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2018 CVO Lineup

It’s arrogant at best and obscene at worst.

I’m talking about the CVO pricing that Harley-Davidson management approved for the 2018 models.  Now that we’ve had a couple days to digest the euphoric feeling of the new 2018 models, we’re left with a gnawing and burning sensation in our stomach that even a spoonful of sodium bicarbonate won’t put an end too.

I can’t help but wonder if the new head of design, Brad Richards, who replaced Willie G. after more than 40 years is singing that new Taylor Swift single, “Look What You Made Me Do,” after going full-tilt Goth and dripping black on so many of the new designs.

2018 CVO Street Glide

Unless you’ve won the lotto, you’ll be crunching numbers very late into the night to learn how to squeeze a new Harley CVO into the garage without breaking the discretionary entertainment budget!  They are expensive!  In a small way, we have Polaris to thank for exiting the market with Victory motorcycles and reducing Harley-Davidson pricing pressures.

I’m reminded of the Mylan EpiPen scalping gone wrong in the pharmaceutical industry.  Will we see the motor company deploy industry “experts” to justify the value of overtly expensive models and purport to quantify the net social benefits of belonging to the riding “lifestyle?”  If they do, it’s likely to be based on a complicated economic model and include scholarly speeches, articles, blogs and conferences to lend prestige on the whole “we’re doing everything in manufacturing to keep our prices down” lobbying blitz.

2018 CVO Road Glide

The fact is, Harley-Davidson is a luxury brand cleverly disguised as a blue collar, workin’ man’s brand.

Millions of marketing dollars are spent every year on campaigns to drive home the point that it’s name is synonymous with regular, working class folk.

But, have you seen their luxury price increases on the 2018 CVO models?  Harley-Davidson has exceeded the price range of BMW and Ducati, two brands with a public perception of being expensive toys for the upper-class.

Most of us will never get to experience the CVO results of Harley-Davidson’s labors for ourselves, thanks to prices ranging from $40,000 to $43,000.  Specifically the MSRP pricing is:

2018 CVO Road Glide — $41,399 (not available in 2017)
2018 CVO Street Glide — $39,949 (+$2150 above 2017 price)
2018 CVO Limited — $42,949 (+$1950 above 2017 price)

2018 CVO Limited

I’ve written about Harley-Davidson’s sales and marketing woes.  Much of it outside their control, but we can’t absolve the motor company of any responsibility for these arrogant price hikes.  Harley-Davidson owns this one.  The pricing backlash has already begun across the motorcycle forums and the whole thing leaves a bad taste in consumers’ mouth — of all age groups!

For example, the CVO Limited jumped $1950 from 2017 to 2018.  Beyond paint, there are NO significant upgrades on the 2018 model.  Looking at web pages indicates the only “NEW” item was the addition of a Bluetooth wireless connection module to the stereo.  This may have been as simple as a firmware update to the BOOM stereo system.  Let’s assume it was a hardware addition.  A Cardo bike-to-bike intercom with dual handsfree to connect up multiple bluetooth-enabled mobile phones retail for less than $300.  That would mean the price increased $1650.

Let’s look at the 2018 CVO Street Glide — Harley-Davidson removed the radiator and abandoned water cooled heads as the lowers now have speakers along with another power amp to drive the sound “bubble.”  They’ve provided similarly configured models in the past.  The company added Bluetooth wireless connection to the stereo and created a “NEW” Gun Metal grey paint, however, they jacked the price up over $2100 above the 2017 model.

The CVO Road Glide is a bit trickier to do a price comparison as the last time they offered a similarly stripped down version of the CVO Road Glide was back in 2013 (remember the Cat Whisper paint stripe scheme which was priced at $33,999?) and it was based on the old 110cu.in. engine, old radio and outdated fairing, frame etc.  Harley-Davidson skipped a year and then for 2015 they offered up that behemoth CVO Road Glide Ultra at $36,649 which included all the accouterments which was based on ‘Project Rushmore’ enhancements that other touring bikes received.  It’s not a pure apple-to-apple comparison, but this basically equates to a $7,400 price increase over a 5 model year period.  Which is incredible given the low rate of inflation and manufacturing cost reductions.

Are the financial analysts really scratching their heads wondering why riders don’t line up to lay down these $$ on a motorcycle?

In fairness, Harley-Davidson does make some decent, affordable bikes in their Street lineup.  But they still have a bit of that stigma — which is backed up by most of their current lineup — of putting heritage before innovation and that’s turning some of the riding youth away from the brand.  Harley isn’t as strong a competitor in terms of bang-for-the-dollar with the likes of Triumph, Ducati and the Japanese manufactures.

Even the blue collar, workin’ man who can afford a nice bike will certainly take a look at the local Indian dealer and realize that the competition is making all-American cruisers that indeed have an appeal and nearly every model is priced less than a new Harley-Davidson.

It boggles the mind how according to Harley-Davidson management, the new 2018 motorcycles are less expensive for Harley to manufacture, with simpler frames and more commonality of parts yet they’ve rolled out what looks like an orgy of price scalping.

Photo courtesy of Harley-Davidson

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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The 2012 Progressive International Motorcycle show will soon hit the northwest on December 16-18th at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.

Attendees can check-out new bikes from Aprilia, Beta, BMW, Brammo, BRP, Darwin, Ducati, Erik Buell Racing, Gas Gas, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Husqvarna, Indian, Kawasaki, KTM, Moto Guzzi, MV Agusta, Norton, Star, Suzuki, Triumph, Victory and Yamaha.  There will also be the latest aftermarket parts and accessories.

Not only will there be new bikes, but the show is jammed pack with other events and activities.

There is the Learning Curve – an interactive stage with industry experts presenting a variety of motorcycling topics for both new and experienced riders including adventure riding, motorcycle maintenance, increasing bike performance, seminars for women riders and more.   There will be Demo Rides for licensed motorcyclists.  There is the Custom Bike Show – where motorcycle builders will showcase elite-level custom motorcycles competing for a piece of a $90,000 cash purse prize and a chance to compete in the U.S. Championship, at the Daytona Beach Motorcycle Show, in March.

The Smage Bros will have a motorcycle trials stunt riding show and attendees will also get a chance to create their own motorcycle design at the Kawasaki Design-A-Bike kiosk, featuring a brand new digital spray-painting technology available only at these shows.

See you there!

Photo courtesy of Progressive.

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Triumph -- Jolie -- Salt

The persona projects a take-no-prisoners ferocity along with unapologetic James Bond intelligence.

I’m talking about Angelina Jolie and her movie ‘Salt‘, a spy thriller where she plays Evelyn A. Salt, a rogue CIA agent who tries to clear her name after being accused of being a Russian sleeper spy.  The movie released this past weekend to fairly positive reviews and attendance figures.  Being a mom of six you’d think taking the kids to see Toy Story 3 would be the goal of the day vs. getting back to gunslinging and fistfighting while clinging to the side of a building, leaping from a balcony or racing a motorcycle.  But actors need to earn a living too and this is a chance to show off the action-star talent again in what many see as another franchise – can you say ‘Salt 2’?

Scoring a major product placement opportunity in the film was motorcycle manufacture Triumph.  Jolie was filmed in a motorcycle chase scene as the ‘Salt’ character rides a 2009 Triumph Street Triple R in the film.

Photo courtesy of Triumph

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H-D XR1200X

Some might see this as a big yawn… others will think it’s a totally new motorcycle.   I’m talking about the XR1200X Sportster which recently received a refresh for foreign markets, and will be available in the U.S. as a 2011 model.

The latest incarnation has:

  • Showa Big Piston Front fork (BPF) eliminates many of the internal components used in a cartridge-type fork.
  • Showa rear shocks feature 36mm pistons with piggy-back nitrogen charged reservoirs and adjustable compression damping.
  • Nissin dual front brakes feature 292mm full-floating rotors and four-piston calipers.
  • Black powdercoat finish 1200 cc V-Twin engine features downdraft Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection, high-performance camshafts, precision oil-cooled cylinder heads and a large-capacity oil cooler.
  • Upswept, high-volume 2-1-2 straight-shot exhaust system with satin black finish.
  • Chassis features a high-performance designed tubular mild steel frame. The rigid, cast-aluminum swing-arm is engineered to enhance handling.
  • Dunlop Qualifier D209 tires were designed specifically for the XR1200X.
  • Three-spoke lightweight cast-aluminum wheels, 18-inch front / 17-inch rear, are finished in gloss black with an orange pinstripe on the rim.
  • Wide, black dirt-track handlebar for enhanced steering leverage and comfort.
  • Rear-set foot pegs for additional cornering clearance.
  • Compact instrument display with white-faced analog tachometer, digital speedometer, dual trip meter and clock.
  • 3.5-gallon fuel tank with aircraft-style aluminum alloy fuel filler.
  • 29.2-inch seat height with standard passenger pillion and foot pegs.
  • Optional Harley-Davidson Smart Security System.

I think it might pull in a few of those not wanting to be accused of being “Harley Curious” when comparing a Triumph Speed Triple…

Photo courtesy of H-D.

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The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (BRMC for short) is an American alternative rock band from San Francisco.  They formed in 1998 and took the name from Marlon Brando’s motorcycle gang in the 1953 film, The Wild One.  In the film the gang was referred to Black Rebels MC.

But, I smell a legal battle because Marlon Brando’s estate signed off on a new project with Triumph Motorcycles to debut Brando-related apparel at the company’s dealerships. As you may recall Brando played a tough biker gang leader Johnny Strabler and rode a 1950 Triumph Thunderbird 6T.  The Triumph Legends Line will offer replica leather jackets inspired by the movie.  The replica includes key features of Brando’s original jacket right down to the embroidered ‘Johnny‘ name tag and the BRMC (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club) distressed print on the back of the jacket. They are also developing Brando print men’s and ladies’ T-shirts.

All of this will likely add to the “what-to-wear” debate and whether you’ll get beat down for imitating or wearing so-called “colors” of a motorcycle club (i.e. SOA: Son’s of Anarchy or BRMC).  Maybe you’re indifferent.   If so you wreak more Brando than you think.  He was famous in the movie for being outright contemptuous for contemporary middle-class society.  Asked what he was rebelling against and his response was “What have you got?”

Photo courtesy of Triumph

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mcqueen_metisseStop.  You had me at McQueen!  You didn’t need to remind me of the Triumph 6T engine and desert racing heritage to make me think it’s cool.

I’m talking about the Metisse Desert Racer.   The original Desert Racer was built by actor Steve McQueen and his friend, stuntman Bud Ekins for off-road competition.  The  photo (above) is of a replica. 

As an avid motorcycle enthusiast and product developer McQueen pulled together the first American team in the Olympics of motorcycle racing (International 6 Days Trials) held in East Germany in 1964.  The team consisted of McQueen, Bud Ekins, Dave (Bud’s bother) Ekins and Cliff Coleman.  Dave and Cliff both returned with gold medals.  McQueen continued to race the Triumph Metisse during 1966 and 1967.  The motorbike was originally built in Carswell Oxfordshire.  The distinctive design proved to be very successful and in 1973 the company received the prestigious Queen’s Award to Industry.

Steve McQueen - Metisse Desert Racer

Steve McQueen - Metisse Desert Racer

In 1980 the Rickman brothers ceased motorcycle manufacture. At about that time the original tooling and the remainder of the stock was sold off.  In 1982, Pat French purchased all of the company’s assets.  Production continued until the mid-90’s when the economic recession forced a decrease in production due to lack of demand.

Under license and the endorsement of the McQueen estate, the company will hand-build 300 authentic motorcycles.  The completed bikes use a fully reconditioned period Triumph TR6 engine and faithfully include the ideals employed by McQueen from years ago. They include items like the styled footrests, 35mm Ceriani forks, with seven inches of travel and the yokes are from BSA which is what McQueen preferred as the handlebar position was set behind the steering stem for better control.

It’s great to see the company bring back some of the magic and easy to visualize a clear sunny California morning – a perfect day to go racing in the desert on this bike!

Photos courtesy of Metisse web site and Flickr.

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indian_buttonsOn Christmas day the Paramount Pictures movie starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett opens.  Called “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” it’s a story adapted from the 1920’s story by Scott Fitzgerald about a man who is born in his eighties and ages backward.  Looks interesting.

There are a couple of motorcycles in the movie…at least from what I can view in the trailers.  One is a Triumph Twin (Blue) and the other is a Flathead Indian (Red).  Harley was unable to obtain a product placement in this episodic period film (starts at the end of WWI) which will clearly attract worldwide attention.  Why? Very odd.  The entire film is played in flashback manner and I’m thinking that Harley would like to be transported back in time to change the motorcycle props.

It’s been reported that Pitt’s “ol lady”, Angelina Jolie will give him a new motorcycle for his 45th birthday.  According to entertainment news it’s a new Ducati (Monster 1100S)!  The S model features 43mm titanium nitride-coated Ohlins forks.  I wonder if she thought to buy the DDA (Ducati Data Analyzer) accessory?  All top tier movie stars riding the busy streets of Hollywood need to record their riding data and analyze it while sipping refreshments on N. Rodeo Dr.

Photo’s courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

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