Harley-Davidson Invades X-Games

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Harley-Davidson X-Games Austin

ESPN’s X-Games are a marketer’s dream. They attract an audience of youthful, active viewers who embrace the brands that support their sports. Monster Energy, Red Bull, Subaru, GoPro, the US Navy, Mountain Dew, Play Station, Slim Jim – the brands are plastered all over the athletes and the events, harvesting eyeballs along the way. Now you can add Harley-Davidson to the collage of logos festooning the backdrops on ESPN’s broadcasts. “The action-packed environment at X Games Austin fits perfectly with the attitude and identity of the new Street 750 motorcycle,” said Dino Bernacchi, Harley-Davidson Motor Company’s U.S. Director of Marketing. 

The Street 750 is aimed directly at the X Games demographic: 18 – 34 years old with some disposable income, mostly male, adventure-seeking. They aren’t necessarily motorcyclists right now — the Street 750 might be their first bike.

In order to create some buzz, Harley commissioned a very cool Flat Track version of the Street 750 and ran an exhibition race a few weeks before the Austin event. An edited version of the race was featured during the televised edition of the X Games on ESPN. “In the spirit of the customer-led product development approach that Harley-Davidson undertook to create the Street motorcycle, fans will be the one to decide if Flat Track racing should become a future medal sport at X Games Austin using #XGamesFlatTrack to make their voices heard,” according to a Harley press release on the topic.

Hype aside, Flat Track is a great introduction to motorcycle racing. The heats are quick, the tracks are fast and the riding is balls-out exciting. Using an accessible bike like the Street 750, as opposed to the pricier and harder-to-get XR750, might even encourage new riders to try out the sport.

What do you think? Is Flat Track a good fit with the X Games? Does the Harley-Davidson brand have any meaning to the X Games’ core audience?

  • Beale

    This is the first move I’ve seen from Harley in their attempt to shift their age demographic down below Buick-ville that I think has a chance of building new business, especially since it’s using their new, unproven small bikes. It helps butch up the image of bikes that have already been dismissed as Buell Blast II’s. Plus, anything to bring more flat track to a wider audience is OK by me.

    • http://www.2wheelsandamotor.com William Connor

      True point but HD already dominates the youth and female markets. This is simply an expansion of that.

  • Phil Mills

    I think your link on “Street 750″ isn’t going to the right place unless somebody’s going to try flat-tracking a $13,000 Street Bob (which is a really dumb name for a motorcycle to begin with).

  • Sjef

    Too bad the stock Street 750′s are no where as good looking as these. Let alone perform as well.

    • Beale

      It doesn’t like they’re minor changes either. The rake is considerably steeper on the forks of the flat track bikes. That’s my biggest complaint about the stock bikes: they’re waaaaay too raked out. The radiators look much better without the giant plastic shrouds.

      • http://batman-news.com Aaron

        The whole gimmick is bs. Its like showing a pic of a MotoGP bike and advertising a GSX-F. I would buy a “Street Tracker” 750.

        • Reid

          A Street Tracker 750 would be infinitely cooler than what we actually got. Why HD won’t build a cafe/street tracker something out of this platform is baffling to me. You’d think they’d be keen to hop on the bandwagon.

          • http://batman-news.com Aaron

            They seem very reluctant to do anything to betray the weekend warrior segment.

            • Richard Gozinya

              Every time they try, nobody buys what they sell. Or at least not enough to continue making them. So, they go with what they know will sell.

              • http://batman-news.com Aaron

                That is true, however they release things like “Dark Customs” and the XR1200. The XR was a step in the right direction, but it was still a sportster in performance pants. They are failing to attract the rider who wants the HD and a bike that can perform. I do belleive a XR750/ST750 or whatever could be a great seller for them. They are trying to attaract a younger crowd, which is very good, but they need to also offer something that younger people want.

          • Campisi

            Every product decision Harley has made in the last ten years has been apologetic towards the dying Easy Riders that Harley spent decades leeching their brand identity from.

      • Justin McClintock

        The radiators look better because they’re not even the same ones. The stock radiator is mounted between the frame rails. That thing is mounted off the right hand side, and is much smaller because its not sized for idling in traffic in Arizona in the summer.

  • http://batman-news.com Aaron

    My comment was waiting for moderation and never showed up….

  • armyvet05

    Why the need for the juvenile term “balls-out exciting”? I thought this was a grown-up site….. unless you are 12 or a pervert I’m not sure why “balls out” would be a modifier for “exciting”.

    • Justin McClintock

      Balls-out has nothing to do with what you’re referencing. The term is based on mechanical rev limiter designs from the steam and early gasoline powered eras. With one of those old rev-limiters, the balls were in the out-most position when the engine they were limiting was going fast. Hence “balls-out” would be “fast”…or exciting as running any of those old engines near their top speed certainly wouldn’t be for a faint of heart.

      • armyvet05

        I appreciate your enlightening reply, I was not aware of the original meaning of the term and see that you meant no foul by it. That being said- steam engines are long gone and the modern day, dictionary definition of the term is decidedly less innocent; it seems we could easily move past its use.

        • Justin McClintock

          I wasn’t the one who originally used it. Just explaining it, that’s all. If urban dictionary or some other source has a different definition, maybe it’s time that people educate themselves about their own language before making assumptions and/or assuming that slang is now the de-facto correct form of something.

          • armyvet05

            Sorry for confusing you with the author.

            It’s is classified as “vulgar” in many regular dictionaries like Merriam Webster, not the Urban Dictionary. I wouldn’t say that the slang version is “de-facto correct”, but I would venture that it is the most widely understood in current times and as such become the default definition. Lots of words have “original” meanings but then morph into something else over time- that doesn’t erase the original meaning but the current meaning often takes precedence, particularly when used in a metaphor as it is here, and not in a discussion related to something directly related, such as steam engines here.

            • Justin McClintock

              If Merriam Webster doesn’t know the etymology of the term, perhaps they need some education themselves. As an engineer, I find their lack of understanding offensive.

        • jlxn

          It’s really not everyone else’s fault you can’t hear the word balls without thinking about your nut sack. Balls out is just fine, get over it.

      • socalutilityrider

        I had to login to comment on this, and I haven’t commented on this site for many, many months. Justin is 100% correct. Source? I actually grew up around steam engines and the old guys that collected them. The ball “governor” as they’re called, really does work as he says. Basically you have two iron balls on this thing that spins around. The faster it spins, the more the governor works due to the forces exerted by the balls which have the mass required to have an effect. Can’t remember the rest of how the mechanical linkage worked, but the gist of is: there really were two big iron balls that moved out from the spindle as it spun faster if the engine was working hard.

      • tincantroubadour

        Also worth correlating: “balls to the wall” was originally a pilot’s term, WWII era I believe. Who’s to say it wasn’t very quickly understood as a double entendre, but it was the control “ball” handles full forward to the “firewall”

    • Harvard J. Nasty, Esq.

      Most likely the PR rep who sent out this press release used it, so it was included in RA’s copy and paste.

  • Dennis Newman

    I’m suspicious of the “street” series bikes, but SO glad to see someone promoting flat track.

  • Anthony Huntington

    Holy cow! Check out that fork flex! No thanks!