Tag Archives: Harley Davidson MOTORCYCLES

Replicate or Innovate?

I don’t know about you, but it really pisses me off when companies replicate instead of innovate. Case in point: I’m looking at two new Indian motorcycle bagger models. The Indian Chieftain Limited and the Indian Chieftain Elite. Both of these motorcycles look a lot like Harley Davidson’s Street Glide. The motorcycle bagger market is the “cash cow” for HD. Road Glides and Street Glides are leaving HD’s factories like bullets out of AR-15 in full auto! Sorry about the gun reference, but it fits.

You don’t need a PhD to figure out that Indian’s Chieftain Limited is trying to go head-to-head with HD’s Street Glide Special. Duh! Nor do you need to use a super computer to determine which HD model Indian’s Chieftain Elite is gunning for. Double duh!! Before this goes any further, I own a 2015 Indian Roadmaster and a 2014 HD Ultra Limited. So you don’t need to reply with the following words of wisdom. You suck big time, Harley boy! Or my all-time favorite, “F$$k you, f$$k your Harley, I’m going to kill you when I see you.” Writing a blog is a lot more dangerous than you might imagine.

Okay, you’re probably wondering what’s the point to all of this babble. Companies that replicate will go the way of the dinosaur. Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Victory and Yamaha have all failed against the motorcycle giant Harley Davidson. In many cases, the other manufacturers built a better mousetrap. But when you compare silhouettes, they were pretty much copies of what was already in the marketplace. The lesson learned is that most consumers don’t want replicas or derivatives, they want the original.

Just so were clear here. Innovation is a tough road to go. It takes balls and a lot of money. To make matters worse, the motorcycle marketplace takes no prisoners. Either you’re going to sell your product or you’re going to shut down the assembly lines. It’s that simple. The fairytale story of four guys building a motorcycle in a shed sounds wonderful and also provides solid street cred for the brand. But the truth is that Wall Street runs the show.

Polaris has resurrected the Indian brand which provided them with some leverage that the other manufacturers didn’t have to use in the marketplace. They also kept true to the design of the prior Indian motorcycle models. That was enough for me to purchase one. I believed they had a line of motorcycles that could stand on their own in the marketplace. With a little patience and a whole lot of money, I’m pretty sure that the Indian brand would be a strong competitor with Harley Davidson in the market place.

But it appears, Polaris is running out of patience and looking at their stock prices and seem to be running out of money. I find this a troubling trend to parallel what Harley Davidson is doing. In my opinion, this strategy threatens the brand’s survival in the marketplace.

Since I can’t just grab photos of Harley Davidson’s Street Glide Special or Indian’s Chieftain Limited off of the internet. This act could land me in copyright jail. I provided two links below. Do me a favor, click on these links below and compare them. I’d like to hear your thoughts about the two motorcycles.

Harley Davidson’s Street Glide Special

Indian’s Chieftain Limited

2014 Harley Davidson Ultra Limited: How Mine Got It’s Road Mojo

I think the motorcycle gods are out to get me. The kickstand on my 2014 Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited failed. This failure immediately exposed my motorcycle to the effects of gravity. Down my motorcycle went at 9.8 meters per second per second. It came to an abrupt halt when both the front and the rear crash bars hit the ground. Very minor damage to the crash bars, just a little scuffing, no bending.

New bolt for the kickstand.
New bolt for the kickstand.

You might not know this but back in the day, I had the capability to bench press 375 pounds not bad for someone who weighed 210 pounds. So for some strange reason, I thought I still have the capability to bench press 375 pounds and tried lifting the Ultra Limited by myself. I quickly remembered that I’m three clicks away from 60 years old and my 375 pound bench pressing days were 37 years behind me. So apparently I am a near 60 years old weakling.

Good thing a couple of “youts” saw me trying to “clean and jerk” my motorcycle.  The three “youts” walked up to me and asked me if I needed some help. I immediately said, “I sure do.” At this point, my pride had been completely eroded away. Together the four of us lifted my Ultra Limited into its normal operating position. I offered them some money for their help. I told them they could “buy some beers with the money.” They looked at me and smiled. They were probably thinking, “Why does this old dude want to get us drunk?”

So when your kickstand fails on your Harley Davidson where do you go for repairs? Well, I went to the Indian dealer down the road. Yep, the Indian dealer! I remembered the Indian dealership’s location from all of the demo rides I participated in last year. I rolled up to the Indian dealer’s service garage door and asked for some help. The service manager walks up to me and asks “What’s up.” I tell him my sad story about the kickstand. I ‘m thinking I’m going to catch some shit about bringing a downed Harley Davidson motorcycle into an Indian motorcycle dealership.

That doesn’t happen. All of the sudden, three Indian dealership employees are whirling around the bottom of my Ultra Limited with tools. I felt like a stock car driver at a pit stop.  One of my pit crew members shows me a strip bolt head that was used to hold the locking mechanism on my kickstand. Another member of my pit crew tells me “we might have one of the bolts lying around.”  He digs through the “bolt bin,” but no such luck. Again, the motorcycle gods show their displeasure with me.

I also remember that there’s a Harley-Davidson dealer roughly 10 miles south of the Indian dealership and begin my journey. I tried to pay the service staff at the Indian dealership, but they wouldn’t have it. I’m not sure, but if I would’ve had the title for my Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited on me, I might have driven away on an Indian Chieftain. Damn you, Willy G! Damn you!

I called the Harley-Davidson dealer on my smart phone and told them of my plight. They informed me not to use the kickstand and they would put me at the front of the service line. I thought to myself “cool!” I backed my wounded Ultra Limited out of the service bay and off I went. As I was heading to the Harley-Davidson dealer, I still couldn’t believe that the Indian dudes had an opportunity to let me have it and they were really cool about the whole situation.

As I rolled up to the Harley-Davidson dealership service garage door, I beeped the horn as instructed. A couple of guys immediately came out and asked me if I was the guy with the kickstand problem. I informed them that, yes, I’m the one. The other guy slides a small scissors jack and jacks up my motorcycle so they could look to see what the kickstand problem was. The guy looking at the kickstand looks up at me and tells me, “Yep, the bolt holding the kickstand in the locking mechanism had sheared off.”

Then he proceeds to tell me ”this is the first time he’s seen this type of failure in the kickstand.” He pulls the kickstand off takes it to the back where he can remove the broken bolt with an easy out. A few minutes later, he’s got a brand-new bolt and the kickstand in his hand. He reinstalls the whole assembly test it to make sure it works. He lowers a scissors jack and puts weight on the kickstand wiggling my motorcycle around during the test procedure. He then tells me, “It’s all good now.”

The service manager walks up to me and tells me that he’s going to try to get Harley-Davidson to pay for a new front crash bar and rear crash bar. I thought to myself, “I don’t think I want the crash bars changed now that my motorcycle has some ‘Road Mojo’ and I have a story to tell.”

I’d like to thank American Heritage Motorcycles which is the Indian dealer. They are located at 474 Redington Drive in South Elgin IL  60177. They can be reached by phone at 888-627-2340. Also, I’d Iike to thank Fox River Harley Davidson. They are located at 131 S Randall Rd, St Charles, IL 60174. The can be reached by phone at 630-584-8000.

Ride your motorcycle and be safe!

Getin’ those “Youts” on them Harley-Davidson’s

My wife has been watching the X Games for the last half of our marriage. I don’t see the mass appeal or what she sees in these shenanigans. She stares at the TV almost in some zombie state watching these kids do life-threatening stuff. Sort of like the Hunger Games except the kids have motorized vehicles. To be completely honest, my biggest problem with the X Games is they’re done outside in the cold. That definitely has no appeal for me.

Well, it looks like Harley-Davidson doesn’t see the X Games as shenanigans either. They see it as an opportunity to place two of their new products and give them an old fashioned out-of-the-box appeal. I’m not talking their usual material such as “Ride Free,” “Screw the Man” and the rest of the stuff Harley-Davidson propagates. I’m talking about a precise, well thought out results getting product placement scheme.

The two new products that I’m talking about are the street 500 and street 750 motorcycles. I think these motorcycles are going to give Harley-Davidson an opportunity to enter the other manufacturers’ markets segments. Not just enter, but also have a competitive advantage to take market share from the other manufacturers. So it would appear Harley-Davidson is no longer on the defense, but they’ve moved to an offensive position. The next couple years should tell if this strategy has helped motorcycle sales for Harley-Davidson.

So for the X Games, the “youts” have taken the new model motorcycles, put screws in the tires and used them for a motorcycle ice racing event. Ice racing on motorcycles is nothing new. There are specially designed motorcycles just for these ice racing events. It’s done in cold climates all over the world. One thing is for sure: You’ll never see coolcycledude racing a motorcycle on ice.

So now these kids who participate in the X Games are wearing Harley-Davidson promotional products and ride Harley-Davidson motorcycles in front of targeted demographics… as opposed to Monster, Red Bull, Mountain Dew, the Navy and some type of bubblegum that I don’t know about all over their outfits.