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Harley-Davidson Archives — Page 4 of 29 — Bikernet Blog - Online Biker Magazine

Harley-Davidson Silverstone Is a Motorcycle Bumblebee

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by Daniel Patrascu from https://www.autoevolution.com

After talking for quite some time about the builds coming out a German shop by the name of Thunderbike, one can confidently say that once you’ve seen one their builds, you’ve seen them all. Based largely on the same Milwaukee machines, they are generally moving displays of German custom parts, a sort of two-wheeled billboard if you like.

Yet these guys somehow manage to make each of these billboards look unique, and from time to time stunning. Like it’s the case with the heavily modified Breakout displayed here.

The bike is called Silverstone, and is one in a longer series meant to celebrate various racetracks around the world. Thunderbike calls this series GP, and we’ve already talked about two other builds belonging to it, the Laguna Seca and Grand Prix 2.

The series comprises both motorcycles based on custom Thunderbike frames, like the Grand Prix and Grand Prix 2, and ones based on Harley frames, like this here Silverstone. As said, this one is at its core a Breakout, one of the Germans’ favorite models.

Designed largely like most of the bikes in its series, the Silverstone is a wealth of parts combined and make to work together. From small to big (read from license plate lighting to fuel tank), they all make the build look uniquely incredible.

The perfectly matched parts are even more impressive thanks to the bright yellow color chosen for them, a color that fits it just as well as it fitted the Camaro-based Bumblebee from Transformers. In fact, with all the metal twisted together to form the bike, and the black and yellow sprayed all over, it wouldn’t be too far fetched to imagine this is how the Autobot might look like if it were a two-wheeler.

As most other Thunderbike builds, this one too is just for show and not a production bike. But if you will it, the Germans can probably build one for you.

1964 FL Panhead Is Today’s Dose of Old School Custom Harley-Davidson

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by Daniel Patrascu from https://www.autoevolution.com

Ever since Softails have come onto the motorcycle scene, garages across the world flocked to use them as a base for whatever project they had in mind. That means most of what’s out there now is based on newer motorcycles that, despite being generally cool, lack the old school appeal of older Harleys.

Take the 1964 FL Panhead in the gallery above. The FL is one of Harley’s historic lines, having started out in the early 1940s, and is generally seen as one of the best representative of the classic Harley look.

Whereas custom bikes based on more recent Harleys are favorites of the present-day online media, older ones such as this one here are stars of motorcycles shows big and small. But for the first time since ever, a global health crisis ended pretty much all such events planned for the year.

To fill the gap, Harley-Davidson announced on Tuesday (June 16) a week-long online event dedicated to some 60 not-so-famous bike builders that would have been the talk of show-goers at the now-canceled or postponed events.

The custom 1964 FL Panhead in the video below is a build made by one of those 60 builders. Its creator’s name is Eric Stein, and he is by no means a full-time motorcycle tuner, but an “operation’s manager” at some North Carolina company.
Since 2014, Stein used most of his spare time to customize motorcycles. This particular one, the most recent of the batch, is his 11th, and a good looking one at that.

Keeping things simple, the Panhead keeps true to the “older style bikes that are appreciated more” while at the same time adding a custom flavor through fine touches like the rear fender or the unique fuel tank – watch the video below for all the info Stein is willing to share about his bike.

 

Harley-Davidson Prison Break Is a Fat Boy Let Loose

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by Daniel Patrascu from https://www.autoevolution.com

The garage behind this Harley-Davidson Fat Boy conversion calls its creation “one of the elegant custom conversions.” They also call it Prison Break, despite it having nothing to do with the TV series, nor the actual act of breaking out of a prison.

The custom motorcycle is German in conception, being the work of a shop called Thunderbike. On the market customizing Harleys for the past 20 years or so, Thunderbike is one of the most active such garages outside the United States, and one we’ve become quite accustomed to as part of our Two-Wheeler Month coverage.

Generally, the shop goes out of its way to create unique interpretations of Milwaukee-made machines as a means to advertise the long list of custom parts it makes. The Prison Break is an advertising tool as well, and it was gifted with the name just to attract attention. And it succeeded, bringing the build before our eyes in a “simple and elegant” form.

Thunderbike based this build on the Fat Boy from 2018, making it a relatively recent creation. It sports the usual complement of custom parts that range from tiny elements like the license plate frame and turn signals to the more prominent wheels and the functional air ride suspension.

The wheels, which have always been the highlight of Thunderbike builds, are in this case of equal size front and rear, at 21-inches each. They’re not the most spectacular we’ve seen, yet they do seem to get the job done on this particular Fat Boy.

Mechanically, a Dr. Jekill & Mr. Hyde exhaust system, a pulley brake kit, and a fork lowering kit are all on deck to make the Prison Break look, feel and drive like an unchained Fat Boy, a tad different from what Harley usually spits out its factory doors.

The motorcycle is not for sale, but the parts used on it are. You can see them all at this link.

Harley-Davidson To Drop From S&P 500 As Coronavirus Batters Struggling Motorcycle Maker

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by Bill Roberson from https://www.forbes.com/

Iconic American motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson [HOG] continues to struggle. The company will move off the S&P 500 in the next week and will land on Standard and Poor’s MidCap 400 list of stocks instead, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Clothier Nordstrom Inc. and Alliance Data Systems Corp. will also fall off the S&P 500.

With a two-month work stoppage (since resumed) due to the pandemic coupled with an expected deep dive in sales due to the general halt in economic activity, the near future could be a rough ride. The most recent report on sales from the company show the numbers were down close to 18% year over year as of late April.

The S&P 500 delisting, set for June 22, comes while Harley-Davidson continues to navigate rough waters, including a personnel shuffle that included the CEO and a stock price that has hung in the $25 range during the pandemic but was as high as $73 in 2014 and over $40 per share in the last year. In the depths of virus-fueled market turmoil in April of this year, the share price dipped to nearly $15 but has since rebounded, almost reaching $30 just about a week ago. The drop from the index could hurt the stock price since many investors include companies in the S&P 500 as part of their portfolios.

Before the coronavirus and COVID-19 outbreak, the Milwaukee,Wisconsin-based maker of heavyweight cruisers – and a fully electric model – had been on a sales and stock price slide for several years as the company searched for new buyers. Their core – and highly loyal – customer base has slowly eroded due to age and competition, notably from a resurgent Indian, which was once Harley’s main sales and racing competitor before shuttering post-WWII. The brand was recently revived by outdoor recreation equipment Polaris and has targeted Harley’s market while also attracting new riders with their Scout and FTR models.

Under the tenure of now-departed CEO Mark Levatich, Harley embarked on a risky tangent into the world of electric vehicles and debuted the all-electric LiveWire motorcycle two years ago. While the bike has received favorable reviews, a price tag near $30,000 has been a tough sell while pioneers in the electric motorcycle space like Zero sell models with similar performance for nearly a third less. Before Levatich left the Motor Company, as Harley is also known, the CEO said more electric models, including bicycles, were on the way. New CEO Jochen Zeitz, a longtime board member known as a turnaround specialist, hasn’t yet laid out the specifics for Harley’s future, saying he plans to “rewire” the company with a 5-year plan for growth.

Part of Harley’s current conundrum is a perfect storm of a waning traditional customer base, expensive motorcycles, and young people who have high debt, myriad transportation options and little brand loyalty. Harley-Davidson has been working to build their international markets over the years and growth there has been a strong point along with their finance arm, but slumping overall sales have driven the company’s market cap to under $4 billion, or nearly half of what the S&P 500 regards as a minimum to make the list.

Tyler Technologies Inc., Bio-Rad Laboratories Inc. and Teledyne Technologies Inc. will all join the index, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Harley-Davidson TwentyOne Pirate Craves an Outlaw’s Life

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by Daniel Patrascu from https://www.autoevolution.com

“Treasures, women and fame: These are usually the intentions a pirate wants on land. Maybe this Fat Boy is not so far away from it…” This is how German custom motorcycle garage Thunderbike describes one of the most exciting addition to their garage, the TwentyOne Pirate.

As that short description reveals, the base for this build is the Fat Boy, one of the families of HD bikes born closer to our time. Only in this configuration it appears to be much cleaner and simpler in design, and it shows a somewhat more elegant stance.

The TwentyOne in the name is of course a reference to the bikes massive wheels. Not one, but two equally-sized 21-inch metal circles of Thunderbike make wrapped in rubber are the main connection between the motorcycle and the road.

As from where Pirate comes from, that’s probably just marketing, and a rather good one at that, as we’ve previously seen on other Thunderbike machines. The bike is named so just for kicks, because it doesn’t lack a leg (or a wheel, for that matter) and it doesn’t come with an eye patch.

It does come however with a long list of custom parts, over 40 of them in fact, some extreme and others less so. The handlebars, mirrors, turns signals, and pretty much every other small-sized hardware on the bike is new. And new or modified are some of the other, larger parts: fuel tank, fenders, swingarms, and so on (the full list of changes made can be found at this link).

Like most other Thunderbike builds, this too is a one-off, a display of what is available for purchase from Germany as aftermarket parts for Harley owners. It looks good enough though for it to be featured into some motorcycle flick, preferably ridden by some outlaw in search of money and fame.

This 1927 Harley-Davidson Model J Tracker Bike Looks Best With Mud On It

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by Mircea Panait from https://www.autoevolution.com

Justin Walls describes himself as a perfectionist. The founder and owner of Built the Traditional Way – BTTT on Instagram – pays so much attention to the finest of details. The Model J in the photo gallery is one of Justin’s one-off creations, and H-D has selected it for The No Show that will end on June 21st.

Originally produced by Harley-Davidson for military service, the all-round motorcycle was converted after World War I for civilian use. With this change, the Milwaukee-based manufacturer has also leveled up the J as the top-of-the-line motorcycle. Driven by the technological advancements of the war, the Model J boasts… wait for it… battery ignition and even electric lights!

Jokes aside, the two-cylinder bike has helped Harley-Davidson grow as a company and the U.S. consumer go places at a time when cars were still relatively expensive and hard to repair. Now that the history lesson is over, let’s take a look at the one-of-a-kind Model J that Justin Walls converted into a tracker motorcycle.

“A cut-down racer or whatever you want to call it, I built this bike in 2016.” Currently belonging to a friend of Justin, the muddy and scuffed J looks like it’s been enjoyed to the fullest in the past four years. Quite a difference from the full-blown show bike, but a tracker looks best with scars on it.

Featuring a 29 frame and a shortened seat post, the Model J also boasts redesigned castings that give it a hill climber look. The JD front end has been reinforced for obvious reasons, along with the three-bar reinforcements at the rear.

Justin has sourced the transmission from a 25 while the hub comes from a JD. The twin-cylinder motor “started life out as a 61 cubic inch (1.0 liter)” but it’s been stroked to 93 cubic inches for more suck-squeeze-bang-blow. The 1.5-liter engine also includes late-model pistons, a custom camshaft and valve pockets, and it’s set for high compression.

Come June 21st, only three builders will be awarded by Harley-Davidson out of a total of 60 from no fewer than 10 countries.

 

2016 Harley-Davidson Street 750 Indie Is a Custom Cafe Racer Played by Ear

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by Daniel Patrascu from https://www.autoevolution.com/

A lot of auto and moto shows have been canceled or postponed this year because of the health crisis, and that robbed us, at least momentarily, of the chance of seeing in the flesh some incredible machines. Like this custom 2016 Harley-Davidson Street 750 its builder calls Indie.

The bike was supposed to be shown at one of those many postponed events, but is now a star of a Harley-Davidson initiative called The No Show that aims to bring some of the custom bikes we missed in the flesh this year into the spotlight, via Internet of course.

The build we have in the gallery above and the video below started life as a 2016 750. That means it is part of the Street series, the one that when it was announced back in 2013 ended more than a decade of drought when it came to new models made in Milwaukee.

The Indie is an evolution of the 750 in that it was supposed to be lighter and better in handling than it’s stock counterpart. The bike’s maker, Dan Torres, is the owner of a “small garage shop called Milwaukee Moto,” and even if there was no actual design plan for this customized motorcycle, he must have known what he was doing.

The modifications made to the bike included the replacement of the front end with a Yamaha R1-based hardware, a new Honda CB200T fuel tank on top, and the placement of an external fuel pump right under the seat hump.

The paint scheme is custom as well, and dresses the Indie – named so after Indianapolis, from where the original 750 was purchased – in a cool combination of black and yellow.

The 2016 Harley-Davidson Street 750 Indie is part of a long list of custom Harley’s to be show over the course of this week. Stay tuned for more as part of our Two-Wheeler Month coverage.

 

Harley-Davidson Leads the List in Peak Demand for Motorcycles

By | General Posts

by Daniel Patrascu from https://www.autoevolution.com

Like most other countries in the world, the UK is set to relax its distancing measures as of this week, despite the health crisis being more severe than ever. Among the distancing measures to be kept is the obligation for the Brits to wear face-coverings on all public transport means on the island.

That decision seems to have scared people who would normally ride the tube or buses, and that is visible in the number of online searches for alternative means of transportation. Motorcycles and their derivatives seem to be in high demand these days, according to the figures provided by Auto Trader.

The organization says that compared to the same period last year, sales of motorcycles and mopeds exploded, reaching 180 and 2019 percent, respectively. Keep in mind this happens as sales of cars are dropping to levels not seen since the 1970s.

Online interest for such two-wheeled machines is at a peak as well, and the idea that this is not a passing trend is backed by other data as well: Brits are hell-bent on becoming motorcycle riders, and proof to that is the doubling of Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) riders must take before being allowed on the roads.

“It seems to be part and parcel of getting into a ‘new normal’. They’re relatively cheaper options for commuting, they can help you get around easily in congested urban areas, and they’re easier to park in tight spots,” said in a statement Auto Trader’s Rory Reid.

“They can also be a much more viable option than walking or cycling for the majority of people whose commute is longer than five miles.”

As far as what type of motorcycles the Brits prefer, two Harley-Davidson families, the Sportster and Softail, are among the most sought after, followed by the Yamaha R1 CBR1000RR and the Honda Fireblade.

Harley-Davidson Torqpedo Is a Brutal Full Package Custom

By | General Posts

by Daniel Patrascu from https://www.autoevolution.com

There are few custom motorcycle garages out there that have created so many projects that they can split them into series. The Germans from Thunderbike are one of those garages, as we’ve kept telling you for the past month or so.

With so many custom motorcycles in Thunderbike’s portfolio – all either Harley-based, or built on a custom frame but powered by a Harley engine – we’ll probably keep talking about them for the rest of June, which here at autoevolution is Two-Wheeler Month.

For today we chose the Torqpedo, a Softail Breakout-based build that is part of the garage’s Racer Series, alongside the TB-R1, and it is described as being the receiver of the full package of custom parts available in Thunderbike’s portfolio.

That means most of the elements on the Torqpedo, from the toppers to the suspension, are of custom design, and were made by either Thunderbike itself, or by third party partners like Dr. Jekill & Mr. Hyde in the case of the exhaust system, or Ingo Kruse when it comes to the paint.

The entire construction of the bike’s body sets it miles apart from the original Breakout, but perhaps the biggest contribution to that distinct look are the huge wheels, with the front one from a collection called Vegas and sized at 23 inches. What’s more, a pulley brake system was fitted so that the view of the wheels is not obstructed by other elements.

With the tank and the tail designed according to the garage to “form an unmistakable racer line,” the Torqpedo is an older project of the shop, but one that like most others shows how much potential Harley motorcycles have when it comes to customization options.

You can see all the modifications made to it in the detailed photos attached in the gallery above. The full list of custom parts used can be found at this link.

Warren Buffett loaned $300 million to Harley-Davidson during the financial crisis

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by Theron Mohamed from https://www.yahoo.com

Warren Buffett loaned about $300 million to Harley-Davidson during the financial crisis.

“It was the bridge we needed to get us through a rough time,” the motorcycle maker’s finance chief said in 2014.

Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway probably netted about $150 million in profit from the five-year loan, but could have made more than $1 billion if it had invested $300 million in Harley-Davidson stock over the same period.

“I knew enough to lend them money; I didn’t know enough to buy the equity,” Buffett later explained.

Warren Buffett loaned a little over $300 million to Harley-Davidson in February 2009, when the famous motorcycle maker was reeling from a one-two punch of weaker demand and a cash crunch during the financial crisis.

A few weeks earlier, Harley-Davidson unveiled a three-part plan to weather the downturn: invest in its brand, cut costs, and find the money to cover its financing division’s roughly $1 billion in yearly costs.

The first two elements translated into targeting younger and more diverse riders; closing plants, combining operations, and outsourcing some distribution; and laying off about 1,100 employees or about 12% of its workforce.

However, paralyzed credit markets made it tricky to fulfill the third part of the plan. The company ultimately decided to borrow from its largest shareholder, Davis Selected Advisers, as well as Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.

The pair effectively loaned it a combined $600 million for five years at a hefty 15% annual interest rate.

“It was the bridge we needed to get us through a rough time,” Harley-Davidson’s finance chief, John Olin, told Fortune magazine in 2014.

The group needed the cash to continue offering financing to motorcycle dealerships and retail customers, and to keep its production lines humming, Olin continued.

The high-interest loan was its only option to borrow money without giving up a stake in the company, he added.

Buffett struck a bunch of similar deals during the crisis. For example, he invested $5 billion in Goldman Sachs and $3 billion in General Electric in the fall of 2008.

“Credit remained virtually nonexistent,” Alice Schroeder said about that period in “The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life.”

“Buffett lent at interest rates that in some instances bordered on usurious.”

The famed investor also showed his ruthlessness by refusing Harley-Davidson’s request to repay its loan early. Berkshire said it was happy with the agreed terms, the company told Fortune.

Buffett likely netted a healthy $150 million in profit from the loan. However, he could have raked in upwards of $1 billion by investing the $300 million in Harley-Davidson stock instead, as its shares more than quadrupled in value between 2009 and 2014.

A shareholder asked Buffett why he opted for debt instead of equity during Berkshire’s annual meeting in 2010.

“I knew enough to lend them money; I didn’t know enough to buy the equity,” the investor replied.

“I kind of like a business where your customers tattoo your name on their chest,” he continued. “But figuring out the economic value of that … I’m not sure even going out and questioning those guys I’d learn much from them.”

Buffett made the loan because he was confident at the time that “a) Harley-Davidson was not going out of business, and that b) 15% was going to look pretty damned attractive.”

Berkshire made “very good money” by making a simple judgement that the company wouldn’t go broke and lending it money, Buffett said at the meeting.

Buying its stock would pose tougher questions such as whether the motorcycle market would shrink or Harley-Davidson’s margins would suffer from the downturn, he added.

Crisis deals such as the Harley-Davidson loan also showed how Berkshire policy of keeping some cash in the bank and never going all in on stocks can pay off handsomely, Buffett argued.

“We felt very good about where that philosophy left us,” he said. “We actually could do things at a time when most people were paralyzed, and we’ll keep running it that way.”