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Archive for October 30th, 2007

Black HarleyHow important do you think the color of a motorcycle is to Harley Davidson? Plenty! About 40% of shoppers say the will leave a showroom if they can’t find the color of their hearts desire, according to Harley research.

Have you notice lately how aggressive Harley has overhauled its color palette? Many of the new motorcycles feature new paint colors. Crimson Red Sunglo…a Red with more sparkle and more depth and punch to it. Suede Blue Pearl that is soooo ice Blue and Firecracker Red are other metallic paint colors being pushed out to the dealers.

The Harley process of developing these colors is cloaked in a lot of mystery and involves consulting dealers, designers, marketing and manufacturing. And, oh yeah they do try and listen to as many customers as possible.

These color efforts come a bit too late for my Vivid Black Road King, as I had had my fill of the sharp colors and bright paint finishes on previous bikes. Sure Black is boring, but it’s not ugly! As my inner fashion sensibility tells me…it might not be the most trendy, but it’s simple and simplistic designs will win out over fashion in the long run.

But not all bikers like Vivid Black or Black Denim or Flat Black. And that is good news for the Harley color teams who need a job and start by looking at the trends in fashion, product design and the economy…basically anything that may influence change so that they can forecast colors that potential buyers may be looking to straddle and ride in the wind.

For example, that blazing Copperhead color for the 105th Anniversary models was launched on all 2008 models and includes anniversary trim/badges. The color cuts across all models and is a high number for such a trendy color. I can’t help but think this is like that Bright Yellow. Very visible, very trendy, but just wasn’t a big seller. The blazing Copperhead was chosen for the 105th Anniversary models because Orange was going to be a trendy, noticeable color, based on Harley’s research in home and product design. It matched what Harley felt was the sporty, fun, vibrant nature of the brand they are working to relay. And though Silver, Smoke, Black have been popular, the Harley team believe a resurging economy along with “other” factors (read younger demographic) mean more people are going to tire of them.

I’m no color expert, but I have to say I’m a bit disappointed in all the research. I don’t think the bottom is going to drop out on Black, but all this talk of customers wanting fresher colors, more colorful reds, blues, greens and golds — something that is more obviously a color — seems to run counter to what I see on the road. I call these new colors “Buzz” colors. Because Harley want’s their motorcycles to appeal to the upscale boomer generation — like luxury brands at Mercury or Lexus — they assume customers want the same “unique” treatment on their motorcycles? It isn’t about exotic colors with names like Mirage Orange Pearl, Firecracker Red, Crimson Red Sunglo, Golden Glow, Purple Haze, Copperhead Pearl and Red Hot, and Suede Blue Pearl.

I’m still trendy as the new deep metallic Vivid Black will glisten like no other black before it! Why? Because they are using a new glass pigment instead of mica flakes. Sometimes remaking a color has a bit of a re-fresh look to it.

And you thought Black was Black and Blue Suede was for shoes!

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