The year that Harley introduced its first factory custom the FX Super Glide. It was the marriage of the FL Big Twin and the XL Sportster. Only 4700 were sold while the Sportster itself sold 10,000. I can hear then all the traditional Harley owners saying how much they hated the rear fender with its foreign café racer style. That said the Super Glide FX was the father of all the FX’s that we know and love.Read More
Cruisin’ the Net with Mike ‘Tex’ Hess
It’s riding season downunder but up top it’s snow, hurricanes and bike shows. Harley only took its 2019 lineup to the Intermot show in Cologne, Germany. Perhaps it is saving the newest modular and electric bikes for EICMA in Milan, Italy in November. Indian released its production FTR 1200S, while Ducati and BMW released more 1200cc sized bikes to stamp their intensions to rival anything Harley has in the planning.
In Milwaukee Matt Levatich recently gave his unadulterated Harley insights at the “Scale Up Milwaukee” conference. Watch the youtube video! It will be the best hour you will spend before jumping on your bike and enjoying a ride like he enjoys being the Motor Company’s CEO. Levatich tells us why Harley is “romancing” growth using its core capabilities. More Roads and building more riders, being true to the brand, a positive spin on being a rebel with freedom and liberation while not being constrained, inclusiveness, curious mentality, learning from failures, being close to the edge, asking why five times, and making sure you are clear on your purpose while unifying your people. And, personal freedom is Harley’s core purpose. For me I liked what he said about the LiveWire: “This is the most thrilling, powered vehicle of any kind that I have ever experienced … and that is an emotional feeling that I have … It sounds like the Tie Fighters from Star Wars!”
Released after Levatich’s interview was Harley’s announcement that it will have official mechandise on Amazon. While that may be good for the Motor Company’s bottom line, I will keep giving my business to my local dealer. Like politics, everything is local. Buy Australian. If we don’t have strong local dealers then we will have a long way to ride to get support and even be in a HOG chapter.
The 2019 Harleys are all on your local dealer’s showroom floor. Try seeing or buying them online at Amazon! I was most interested in the up-close and personal reaction to the Softail FXDR 114 “drag racer.” Not to my surprise, of all the 2019s the FXDR was the one that seemed to get the most attention and even positive discussion. I think it hit the bull’s eye as the Wanna Be bike; if only the price was nearer to the Street Bob’s. I believe it is a worthy replacement for the V-Rod…The reviews are in and if you are tough then this street striper is the bike for you.
The elephant in the room is the new Indian FTR 1200 and 1200S street versions of the FTR750 flat track championship winner. At less than half the price of the original show bike FTR1200 Custom, the FTR 1200 will push 120HP with a 12.5:1 compression. These were the American stars at the Intermot show in Cologne.
The Harley Softail Sport Glide comes with a tiny removable windscreen with a slightly taller one from the Parts and Accessories catalogue. I was told by Klock Werks they will soon have a Flare windscreen for the Sport Glide.
The Harley-Davidson 2018 Battle of the Kings was won by Adelaide Harley-Davidson Bike Works against 16 other Harley dealers. Starting with a 2018 Sportster Roadster and modelled after the Harley VR1000 Super Bike, it is track and street ready for its new owner…after it gets back from Europe where it competes with the winners from 20 countries and 250 dealers from Japan, Mexico, South Africa, the Middle East and South America. See it at:
And then there is the updated BMW R 1250 GS to go head to head with the new Harley Pan America. It has a new engine with variable valve timing to meet stricter Euro emission rules, increased power and complexity and at the same time reduces fuel consumption. If that isn’t good enough for you, BMW is testing a riderless R1200.
A Royal Enfield Continental GT 650 clocked 150 mph (241 kph) at the Bonneville Speed Week ridden by Cayla Rivas (pictured above). At 18 years old, she is a 12-time world record holder and has many more records ahead of her!
Here is just one of hundreds of new e-bikes recently released to compete with the MY2020 LiveWire. The Tarform was revealed at the Brooklyn Naval Yard. It has a 145 kms range in the city and 80 kms on the road. It’s all smart phone monitored so what more will a millennium want?
On the opposite end of the spectrum for the true petrol head is the 2019 Harley-Davidson Ford F-150 pickup truck. It was shown at the 115th in Milwaukee. Just put your cash down and order yours from Tuscany Motor Company. Right hand drive is extra.
AMD was won by Russian’s Dmitry Golubchikov’s with a Yamaha SR 400, 2nd place went to Omar Jumiran from Malaysia for his BoneX AJS 350, and 3rd went to Károly Orkonyi from Hungary for his Speedster King. All three were lightweight bikes giving one the idea that Europe isn’t exactly into the heavyweight cruisers or customs.
BITS & PIECES
The biggest improvement that I have made to my 2018 Street Glide Special was not the Screamin’ Eagle Ventilator air cleaner, Klock Flare windscreen, or heated grips for real-world riding but the Legend Suspension REVO-A shocks with long coil springs, adjustable sag, preload and rebound for any rider and load. No more back jarring pot holes, only a velvety plush ride! I got mine from rolliesspeedshop.com and had them expertly installed at:
Dyna, FXR, etc
The US Secret Service has just ordered a new Harley Davidson FLHTPI Police Motorcycle for its sidecars and motorcade presidential support.
A must-have for clearing spandex wearing bicyclists back into their lanes is the Sonic Grips with a 100 decibel electronic siren powered by a long life and easy to replace battery.
Remembering the 115th Celebrations in Milwaukee
Also, and a must-have for clearing spandex-wearing cyclists back into their lanes is the Sonic Grips with a 100 decibel electronic siren powered by a long life and easy to replace battery. Check em out at www.sonicgrip.com
Former Harley-Davidson Senior Vice President and Marketing Officer Mark-Hans Richer discusses the demographics of the motorcycle industry, the emotional pull of motorcycles, Harley-Davidson, and more. It isn’t all about us versus the millennials.
Then read five reasons millennials aren’t buying motorcycles: 1) have college loan debts (home loans or saving for a deposit), 2) entered life stages latter, 3) didn’t ride dirt bikes, 4) prefer experience rather than things, and 5) they don’t want debt.
On the subject of millennials, read our Motorbike Writer’s comments a year ago about Aussies buying Harleys which I think is still true at …
This is the end of the old Harleys as we’ve known them. Last year we saw the demise of the Dyna and true Softail frames. We now hail the new so-called Softails for the Milwaukee-Eight engine. The new Softail is better in every way than its predecessors.
Unfortunately, with the new Softail both the Dyna and Softail names were lumped together much to the chagrin of many devoted Dyna riders. I hope that Harley doesn’t upset hardcore Sportster lovers with the release of the new mid-sized Harleys. That said, once anyone has ridden the new Softails they will never go back to the waddle and scrape while trying to keep up with the truly new Softails. No matter where the parts are made or assembled.
Now, the oldest frame left in the Harley lineup is the 10 year-old Touring bikes which should be replaced in 2020 or 21. In the interest of performance and economy I predict the new frame will be an heavy duty single shock unit that is easier to manufacture and more rigid, like the Softail of last year.
The Motor Company celebrated their 115th Anniversary in July in Prague and now comes the Anniversary in Milwaukee. Prague and Harley Europe did themselves proud with the party they threw for 110,000 Harley fanatics kicking off with The Rolling Stones concert and culminating with the 5000 bike Harley Parade through the Old Town much to the delight of the entire population. Let me tell you, Prague is a town of over a million people that rocks and puts on a show like no other. There were Harley riders from 77 countries and even tariff photo-bombers from China and Russia. No-one cared where their Harleys were made, they just wanted to ride them. I’ll be posting my favourite photos from Prague on the HEAV Y DUTY Facebook page and, as always, the links at www.heavyduty.com.au/cybercycles.
Next up was the Sturgis Rally and Races. If you missed Sturgis this year then get on the bandwagon for next year at heavyduty.com.au/2019-usa-tour.
MY2019 HARLEY RELEASES
For the lucky Harley dealer principals and staff, they will be the first “outsiders” to see the new MY2019s at the Dealer Meeting in San Diego, California on 21 August. But let me share with you a little trick.
A lot of dealers’ photos and videos will be posted live on Facebook before, during and after the meeting. So how do you find all these dealers and their posts? Simple. From your Facebook page at the top there is an “f Search” window where you search only on Facebook; not the web browser window.
Now just type in and enter “harley summer dealer meeting San Diego 2019” or simpler “Harley summer dealer meeting.”
Play around with the search words and as the hour gets closer you will see what everyone is doing in San Diego.
Best thing is to wait till the 22nd in Australia and then you will get lots of photos, better than the catalogues that come out later. Laidlaw’s Harley-Davidson is just up the road from the meeting and to me Matt is the all time best. Now I guess I’ve lost my job at HD since everyone knows my tricks.
If you missed Prague, then you better get on an airplane and head straight to Milwaukee!
Harley-Davidson’s 115th Anniversary Celebration in Milwaukee will be the party to beat all the Harley rallies you’ve ever been to.
If Guns N’ Roses isn’t the band (among dozens), then Harley has a lot of t-shirts to sell at discount. Go to harley-davidson.com/us/en/events/milwaukee-115th.html for everything about the Milwaukee celebrations.
There are seven dealers that each will be having a huge party. There is the Harley Headquarters, Museum and engine plant; each requiring a day to see. I’ll keep it simple, look at heavy-duty.com.au/cybercycles for all the links or Google “Harley 115th anniversary” for all the events and dealers.
Another easy link is milwaukeerally.com.
At Prague’s 115th Celebration, Bill Davidson was very tight lipped about all but one of the new Harleys coming down the pipeline in the next year. That one was the new Harley electric bike.
He’s quoted as saying, “It is absolutely phenomenal and a Harley through and through.”
Be it coined the Revelation, LiveWire 2 or just plane ole Sparky, I’ve put my deposit down for the first one in Australia. Simply, if it’s as good looking as the LiveWire then it is the city bike for me while I keep my Street Glide Special ready for the long hauls.
Harley is entering the electric foray in 2019 with the H-D Revelation! What the heck is going on? After 100 years of crude oil ruling our lives, why would we even want to go “silent”, especially on a Harley?
So what is the importance of the e-Harley to the Motor Company? The 2014 LiveWire is old technology by any standard except style. Remember the Rushmores were MY14 and replaced by the MY17 Milwaukee-Eights. The new Revelation will have ten years newer technology over the LiveWire and will have Atlta Motors racing experience.
Heck, the MX motocross world is afraid of the electric bikes beating up on the public loving noisy dirt bike racers. And with the advancement in motorcycle batteries and cost reductions, the electric motorcycle may one day rule the urban commute as the last remaining one person means of transport.
Young people will literally jump on them and ride to work, across town and hit the dirt on the weekend.
One thing that is almost certain, Harley believes that electric bikes will be a part of its future and the growth of motorcycling in general.
I’m a petrolhead like all HD readers so let me stick to what I believe is going to be happening in the next year. The Motor Company starts its official 115th Anniversary Celebration in Prague, the Czech Republic in July and ends in late August in Milwaukee.
In between those two celebrations on 21 August is the Harley-Davidson Summer Dealer Meeting in San Diego, California. There we will see the release of the Millennium-targeted midsize Harley. This Sportster replacement will be the key to ending the ‘depression’ in sales in the home market. It may also kickstart all Harley sales worldwide.
The number one thing the Motor Company has to do is stay profitable for the stock holders and you and me the riders. Otherwise they go broke and nobody wins.
Again, the key will be the new midsize Harley and then the Revelation to capture the first-time motorcycle buyer.
What worries me in electrics is that there are so many manufacturers getting into the electric business. Only the best few will survive. First and foremost Harley better know what its customers want or think they need.
One person I follow is Matt Laidlaw at www.laidlawsharley.com. He and his family have been in the business a long time and they have seen the ups and downs, and more importantly, have stayed successful.
He has a Youtube channel with great reviews and opinions. His Top 3 Reasons why Harley-Davidson and the Motorcycle Industry are declining in sales is food for thought. Watch it at http://tiny.cc/x3i2ty and see what you think!
Like Laidlaw said, people now have changing priorities, aversion to risks, and only so much money.
Yeah, everyone still wants a Harley but just like it always has been, you gotta put food on the table and a roof over the family’s head. Harley makes the greatest bikes but can they make the numbers they need to sell profitably?
How does Harley do that? First with its e-Harley will be scale, cost cutting and assembling them somewhere in the world like Thailand.
Second, Harley took equity in Alta Motors in San Francisco to replace the designers of LiveWire. Unless Alta Motors steps out of its comfort zone, I think its e-Harley will be a fun bike that is not in direct competition with the Street 500 and above. Truly an affordable entry level road bike. Think of the money they will make with just the sales of the MotorClothes!
Third, what is the competition? The leader of the pack is Zero Motorcycles in terms of sales, products and longevity. But remember Polaris had the race winning Victory Empulse TTs. Polaris must still have something up its sleeve for Indian and the three-wheeler Slingshot. And then there is the pricy European “NICO Rosberg” Energica Ego. The Lightning lS-218 is named after its world record 218 mph speed and is a sleeper waiting for a takeover buyout. If your are filthy rich there is the Curtis Zeus which just won the “Most Innovative Motorcycle Award” at The Quail Motorcycle Gathering in Carmel, California. On the other end of the spectrum is the Vespa Electtrica. You can’t dismiss the BMW E-LisaBad, Yamaha PES2, Honda Riding Assist-e, and KTM Freeride. If those are too big for you then try the fastest electric push bike in the world, the SWIND EB-01. The Brutus V9 looks like a bat-winged tourer at about the price of a CVO.
The Big Picture
All the automotive and motorcycle companies are gearing up to go electric. The automotive trend is towards SUVs. I wonder if Tesla can hold on to its market share with the likes of the Audi e-tron, the Jaguar I-PACE and the BMW iX3, et al. Even Tesla, Bentley and Porsche are going SUV.
Now I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed but I have to wonder why is it that the greenies want us to convert everything we know and love to electric? First and foremost, electricity isn’t all that cheap when you “dig it up” to burn and produce the juice and green house gasses. Really!
Nor is it all that environmentally friendly when you realise electricity is generated by mostly non-renewable coal and oil; not wind and water. Things with wheels running on cheap petrol and diesel only produce a fraction of all of Australia’s greenhouse gases. Electricity generation emits 54 per cent!
Here’s my worry: the greatest advantage of electricity versus petrol now appears to be its lower cost per kilometre driven. But what happens to electricity costs when the “swamp” legislates petrol out of the market and the private electrical companies have no competition?
Anyone remember when Australian gas, electricity and water were relatively cheap and owned by government?
At the end of the day the winner will be the manufacturer which gets the economics, tariffs, trade unions and politics all sorted out first.
For me I would just like an inexpensive urban mauler with a couple hundred kilometres range. One that looks and sounds like the LiveWire. Seems too simple.
Otherwise, I’m sure the new Sportster replacement will fit the bill. Bring on the “100 new Harleys in 10 years” not with only a black paint job but with leading edge design and technology.