoiled her for you?

    Oh, and if you want your family raped and murdered, you’re MUCH better off calling the police.


  30. ak rack Says:

    Dear Donald,

    I beg to differ. I ride a Harley Davidson motorcycle and all of my sexual couplings have been consensual, I’ve never murdered anyone, and my hygiene is better than average even if my grooming is a tad marginal. My Harley is no louder than my Triumph and it is just as pretty.

    I have farmed and sold direct to the public too. Some of my customers rode HD motorcycles; they were generally better mannered than the ones that drove BMWs. Sometimes parents would bring their kids so the kids could see where food comes from. I enjoyed those encounters and I never got sued.

    Hopefully you’ll find this sufficiently reassuring to expand your customer base a little. And to pull that fucking corn cob out of your ass.

    Best of luck,


  31. popeye Says:

    I was gonna respond to donald but realized no one could be that stupid. Dont feed the troll

  32. ak rack Says:

    popeye — Thanks, that’s really good advice. Sorry I snapped; the beer made me do it.


  33. Shovelhead Says:

    I say the same thing about Cops.

  34. The Kraut Says:

    Hey dickless donkey! If’n yer gonna be a turd…go lay in the yard!

    Fuckers probably rubbin’ one out and drooling as he reads this…

    Respect to those who warrant respect

    The Kraut

  35. Jackie Treehorn Says:

    Put down the crack pipe.

  36. Dino Says:

    Wow. Someone’s cheese slid off the cracker. Maybe throwing one into his favorite sheep will get him back on track.

  37. Manson Says:

    Fags and weekend warriors won’t make this better,time to bring back the bruising, blood, and bashing. The 1% will make Harley great again, not you road king soccer dad queers

  38. Scooter Rick Says:

    OK, I am confused. I freaking love this site and have read quite a few of the articles, along with the comments. A depressing number of those comments have rather hurtful things to say about middle aged riders. I am 63, and I can show you a picture of me on my first bike,taken over 45 years ago. I can show you pictures of me on my first Harley,taken (I think) 8 years later.And these days, I am rolling my 2004 FatBoy, with 56,000 miles on it. SO…when everybody complains about middle aged guys on Harleys, does that include me? Or am I now just a Grumpy Old Man on his Harley?

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