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Trailer park trash
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Discussion Starter #1
I am asking this here because it seems like the average zilla member is older (although not necessarily more mature ;) ) than the normal sportbike board member so you guys might be able to provide better insight. And I might get at least 1 serious answer in the middle of the 18 smart ass replies, LOL.

My question is, what draws the 40+ y.o. crowd to Harleys? I'm asking because I must interact with these people on occasion and I've seen it so many times now, that it really makes me wonder. A few have ridden before but there are a good percentage of people who have never ridden a bike, or females who have only been on the back. Once in a while a female will have or plan to buy a Shadow, Vulcan, etc. but 80% want a Harley and ONLY a Harley. :wtf I just want to know what is going through these people's minds (or do I, ha ha) so maybe I can get through to them better. It almost seems to me that they really have no interest in riding a motorcycle, they just want to be part of the perceived "lifestyle" where everyone is a rockstar and you can buy your way into the group. Many of the men are like this too but especially the females for some reason.

Please don't turn this into a HD bashing thread as thats not what I want. I'm simply wondering why people literally dress head to toe in HD branded clothing when they know next to nothing about riding a motorcycle in general. Do these people even want to really ride a motorcycle or do they just want to be able to say they have a Harley Davidson?
 

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V4 CyclePath...
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Riding a Harley is a blues thing... you start a blues ride with "I
woke up this morning riding"...

You can't blues ride on a sportbike... it has to be the meanest looking
scoot in town... loud too...

Blues can take place on a good road... it has to a bad road... with
alligators hiding in bushes waiting to chomp your leg off...

No one will believe it's a blues ride if your wear racing leathers...
you have to wear basic black... sport tattoos... show some hair...

You needs your own Blues name... you start with the help of a physical
aliment like blind... cripple... lame... then add a fruit like
lemon... lime... kiwi... finish up with a president like Jefferson...
Johnson... Jackson... you become Blind Lemon Jackson or Lame Kiwi
Johnson...

Blues rides are taken nice and easy... you don't want to attract
attention with speeding because your dodging the electric chair having
just shot a man Memphis for saying your women gots the meanest face in
town...

Doesn't matter what color a Blues Bike is painted... there all bad
luck...

I don't care how nice they are... if you own a Sport Bike you can't
sing the Blues riding...

 

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This space for rent
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I am asking this here because it seems like the average zilla member is older (although not necessarily more mature ;) ) than the normal sportbike board member so you guys might be able to provide better insight. And I might get at least 1 serious answer in the middle of the 18 smart ass replies, LOL.

My question is, what draws the 40+ y.o. crowd to Harleys? I'm asking because I must interact with these people on occasion and I've seen it so many times now, that it really makes me wonder. A few have ridden before but there are a good percentage of people who have never ridden a bike, or females who have only been on the back. Once in a while a female will have or plan to buy a Shadow, Vulcan, etc. but 80% want a Harley and ONLY a Harley. :wtf I just want to know what is going through these people's minds (or do I, ha ha) so maybe I can get through to them better. It almost seems to me that they really have no interest in riding a motorcycle, they just want to be part of the perceived "lifestyle" where everyone is a rockstar and you can buy your way into the group. Many of the men are like this too but especially the females for some reason.

Please don't turn this into a HD bashing thread as thats not what I want. I'm simply wondering why people literally dress head to toe in HD branded clothing when they know next to nothing about riding a motorcycle in general. Do these people even want to really ride a motorcycle or do they just want to be able to say they have a Harley Davidson?
Different strokes for different folks. Maybe the more important question to ask yourself is why you care what anybody else does if it doesn't hurt you, just ignore them. If somebody is a douchebag then what they have for a motorcycle doesn't change that.

What about all the sheep who buy VR46 branded merchandise and don't even ride a motorcycle, how do you feel about them?
 

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That's the famous million dollar question.
My neighbor is all into this H-D malarkey: he has three of the damn things and sometimes he has all his Harley riding mates at home for "wild bashes" in the evening.
Yet he's not your average beer guzzling, bearded, heavily tattooed badass. He's a rail-thin, normal man in his early 40's, he's married (twice) and has a baby girl. He even drives a BMW to work. :eek:
I think the Harley thing is just a way to "get out" of his usual routine, a hobby like, say, collecting stamps or building model airplanes.

As far as the appeal goes I have this to say. If I were to go real slowly I would like to have at least a comfortable sitting position, wind protection, reliability and good fuel range. H-D offers none because their customers aren't interested.
What they want is the idea of being Dennis Hopper or Peter Fonda riding around Nevada, California or whatever, being all out badasses, being so cool as not having to worry about the overpriced pile of crap jalopy they are riding. A true man doesn't need wind protection, a reliable engine or even acceptable brakes. But he surely needs the brand new H-D leather jacket or chrome spoke wheel weighing as much as a Honda C90.
Sounds crazy eh? But again there are people deriving sexual thrill from being whipped by a 16 years old girl so what do I know? :p
 

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contra mundum
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My question is, what draws the 40+ y.o. crowd to Harleys? I'm asking because I must interact with these people on occasion and I've seen it so many times now, that it really makes me wonder. A few have ridden before but there are a good percentage of people who have never ridden a bike, or females who have only been on the back. Once in a while a female will have or plan to buy a Shadow, Vulcan, etc. but 80% want a Harley and ONLY a Harley. I just want to know what is going through these people's minds
who gives a **** what's on their mind?

No, they don't know use the front brake.
No, they don't know the difference between a shovel & an evo.
No, they don't know how to bleed the brakes or even change the oil.
No, they don't know shit about WSBK, MotoGP, or even HD racing's glorious past.

Yes, they buy chrome do dads instead of carbon do dads.
Yes, they wear homosexual bandannas instead of homosexual race replica leathers.

They are having fun on two wheels pretending to be Peter Fonda while you're having fun on two wheels pretending to be Nicky Hayden... so what's on your mind?
 

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Harley does a very, very good marketing job. I think it likely has to do with what people now in their 40's wanted in their teens and stared mouth open at as kids. There is also the whole middle age wanting to be rebellious while not actually endangering any of the comforts and stability one has accumulated by being a nice straight guy working and raising a family.

I still have a visceral desire to own a 60's Triumph with a blue and white lightning flash tank like my dad got when I was 7. Fortunately I know how little I would actually ride the bike and how expensive it would be. I do remember thinking Harleys were very cool, and wanting one, albeit not as much as a Triumph, when I was teen. At least I think I remember. It was the 70's.

It takes a fair amount of thought and experience before you get past the gut desires inscribed in one's youth. Not that anybody on this forum has that problem.
 

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When my dad first started riding again, he was early 50s. A neighbor was selling his sportster, so we bought it. My dad has always had. Spot for the sportster, he swaped his MG for one one summer. Anyhow, 10 years later, 4 ducatis later, the sportster is still fun to ride. Nice for that Sunday cruise where you jut want to relax. My dad isn't a typical Harley guy either, but a professional surgeon.

But for him, it was a way to bring back his college days. I have another friend that found a 67 triumph bonneville, same as the one he had growing up and that started his collection (67 bonneville 66 daytona, a trackmaster, triumph TT, paul smart, mh900e, desmosedici, and a stupid 150cu inch R&R hard tail chopper

I think for a lot of the "nontypica" HD guys, they had one as a kid and a way to bring youth back.
 

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Señor Member
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I have wondered the same thing.

I conclude that it's plain old American conspicuous consumption. One of the joys of vehicle ownership is having a "desirable" vehicle that represents your class status the way you want it represented.

Marketing departments use this human (maybe just American?) trait to convince the public that buying one of these from one of them will make you a deeply satisfied person... and it works.

Some people can see through the marketing. They are interested in how things work, how they can be used - function over image. But those people are stingy, and aren't worth marketing to.

It's not just a Harley thing. It's a BMW thing. It's an Apple thing. It's a Whole Foods thing. It's a Gucci thing. It's a Rolex thing. It's how we show off to one another, and assert the superiority of our station.
 

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Harley

IMHO Harley does the best Marketing job in the world.

They present the buyer with a complete lifestyle complete with clothes, motorcycles, destinations, attitude etc.

They present fully developed and relatively low cost to manufacture (good paint and excellent chrome are expensive). All at a high price and concurrent high margin. Easily digested with financing, high resale and an 800 page accesory catalog where you can make this whole lifestyle your own.

Nobody else does this as well as they do
 

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I'll fix it.
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2,249 Posts
Theres a few Harleys Id like to own...a 77-78 XLCR would do nicely.

And while patriotism does play a large role in their popularity, in the past 10 years or so Yamaha has been building their 'star' cruisers just like harleys. Sure all the Japanese companies make cruisers that emulate the harley look, but Yamaha is going all out, actually using the same ancient engine technology: single carb, air cooled, pushrod operated valves, and separate driveline components that could be integrated into a unit construction engine.

And the scary part is.....its working. People buy them like crazy despite the fact that they are just as slow, ill handling, and uncomfortable (imo) as an actual harley. Sure they are a bit cheaper, but the bigger ones are still $15k and up. And it doesnt stop at the bikes....yamaha has also emulated HD's endless offering of accesories, clothes, and useless chrome junk to bolt to their bikes, and they arent afraid to price them like HD does either. It doesnt make any more sense to more performance oriented riders like most on 'zilla than owning a harley, but its the people who would consider a harley buying them.


And dont even get me started on choppers:

 

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Panigaliscious
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As I see it there are three groups that buy Harleys. People that know nothing about bikes, people that only know Harleys, and people who are slaves to fashion.

For the first group, if you knew nothing about motorcycles except watching American Thunder and naked chicks in EasyRider magazine, of course you think you want a Harley-Davidson. It is no different really than suddenly coming into money and wanting a nice watch, first thing people think of is Rolex. Or an exotic sports car, most people's default brand is Ferrari.

The second group is similar to the first in that they have limited experience with anything else. IMO it is uncommon for a rider raised on Japanese bikes to switch to H-D except in special cases (see #3 below). A guy that started on a 50 Honda, moved up to a YZ80 in middle school, had a 250 Ninja in high school, and now uses a Sv650 in college is not going to go buy a full-dresser hog or even a Sportster. They are used to a different type of bike that works as they expect it to. A Goldwing or Star cruiser is a far more likely purchase when they want to spend more money. Harley obviously has good brand loyalty, if it is your first bike I would guess you are likely to buy one again. Just don't expect someone riding a 1098 to be wishing for the day they can buy a XR1200.

The last group are riders who are expections to the previous paragraph. Perhaps riders who in their youth were GSXR squids or Ducati dicks and now think they need a Harley to go with their new barb wire tattoo and badass image. Maybe their girlfriend keeps telling them how much a Harley turns them on. Maybe they are just curious why so many people buy these things even though they appear to be highly polished pieces of crap. Basically, they are buying the bike not because they know they want it but to satisfy other intangibles unrelated to the bike itself. The last time I was at a dealer a customer who just bought a new bike told me it was because all his buddies rode one, but he reallt liked my sportbike parked outside. Very telling.

If it sounds like I am saying the customers either don't know any better or want side benefits of ownership you are correct. I have tried to like their bikes, but the "baggage" associated with owning one, with my dishonest d-bag local dealer, and with years of frustration to what they could build but choose not to (VR1000) means I never will. Of all their current bikes, the reviled V-Rod is the only one I would consider owning, it tells me something that the only one that appeals to me is the farthest from the traditional H-D.
 

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As I see it there are three groups that buy Harleys. People that know nothing about bikes, people that only know Harleys, and people who are slaves to fashion.
I think there is another group in addition. The people that just like the bike. My friend, a big sport bike guy, races up at loudon, has always owned sport bikes, never a harley. But, one day, he wanted to take a bike to Martha's Vineyard, something he could just cruise around on, and not feel the urge to go 100mph. He took our sportster, and loved it for just that reason. It's a relatively "simple' bike when it comes to riding, you just get on and go, motor around at 30mph, and it's perfect for that.
 

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who gives a **** what's on their mind?

No, they don't know use the front brake.
No, they don't know the difference between a shovel & an evo.
No, they don't know how to bleed the brakes or even change the oil.
No, they don't know shit about WSBK, MotoGP, or even HD racing's glorious past.

Yes, they buy chrome do dads instead of carbon do dads.
Yes, they wear homosexual bandannas instead of homosexual race replica leathers.

They are having fun on two wheels pretending to be Peter Fonda while you're having fun on two wheels pretending to be Nicky Hayden... so what's on your mind?
nice :rockon


i have a track bike or two in my garage at any given time. I raced most of my 20s and after that ive kept up with several track days a year, or a month if time permits. I NEVER ride them on the street, i get zero pleasure out of it... aside from the fact that i feel like those retards driving Ferraris race replicas around busy city streets.
I also have a full dresser HD Ultra (the big ol grandpa kind...im 37) that i ride almost everyday and i absolutely love the thing. i wish ive known how nice it was to ride that around when i was killing my back on rigids with suicide shifters when i thought i was too cool for school in my 20s...... they made great short stint shooters, but as a daily drivers? just torture.
Ive also owned BMW (mostly older 70-80s ones), Nortons, triumphs, lots of HD (mostly things i put together), dirt bikes galore, sportbikes galore...... theyre all awesome in theyre own way.

I like bikes, thats the only reason. i dont need a motivation or a certain age to buy a certain kind of bike. Ive loved bikes my whole life, unlike some guys that come to it late in life and decide ONE kind of bike is what theyre about...like some kind of boys club or something (lots of that here), which would be fine of course, if it wasnt for their constant belittling of anyone not in their club....which in turn, keep a lot of guys that would otherwise have an HD next to their sportsbike in their garage from getting one.

I dont understand how you can call yourself a motorcycle enthusiast and only ride ONE kind of bike.....its the complete opposite of enthusiasm. I understand settling into a style of bike after a while, but to buy a CBR1000 as your first bike ever and decide HDs are stupid, BMW are boring, Nortons leak too much oil and are slow solely from some sort of intuition or because you dont like the "type" of guy that ride them?

never mind how stupid you think they are for ridding them, worry about how stupid you sound.
 

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Theres a few Harleys Id like to own...a 77-78 XLCR would do nicely.

And while patriotism does play a large role in their popularity, in the past 10 years or so Yamaha has been building their 'star' cruisers just like harleys. Sure all the Japanese companies make cruisers that emulate the harley look, but Yamaha is going all out, actually using the same ancient engine technology: single carb, air cooled, pushrod operated valves, and separate driveline components that could be integrated into a unit construction engine.

And the scary part is.....its working. People buy them like crazy despite the fact that they are just as slow, ill handling, and uncomfortable (imo) as an actual harley. Sure they are a bit cheaper, but the bigger ones are still $15k and up. And it doesnt stop at the bikes....yamaha has also emulated HD's endless offering of accesories, clothes, and useless chrome junk to bolt to their bikes, and they arent afraid to price them like HD does either. It doesnt make any more sense to more performance oriented riders like most on 'zilla than owning a harley, but its the people who would consider a harley buying them.

Actually, while I tend to agree with you about the Star offerings being a step back technologically, their engines are WAY more powerful than Hogs (likely due to displacement to a degree, but also to their use of four-valve heads). Look at the torque number for a Raider.... blows any Harley out of the water, even their CVO stuff....
 

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Panigaliscious
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If it makes any sense, I have zero desire for an Indian, Big Dog, Titan, American Ironhorse, Ecosse, or anything else of that type as well. Not a big fan of the current Bonneville either.

Old Harleys are more desirable as they do have a neat look to them (think 1935-1970 or so). But they are not that usable for a real motorcycle, rather a Sunday ride pleasure vehicle not far from home. Nearly all bikes from that time had poor electricals, useless brakes, and leaked oil. So H-D was no different then than the others.
 

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Trailer park trash
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Discussion Starter #19
Different strokes for different folks. Maybe the more important question to ask yourself is why you care what anybody else does if it doesn't hurt you, just ignore them.
I care what other people do, because when they can't control their 700lb machine and they hit me while I'm on my bike, then both of us are going to end up in the hospital. Or when they can't control their bike and they hit some little kid and kill them.
 

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Trailer park trash
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Discussion Starter #20
Wow Gambler, that is pretty awesome that the bike in your pictures will do a burnout on gravel. Sounds like I struck a nerve.

If you wonder why I give a shit then its obvious you haven't seen some of the things I have.

If the things people do didn't involve them hurting someone else, I wouldn't care at all. But that's not always the case.
 
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