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This being a Triumph forum one would expect to find mostly Triumph enthusiasts. If I log on to a HD forum I hear the opposite side of the argument. It's like politics, neither side can convince the other or see the benefits the other side sees.
My HD is a 2000 vintage, it's got the balanced engine and doesn't vibrate much, I can see images clearly in the mirrors. I won't dispute that most HD products are overpriced but I will contend that the dealers I've visited in various states/cities have been nothing but professional. The sales people give you a chance to walk around and look at the offerings and then approach in order to help and of course start the sales pitch, that's what they're supposed to do.
If the dealership looks like a boutique it's because that's what their customers like. It's easier to sell a tee shirt than a bike. HD's profit from merchandise is %35 of their total profit.
As for rentals, it's no different than renting a car, many people have ridden the bike before you, the offering isn't the latest and top of the line and maintenance is minimal.
I've ridden and owned several brands of motorbikes and they all have their pluses and minuses but they are all unique in their own way and I enjoyed them all.

Chico
 

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That's a more reasonable post, and I agree with it, Chico.

But, I was riding relatively new, low-mileage rentals from Eagle Rider, well-maintained, too, I believe. People like what they like. But neither Harley nor Triumphs are super bikes that are better than anything else. It's all what one likes.

And yeah, having made the choice, I like my Bonnie. I wouldn't go to a Harley forum and tell them riding a Triumph is "an experience no other brand can match, it's a lifestyle that those who never rode or owned one don't understand." This last is a better post. Glad you like Harleys. They're fine. So are Hondas, Kawasakis, Triumphs, BMWs, etcetera.
 
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Wow! I agree with Justalurker, when did they reinvent themselves? The dealerships may look snappier now, but it feels like a clothing, parts, and accessory boutique that happens to sell motorcycles on the side.
What you just described as changes are how they have reinvented themselves to an extent. More precisely though is they've moved themselves upmarket, which is something that's really hard for companies to do. They've gone from selling to hooligans and the whole outlaw thing to selling to investment bankers and business moguls. They haven't changed the style of bike they sell completely, but they've changed the perception of the worth of their product almost entirely.
 

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Hmmmm. That's an interesting twist I had not thought of. That's very true.
 

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What you just described as changes are how they have reinvented themselves to an extent. More precisely though is they've moved themselves upmarket, which is something that's really hard for companies to do. They've gone from selling to hooligans and the whole outlaw thing to selling to investment bankers and business moguls. They haven't changed the style of bike they sell completely, but they've changed the perception of the worth of their product almost entirely.
What HD has done is to change into a fleet of car dealerships more interested in profits from financing, extended warranties, and accessories than offering products to gain them a larger market share.

That might be a smart move if people HAD to buy motorcycles as they have to buy cars... but they don't.

Companies like Toyota and Honda sell you a car or a truck then they're the first place you go when shopping for another one. Toyota cultivates customers that return and buy three or four more Toyotas in their lifetime. They got me for four toy pickups over the decades, Sure, they cost too much, but they're worth every cent and when I sell one they're gone in minutes. HD's product offering doesn't change and their resale value has dropped dramatically.. No real entry level product. An underperforming line of Sportsters that are all the same except for bits here and there. The big twins that most people can't afford.

I had a 2007 Sportster. The last of the standard roadster style 883s. An amazing and overlooked motorcycle.
Hydraulic lifters, belt drive, rubber mounted engine, and it handled well enough to really bug my Bonneville buddy. Minimal maintenance and reliable as a cinder block.

It proved the adage that if you give anyone enough time they'll ultimately figure it out. It took HD 50 years but they finally figured out the Sportster then discontinued the XL883 standard in favor of lows, huggers, irons, classic, and the like.

Major Charles Emerson Winchester of M*A*S*H had a saying... I do one thing, I do it very well, and then I move on.

HD doesn't move on. It's marketing is stuck in the quicksand of its memory.

I loved my XL883 and was blown away at how great a bike my XR1200 was, but HD doesn't have a single bike to offer me and I'm not asking much and neither are many potential customers.
 

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I'm not arguing the change wasn't short sighted, I'm just pointing out how they have changed. When it comes down to it I would absolutely agree with the statement that they've screwed themselves. It's hard for a lot of owners to wear out their Harleys, yet at the same time they "aren't allowed" to create demand by innovation. The price of entry is real high too so it's more difficult for people to just casually jump in and out of their bikes entering a time where sales are down anyway.
One other interesting thing that hasn't really been discussed is the idea that with the average age of a Harley buyer so high, a lot of the people who bought them are aging out pretty soon after buying which means pristine used bikes flooding the market and driving down value for a used one. In the last 10 years the price for most used bikes I look at has gone through the roof, but the price for used Harleys has dropped considerably.
 

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Everything has a life cycle and Harley’s been doing the same thing for most of ours. The same time we got to witness Triumph doing some great things. The Harley name will always be valuable to we are going to see some big changes in the next 20 years. In order to be a nostalgia brand, you have to have people that are old enough to remember. I started riding in the 90s so I have nostalgia for a time when the nostalgia marketing was working for them.

I love triumphs and Harley’s.Glad to see Triumph doing well. Sorry to see Harley painted itself into a corner. This is just a moment in time though, we may be having the opposite conversation 20 years from now.

Would love to see more riders when Harley’s prices come down! And the return of wrenching on your bikes!
 

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Yes...but...the Thunderbird is a direct competitor to Harley...and...to my great disappointment...they have stopped making them...whats that all about ?

The Jimbo
 

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Yes...but...the Thunderbird is a direct competitor to Harley...and...to my great disappointment...they have stopped making them...whats that all about ?

The Jimbo
Not as cheap as the Japanese in the category, and most folks in that market, if they are willing to go for more than that will just get the HD. It also didn’t have something to make it stand out besides that Parallel Twin. Additionally that market is being hit especially hard right now. The new riders aren’t as interested in “big heavy cruisers.”
 

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Sad when you see something you like go, but that is what winning looks like sometimes. Good example of the difference between Triumph and Harley. You can just hear HD say “You just can’t stop making __, it’s an icon!” Meanwhile nobody is buying it.

The writings on the wall when one of your best sellers is a trike!
 
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