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Posts Tagged ‘Lehman’

HD Servi-Car

HD Servi-Car

Harley-Davidson built a Servi-Car (a three-wheeled utility motorcycle) from 1932 to 1973.  Then for the 2009 model year Harley introduced the new Tri-Glide Classic

Customers who are turned off by the thought of sliding atop a motorcycle have more options these days, but few options exist for small displacement (below 400cc) trikes.  

I’m speculating here, but Harley may be looking to change this and bring a more diverse selection to new riders entering the sport.  According to the Wired Magazine Blog, Harley is planning to introduce a “leaning trike” at the Intermot Motorcycle show in Cologne, Germany next month.  They surfed across information and images from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and posted the information which shows a trike with 2-wheels upfront and pivoting on an independent suspension to provide motorcycle-like “leaning” capability.

One could argue this is similar to the Can-am Spyder Roadster designed by Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP) and that Harley is playing copy-cat in its effort to create a new category of on-road vehicles.  Who knows.

If indeed small displacement then clearly it’s all about sales of Harley products.  Scooter sales have skyrocketed in the first half of 2008.  Up 66% as compared to a year ago and at the same time overall motorcycle sales have only achieved a meager 0.5% increase.  Meanwhile Harley sales have decreased 8.7% so for them to go looking at other alternatives would seem prudent for the stockholders.

However, the last time I was on a trike I was 5 years old.  I had a neighbor buddy that stated the only reason to ride something with three wheels was that I was too scared to ride something with two…I reacted and went to two.

Clearly I’m not a motoring writer and just not connecting with these.  Is it closer to a car than a motorbike?  Do you steer it like a snowmobile and forget that the brake is on your foot rather than the handlebars?  Do you clamp your thighs to it like it’s a Quad in the sand dunes or did I lose you all with that semi-bikespeak and should be using horse riding metaphors?

Two-wheels up front or two in back, a trike is a trike and they have an image problem as a toy.  Even the fact that you don’t have to have a motorcycle license doesn’t make sense to me.  And if you are a biker who has reach that “certain age” and starting to think it would be nice to…these will look just as silly being trailered as the motorcycle’s do today.

Images courtesy of Wired and U.S. Patent Office.

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Not sure how I missed this with the 13 press releases on July 22, 2008, but thanks to “ride-it-like-you-stole-it” for commenting on my 2009 line up post.

Harley-Davidson is officially moving into the three-wheel (trikes) motorcycle segment with the introduction of the Tri Glide Ultra Classic.  It’s based on a new chassis specifically built for the three-wheel market.  The Tri Glide will be sold (MSRP of $29,999) and serviced by the dealer network and covered by a two-year warranty.

It was about this time last year that Harley signed a deal with Lehman Trikes USA of Spearfish, SD to design and build Harley based trikes which I blogged HERE.  It turns out that Lehman Trikes posted a press release stating they are doing the conversion services for Harley’s Tri Glide motorcycle production.  Lehman will provide components, paint, and conversion services in the manufacture of the motorcycle.  The original Harley link on their web site last year is now a dead link.

A couple of notables on the Harley “three-wheel” strategy.  The motorcycle has a new rear-axle assembly that utilizes an aluminum center section with steel axle tubes. The rear suspension features dual air-adjustable rear shock absorbers.  It’s powered by a Twin Cam 103 cu in engine with Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI) and 6-speed Cruise Drive transmission used on current Touring bikes, but adds an optional electric reverse ($1,195) integrated with the rear differential assembly that is engaged with a handlebar-mounted reverse module. The Tri Glide has dual front disc brakes and a Hayes Brake dual-disc rear brake system with a lever-actuated, integrated park brake.

As I stated in my previous post it’s not clear who is the targeted demographic.  Is it something to take your poodle for a ride or a legitimate use to target the older demographic, or the more safety-conscious and/or disabled?

Interesting is the fact that the Harley-Davidson web site is devoid of ANY information or digital media animation about the Tri Glide.  Makes me wonder just how much this three-wheel strategy is being rolled out?

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Lehman TrikeWe’re all familiar with trikes. Most are a solid rear axle with two rear wheels bolted to an  Electra Glide, right? (Photo courtesy Lehman Trike web site)

Last year Harley Davidson signed a deal with Lehman Trikes USA of Spearfish, SD to design and build Harley based trikes for its riders.

Part of this move is the demographics of Harley riders who are getting older and HD is looking to expand its fan base so, it’s looking to fill the three-wheel niche.  And speaking of niche, the Canadian company BRP is showing off the Can-Am Spyder (MSRP: $14,999).  It sits about 45″ tall, and promises sports-car handling and has it pair of wheels in the front rather than the rear.  It looks like a personal watercraft or snowmobile on wheels.  BRP is a privately held spin off of aerospace company Bombardier which happens to be one of the largest makers of watercrafts and snowmobiles so, the comparisons are natural.
 
Can-Am SpyderIn front, the double A-arm suspension offers 5.7″ of travel to the pair of 14-inch wheels. An anti-roll bar limits the amount of lean on corners. The rear end uses a mono-shock on a conventional swingarm, with an aluminum 15 x 7-inch wheel on an automotive-type 225/50 rear tire. (Spyder Can-Am photo by Jim Smithson, Bombardier)

The marketing spin is… the Spyder is the “perfect balance between performance and peace of mind” or so says Marc Lacroix, Product Mgr.

Further complicating the trike issue is that in three states (CA, Del, SC) you don’t need an motorcycle endorsement to drive one!  There are only 11 states who have resale rights to the Spyder.  Nothing in the Northwest so, you’ll need to head to CA. to put down some money for your spring ’08 anticipated delivery date.  If the wait is too long then Piaggio (MP3) makes a similar (MSRP: $6999) dual-front wheel scooter

So is this just another step in the evolution of Harley Davidson into a motorized “wheelchair” company as they follow the “blue hairs” to the grave?  Is it something to take your poodle for a ride or a legitimate use to target the safety-conscious and support the disabled?

You choose…

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