Posts Tagged ‘Cruiser’

H-D 21 Virtual Broadcast

The H-D 21 virtual broadcast was an all digital event to announce new 2021 motorcycles, parts and accessories.

The new model launch yesterday came less than a year after the motor company reported plans to streamline its product portfolio by 30% while overhauling its launch timing (historically every August) and go-to-market practices for maximum impact.

As soon as the media, dealers and consumers logged into the Harley-Davidson online portal, I knew this year’s product launch was going to be … different.

The event opened with a long video montage on the joys of the motorcycling experience.  I watched Jason Mamoa gush about his Harley family, or “Ohana” — you’ll remember him as Aquaman.

As someone who has served time in the trenches creating marketing campaigns, this was the traditional entertainer-as-a-promotional vehicle initiative.  The idealized figure introduced Harley-Davidson CEO Jochen Zeitz who teased the audience with a number of motorcycles and projects that he apparently can’t speak about yet.


As the motorcycle launch wore on, with a selection of motor company smooth-talking prognosticators from various departments sharing bits of information about updates to Cruiser, Touring and CVO models, the value of an all-virtual Harley-Davidson product roll-out actually became less clear. The new products, which we usually look forward to, felt less exciting. It’s hard to determine the viability of any product by watching a slick video about it in a browser. The discussions about the Harley-Davidson future of motorcycling felt less like revelatory conversations and more like a TED Talk that I’d scroll past in my Twitter feed.

For me the serendipity of discovery was gone. One of the most exciting parts of a product launch has been finding out about something or learning about something new through pure chance. At a virtual H-D 21, that’s a virtual impossibility.

Street Bob 114

But, I’ve digressed.

Cruiser Updates
Harley stated that the Street Bob 114 is the lightest Softail model to be equipped with the Milwaukee-Eight 114 engine. The legendary Fat Boy receives refreshed styling for 2021, getting brilliant chrome instead of satin chrome on the engine and exhaust, the front end, the rear fender struts and console.

Touring Models
The 2021 Touring lineup includes three baggers that feature the Milwaukee-Eight 114 motor: Road King Special, Road Glide Special and Street Glide Special. The Street Glide Special and Road Glide Special get new two-tone paint options, and a choice of a blacked-out or bright chrome styling treatment – a choice between dark and sinister, or brilliant and more traditional.

Fat Boy

Road King Special and Street Glide Special models get a new brilliant Daymaker LED headlamp. All Harley-Davidson Touring models that are equipped with the colour touchscreen Boom! Box GTS infotainment system that now have Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. The feature requires a wired connection to a smartphone rather than going through Bluetooth.

CVO Models
Custom Vehicle Operations (CVO) motorcycles are the poster child for Harley-Davidson’s styling and performance. The Milwaukee-Eight 117 V-Twin engine is exclusive to CVO models as standard equipment. For 2021, the CVO Street Glide and CVO Road Glide models receive all-new Harley-Davidson Audio provided through an exclusive partnership with Rockford Fosgate.

CVO Limited

The audio systems, featuring speakers and amplifiers, were designed specifically for Harley-Davidson motorcycles. These components will also be made available through Harley-Davidson Genuine Motor Parts & Accessories for 2014 and newer Touring models equipped with a Boom! Box infotainment unit.

The 2021 CVO models (CVO Street Glide, CVO Road Glide, CVO Limited and CVO Tri Glide) all feature new paint options and styling features. All four CVO models are also equipped with RDRS safety equipment, including Cornering Enhanced Electronic Linked Braking, Cornering Enhanced ABS, Cornering Enhanced Traction Control, Drag-Torque Slip Control, Vehicle Hold Control, and Tire Pressure Monitoring System.

Pan America 1250

Pan America Global Reveal
The upcoming and over exposed Pan America 1250 adventure tourer was previewed in the virtual launch broadcast, but the most important details weren’t provided as it’s official launch is set for February 22nd. Mark your calendar and register for the event HERE.

It will be interesting to compare how this virtual launch broadcast performs in attracting potential motorcycle buyers and if it will drive demand for products or make an emotional connection to the Harley-Davidson brand.

It’s been my experience that: “People don’t buy “what” you do, they buy “why” you do it.”  — Simon Sinek

Photos courtesy of Harley-Davidson

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On a trip to San Francisco a while back I rented a Hyundai.  They pulled up this eggplant colored piece of crap and I winced.  A Hyundai?  So, it’s going to be one of those business trips I said to myself.

 Wasn’t there anything else, I ask?

Nope.  That was it and I’d already waited in line long enough.  So I got behind the wheel and took off down the expressway.

A few hundred miles later, dropping it off at the airport, it wasn’t that I regretted parting with it, but I did have a new found appreciation for this automobile.  Maybe because it was easy to locate in a “sea of rentals” that I became enamored with its quirky color and bonded with this machine which had absolutely no rattles, good sound insulation, decent handling and excellent gas mileage.  That’s right, a Hyundai.

I remember when people started showing up in Santa Fe’s a decade ago, I thought they were just too cheap to buy a Honda CR-V.  Or a Toyota RAV4. That’s how the public knew someone was a cheapskate, they bought a Hyundai. A Korean car.  But that was before Samsung became the new Sony.

These days I no longer wonder why Hyundai has made major inroads into the American automobile market, it’s inexpensive and it’s good!  Why waste all that extra money on a shinier nameplate?  Seems the brand is no longer tarnished and people don’t think twice about buying a Hyundai.   They want something good, at a fair price, and they’re beating a path to the Korean manufacturers door. 

And spare me the old school thought that lowering prices devalues the product.  People aren’t resisting Hyundai’s because they’re too inexpensive.   Hyundai markets the Genesis, an almost as good Lexus/Acura/Infiniti for almost ten grand less.  This is the era of value. Rather than insist that the customer come up to your price point, come down to his.  Meet him halfway.  Show that there’s a partnership, the same way Hyundai agreed to let you return your car if you lost your job.  An idea so good, other manufacturers imitated it.

IF you agree that Korean manufactures have made dramatic inroads with automobiles, is the motorcycle industry and specifically Harley-Davidson touring bikes next to feel the value-based heat?

It would seem so.   Because Georgia-based Hyosung Motors America Inc., a division of S&T Motors, a Korean motorcycle manufacturer is applying value pressure on the heavy-weight cruiser segment.  Foreign-based companies typically complete final assembly operations in the U.S., and according to First Research, the U.S. motorcycle manufacturing industry has a combined annual revenue of about $6B with touring and cruiser motorcycles accounting for 67% of the overall industry revenue.  Clearly that is where the competitors interest will be targeted.  At the Chicago stop of the International Motorcycle Show, Hyosung unveiled the 2010 ST7 cruiser and also display it at Daytona last week during Bike Week.  The ST7 is a classically styled cruiser that is a belt-driven, fuel-injected, has front and rear disc brakes and powered by a liquid-cooled 678cc DOHC V-twin with eight valves. Hyosung claims a maximum torque of about 46.5 ft.-lbs. at 7,500 rpm. And here is the best part.  MSRP is $7,299 and you can pick any color as long as it’s black, red or white.  If my HP 12c financial calculator is correct that’s about $10,000 less than what it would take to maintain brand loyalty with H-D.

One could assume Harley-Davidson is ‘tone deaf’ if they don’t hear Hyosung Motors riding up from behind, but I’ll bet they are reverse engineering one as I write this.  The Korean company is dedicated to making its mark on the international motorcycle market as a globalized brand that is conveying a brand connotation of “fashion, high-tech and elegance” while presenting sophisticated and elegantly made products with excellent price and performance.  They are the “Hyundai of motorcycles.”  It’s not a matter of if, rather when will it impact H-D sales.

It’s a tough economy and many feel priced out by today’s motorcycle industry.  Yeah, some of us marry an Oscar-winning actress or get embroiled in million-dollar intrafamily lawsuits.  But, for rest of us we want more entertainment for our discretionary dollar.  The gulf between the industry and the public, which is sick of overpaying for everything means it’s never too late for Harley-Davidson to regain the hearts and minds of the consumer.  But it must offer good products at fair prices.  It’s really that simple.

Photo courtesy of Hyosung Motors.

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