How to sell a Harley-Davidson

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So you’re a salesmen tasked with selling someone a product they don’t need, that they can’t afford, that isn’t competitive with rivals, that isn’t new and won’t make buyers stand out or demonstrate unique taste. How the hell do you do that? Don’t worry, the official Harley-Davidson test ride manual is here to help.

Photo: Killboy

The manual was captured from the enemy by a member of the Yamaha FZ1 Owner’s Association.

As you can see, a Harley-Davidson test ride isn’t about demonstrating the objective merits of the product, it’s about immersing potential customers in the pirate lifestyle, assless leather chaps strongly encouraged.

This setup is pure genius. The potential for staged interactions with, say, a hot blonde, are literally limitless.

As you can see, not only is it important to limit the distance of the test ride to just a couple miles (although you still need to stop for water 4 miles in apparently) so the potential customer won’t be exposed to the long term limitations of the product, but it’s also crucial to structure the route around opportunities for posing.

So how do you sell a Harley-Davidson? Basically, you make the person taking the test ride feel like they have a huge penis. That’s pretty damn smart actually.

Thanks for the tip, Blake.

  • Kirill

    From a sales and marketing perspective, its pure genius…as long as the brand stays in good standing with the general public. Given the increasing dislike for Harley riders thanks to the d-bags with ultra-loud pipes, they might have to rethink it sooner than later.

  • Chris

    Despite the loud pipe assholes I think the brand remains strong with the general public.

    I ride a cruiser and every time someone asks me what kind of bike I have and I tell them it’s a Yamaha the next question is usually “why not a Harley?” Ugh.

    • T Diver

      Tell them there was huge earthquake and tsunami in Japan and to buy a Harley would be selfish.

      • http://pinkyracer.com pinkyracer

        YES! good answer!

  • http://www.thisblueheaven.com Mark D

    Brilliant! I knew there had to be SOME way of selling those rolling anachronisms.

    This same tactic is probably used to sell F-250s, Land Rovers, and speedboats. Solid company indeed.

    • DAVID

      tits interesting that used F-250′s and Harleys sell at a decent price, whereas used Land Rovers and speedboats have to be practically given away.

  • frankieapples

    If there’s one available, stop by the local MC and allow them to park their genuine Harley Davidson® in line with the other bikes. Let the feel how blending in and standing out aren’t mutually exclusive.

    Have them engage members of the MC in some discourse at the the merits of a Genuine Harley Davidson® over the ‘jap-scrap’ alternatives.

  • slowestGSXRever

    So, instead of paying a hooker to tell me I have a big penis I can just test ride a Harley? Awesome!

  • David

    I’ve dabbled in sales and advertising and it is common knowledge in that field that Harley Davidson isn’t in the business of building and selling motorcycles. They’re in the business of “bad ass.”

    This applies to pretty much any kind of sales/marketing strategy. You don’t try to sell specs or a product. You sell a whole experience and an image. It’s all about rubbing people’s ego’s.

    • http://greatjoballweek.blogspot.com/ Case

      Agreed. I think Wes and Grant know this too. But it’s nice to see it spelled out so directly in official HOG propaganda.

      I did like the part about how you were supposed to ride it… And then stop in a high-traffic area so people could see you and check out the bike. That’s everything you need to know about HD: it’s all about how it looks in the parking lot. What a joke.

  • http://www.muthalovin.com the_doctor

    Replace Harley Davidson® with Ducati® and they would sell a million Diavels.

    • Kirill

      Easy money says Ducati is currently luring Harley sales guys to do just this

    • Myles

      Ducati does the EXACT same thing. They don’t sell speed, they sell “passion”. A 25k Ducati corse sp ultra special rattly clutch 1198 is slower than a 14k s1000rr or CBR1000rr. Besides having special rules in SBK for a while, they’ve never been successful racing. They’ve never provided the fastest streetbikes. They solely provide Euro-Trash bullshit. They are in the business of selling a fantasy, just like HD.

      • Thom

        Read the book ” Fast Company ” by David M. Gross to see just how much BS goes into selling you a Ducati .

        Now don’t get me wrong . They’re gorgeous hunks of metal and do provide one hell of a ride . But like their 4 Wheel counterparts , Ferrari , they are VASTLY over rated ( I can attest personally to the 4 wheel variety )

        • Myles

          It’s horrible, they didn’t even win a fucking GP until 2007. Is there great Italian history in GP? Yes, but it belongs to Gilera/Agusta. At least Ferrari has racing heritage.

          • Mauricio

            Ducati’s first GP win was all the way back in 1958. The Desmosedici won its first race at the 2003 GP of Catalunya. They had several wins before Casey’s championship year.

            • Dennis

              Who are you going to believe? “Fast Company” or a bunch of lying FIM record books?

            • Myles

              Sorry, I meant championships. Races? Plenty of people have won races, especially in lower classes (the race you’re quoting was 125cc I believe).

              You know who has won lower class GP races? CHAMPIONSHIPS even? Fucking Harley Davidson, they won the Constructers Championship for 250cc in 1975 and 1976. Yes, that’s right – the Pirate Brand from America won two Grand Prix Constructors Championships thirty goddamn years before the Fast Exotic Italian brand won one.

              HD is all marketing? No, Duck Duck Goose.

              • Mauricio

                It isn’t “all marketing” when you have the championships to back it up. And they do. Now, I recognize that they lay it on thick, but I can’t blame them for it. They can’t compete on value, they can’t compete on price, so they have to go to the intangibles and compete on “passion”. Thank God they do, otherwise they wouldn’t have stuck around for so long and the motorcycle landscape would be that much more boring without them.

                • Miles Prower

                  Well said.

              • Corey

                Myles, why so much hate my love? Did somebody tell you your Kawa-Honda-Gixxer was a cookie cut-out bike, or perhaps slight its gaudy stickers-n-paint finish for resembling a bag of potato chips? You do realize that Ducati is a company with perhaps a thousandth of the resources that Honda or Suzuki have, right?

                In all seriousness, we need to remember that hanging out on HFL – and looking at the ads or buying their subscription – is also part of a willing participation in marketing of ‘motorcycle lifestyle.’ And just like the HD pirates, the readers here also think they are closer to the ‘authentic’ experience of motorcycling (you might need the new Gasolina boots to really appreciate it, however). Critical distance is healthy.

                • Myles

                  I don’t ride a repliracer, I ride a 599. Pretty much the most boring standard bike anyone could imagine. It’s flat black with a dent in the tank from when the previous owner dropped it. Pretty much as far away as the Frito-Lay disaster described above.

                  Also not a blind follower in the big four. I have no problem with a manu like Agusta. They make seriously fast bikes and have serious racing credentials. MV is third all time in constructors championships overall, and second for the “big” class, GP. They’re cool, many times off and on they’ve had the fastest or close to the fastest bike available. Guzzi? Guzzi makes slow bikes, but they don’t have a flat out false pretense like Duck. They also make “standards” still, which is refreshing. Aprilia? Aprilia sells a fucking fast v4 repliracer and a batshit crazy SXV for the street. They make interesting bikes and have a lot of balls as a company.

                  I have a problem with Duck because they are dishonest. They sell an image of ultimate performance to Ducatistities, but make slow bikes. HD sells an image of ultimate badass American Hero, but make antiquated bikes for old men. I thought the comparison was both valid and relevant.

                • Mauricio

                  Sorry Myles, but the MV Agusta that makes these bikes you are so impressed with has only the name in common with the MV Agusta that cleaned house in GPs. Kinda like Hinckley Triumph and Meriden Triumph are not really the same Triumph. The current MV Agusta is just a brand within the Cagiva group, a relative newcomer to motorcycles. They started out in 1978 when they bought the old Aermacchi factory from Harley Davidson, go figure. They didn’t even own the MV Agusta brand until the ’90s.

                  Speaking of the power of branding…

        • http://www.thisblueheaven.com Mark D

          At least the Monsters are fairly affordable little roadsters. I appreciate an undefinable thing like “character” (L-twins do sound great, after all), but they have to be backed up by at least adequate performance. That’s where the Duc/HD comparison falls short. You can barely get on an off-ramp without dragging exhaust on a Harley.

      • markbvt

        Yep. And just like Harley guys, Ducati guys tend to get pretty insufferable at times.

        • http://www.muthalovin.com the_doctor

          Hey! I resemble that remark. And, plus, its like, all the time.

        • Denzel

          All this justified criticism of posing aside, not all Harley riders are wannabes, but have really committed, for reasons that may be suspect, or even pitiful, to living counter culture. Guys whose only real possession is their Harley.

  • Steve

    Nothing new here. Pretty standard “hard sell” techniques.

    It is interesting they assume the salesperson has consumed the cool-aid. Maybe to be a HD salesperson you also need to be a method actor?

  • Brook

    Funny, when I test rode my Buell, they made it a point to take me away from congested areas. Was that their way of protecting my ego?

    • nick

      HAHAHAHAHA. Odd, me too!

  • rubber_side_up

    From now on every time I see a Harley at a convenience store with lots of walk in and out traffic and the rider is getting a water, I’m going to tell him he’s riding an absurdly, awkward, ugly, and downright archaic bike. However I will thank him for supplying a wonderful amount of chrome for me to see myself in.

    • a hipster

      +1

    • Cheese302

      good idea

  • Paul

    I signed up for a Harley test ride day a few years back. Ended up with a Softail as my first ride. As I negotiated a sharp off-camber turn onto the local expressway, I heard an awful “screeeeeeeech”. When I got back, I saw I’d put a six inch long gouge into the expensive chrome exhaust pipes. Not exactly a rider’s design.

  • a hipster

    this is awesome.

    when i was at the triumph dealer he tried to sell me on the same “people will think you’re so cool when you pull up on this rare and original machine” about my black bonnie.

    i told him i liked the bike but anyone who thought it was rare or i was original for wanting it is a liar or a dumbass.

    • http://www.lgdm.fr stempere

      Any sentence a dealer says that starts with “people will think…” i’m going to be out the door before he finishes it.
      I buy and ride bikes for me. I couldn’t care less what “people” think.

  • Thom

    Believe me this is no BS . Thats ALL the H-D dealers try and sell you on , knowing full well that if you’re not already a convert , the Experience IS the only thing that WILL sell you .

    I remember when I was Cruiser shopping and had just gotten done with testing the BMW R1200C ( which I got off of thinking ‘ I could ride this thing for a 1000 miles no problem ‘)

    Went to the H-D dealer in town and had to first off , practically argue with the damn salesman to LET me have a test ride ( Dyna ) Once he did from the moment I got on the beast I felt like I was being split in two ( I’m 6’4″ w/36″ inseam by the way ) and no matter what I did ( and the salesman was unwilling to help with any adjustments , whereas the BMW sales guy wouldn’t let me out the door without he and a mechanic ” Custom Fitting ” the M/C to me ) I could not get even close to comfortable .

    Three guesses what I took home that day in spite of having H-D’s in the family since 1926 !

    Guess that dealer forgot to read the ” Rule Book ”

    Either that or I’m not a sucker for the ” Experience ” sales pitch .

    • Devin

      OK that’s strange. Reverse those two experiences and that is the norm I’ve seen.

      • Cheese302

        i have seen a sharp change in the dealer experience with Harley, back in 02-03 when they were booming with sales, the same time my father bought his 2003 deuce that might soon be replaced by a k1600gtl, you couldn’t even think about a test ride. But part of that was your needing to wait 2+ years to actually get a bike on order. fast forward to today, and they are advertising test rides. I took out an xr1200, loved it. Then i took out a street triple and loved it even more while also saving 3k. I was pretty sure that i was going to own a Harley at some point, but some of those thoughts are GONE, just too much junk for too much money.

    • HammSammich

      I have had unimpressive experiences at both HD and BMW dealerships. I’ve only shopped Buell at an HD Dealership, and when I told the leather-vest clad salesman that I was interested in looking at the Blast (back when I was shopping for an inexpensive first bike) he probably would’ve responded better if I’d asked him for a date with his mother…He pretty much threw up his hands and walked away…

      The BMW dealership wasn’t rude like HD, but was similarly unhelpful for a newbie with genuine questions about the advantages a BMW could offer…

      I ended up calling a Triumph Dealership that was across the state (since then another great Triumph dealership has opened in my area) arranged a test ride, and after a 4.5 hour drive to visit them, I was treated like a king. I ended up ordering my bike from them and had similarly great experiences every time I returned…

    • Mattro

      One of the HD Dealerships around here started selling BMW’s and Piaggio products. Even has a sleek, futuristic BMW Dearlship sign outfront of the familiar faux adobe/stucco “outlaw’s desert hideout” look of the HD building. It’d be interesting to guage the difference in treatment depending on which motorcycle one were to be standing next to when the salesman walks up…

  • Thom

    A quote from a friend who’s family has owned one of the longest Harley dealers in existence West of the Miss.

    ” There’s only one reason in the world to buy a Harley . If you’re buying one because ;

    Its the best M/C made
    Its the best riding M/C
    Its the most reliable M/C made

    You’ll be sadly disappointed .

    No … the Only reason to buy a Harley Davidson is because you HAVE to have a Harley Davidson ”

    Damn sound advice if you ask me !

  • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate BeastIncarnate

    Nothing surprising, but it’s hilarious to see it in print. At the same time, disappointing to recognize just how successful those tactics are.

    My buddy with a Chrysler 300 SRT-8 is one example. I’m not a 300 fan, but it’s a decent-looking car. Two weeks after starting to hang out with a car club, the 300 has orange LED strips over the headlights and a glowing blue Bentley-style grill.

    Or I look at various bike forums. Almost all the bikes are clones of one another. There are one or two variations, but that’s 95% of the bikes. Everyone buys the same crap and everyone else says, “Oh man, that looks great!” It’s a damn shame when there are so many great options out there.

    • bluegrass

      So true, several years ago when I worked a dealer the winters where often spent bolting on the same type of crappy pipes that not only clashed with the bikes lines, but often made it impossible to tune for due to being unequal lengths and not having baffles.

  • Tony

    I have a couple of bikes of different makes, and I have to say my Road King is a favorite. It has been the most trouble-free bike, and great for 90% of the riding I do. It’s too bad HD feels like they need to hang the pirate BS on it to sell it.

    • Thom

      The Road King is probably the one Harley worth owning .

    • Paul

      Amen. I ride my Road King the majority of the time as well and love it.

  • Devin

    OK 90% of this is standard salesmanship “sell the sizzle, not the steak”.

    Seeing it down in writing however, is quite amusing. The part about the water stop is hoping for a “nice bike” comment, is golden.

    • http://www.lgdm.fr stempere

      I like the fact they spelled it “Nice Bike” with a capital B even more. Douchebags.

  • http://rohorn.blogspot.com rohorn

    I liked Harley a lot better when, if you parked at any place with lots of traffic, people would go out of their way to avoid you. Oh yes – that was back when their entire clothing & stuff catalog was a brochure with only a few pages on it. That was also back when they were facing bankrupcy the last time. They were far more fun when they were a rolling middle finger rather than a pandering for a group hug.

    Seriously – back then, people would leave their tables at restaurants and sit elsewhere if I got a table next to them – and I was a GI, not some hairy pirate. 20-30 years later, it is “Hey Bro”.

    But that’s OK – there’s something about a grey haired 48 year old on a big lime green Ninja that creeps people out now. Yes, I enjoy that. Wandel-Davidson will never figure that one out.

    • http://www.thisblueheaven.com Mark D

      You, sir, are my hero. Its the ultimate irony that people are seeking approval from strangers riding a bike who built their reputation as the ride of choice for burnouts, drunks, weirdos, and other undesirables not fit for polite society.

    • aristurtle

      You can turn a Harley into a rolling middle finger easily: just fit pipes on it that are loud enough to startle a tank gunner. You’ll be getting the middle finger from everyone in a mile radius.

      • http://rohorn.blogspot.com rohorn

        That makes Harley different than any other open piped bike…how?

        • aristurtle

          Oh, it’ll work for any bike, I’ve just got it on my mind for Harleys because there’s a guy with a bright orange HD at my apartment complex and his straight pipes are going to piss off the landlord and the landlord will probably then do something stupid like ban motorcycles from the parking lot entirely, at which point I will need to find another apartment.

      • Sean Smith

        Actually, it works better on a liter bike or an 1198. Harleys are loud, but only as loud as you can make a giant air compressor. Fishtails help, but they’re still no match for a squid with low-mount megaphone on his R1 at full throttle. You can actually hear those guys from a mile away.

        • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate BeastIncarnate

          Just happened.

          I’m right off a highway and I agree. A pack of these idiots come out around 10pm. You hear them coming for a long while, then see them pass. The very first time it happens, you might be expecting them to fly right by. They don’t. They’re living it up in second gear and barely outpacing traffic.

          That’s how we do it in Texas. Aw yeah, highway heroes.

        • http://rohorn.blogspot.com rohorn

          That is very true. Had an 883 with boardtracker pipes – whenever I was asked if it was loud, I just told them it didn’t make enough power to make any noise.

          I briefly owned a CBX done as an RC166 replica, complete with 6-6 open megaphones. It was deafening.

  • Corey

    Mad props to the Killboy photo!

    • Gregory

      +1

    • mcfaite

      Is that lead bike now missing its rear wheel? I can’t see it – looks like it’s come off…

  • aristurtle

    You know, you point and laugh, but it makes sense. The whole appeal of a Harley in the first place is to be noticed, so this sort of test ride plays to the bikes’ strength in the same way that the ideal test ride for (say) an R1 would be at a nice twisty racetrack.

    I mean what the hell should they do for their test rides, other than this? The sales guys need to work with the product they have.

    • http://www.faster-faster.com fasterfaster

      The actual appeal is to be noticed. The stated appeal is the freedom of the open road and expression of individuality. Brilliant of H-D to be able to separate and appropriately exploit both conscious and subconscious desires, but a very sad statement about American consumers.

  • Paul

    Such hate

  • robotribe

    It’s pure genius and embarrassing at the same time. I give their marketing team credit for taking it upon themselves to organize a system of “selling the dream”, but after seeing proof that it’s all built on shit-smelling smoke and mirrors, I can only regard the brand as nothing more than a fashion statement; and a badly conceived one at that.

  • Gregory

    That’s brilliant. But would it really work?

    No one’s that stupid, are they?

    I bought my first bike because it was the only thing on the used-model lot that I could afford (Suzuki TS 90, in Manila, in ~1998, USD $400 cash).

    I bought my second bike because it was the only thing on the used-model lot that I could afford (Daelim VS 125, in Seoul, in ~2001, USD ~$1’000).

    I bought my third bike because it was the only thing on the used-model lot that I could afford (Hyosung GV 250, in Seoul, in ~2002, USD ~$2’500).

    I bought my current bike because… well, because I had read good things about it, it was cheap and it was practical (Kawasaki KLR 650, in Portland, OR, in 2008).

    Not _once_ has a motorcycle ever given me entry into some kind of fantasy world.

    Is that really what motorcycles do for people? I’ve just always seen them as kind of fun: like having a BMX pedal-bike when I was 13-years-old. Motorcycles are just _fun_. It’s not because of a “lifestyle” or an “image”. It’s a physically fun sensation, like swimming or hang-gliding.

    Speed is the only truly modern experience, and it’s at our throttle’s beck and call.

    I find this Harley-Davidson marketing technique quite odd: certainly mischievous, perhaps even manipulative… and brilliant, psychologically speaking. But at heart just quite odd.

    -gceaves
    Portland, OR
    2008 Kawasaki KLR w. milkcrate

    • Mr.Paynter

      Agreed, I have also owned my first three bikes for pure affordability and now my little Kawa ER-6N because I like quicker street orientated bikes but I can also see myself strapping packs on the back and road-tripping a little. I still get asked why I didn’t get an R1 or whatever fully faired bike the random person “knows” by name.

      Motorcycles are the perfect mix of feeling like you’re accomplishing something and improving your riding skills all the time and acting like a kid on a bmx and doing something just because it makes you smile.Whether you’re on your beat-up Yamaha SR 250 or your shiny street bike.
      That’s all.

    • Toby

      “Speed is the only truly modern experience, and it’s at our throttle’s beck and call.”

      Wait, you have another bike besides the KLR? ;)

  • Marlon

    I think I still like HD’s. Please don’t ban me, HFL.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      BANNED for failing to adhere to group think ;)

  • http://www.faster-faster.com fasterfaster

    Trey Parker and Matt Stone are once again proven precognitive geniuses:
    http://www.southparkstudios.com/full-episodes/s13e12-the-f-word

    • jonoabq

      priceless… made my day.

  • Peter88

    Does this attitude and sales technique apply to all cruisers? Is there a non-Harley cruiser that doesn’t fit this mold? I think not. I’m with rohorn in that I’m a grey-haired 51 year old with a CBR. But I wouldn’t mind buying an attention-getter from Victory or Star, or even Harley.

  • http://bloodfalcons.blogspot.com motoguru

    OMFG.

    • http://www.muthalovin.com the_doctor

      LOLWUT!

  • http://rohorn.blogspot.com rohorn

    “The potential for staged interactions with, say, a hot blonde, are literally limitless.”

    An Albuquerque car dealership got busted a while back after going somewhat further than that by including another “test ride” with a “sales associate” if you bought the car. “Frontier Ford”, back in the late ’80′s, I think – I’m too lazy to look it up.

  • Brendan

    My biggest gripe is that they used the word “bike” three times in a short space. >:(

  • ike6116

    Wes is this in anyways related to me discovering and then [completely reacting appropriately] to the dave grohl harley video?

  • Sebastian

    After reading Michael’s piece on the Polaris/Indian deal, I honestly thought this article was called “How to sell Harley-Davidson”. Any ETA on that article?

  • NitroPye

    FYI Some reddit dingbats have done a swell job of ripping your content off because they don’t like paying for things: http://www.reddit.com/r/motorcycles/comments/gzf1t/how_to_sell_a_harleydavidson/

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Yeah, that’s annoying but inevitable. That forum is tiny and reads like it’s full of 12 year olds.

      • aristurtle

        Heh. That’s Reddit for you, it’s like one step above 4chan.

      • ike6116

        The comment quality behind a paywall is night and day. You could have the subscription be comments only and I’d still shell out.

        • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

          Yeah, we’re really happy about that. You guys rock.

        • Steven

          best two bucks I ever spent.

      • NitroPye

        Word. I don’t even know why I even bother with /r/motorcycles at all.

        A sampling of the usual front page:
        * Just got my first bike!!!111
        * Just took MSF yeah! Whats better for a starter, 50cc scooter or 51cc scooter?
        * ATTGATT or I’ll shoot your face off
        * 250s are the only bikes anyone should ever ride
        * Anyone who ever bought new gear or a bike is an idiot with too much money.

        • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

          Yeah. It’s nice to see new riders though.

          We try to avoid coming over all Metallica about our IP (unless we have to), but you can still help encourage good practices by relaying the value in subscribing when you see the odd copy and paste job.

          • NitroPye

            Fair enough. I think I just like to read and complain about /r/motorcycles.

            Back on topic, I do find it funny so many folks are laughing about the image thing. I’ll be totally honest in saying image is definitely part of my decision to ride and what I ride. Not a large part by any stretch but a indeed part and everyone who says otherwise is a liar or autistic.

            Image affects us all in ways we like to think we are above.

            • Gregory

              For me, I’ll say I’m a liar. It’s image. Hell, I put the milkcrate on the back of my KLR on purpose. It’s a chosen image. Quite wise of you.

              My soon-to-be-had Gasolina boots are a chosen image, too.

              -gceaves
              Portland, OR
              2008 KLR 650 w. milkcrate

              • NitroPye

                You even sign off your comments with “w. milkcrate” ;)

                I worked in an advertising marketing department too long… I need to find a way to atone for that.

            • http://worldof2.com/ jpenney

              You’re right about image playing some part: sporty, rugged, thrifty, methhead … there’s a persona projected by motorcycle choice.

              Beyond the “fast, cheap, reliable: pick two” corollary there is “performance, price, attitude: pick two”. H-D has picked one.

        • aristurtle

          It’s a nice counterpart to the Craigslist attitude where a Yamaha R1 is described as “the ideal bike for a first-time rider”.

  • http://www.ClevelandCycleWerks.com scottydigital

    This is fucking epic

  • Alex

    Once not too long ago, I helped one random bearded dude to back his truck into a tight parking spot. He got out, looked at my parked Ninja and said: “I didn’t hit your scooter, did I?” I just looked at him puzzled…in few seconds he added: “See, I ride Harley, you see, everything else is scooter for me” He said it like he actually believes it. It took me about a minute to work any kind of a reaction as I just couldn’t believe he said that. Then, I bust out laughing…he was long gone by then…

    Harley people are swept up by the culture wave into perceived notion of individualistic style, outlaw, uniqueness, etc – Helps erase the monotones of every day life. More power to them. Just don’t be an ass to everyone else – or is that part of the deal?

    • Boris Roberts

      Why don’t you get off of that “JapCrap” and get a real bike!
      Me: IIt’s not Japanese.
      Him: Whatever, it’s not a Harley.

      Me: Well, I can buy anything i want, and as soon as Harley makes a good one, I’ll be first in line to buy it.
      Him: My bike picks up better chicks.
      Me, laughing: I don’t pick up chicks that make decisions on who to date by what bike they ride.
      He didn’t say much after that.

    • Jeremy

      Pretty sure, it IS part of the deal. That bar and sheild comes intrinsic with douchebaggery. Not often do you see a tattoo that says, “Ninja” or “CBR”, but everyone has a friggin bar and shield. I ride an XL1200, and I have so much respect for any other type of motorcycle. Harleys ARE outdated technology, based around style and appearance, but they aren’t COMPLETELY without performance. Their acceleration from low RPM is the same as any big-bore Vtwin, and they do run for a long time, provided you take care of them. Once they start to go goofy and you have to go into them to repair them, making them stick back together leak-free, can be a hassle. There’s an art to maintaining a harley, and it’s a constant process, until you get it down. I’ve said many a time, I like my sport-cruiser, it corners better than the chrome-pirates, it carries a passenger better than a crotch rocket, it’s comfortable to ride to work every day, and I can still take it on a 500 mile-in-a-day road trip. I have, in fact. I’ve often said though, if I were to sell this bike, I would get a metric cruiser of similar wheelbase. When I do pick up a 2nd street bike, it will be more street-performance oriented, and a 6th gear is required.

  • jason

    One of the guys nailed the biggest problem with Harley to the rest of the riding world: they completely ignore their racing history other than designing “flat track” looking jackets and shirts.
    Harley and indian were huge racers with a fierce competitiveness between the 2. After Harley scammed the military contracts during World War 2 by building a bike totally out of spec compared to Indian’s offering (and winning the majority of the bids somehow….) Indian lost out post-war.
    Harley then competed against the new Brit bikes, blah, blah, blah until that total dickhead Willie G got involved at the end of the 60′s. He took the company into the “chopper” world and once the Jap 4′s started ruining the Harley racers the company just gave up on developing racers other than for flat track (where they are losing ground to all kinds of twins now). Harley had a history of being the “Chevy” of bike makers, meaning they sold all kinds of sizes and styles of bikes even if some were rebadged Italian bikes (car makers have been doing that forever). That fucknut Willie G took a company that could’ve been the Honda of American motorcycling and turned it into a clothing company.

  • zato1414

    Thats a far out way to test a real machine. I’m going to my local H-D asshole dealer and finding a bank to bounce off!!

    I can’t stop laughing at that poor sucker… arms flailing in the air… probably a Mack Truck coming around “Dead Man’s Curve”… a bad day.

  • jason

    As much as we might loathe H-D, is it them, or the legions of middle aged men who buy the things, and keep buying them despite all the alternatives.
    Just like drugs or guns, if there was not such a demand, there would be no money being made.
    If you want unique and original, build it yourself. There are plenty of orphan machines out there.

  • William

    Just got back from a week in Panama City Beach Florida. Our trip happened to coincide with the 12th annual “Thunder on The Beach” rally. It was more like “Trailer on The Beach”. I’ve never seen that many motorcycle trailers in my life . . . I had heard that the alternate title for “Bike Week” in Daytona was “Trailer Week” and I get it now.

    For some of the bikes I could see putting them on a trailer as they were obviously show bikes and not meant to be ridden more than up and down the street.

    It was the largest gathering of conformists that I’ve ever come across. Other than the occasional Gold Wing and the even more rare BMW you could barely tell one bike from the next. Especially so when they where parked in multiple rows of hundreds – it was more or less the same bike one right after another.

    I get the social aspect of it all and I know that some of the folks did actually ride to the event, but it was pretty embarrassing to see all the trailers. Not to mention that the so called “Thunder” reminded me more of those annoying horns at the World Cup – just in a deeper register.

    Yeah, we all ride and to some degree we share a fondness for some of the same things but I never felt more like wanting to not be part of the these stereotypical non-conformist conformists than I did last week.

  • Core

    I have to say, I learned some valuable info that’s going to make me paranoid every time I go to buy a high dollar item. I’ll be thinking, is the item legit, or is the sales man/woman just trying to stroke my ego.

  • hairpinz

    It was always this way regardless of the bike, at least as far as the attention-seeking goes. I remember a salesperson telling my boyfriend that riding such-and-such bike (can’t remember the brand/model) was like getting a lap dance. And I was like “eww… not buying a bike from this dealership”. He could have tried to sell us two bikes.

  • joannides

    OK, so the sales pitch is down to almost perfect for the midlife crisis forty or so year old male buyer. Not much of a surprise actually and probably funny because talking about that gullible buyer is always an ego booster as long as the reader is not the one made fun of…. Although I truly love most of your writing Wes, I’d say this one isn’t the greatest even though it may be educational for some. And I’m sure most salesmen of most brands have their pitch down right. Think about all those Panigale or GS Adventure buyers fooling themselves into buying the replica of their dream biker’s ride and you’ll understand what I mean.Not to many bikes get ridden to their max purpose even though some exeptions stand out (look up these if you’re curious: Forwod+Harley around the world, Scotty+700000miles on Harley EVO, Dennis+coast to coast Panigale). Keep writing though, you’re reviews and other work are inspirational. :-)