Lies, damned lies and American cruiser sales statistics

Dailies -



If you’re in any way interested in such things (and who isn’t ?!) you’ve probably seen Harley’s Q3, 2010 release claiming a 66 percent net income increase year-on-year. What you probably didn’t see was that this was largely due to decreased losses on Harley-Davidson Financial Services, not increased sales, which continued to fall worldwide, including a 9.4 percent decrease in the US. But while one American cruiser manufacturer continues to lie about its numbers in an apparent effort to placate investors, there’s another that doesn’t need to lie, its sales have actually increased!

Of course, we had to remind ourselves that there’s another manufacturer of gigantic chrome penis substitutes too. Polaris Industries, the Minnesota-based manufacturer of Victory motorcycles, reported that unit sales (actual sales mind you) increased 50 percent year-on-year during the same quarter resulting in a 116 percent increase in revenue. Look at the whole year ending September 30 and revenue increased 81 percent.

See? it is possible to operate an American motorcycle business without using the kind of repugnant, evil American business tactics that we should all revile. Now Victory, about producing some actually exciting motorcycles…

via Motorcycle Market Watch

  • Mark D

    I wouldn’t talk shit about Sonny Barger’s bike, boys!

    • Wes Siler

      It’s ok, unlike some other journalists, we can stick up for ourselves.

      • Sasha Pave

        We’ve got your back Wes & Grant!

      • Mark D

        Ha, no doubt; I, for one, plan on doing everything I can to avoid Hell’s Angels… entanglements.

  • rockstarartist

    Is Motorcycle Market Watch Associated with HFL? If they are, wouldnt source/via/linking to each other for news verification be a bit self-carnivorous? Just a thought, yet enjoying your editorials.

  • X1 Mike

    Why the constant bitching about cruisers? Not liking a cruiser because it isn’t the best choice to carve the canyons is like being mad at a hammer because it’s not a wrench. I don’t dislike my Electra Glide less because it won’t clear a 70 foot double jump, but at the same token I still like my CR250 even though it won’t haul me and my wife to the keys for a long weekend.

    • pauljones

      I’m getting no specific hate for cruisers out of this. What I do get is that he vehemently dislikes a lot Harley’s recent marketing and business decisions. He’s not alone on that one.

      As for not finding any Victory offerings interesting, well, that’s just one of those personal preference things.

      • Beast Incarnate

        I’ve heard that you’re not allowed personal preference when you run a site. If you’re not completely unbiased like the pros, then you just need to pack it up. Right?

        Oh wait.

        • shawn.bassplayer

          And as readers, we have to take every spoonful of bullshit that we’re fed and say thank-you? Why have a comments section then?

          • pauljones

            As readers, we have to take everything that we read with a grain of salt and make our own informed decisions. That doesn’t mean that we have to agree with everything that we read, but on the hand, it also doesn’t mean that we have to launch ourselves on a campaign to criticize someone else for having a different outlook.

            If you’re going to make a criticism, then make it well and make it respectful. They realize that respect is a two-way street, and in order to earn respect for themselves and their viewpoints, they have to show the same respect to others and their viewpoints.

            At some point, you just kind of have to accept the fact that Wes dislikes cruisers. Really, there’s jack shit that can be done about it. It is what is. If you disagree with his dislike of cruisers, then ignore those particular remarks.

            • Wes Siler

              +1 for applying original thinking. We seek to enable you to do just that. Most of the reason that we’re anti cruisers in general and anti-HD specifically is that both have traditionally received a pass from the media despite one sucking and the other being evil. View our outspokenness as a reaction to traditional media lameness.

              • Beast Incarnate

                Out of curiosity, how would the write up differ were Harley and Victory more loving with HFL?

                • Wes Siler

                  More loving how? We have reasonable decent relationships with both. Remember, Harley let us break news of its new learner bike.


                  We have an exceptionally loving relationship with Piaggio, for example, but that didn’t stop us saying some pretty critical things about the new Shiver when we were the first people in America to ride one:


                  Just because motorcycle magazines are traditionally subservient to motorcycle manufacturers doesn’t mean we are, although we do understand the need to overcome that perception. It’s amazing, if you just never let them start manipulating you, then they don’t get upset when they can’t.

                • Beast Incarnate

                  My bad, Wes, I read your statement entirely wrong and unintentionally insinuated the same skeptical crap you deal with all day. I certainly haven’t forgotten the prior articles and your illustrious relationship with Piaggio, no worries there.

                  I appreciate the comprehensive reply and it’s unfortunate necessity.

            • Beast Incarnate

              It’s not motorcycle-related, but your posts make me feel like a dick. Which I am, but the contrast is painfully sharp.

    • shawn.bassplayer

      Completely Agree. :)

    • ForgottenOne

      I guess he prefers small high horsepower plastic-wrapped penis substitutes.

      • Wes Siler


  • NitrousOxHide

    Hmmmm… their revenue increased by 81% and you are insinuating they don’t build “actually exciting motorcycles…”

    Maybe it is you that needs to figure out what an exciting motorcycle is. Let’s see the sales figures for the tired crotch rocket company you think is so exciting…

    • HammSammich

      Applying this logic would seemingly indicate that the Ford F150 is more exciting than the Porsche 997. Frankly, I would be interested to see Victory apply the same kind of design imagination that that created the bizzare abomination above, to creating a performance oriented bike. Who knows, their sales might increase even more.

  • shawn.bassplayer

    I’m actually a fan of HFL. I love the fact that they consistently have new articles. Great info on new bikes. Decent reviews. Etc.

    But I agree with X1 Mike. When it comes to Harleys and cruisers, there seems to be quite a negative trend in the articles. Any time I see an article about Harley Davidson, it’s either ripping on its marketing, or condemning one of their bikes. Neither of which, in my opinion, does the site any good.

    • Wes Siler

      Hey, you’re welcome to disagree with us, but we seek to provide honest analysis of marketing speak, societal trends, bikes etc etc etc. We’re just being honest about cruisers, they suck.

      And please, let us worry about what’s good for the site or not.

      • shawn.bassplayer

        Well…coming from someone who gets excited about scooters, I’ll take that as a compliment. :)

        • ForgottenOne

          The funny part is he’ll rip on cruisers but feature bikes like the Anvil CB750 that will suck to ride more than any cruiser.

      • pauljones

        You’re certainly being honest about your opinion of cruisers.

        I disagree with it, but I value the fact that you’re willing to put your thoughts out there without sugar-coating it in hopes of attracting advertisers. Better that you say what you believe and respectfully stand by it.

  • luxlamf

    If Victory Motorcycles made an “Exciting Product” than it wouldn’t be a Victory Motorcycle.

  • rohorn

    “Now Victory, about producing some actually exciting motorcycles…”

    Years ago, I asked a rep from Victory when they were going to do a Buell style bike. He looked down his nose at me and more or less said that they were a part of the big wonderful cruiser segment, not that icky little V2 naked sportbike segment. I then asked why Buell made more bikes in a year than he did – and he got extremely snotty and didn’t want to talk anymore.

    I stopped hoping for anything interesting from them after that.

    • Mark D

      Funny you mention that. Weren’t there whispers of Polaris possibly buying “Buell” after HD gutted it? As in, formally buying the rights to the 1125r engine and bringing in Eric. The whole non-compete clause prevented it from happening right away, and I haven’t heard anything else recently. But that’s a way to make a “Victory” exciting!

  • shawn.bassplayer

    So putting the whole “cruiser hating” rant aside. I don’t quite understand the meaning of the article. Maybe I’m a little slow (you know… like a cruiser). LOL. Where’s the damned american lies?

    If I was an investor, I’d like to see a profit from my investment. If they can make a profit while sales are down, even better. That shows that they are modifying their business model to deal with a slumping market. When the market comes back, they should make even a better profit. No?

    As for Victory going up. It makes sense. There are really only 2 American made cruiser brands out there. If I was looking for a new cruiser, I’d go with either a Harley or a Victory. One could argue that the increase in sales for Victory is directly connected to Harley’s decrease. In other words, they took Harley’s customers.

  • Beale

    I’m more of a sport touring-dual sport kind of guy and can’t stand the pirate ridden, chrome encrusted butt jewelry that Harley Davidson peddles but I won’t knock Mr Barger’s choice of wheels.

    A year ago, I was in Las Vegas. I wanted to go riding and rented a Victory Vision for the day. My reasons were:
    1. It was utterly ridiculous looking.
    2. It was the only non Harley they had beside a Goldwing trike (not gonna happen).
    3. I had actually heard good things about Victory.

    I can’t say enough good things about that bike. It somehow shrinks in size once underway, it actually has some ground clearance for a cruiser/tourer and it makes the right blend of smooth versus mechanical sounds. And I might as well have been driving the batmobile for all the attention I got while riding it. The funny thing is, after my ride was over, it didn’t look ridiculous to me. When I finally give in and buy a full sized tourer, that’s my bike.

  • jamesat49

    I agree with Wes’ critical view of HD, and his sentiment is far from unique. It is the fact that his widely held views are in print on a fairly large website that make him seem to have an axe to grind. Hopefully such criticisms will somehow have a positive effect in the hallowed halls of Americas last motorcycle company. How about modern big twin designs, big singles that suck less(Manx), less futuristic Buells(monster)etc. All happily parked next to rows of FXD-WTF soft tail heritage springer with chromed daytona cup holder and digital kickstand monitor.

  • vic

    i don’t really care much about the bikes but i want to buy that engine place it on my coffee table and fondle it every morning while drinking coffee

    • MikeD


  • Random

    There are already electric side-by-side vehicles in polaris range. I wish they made a dual-sport or electric (or both) motorcycle capable of daily commuting.

  • Bald Shaun

    I’ve always been a fan of Victory. I hope they continue to do well so that they’re still around when I’m old enough to want a cruiser. (Probably another 20 years or so.)

  • Cajun58

    In all seriousness could you outline specifically what it is that makes all cruiser motorcycles so inferior?

    • Wes Siler

      Say it with me: “Oooooohhhhh Yeaaaahhhhhhhh.”

      • Mdynamic

        Check Mate.

      • ForgottenOne

        Those aren’t cruisers that they build, they are overpriced, barely rideable waste of money.
        What I don’t get is you are fine with featuring bikes that are just as unrideable and pointless but since they are not fifteen feet long you like them. Really, is there any difference?

        • The Lawyer

          I met Jr. at Rockwell Cycles. He was looking into modding Triumph Thruxtons. I spoke to him for about a half an hour and he was clueless. I said clean up the bike to be an actaul cafe racer, add Ohlins SBK shocks and some BSTs. He had no idea what I was talking about.

          The difference is that some people know cruisers and customs jobs and plastic fared rice burners or euro exotica. I seems to me that the cruiser guys only know about cruisers – save for Tom – the track director at TPM.

          • ForgottenOne

            Well that is an answer but not to the question I was asking.

            As far as the cruiser guys, assuming all they know is cruisers based on some that you have met is pretty ignorant. Do you assume that everyone of a certain race is exactly the same based on some you have met?

            I have owned a little bit of both and like both because they both serve a purpose and do it well. I also like just about everything in-between so I don’t understand when a person says that one category of bikes sucks just because they say so and expects to sound the least bit intelligent. If he hates them so much why does he bother writing about them? Maybe they should hire someone that hates sportbikes to do their sportbike reviews, wouldn’t that be fair as well?

            • The Lawyer

              That would be fair, and someone should. But it doesn’t have to be HFL.

              • ForgottenOne

                You are right, god forbid we get anything but the same narrow minded opinion over and over.

                • Beast Incarnate

                  “You gotta hustle in life and people are gonna hate you. Forget about everyone loving you if you’re hustling, you’re gonna have haters. You need haters. What is a hater’s job? To hate. So let them do their damn job and hate.” – Paraphrased from Katt Williams

                  Grant and Wes – keep on hustling.

                • Mark D
  • kangaroo2202

    You guys obviously have a hard on for Harley. See below for a real and unbiased journalistic report about their recent results. And note that despite fewer sales, they increased market share compared to the rest of the industry. From what I’ve heard, H-D has record level market share in the U.S. Record. Level. As in 107-year-all-time-high! I guess they are doing something right.

    Victory? Really. They are nothing until they figure out how to build non-ugly motorcycles. Puke.

    • Wes Siler

      Hey, look over here! (sotto voce: quick billy bob, hide the decreasing sales with some meaningless statistics, the journalists will fall for it.) See, all better? We’re still hemmoraging money, but we’re at least seeing decreased sales at a less decreased rate than some our competitors!

      Ah, the timeless art of misdirection.

      Who’s unbiased?!

      • X1 Mike

        I don’t want to sound like I’m bashing you because for the most part I enjoy your site…….but how would you have reported it if Harley only had 4 2010 models for sale like Suzuki? Plain fact is the m/c market is in the toilet as a whole. Hate them or not Harley has made some decent moves because the Dark customs are selling great and H-D uses social media better than any other brand. All that being said I acknowledge they aren’t perfect, as someone who has owned them I’m still pissed they jettisoned Buell.

        Personally I see the sportbike market getting smaller and cruisers taking over more. 95 percent of the riding population can’t even wring all the performance out of a 140 hp 1995 ZX9 and now we have a 200 hp version. The niche seems to be getting smaller and smaller every year.

        • Wes Siler

          The world isn’t divided into cruisers and sportsbikes. As fewer and fewer boomers have access to cheap credit while they’re still of motorcycle-buying age, cruiser sales will plummet.

          We agree that the Darks and their use of social media are smart. But sorry, we fail to feel affinity for a company that is actively trying to be like Gordon Gecko.

          We want a strong American motorcycle industry and manufacturers, that’s why we’re so hard on Harley.

        • Wes Siler

          Oh, and we can hardly be accused of giving Suzuki a pass, we’re equally critical of all manufacturers:

    • michael uhlarik

      The article you posted above only serves to confirm everything in the HFL article above. Aside from total income this quarter (and please note this is income, NOT profit, as it has not included taxes, interest, and other losses), H-D has nothing but red ink and dwindling numbers to report. Decrease in sales, decrease in units shipped, decrease in revenue (from actual motorcycles) and decrease in market share across the globe, US excepted. These is bleak news, which, were it reported by anyone else would cause a run on the stock, but as the H-D press release states, the brand strength and past performance allow cause for positive thinking, and potential.

      HFL may be biased in opinion, but facts are facts. Squeezing thin positives out of this Q3 press release to brag about how HD are less dead than the other guy is not clever.

      And speaking of bias, your opinion on Victory styling is entirely subjective, and thus biased. Facts are, Victory are doing well, both financially and industrially. Truth hurts.

  • Papasan

    Harley still makes Motorcycles? I thought Harley was a t-shirt company…

    • The Lawyer

      No, they make F150s.

  • slowtire

    I’m part of the cruiser world. I’m part of the dual sport world. Soon to be part of the naked world. Wes hates the cruiser segment which may be the industries largest. I’m ok with that. What I’m sick of is magazines and websites that feel they have to kiss their advertisers ass and give positive reviews of their products, even though they may be junk. And it’s not just the motorcycle magazines. Car, truck, boat, etc. rags all do it. At least here at HFL, you get honesty, or at least a high degree of it. So Wes hates my cruiser, so what.
    I find out more interesting shit on this site than any other. Wes hate cruisers. I hate lima beans. Whoopdee f’n do.

    • slowtire

      I don’t normally like to knock anyones choice of ride because I believe there is an ass for every seat, and that ugly, low performing whatever, might be someones dream bike. And that’s a good thing. But….that Victory Vision hurts my eyes evrytime I see it.

  • dbqfan

    Every time I see a cruiser it is a Harley with some guy dressed up like a pirate and no muffler on it. It seems that being part of the cruiser lifestyle is riding around dressed like an idiot and making a lot of noise. Slow bikes make slow sales. Harley had to borrow 650 million from Warren Buffet to bail out the financial services division. They must really be mixing the books to show a increase in that division.

  • MikeD

    Great for Polaris…and like someone else already said, Polaris: How about trying something else but Cruiser?
    U know…widen ur grasp/costumer base demographics/etc.
    Keep updating and improving the Barges tho, they are ur bread and butter.

  • Robert

    Within the contrast of those who hate this vs love that, balanced by the individuals who would not kick any two-wheeled device out of the shed, there is the perfect love of motorcycling and the ride.

    I was a Sportbike snob when I started @ Aprilia, and Victory opened my eyes to another form. Paul James @ HD loaned me a bike for my Mom and I to ride for a CW story, and I’ll forever be grateful.

    When I visit Victory and Polaris I see young energetic people looking forward to the future but constrained within business realities of our current market, pushing uphill both against and with tradition, and lots of great ideas for products to come.

    Glad to see the debate, and I get both sides.