Why This Harley Will Be My Last




I love my Harley-Davidson. But, thanks to poor customer service and an attitude problem at every dealer I’ve visited, it’ll be my last. Here’s why.

Photo: Anne Watson

I make no secret of the fact that I am a life long fan of the brand and have owned several Harley-Davidson motorcycles, but each time I have bought one I have promised myself that I will never buy another. Only to forget my oath and go through the whole unpleasant experience all over again.

It’s not the fact that the bikes are bad, although they haven’t always been very good, it’s the utterly awful sales experience I have encountered every time I have handed over my hard-earned money for one of Milwaukee’s machines.

Before some of you start to get your knives out and say I am nothing but a whining journalist let me make a few things clear. Every time I purchased a Harley-Davidson it’s been with cash. No special media rate. Just regular dollars from a member of the riding public paying full price as the dealers always refused to negotiate.

And every single time I have been let down by the dealers either not delivering the bike when they said they would, refusing to give me a test ride or making the sales process truly miserable by trying to sell me everything they could along the way from extended warranty plans to accessories I didn’t want or need.

This attitude it seems even extends to the service department. I finally decided to stop buying anything ever again from a Harley-Davidson dealer when I once rang to inquire about the price of a new front tire and was swiftly told it was not something they had in stock.

It was not a rare tire just a round black rubber thing that was listed in the H-D parts catalog and went on the front of my motorcycle. I suppose I could have bought one from an online store, but felt I should do my bit and support the local dealer even though it had already taken a lot of money from me over the years.

When I inquired when it might get one the dealer said it didn’t know.

So taking a chance I asked the service assistant what I should do and was told: “Call another dealer. They may have one.” Click went the telephone. End of conversation.

Now I admit this maybe not representative of the Harley-Davidson dealer network and I was prepared to forgive the somewhat cavalier attitude of my local H-D sales and service guys and take it on the chin.

After all I’m nothing special and don’t expect to be treated in a special way. Maybe I called them on the wrong day when they had far more pressing things to worry about than some guy wanting a new front tire.

However, it seems to me this really is not just a one-off. This attitude is endemic across the entire Harley-Davidson brand, from the Milwaukee head office right down to the guy who moves the showroom motorcycles around. Maybe you have come across it too or perhaps it’s just me.

It runs along the lines of ‘We’re Harley-Davidson. We can decide who to talk to and how we behave. Either accept our customer service and like it or take a hike, as we know for every person that walks away another three will be coming through the doors wanting to buy our motorcycles’.

I have been fortunate in my career. At one time I worked for several years as head of international communications for a famous Italian sports car company. So I know and have witnessed some of the ‘best’ in appallingly arrogant attitudes in customer service.

And whilst it’s totally unacceptable, I sort of understand that when everyone is beating a path to your door you can behave however you damn well choose. It’s wrong and I always made a point of being accessible and communicating with people regardless of the requests they made and explaining why I could or could not help them.

I make no apologies for liking Harley-Davidson as, despite everything it has encountered over 110 years, while others have fallen by the way, it is still here and still manufacturing and selling motorcycle. Whether they are the right bikes in terms of technology and design as the world has moved on, I couldn’t possibly comment.

And I am not going to question the ‘Made in the USA’ claims as the debate has ranged for years over where exactly H-D sources parts. I applaud the fact the bikes are built here in America by an American work force creating jobs and contributing to the U.S. economy.

So as you may imagine I was genuinely interested to see that Harley-Davidson shares have shot up this past week and the financial analysts were excited to say that it looked like the H-D management had delivered on its promises of nearly five years ago and thanks to a sensible business plan the company would make money this year and potentially a lot more in years to come.

The financial media last week reported that Harley-Davidson was nearing the end of its restructuring process and was about to reap the benefits as it had reduced manufacturing costs, raised efficiency and introduced more flexibility in labor requirements.

Thanks to all of this Harley-Davidson is expecting to see $305 million in savings this year – up from $280 million in 2012. And around $15 million of this will benefit the company’s gross profits this year.

Apparently H-D has recognized that around the world it is seen as too exclusive and expensive and to counteract this, specifically in India, it is developing a 500cc motorcycle that will be manufactured just for this market alone for a starting price of less than $7,000. India could be a big market for the H-D as although it only sold 2,000 bikes there last year it’s hoping that by 2016 it could be selling as many as 10,000.

It’s also hanging on in Europe too and although the heavy motorcycle sector has shrunk by 7% to 273,000, HD has managed to increase market share in a tough economic environment.

While here in the U.S., motorcycle sales are up from the market crash of 2009 with the financial experts predicting two more years of sales growth for Harley- Davidson and perhaps beyond.

So it was all good news. Harley-Davidson is making money,. The management has turned the boat around and whilst not out of the woods yet things are looking distinctly rosier in Wisconsin than they have for some time.

I thought this was a great story and wanted to know more. I called the Harley-Davidson media office and immediately got put through to voice mail. I left a message.

In the interests of good journalism I thought maybe I had made a mistake and as this was a business story maybe I should call H-D corporate communications too.

So a little while later I called that number and had to leave a voice message there also. It seems you cannot speak directly to a member of the PR team. They have to screen your call and then decide if and when to call you back.

The following day a pleasant woman from H-D did call me and said she had listened to my message and was interested to know more about the Riding Apart Magazine (sic).

So for 10 minutes I took her through what RideApart.com is and that my intentions were entirely honorable. I was looking to do a business story about the positive news that was coming from Harley Davidson that had been reported in the financial media. And like most journalists I was working to a dead line and would appreciate a call back as I had some questions. But I would take no longer than 10 minutes of someone’s time.

The woman sounded genuinely interested. She explained that somebody from Harley-Davidson would get back to me “very soon”. Very soon turned into a day later and this time it was a man from H-D who said the best thing I could do was call its media office and he gave me a number.

This, if you’re still following, was the number I originally called two days previously when I first set out on my quest.

I asked the man with whom I should speak to and was told “just leave a message.” So I called that first number again and spoke to the voice mail and surprisingly to date my phone has still not rung.

My point is that even if you have the best products in the world unless you have customer service to match – whether it’s the public, customers or even demanding media that you’re dealing with – you simply will not survive in the 21st Century. Consumers are smart, unlike me, and will walk taking their money with them.

I can only assume that the 110th Anniversary Harley-Davidson party plans are well underway. Clearly I need to be patient and wait until someone comes back to the H-D offices. I’m really hoping that whenever that is the story I write will still be good news about the company doing well, but in the meantime I’ll be covering other, more interested brands and, next time I feel like putting cash on the table, it won’t be at a Harley dealer.

  • Maggio Slooter

    too busy in Rome in Il Papi — call back later. :p

  • Mark Vizcarra

    That’s unfortunate that they gave you the run around both corporate and dealership. When I bought mine in 2011 they made it clear about customer satisfaction by sending me crap surveys. Even the selling dealer would tell me to give them high marks which I did the complete opposite. Im surprised that your sales experienced sucked. It has to be the dealers in you area because I have never had a bad sales experience even when I was kind of thinking of trading in.

    I never understood why all or even most motorcycle service depts would act like 2 different complete shops. You would think good sales would extend to good service.

    • Kevin R Dunn

      Hmmm, confused at your comment. You say your sales experience has always been good, yet you also say you gave them bad marks on the survey possibly causing your dealer to lose valuable profit dollars in more bikes being allocated for them to sell? What gives?

  • Garret C

    Interesting article.
    They’re great at creating/ perpetuating brand image though!

    I got decent service when buying a Buell XB (yea, I know, poor Eric) in Warr’s of Chelsea (oldest HD dealership outside of the US).
    But when the bike had a major problem some months later, it took ages to be resolved – it seemed to me that the problem was dealing with the head office.

    Not to be nasty, but the article needs looking at by an editor ;)

    • MarnoSingkong

      “They’re great at creating/ perpetuating brand image though!”

      And right there is the crux of the matter: HD is a lifestyle brand company. They stopped being a motorcycle company long ago.

      • Garret C

        Here in Barcelona, one of the two dealerships has posters on buses with the tagline ‘H-D. What do you want to do?’
        Advertising, Bikes, clothing, food, music, dancing etc. at their location.
        Jack of all trades..
        Master of marketing!

  • Julien Sales

    Let me tell you that, in France, Harleys are something like 30 to 60% more expensive.
    Yiep, check out the price tag between french harley web site and usa, do the currency rate and laugh for a while.
    Somme official Harley stores are very good (north of France, Alsace) but some of them are just like the one you described in your article. You only ask yourself what the F* you’r doing here !
    Obvisouly, a solution exist : find a local garage specialised in HD. Guys are nice, they love their Harley, they like talking about the ride… they use aftermarkets parts… and they don’t give a s* to their financial reports as long as it’s just fine.

    As long as the bikes are good, no revolution will come to the restrictive Harley world. Ads are great, hogs are great, bikes are good… but services and people are turned in a too commercial way. Maybe it’s the crisis, maybe not. So i’m gonna ride my sportster right to the end.

    Ride well,

    • Nikhil Nachappa IK

      Check the price in India :) It is more than double the price in the USA :)

      • 80-watt Hamster

        Same thing in Taiwan, and other SE Asian nations, I think. A friend who lives there said it was the essentially 100% tax on imported motos. Protectionism and all that.

      • Piglet2010

        Why H-D is (or soon will be) assembling bikes from “complete knock-down kits” in India.

      • Gavin

        The duty rate on motorcycle imports in India is 100%. That’s why they have been double the price in India than in the US. That’s probably the reason HD opened a manufacturing plant in India; so that they could manufacture in India and avoid the ridiculous 100% duty.

  • Fred Crown

    All you say is true. H-D has set itself up for Polaris/Indian to do some real damage to their bottom line.

    • aergern

      Folks are really forgoing HD’s for 4 wheelers and golf carts? ;)

      OH! You meant Victory/Indian the subs of Polaris. ;)


    • luxlamf

      I have to disagree, I am not a fan of touring bike myself and they are the Bread and Butter for HD and compare the RK etc.. to the Horrid Victory Vision or any of the $40k antiques Indian is trying to push I think HD is getting a Break from these Co’s. The Vision competes with the Goldwing crowd if anything, its so horrible and big and ugly that theres no way someone who appeals to the HD chrome world would come over. I see a lot of HD types trading in for the BMW k1600 series. Even Victory Cruisers have a “Gumball” machine feel to them. These 2 co’s are the best thing for HD if they keep producing such boring bikes.

      • Fred Crown

        Obviously you haven’t been keeping up with the industry. The newly designed Indian is a completely new motorcycle. Frame, Engine, etc., yes it retains the classic Indian appearance. You should check one out. Anyway you are missing the point, did you read the article? It is about the H-D Dealer experience, not the bike.

      • Slacker

        To go to a Victory/Indian/Any Metric Twin is basically saying, “I want to ride a cruiser, and I don’t want it to be a Harley”, at least, this is what a lot of Harley guys say. I can’t quite say they’re wrong either. Nonetheless, I’m not a fan of the brand, and if I ended up never being allowed to ride a sport bike or touring bike (or sport touring…. if you couldn’t see me going there) I certainly wouldn’t go to Harley for a cruiser. There are plenty of machines with good fueling, good power and good craftsmanship that would get my money. Made in America be damned.

  • Bill Jeng

    That’s really too bad. I guess every person’s experience is unique and I have nothing but good things to say about my Harley dealership. But, telling them about Ride Apart was probably not the best idea if you wanted a positive response. It seems like every time Harley is mentioned on this website, there is something negative associated with the mention. Harley’s PR person probably did her due dilligence, checked out Ride Apart, and figured someone was going to write something negative – as you just did. Well, good luck with your next bike.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      RideApart is a new company with a track record of covering the brand and its culture both objectively and sympathetically.

      Tim is not only a customer and enthusiast, but a journalist and author who writes about the company’s bikes for both periodicals and popular books. As he mentions, he also has considerable experience and an excellent reputation in the PR world as well.

      • Bill J

        Wes – I like the Ride Apart website. I like the articles and reviews, but covering the H-D brand “both objectively and sympathetically”… PLEASE, gimme a break. :)

      • Davidabl2

        Interesting claims..certainly more nearly true than a lot of advertising hype:-)

    • Tim Watson

      I was very clear with the woman from H-D that i was not looking to do a
      hatchet job story. I thought it was good news for H-D and explained what I wanted and that I was going to write
      something positive accordingly. H-D never came back to me and gave me the run around despite me trying!

      • Bill J

        I’m not trying to defend the H-D PR woman, I don’t know what you said to her or what she heard from you. I’m just stating that I’ve had very different H-D dealer experiences than you. I’ve never received anything but good service, good advice, and relatively decent prices from my H-D dealer. I’ve ridden Hondas, Vespas, BMW’s, and currently own a H-D Sportster 48. I can say that my H-D dealer is maybe better than the other dealers I’ve dealt with, and definitely no worse.

        • Tim Watson

          My decision is absolutely not based on anything to do with the PR person. It is though based on my dealer experience as I mention in my story; I also said that maybe what I have come across is not representative of the H-D dealer network as a whole as you are clearly happy with your dealer. I think you misunderstand me.

          • Bill J

            Well, about a third of your article is devoted to the bad experience you had at your H-D dealer, another third is devoted to poor customer service as related to how you were treated as a journalist by the H-D PR department, and you state that this “attitude is endemic across the entire Harley-Davidson brand.” Maybe I misunderstood, but it seems like your experience with the PR woman affected you as much as your experience with the dealer.
            I am truly sorry that you will not stay with H-D, and I would probably do the same if I had the same experiences. Thankfully, I have not.

            • aergern

              So maybe the 1/3 this and 1/3 that … end up in the end making him 100% unsatisfied? @billjeng:disqus I don’t see what your point is by breaking down his article into 3rds is … he seemed to be irritated with everything top down. Had he said he was just irritated with the sales guys at his dealership then it would have been dismissed but when he says A., B., AND C irritated me … you still try to dismiss how HE felt and why he wrote the article. It’s his opinion. It’s his experience. It is what it is but it is valid enough for him to post HIS opinion on it. I never read in any of it that he said ” this is 100% true and factual. And if you disagree .. stuff it.” Nope. He sure didn’t.

              • Bill J

                There’s no need to defend Tim and gang up on me. I think Tim was holding his own very well. I’ve not dismissed anyone – I just want to bring some balance to an otherwise unbalanced point of view. Tim had a bad experience – I had a good one. That’s all.

                • aergern

                  Fair enough. I forgot that now everything must be fair and balanced and 50/50 … and that everyone should sit on a fence with no opinion either way. Sorry if I offended. *shrug* You both get a gold star for effort since there is no clear right opinion.

        • Sebastian Sassi

          “I have had a good experience” is not the same as data, so please quit pedantically treating it as such. By and large the motorcycling community has had negative experience with HD culture and dealerships and corporate attitude, and that you haven’t seems like good fortune and a deviation from the norm.

          And the PR reps attitude and treatment of Tim is simply a reflection of the corporate attitude, which clearly trickles down into the dealership experience.

          Pretty clearly there’s a linear relationship here, and you have to be pretty obtuse not to see it.

          • Bill J

            Oh – I suppose you speak for the “motorcycling community” and therefore H-D culture and dealerships are subsequently negative. I say my good experience is as valid as Tim’s bad experience.

            • Sebastian Sassi

              I make no such claim, but I do make the very valid and herein quite obviously robust claim that experiences like Tim’s are far more common than experiences like yours.

              If you’ve enjoyed your dealership and riding your rattletrap garbage “no really, I’m a tough guy” bike…well, there’s no accounting for taste. Knock yourself out.

              But if the stream of “yeah, my experience with the company and the dealership sucked something fierce as well” comments that rather heavily outweighs your “nuh uh” contrarian take isn’t enough writing on the wall for you, I suspect nothing will be.

              • Bill J

                Hey – no need to get personal Buddy. How do you know my bike is a rattletrap garbage and that I’m a tough guy? Just because I ride a Harley doesn’t make me some tough guy. I still think you are way off in stating that Tim’s experience far outweighs mine. How do you know this? Have you surveyed all the people who ride motorcycles?

                • Sebastian Sassi

                  You’re going after Tim with a rather asinine line of reasoning (that Ride Apart is given to doing hatchet jobs on them…if they’re upset about that, here was a golden opportunity to put the best for forward, but they couldn’t be bothered) but you’re upset I made it “personal”? Please.

                  How do I know your bike is a rattletrap? The HD logo on the tank.

                  I didn’t say his experience outweighs yours–I said that your experience is apparently the outlier and many more folks have weighed in with experiences similar to his and not a one shares your hagiographic take. If you can’t figure that out, there’s little chance of anything approaching reason penetrating your melon.

  • TP

    Things move a little bit slower in the Midwest…

    I doubt they’re going anywhere, their customer base is vast and loyal, but the more I learn about them the less I can ever see myself ever putting down any of my own dollars for one.

  • JC Maldonado

    I live in the HD homeland of Milwaukee. Been fortunate to have a decent relationship with my dealer. I’ve been taking my Buell there for over a year and they’ve never steered me wrong. As for tires, they’re a dealer, so their markup is crazy. I just buy my tires online at half the price, and they install them for me.

    The dealer network is hit or miss with any brand. It’s the most important part of the purchase funnel and as you stated, has turned you away from buying another Harley. Sadly, customer service is poor at most dealers. I’ve been to other multi-brand shops and treated poorly, orders have been misplaced, ignored by sales people, overcharged for service, turned away for fabrication, I know more about gear than the parts guys, etc. etc. The fact of the matter is that our industry isn’t putting enough time and money into arguably the most important part of the sales equation.

    As for the top of the chain, as someone earlier stated, the HD flaming reputation of this blog and contributors has probably preceded you. Not saying the articles are wrong, but PR people don’t like to take chances…

    • Mugget

      Yeah, I was gonna say… a tyre at a dealership? Doesn’t the U.S. have tyre shops that, you know, just sell tyres and install them?

      I’ve gotta say that the idea of a “HD flaming reputation precedes you” is faulty reasoning. If a publication is going to write bad stuff, that’s lose-lose. But if a publication genuinely wanted some info to write a positive story (such as in this case), then HD has a chance at a win-win situation… but just ignore that and they don’t even get a chance, they’re stuck at lose-lose. That’s just bad business in my books!

      • tobykeller

        Tons of tire shops. Almost zero that carry and install moto tires. Dealerships are often the only option.

        • Mugget

          No moto tyre shops? Well that really does suck!

          • http://metabomber.com/ Jesse

            Few and far between are the independent ‘sickle shops that will do work and not just sell some parts and some protective gear. At least in New England.

            • Davidabl2

              The CycleGear chain is spreading like herpes..but they’ll install the tires they sell.

              • Jordan

                And if you didn’t buy the tires from Cycle Gear, you can always just bring your rims and new rubber and they will mount them for you.

                • Davidabl2

                  What’s even better If you’re mounting your own and go in to try to buy wheel weights
                  they just give you a handful…

              • http://metabomber.com/ Jesse

                I know nothing of this chain. Are they better or worse than herpes dealerships?

                • Davidabl2

                  Cyclegear.com. They have about 100 brick-and-mortar stores spread (and spreading) across the USA


                  Some CG stores will have a resident graybeard that mounts their tires, handles the weird stuff in inventory and knows as much as some guys at a good dealership.
                  CGs aren’t a real substitute for a crackerjack dealership-or independant shop- with expert mechanics in the back and even better parts guys at the counter.

          • Davidabl2

            There are some H.D. recommended tires that are only sold thru (you guessed it) Harley Davidson…

      • JC Maldonado

        I wasn’t saying that’s what I believe, just an explanation. As I stated, PR people don’t take chances. There’s always a risk regarding how your brand will be portrayed, regardless of said journalist’s intentions. They play it safe 95% of time.

        • Mugget

          But the thing is, these PR people think they’re playing it safe – they may see it as “keeping their distance” or something like that, but the people they’re ignoring and not calling back see it just as that!

          I can’t believe that any PR person would actually ignore requests for information. At every contact they have a chance or making a good impression, but they just let the opportunity breeze by?!

          Maybe they are feeling a bit too comfortable and rock solid with a 110 year anniversary under their belts. But you’d think that their recent experience would remind them of the importance of doing everything they can to continue building their business.

      • JC Maldonado

        And no offense to Ride Apart or Tim, because I like most of their content, but the UMV of this site is maybe 30k. When you’ve got WSJ, New York Times, Businessweek, and the Pope blessing riders, online publications rarely make it past the intern’s desk.

    • Kevin R Dunn

      Most dealers who sell tires of course have to compete against online sellers with no brick and mortar retail, or some company that bottom line just orders and sells more to get deeper discounts from the tire mAkers/suppliers. You sell more, you get them cheaper, bottom line. A lot of the times itis not the dealers marking them up, they might only have a small 5-10 margin, the reason why chaparral can sell them less is because of their huge volume gets them a better cost price. Not rocket science, just different business models. While working at a metric store I found I could order online and have delivered to my door a 180/17 rear sport bike tire cheaper than our dealer cost! Think Walmart or Costco and you get the idea. Big does pay-off. I now work at a big HD dealer on the east coast, we buy and sell lots of tires and get a deeper discount than most of our smaller HD dealer or accessory store competition. Just comes down to volume!

  • Mark D

    The bigger the dealership, the worse the service. The miasma of sleaze and desperation at most motorcycle shops is to incredibly off-putting to me, I learned how to do 90% of the service my bikes needs myself. Anything bigger than that, and I have a mechanic for anything bigger (City Cyclewerks in SF; the owner, Adam, is the best mechanic I’ve every had). Trust me Tim; crappy service at big-box dealerships is the norm, regardless of where the bikes are made (possible exceptions for Triumph/Ducati, if you’ve got the coin).

    My friend recently was in the market for a nice, lightly-used SV650 or similar. Went to a big downtown dealership. Got a douchey salesrep who rattled off a well-worn speech about why his 2005 SV650s were selling for $6k. Went on CL and bought one for $3k in great shape. God bless the internet.

    • Eric

      I’d second that on the bigger the dealership the worse the service is. Little locally owned places is where it’s at. They are more aware that it’s you the customer that keeps them going, paying greater attention to the details. Ever watchful eye on staff. I only visit the big bike shop here in the city when I’m anxious to sit on a new model (they always have it first), but if I’m serious about buying. I’ll wait till my favorite shop in the next town over has one. My money is just as green anywhere I wanna go, the prices are always too close to fuss with, why reward an asshole?

  • Sean

    I’m still a relatively new rider…just one year on the road. After taking the MSF course and getting my license, I went bike shopping. I live in Phoenix, AZ….which is predominately Harley country. I decided to visit 2 Harley dealerships and consider one of their bikes. It turned into a very negative experience, almost exactly like this article says. It was a bunch of attitude and BS, more about the lifestyle than riding. I was immediately and permanently put off of the brand. I ended up with a Triumph Thruxton and couldn’t be happier.

    • Piglet2010

      Who wants a paint-shaker V-twin that sounds like it has a miss when idling, when one could have the lovely Triumph parallel-twin for the same or less money?

      (2013 Bonnie here)

      • Fred Crown

        I take it you haven’t had the ECU and other electronics failures that the Triumphs are having. BTW, they are backordered, I ride with a guy who has been waiting 3 months for a new one.

        • Piglet2010

          No, but I am considering ordering some of those fake oil pools, since my Bonnie does not leak.

          • Kevin R Dunn

            Neither do the new HD’s over the last 10 years.

        • MorrisGray

          What models? Got a link to this problem? Are there recalls? I need more info seeing as I am considering a T-bird purchase.

  • Sebastian Sassi

    This is a surprise?

    They’ve been laughing their way to the bank making an inferior product that doesn’t beat any competitor in any meaningful metric and costs more and frankly screams “I’m an unrepentant whiskey tango douchebag” or “my accounting firm made me enough money to buy this and I grew the goatee to try to look tough and pretend I’m edgy for a suburban 52 year old white guy”…and people keep buying their garbage.

    All that racket to make 29 horsepower and rattle like Jenna Jameson’s favorite vibrator set to “Thermonuclear.”

    Bleh. Buy something that doesn’t suck.

    • Piglet2010

      Exactly why I would never consider buying a H-D – I have no wish to be associated with the pretend 1% MC club crowd. Wonder how many others are turned off by the whole H-D Lifestyle™ baggage?

      • Kevin R Dunn

        That 1% club you mention is not the real HD owners, most are just nice people who like comfortable, classy motorcycles and feel that HD is the one that all try to copy. Which is true when it comes to the cruiser world. By the way, currently HD is selling more street Legal motorcycles over 800cc than all the rest of motorcycle manufacturers combined! All those riders can’t all be wrong. Guess what also, HD is expanding in sales all over the world faster than any other manufacturer of street legal motorcycles. Go to a nice HD dealer and you will see we offer open arms to any brand rider that comes in riding to either just looks no see, or actually buy.

        • joeslabb

          A pity I have not seen this before. Yamaha and Honda each
          sells more than 12 mil bikes each year. If only 10% is over 800cc, both are
          more than double Harley. Remember Harley figures is total production worldwide,
          so look at the real picture.

    • Davidabl2

      ..You got me to go to UrbanDictionary to figure out the”Whiskey Tango” expression. Thanks.

      • Sebastian Sassi


        Kinda all comes together doesn’t it, once you translate ;).

    • Thierry Roullier

      What’s wrong with being a 52 YO white man? I feel personally picked on. I have a Harley but it is a 175CC 2 strokes from 1976 and I love the faces of the said wiskey Tango riding next to me. If you want to be dealer free get yourself a BMW Airhead that you can fix yourself from A to Z.

      • Sebastian Sassi

        With any luck I’ll be one myself some day (52yrs old). But pretty clearly the image HD is chasing is–at the very best–a really mixed bag of crap.

      • Piglet2010

        I want a H-D Topper scooter to annoy the Lifestyle™ crowd.

    • luxlamf

      I bought a VROD 7 years ago and have put 106 miles on it with little problems. Don’t own a Stitch of HD lifestyle but love my bike and was 38 when I bought it, and it was my 1st bike. 109HP 89TQ. So that “sucks”? I do enjoy the little Pissy types that sit and whine and cry about HD and lump all their consumers into the same bag, usually complaining that the HD types are snobby and opinionated. All the while doing the same thing they are complaining the others are doing. You sir are just another uneducated pit in the MC world, the type of people that make MCing a Chore and a Bore.

      • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

        did i read that correctly? 106 miles?

        • disqus_SB5uBoEFy2

          Well, it IS such a chore and a bore…

        • Sebastian Sassi

          What, you want him to ride that rolling advertisement for why 99% of owning a HD is polishing overpriced chrome more than once a year? :)

          109HP! Woohoo!?! From more than twice the displacement my last 600 had ten years to make 30less hp on an 800lb roadturd HD didn’t even design.

          If pointing out that you’ve been schnookered means I’m pissy, then pour me another beer and line up the next bladder full folks, we’re gonna be here a while.

          • Raph

            I can’t get over “106 miles in 7 years”. How does one admit that in public?

            It must be the result of the same type of dissonance which enables someone to fork over the cash for the rattling thunder of crap that is an HD in the first place.

            Why doesn’t the HD crowd, while yelling about “made in ‘murica”, first look at their company and ask – “I’m supposed to take pride in this product? This is an American company? This is about nationalism? Okay, fine, then why don’t you do a better job for Americans? Why don’t you feel it’s necessary to make a more competitive relevant product for us?”

            • Piglet2010

              I have seen my neighbor push his H-D out of the garage into the driveway so he can wash and polish it many times, but only seen/heard him ride it once.

        • Sebastian Sassi

          I wanna meet the person who voted down your very reasonable question. Probably a blast at parties.

        • luxlamf

          106, 368 actually, bought it with 7600 miles on it in 2005 from a guy in TX, never even sat on a Bike before that. Rode the Ex Gf’s Iron around for a bout a year or so and put close to 10K on that too. I don’t sit around and think “I am on my HArley” etc.. I just ride, I love riding everyday and its become my daily drive. Bought a 2012 Triumph Scrambler simply to keep the miles of the other bike now by splitting the time between the 2, have close to 9000 on that now and bought it last Nov. More people just Rode instead of worrying about everyone else and talking about bikes they never owned things would be better. I dont like Victories, Cannot stand them or how they look, never rode one so I am not going to comment on that as others talk like they have owned every bike they bad mouth. Buell was the worst bike I ever spent any time on, hated 3 models, wanted to park it and walk instead of continuing test rides I went on.

          • Adrian Balls

            Interestingly, i felt the same about the VRod as you do about Buells , I didn’t hate it but it wasnt for me.

        • MorrisGray

          Surely he meant 106k miles… Surely…. Right?
          And most Harley guys don’t like the V-rodders either.

      • boxy176

        Yep I’ve never had any issues at all in the first 106 miles on any of my bikes… Usually things implode at 107 miles anyways…

      • Shawn McDermott

        Lol Dont listen to lux, this dude owns a ducati monster.

    • Fast2Furious

      Whiskey Tango? Seriously? If you’re going to refer to another person as trash then at least have the courage of your convictions to use the words rather then choosing to hide behind a childish internet code for a racial slur. By the way I know lots of folks that ride Harleys none of which are rich business owners. However most are white, some are douche-bags but I can assure you that absolutely none of them are trash. And I take exception to your referring to them as such.

      • Sebastian Sassi

        Not sure what’s more pathetic, that you’re chiding a person using his real name about “courage of convictions” whilst hiding behind an anonymous moniker that evokes the worst of automotive culture, or that you missed entirely that I pointed out that yes, indeed, lots of rich people trying to not seem like rich people but rather the “edgy” lower-class types who ride outlandish, noisy, crappy motorcycles.

        • Fast2Furious

          As someone that has an opinion about everything I find it very hard to believe you haven’t already decided which is more pathetic. But calling into question my character or lack there of doesn’t change the fact that you have mistakenly characterized folks as White Trash who are not deserving of that label. The Harley owners that I know do not fit into either of the demographic profiles that were outlined in your original post. As a result the conclusion you have drawn is incorrect and you need to consider this new data and revise your hypothesis accordingly.

          • Shawn

            I think of it like this. If one truly doesn’t care about it then they would spend the time insulting it. It’s like the boy in school who really likes this girl so he’s so mean to her. I don’t like Harley Davidson at all but I’m not emotionally invested in them at all so I don’t even talk about them.

            • Piglet2010

              I find people telling me that I should have bought a H-D instead of a “metric” bike to be tiresome; but it is amusing that trashing all other makes is part of the Harley-Davidson Lifestyle™, but then they whine when someone returns the favor.

              And the old, “You really want a H-D, but cannot afford one” and its variations are also as tiresome as they are utterly false.

              • Shawn

                What’s your point? Are you talking to me? I’m secure in my choice of bike and it isn’t a cruiser at all. So I couldn’t be bothered nor grow tired about what they say.

              • Peter Chatteris

                Mate…. don’t fret… just ride

    • Kevin R Dunn

      Totally untrue. I am no big HD lover, but let’s really compare here. Let’s take a 48 hp Honda Shadow 750 ace at $8K, HD also offers a $8K motored 883 sportster in 3 different configurations. HD 67 hp, fuel-injected for years, Honda only got Fi 2 years ago! Or let’s take one of their $12,250 to $13,240 base price VTX 1300 custom line bikes (Sabre, Stateline, Interstate), all 1312cc, 80 cu in with 65 hp! Now let’s take a similar priced HD Dyna Street Bob (base price $12,999) or Super Glide ((base price $13,199), both come with standard a 96 in. Motor 77 hp, (1573cc), fuel injected, and about 20 lbs more torque out of the HD! Ad yes, on top of handily beating on the spec chart, always loses on average about 5-10% per year in value, compared to the Honda losing 25% in the first year, and about 10-15% more per year there after. Plus you tell me what people will look at more, the Honda or the Harley? Like parking a Ducati Monster next to a GSXR at a sport bike haunt, what gets more looks? What sounds better when you start them up with pipes installed? Nuff said.

      • Piglet2010

        For $8K I got a new Bonnie which looks better, handles better, and brakes and accelerates harder than the Sportster. And of course it has a much more comfortable ride and riding position. The Triumph America and Thunderbird are more direct competitors to the Sportster, and offer nearly as much performance advantage as the Bonnie.

        • Kevin R Dunn

          Looks is always on the eye of the beholder, of course I hear a lot of HD owners say the same about Triumph’s. I personally like the look of a Bonny over “most” sportsters too, but they do make some cool ones “if” you like cruiser styles. Think the 48 and 72 are sharp looking, just not my cup of tea.

          • Piglet2010

            Raked out front ends have always looked “wrong” to me. On the Triumph* and Moto Guzzi cruisers, the exhaust pipes visually fill in the gap, making the proportions seem more correct.

            *Rocket III excepted – but that is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish.

        • Kevin R Dunn

          Forgot to mention I do also disagree with that comment that the Thunderbird shopper is comparing against the “Sportsters”? I sell both, haven’t seen that yet. Cubic Inch and price point put it against the Softails and Dyna’s. The Triumph Speed Master and America are both priced against the 883′s, but I see a lot of people throwing the 1200′s into that fray as well despite their higher price. Think that Triumph needs a 1200 Bonny! Sounds like they have a Speed Triple Bonny probably going to be called the Trident coming out next year. That should be fun. Think using their big T-bird twin motor in a large Bonny would be cool too, despite it’s weight disadvantage. USA likes big cubes, and it shows in what is mostly selling in the cruiser/classic world. Now do they need it is the question.

          • Piglet2010

            Er, I was thinking Speedmaster, but wrote Thunderbird. :(

            Doesn’t help that the Thunderbird was a middle-weight bike in the recent past (1994-2004).

          • MorrisGray

            I am or was considering… Triumph Thunderbird/Storm. Harley FXDC. Victory Vegas. Yamaha Raider. I rode a std t-bird and loved it. I rode a 08 Hammer and was unimpressed but have heard the newer Vics are better. I have been unable to get to ride the Raider or FXDC yet.
            My last bike was a VMax which I did not enjoy.
            My favorite bike has been 1999 ZRX1100 Kawasaki.
            I just do not really like the new Z1000, may just buy the new 2014 FZ-09 triple.
            Have not decided on cruiser, naked or sport tourer yet.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steve-Fisher/564264764 Steve Fisher

          Please, no one will ask you about your “Bonnie”, at the gas station they’ll all be talking to me.

          • Piglet2010

            Fine with me – I get plenty of comments at the gas station when you are not around.

  • drivin98

    Not only does the author have something against Harley Davidson (obviously for good reason), he –and/or the editor – also seems fed up with commas. Here, this may help.


  • Itzul

    Exact same experience as Sean. When I started riding and was looking for a bike, about 7 years ago, went into the HD dealership where they pretty much refused to even talk to me after wandering about for a good half hour. Wouldn’t let me sit on the bikes, either. So I also ended up with a Triumph Thruxton which I loved. When my wife was considering a Sportster, two years ago, same deal at a different dealer. She got a Vulcan from my Triumph dealer who was more than happy to talk to her for the entire afternoon and put her in touch with a group of lady riders. Apparently we don’t fit the look of the HD target demographic. Or something.

    • Mugget

      Makes me wanna go in, buy a HD, wheel it outside and set it alight! The snobbery of it all!

      • Davidabl2

        Let me have it for a year or so, I’ll promise return it as a well-worn looking rat bike..from what I’ve seen that’s even more offensive to many of the true believers. I can even get some tasty Japanese Kanji lettered onto it or something strange in Spanish. Or in English:”Seen Rain”

        • Piglet2010

          How about a “Hello Kitty” make-over?

    • EchoZero

      Did the Triumph dealership practically throw you the keys for a test ride? I walked into my local dealership to check out a Sprint GT. I asked if they allowed test rides, and the sales guy basically handed me a clipboard and said “while you’re filling this out, I’ll prep the demo bike.” I also took a Street Triple R on a test ride… which I came back and bought two days later.

      No other dealership I’ve been to was that excited to sell me a bike.

      • yakimushi

        Heck yeah! Last time I took my Triumph to the dealer for some service they practically shoved a Ducati Hypermotard at me.

      • Kevin R Dunn

        We sell HD and Triumph, will let you ride either! Not all dealers are alike. The good ones that do the service get the customers and the sales, the ones that don’t, don’t.

      • Branden

        Every time I’ve been to my local triumph dealer they’ve been more than happy to set up a test ride. A much better dealer experience than most of the japanese dealers I’ve been to. However, as we all know,every dealer is different. I’ve just had a lot more luck at the European dealers.

    • Kevin R Dunn

      Again I will say looks like you just had a bad apple HD dealer. I work in an HD dealer (that also sells Triumph!), we will let interested HD or Triumph riders/buyers ride anything. Now Triumph like BMW does have an incentive for their dealers to actually put more miles on their demo’s since they know getting buyers to pony up actually helps when you let them ride the bike! I know when I was in So Cal very few dealers let people do test rides mostly for insurance cost reasons and worries of law suits, here on the east coast far different. We encourage it!

  • Dana Seero
    • Davidabl2

      I want one that says “CreditCardCustoms” People will think I have a shop…

  • Jeremy

    I owned a Harley and left the fold for similar reasons. I want them to be great bikes AND a great company, but neither is true, IMO.

  • Phoneix_Ikki

    Arrogance will always be the cause of every downfall and ultimate demise. Just look at history…Kodak, Nokia, JCPenny and some would argue Apple is going down this path now. HD is no different, continue to carry on with this holier than thou attitude and treat your core customers like crap, eventually the brainwashing won’t work anymore and you’ll see the business drop like a rock.

  • Will Sherman

    You’re problem is that you bought a new Harley from the stealership (let someone else deal with the salesman and pay out the nose), and then you didn’t go to a good independent to work on your bike and buy parts (my new Harley tires cost half of what the stealership wanted). I love my bike, but the only thing the dealer is good for is t-shirts.

    • Richard Gozinya

      I’ve always wondered something about those t-shirts. Is it supposed to be some kind of ironic statement, with the American pride uber patriotism stuff, but having them made in China, or do they just assume that people who ride Harleys are vapid morons too dense to notice or care?

    • thesystemfailed

      VERY expensive t-shirts!

  • Harry Paratestes

    Twice I came very close to buying an HD product (with cash in hand I might add) and both times how I was treated in the showroom was a factor in me keeping said cash in my pocket.

    When they were firesale-ing Buells at the end, I was going to buy the Buellysses my local had sitting on the floor. Could I get a salesman to help me? After about 20 min. in a deserted showroom. Could I get a straight answer on an OTD price? Not after going round with the salesman, the sales manager, and the F&I guy. (WTF do I need the F&I guy for, I’m paying cash?!?!) Balls broken = No sale

    The other time I was really excited when the XR1200 came out. Different dealer, couldn’t get the time of day. Was it cuz I wasn’t dressed like a pirate? Cuz I was dressed in full gear and came on a Japanese bike? Ended up test riding it, came back meh about it. Told the sales guy I wasn’t feeling it for that bike and he told me I just didn’t understand Harley’s. Up yours dude!!

    Go back to selling your “Lifestyle™”, cuz you’re not selling me a bike in my lifetime…

    • Kevin R Dunn

      Sounds like you just got a crappy dealer, go to a good one when your ready for a change.

      • TestSalad

        Isn’t that the point of the story? That all dealers are like that?

  • n prab

    I live in SJC, California. I had a similar experience with HD SJC . Here it was the service department that was actually hostile and incompetent. They broke a windshield while installing it, damaged parts while performing the first oil change and eventhough they replaced the parts free of charge, I had to bring the bike back thrice as they said they had the part, I showed up and then said they couldn’t locate it . Also, eventhough the sales man at the point of purchase had clearly said he’d get me a loaner everytime I came in to service (home or work were quite out of the way from this dealership). when I showed up the first time, he said the service manager had changed the policy. When I asked the service manager, he said they had stopped doing that years ago because of cost of Insurance and how poorly customers treat the loaners !!!

    So with only 1500 miles on the 2012 V-ROD, I traded it in for a 2012 BMW K1300S which cost less, where I was treated with courtesy, the sales process was a full 40 minutes and everytime I come in, I get a loaner Triumph or a BMW bike AND they are all very knowledgeable about their products and even today 1.5 years later will take the time to talk to you, even on their mobiles over problems I may have with the bike . This is true for the Salesman and Manager, Parts person, Service advisor . Exceptional service, my second bike was from the same dealership, a triumph.

    Never again HD. And I have to say the engineering on the BMW, eventhough it cost less, is leading edge – Electronic Suspension, Automatic Traction Control, 3rd generation ABS, Quickshifter, heated handgrips, a computer based display that gives me as much diagnostic information as my car does. The technology on the sweet V-Rod – ABS, first generation (the jerky kind that such strong pulsating feedback, it could take you by surprise, the sales guy was nice enough to emphatically warn me). Also, the BMW was about 130 lbs lighter and warranted by the manufacturer for 3 years (no other brand does this, HD is 2 years, Ducati is 2 yrs, many Japanese brands are only 1 year).

    • Mark Vizcarra

      Yeah, I would never take my bike to get serviced at SJ Harley. But their sales team is a hit or miss

    • Kevin R Dunn

      Sounds like you had a bad HD dealer, don’t blame you for getting a bad taste. Go to a good HD dealer though before thinking their all like that!

      • Ron Page

        Dude stop saying There is a good dealership out their…no one can find it. I’ve been to many and there all similar..last one told me we won’t work on anything but a Harley…um a front tire…really…its a fookin tire.!! Last time I checked the tire machine doesn’t know a kawi from a Honda from a Harley..just sayin

        • Kevin R Dunn

          “Dude”, their are 680 HD dealerships in the USA, some are owner operator (family owned), some are corporate owned. So you and your forum buddies have gone to what 6, 10, 20, HD dealers and say their all the same? c’mon. i also know of a lot of both good and bad Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Honda , Ducati, and BMW dealers!

          Did you also know their are some tires specifically designed for certain motorcycles by the tire manufacturer with imput by the manufacturer? Not just HD does this, Honda has had many tires specifically designed for their bikes because of chassis designs like the VTR1000F that flex. Took other brands without the manufacturer guidance two full years to come up with alternative tires. Different bikes put different loads on tires in different spots, so yes, their actually are some tires that you can only put on one brand without having adverse effects. Now my other question is why are let’s say Honda owners going into a HD store to have their tires put on? Why not go to their local Honda store and keep them in business or if they don’t like franchise stores their local accessory store? That’s like taking a Ducati into a Suzuki store…weird, and then complaining about it?

          • Ron Page

            Well if he is a Honda guy he probably assumes that since Honda owns 51 percent of Harley he might be welcome there..:-) I am46 been to a ton of Harley stores dad sister currently own Harleys sister owns 2 and her hubby has a 1 I am military and have traveled all over so I have been to my share and sorry but I’ve never been to a good one…hence why I gravitate to a Harley store its close runs in the family among other things and I call everyone dude so chill jets on that..:-)

    • MorrisGray

      Triumph is 2 years also…

  • Scott

    Buy any 2013 Victory, ride it like you mean it, give it 30 days, if it does not live up to it’s name, just bring it back. That is the offer. Jesus learn to read.

    • Kevin

      I know what I saw, dude. Don’t have to be a ween about it. I actually think the policy is great, and the bikes are great, I just thought the “if you can’t handle it” business was just dumb.

      • Justin McClintock

        Kevin, it’s right there on their webpage. Front and center. I think Scott might be right here…

        • Kevin


          It actually said “If it’s too much bike for you,” not “If you can’t handle it,” but the attitude is the same. But like I said, it’s a great policy and Victory bikes are good looking and appear to be well made. My issue is just with the attitude, which apparently they’ve changed in their more recent material.

      • aergern

        That’s a white box with text. I still get email from the Victory dealer I bought mine from in Missouri and it doesn’t say that .. it mirrors the official tagline from Victories website. If that pic is legit then it’s the PR dept. at the dealer near you not the national sales channel. I’ll say that Chesterfield Powersports in Missouri is the WORST dealership I’ve ever walked into … they drove my cash having a** to Surdyke Motorsports which probably the best dealer I’ve ever encountered. So it’s not just HD dealers that can have bad apples. Even Surdyke HD rocks … it’s called good management.


        Note: I’m in the SFBA now and have two Triumphs … Calmoto in Mountain View rock. Those folks give off the impression they’d give their first born to a potential buyer and always give 200% when taking care of folks. I guess it is what it is.

  • Mugget

    Whoa… just got reading the article then saw all the Permalink crap. WTF? I don’t wanna have to scroll that junk just to get to comments? (If it really must be there, can it please be put into a collpsable field that is collapsed by default??)

    Anyway – as soon as I started reading this, I thought about a previous article where someone was complaining about their bike. I commented along the lines of “I have never heard someone complain so much about a bike they love.”

    I thought, surely this can’t be the same person? After all this article states that you’re not just a whining journalist. But then again, maybe you are just a whining journalist…? :O

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Right, that’s obviously a bug and we’re on it.

      • Mugget

        Glad to hear it!

  • mid40s

    You are spot on in my experience as well. To that end, every motorcycle dealership I have visited has an attitude problem. Triumph, Suzuki, Kawasaki, etc. Never felt welcomed. Ever.

    • Piglet2010

      The dealership with the most positive attitude I have been at sells Ducati, Husqvarna, KTM, MV Agusta and Triumph (Motor Cycle Center in Villa Park – Chicagoland area).

    • Martin Cron

      Where I am (Seattle, WA) the Suzuki, Moto Guzzi, Triumph, and Ducati shops were all just great. Going to a dealership doesn’t have to be miserable.

  • Davidabl2

    My take away on this: Given the kind of bike you like, why buy a new American bike from a dealer..and not a reputable garage custom bike builder, who can/will stand behind his rebuilt old bike? Seriously, follow

    BikeExif and Pipeburn for awhile, there are some fine builders out there..The bike’ll cost more than a new one but is probably going to appreciate over time. Your descendants will thank you..just like the grandkids of any old guy with a knucklehead, Vincent etc.

  • Pablo Perez

    The author went to a H-D dealer and got sub-standard service; that is regrettable. That said, H-D dealers are concessionaires. If you went to your neighborhood McDonalds, and were told they had switched to lunch two minutes prior to the supposed cut-off time for breakfast, would you swear off McDonalds for life?

    I work for a Harley-Davidson dealer. I can tell you that H-D does not like dealers that under-perform in any respect; especially customer service. H-D corporate are true believers that have a tremendous amount of regard for people that ride Harleys. It seems like this article could have been edited down to “I got sub-par service from my dealer. I called H-D corporate and didn’t feel stroked by their response. Will they survive? I dunno, but I’m not buying another one.”

    What’s the author going to do when he has a negative experience with a dealer for the next make of motorcycle that he buys? Quit riding? Keep searching for the unicorn of the business world, The Company (and dealer network) That Does All Things Right All The Time? Good luck with that.

    I used to hate when old-timers would tell me that either “I got it or I didn’t.” At this stage in my life, and with the experience I have with the product (starting long before I started working for a dealer), I couldn’t be happier. I ride my Harley in fairly harsh conditions, I know my Twin Cam 96 will be good for 100k before it needs a top end rebuild (if properly maintained). I live in a part of the world that most North Americans feel a need to have an adventure bike to ride through. I’ve never had a factory Harley leave me on the side of the road with a mechanical failure. After 110 years of development, they have the air-cooled 45 degree v-twin thing down pat. If that doesn’t blow your skirt up, then there’s nothing I (or anyone else) could say to convince you H-D motorcycles are relevant.

    • 80-watt Hamster

      Re: the McDonald’s analogy: If the franchise in question is being run well, they should at least try to make you happy. If it’s only two minutes past the cutoff, make it anyway. Particularly if, as is often the case with a dealer or shop, there’s an existing relationship. Any establishment worth its salt will go above and beyond, at least a little, for a regular. So if I got that sort of dismissive response from the Golden Arches, repeatedly, and at multiple locations, I would absolutely swear them off. At least if I hadn’t done so already because their food is terrible and makes me feel like crap. Which I have.

  • Adam Z

    The xr1200 was the first Harley I’ve wanted since the 1980′s, but I have also tried to buy a Buell and a Victory from my local Harley dealership (which was the only local source for each of those brands for a few years). When I went in for a Victory SportCruiser in the summer of Y2K, the salesman said he had “Real Harleys” available (they sold Victory during the waiting-list years). When I said I only wanted the Victory, he pointed toward the back corner of the dealership, mumbled something, and went back to his desk. Essentially the same scenario when I came back years later to try out a Buell Ulysses. And when I came to see the XR1200, the first salesman said he’d go get a different salesman who “likes those skirtsters” to help me.

    As I see it, H-D had to get rid of Buell, especially after they started using the Rotax motors. They have built a religion that I call “The One True Church of Harley,” and dissent is not tolerated. They couldn’t sell Buells because they have worked so hard to winnow out all but the orthodox from their ranks that it created cognitive dissonance to even have a different kind of bike in the building. Almost as if the Catholic church started putting a “Buddha Room” in every cathedral and most parish churches. If Buell was deemed OK with a non-Harley-based engine, that opened the possibility that all kinds of things forbidden in the Scriptures of the Pushrod might be OK. Heaven forbid, next thing you know, people will be marrying furniture!

    I’m very happy with my Moto Guzzi California. It’s simple and ancient like a Harley, but has run for 140,000 miles without a rebuild and corners pretty damn well for a cruiser. My favorite dealership has closed, but there is another still under an hour away.

    • Piglet2010

      And that attitude carries over to all to many H-D riders, who are unfriendly and insulting to everyone who rides something else.

      • HammSammich

        I don’t understand “cruiser culture,” and frankly see HD’s as little more than a lifestyle accoutrement (they don’t seem to be good at much else), but I have always received a fairly positive response from HD Riders on my Bonnie. The responses are usually indicative of the typical age of HD riders – something along the lines of, “My first bike was a Trumpet…back in 1962.” And the most negative response I’ve received is a somewhat dismissive – “not a bad LITTLE bike.”

        • Martin Cron

          That’s funny, I’ve started to consider Harley Davidsons as musical instruments.

        • Piglet2010

          Well, I have only owned a Bonnie for five days, but already have got a lot of dirty looks from H-D riders? Must be the purple/white colorway, my hi-viz gear, or the furry leopard ears on my full-face lid?

          • luxlamf

            You seem to be very preoccupied by what everyone else around you thinks about your Purchase. Your Purchase of a Mass Produced Item. Do you get equally upset over other peoples choices in Toasters and Blenders? You had just about as much to do with Those things being produced as you did this bike you seem to think Defines you. giving you dirty looks, what a tortured life. Being the owner of a new Triumph now as well as my HD I am finding Triumph people way more annoying then any HD people. Now we have “I have a Triumph, hey look at me I bought a Triumph look its not a HArley I ought a Triumph”. Love when you types come up and want to Gab about bikes and tell me “How much better it is then a Harley” Without me ever bringing it up, luckily when I say “I have one of those too” they stammer and walk away in their little Triumph outfits. Brand new little Triumph outfits and their 500 miles a month.

            • Piglet2010

              You seem to be very poor at guessing the thoughts and motives of others on the Internet. I of course was commenting on the behavior of the Harley-Davidson Lifestyle™ crowd, and not about myself (where you are way off target).

              But I may not get to 500 miles a month on the Bonnie, since I have four other bikes to ride too. :)

        • Adrian Balls

          I’ve always been amazed by the Harley owners who think my Buell is an Italian bike or have no clue at all. Harley riders don’t wave at Buells but who cares !.

  • fazer6

    Seriously though, you write for a blog, not a major mag. The demographic HD needs reads blogs, and probably not mags (as evidenced by recent industry events), but the demographic they are after currently has never heard of you.

  • http://www.joelpm.com/ JoelPM

    I’ve also had very mixed experiences at HD dealerships (in SoCal). My initial experience at Laidlaw’s in LA was so poor I almost didn’t buy a Harley. I stopped by Glendale HD for comparison and had a great experience (and spent my money there). A few years later I bought a used RK at Ventura HD and had another good experience. I went back to Laidlaw’s to buy parts for it (oil, filter, etc) and the experience was still subpar, so I go to Glendale HD for parts and have had consistently good experience. As others have said, there’s a big delta from dealer to dealer.

    • John S

      I also had generally a good response from Glendale HD. They gave me a generous trade in on my Sportster for a used Buell Thunderbolt, that I still have. My problems have been with service, a general lackadaisical attitude. I had to carefully check after any work had been done to see if bolts were loose or the belt was too tight. After long discussions and one time having to sign a hand written release the work got done properly. Now I go to a place called RPM Attack in Glendale, great service and real care in the work. As for reliability, the engines need more maintenance than other makes, if you don’t check things it will shake itself to death. It is fun to ride though, good for grunting around corners (if you have a Buell).

      • http://www.joelpm.com/ JoelPM

        I second what you said about the Glendale service department. The guys are really nice (and they wash your bike before turning it over to you), but the quality leaves something to be desired. I had one experience where they only attached a single bolt on the rear brake caliper. All the way home I was wondering why the rear brake didn’t feel like it was doing much – when I got home I realized it wasn’t doing anything.

  • Mister X

    Well, I see nothing has changed at some Harley-Davidson dealers since I went in to have a hard look at a new 1977 XLCR.

    I lived near the dealer in Sunnyvale and went by 3 times to have a look and the first 2 times nobody was there, it was mid day and open and I wandered around the racks of jackets and accessories making noise, calling for anyone, but never did find any humans.

    And the third time I did find someone there I was gruffly told “no test rides, no sitting on the bikes” along with an obvious “attitude”, I’m thinking wtf?, I came in to perhaps buy a bike and I’m treated like an outsider, so I left.

    I wonder if it was because I rode up on a Kawi F-5 Bighorn 350 custom (black tank, Kawi green frame, that ran mid 13′s at Fremont raceway) with a loud chamber.

    I’m not a Harley-Davidson hater, I just don’t care for most of the styling, however, I did recently get to ride an XL1200S, and that was fun, not so sure I’d want it for an around town bike, but on the road I’d think it’s pretty nice.

  • Luis Sanz Moreno

    Same experience abroad (I live in Spain).

  • Chris Cope

    Harley dealers have a LONG track record of being D-bags. In 1958, Buddy Holly and the Crickets, flush with cash from their success, tried to buy Harleys but were told not to touch the machines. They left the Harley dealership, took a cab to a Triumph dealership and bought three brand new bikes with cash (http://www.buddyhollyandthecrickets.com/bike.html).

    For my own part, I ride a Honda and have been treated pretty well by Honda dealers. But I think they’re like that because they know Honda riders aren’t buying a lifestyle. Treat me poorly and the fella down the road gets my money.

  • Thatmanstu

    Rudeness,disinterest and lack of professionalism are simply actions and characteristics utilised to mask a genuine fear. Fear of discovery of a lack of skill,knowledge and competence. I have worked in numerous dealerships in virtually every aspect,as well as been a factory rep while visiting hundreds of dealerships and retail shops…..poor management and training,and lack of real knowledge or skill creates a fear of exposure of these facts to customer and management alike Resulting in rude,crude and indifferent behavior. Genuine sales and customer service skills and actual knowledge are hard to come by and require good pay and work conditions to keep. For ownership and management,hiring someone who knows more than you do is scary,embarrassing,potentially harmful to your position as well as removes a convenient scapegoat for their own shortcomings and business failings…….however self destructive and inherently bad for business……

  • Juan Manuel Handal

    well sir, Harley Davidson, I am told; gave Pope Francis one or two motorcycles. With that they are assured that someone in heaven will bless them and make them profitable. Their bikes, however, will still be heavy, slow and unreliable.

  • Niles Lishness

    How is this possible? Every customer satisfaction survey always show H-D to be at the very top of the list. My experiences have always been awful when visiting H-D stores. No attention and treating you like it is a real inconvenience to deal with you. Just goes to prove that H-D owners love to be abused.

    • Piglet2010

      As Willie G. Davidson himself said, H-D has a cult following. How many cult leaders treat their followers well?

  • Doug Davis

    I have to agree with everything you written. Having had Softails, ultra classic, a sportster for the wife and even a Buell I am done with Harley. Highway blow outs because the HD service guy at $80 an hour cant put a tube in without noticing that its twisted, bike catching on fire from recalled part that was never caught (HD did all the service). Then they shut down Buell and satellite dealers (killing local support for me). So I have gotten rid of the Softail and Ultra Classic and am keeping the Buell until the new BMW’s come out. I ride a lot and I want to wear more protective gear and have a dependable bike and HD is just going in the opposite direction – I guess HD and I have just grown apart over the years…

  • Davidabl2

    Oh for the good old days, and good old return policies .Like when Crocker and Brough-Superior
    both asked you to return the bike if it wouldn’t go 100mph. And they’d get you another one that would..

  • Peter Chen

    With so much negative experiences on this topic, and niche demographic …

    I think business-wise, HD is a true success story!!!

    • 80-watt Hamster

      Niche? Not exactly. Come to the Midwest; H-D is mainstream here. Everything else put together doesn’t even equal the number of Harleys on the road. (Okay, it might. But you wouldn’t know it to look around on a sunny summer weekend.)

      • Piglet2010

        Yep – riding a H-D these days makes one a conformist. :)

  • http://stellarplum.tumblr.com/ Marie Delgado

    An article about useful tips and what to look out for when buying a motorcycle from a dealership would be great, RideApart!

    • Davidabl2

      Know your shop before you buy the bike is what it seems like to me…

  • aergern

    FYI … back when Buddy Holly and the Crickets made it big they went into an HD dealer and they were treated like crap. All three went down the street to the Triumph dealer .. bought 3 new bikes and then road them back to the HD dealer to gloat before riding back to Lubbock … true story. And this was in the 1950′s so it’s not a recent development.

  • Bobby Hurst

    I had quite the opposite experience. I was sold a bike not a life style. I called in 2005. Asked the dealer if they had the bike I wanted- 05 night-train- Black. They said yes, not in shop but at warehouse in PA. They could have it in a week. I told them I was on my way over. Walked in , saw sales woman talking to another customer. The place was empty except for the three of us. I told her who I was and I was there to buy a bike- NOW. The other guy smiled and said ‘I’m just looking now, take care of him” I dropped 10g in cash on the desk, cut a deal for pipes and walked out. Came back a week later to get my new bike. Could not have been treated better. Sadly that dealer closed a few years later as did many others in the NY area. Harley was more interested in getting more ‘lifestyle’ out there than bikes. The local dealer was forced to get a much larger shop than needed by HD so they could stock more “lifestyle”. That was their downfall. Too much overhead. I was lucky when it came for service. A bunch of guys that had worked for the closed dealers opened their own indi shop. Primarily for HD but work on anything. Two years ago I rolled in two get two new tires ( in stock -on shelves) and have them punch the motor out to 95 inch. ( Kits sitting on shelves) bike was done a week later.

    • Piglet2010

      H-D is also requiring larger parking areas for holding Lifestyle™ events.

  • luxlamf

    Well written article. It’s true as I bought a HD as my 1st bike 7 years ago, a used 2002 VROD. Didn’t like the dealership experience (or the fact they where gauging the consumer by adding $$$ to price tags for no reason) so found one used in TX and had it shipped to me, also ran into a lot of trouble finding a service area that understood the workings of the new model (and most people in the HD community hating this bike including service areas) and eventually found a great shop 50 miles away, I pass 5 HD dealerships to get there. Parts? well except oil filters and plugs I buy online now for 20% off in most cases as no dealership carries parts. Love my bike, 106 miles on it now, tuned to 109HP and 89TQ without much effort by just adjusting exhaust and air and a tuner. not a Stitch of HD clothing or other nonsense of the “LIfestyle” they sell. WHat I do find across the MC community are weasels, Thats why this article is so well written, He isn’t a Weasel, there are many little weasels posting comments with their “Wah I dont like those HD types” I just recently bought a Triumph, Triumph people I am discovering are the biggest whining babies on the planet, insecure twits who sit and complain about every damned thing under the sun all the while piddling around on their 50hp bikes. LOve my Bikes, work very hard to Keep then and enjoy them, could give a flip what anyone thinks of me or my bikes as I just ride them, every day of the year almost. If you arent riding 20k a year you should really shut up about your “MC experience” and try and come off as a pro. This author is a pro, it shows in his writing.

    • Piglet2010

      Dude, you are the one with issues, not me.

      Besides, weasels are brave and fierce, and will defend their kills against much larger predators.

  • Slowtire

    Yawn. I’ve never had a bad experience in any cycle dealership, including HD. Just lucky I guess.

  • Sebastian Sassi

    I’ll raise a glass to that at 38 years middle. :)

  • Abraham Lee

    I went in to the Harley Davidson parts department in South San Francisco once to order something. There was a guy from the service department hanging out in the parts department, and he asked me if I knew what HD stands for. I wasn’t sure where he was going with it, and he responds ‘Hundred Dolla’ in an asian accent. He was caucasian, and I’m Korean.

    I guess they don’t want my business.

  • Robert Rufus


    This forum pretty much thinks the blog you write has so little impact that maybe the HD dealers and the manufacturer also, don’t take you seriously at all.

  • Kevin R Dunn

    Have to disagree with you, and you do sound like a disgruntled owner due to some bad experiences at your local and manufacturers level. First off year after year HD wins top honors from every CSI report card from all the different sources for dealer customer satisfaction, considered the standard by what all others are judged. I worked in the Metric side of the business for 25 years, and now 4 years with the HD retail side. It is like comparing Mercedes/BMW to Kia. Are they more expensive? Yes, they are a premium brand, just like Ducati, MV, ect. The brand that all others try to emulate in the cruiser world hoping for a small piece of that pie that HD owns.

    Tired of young sport bike owners who just don’t understand you don’t compare a CBR600RR to a Harley Fat-Boy. Yes, your 600 gets up to 110 hp, but must rev to 12,000 rpm to do it. You don’t ride around at 12,000 rpm when your riding. Did you know when your riding, which is mostly between 5000-9000 rpm for most posers, that your your bike is only putting out 50-80 hp! So many times I had newbie sport bike riders come in and tell me they were redy to trade in their 600 for a 1000 because they “used” up all that she had and was ready for more. I would always catch them in that comment and say “wow, you must really ride hard, what are you revving it up to?”, all of them would always say, “yeah, man I had it up to 9,000 rpm ripping”. Duh, so that means your really riding around on 50-80 hp sport bikes with the 1% time usage of higher revs to impress your friends or street race illegally. These old HD’s which only put out 70-80hp, do that at under 4000 rpm and have nearly double the torque. All are fuel-injected, with thoroughly modern electrics even fly by wire throttle. In this cruiser world of relaxed motorcycle riders who actually want to ride far and wide, sometimes with their significant others, the only other model that has such a loyal following in the Honda Goldwing. Do I think HD could modernize more, darn right, and HD thinks the same, that is why new CEO Keith Wandell has spent so much time in upgrading tooling, re-working contracts with unions, preparing for. Whining about dealers not discounting when you want to buy one, yet being very happy at HD’s best in the industry resale value when you go to sell yours is just plain crazy. I have seen the metric world dealers kill each other trying to sell a $25k Goldwing so that they could make a $100. Wonder why a lot of these dealers go out of business and can’t survive. The good HD dealers which 90% of them are, do continue to strive to be the best in the industry so that yes, they can continue to make good profit and thrive, so that they can continue to support their continually growing ownership base!

    • TheBoatDude

      Excellent point about sportbikes. A lot of folks look at absolute numbers: 110 HP, 80 ft/lbs torque, etc… but they don’t consider where these peaks are in relation to RPM (or, rather, how high they have to wind it up, in order to get peak power or torque). As for upgrading, I’ve heard that a lot of folks that go to a larger (read: more powerful) bike actually wind up riding slower as the new bike scares the piss out of them. Not all folks, mind you, but a lot…

  • bbradsby

    HD may have PR/Dealer issues, dunno, don’t care. If theirs was the bike for me, I’d still buy it and go ride!

    Don’t go looking to buy a ‘friendship’ with a dealer for fooksake – there’s another profession for that. I ride non-HD Brands, have all my life, and have seen BIG Attitude from SOME dealers of all marques, whether European, Japanese or American. I actually feel sorry for the indentured BMW dealer dudes as they must have a strict policy that mandates they patiently listen & smile (grit teeth) ad nauseum to rich, neurotic complainers while their desk is on fire with today’s paperwork.

    Buy the bike you love, and then ride it. Use an independent or dealer service shop of your liking. They’re out there. Full Stop.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steve-Fisher/564264764 Steve Fisher

    I’ve owned Harleys and Hondas. Quite frankly, no brand really sticks up for their product and their motorcycle customers once the bike leaves their dealership. Having said that, poor attitude is everyone in the motorcycle industry, always has been. The best thing about Harleys is that there’s a dealership every 30 miles or so in case it breaks down.

  • murphmobile

    Here’s my take. I live in Europe and own a CBR1000 and a KLR650. I came over to the US two years ago and borrowed my father’s Sportster for a ride from way down in the deep south to NYC. The bike had some reliability issues which were a turnoff considering that it is meticulously maintained. Needless to say, I stopped at a fair share of dealerships along the way for replacement parts. I honestly have nothing but good things to say about the level of service I received at the shops. Friendly, accommodating, and a fast turn around time. I only paid for parts during all three stops. That said, I wouldn’t buy one myself based on the reliability issues…but the support was top notch.

  • appliance5000

    Every year I drive and camp throughout the west. One thing you can count on is no matter how remote and serene something is the peace will be shattered by a harley with shorty pipes.

    Get up high and riders won’t shut off their bikes at rest areas – too afraid the crap won’t start again. What do they care ,they’re probably deaf anyway.

    I hate those bikes. Loathe would be a better word.

  • MorrisGray

    I appreciate your story, very nice read. I have wanted to buy a Harley more than once but have not been able to get a test ride yet. Love the looks but I am unsure about their value vs. quality. I know a lot of people who own Harleys but I do not know a lot of people who ride them much. In and around my area of North GA most all of the dealers act the same and it is very disappointing.
    To me, purchasing a motorcycle is more emotional than buying a car. And shopping for my latest purchase has not been that much fun. And if I buy another bike, I hope if I need any warranty work or maintenance or repairs, taking the bike to the dealer will not be as bad an experience as I fear that it might be. They remind me of lawn mower shops. We welcome you to come in and buy something. Not buying, sorry no time to talk. Got a problem? Just take it to service and leave it with us, we are really busy right now.
    Not Mayberry RFD for sure! :)

  • Konstantin Chachanidze

    hey, if anyone is going to discard his/her Harley because of poor service, please let me know :D :D :D I´ll gladly pick it up from you and I won´t have to worry about any service problems because we here don´t have any bike service whatsoever :D :D :D

  • sandi

    Why don’t you guys all spend more time riding the bikes of your choice and less time dissing the choices of others? Life is certainly more interesting when everyone doesn’t have the same taste. Geez….. I ride a Harley Switchback and a Triumph Thruxton. Love ‘em both but I sure don’t feel compelled to denigrate other bikes.

  • Thom Dickieson

    First, let me say that I love Harleys. I always have and probably always will – HOWEVER – I think they build junk today, and have since they invented the twin cam motor. They say they don’t vibrate any longer, which is a load of hooey. I had to limit my riding a lot due to tendonitis, and the new Harleys are no better on that than they ever were. I have experienced what the author did at several dealerships. If I was buying clothing, I got lots of attention, and I look the part of an HD rider. I agree that most new HD riders are folks who have gotten to the age that they want their rewards, and can afford them, and fifteen minutes after buying one, take on the persona. There is much I have to disagree with in the comments though. Stick to the facts, folks. The statement that Honda only came out with FI two years ago is more hooey. The 2001 Goldwing is FI. As far as holding value, the Honda Goldwing does that better than even Harleys do. I still own a Harley Softail, and I now own a GL1800 Goldwing. Guess which one I ride about 95% of the time. Nope, it ain’t the Softail. I cannot comment on any of the other bikes mentioned, as I have never owned, nor ridden any of them. I was strictly a Harley guy for 47 years. Then I had to change, or quit riding. Well, quitting is not something I ever was good at, so I switched. I am truly impressed what a little modern technology can provide. All those folks still riding and swearing by their Harleys have my blessings. So does everyone else who rides a motorcycle. If you understand, no explanation is necessary – If I have to explain, you will never understand.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5OWRRJh-PI&list=FLYJP3MjZQ-BJugrvyegfQ7Q&index=1&feature=plpp_video Alberto Knox

    It goes beyond the dealers. so many Harley riders are buying the brand to buy into an attitude. Faux bikers for whom the bike is just an ornament. Sure, there are very many pleasant and sociable Harley riders… but there are also criminal gangsters who sport the brand. If I decide I want to ride some modern antique I’ll just get a Royal Enfield (imported from India). Buell gave them a chance to make a statement about their future and boy they sure did.

  • john northrop

    I can’t speak to the CS about the article you were trying to write…but as a business owner with a popular brand, product, and service…I hate that you had that experience at the dealer with the tire.
    Honestly, as a Harley rider myself…I trust only the HD dealer to work on my bike for anything it needs. I’ve had worse experiences at off brand shops over the past 3 decades…I appreciate how Lexus cares for my autos and I appreciate the special care HD gives my scoot. If it takes a few days to get a tire in…would that be so bad? And they could check over everything else for you at the same time.
    My personal HD dealer has become a great relationship. It’s not the family, small, bikes and a few accessories, maybe 2 mechanics on a good day shop I first bought from on my 4th day out of the Army in 1989…..no….today’s shop in my town is huge, bright, and sells every accessory and clothing item known to exist I am sure. It’s a huge retail ‘brand experience’…but that’s ok…it makes the brand money….and I still know great people there…even if the average customer is now a lawyer with a mid life crisis buying a 30k bike…
    I ride a 1998 Road King Police….it’s got a lot of miles on it…but my wife and I love it….and we are just as accepted at the dealer’s weekly rides as those who bought from them, while we didn’t. They do make money on my RK service…but I like having it perfect….my wife and I are too old to have road problems like when I was a kid riding an old panhead with duck tape.
    Ride on man – hope you find happiness in whatever you ride….I’m sure you’ll have lots of interest in your used Harley!

  • disqus_gPg3Yg3xB0

    I laugh at them they know nothing about thier own bikes.I asked a sales man at HD just for the fun of it .a 2013 fls slim I said is this the new triple cam motor or are they still running twin cams he said oh no its the new triple cam motor hahahhaha I said see you later ..

  • Angela Barlow

    I love my Harley, but I hate Harley-Davidson Service and the price of parts. My husband and I bought Fat Boys on the same day, and paid cash. It was great for the first two weeks, they answered all my questions and were happy to see us walk in the door. Since then, they have treated us like we are messing up their day. We don’t go on the Dealership rides, and we don’t attend their little meetings ( call me crazy, but I work long hours and have to help care for my grandson). We bought the service plan, yet when I make an appointment for 0830 and have the bike there on time, they take until 2-3 p.m. to do service on two bikes. When I asked about it, they said that there was a group in from another state doing a ride and they took priority. Really! I bought my bike and my service plan here, and someone from out of state takes priority. I guess my time just isn’t as important as the other persons. I was there when they replaced another rider’s tire, but my husband has a blow out at 8000 miles and they tell him it was his fault and not covered by warranty! And they did us a favor by not charging us a $15 tow fee on the $279 back tire. I am done. If I can find another bike dealer that wants to offer better service and give me a good trade in, I will kiss Harley good bye. You buy nothing but the name, and the name is not that important to me.

  • Erica Mathis

    I don’t like the Harley “culture” at all, I find it embarrassing and the loud obnoxious pipes, the dressing like a pirate, the ape-hangers, the chrome, the acting bad-ass (but looking goofy) while running to the story on our “hog” to get milk for the misses. Just me. Ride what you ride.

  • Peter Chatteris

    You know what… I have a Sporty… ’86 1100 and Buell M2… oh… and BSA an RD350LC Yam, SR500 Yam, and a few others… hey… I just love riding… and you know what… here in New Zealand the local Harley guys are just fantastic… as are most of the brand dealers… methinks its not a Harley problem, maybe just slack people… anyway.. just ride… and be proud of it. No matter what you own… cheers from downunda

  • Nate Terrill

    Unfortunately, my wife and I ran into “the stereotype” about half an hour ago. We were in the car and came upon a guy who had dumped his HD at a light. There was very little traffic, so I pulled up and put on the flashers so that the guy didn’t get run over. I got out to help him get the bike up, which he was attempting the WRONG way. I showed him how easy it is with the butt on the seat and push method, but he wasn’t getting it.

    Long story short he stank of alcohol. I got the bike up for him and was talking to him about how I could call a cab, but he threw a leg over, fired it up, and wobbled off. He went wide on a right turn from the light and almost hit a stopped car.

    Long story short, I knew this guy was an idiot, but it didn’t sit well with me that I let a fellow motorcyclist ride off in the state he was in, so I followed at a respectful distance with the police on the phone. I followed for 5 miles or so, before I felt I had done enough and the dispatcher said they would have him in a couple minutes. I hope this guy got home in one piece or at the very least didn’t take anyone else with him.

    Sorry, to feed into it, but there are stereotypes for a reason; this guy was 40s or 50s, goatee, vest for “safety equipment” and sunglasses (at night); No helmet, no gloves, no nothing really.

    • TheBoatDude

      That’s unfortunate. I really try to treat folks as individuals…but sometimes folks are bent on perpetuating a stereotype. I’m not saying that there aren’t sportbike/standard/adventure/supermoto riders that drink and ride as well, but – via casual observation – every “biker bar” I’ve seen always had H-D’s parked out front. Good on ya for helping him out, tho…

      • David Wilson

        Oh my, maybe go to some of the towns and bars that cater to Sportbike riders, we have some here in Michigan. Sounds like you are just sad that there are not enough non-Harley bikes in your area to get a few at a bar at the same time. What a snob…..

    • David Wilson

      Well how about the idiots on the sport bikes that ride on the freeways at 100 mph and then take out themselves and others when they hit the wall? Does that make all Sport Bikes riders idiots? Are you also trying to say that Harley riders all drink or that you have never seen a sport bike rider drink and ride?

      As is usually with all stereotypes they are usually wrong, have no data to back them up and the person spouting the crap seems to think they are the only right person in the world. Of course when you are right, have data, and are confident then you would not call people names if they disagreed, you might actually try and persuade them.

      Tim was wrong, he did say it pervaded all of the Harley culture. Triumph has its own culture, read these comments and you can see it easily. The culture is “not a harley”. As for Harley, the seller of the most popular bike the Sportster, they do make good bikes or people would not buy them repeatedly. There is nothing wrong with owning another make, I have owned, Suzuki, Kawasaki, and Honda and the bikes were great. I got a chance to borrow a Sportster last summer after selling my current bike and was surprised I actually liked it and it fits with my new need for commuting rather than riding long distances. I bought a used 2013 Sportster 1200 custom with 362 miles this January and I cannot wait to ride it in warm weather.

      Focus on your riding, forget idiots that try and make you feel inferior for not buying a Harley, a BMW, Triumph or whatever it is they own. There are snobs in the Sport, Adventure, and Long Distance bikes as well. Harley does a great job at making the vast majority of their customers happy with the bikes, service, merchandise and the clubs they help promote. If you do not like it then do not join or buy one but why is your self esteem so tied up in your bike manufacturer or type of bike you own? Just ride and be happy.

  • Slacker

    Unfortunately, I know how this is… I work for a company in my town that has both a Harley dealership and a BMW/Triumph/Can-Am dealership. As it stands, the metric shop has to behave like a little brother to the H-D side and learn how they sell. Unfortunately, trying to sell a BMW like a Harley is damn near impossible. It’s a different customer entirely. But that doesn’t change the head-honchos from giving a large budget to the H-D side of things and making it so there’s hardly a parts/accessories department in the metric shop because that’s how it works for Harley… I also had a coworker who got swapped over from metric to Harley and she quiet within a week because of the people she was working with.

  • http://www.bikething.co.uk/ Jonathan Ward

    HD are the same here in the UK too. The ego of some salesmen is truly unbelievable.

  • Adrian Balls

    Its no surprise that most Harley dealers were not pro-Buell, but I have never had any problem with most dealers if you wanted parts , service , rentals or sales in NY or CT.

  • Dan Hammack

    Goldwing price tag? To get XM radio on a Harley Davidson Electra Glide you have to step up to the CVO Ultra at $38,999, while a comparable Goldwing similarly equipped with ABS cost $28,100. Add that to the fact that Honda built the Goldwing’s flat 6 motor from the ground up specifically for the Honda Goldwing, while Harley uses the 103 and 110 cubic inch motors in almost every bike they build, meaning Honda has more invested in R&D. So Honda gives you 4 extra cylinders in a motor purpose built for the Goldwing and similar options for $10,899 less than the Harley CVO Ultra and you think Honda charges too much for the Goldwing. Not the first time I’ve heard this from a Harley owner, and I don’t know why you guys think Honda should give these away with a purchase of motor oil.

  • skeeter

    I agree with the author. I would love to own another Harley. Although they are high maintenance, I really like the bikes. Maybe one day I will own another, but for now I am utterly over the bad sales experience. For brevity, the main problem with my last Harley purchase was when the dealer tried to slip in a $1,200 “scarcity” fee. They also tried to hit me for a $750 special color fee for a color the HD website called “standard” (matte black on a sportster seventy-two). Then they tried to argue the validity of the charges with me while I pulled up about 25 seventy-two’s within a 150 miles, 7 of them matte black, two of them at their own sister store 30 minutes away, and showed them the zero up charge for matte black on the HD website from my smart phone. Of course, my retarded self still bought the bike from them after finally getting them to drop the extra $1,950 dollars they were trying to hustle me for, so I’m an idiot. Then add nausea when the sales guy said “send in your friends and I’ll get them a good deal”. I went back a year later looking to upgrade to a big twin. Within the first 5 mins the vile tactics and treatment already started. I walked out at minute 7 and I’m on my way to pick up a new Victory Judge today. I love the bikes, but so-long Harley Davidson.

  • Nick Ortiz

    I would have to completely disagree with this article. I just finished the purchase of a 2014 Iron 883 and the service I received was amazing. I did come in a couple of times looking at bikes and buying some gear, but after a week of looking decided on the iron. Everyone at the dealer was exceptionally nice to me and everyone helped me out to understand fully about the bike and the fees. Each dealer is going to be different, but those with more connected staff who makes the dealer feel more like a large family will always be the best harley dealers to go with. If you want a good harley, find a good dealer. The two guys who sold me the bike and the owner of the dealer and I go on trips together.

  • Don

    I can only say you went to the wrong dealers. I had bad experiences at 3 dealers in Colorado.
    Then I went to another and had a very good experience. They did not try to show me bikes I had no interest in
    and they also did not jump on me as soon as I came through the door. I was allowed to look around and when I seen a
    few I liked I went over to the salesman or in this case a sales women what I was interested in. I went out on 4 different
    bikes with no hassles at all and no pressure of any kind. Every time I have gone in for service and a problem did pop up
    it was dealt with right away and with no attitude what so ever from the people in the various departments of the dealership.
    I had an issue with a bike I bought not being tuned properly due to them not having the set up for the tuner my bike had.
    Sales manager drove 6 hours to the previous owners house and picked up the tuner and software that went with the bike.
    I got a call by the owner to bring the bike in as soon as I could. I was there the next morning and my bike was loaded onto
    the race tuning system and everything was fixed free of charge. So why you have such bad luck is something I can’t explain.
    Maybe you need to shop around more and find the right dealer like I did.

  • fastrivers2

    Great article and thank you for sharing your experience. While growing up my dad was a chopper guy but with lack of cash after wrecking his bike he rode a couple of Chinese bikes in the 80′s. In the 90′s and early 00′s he didn’t ride altogether but there was a part of me that desired to ride a bike myself. After college I lived in Mason City, IA and after a friend of mine purchased a Harley I went to the local Harley dealer to get a feel for what was available and get some quotes. This was around 2004. I don’t know what that place is like now but there were several salesman working the day that I visited and not one of them approached me. I went in another time shortly thereafter and experienced the same arrogance. I told my friend about this and he responded that it was probably because I didn’t look the part.

    I’m an American made guy but that totally turned me off from that dealership and I never stepped into that establishment again. Since then I have moved to the Des Moines area. I have been to a few Harley dealers in the area and have experienced the same thing until I went to the one in Des Moines called the Barn and had a great experience. The sales people were very friendly and approachable. However, I am now a little nervous about purchasing a Harley for several reasons.

    If that dealership is good, that’s great, but what happens when I go out of town or move and need assistance? What kind of customer service am I going to receive going elsewhere? Also, Harleys are so freaking expensive from the purchase to the maintenance. It’s simply not affordable to jump into their products. A friend of mine purchased a used Ultra Classic from a dealer 3 hours away and he gave good money for the bike. He went on a road trip w/ his family clear to Utah and back but on the way back his 6th gear didn’t work. He got home and took it to the local dealer who is charging him $1000 to fix the gears that were stripped. From my research this is a common issue w/ certain models. So, he not only paid a premium for the Harley name but also for the repair and he’s without his bike for three weeks. Mind you, in Iowa, we don’t get that much time to ride.

    This same friend had a Suzuki Boulevard for 10 years and never had a problem with it. He rode it for 40,000 miles. I guess the point is, Harley is not doing itself any favors for me personally and I see the tides of change coming against them as the motorcycle culture is being more open to other manufacturers. It seems like history is going to repeat itself as it did in the AMF days if Harley is not careful. Companies will survive competitively if: they have a great product, great customer service, a great moat, and their products are affordable. They have a moat w/ brand name but that will only carry themselves so far because I don’t feel that Harley has the market share with the other items I listed.

    I would love to purchase a Harley. Yet, at the same time, if I am going to pay good money for a bike, money that I worked extremely hard for, I don’t know that I have confidence that my purchase of that Harley couldn’t have been better spent on another manufacturer. I battle with the idea that I can get something as good and possibly better with a better customer service experience for much less.

  • doris carter

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  • doris carter

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