Hooray For Harley

October 22, 2013

All Posts, News

Harley-Davidson appears to have turned the corner financially. The company seemed doomed to bankruptcy in 2008. See “Harley Is Doomed” from January 2010.

The motor company’s profits for the quarter ending with September rose 21 percent. Sales in the United States increased by 20 percent over July through September last year. Harley made a profit this summer of $162.7 million. Last year it was $134 million.

Harley dealers sold 70,517 motorcycles in the quarter – 48,529 in the United States and 21,988 overseas.

Harley is now making a company profit of $2291 per motorcycle and expects to ship about 260,000 bikes in 2013.

In a press release Keith Wandell, the chairman, president and chief executive officer, credited the company’s new Rushmore line for the company’s success. “Rider response to the 2014 motorcycles we introduced August 18 was extremely positive. In fact, initial retail sales of the new Project Rushmore motorcycles sparked the largest year-over-year new model year sales increase in two decades,” Wandell said.

Middle Aged White Men

Harley’s core demographic remains middle aged, white men. In the United States, men between the ages of 35 and 74 are ten times more likely to buy a Harley than one of the company’s competitors. In the last five years, Harley’s most robust competitor for that group of potential buyers has been Polaris Industries, a snowmobile manufacturer that also makes Victory motorcycles. Polaris recently resurrected the Indian brand.

Despite its success, Harley-Davidson is trying to change the demographic of its customer base. The Rushmore bikes are aimed at younger buyers. The company has always aimed its 883 cc Sportster model at women. This year the company is hoping to attract even more women with its 2014 Sportster Superlow model.

Harley is also trying hard to sell bikes in Asia and South America. During the third quarter sales rose ten percent in Asia and 16 percent in Latin America over a year ago.

The $18,000 average cost of a new Harley has hampered sales in South America where the average per capita income is about $9,000.


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29 Responses to “Hooray For Harley”

  1. Budweiser Says:

    Harley Davidson can thank Kurt Sutter, SOA, and the UFC

  2. Budweiser Says:

    Sad but true

  3. YYZ Skinhead Says:

    I am a broad who don’t want no Sportster. Among other reasons, I like knowing where my center of gravity is.

    YYZ Skinhead

  4. slycechyx Says:

    I love my sporty superlow. It’s perfectly built for my age & size. & under 10 grand, brand new.
    ha ha, my sporty & HOG patch, I’m a real bad ass.

  5. Road Whore Says:

    Yeah, my buddy bought one of the 2014 Rushmore bikes…there are a couple of features with the electronics that don’t work properly, and while he was down visiting with me for Biketoberfest the hydraulic clutch recall notice came out.

    We went to Rossmeyer’s giant Harley joint in Ormond Beach (Destination Daytona), to the service department where my friend inquired about one problem. The man in service explained that there had already been one fix issued but that it was not adequate and another was on the way but didn’t know when, and was quick to want to wrap up the conversation; it was obvious that a lot of people had been bitching about this and he didn’t want to hear it.

    We went on the showroom floor (bottom floor) and my friend asked another guy about something different and he too was quick to want to end the conversation, had no satisfactory answers, and suggested my friend go talk to service and backed away.

    After that the clutch recall came out, and my friend called the dealership in NY to inquire what to do, as now here he is in Florida and needing to ride. The dealership in NY told him that they didn’t know why Harley had sent the recall yet because no Harley dealer in the nation had the parts to fix the clutch; the parts had not been shipped to dealerships yet. My friend asked what he should do as the recall was in the form of a “no ride” notice and the dealer told him don’t worry about it, just go ride, and when you get home we’ll tell you when we’ve got the parts to fix it.

    He later called the owner of the dealership and told him that when he gets home he wants a meeting with him and the service manager and the sales manager, that when he pays $24,000 for a brand new bike he expects the damn thing to work.

    Can’t say as I blame him.

    Ride Free

  6. Glenn S. Says:

    Somebody once told me, never buy the newest design of Harley unless you want to beta test something that the bugs haven’t been worked out with at high speeds in heavy traffic.

  7. Road Whore Says:

    @ Glenn S.

    That’s a scary thought!

    Ride Free

  8. blacksmith Says:

    I got the fix for the hydraulic clutch, its called a cable.

  9. sherides Says:


    I too used to think that a Sportster would not be a bike that would fit me well. This was based on many,many, test “sits”. Alot of them do feel very top heavy indeed.

    Then I found the one I bought a few weeks ago. Perfect fit and doesn’t feel top heavy at all. It’s a ’99 1200 XLC. I just love it. I took a risk and bought it without riding it first from my new son-in-law. My Significant Other rode it home for me. I hopped on it when we got home. It was such an awesome feeling – once I got out of the driveway and down the road with no mishaps, I couldn’t stop grinning.

    My riding days are getting fewer and fewer lately. I am patiently awaiting Indian Summer so that I can get out there again. It’s going to be an especially long winter for me this year.


  10. puterindabasketchief Says:

    They’re profit margins have risen because they’re building absolute pieces of shit, with cheap bottom ends, bearings, cranks, compensators, etc. I’ve had the unfortunate pleasure of R&D’ing an 09 and 11 with disastrous results.

    I hope Victory and Indian start biting into Harley’s ass so they think about building a quality motorcycle again. But with deep-pocketed asshats willing to shell out 25k every three years for a new one, why would they?

    I guarantee they have a whole team of bean counters who have figured out they can make a shitload more money by building toilets and selling them to posers who only ride a few thousand miles a year, then trade it in a couple of years later and brag to their friends how reliable Harleys are. They might have to shell out some dough to cover under warranty those who really ride and discover all their fuck-ups. But, that is such a small percentage, they’re raking it in on the other end.

  11. Road Whore Says:

    @ blacksmith:


    Ride Free

  12. Chief Says:

    Blacksmith, Dead-on.

    I beta-tested the new version wide-glide in 2010. It started out working fine until I brought it back to the stealership for the first service then everything went to Hell. It was spittin’, poppin’, shifting like an arthritic rhino, and just generally a POS. I took it over to a shop that my buddy recommended and they had to go through and completely redo the service because the assholes at the hunnert dollar boutique left everything loose and didn’t even change the oil. I vowed never again, now if I don’t do the work myself, Nelson does and fuck the boutique.

    With respect,

  13. stroker Says:

    I feel moved to address this thread, as I did the recall thread coupla days ago.
    DISCLAIMER: I do not work for Harley, and I do not have Harley stock. I simply seek to ‘splain this situation as I see it.
    I work for a Ford dealership, Have for years. I’m a Parts Manager. I see all sides of the recall story.
    What Harley has done, is much the same as any vehicle manufacturer has done and will do. They discovered a problem with the clutch. Potentially a major problem, as most any driveability problem on a motorcycle is a safety issue. So, before the feds got a hold of this problem, Harley decided to beat them to the punch and announce the recall. They do this to cover their ass, so NHTSA won’t bring a lawsuit down around their ears. They do this without having any parts available. The philosophy is: announce to the world “Mia Culpa” so they appear proactive to the problem. Parts not available yet? Oh well….DON’T DRIVE/RIDE IT!
    The Harley dealers are not owned by Harley Davidson. They are folk who bought into the franchise, so they could sell the vehicle. Trust me, they are not happy about this situation! We see it all the time. Recalls announced, no parts till next month (or next year!). The dealers now have to take the brunt of the customer’s dissatisfaction, because the perception is: THEY (the dealers) are Harley! Believe me, there isn’t a dealer out there loving this situation at all! Sure, they will be paid by Harley to do the recall under warranty, but the time allotted is never reasonable, and even the parts department will get shafted by Harley allowing only a miserly markup.

  14. Base Says:

    Have always been a little if-y when new technology comes out and always wait a few months/years for the bugs to get worked out. But the Hydro clutch has been around for some time so it might very well be an assembly line thing, on a line you only have so much time to complete a task, or if they changed something to adhere to leaning out manufacturing. You know bean counters & bigger profits for the big shots. There are so many variable’s.

    It is true the dealer ships catch the brunt of the distain of the customers. Now from some of the dealer/stealer ships I have visited it is warranted in some cases. The ones that are quick to sign you up but service after the sale is almost nil.

    I witnessed a guy break down right in the parking lot of our local stealership (it’s had 3 different owners in last 10 years) where he bought the bike. It was at a charity event (wonder how much of the money actually went to the charity?) and it was closing time. The service manager shut the door on him then hid in the back until we loaded him up in a truck and left.

    Hope he enjoyed the four flats on his truck. Because I noticed it sitting on the rims when I pulled out.

    Now there is a dealer ship just about 45 minutes south of us in another state & city that I have heard good things about and they even have wrenches that work on older models, None of it really effects me because I wrench on my own and have never bought a new bike or car for that matter in my life. And if I do need something tooled or specific part hit the local bike shop or machine shop and of course there is the internet.

    As for Sporty’s. Cut my Harley teeth on a K-Model when I was in my teens and had a 74 model in the military, was a leaky bastard but a runner. They make good little hot rods also. Had a buddy who was a die hard Sportster guy & he sure knew how to tune them so they ran well. I remember him spanking many a big twin especially when they would start that half a Harley or girls bike riff, sport bikes also
    because of his knowledge of motors. So the Sportster can be a good platform when set up right.

    But then, that goes for any bike.

    As for HD making big profits, I could care less they are like all cooperation’s they exploit their customers, workers and the public all in the name of the dollar. If they sold their products at a fare price and compensated their production workers better they wouldn’t have many of the problems they do.

    FTF, support your local business, plenty of used bikes out there. And if your goanna ride

    1 Make sure you can hold your bike up! Set up! Set up! Set up!
    Or at least be able to pick it up if you drop it!

    2 Learn how to ride! Take a class! Hold your fucking line & stay the
    fuck out of mine! Damn!

    3 Learn how to repair your bike!



  15. Meh Says:

    There is no functional reason to have a hydraulic clutch on a motorcycle. Cables don’t leak, cables are easy to replace, and cables are easy to fix in the field (not that ease of maintenance is a consideration any more).

    The only bright side is that newer HDs depreciate at an impressive rate so if you wrench (and if you aren’t a mechanic or working to be one, best not to buy a motorcycle, any motorcycle) and buy used you have enough margin to “refill” the engine with aftermarket parts.

    If I went insane and were buying new I might even consider a Sportster since that engine hasn’t yet been ruined by bean counters. HD should have copied the four-cammer when they replaced the Evo.

  16. sherides Says:


    I got a laugh out of the “Sporty’s are for girls” comment…. Before I got mine, I rode a 250 Yamaha V Twin. (giggle all you want, it was a very fun bike to ride)

    Needless to say, it took several miles for me to get comfortable on/ adjusted to the Sporty. I believe I grasped the concept of torque the first time I shifted that bike into 5th gear. Several other things then quickly came to mind:

    1. Holee Shit!

    2. The cartoon of the guy holding onto the handle bars as his hair is getting blown back and his legs are flying straight out behind him.

    3. Good thing this bike has a back rest so I don’t go flying off the back of it. Could that realistically even happen?

    I think the only people who rag on people who ride sportsters are people who have never ridden them.


  17. Base Says:


    Yeah, when people would start that with him I used to just step back and wait or hold the money because it always led to some sort of bet. And I only saw him loose once out of more than 2 dozen races. And not always drag racing.

    Live & let live:

    I never have had issue with what anyone rides just as long as one is able to ride and hold their own. Matters little to me male, female. trans gender, the pope or the terminator….

    Just be able to handle your end.

    I have ridden with males & females that can handle theirs and have ridden with (not very long)other’s who should not be on anything with wheels. Way to many get the bug and jump on the biggest & coolest bike they can afford,,, it’s all about image or ego.

    On a sad note we just lost a couple of folks in the area to just that. A guy riding out side his ability on a big new Harley with his female passenger on the back drifted into on coming traffic in a corner.

    Now that’s all third person knowledge and normally I stray from he said she said, but thought it has some relevance to this and my earlier comment. About holding one’s line.


    Now two family’s & friends are morning the loss. I didn’t know these people personally, but I morn for them and the loss.

    Be careful out there and if you do get around someone that drifts, keep your distance because shit happens fast when your rolling.



    I have witness bikes jumping out from under riders.

    Would like to add I will help some one pick up their bike I am not a total dick head especially if no one else is around or there is a risk of injury to them or someone else.

    But many the time have seen bikes dropped at stops, in gravel(over use of the front break) , not putting the side stand down or showing off.

    Ass holes attempting burn outs or wheelies come to mind. If you know what your doing ok, if your doing it because you saw it on full throttle saloon? Enjoy the road rash ass hole!

    Have been called a dick head for it, not assisting someone stand their bike up.It’s about personal responsibility. Anyone that puts a leg over the saddle has a responsibility to them selves and everyone around them to be able to handle their end! Take a class! Get a bike that fits your height & ability!

    No disrespect intended to anyone, just my beliefs.
    Same thing with fire arms, cars, tools, hell a pencil so on & so forth.

    Head on a swivel.

  18. Base Says:


    A third thought,

    congrats on you getting your sporty, they are a good platform, the 1200 being the better of that particular model.

    Be safe

  19. springerman Says:

    This is from HD network communications. I WANT TO THROW THE FUCK UP AND I KNOW ALOT OF YOU WILL ALSO! October 24, 2013

    Dear Dealer:

    The African American market for Harley-Davidson® motorcycles is growing and holds unrealized sales potential. In the first three quarters of 2013, the African American segment grew by more than 10% and has been one of the fastest growing segments for Harley-Davidson.

    Many of our markets have strong African American motorcycle clubs and enthusiasts that have contributed to our motorcycle culture. These customers, many of whom are competitive owners, are waiting to be invited into the H-D family and your dealerships. African Americans have a strong desire to be acknowledged, respected and feel more included in American motorcycle culture. These desires are common amongst African Americans and have a profound impact on how they want to be treated. This is why many African Americans are very sensitive about not “feeling welcome” when dealing with retailers. To address these desires, it is imperative that you acknowledge them when they enter your dealership, respect their history and contributions to motorcycling culture and welcome them to join the Harley-Davidson family.

    To aid you in further developing your local African American market opportunity, we will continue the Iron Elite marketing campaign in 2014, as well as supplement the programs and tools available to you.

    Dealer Tool Kit

    An Iron Elite Dealer Toolkit ($70), which is designed to support your desire to invite and welcome African American riders to your dealership, is now available to order on the DME. Based upon dealer feedback the kit contents have been updated to include an execution guide, posters and special edition patches.

    Dealer Actions

    Order: the Iron Elite Dealer Toolkit on h-dnet.com at: Dealer Marketing Engine Toolbox / Consumer Segments / African American

    Invite: host an Iron Elite event at your dealership and invite local African American riders

    Utilize: the Iron Elite tools on the DME (direct mail/email invites, web banners, customizable posters, videos and a PR toolkit) to promote and support your dealer events that

    Motor Company Actions

    The Motor Company will be promoting the special edition patches as well. We will be posting a list of participating dealers on our website: http://www.harley-davidson.com/ironelite to encourage participation in our Iron Elite program. As a result, you may receive phone calls from customers out of your area requesting patches if their local dealer does not participate. In addition, we will be giving away patches at large African American riding events we participate in, including: National Bikers Roundup, Atlantic Beach Bike Week and Bikers on the Boulevard in Daytona.

    All of these materials have been refined over the last few years through feedback from dealers across the country. Our combined insights and continued utilization of the Iron Elite platform will allow all of you the opportunity to welcome more African Americans into your dealership, and ultimately into the Harley-Davidson family.


    John Comissiong

    Director of African American Market Outreach

  20. Fuck2ducks Says:

    Does it make you sick they are singling out blacks or that they are trying to bring in more black customers?

  21. Road Whore Says:

    @ Base:

    Amen, amen, and amen.

    I’ve always said that a person should not buy a bike that they can’t pick up all by themselves if they dump it. Do I practice what I preach? Yes: I’ve twice, with witnesses including my old lady, on 2 separate occasions picked up, by myself with no assistance, Harley dressers that had been completely dumped over on their sides. The riders were telling me to wait until we got help, that there was no possible way I could pick their bikes up by myself and that they weren’t strong enough to help. Should see the looks on peoples’ faces when I yanked them mothers upright!

    And newbies don’t need to get caught up in the power/size/speed thing. Learn to friggin’ ride, and ride well. On your current bike: if you can’t manage a u-turn on a narrow street with your feet on the pegs of your current bike; if you can’t pick it up when you dump it over; if you can’t corner like a fiend and ride slowly enough with your feet on the pegs that you can poke along beside someone who’s walking and talk to them…take more classes and get a lighter, easier to handle bike. And if anybody makes fun of your ride, fuck ’em. It’s all about getting your boots in the wind and enjoying. Do it on the size and make and model that cranks your bait and let the posers sort their own shit out.

    I knew a guy who rode big Harleys until his back and knees went out. Give up riding? Nope! He bought a Suzuki Burgman scooter that he could manage, hold up, and continue to ride. Real riders will respect real riders’ rides. Period.

    I was traveling down the road at one of the bike events; got behind this HOT gal on a 1000cc crotch rocket. We got stopped at a red light and this guy pulls up next to her to flirt, commenting on what a nice bike she’s riding. “It’s my first!” she tells him enthusiastically. I hung a right at the light and got the fuck away from her!

    Ride Free

  22. Jenkx Says:

    Amen, again.

  23. sherides Says:

    Base and Road Whore,

    Both of you speak many words of wisdom.

    While I hope to never have to, I believe I could pick this bike up if I had to. The way I learned was to squat down, back against the bike, and using your legs and butt, slowly lean it upright.

    I am also a firm believer in not riding above one’s skill level or taking undue risks/chances. I have been riding for 6 years now.

    I know exactly what you mean about holding your line. This got drilled into me the first time my Ol Man had me ride in traffic. (While I was learning to ride I spent alot of time riding on gravel roads and in parking lots before ever getting out into traffic.) I have no problems holding my own in group rides.


  24. Base Says:


    Doing some you tube surfing this morning, thought about our conversation, found there are whole lotto video’s on the topic of lifting a bike. Although many seem to be from the opposing side of the side stand.



    Head on a swivel

  25. Road Whore Says:

    @ Base…these videos are excellent! Thank you for finding them and posting the links…you might have helped a lot of people!

    Ride Free

  26. springerman Says:

    @ fuck2ducks It makes me sick that companies cannot just advertise their products based on the merit or function of their product, however insist in pandering to this group or that group. If people want to ride bikes great. But to say a particular group (in this case black people) need to feel appreciated and welcome in the Harley dealer and there should be special sensitive ways to get them in the door. “Iron elite”? Does this mean that since my dumb white ass has been buying their bikes based on the fact that I just want to ride there is no need to make me feel good! Fuck that! I have no prejudices against anybody with the exception of morons who need to see advertising geared to their particular race to show that now it is okay to buy a Harley because there is now a patch showing blacks on bikes. Also now there are going to be “iron elite” parties at the dealership. Does that mean I cannot go to the dealership that night because I am not welcome. There is a word for this and it is SEGRAGATION ! If the dealer tried to host an all white night how would that be treated? Again I say I want to throw up! Not a racist just sick of what is going on around me.

  27. Meh Says:

    ” It makes me sick that companies cannot just advertise their products based on the merit or function of their product,”

    If they did they’d be out of business, and that isn’t new. BTW if mechanical meritocracy were the main purchasing driver HD would be as dead as the original British motorcycle industry from the same causes. It came close twice.

    “Does this mean that since my dumb white ass has been buying their bikes based on the fact that I just want to ride there is no need to make me feel good!”

    Not unless/until you stop buying their bikes. :-)

    I could give a shit how HD market their wares since “selling” is about doing what will move consumer product. I buy PC components and don’t even give a partial fuck that their adverts are frequently targeted at gamers though I don’t game. The more people pay for the production of a product I may use the better aftermarket support will be (be it bike parts or Linux drivers) and the more of x product are out there the more cheaply I can score it used.

    Traditional “bikers” are perfectly free to tell the Motor Company to eat a dick.Back before da MoCo co-opted biker aftermarket mods (belt drives, disc brakes, the Softail frame, the Softail name, narrowglides on big twins) to flog product they frequently did.

  28. Viking 1%er Says:

    I couldn’t agree more with blacksmith best fix go back to cable. What’s the point with the hydraulic is it supposed to be easier or sumthin? Every chick I know that rides eats all her spinach and can handle the regular ole clutch. Maybe they should call it a RUB Clutch instead of Hydraulic LOL

    And keep it in the wind

  29. VINCE 1%er Says:

    I Run a Hydraulic Clutch on MY BAKER TorqueBox 6 Speed Right Side Drive TRANSMISSIONS.
    They are THE Strongest & BEST Built Transmissions in Existence with a torque rating of 250 Ft. Lbs. that encompasses from Mild to WILD in the American V-Twin Industry.
    From Street Warriors,Everyday Riders all the way Up To TOP FUEL Racers Use BAKER Drivetrain Transmissions,Components and parts.
    The Hydraulic Clutch system is a nice unit,devoid of cable failure and infinitely adjustable- NOT To take away from the tried & true cable system 90% of riders use nowadays.

    The Hydraulic system of clutch actuation is a cool and innovative(if not more SOLID) than a cable-but most applications on the real riders needs and demands ARE Met by the cable system we have all been used to and lived with.That said…..a cable is going to be the staple of riders for a LONG Time-but thats NOT a take away in ANY way from a Really Well Defined,Designed and RELIABLE Hydraulic clutch system like BAKER Drivetrain Offers.

    Ive been running a Hydraulic Clutch on My BAKER Transmissions on 4 different bikes that I Ride Everyday & a few (2 of em) that I RACE Consistently every chance I get .
    I’ve Never experienced or had a failure or mechanical problem with a Hydraulic Clutch running in conjunction with a proper sized Resevoir or Bore diamater actuating the System. They work fine (Under Racing Conditions) and/or Street Warrior and easy rider type scenarios.

    Vince 1%ER

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