Harley Bloody Harley

April 20, 2017

All Posts, News

Harley Bloody Harley

Harley-Davidson is still bleeding. This morning the motor company announced it will lay off 118 workers at its York, Pennsylvania assembly plant. It promised to add 118 jobs in Kansas City, It didn’t say when it would start hiring.

The announcement came two days after Polaris said it was adding two, new Indian baggers to its product line. Polaris, which announced it was discontinuing its Victory brand in January, will now offer a dozen Indian models. The new touring bikes are the Chieftain Limited and the Chieftain Elite. According to Polaris, the new bikes will feature 111-cubic-inch engines, “infotainment” and navigation systems and many pounds of shiny chrome. The Limited will retail for $24,449 and the Elite will cost $31,499.

Since the beginning of the “economic recovery” in 2008, Harley has pursued multiple marketing strategies. The company is now telling potential investors that it can create two million new American riders; sell half of its motorcycles overseas; create 100 new models in the next decade; and increase profits. Harley has been trying to sell touring bikes and Polaris is aggressively contesting Harley’s share of that market.

Sales Dropping

Harley-Davidson’s sales continue to fall.

Harley announced this week that its “consolidated revenue” for the first quarter of 2017 had dropped $250 million from the first quarter last year. The company’s net income dropped from $250.5 million to $186.4 million.

Sales declined everywhere except “Latin America,” where the company sold 456 more motorcycles than last year. Harley sold 33,316 new motorcycles in the United States in the first three months of 2017 which was about 2,000 fewer motorcycles than last year. The company sold 21,773 motorcycles in all the rest of the world which was also down from last year. The company said it sold 55,049 motorcycles worldwide which was down about four percent from 2016.


In a press release, Harley boss of bosses Matt Levatich said, “First quarter U.S. retail sales were in line with our projections and we remain confident in our full-year plan despite international retail sales being down in the first quarter. We are very pleased with our continued growth in U.S. market share and the progress our U.S. dealers made in reducing their inventory of 2016 motorcycles in the quarter.”

“We recently announced our plan to build the next generation of Harley-Davidson riders globally. We are energized by our focused strategy, and we believe our powerful brand and commitment to excellence will position us to drive demand for our products and grow our sport.”

The company plans to ship between 80,000 and 85.000 motorcycles between now and Independence Day.

Harley’s Chief Financial Officer John Olin said, “We believe the U.S. industry continues to be adversely affected by soft used bike prices and weakness in the oil-dependent areas and we continue to expect the industry will remain soft for the full year.”


56 Responses to “Harley Bloody Harley”

  1. Tooj Says:

    Hey Doc, I couldn’t resist as it was my experience with Victory and I’m hella disappointed that Polaris used Victory to basically set up an Indian plant.

  2. DocMaCrae Says:

    When I got out of the military in 76, i’d been riding Hondas for 11 years. In 1977, bought my first Harley, 68 FLH. Real beater, but rode the hell outta it. One time, coming back from a Monterey run, had to put a cracked frame tube back together with baling wire and a piece of steel found by the side of the road. But it got me home, & got it welded.
    Then got me what I consider to be HD’s best bike, an FXR. Whole ‘nuther riding style, and most of the crew I road with had’em. Dug it more than that big boat FLH. That one went south after a (long) while, got another 92 FXR, and rode it for beaucoup years. Had a Road King, which was a great bike as long as I was going in a straight line.
    Got rid of it when I couldn’t push it out of deep hole, like I could my FXR. I hate calling friends for help who’ll laugh at me….but then I digress.
    OK, so I’ll get to the point.
    In 2008, bought a Victory 8-Ball, and it reminded me of my FXR’s. Really handled.
    Plus it had four valves/cylinder instead of Harley’s 2 valves/cylinder. Faster, right out of the box, stock. RIGHT OUT OF THE BOX it was faster and better than a stock Harley.
    I worked for a HD dealership for a while. Came to find out the bikes are ‘de-tuned’ and newbies (HOG members) have to buy all these add-on parts to make’em get up and go. Not the Victory.
    Now, come to find out Victory line is being DC’d? Dang it!
    I’ve not ridden an Indian. When they came out they looked like they would handle like a box car gone off the rails.
    My whole point is that yes, I agree the RUBs contribute to the HD bottom line. And one comment (Sieg?) said the weekend warriors try to get hip by riding already (factory) chopped scoots? Plus…Tee shirts, jackets, boots, etc. I heard one HD sales guy say the clothes are the big money makers. Sheeite.

    The worst comment I ever heard was at a gas station, by some newbie on a brand new Softail describing how much chrome he’d added through the dealership. I asked him what he’d done to the motor to rev it up. Nothing. Nada. Crickets.
    I said to him “Chrome don’t getcha home” …and he still didn’t get it.

  3. Mike Swaggert Says:

    lots to be said about hanging your elbow out the window of a 63 split window vett. sure the new ones out perform them in every way, but nothing says ahhh like the sweet sound and the looks you get when ya roll past in one. My Harley gives me the same feelng. Ive ridden pretty much all of them at one time or another over the years, but a Harley stands alone in my garage today. Mechanically perfect for 45,000 miles [knock on wood} and aside from regular oil changes and tires, its asked for nothing.

  4. Ain't been around long Says:

    I read others mentioning Japanese bikes but what about Indian or Victory ?

  5. hoosiertoo Says:

    Been riding Hondas for 40 years, with the exception of an Intruder – great little bike, BTW – for a couple of years. Good bikes, lots of bang for the buck and have made each of them “my own” with one customization or another – or a lot of them in the case of my current ride, a VTX 1300.

    Can’t say I care all that much for Honda’s current model lineup and the dealer network seem’s to be going away going away, at least locally. Easy availability of parts on the net at very competitive prices for factory parts and a healthy aftermarket for common parts. I do 99% of the work myself.

    Most importantly, I ride lots of miles at a really low cost per mile and virtually no down time.

    It’s all what you’re willing to live with, I guess. I’d no more drop $21-32K on a motorcycle, no matter how it’s badged, than I would on a damned cage.

  6. jicase Says:

    I have to defend HD and my dealer. I’ve been riding for more than 50 years. I’ve owned Japanese and European bikes. My last two have been Harleys. Yes, they’re expensive to buy and cost a lot to maintain. They’re not the most sophisticated or technically advanced, but I don’t want to return to the days when kick starting my bike on a winter’s day was a hazard to my health. My dealer has been fair to me. Harleys may not be what they were a few years ago, but they have character that reminds me why I began loving bikes in the mid-’60’s. My other bikes didn’t have that.

Leave a Reply