Hardly Able

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People who ride motorcycles still care about motorcycles – as opposed to all-too-many-drivers, who view cars as appliances. Who have been conditioned to view them as such.

Evidence of this disparity in attitude comes in the form of what sells – and what doesn’t. 

Like electric “motorcycles” – the latter being an absurdity on par with a meatless vegan double “cheeseburger.” Those don’t sell, either. And neither has the Harley LiveWire, which is the electric scooter Harley hilariously thought people who like motorcycles would buy.

To be fair, Harley has sold a few LiveWires. As in 69 of them in the last quarter of 2022. Probably comparable to the number of “plant-based” (i.e., meatless) Impossible Whoppers sold by Burger King. Does anyone bother to wonder why a person who doesn’t want a burger would go to Burger King?

Harley apparently hasn’t thought about essentially the same question. An electric scooter being essentially the same thing (on wheels) as an Impossible Whopper on your plate; i.e., something ersatz. And even that isn’t quite accurate since “ersatz” simply means substitute, as in margarine rather than butter. An electric “motorcycle” – like a meatless “burger” – is a kind of fraud. A thing that wants to be taken for the real thing. 

Motorcycle people won’t abide it. 

Chiefly because there is no point to it.

A motorcycle being, to those who love them, much more than an appliance – i.e., a means of transportation.

As cars have in the main become, creating – interestingly – a kind of feedback loop of buyers who don’t care much about cars, who regard them as appliances. This has resulted in cars becoming more and more appliance-like. The apotheosis of this trend being the electric car. A thing as devoid of personality or differentiation as a cell phone, beyond its size, shape and color. Drive one – if you can call it that – and you have driven them all. Take that from a guy who test drives new cars – thousands of them, over the years, including a number of electric cars. The latter differ from one another much as a Makita electric drill differs from a DeWalt electric drill; close your eyes and see whether you can tell the difference.

The car companies fail to understand the import of this. What happens when this wonderful “transition” to electric vehicles is concluded and every vehicle is essentially the same vehicle? Does anyone remember what happened to GM’s Oldsmobile and Pontiac divisions? To Ford’s Mercury and Mopar’s Plymouth divisions? After they had been reduced to selling ersatz iterations of the same things?

The last “Oldsmobiles” and “Pontiacs” were Chevys, differing only in color and price, with a few minor trim/cosmetic embellishments. And the same for the final run of “Plymouths,” which differed even less from Dodges – even to the extent, in the case of the Neon, of having the exact same name.

It didn’t sell.

Well, what happens when everyone is trying to sell the same thing – an electric whatever-it-is – under different labels? What will be the difference between, say, the forthcoming electric “Camaro” crossover SUV and the “Ford” Mach e, so-called “Mustang”? Both being what they are named to the same extent that an Impossible Whopper is a burger.

Then again, maybe they will sell – to people who do want an appliance. Fifty years of effort toward that end has achieved its intended purpose. Over that span of time, cars have been systematically shorn of most of what once made them interesting and so  desirable as opposed to merely useful.

An appliance is useful. A Lotus 7 is less so – but far more interesting and so, much more desirable. The latter is a thing valued by people who like to drive because they like cars. It is, for them, about much more than just getting from one point to another point (which, interestingly enough, electric vehicles are not especially good at, even as transportation appliances). Such people drive without having anywhere to go specifically. It is about the drive, itself.

It is even more so for people who ride motorcycles. It is in fact the main point of the thing. Motorcycles being less adept at being appliances, by definition. Most don’t carry much – including passengers. They expose the rider to the weather. They require more of the rider, who cannot ride unless he knows how to shift – the latter a thing all-but-eliminated from cars, even “sporty” ones. The Chevy Corvette, for instance, is now automatic-only, rendering it a very fast appliance. An electrified one is in the hopper, which will complete the transition.

But the transition lags with regard to motorcycles – thank God – probably because of the fact that to ride, you do still need to know how to shift. The near-ubiquity of the automatic transmission – in cars – is more than any other single thing the reason for the transitioning of them into appliances. At least two generations have learned to “drive” – if you can call it that – without ever having learned how to shift. This, in turn, accelerated the transition to almost-automatic-only new cars and to cars as appliances, on the verge of becoming moving versions of the stove in your kitchen, the dryer in your laundry room or the  cell phone in your pocket.

Motorcycles are nothing like that – yet – because motorcycle people do not want that. They want to shift for themselves and – thank God – all of them know how. Because they have to know how. You cannot ride a motorcycle without knowing how. And the reason for that – the saving grace, as it were – has to do with the handsome fact that motorcycles (even big Harleys) get good gas mileage, which has thus far immunized them from having to become appliances, like cars, in order to “comply” with federal fuel efficiency mandates. The latter being almost entirely responsible for the automatic-only’ing of most new cars.

That has created a different kind of feedback loop. One that kicks an Impossible Whopper on wheels such as the LiveWire to the curb, where it belongs.

And where – with any luck – it will remain.

. . .

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48 COMMENTS

  1. Interesting comments. Here’s mine. Over 52 years’ motorcycle ownership I think I’ve heard about 25 or 28, maybe 30, can’t quite recall. Started with a Puch scooter (which imitated its name exactly) on the other hand, it did give me freedom from taking the bus to school. I have had Yammies, Suzis, Hondas, Kwakas, even briefly flirted with a MV Agusta and dated a Triumph for a while; also serial Harleys, Boss Hosses, one Norton (with Prince-of-Darkness electrics), and a not-so-Royal Enfield. Each of them had something that kept me interested for a while – or not.

    Currently I’ve cut down and only own-to-ride a ’64 Suzuki, ’02 Dyna, ’04 (turbo’d) Vrod, ’17 Boss Hoss, and a ’20 LiveWire.

    I first rode the LiveWire about five years ago, when it was in its single front disc predelivery configuration in Vegas. It was a bit rough around the edges, but I had a total of 11 riser because none of the diehard ice writers wanted to be seen on or near it. I loved the smooth power curve, the quiet, the cornering, and for my arthritic wrist, the lack of a clutch. I put my name down when I came back to my home country, and sure enough, just over two years later I got a call to say if I wanted one I could have one.

    It’s great. It’s quiet, smooth, corners better than any bike of overhead, accelerates like the hand of God is pushing you, and unlike any honey have ever seen has an immaculate finish, excellent componentry, and has never let me down; even when I get home with 1% of the battery life showing onscreen, I still get home.

    Would I have the LiveWire as my only motorbike? Oh no, I want to be able to tour for days on end if I get the time, without worrying about charging. The Dyna is the go to bike for that; unless I’m travelling light, in which case the turbo V-rod with the extended tank is choice. The fuel injected Boss Hoss doesn’t care how much luggage I take; and for aging me, nothing out-scrambles my 60s Suzuki.

    Given the range factor with the LiveWire, I probably would not have bought it if I was 20 years younger, would have waited for once with longer range and better luggage capacity. But I’m not that young, and I’m not waiting.

    I read how some people regard it as writing an appliance, and not having the fun factor. For me, it’s the reverse, it’s fun, every time, just like firing up the V8 engine motorcycle, it’s different, it does things differently, and in a brilliantly different way, and you have to compromise other things which don’t matter for that time.

    Plus, for those of us who had to deal routinely with drum brakes, Lucas electrics, kickstarts, carburettor jetting, vibrating rearview mirrors, orange headlights close, and sundry other historical annoyances – I quite like some appliance level reliability these days.

    But hey, each to his own. If you don’t consider me a biker for riding and liking a LiveWire, DILLIGAF 🙂

    • ‘I had a total of 11 riser because none of the diehard ice writers wanted to be seen on or near it.’ — Mild Max

      Would you kindly translate this into standard English? What is ’11 riser’?

      No comprendo nada.

      • Yeah, arthritis means I try to use voice recog writing. I wanted to write

        “I had a total of 11 (demo) rides because none of the diehard ICE riders wanted to be seem on or near it.”

        (I’d like a live-in stenographer but, you know, budget restrictions). Also an edit facility on posts would be helpful for us typo-prone people.

  2. It is not a choice, it is orders from CRAB bureaucrat headquarters.

    On October 9, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law that will effectively ban the sale of gas-powered small off-road engines (SORE) — spark-ignited engines rated at or below 25 hp — many of which are used in lawn and garden equipment such as mowers, as well as logging equipment, commercial utility equipment and specialty vehicles.

    The bill, AB1346, authored by Assemblyman Marc Berman, directs the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to ban the sale of new small off-road engines used in equipment which includes generators, lawn equipment, and other small off-road engine equipment. Regulations are to be in place by Jan. 1, 2024, or as soon as regulators determine what is “feasible,” whichever date is later.

    The new bill is intended to be part of California’s strategy to reduce pollution. Supporters of the bill argue that small off-road engines create as much pollution in California as passenger vehicles. Per the text of the new bill, California currently exceeds U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state standards for ozone in many parts of the state. The bill states that in 2020, daily oxides of nitrogen (NOx) levels emitted by SORE averaged 16.8 tons per day and 125 tons per day for reactive organic gases (ROG), both of which contribute to the formation of ozone.

    There are more than 16.7 million of these small engines in California, about 3 million more than the number of passenger cars on the road, the Associated Press reported. State officials have suggested that the operation of a gas-powered leaf blower for 1 hour emits the equivalent pollution of driving a car from Los Angeles to Denver or about 1,100 mi. (1,770.3 km).

  3. An Aprilia 1100 V4 on full boil is one of my favorite engine sounds. The sound alone is worth the premium over its Japanese competitors and 200+ HP doesn’t hurt.

    The Lamewire doesn’t have anything special about it that would make it appealing to someone with a wad of toy money to blow.

    If I HAD to buy a Harley it would be the Pan American, but I still would rather have a Honda Africa Twin…

  4. BTW, the H-D dealer I bought my Pan America from had CF-Moto bikes on the floor. A lot too. Yet you go to this dealer website and there is zero mention of the CF-moto bikes.
    So this dealer wants to appeal to people needing less expensive bikes, etc…
    Eric, here’s their middle-weight two cylinder adventure bike, way under $10K too.
    https://cfmotousa.com/motorcycles/650-adventura
    i have to say that at first look, they look really good, for approx. half the cost of comparable main line brands.
    But on further inspection there were some major flaws such as they extended the oil drain plug down between the pipes on a 1-2 inch alum. extension. It will brake and likely take out the oil pan on the first rock. I told the salesman to make sure they put a skid plate on it before they sell it (if one even exists).
    Of course with all asia brands I tell people to check parts avail. simply by trying to buy a part or two for a model year older bike.

  5. Lithium fire bomb battery…….. EV bikes and cars….

    EV’s on ferries

    Norwegian ferry giant bans electric cars on board – the shit can burn.
    Havila Krystruten, one of two companies serving the coastal cities of Bergen and Kierkenes, has announced it will no longer be accepting electric or hybrid cars on board its ferries following the results of an external investigation.
    The company mainly transports passengers and freight on the route, but now claims that only private vehicles with internal combustion engines will be accepted on board.
    Havila Krystruten refers to fire safety as the main reason for the decision.
    According to the shipping company, a fire in an electric car battery cannot be handled on board.

    https://www.carscoops.com/2023/01/norwegian-shipping-company-bans-electrified-vehicles-over-fire-fears/

    • The NHTSA cornered Ford into recalling the Pinto for about half as many fire deaths as Tesla caused.

      50 dead inside of burning Teslas….production number 3 million

      29 dead inside of burning Pintos……production number 3.2 million

  6. Harley people are funny. It is really more of a lifestyle that is not necessary about the experience or advebture of riding, but being associated with a Harley.
    I have been riding all my life, had a few dozen bikes, done long rides, one from Perth Australia to Darwin and another from Monbasa, Kenya to Capetown SA, several runs to Alaska, the Pacific Coast Highway, Dragons Tail etc.
    This business associate of mine bought HD’s for himself and his wife, slowly over a year his entire existence seemed to revolve around Harley Davidson.
    Anyway, I mentioned a ride I did from San Diego to La Paz Mexico on my Truimph Tiger. He got insulting, insinuated that I wasn’t a real motorcycle rider since I didn’t have a HD and pretended to give me lessins on riding. It was kind of insulting because Bike Week in daytona was as far as he ever went on his bike ( ~80miles) on the interstate.
    I don’t have anything against a HD, but to me they always seemed to be the opposite of what I always wanted in a ride, nimple, responsive, versatile, bringing you closer to the experience. It seems that they go out of their way to get away from the experience, heavy bikes, laden with farings, GPS and Satellite radio.

    HD needs to get back to its roots a but I mean more bikes like the 68 Sportster or the 350 Sprint. Fun light bikes. To me, these enormous HD’s don’t look like anything that belongs on two wheels.

    Anyway my daughter just ordered a Janus Halcyon 250, I don’t know how good they are but I plan to find out.

    • Alex, I think at one time Harleys were about the experience- and of course, to a smaller group, about image and “lifestyle”- but I think that in more recent times the marketing ‘geniuses’ at Harley either decided that it was all about ‘lifestyle’, or tried to sell the ‘lifestyle’ idea, perhaps in an effort to bring in new customers (Likely higher income ones), and that where they went wrong, because the ‘real’ Harley folk certainly would consider it an insult to be associated with the ‘lifestyle’ crowd, and they also likely don’t have the money nor desire to buy the kind of stuff that Harley is selling these days.
      Some might say that interest in Harleys is waning because the demographic who were into them are dying off, but the same could be said about various niches of the classic car market, and yet they remain strong as new devotees come in. Whereas with Harley, I thin the current image the company has created is alienating a lot of the older customers and potential new customers. I’m just an informal observer- never rode a Harley; never liked anything about them….but just as someone who gets to observe the periphery of the market because I have always been involved with the used car market, it looks to me like many of the traditional Harley fans and would-be newcomers are abandoning ship…..and I think we all can see why.

  7. With a government agency attempting to eliminate natural gas stoves as “dangerous,” this should be a wake-up call for the motorcycle industry to watch their Six….

  8. As just a bit of extra background; I grew up in General Aviation, flying with my parents. As a former pilot myself, I find 2D transportation very pedestrian. As a not-so-wealthy adventure-seeker, owning a plethora of motorcycles fulfills my need to fly, mostly. If I had 40-50K to piss away on a single piece of machinery, it would definitely be an airplane, and not some boring-ass ground-crawler, lol!

  9. HD has been out of touch with reality since the 1960’s. Most people wanted ride-ability, versatility, variety, reliability, serviceability, and affordability, and Honda offered the public all of the above, so people bought them. HD offers none of the above, only imagery, mythology, nostalgia and exclusivity, which still sell, but at a premium price. They spend more time, money, and effort trying to get people to want they have, instead of offering the things most people want, and still maintain a “like it or lump it” attitude. As far as I know, the taxpayer hasn’t had to involuntarily pay to rescue any other motorcycle company in my lifetime.

    I have also owned well over 100+ motorcycles of all kinds, sizes, and uses, and only got bored with the few HD’s I had. Honestly, there isn’t a single bike I wouldn’t like to have again, except the HDs. Money comes and goes, but my time spent on the “fun” bikes has been time well spent, at a fraction of the cost per hour, lol!
    EVs are a waste of money/time mostly for narcissistic virtue-signalling. I’d just as soon ride my 2-strokers through town and make everyone think the “mosquito-fogger” truck just went through, lol! Aside from that, I’m not interested in being seen, heard, followed, looked at, or anything else. I ride for MY fulfillment, not the admiration, adoration, or approval of others.

    Cars, on the other hand, have become boring utilitarian things, so I own minivans, because they suit all my basic utilitarian transport needs. My days of “fun cars” were replaced by “fun motorcycles” decades ago, lol!

  10. ‘Harley, for one, says it expects LiveWire to lose up to $125 million this year. Harley also said that LiveWire sold just 69 motorcycles.’ — linked article

    Do the maff: that’s a loss of $1.8 million per unit, on a bike that sells for somewhere in the $20K to 30K range. How do you lose 60 times the sales price??

    Even more than auto makers, Harley bought into the fanciful notion that EeeVees would follow a classic adoption S-curve, displacing ICE vehicles in a couple of decades. Just like flat screens replaced bulky cathode ray tubes, claimed the eBros.

    Oops … WRONG! Flat screens blew away CRTs because they were lighter, cheaper and higher resolution than the old tech. EeeVees offer NONE of these advantages: they are heavier, costlier, and more limited in range than ICE vehicles. Accordingly, the S-curve adoption model does not apply.

    As an index of the abject, faceplant failure of EeeVees, I monitor Ford F150 Lightning sales as a percentage of all F-series sales. Best I can tell, Lightning sales have never reached even 5% of the F-150 ICE model.

    Probably with struggle, subsidies and setbacks, Jackass Jim Farley can roll the Sisyphean stone called Lightning up to 10% of ICE sales. But never will it take off vertically to reach 50% share, unless ICE production is shut down.

    Earth to Jim: turn the S-curve upside down … and it becomes the trajectory of your vomit as you are fired.

    Hey, you’re a fool, you
    Go on stick those EeeVees in your lot
    You’re just a fool, just a fool, just a fool

    — Lynyrd Skynyrd, That Smell

  11. After WW1 there were over 50 motorcycle companies in America. Some were no more than a motor on a bicycle, but they were alive and at least surviving as a new industry.
    After the WW1 much of the war materials came from the mid-west: farm products of food and leather, some industrial products etc. The farmers did quite well during WW1 and so did the mid-west banks. The New York banking interests were jealous of the money these banks made and were making on re-loans back to the farmers. The Federal Reserve had been created in 1913 under Owen-Glass Act. So, the Fed started some very enticing loans and low rates to these mid-west banks. They took the bait and as soon as the books were at the tipping point, the Fed called in all the loans. The banks failed and the farm loans were called. The farmers were collateral damage, it was the banks the Fed members wanted to buy at discount rates. This happened but also sent the entire country into a mini-depression and most of the motorcycle companies when belly up. There were only (2) significant motorcycle firms after the 1920-22 depression: Harley Davidson and Indian.
    There is no need for motorcycles in an all-electric TAAS (transporation as a service) forced economy. Besides, motorcycles are not *safe* and you don’t need one. If Harley thinks building an electric bike will keep them alive, they are deluded.

  12. I’d never been a motorcicle fan- not even as a kid, but years ago I bought an old Suzuki 250 dirtbike with which to eggsplore the wilderness around where I was living at the time….and just tooling through the alley where I lived made me “get it” as far as what is so appealing about motorcicles. The sound! The Vibration! The power when ya twist the throttle and pop a wheelie!
    The very idea of riding that bike if it were electric….. No vibration; no purring/roaring… Yeah…it might still have the power to pop a wheelie and take off down the road…..but minus the other sensory inputs, who cares?
    Why can a motorcicle company not figure out this simple truth? A motorcicle company that does not understand what it is about motorcycles that appeal to their customers! They go from uninspired 1940’s technology (40’s technology would be a plus, if it were done well!)….to $30K bikes designed to appeal to a small segment of the bike market which consists of orthodontists who can afford such toys and who picture themselves as weekend wannabe Hell’s Angels; and now to silent toys that have no appeal to anyone whol would buy a bike, much less a Harley in particular.
    Some fat-ass dude in a bandana and denim vest could do a better job of running such a motorcicle manufacturer than any of the highly-indoctrinated eggheads they’ve had at the helm for a long time.

  13. Hi Eric, I’m going to defend Harley on this a little. They are a $6B company.
    While most of us think E-bikes are dumb, Harley absolutely has an aging customer problem.
    They had to, and have to, try and innovate new models to desperately try and gain a younger audience. Yes the E-bike is probably silly, but they had to do it, and it was spun off into it’s own company ‘LiveWire’.
    I will add this. They also attempted a new market for them, adventure bikes, about 1-2 years after the Livewire came out, called the Pan America. Their goal was the class leading BMW GS series (invented the segment), KTM 1290 SuperAdventure and others. Adventure bike are the hottest segment at the moment. Harley’s first attempt, called the Pan America 1250, absolutely not only matched the leaders, on their first attempt, but some argue it is better. I have ridden all of them, and I agree the Harley is arguably better. Very good company to be associated with, and a bonus that they are made in the US.
    This life-long biker, who would have never bought a Harley, did indeed buy a Pan America 1250 this past fall. I like and enjoy it so much that I am considering their new smaller model the Pan America 975 due out this spring (for a different location). The simple points to me (on bikes) are: Does it do what you want? Does it make you happy? I hope you get a chance to ride one. Please report if you do.

    • Hi Chris,

      I completely agree re the adventure bikes; this is a big – and growing segment. If I were they, I’d offer a 750 (even a 650) entry-level version priced around $8,000. I’d make it very amenable to over-the-counter customization and as owner-serviceable as possible. This would appeal to me, certainly. And I think it would appeal to a slew of young/new riders, too. I know one who’d like it very much, in fact – the kid I helped corrupt by egging him on to get his first bike (an SV650).

      • Sadly, I don’t know of any middle-weight adventure bikes under 10K.
        There are under 500cc version, mostly all single cylinder. I think you’d like the Royal Enfield, old school for sure.
        https://www.motorbiscuit.com/the-best-new-off-road-motorcycles-under-10000/
        Here’s some under 15K but I wouldn’t call the Honda, Suzuki or Kawi models listed adventure bikes:
        https://www.motorbiscuit.com/the-best-new-off-road-motorcycles-under-10000/
        And as I mentioned lower there are a bunch of Asian middle-weight adventure bikes under 10K, one called CF Moto is starting to make a half-decent name for themselves with a lot of dealers too. I’ve studied a couple of them though, and I wouldn’t buy one.
        And like it or not, CF Motor is making a lot of engines for major brands.

      • As someone who started out on Japanese dirt bikes when I was kid in 1974, then switched over to Harley-only in ’83 and has never looked back since, it all puts me in mind of a joke the old-school Harley riders used to tell each other:

        You should never buy a motorcycle, they’re worthless. American bikes fall apart all the time; British bikes fall apart all at once; Italian bikes were never all together in the first place; and Japanese bikes aren’t real motorcycles. Save yourself a lot of grief and buy a boat instead. 😉

    • Chris, the core problem HD has is failures to develop a broad customer base across age ranges and income levels.

      The Japanese makers realized this issue decades ago and adjusted their product lines to reflect resolving this dilemma.

      Even today with inflation, virtually all non US makers have small inexpensive bikes for younger inexperienced/poorer customers, to the pricey large full-dresser cruisers or sports bikes for older/wealthier riders.

      HD doesn’t follow this strategy, and will ultimately fail and fold over the next 20 or so years, IMHO. Not that’s what I want, but it’s what the market will do. Still sad to watch though. But, government “assistance” , like what happened in the 80’s for HD, may lengthen the process, but not the end state results for HD and the market.

      • Agree Saxons, at least they are trying to remedy it. Lots of new stuff out the past 3 years. And I bought a harley !?!?!?!, which is something I thought never possible.
        I hope your wrong about them folding in 20 years. If they come out with some smaller adventure bikes (soon?), do some of the bikes customers wanted (bronx), then they have a good chance to stick around.

  14. Not to be that guy, being the first to bring up saaaaaaafty (H/T Eric’s previous spelling of safety), but I appreciate the noise motorcycles make; the rumble of their engines alerts everyone in proximity to their presence, making it easier to see them when driving a car, SUV, or truck. An electric bike would surely be far quieter, meaning that drivers could inadvertently merge into one not realizing it was even there.

  15. So much for the opening line of the biker national anthem:

    “Get your motor runnin’
    Head out on the highway!”

    Caption for the electric bike: “I’m saving the planet!”

    Caption for the air cooled vtwin classic: “I get laid”

  16. Even if they succeed in selling electric only bikes; how would you charge it on a run? Sure the HD dealer has a level 1 charger but even with that your only going about 80 miles on the open road before it’s dead.

    Heck I go further than that for wings on my bike. As for the battery; how much does a replacement cost after its been fast charged to death? At least with a cordless tool if all else fails you can build yourself an adapter cord to plug it into a different battery. Yep, I did that to a free one I got with no battery or charger and now it works as a spare.

    PS- at about $22,799 that’s a pretty pricey electric scooter….

    • On the Live Wire website (https://www.livewire.com/) there’s a link to listen to “The Soundtrack
      of LiveWire / Music to match the mood of our electric motorcycle riding experience. ” and it’s not the kind of music most HD riders usually listen to. No sign of what it actually sounds like though.

  17. The Live Wire, like all H-D bikes, is overpriced. They don’t even make the Sportster anymore! That was the last interesting and affordable bike H-D had. Actually, H-D stopped making any Sportster I wanted back in the early 2000s; I had my eyes on the Sportster 1200 Sport. In recent years, they’ve only offered those things that had no suspension travel, no tach, etc. Technically, they still have the Sportster, but it has a liquid cooled engine now, and it starts at over $13K. For that price, I can buy TWO OR THREE Royal Enfields! And they’re still air cooled-the way bikes SHOULD be…

    • I agree, Mark –

      If Harley wants to attract young riders, it ought to offer what Harley used to offer, when young guys rode Harleys. That being a basic bike that its owner could modify, easily – and inexpensively. A tube steel frame, big air-cooled twin… and not much else. There is probably no reason such a bike couldn’t be built and offered for around $7k, brand new.

      • Harley along with GM and Ford seem to be going after the market for garage queens as of late. They don’t appear to have much interest in producing daily drivers anymore.

      • There’s a lot of $7K small to midsized bikes on the market. Unfortunately, they are all made in India or China. My wife has one from a large brand, KTM, but it was made in India, and while the fit-finish is OK, the bolting and hardware is absolutely not up to the current high-end that’s been KTM-Austria for a while now.
        Even some of these less expensive rides from the big 4 are not made in Japan anymore, and they too suffer the typical quality we have seen from them typically.
        i doubt very much that any bike under $10K could be made in the USA. The cheapest Harley or Indian is about $11-13K, and if the feds get their way, there won’t be any air-cooled engines left.
        But, I guess we should applaud Harley and Indian for still making bikes in the US, and avoiding the massive pressure from Corporate MBA-idiots who would easily take both of them overseas if they could make a buck.

        • ChrisIN that’s a good point. I have to wonder why that’s the case though. Shouldn’t someone be willing to accept a lower gross margin to manufacture a high quality bike in the US?

          I think there’s too much institutional headwind in the US to try. Investors demand a heavy hand in operations, especially those who only have financial interest. And they demand supervision by credentialed experts, themselves having credentialed themselves into authority. That means HR departments, trained to believe in the sameness of all human captial. That means finance and accountants trained to believe in efficiency and ROI, über alles. And that means corporate officers required to put investor goals (returns) ahead of long term corporate robustness.

          Besides, who’s to say the investor class isn’t out to destroy the US?

        • Hi Chris,

          I bet they could – if it had a basic tube steel frame, air-cooled engine and a carb! Kaw still makes the KLR650 and it sells for about that – and it has FI now, I think.

          • yes, klr650 is $7K. It does have FI now.
            Sorry to say that air cooled engines days are numbered courtesy of uncle sam and the EU.

      • Can’t and won’t happen. The reason is brought to you by the Fed and EU. The canceled HD 883 was $11K, it was air-cooled. It’s replacement is the Nightster at $13K, and now water cooled.
        There still are a decent amount of air-cooled lesser expensive bikes around, like the Royal Enfield, etc… old school bikes, but they won’t be around much longer, unfortunately. Which is a huge shame as there certainly is a place for them.

  18. My local Harley Dealer got a Livewire in for a day a while back, I suppose because he was told to. He admitted to me beforehand that there was zero interest in them.

    I threw a leg over just to see what it was about. Very very quick, and made me feel like a child on one of those electric toy bikes. Which I suppose it is. After my little Tom Cruise in the future spin I climbed back onto my heavily customized Softail Deluxe and couldn’t help but grin when she roared to life with all the vibrations and ‘thunk’ gear shifting that go along with it. I can’t imagine who the 69 dolts are who actually bought one of those Tonka toys, but they sure ain’t bikers.

    Anyone remember the Honda ad from the late 70’s or early 80’s with a rider slipping backward on an incline before taking off? They tried to sell automatic transmission bikes to American bikers. Failed miserably. They don’t seem to understand the biker mentality.

  19. Instead of enjoying the drive, most modern day drivers are terrified they might actually have to drive.
    Speaking of the comparison of modern cars to appliances, they are some pretty damned expensive appliances.

  20. “Such people drive without having anywhere to go specifically. It is about the drive, itself.”
    Back when I was physically able to drive one, I took a 30-50 mile (sometimes a lot more) drive weekly in my Miata. When my former wife would ask where I was going, i would tell her “home”. Because that’s where I was going. Out and back. For the pleasure of it.

    • HAHAHA, yeah it is not unusual for me to take long drives in the 718. I tell my wife I am going to put it in the garage after a long leisurely run down the twisties of SR210, then an hour later I come in the house “i though you were jurt going to park the car.”
      “Yes honey, I just took the scenic route.”

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