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Harley-Davidson Archives — Page 28 of 41 — Bikernet Blog - Online Biker Magazine

Harley-Davidson ridership course at UWM sees growth after second semester

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by Margaret Naczek from https://www.bizjournals.com/

Last spring, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee offered its first Harley-Davidson one-credit ridership class through the College of Health Sciences. Four students enrolled the first semester followed by an additional 16 students in the fall of 2019.

As students begin enrolling in classes for spring 2020, the director of the College of Health Sciences Ron Wiza said there are only four remaining slots available.

As the program grows, so do the amount of motorcycle riders, coinciding with Harley-Davidson’s “More Roads Lead to Harley-Davidson” strategic plan. Part of Harley-Davidson’s plan is the Broader Access goal to “create new pathways to Harley-Davidson, expanding access and appeal to more people around the world.”

The Milwaukee-based motorcycle manufacturer detailed that it hopes to create high-engagement customer experiences across all retail channels. The company’s “Amplify Brand” goal also encourages “enhancing the Harley-Davidson experience to inspire interest in riding, fostering Moto-culture and build an even bigger, more passionate community of Harley-Davidson riders.”

The program began as a partnership between Harley-Davidson and UW-Milwaukee. The company connected Wiza with Milwaukee Harley-Davidson dealership at 11310 W. Silver Spring Road.

“The other reason that we chose the Milwaukee Harley-Davidson location is because even though UW-Milwaukee is a commuter college where a lot of people don’t live on campus, there are still several thousand students that live in the surrounding community around UWM,” Wiza said, noting that it was important to pick a dealership that was either close to the campus or accessible on the transit line.

“Here at UWM, we’re kind of an urban campus. One of our selling points is we are always encouraging students who attend our university to experience the vast array of things that Milwaukee has to offer,” Wiza said. “With that in mind, we strive to create partnerships and develop opportunities with local well-known businesses and attractions in the Milwaukee area.”

Twenty-year-old Grace Oddis, a sophomore studying mechanical engineering at UWM, took the course in its inaugural semester.

“I knew the class was really expensive. I saw that UWM offered it as a credit. I thought that would be a great opportunity to take it and also get a credit, just for the goal of being able to ride on the road and feel comfortable,” Oddis said.

As a one-credit class, the students are required to commit about 48 hours of learning to that course. For the Harley-Davidson ridership class, students complete a pre-course and post-course assignment along with two evening sessions. The rest of the time is dedicated to a weekend at the dealership doing the physical motorcycle driving lessons.

“We learned a lot about motorcycle safety. That was the biggest thing — how to prevent things from happening, being able to go around different obstacles and keeping the bike straight on the safety course,” Oddis said.

Now the sophomore has her motorcycle license and is looking at buying a bike, something that would have taken longer if she had not participated in the course.

“I thought it was a great experience. You felt comfortable. You felt safe. I think it’s great to get more women involved in motorcycles and teaching them. This was a great way for a college student to be able to do that no matter what you’re going to school for,” she said.

Harley-Davidson did not respond to a Milwaukee Business Journal request for comments on the UWM program.

Duke’s Harley-Davidson closing in early 2020

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Duke’s Harley-Davidson is closing its doors early in the new year, but enthusiasts of the classic motorcycle will have a chance to get some holiday deals.

The business, located just off Highway 40 South, between Chatham and Blenheim, was established in 2005 by local entrepreneur and motoring enthusiast Rob Myers.

He said a lot of thought and consideration has gone into the decision to close the business.

“As an absentee owner, I thank my staff for their incredible hard work and leadership over the last 15 years,” Myers said in a media release.

“Duke’s is something I always thought would be a good business for a husband-and-wife team to be a partner of mine in, but I was never able to find the right partner,” he added.

“I’ve always enjoyed Harleys, and to own Duke’s has been a fun ride, but it’s time to move onto new projects.”

Myers received an early introduction to the motorcycling hobby after he traded his 1959 Edsel Corsair for a Triumph Bonneville motorcycle. From there, he went on to acquire other bikes and then a series of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, the last of which he still owns today.

Myers’ passion for bikes and deal-making led him to build Duke’s Harley-Davidson.

Following its closure, Myers will look for an appropriate tenant to re-lease the Duke’s Harley-Davidson building to.

Holiday sales have commenced at the business, which also features motorcycle parts, accessories and Harley-Davidson clothing.

Duke’s Harley-Davidson will fully honour any pre-existing agreements with customers regarding motorcycle storage and repairs, stated the media release.

Man robs Historic Harley Davidson, Topeka police find within 24 hours

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by Mark Feuerborn, Kelli Peltier from https://www.ksnt.com/

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – A local motorcycle vendor and museum thanked the Topeka Police Department after a man stole cash and property from their building.

29-year-old Floyd Earl Taylor III, the man accused of breaking into Harley-Davidson in Topeka, is in jail.

Harley Davidson of Topeka’s general manager, Eli Geiger, said a burglar broke in on Monday night.

“It was a sinking feeling. You know it’s a terrible feeling,” Geiger said.

The burglar got away with money, merchandise, and even took items belonging to employees.

Police were able to find the suspect the next day.

“The detective work was spot on, they were quick and very thorough and led to an arrest,” Geiger said.

Officers arrested Taylor on Tuesday at the Capitol Plaza hotel and found all of the stolen items.

Taylor faces charges of burglary and theft of items and cash totaling more than $1,500, according to his booking record. Taylor also faces an additional charge for possession of a controlled substance.

Taylor is in the Shawnee County Jail on a combined $20,000 bond.

Recall: Rear Brakes On Harley Trikes Could Activate On Their Own

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by Sabrina Giacomini from https://www.rideapart.com/

A software issue poses a safety hazard.

The NHTSA has issued a recall by Harley-Davidson on three models of trikes that could potentially present a software issue that could cause the rear brakes to activate on their own. Here are the details.

Harley-Davidson Motor Company has issued a recall on over 12,500 trikes in the United States for a potential brake problem due to a faulty software. The company estimates that roughly one percent of the 12,624 recalled units are actually affected by the problem. The models targeted by this recall are:

  • 2019-2020 Harley-Davidson FLHTCUTG (Classic Ultra Tri Glide)
  • 2020 Harley-Davidson FLHTCUTGSE (CVO Tri Glide)
  • 2019-2020 Harley-Davidson FLRT (Freewheeler)

The three models of Harley trike are equipped with an electro-hydraulic control unit (EHCU) that manages the Trike Traction Control System. The company found that the EHCU could present an error and cause the traction control to respond incorrectly to a faulty rear-wheel speed signal. This could lead to one of the rear brakes to engage on its own and cause the trike to suddenly change direction. The loss of control that could result from it could ultimately cause a crash.

The Harley-Davidson dealers should already be aware of the issue and letters to the owners affected have been sent at the beginning of December. Owners are invited to make an appointment with their Harley-Davidson dealer to have their trike checked. Should the vehicle present the software issue, the system will be updated which should eliminate the error. The service will be provided free of charge.

Should they have any questions or concerns, owners of one of the models involved in the recall are invited to call the Harley-Davidson customer service line at 1-800-258-2464 to have their VIN verified. The company’s internal number for this recall is 0175. Customers are also welcome to address their inquiries to the NHTSA’s hotline service at 1-888-327-4236.

Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man

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by Chris Bumbray from https://www.joblo.com

THE STORY: The year is 1996 – the future. A biker (Mickey Rourke) and his cowboy pal (Don Johnson) team up to save their favorite bar from going under. To pull this off, they plan a heist but wind up in possession of a massive load of a popular new street drug called “Crystal Dream.”

THE PLAYERS: Starring: Mickey Rourke, Don Johnson, Chelsea Field, Giancarlo Esposito, Tom Sizemore, and Daniel Baldwin. Directed by Simon Wincer.

“I was fortunate enough to work on a film with Don, the only bad part was-the director sucked, but Don knew so much about behind the camera stuff, he used to tell director where to put the camera. It would be my pleasure to let anyone know Don Johnson is a very great actor and has been underrated for many years. I mean the guy so good looking, all he has to do is blink and you can’t take your eyes off him.- Mickey Rourke’s Instagram

THE HISTORY: Both Mickey Rourke and Don Johnson were in transition in 1991. Rourke was coming off of a slew of disastrous films, including the much-maligned WILD ORCHID and DESPERATE HOURS, while Johnson was still struggling to establish himself as a leading man in the wake of “Miami Vice” finishing its TV run. Thus, the two signed on to do this high profile, big-budget action flick, which I’m sure seemed like a can’t miss proposition at the box office to them both – this being the heyday of R-rated action.

Suffice to say, the movie was met with uniform hostility from critics, with many mocking the product placement in the title, with the leads being named after their favorite brand of motorcycle and cigarette. BUTCH CASSIDY & THE SUNDANCE KID this was not. It wasn’t helped that the film was marred by Rourke and Johnson publicly bad-mouthing it before it opened. In the end, the film’s box office performance wound up being disastrous, grossing only $7.4 million domestic. Ouch.

WHY IT’S GREAT: HARLEY DAVIDSON & THE MARLBORO MAN benefits tremendously from the second wave of popularity both of its leading men got later in their careers. At the time, Mickey Rourke was seen as a pain in the ass who squandered his talent and to be sure, the man soon left Hollywood altogether to take up boxing, only to finally make a huge comeback with THE WRESTLER years later. Whether or not his reputation was earned is questionable, but in hindsight, many of his late eighties films hold up well, so perhaps there was something else going on in the minds of critics. Ditto Don Johnson, who was trying to break out from TV, something you just didn’t do back then. You were either a TV actor or a film actor. You’d get the occasional Bruce Willis or Denzel Washington, but for the most part, the jump just wasn’t made – which is a shame as Johnson made some good flicks in the era, including DEAD BANG and the crazy underrated THE HOT SPOT.

Flash-forward to 2019 and both stars are icons in their way. While Rourke’s never-ending series of DTV movies have marred his rep somewhat, he also did THE WRESTLER and proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he’s still got it where it counts. As for Johnson, he beat the comeback trail with the great COLD IN JULY and contributed memorable roles to films like BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99 and ALEX OF VENICE. With KNIVES OUT in theaters and his role on HBO’s “Watchmen” getting him some of the best notices of his career, Johnson is back in the limelight, making this the opportune moment to revisit HARLEY DAVIDSON AND THE MARLBORO MAN.

I’ll be the first to admit – this isn’t a great film. But, if you can take it as goofy fun evocative of its time, it’s a memorable little lost nineties gem. You get exactly what kind of movie this is gonna be right off the bat, where Rourke foils a convenience store robbery to save a pretty young cashier (played by Kelly Hu) while Ted Wass (of “Blossom”!) snarls, “I’m gonna cut you long, wide and deep motorhead!” It’s a modern (for the time) version of an old Roger Corman B-movie, and in many ways predicted the FAST & FURIOUS franchise, with the emphasis on close-knit groups of outlaws becoming “family” and fetishized vehicles, here being motorbikes rather than cars.

Rourke takes the piss out of his role, with Harley a tough guy, but also one nursing a broken heart, with the best twist being that he has no idea how to fire a gun despite his best efforts. Similarly, Johnson brings an outlaw swagger to his denim cowboy part and had this been a better film, you could easily see the two leading a whole series – but the film just isn’t quite good enough.

I’d wager the problems stem from poor villains, with Tom Sizemore appropriately oily, although he should have been second fiddle. Ditto Daniel Baldwin, who doesn’t seem enough of a physical threat to the hulking Rourke or Johnson for that matter. Yet, the film has some decent action set pieces and a fun supporting cast, including a very young Giancarlo Esposito and Vanessa Williams. Plus, the score by Basil Poledouris is excellent, with good use of Bon Jovi’s “Wanted: Dead or Alive”.

BEST SCENE: Johnson’s swaggering Marlboro Man is a cool creation and he seems to be having the time of his life playing the part to its hilt. I especially like when he lays out his philosophy of life while kicking ass at the pool (Johnson seemed to have mad skills – with both this and “Miami Vice” frequently showing off how good he was behind a cue).

PARTING SHOT: Again, I hesitate to call this one a classic, but it’s an action flick I enjoy watching with some pals and a couple of beers. Heck, I make no bones about the fact that I’m a big fan of both leading actors and it’s an interesting look at a franchise that could have been with a better script and more creative direction.

A soldier tried to buy a motorcycle in Anchorage. His lawyer says he was targeted by a ‘yo-yo scam’

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by Zachariah Hughes from https://www.alaskapublic.org

This past August, Army Specialist Austin Deehan bought a 2014 Harley Davidson from a dealership in south Anchorage.

“It felt great. It was a beautiful bike,” Deehan said.

He made a $2,599 down payment, and financed the remaining $10,630 with at a decent interest rate.

But 19 days later, when he called the bank about setting up monthly payments, they told him the loan had never been approved. That, Deehan said, is when he knew something was wrong.

On Tuesday, Deehan filed a civil case in state Superior Court alleging misconduct by a local car dealership over a financial arrangement critics call a “yo-yo scam.” Though hardly a blockbuster piece of litigation, it highlights something federal regulators, lawyers, and financial services observers say is commonplace: nationally, military service members are some of the most commonly targeted demographics for credit and financing scams.

When Deehan spoke to the bank he believed was financing his loan, they told him the denial was because his application was missing paperwork.

He went back to the dealership, Chevrolet of South Anchorage, where he was told that since the financing deal didn’t go through he would need to take out a more expensive loan, he said.

“They gave me two options: Either I could refinance the bike with a higher interest rate, or I could return the motorcycle and lose my whole down payment,” Deehan said.

That’s when Deehan sought out legal assistance at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, where he is stationed. His complaint was filed by the Northern Justice Initiative, a private firm that handles civil rights cases. According to Nick Feronti, one of the lawyers on the case, the dealership wrongly told Deehan that if he returned the motorcycle the company would keep the full balance of the down payment, plus charge him hefty mileage and daily-use fees that are generally prohibited under Alaska law.

“The dealership actually tried to use an illegal contract to coerce him,” Feronti said. “The way the law is supposed to work is: they tell you you have financing, and then if you don’t get approved, well you can bring the vehicle back and get your down payment back.”

He believes the actions alleged are a textbook example of a “yo-yo scam.”

“These dealerships will count on consumers to buy a car, buy a motorcycle,” Feronti said. “You go home and show it off to your family and you’re feeling really happy about it. And then later on you learn that for whatever reason you actually have to accept much worse financing.”

Reached by phone, Chevrolet of South Anchorage General Manager David Raff wouldn’t agree to a recorded interview. He had not seen the complaint, and said he was only able to speak in general terms. But he defended the business’s practices, saying there are no shady financing deals or use-fees, in part because in a state as small as Alaska those kinds of things would damage the company’s reputation. Asked about an allegation in the complaint that Raff called Deehan in September and “threatened to make his ‘life a living hell’ unless he immediately returned the motorcycle,” Raff said it wouldn’t be appropriate to comment on a specific legal case. He added that if there were those kinds of complaints against the business, they should be assessed against the company’s otherwise strong record.

Online, that record does not look great.

In the last three years, 10 complaints have been filed with the Better Business Bureau against Chevrolet of South Anchorage, ranging from accusation of shoddy mechanical work to what sound like predatory financing arrangements. With 29 reviews, the business has two stars on Yelp, many of them making similar complaints.

The dealership is part of Lithia Motors, one of the country’s largest car retailers. Over the years, Lithia has had multiple class action lawsuits filed against it over business practices. Kara Southard, corporate counsel for Lithia Motors, said she had received the complaint in the Anchorage case, but was not able to comment on it.

State officials in Alaska recognize that servicemembers are frequent targets of scams.

“There’s national data out there that says that a lot of scams are perpetrated against members of the military, that’s a really common thing,” said John Haley, the assistant district attorney in charge of the Department of Law’s Fraud Division.

Those complaints are often taken up by U.S. Government agencies like the Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Department of Justice, all of which have special efforts to specifically combat fraud against active duty military and veterans. According to Haley, state offices like his don’t get a large volume of calls from active-duty military, but they understand the reasons they are often targeted.

“Scammers want go after members of the military because they have very steady paychecks that are guaranteed by the government,” Haley said. “And because so many of the members of the military are relatively young people who are getting money and getting paychecks for the first time.”

Eventually, Specialist Deehan got his down payment back. He’s suing the car dealership for damages of up to $10,000 plus legal costs. And he wants the dealership to agree to halt the lending practices he believes are wrong.

“There’s guys out there that are fresh out of high school that I work with, and if they went through the same situation that I went through they probably would have signed another contract” Deehan said. “That’s just not ok.”

Deehan no longer has the Harley Davidson, but hopes to get another after he leaves the Army next year.

The Toys for Tots Ride With Wild West Harley Davidson and Cooks Garage Is Sunday

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Join in the fun this Sunday, November 24th, at Cook’s Garage for a great, big seasonal Toys for Tots celebration with Wild West Harley Davidson.

Help to make the season bright by bringing a toy for Toys for Tots, and enjoy plenty of festivities at Cook’s Garage (11002 Highway 87). According to their Facebook page, Sunday Funday kicks off at 11 a.m.

Enjoy live music all day and get ready, because the Wild West Toys for Tots run rolls out at 2 p.m. with the Wild West Harley Davidson ride at 5702 58th Street.

You can support Toys for Tots this season when you buy a raffle ticket for a 2003FXDWG 100th Anniversary edition motorcycle to be given away Sunday at Wild West Harley Davidson as well.

Make plans to get in on the celebration this Sunday and help make a bright Christmas for children in need with Toys for Tots, Cooks Garage and Wild West Harley Davidson.

Harley-Davidson Hits the Slopes with Street Rod Snow Bikes

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by Jason Marker from https://www.rideapart.com

Harley-Davidson and Suicide Machine Company built a pair of extremely rad Street Rod-based snow bikes for the X Games.

What do you get when you cross a Street Rod 750, a snow track kit, and the know-how of a couple of ace fabricators? Well, you get a pair of killer Street Rod-based snow bikes like these two beauties right here. Now, I hear you. I hear you asking, “But Jason, why?” The short answer is, “Why not?” The long answer is that the X-Games are coming up and Harley wants to go play in the snow with the cool kids.

A week or so ago, we told you about Harley’s new Snow Hill Climb event at the 2018 X Games out in Aspen, CO. Apparently that wasn’t the only thing The Motor Company had up its sleeve for the event, as I found out earlier this week when I got to talk with Scott Beck, Harley-Davidson’s director of marketing. Along with the customized Sportsters taking part in the hill climb, Harley hired known hooligans and all-around cool guys Aaron and Shaun Guardado from Suicide Machine Company to build the Street Rod Snow Bikes to haul athletes around between events. That’s… that’s pretty rad, Harley.

One of the first things I asked Beck was, “Why the X Games?” I’ll be honest, when I think Harleys I think more about lonesome highways and open roads rather than, say, snowboarding and energy drinks. Beck told me that the hill climb event and the snow bikes are all part of Harley’s efforts to attract more people to motorcycling via the power of awesomeness.

“For 115 years H-D riders from all walks of life have expressed their freedom from the seat of America’s favorite motorcycle, so it’s natural for us to continue to blaze trails – this time off the road and in the snow,” Beck told me. “We’ve raced the ice and climbed virtually every kind of hill, and the Harley-Davidson Snow Hill Climb is another way for us to grow the sport of motorcycling. We know our riders, and X Games fans and athletes alike share a passion for adrenaline and speed.”

That’s great and all, but what you guys really want to know about is the bikes themselves, right? Lucky for you I also talked to Aaron Guardado of Suicide Machine about the build to find out how these things were built and what makes them tick.

The bikes started off as bone stock XG750 Street Rods, which the brothers received from Harley just before Christmas. That kicked off a frantic search for track conversion kits, a search complicated by the fact that these things are so popular that they’re sold out just about everywhere and Christmas was in a few days. After a flurry of phone calls, they finally tracked down two Camso DTS-129 kits at a dealership in Salt Lake City, Utah, on December 23. The track conversion kits arrived at Suicide Machine’s Long Beach shop on Christmas Eve, delivered by the SLC dealer himself in his wife’s Jeep, but that was just the beginning.

If you don’t know – and I didn’t know until Aaron told me – track conversion kits like the Camso units are built specifically for dirt bikes, not street bikes. This meant that both the bike and the track unit itself would have to be modified to make the project work. The guys started by removing the Street Rods’ swingarm, rear tire, and shocks. They then fabricated a pair of struts with quick-release hardware to connect the track unit to the bikes themselves. This was complicated by the fact that the track unit was just a hair narrower than the bike, which threw off the chain allignment. With the help of a machinist friend, the Guardados built a handful of spacers and other adapters to get the drive chain aligned with the bike’s primary drive. Thankfully, since the track has its own integral suspension, they didn’t have to deal with finding a way to spring it as well as mount it.

Up front, they removed the front wheel and fender to mount the conversion kit’s ski. Using the stock Street Rod axle, forks, and triple trees and some custom machined spacers, they were able to mount the ski with much less drama than the track. It still wasn’t quite right though. See, the skis only come in white, which just wasn’t going to cut it. Since, as we all know, black is the coolest color, the guys had the skis ceracoated black. This improved not only their aesthetics, but added an additional layer of protection to keep the skis safe from any debris or obstacles lurking in the snow.

On the performance side, the Guardados chose to give the bikes a light tune and fancy-pants new clutches. Each one got a Screamin’ Eagle pro street tuner, Screamin’ Eagle intake, and Screamin’ Eagle exhaust. The latter needed a bit of fiddling to get it to fit since the stock mounts were removed when the track was installed. To improve power delivery and make these frankenbikes easier to manage, the brothers switched out the stock clutches for Radius X auto-clutches from Rekluse. These things consist of an auto-clutch assembly and a custom clutch pack and allow a rider to start, stop, and shift without ever touching the clutch lever. Aaron told me that the Rekluse clutches make the Street Rods respond to throttle input more like something with a CV transmission than a standard gearbox, therefore making them easier to control in the snow.

Once all the machining and fiddling and finessing was done, it was time for the Guardados to test their new creations. Sadly, there was no snow because, you know, California, so the bikes were just fired up on the bench and tested in the shop. Everything looked okay, so the bikes were loaded up and shipped out to Aspen for their shakedowns. Once the bikes were in the snow, they really showed off their potential. The Street Rods proved surprisingly well suited for the snow bike conversion, and with the engine tune and Rekluse clutch they powered through the drifts like they were built for it. At one point during all the screwing around in the snow serious testing, Olympic snowboarder Ben Ferguson showed up with fellow snowboarder Jack Mitrani. After oohing and aahing over the bikes for a bit, they snagged one and started towing each other through the snow while kicking up serious rooster tails. This was, without a doubt, the perfect way to test them.

During our conversation, Aaron told me that despite the stresses of building these bikes over the holidays with such a tight deadline, that he was really proud of how they came out. He felt that the project stretched the boundaries of not just the brothers’ skills as builders and fabricators, but the capabilities of the Street Rod as well.

I gotta say, these snow bikes are extremely rad. They’re such a departure from the usual Harley-based customs, and they really show off the versatility of the Street Rod platform. I mean, who ever would have thought making a Street Rod into a snow bike? If you’re going to be in Aspen this weekend, or are just enjoying the X Games from the comfort of your warm living room, keep an eye out for them zipping around the event grounds.

Does Indian Motorcycle Have a Harley-Davidson Problem?

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by Rich Duprey from https://www.fool.com/

Sales remained aloft longer than its rival, but now even its sales are falling.

As much as falling motorcycle sales at Harley-Davidson (NYSE:HOG) have been attributed to its core customer aging out of the market while the next generation of riders seems uninterested in buying the big bikes it produces, Indian Motorcycle sidestepped most of the same pitfalls even though it produces many of the same kinds of motorcycles as Harley does.

Since being resurrected from bankruptcy by Polaris Industries (NYSE:PII) and returned to the market in 2014, Indian has been a steady performer with retail sales often rising in the double-digit percentages. That has allowed it to steal market share from Harley, whose sales often contracted at similar percentages.

Yet with Polaris’ third-quarter earnings report released last month, investors may have to accept that Indian Motorcycle now has its own Harley-Davidson problem.

A worsening sales decline
Polaris Industries is not transparent at all when it comes to telling you how its motorcycle business is performing. Where Harley breaks down sales and shipments by geographic region and type of motorcycle, Polaris provides vague percentage increases or declines, maybe calling out a model once in a while, but never giving investors any real insight into how Indian’s various motorcycles are performing.

What we do know is that despite double- and even triple-digit sales growth early on, Indian Motorcycle sales are now quickly spiraling down. Even as Polaris obscures the actual numbers, a mid-teen-percentage decline in retail sales that far eclipses the contraction of the broader motorcycle market suggests that this is becoming a big problem for the bike maker.

Worse, the downdraft is accelerating. In the second quarter, Polaris said Indian retail sales were down by almost 10%, while in the first quarter they were down by high single-digit rates. In last year’s fourth quarter they were down by low double-digit amounts, which was a big drop since they had been positive the quarter before.

That doesn’t bode well for when Polaris reports results the next time around. Even though the bar has been lowered considerably on sales, there’s no reason to think it will be able to rebound — precisely because Indian is still making the same kinds of heavy, big-bore bikes as Harley.

It just released its newest touring motorcycle, the 2020 Challenger, that houses its bigger, more muscular liquid-cooled PowerPlus engine that evokes images of Harley’s Road Glide.

Looking to reverse direction
Certainly both bike makers are hoping to change the equation. Harley has gone all-in on electric motorcycles — a field Polaris rejects, saying they’re unprofitable — along with two new styles it recently unveiled that represent a big change for the bike maker: the Bronx streetfighter and the Pan America adventure bike. They’re smaller, lighter, and meant for a different kind of riding than typified by Harley’s cruisers.

Polaris has also introduced a new bike, the FTR 1200, which was inspired by its racing team’s success on the flat-track circuit. While many enthusiasts had hoped for a street version of the FTR 750 that was tearing up the track, Polaris came out with a somewhat bigger, more powerful bike that it also hopes changes the conversation about its products.

But the introduction of the FTR 1200 was flawed in several respects. Polaris was late to market with the bike, so it missed a good part of the sales season, and then misjudged demand for the different models, believing more buyers would want the base model when in reality there was higher demand for the race replica version.

The new model helped lift international sales in the quarter, but it may be a while before we see any impact here at home. Motorcycle sales typically dry up during the winter months, and it’s still unknown what kind of demand will be there come the spring.

The outlook isn’t bright for biking
Polaris Industries, unlike Harley, is more than just a motorcycle maker. It also makes side-by-side recreational vehicles, snowmobiles, utility vehicles, and more recently boats. They help the powersports vehicle maker smooth out sales over the year. And motorcycles only account for 9% of total revenue.

Yet with motorcycle sales deepening even further into the red, Indian is mimicking the worst aspects of its rival at just the wrong time, and its problem could only get worse.