The Fall of Harley Davidson

A really good video from Ryan on the Fortnine channel.

  • The fact that buybacks are legal to use to artificially boost up stock prices is really shitty. The company isn’t worth that much and every buyback means that money isn’t being invested into improving the company itself.

  • Interesting point made about how the counter-culture image of Harley that appealed to the previous generations is actively repulsive to the current generations. And how Harley is alienating the existing Boomer demographic when it tries to find new markets.

Not a huge fan of Harley-Davidsons myself - it’s just too much of a rich-man bike. The appeal of Harleys was to have a rugged bike that you made your own - not a specced out $$$ bike that’s (as Ryan put it) “a mobility scooter on wheels”.

I see parallels between Royal Enfield in India and Harley Davidson in the US. Simpler rugged bikes with a brand image that appealed to “macho” men, with a love of long distance motorcycle journeys. However I think RE has handled itself better.

When faced with declining growth, it managed to introduce new models (like the 650 Twins) that appeal to the younger demographic - while not alienating its older fanbase. Although RE is going more mainstream - and the new models aren’t really the thing that the traditional Bullet enthusiasts are looking for - I think RE stands to grow a lot more in the near future. I don’t know how well it will do in the long run, whether RE will be able to avoid the inevitable decline in popularity with the future generations. As what was cool before becomes uncool.

I have rather high hopes.

A second recommendation:

Written on May 18, 2020