Harley is running flat out with its 100 new bikes in 10 years goal. By my count with the new Sport Glide “Light Cruiser” touring bike, it has released 24 new bikes in under a year. I expect it to release six more totally new Sportsters this year in 2018. And then five or six new single shock Touring bikes when the York plant assembly moves to Kansas City. Perhaps as important is its aggressive senior management moves and goals that are being put into place.

Michelle Kumbier

In September 2017, Michelle Kumbier was appointed as Chief Operating Officer of the Motor Company. She is responsible for the global business operations in the US and International markets as well as leading Harley’s product design and development operations. Kumbier has 10 years experience as a Senior Vice President leading four different Harley divisions: Product and Operations, Operations, Product Development, and Materials Management and Quality. Put that in your pipe and smoke it you good ole boys! What she brings to the 100 models in 10 year party is experience, proven ability and most important she is not stuck in the past. Harley will continue to sell plenty of heavyweight cruisers to us old guys but the future sales growth will be with the new generations.

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Five Goals

I read in the mainline USA Today newspaper that Harley-Davidson has five goals to keep it financial well into its 125th year:

  1. Build around its huge range of models in the future.

  2. Heavily promote and advertise the new nine Softails, CVOs and a “new Sportster” in 2018.

  3. “Innovate while staying true to its heritage.” Keep the sound while cutting the weight on the new touring frames and balanced engines (Sportster and Street are the last of the full rubber mounts).

  4. Provide what Millennials want to get them into the Harley culture…an affordable LiveWire and or modern Sportster and Streets?

  5. Manage the international weakness in the heavyweight sales market. Hey, they are doing something right and are still returning dividends to the stock holders. Bottom line is, if they don’t’ make a profit we don’t have dealers or the Motor Company.

Mid-Weight Competition: The World vs America

The American Indian Motorcycle is not going to be the main rival of Harley-Davidson in the future with Millenniums; but rather, the Indian Royal Enfield Motors which has been around since 1901 as the oldest continuing motorcycle brand in the world. Now owned by Eicher Motors of India, in just ten years Royal Enfield has increased its sales from 32,000 to 800,000 in India alone. And now it has its sights firmly set on the US and Euro markets. Its new 650 models are going to be a direct competitor to the Harley Street 500/750s in the home market and an outreach model to the Millenniums around the world. Cost, quality, service and a legendary history will sell to the new buyers. 

The Winner & Still Champion

The winner and still champion of Cruiser sales is the Harley Twin Cam Softail Breakout. But now there is a real challenger, the new M8 Sport Glide. Let you the public and buyers prove who the new winner and champion is. My two cents worth is that the Glide can be optioned to look like a Breakout by taking the mini Batwing and panniers off in 30 seconds. Then too, the Glide has a five gallon tank, upside down front forks and plenty of single front brake. Flat Trackers have no front brake. Just down-shifting gears and a back brake. Have a look at the reviews and then schedule a test ride.

Sport Glide Review

Breakout Review 

American Flat Track Racing

But what about the competition within the USA for the midweight cruiser? The Sportster versus the Indian Scout. If you believe the hidden meaning of the results of the 2017 American Flat Track racing series, the Harley Street XG750R was dead on arrival having only one 3rd place finish in 18 races. Worse, the naming rights for eight of the races was “Harley-Davidson”. Double down on that, Yamaha FZ07 and Kawasaki Ninja 650s also placed ahead of the XG750Rs. The saving grace was the legendary Harley XR-750 with four podiums while the FZ07 got four, the Ninja 650 got seven and the Indian Scout FTR750s won hands down with 38 Podiums and 14 wins. All I can hope is that Harley saw the writing on the wall and is spending its money in 2018 with a new Sportster racing 750 engine and or frame. Meanwhile Indian is touting selling a street version of the FTR750 to the public as a street legal FTR1200 Custom.

Products I Like

A rear fender ‘trailer hitch’ eliminator for the 2018 Fat Bob & Breakout is made by Bikecraft. The Shoei Neotec II Modular Helmet is completely new with the built-in Sena Shoei Rider Link intercom system as well as new ventilation, redesigned noise isolating cheek pads and chin spoiler. If you have a 2018, 115th Anniversary Blue Harley, then there is a Neotec II colour for you.

2018 Bike Shows

We are finally into summer and the riding season is full on. Not just here in Australia but revving up all around the world. Motorcycle shows are extremely important to manufacturers as free publicity for new bikes and accessories. Harley waited for the EICMA show in Milan in November to release the new Sport Glide to the public. All of which highlights what we can expect and hope for at the five USA East Coast motorcycle shows starting in January and ending at Daytona Beach Bike Week in March.