Friday, June 20, 2014

Um, No.

A WHOLE bunch of people sent this to me. I am not a fan.

Harley-Davidson’s First Electric Motorcycle Surprisingly Doesn’t Suck
Harley-Davidson is more than a motorcycle, or even a brand. It is an icon, one that brings to mind big, loud bikes ridden by burly men with tattoos and beards. The company has long been known for rumbling V-twin engines and the open road. All of which makes the idea of an electric Harley seem downright absurd.

It’s actually pretty cool.

Now, I've covered electric motorcycles before, specifically the Zero. I've actually seen one here in NoVA, and while it is a very slick looking bike, it is both too expensive (compared to conventional gasoline-powered bikes) and WAY too quiet. People tend to not see motorcycles on a good day; take the "vroom vroom" out of the equation and you couldn't *give* me an electric motorcycle.

But talk about misreading your customer base...

While it may sound like a great idea for Harley - arguably the most recognizable name in motorcycles - to champion the electric-powered motorcycles, it ignores a fundamental tenet: Harley exists because its customers want their products. I ride a Harley. I chose it over a Honda - which I will admit is a superior motorcycle - because nothing sounds or rides like a Harley. Hondas are nice, don't get me wrong (I've owned one), but there's just something about a big, honkin' piece of American iron.

Now, turn that hunk of American iron into a small, lightweight motorcycle. Strike one. Make it quiet. Strike two. Then give it a range of about 100 miles - with an hour or more before you could ride it again. Strike three. These are not the features that Harley Davidson are known for. This is a great commuter bike. Harleys are not great commuter bikes. Harleys are meant for throwing your leg over one and putting 200+ miles on it in a day. It's not meant for short blasts back and forth to work.

I hope it does well - a rising tide raises all boats, yadda yadda yadda - but I'm not holding my breath.

That is all.

11 comments:

Dave H said...

Did somebody die at H-D? They used to be REALLY good at protecting the Harley image.

libertyman said...

How will they get it to vibrate as much as their V twins?

Anonymous said...

I can't believe anybody would be so brain-dead. Harley doesn't sell motorcycles only; they sell an image of loud, in-your-face rebelliousness along with it. A quiet, eco-friendly, socially responsible scooter is the exact opposite of that image.

Al_in_Ottawa

Ted said...

When Porsche started selling water cooled V8 powered SUVs all the Old time 911 owners howled in protest (...... Well, untill they drove one anyway .... Then they bought one ).

Thoose SUV sales saved Porsche . HD maybe looking at that lesson - They haven't misread their base they just want to expand it.

...... But call it something else. How about. Electric glide

BenC said...

Harley has the same problem as Cadillac had several years ago.Their main customer base is getting older and will eventually die out and they are not replacing those customers with younger customers not to mention they now have competition in their niche with brands like Victory and Indian plus custom builders plus the Japanese v-Twins so their market share is shrinking. The average age of a Harley rider is probably over 30 and climbing as younger riders are going to sport bikes. If Harley doesn't do something to attract those younger riders to the brand they are going to die a slow lingering death.

Dave H said...

BenC: But an electric bike isn't how you attract young sport bike fans. It's too practical. An electric bike would appeal to soccer dads who drive a Prius...

Oh, I get it! H-D isn't going after riders, they're trying to attract people who don't ride. That's a good way to build market share.

SJ said...

What would happen if they called it a "Buell"?

Jay G said...

I'm partial to "Buell 2: Electric Boogaloo"...

DJ9 said...

To satisfy the traditionalists, does it include a little tank that drips oil on the ground wherever you park it?

Mopar said...

FWIW, others hit the nail on the head. H-D's market share is shinking, fast. I can remember not that long ago when there was a year+ waiting list to buy a new Harley at list price. Not any more. The problem is H-D was TOO good at selling the image, not the bike. It used to be if you didn't ride a Harley, it didn't count. No Jap bikes allowed. Now, for the most part it doesn't matter what you ride, as long as it fits the IMAGE of a Harley. And face it, everyone makes bikes now that fit that image now, and most are far cheaper and yet better by almost any measure. Plus, the others all make smaller sized bikes in that category for smaller and newer riders, that are of course even cheaper. And just like with guns, women riders are the fastest growing segment of motorcyclists. There is nothing in the H-D stable that fits my wife, but she can handle her Yamaha V-Star 650 Custom no problem. Only a "biker" knows it's not a Harley, the average person assumes it is because it fits the image of one.
H-D is trying to tap into these other markets before it's too late. Besides the electric bike, they're also going to be marketing smaller, cheaper, more fuel efficient bikes in the 500-750cc range as well. Not only is the current new Harley buy a middle-aged white male, he's also already owned 1 or more motorcycles and usually in the higher income brackets. Almost nobody buys a $20,000 H-D as a first bike. They need to break back into that younger, new rider demographic and then retain the customer as they move up.

LoFan John said...

If you like the sound of your bike, fine. Please stop repeating the message that loudness somehow makes a rider safer. People on sidewalks, in parking lots, or in their yards may hear you coming a long way away, but the enemy( people at the controls of cars and trucks ) will not. Emergency sirens don't give them very much advance warning. The notion that "loud pipes save lives" is a pernicious fiction. (Former Yamaha, BMW, Suzuki owner )