Who’ll Buy a Harley?
It was about 1998 and my cousin by then had wanted a new motorcycle for a couple of years. And he'd been shopping. We worked together and our job took us up and down the Gulf Coast and in every town from Tampa Bay to Corpus Christie we made repeated visits to the Harley-Davidson shops.
Of course he already knew the answer to his question the first time we'd enter a new store "pick out any model you want, we'll back-order it and you should have it in as little as 18-24 months". A two-year wait for a new motorcycle.
Those were the happy days for the revitalized American motorcycle builder. This week HD announced it was cutting production immediately for the second half of 2017. Harley shares have taken a hit down 9% Tuesday morning.
The Baby-Boomer fuel that powered the Harley renaissance has had its tank run dry. It's not enough that new unit sales are slumping, Harley has to compete with its own aging customers selling off 'showroom-fresh garage-kept, well-maintained' models in every town in America. As well as a fresh push by century-old competitor Indian, now owned by Polaris.
Polaris Industries is Aggressively Discounting its Indian Bike Line
As many other industries have already seen benefits from President Trumps proposals to build infrastructure spending and cut taxes, Harley is lagging behind perhaps also due to the idea that 'Generation Y' those born in the 1980's-90's are adopting motorcycling at a far lower rate than other generations.
Overall from 2016-17 HD net income fell some 8%.
But still, as they say: 'there's nothing as excited as 600 pounds of hot steel between your legs'.