Harley-Davidson to Lay Off 118 at York Plant as Softail Production Moves to KC

Harley-Davidson's York Plant

The York Daily Record is reporting that Harley-Davidson is moving all production of its Softail cruisers to Kansas City, eliminating 118 jobs at its Springettsbury Township plant in York, Pennsylvania as a result. The layoff affects 110 hourly workers, the other eight either salaried workers or contractors. Prior to the move, Harley produced five Softail models at York and two in Kansas City.

Harley reportedly informed employees in November 2015 that the company intended to move production of Softails to KC starting with the 2018 model year. Workers affected by the move “will have the opportunity to apply for jobs in Kansas City.”

Touring motorcycles and trikes will continue to be produced at York. Harley-Davidson reduced shipments of its 2017 motorcycles in the first quarter of 2017 in an effort to help dealers sell down their 2016 models. For the year, Harley-Davidson said it anticipates “full-year motorcycle shipments to be flat to down modestly in comparison to 2016.”

The Curious Case of Harley’s Tilting Three-Wheeler the “Penster”

Clyde Fessler on the first generation Harley Penster

Clyde Fessler sits on the first generation Harley Penster. “That was my project. I called it Project 21.” (Photo courtesy of Clyde Fessler)

The Harley-Davidson Museum calls it “Collection X: Never-before-seen Harley-Davidson prototype bikes created as concepts but never manufactured or sold.” Among those prototypes is an unconventional three-wheeler dubbed the “Penster.” We say unconventional because not only does it have two wheels in front and one in back ala Can-Am’s Spyder, but the front wheels tilt into turns. According to an article by The Kneeslider, the first version was built in 1998, while a final rendition was completed in 2006.

While information about Harley’s prototype is scant, we were privy to a little more of its history courtesy of Clyde Fessler. Fessler was employed by Harley-Davidson for 25 years, working his way up to Harley’s Vice-President of Development. He also served on its product planning committee for 12 years and has written a book about his time with The Motor Company called Rebuilding the Brand: How Harley-Davidson Became King of the Road.

Fessler said that Harley purchased a company called Trihawk back in the early ‘80s. The company made vehicles with two-front and one-rear wheel. They were powered by a 1299cc flat-four Citroen engine, had front wheel drive, and side-by-side seating. Fessler said he was V-P of marketing at the time and claimed “Citicorp killed it for financial reasons.

Trihawk was purchased by Harley-Davidson in the mid-80s

Harley purchased a company called Trihawk which made two-front, one-rear wheeled vehicles, back in the early ‘80s. (Photo courtesy of Clyde Fessler)

“Harley was in straights and we were looking to diversify but they said consolidate and the project was killed. But I fell in love with three-wheelers and always believed in two-ones,” said Fessler.

“So I hired a guy by the name of Johnny Buttera.”

Buttera, aka “Little John,” cut his teeth as a customizer in the hot rod scene before his career evolved into building front-engine dragsters, funny cars and Pro stocks. Known as a chassis master, “Little John’s” clients included Don “The Snake” Prudhomme and Don “Stardust” Schumacher.

“He built race cars for Rick Mears for Indy and he built beautiful Softails. All his stuff looked like jewelry. He did the prototype for the project Penster. That was my project. I called it Project 21,” said Fessler.

Harley Penster first generation prototype was designed by John Buttera.

The Harley Penster first generation prototype was designed by hot rod legend John Buttera. (Photo courtesy of Clyde Fessler)

Fessler believed a titling three-wheeler was something the Baby Boom generation would want going forward.

“The mistake we made when designing the Penster was it was from an automotive standpoint. In other words, castor and camber, just like the Can-Am. We’d roll around corners like a truck. The problem with the Penster is that it leaned, but when you wanted to switch lanes, it didn’t react the right way. And even Delphi couldn’t get it. So if you were taking a right hand turn and all of a sudden you had to switch lanes to the left like you can do on a two-wheeler, well it wouldn’t respond but the wheels were still leaning and then you wanted to turn the handlebars they wouldn’t crank over.”

Harley Penster first generation

You can definitely see hot rodder Buttera’s influence on the first rendition of Harley’s Penster prototype. (Harley-Davidson Museum photo)

Still holding onto his love of three-wheelers and belief in two-ones, Fessler later served on the Board of Directors for Lehman Trikes where he was introduced to Bob Mighell. Turns out Mighell owns Tilting Motor Works, a company that has developed a bolt-on, two-wheeled tilting front end kit for Harley Tourers, Dynas and Softails.

“And I took one look at the product and got on it and rode around the block and said this is the magic answer. This is the design that really gives you the feeling of a two-wheeler with counter-steering and has all of the action of a two-wheeler but it’s a three-wheeler,” said Fessler.

He believes in Tilting Motor Works so much Fessler’s invested in the company and was helping out with marketing at the 2016 Sturgis Rally, which is where we first met him.

Harley-Davidson Penster Prototype

The second generation Harley Penster prototype was reportedly completed in 2006. (Harley-Davidson Museum photo)

“I think there’s a place in the marketplace for it. I predict, my gut feeling is Harley’s going to be launching one within the next two to three years, their own two-one,” stated Fessler.

He believes this in part because Fessler claims Harley sent an engineer out to spent five days with Mighell. Later, Fessler tried to make an appointment in Milwaukee with Harley CEO Matt Levatich when Mighell was making a promotional swing through the Midwest, but “they didn’t want to look at it.

“The fact that they didn’t even want to look at it and they had an engineer out there tells me that they got their own project going and they don’t want anything to do with potential legal action later on down the line,” surmised Fessler.

While this is purely conjecture, a three-wheeler that counter-steers like a motorcycle and provides a comparable riding experience would most likely appeal to Harley’s aging demographic. It’s a concept foreign competitors have embraced as well, from Yamaha’s LMW 08H concept to Hoonda’s NEOWING.

Time will tell how this plays out. Erstwhile, we’ve hitched a leg over a Harley equipped with Mighell’s bolt-on conversion. But that’s another story for a later date. Stay tuned.

Harley-Davidson Penster Prototype

The Penster, a three-wheeler with two front wheels that tilt into turns, is in the Harley-Davidson Museum’s “Collection X.” (Harley-Davidson Museum photo)

Sales, Net Income Down in Harley First Quarter Financial Report 2017

Harley-Davidson

Harley-Davidson, Inc. (NYSE:HOG) first quarter 2017 diluted EPS decreased 22.8 percent to $1.05 compared to $1.36 in the same period of 2016. First quarter net income was $186.4 million on consolidated revenue of $1.50 billion versus net income of $250.5 million on consolidated revenue of $1.75 billion in the first quarter of last year.

“First quarter U.S. retail sales were in line with our projections and we remain confident in our full-year plan despite international retail sales being down in the first quarter,” said Matt Levatich, CEO, Harley-Davidson. “We are very pleased with our continued growth in U.S. market share and the progress our U.S. dealers made in reducing their inventory of 2016 motorcycles in the quarter.”

First quarter worldwide Harley-Davidson retail motorcycle sales were down 4.2 percent compared to the same period in 2016. In line with the company’s expectations, Harley-Davidson retail motorcycle sales in the U.S. were down 5.7 percent compared to the year-ago quarter, with the overall U.S. industry down for the same period. Harley-Davidson’s U.S. market share for the quarter was 51.3 percent in the 601cc-plus segment, up compared to the first quarter in 2016. Harley-Davidson’s international retail sales decreased 1.8 percent compared to the same quarter in 2016.

“We recently announced our plan to build the next generation of Harley-Davidson riders globally. We are energized by our focused strategy, and we believe our powerful brand and commitment to excellence will position us to drive demand for our products and grow our sport,” concluded Levatich.

The company’s long-term strategy through 2027 is focused on five objectives to:

  • Build two million new Harley-Davidson riders in the U.S.;
  • Grow international business to 50 percent of annual volume;
  • Launch 100 new, high-impact motorcycles;
  • Deliver superior return on invested capital for Harley-Davidson Motor Company (S&P 500 top 25%); and
  • Grow the business without growing its environmental impact.

 

Harley-Davidson Retail Motorcycle Sales

1st Quarter
2017 2016 Change
U.S. 33,316 35,326 -5.7%
Canada 2,361 2,470 -4.4%
Latin America 2,342 1,886 24.2%
EMEA 10,167 10,210 -0.4%
Asia Pacific 6,863 7,566 -9.3%
International Total 21,733 22,132 -1.8%
Worldwide Total 55,049 57,458 -4.2%

 

First quarter worldwide‎ retail sales of new Harley-Davidson motorcycles were down driven by lower sales in the U.S. As we expected, U.S. sales were adversely impacted by soft industry sales and the company’s decision to reduce shipments of model year 2017 motorcycles. This decision helped dealers focus on selling down their model year 2016 retail inventory. International retail sales were down behind weak sales in Asia Pacific, partially offset by strong growth in Latin America. Retail sales in EMEA and Canada were both down as they compared against strong prior year growth of 8.8 percent and 16.3 percent, respectively.

 

Motorcycles and Related Products Segment Results

$ in thousands 1st Quarter
2017 2016 Change
Motorcycle Shipments (vehicles) 70,831 83,036 -14.7%
Revenue
Motorcycles $1,099,702 $1,317,578 -16.5%
Parts & Accessories $169,025 $183,705 -8.0%
General Merchandise $55,836 $70,618 -20.9%
Gross Margin Percent 35.9% 37.4% -1.5 pts
Operating Income $238,842 $332,457 -28.2%
Operating Margin Percent 18.0% 21.1% -3.1 pts

 

In the first quarter, revenue from the Motorcycles and Related Products segment was down versus the first quarter of 2016 on lower shipments.

Financial Services Segment Results

$ in thousands 1st Quarter
2017 2016 Change
Revenue $173,221 $173,358 -0.1%
Operating Income $52,636 $56,371 -6.6%

 

The Financial Services segment operating income was down 6.6 percent year-over-year due to a higher provision for credit losses. 

Income Tax Rate

For the first quarter of 2017, Harley-Davidson’s effective tax rate was flat compared to the prior year at 34.5 percent. The company continues to expect its full-year 2017 effective tax rate will be approximately 34.5 percent.

Other Results

At the end of the first quarter of 2017, cash and marketable securities totaled $844.7 million, compared to $739.1 million in 2016. Harley-Davidson generated $159.9 million of cash from operating activities in the first quarter of 2017 compared to $41.1 million in the same period of 2016. The company paid a cash dividend of $0.365 per share for the first quarter of 2017, an increase of 4.3 percent compared to the first quarter of 2016. On a discretionary basis, the company repurchased 1.2 million shares of its common stock during the first quarter of 2017 for $70.9 million. There were approximately 177.1 million weighted-average diluted common shares outstanding in the first quarter of 2017, compared to 184.2 million shares in the first quarter of 2016. At the end of the first quarter, 18.0 million shares remained on a board-approved share repurchase authorization.

Guidance       

For 2017, Harley-Davidson continues to anticipate full-year motorcycle shipments to be flat to down modestly in comparison to 2016. In the second quarter of 2017, the company expects to ship approximately 80,000 to 85,000 motorcycles.

Harley-Davidson continues to expect full-year 2017 operating and gross margin as a percent of revenue to be approximately in line with 2016.

The company continues to expect that full-year 2017 capital expenditures will be $200 million to $220 million.

American Iron News Harley Offers Rebates To Sell 2016 Motorcycles

Reuters is reporting that “Harley-Davidson has taken the rare step of offering rebates on its 2016 motorcycles to U.S. dealers as an incentive for them to shift a backlog that has restricted sales of its latest models.” The report is based on statements from three anonymous Harley dealers and two unnamed analysts.

The rebate is stated to be up to $1,000 on 2016 models and will run through the end of April according to the Reuters’ report. Though the practice is something Harley’s competitors frequently incorporate, The Motor Company generally takes a staunch stance against the practice. But a strong dollar has actually been working against Harley as it lowers the price of motorcycles from competitors abroad and reduces profits on motorcycles Harley ships oversees. There’s also been strong competition internally from Polaris Industries whose Indian Motorcycle brand has been cutting into Harley-Davidson sales.

Harley-Davidson’s First Quarter 2017 report corroborates the Reuters’ report as 2017 motorcycle shipments have been reduced to 70,831 in the first quarter, a 14.7% reduction compared to the 83,036 it shipped in the first quarter of 2016. “This decision helped dealers focus on selling down their model year 2016 retail inventory,” states the financial report. The First Quarter 2017 statement also shows that retail motorcycle sales in the U.S. were down 5.7% compared to the year-ago quarter.

The Reuters’ report claims that two of the three dealers who confirmed the story said they had never been offered a rebate before.

One Harley dealer in a western state reportedly told Reuters’ “It’s not normal. Usually, any incentives are customer-facing.”

Dream Ride Editor’s Choice Winner: The Red Mosquito 2004 Night Train

2016 Dream Ride Editor's Choice Winner

This sweet customized Harley Night Train earned our Editor’s Choice Award at the 2016 Dream Ride & Show.

  • Photos by Mark Velazquez 

Beneath the massive tent that houses the show bikes at the 2016 Dream Ride, one man stands out from the rest. His salt-and-pepper beard, trimmed yet full, his overalls cuffed to just below his calves, and his flip-flops exposing his toes to the subtle summer breeze set him apart from most other attendees, myself included, in boots with worn left toes and protection-less jeans. Yes, on this warm August afternoon, Chris Donaldson’s outfit truly belied the voracious young builder’s latest accomplishment. His craftsmanship on Bert Marinaro’s 2004 Night Train led to the bike’s designation as the Editor’s Choice winner, and yet, amid photos, trophies, and an interview, he is inundated with humility, true to form for a man in cuffed overalls.

Chris patiently and meticulously walks me around the bike, excitedly pointing out the multitude of pieces that required extra attention and dedicated work. Every piece of this drastically reworked motorcycle has Chris’ fingerprints fossilized into it, with this build essentially taking three years to finally be a complete, fully functioning, everyday rider. Owner Bert even rode to the Dream Show in Farmington, Connecticut, the day of the event, a fact made all the more refreshing while standing next to the builder amid a sea of trailers and hitches.

Bert Marinaro with his custom 2004 Harley Night Train built by Chris Donaldson of Donaldson Fabrication, LLC.

Bert Marinaro with his custom 2004 Harley Night Train built by Chris Donaldson of Donaldson Fabrication, LLC.

“This bike was built to be ridden,” Chris says. “There were several instances when the owner found it difficult to appreciate some of the one-off creations until they were visually appealing, but first we had to conquer functionality.” That helps explain the lengthy build time. But so does the meticulous eye with which Chris turned his attention to the foot controls, hand controls, front end, motor, gas tank, frame, oil reservoir, seat…you get the picture.

Let’s start up top, where the bike sports a supremely minimalist design. Chris opted for a set of highbars from Exile Cycles with risers from Roland Sands Design, which include an internal throttle assembly that helps set the stage for the ultimately clean system. Aiding in the effort to remove all the hubbub around the bars, Chris designed and manufactured a one-off remote master cylinder, which is operated by a modified clutch cable, and a bell crank system supplied by a remote reservoir. It’s a fresh design, and one that only entices the eye to look even closer at the minute details sprinkled throughout the body of work.

Red metal flake, gold leaf, silver leaf by Robert Pradke

This king tank received the Donaldson touch before being coated in red metal flake paint and both gold and silver leafing by Robert Pradke.

The gas tank is a modified king tank (note the crown gas cap) designed for Sportsters. Chris cut and lowered the tunnel to mount the tank higher on the backbone. The fuel petcock was relocated to the rear. The oil tank is also a custom-made piece, a mild steel cylinder with integrated battery box, ignition switch, and high-beam switch, the latter two components complementing the clean look on the handlebars. We’ll revisit the oil tank soon, as the paint and decal remain pertinent to the build. One of owner Bert’s favorite pieces of Chris’ work is the beehive oil filter located on the left side, just behind the BDL primary. Made from a single piece of 6061 aluminum, this is a fully functional oil filter with an integrated Harley filter, and the addition of copper supply and return lines accentuate the retro styling.

Bert wanted the bike to remain relatively modern, while achieving the appearance on an old school bobber. The springer front end was handled by Thompson Choppers from Ozark, Missouri, a well-chosen piece in the appeal to elder aesthetics. The chassis rolls on two Performance Machine (PM) Gasser Contrast wheels, 21″ up front and 18″ behind, wrapped in Metzler rubber, a tastefully modern look that meshes with the springer and other vintage-esque pieces scattered about. But Chris and Bert had to compromise on a few other parts, including the West Coast Choppers Jesse James rear fender, which Chris did not want hugging the tire nor too far forward. But Bert remained adamant about both this and having baffles in the exhaust, which was another Donaldson original made from .125″ stainless steel. The seat is custom-made, a steel pan with a support bracket and rear fastening system that allows for quick access to the battery. Bert did meet Chris in the middle, however, especially when it came to including the sissybar that not only adds another visually pleasing aspect (this was Chris’ take), but functionality, too. Now, both men can attest to the bar adding necessary support, especially “when the rider launches from a stoplight with 105 hp.”

Bert Marinaro's Red Mosquito

The “Red Mosquito” theme was influenced by the Pearl Jam song.

Speaking of those 105 ponies, Chris beefed up the motor as well, as he worked with supreme autonomy from Bert. “When it came to the motor and mechanical aspects, Chris had free reign,” Bert says. With room to maneuver, Chris punched the 88″ Twin Cam up to 95″, and opted for S&S Cycle 570 gear-driven cam, Screamin’ Eagle (SE) pushrods with .569″ of lift (“a perfect fit”), SE 10-1/2:1 forged pistons, and S&S Super E carburetor. The transmission remained untouched, but he did go with a BDL primary and clutch. The foot controls come from PM, but those presented another challenge for Chris. They had to be greatly modified in order to be pulled back to compensate for Bert’s limited leg reach.

And how about that paint? Both Bert and Chris came to a consensus on who would handle it: Robert Pradke of Eastford, Connecticut. A quick glance through Robert’s Instagram is all the evidence you need to understand why the two went with his tightly controlled vision, but you needn’t log online to figure this one out. Pradke laid down a base of red metal flake and hand-painted the gold and silver leaf flames flowing along the tank and fender. The Red Mosquito was influenced by the Pearl Jam track of the same name, which happened to be rocking across the airwaves when Bert was in Pradke’s shop. The caricature painted on the oil tank is curled in such a way that it almost mimics the aggressive style with which one would ride, buzzing through the wind at breakneck speed, riding the high.

After walking around the bike several times, round-trips filled with crouching, leaning in, stepping back, Chris’ wife, Carolyn, comes to collect him from the Dream Show tent. “She really runs the business,” Chris says with a hearty chuckle. “She flicks the lights in the workshop on and off to let me know it’s dinner time.” Donaldson Fabrication is as grassroots as it gets, as Chris works closely with his father on most projects they take in, and it’s not Chris’ full-time job, either. “We are a small shop focusing on the quality and individuality of each and every bike. Our goal is to fit the motorcycle to the owner while maintaining his or her original vision and to create a functional work of art,” Chris says. After taking home the Editor’s Choice award, Bert says, “Yes, it took the better half of three years to complete, but it worked out for the best.”

And so Chris heads off, and I make a few more rounds, snapping some photos and picturing myself in the leather-bound saddle. When I first arrived at the show tent, the glistening red custom was my personal choice for the award, yet I thought it stood little chance of actually being chosen given some of the other bikes that were entered in the contest. I kept returning to it, and after speaking with Chris, he puts into words the reason I felt drawn to it. “The beauty of this bike is found beyond the initial walk-by, and it isn’t really recognized until one takes the time to slowly examine each of the custom pieces as an individual element. It’s then that the bike really comes to life,” says the man in the cuffed overalls. This bike truly is one to be celebrated. AIM

If you like this story, there’s plenty more good stuff in American Iron Magazine Issue # 346 including a feature on Arlen Ness’s 1970 MagnaCycle, Rick Petko’s Racer X Boardtracker, and PDX Speed Shop’s cool XL Surfster!  To order a back issue of this or any other issue of American Iron Magazine, visit Greaserag.com.
 
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Harley-Davidson Launches Café Custom Accessories for Sportsters

Harley Roadster with Cafe Custom Accessories

Harley Roadster with Cafe Custom Accessories

A Look That’s Light, Fast and Loaded with Hard-Edged, Retro-Custom Attitude

Less is more because less is faster. That was the simple philosophy of the original café racers – bikers in 1960’s England who stripped motorcycles down to the bare essentials and put their machines to the test street-racing from coffee shop to coffee shop. The bikes became known as “café racers” and the stripped-down style became iconic.

Signature café-racer features – low-slung handlebars, rear-set foot controls and a narrow profile – define the look and feel of the new Café Custom accessories available now for Harley-Davidson Sportster motorcycles from Harley-Davidson Genuine Motor Parts & Accessories.

Designed to transform the style, attitude and performance of the Roadster and other Harley-Davidson Sportster models, the new Café Custom accessories leverage the popular retro-custom look influenced by vintage café racers and the current garage-built bike scene. Café Custom accessories – including a sleek tail section with solo seat, clip-on handlebars and rear-set foot controls – may be installed as a complete package or individually, and combined with additional Genuine Motor Parts & Accessories items to complete a personal custom vision.

“The new Harley-Davidson Café Custom accessories dramatically alter the look of a Sportster, but they can also transform the riding experience,” said Harley-Davidson Senior Product Manager Rebecca Krueger. “The low bars, rear-sets and the seat position put the rider in an aggressive, athletic posture. When blitzing back roads or snaking through an urban jungle, riders feel connected to the motorcycle and the pavement because their weight is shifted lower and forward over the front wheel of the bike. Curbside, the look is unmistakably classic. These Café Custom parts provide the perfect foundation for a uniquely personalized Sportster.”

Café Custom accessories can even evoke a craving for more power.

“During testing we found the control and confidence a rider feels in the café riding position ignites an instant desire for more-potent Sportster performance,” said Krueger. “Harley-Davidson Genuine Motor Accessories can unleash the potential of a Café Custom Sportster with the no-compromise Screamin’ Eagle Stage IV Street Performance Kit and the new Screamin’ Eagle Fully Adjustable Front Fork Kit and Screamin’ Eagle Fully Adjustable Piggyback Shocks.* Harley-Davidson can help Sportster owners create a bike with total Café Custom style, attitude and performance.”

Since not every Sportster owner has a fully-equipped garage – or the time and expertise required to scratch-build a custom motorcycle – Harley-Davidson Café Custom accessories have been designed to provide factory-quality fit and function with no cutting, welding or fab work required for installation.

Harley-Davidson Café Custom Accessories Low, narrow Gloss Black Clip-On Handlebars (P/N 55800647 39mm fork, P/N 55800668 49mm fork, P/N 55800646 55mm fork; $249.95**) enable the rider to “tuck in” over the tank in a classic, aggressive riding position to help to reduce wind resistance and improve control. Ideal for carving corners and splitting lanes (where allowable by law), these Clip-On bars mount on the fork tubes below the upper triple tree and narrow the overall width of the bike. Fully adjustable for reach and height, these individual 12.25-inch bars are engineered from solid aluminum for strength, and drilled and dimpled to accept bar-end mirrors and standard hand controls. The bars are secured to the fork tubes with precision-machined clamps and aircraft-grade hardware. Each kit includes bars, fork clamps and all mounting hardware. These bars fit many 2014-later Sportster models, and individual vehicle applications may require separate purchase of an instrument mount and cables or brake lines. See an authorized Harley-Davidson dealer for fitment details.

Harley Sportster Cafe Custom Bar End Mirrors

Harley Sportster Cafe Custom Clip-On Handlebars and Bar End Mirrors

The new Round Bar End Mirrors (P/N 56000133 Right Hand upright position, P/N 56000134 Left Hand upright position; $99.95**) complete a cut-down Café bike look. The mirrors offer an improved field of view on a bike equipped with narrow bars, are adjustable for maximum rear visibility, and can be positioned above the bar or, in some configurations, below the bar. Right and left mirrors are sold separately and include hardware required to fit both 7/8-inch or 1-inch bars. Installation requires separate purchase of Diamond-Black Hand Grips (P/N 56100199 or P/N 56100202; $99.95**). These mirrors fit stock or accessory handlebars on 1996-later Sportster models as well as many other Harley-Davidson motorcycle models. See an authorized Harley-Davidson dealer for fitment details.

The relationship between the seat, the handlebar and the foot controls has an enormous impact on the control and confidence felt when riding a motorcycle. The new Rear Set Foot Controls (P/N 50700040 Gloss Black, $699.95**) move the foot controls to the passenger foot peg location, transforming the Sportster riding position from a relaxed cruiser to an aggressive, curve-carving posture. When combined with Clip-On or Sportster Clubman Handlebars (P/N 55800342, $199.95**), the resulting hands-forward and feet-back profile drapes the rider over the bike for a feel that’s one with the machine. This complete Rear Set Control Kit includes all required components and hardware and retains the standard shift pattern. Unlike many after-market rear-set kits, this Harley-Davidson kit can be installed with the Original Equipment exhaust system. Installation requires removal of passenger footpegs and footpeg mounts and is for a solo rider application only. The kit reuses the Original Equipment rider footpegs and fits 2014-later Iron 883, SuperLow, Roadster, SuperLow 1200T, and Forty-Eight models.

Harley-Davidson Cafe Custom Rear Set Foot Controls

Harley-Davidson Cafe Custom Rear Set Foot Controls

The fast-back Café Custom Tail Section (P/N 59500644 Unpainted, $549.95**; P/N 59500560DH Vivid Black, $699.95**) mirrors the look and feel of the iconic 1977-79 Harley-Davidson XLCR Café Racer model, and re-imagines the style for the modern era. This seat supports an aggressive, lay-down riding posture when combined with Clip-On or Sportster Clubman Handlebars (P/N 55800342, $199.95**) and mid- or rear set foot controls. An upturned tail and longer nose positions the solo rider closer to the tank for better weight balance, quicker steering and added front-end feedback. The bolt-on design wraps the fender struts – no frame modification is required – and the installation is reversible back to a stock seat. The complete kit features a sweeping composite tail section with a steel inner support, a deep solo seat with backstop pad, and all necessary installation hardware. The kit fits 2007-later Iron 883, Roadster, Nightster, Seventy-Two and Forty-Eight models. Canada and other International models may require separate purchase of License Plate Bracket Kit.

Harley Sportster Cafe Custom Tail Section

Harley Sportster Cafe Custom Tail Section

These and other Harley-Davidson Genuine Motor Parts & Accessories are available at more than 750 authorized retail locations in the United States and online.

* Screamin’ Eagle products are not available for sale in all countries. Please contact your local dealer for more information.

** Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), excluding taxes, shipping and labor cost for installation. Prices at local dealerships may vary and are subject to change. All items are subject to availability and prior sale by our dealers.

Kuryakyn, Sturgis Buffalo Chip’s Rock, Rumble & Rebellion Bagger a Smash at Donnie Smith

Rock, Rumble & Rebellion Street Glide

Kuryakyn and the Sturgis Buffalo Chip kicked off the Midwest’s biggest bike show with a bang, debuting the 2017 Rock, Rumble & Rebellion signature build in front of a packed house at the 30th annual Donnie Smith Bike & Car Show.

Representing seven days of electrifying racing in August at the Buffalo Chip Moto Stampede, the sleek, industrial appearance of the 2017 Harley-Davidson Street Glide strikes a balance of refinement and straight-up rawness.

“As an aftermarket company, we were honored to take on the challenge of representing the Buffalo Chip’s 35th anniversary last year with a bike build,” said Holger Mohr, Kuryakyn President. “As enthusiasts first and foremost, this year’s focus of bringing racing back to the Chip is equally exciting for us. The Kuryakyn design team came up with an authentic race theme that truly embodies the ‘rumble’ in Rock, Rumble and Rebellion. There’s no better way to introduce our newest products to core Kuryakyn customers, and we’re proud to do it alongside the Buffalo Chip on the biggest stage in the motorcycle industry.”

One of the main focal points on the purpose-built bagger is the freshly reimagined Hypercharger ES air cleaner. Symbolizing the evolution of one of Kuryakyn’s most iconic products, the Hypercharger ES features a radical new design with state-of-the-art electronic throttle response butterfly engagement. The integrated servomotor actuates the butterflies with every twist of the throttle, creating an interactive experience with the motorcycle that’s unlike anything available.

Additionally, more than 35 Kuryakyn accessories are featured on the build including select pieces from the new Mesh and Riot collections, as well as the soon-to-be-released Precision line of engine chrome for the Milwaukee-Eight. Renowned custom shop Gilby’s Street Dept. of River Falls, Wis., laid down a monochromatic race-inspired paint theme that marries everything together to create a cohesive push-pull of mechanical grit and class.

”The 2017 Rock, Rumble & Rebellion bike created by Kuryakyn truly captures the free spirit the biker community brings to the Chip every year,” said Rod Woodruff, Sturgis Buffalo Chip President. “The exhilaration of racing, the intensity of the concerts and the pure joy of the ride are represented in the power and beauty of this custom. Kuryakyn really hit it out of the park again.”

The build sheet also includes a host of familiar names including Jim Nasi Customs (Kuryakyn Signature Series Dash Console), a handmade custom-designed Mustang Seat, “Formula” wheels (21” front, 18” rear) and rotors from Performance Machine, “Razorback” Drag Bars from FMB Choppers, and “Milano” inverted front suspension from Italian-based manufacturer ODC.

The Rock, Rumble & Rebellion bagger will be featured in Issue #352 of American Iron Magazine!

The Rock, Rumble & Rebellion bagger will be featured in Issue #352 of American Iron Magazine!

The Rock, Rumble & Rebellion bike will be hitting the road and participating in various rides and events scheduled on Kuryakyn’s 2017 rally tour. Official media partner American Iron Magazine will also feature the custom Street Glide in issue #352, which hits newsstands on July 18.

Following the Sturgis Buffalo Chip’s 36th year of music, motorcycles and revelry held Aug. 4-12, the Rock, Rumble & Rebellion Street Glide will be offered for private sale. Anyone interested in purchasing the bike may call the Sturgis Buffalo Chip at 605-347-9000.

2017 FLTRXS Road Glide Special Review

by Dain Gingerellli

I was highballing north on US 395 along california’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Harley’s cruise control doing most of the work, when the slow-moving tractor-trailer up ahead forced me to reduce speed. I should point out, too, that this was no ordinary Harley-Davidson. I was riding a 2017 FLTRXS Road Glide Special, and its electronic odometer revealed that the Milwaukee-Eight engine had only recently been broken in by the crew at Harley’s West Coast fleet center. The big 107″ V-twin was loafing along at about 85 mph, the bike’s standard cruise control feature subbing for me while I relaxed and rested behind the RUSHMORE-inspired fairing. Life was good—until the big rig impeded our headway.

I gently applied the Reflex Linked brakes to cancel the cruise control command, hauling the speed down to about 60. A few cars approaching from the opposite direction prevented me from overtaking the slow-moving rig right away. Moments later an opening in the traffic set me free, so I purposely twisted the right grip, feeding raw gasoline and fresh air into the eight-valve engine’s thirsty combustion chambers. The single-cam engine liked that, and our speed increased proportionally until the Road Glide Special quickly found its new place on earth ahead of the lumbering big rig. Life was, once again, good for me.
Let me be clear about another point: I didn’t downshift to fifth gear while overtaking the truck. This new engine has torque (I almost feel guilty about not spelling that with a capital T!) in spades, making downshifting optional under most riding conditions. Harley claims 111.4 ft-lbs. at 3250 rpm, a figure that’s actually only a few ft-lbs. more than what the Twin Cam 103″ generated. What the 2017 figures fail to reveal is that the new Milwaukee-Eight’s torque curve is much broader than the 103″ engine’s. And I like the new torque curve. A lot.

AIM’s editor, Steve Lita, pointed out the technological highlights of Harley’s new engine in issue 341, and in issue 342 he gave a glimpse of what the new baggers that cradle the engine in their RUSHMORE frames are like. Now I’m going to tell you about what I consider to be the best bargain among those baggers: the Road Glide Special.

This bike has it all, and the marketing folks at Harley pretty much pegged it with the FLTRXS’s mission statement: “Long on features, comfort, and attitude.” Indeed, and beyond the standard RUSHMORE and new Milwaukee-Eight features, the Special sports Harley’s big Boom! Box 6.5GT touch-sensitive screen that’s positioned between the inner fairing’s two large speakers and right beneath the easy-to-read analog instruments.

Truth be told, though, I rarely use the infotainment feature. Oh, I’ll dabble with the navigation option now and then to save myself from being totally lost during an adventure, but otherwise I prefer to enjoy the drone of the engine’s exhaust note while racking up the miles. And what a sound the 2017 Road Glide Special’s new mufflers produce, a deep, rich, mellow tone, one that bikers have enjoyed for years. Harley engineers were able to attain this new, throatier sound by exorcising some of the mechanical-noise demons from the engine, primary drive, clutch, and transmission. Less clanging noise there creates a vacuum of sorts that can be filled with more decibels from the exhaust system, the end result a motorcycle with a noise factor that, in addition to complying with federal decibel regulations, sounds genuinely cool. Welcome to the 21st century of motorcycle engineering and marketing; the Road Glide Special clearly stands at the forefront of this new philosophy.

Enough about the features, let’s talk about the Road Glide Special’s comfort. I’m on record in past bike reviews stating that I love touring aboard Electra Glides. I still like those batwing fairing bikes but, in truth, when it comes to absolute comfort, this RG Special fits me like the proverbial glove. My 5′ 8″ frame and 30″ inseam are well-matched to the bike’s ergonomics. I can flat foot stops at traffic lights thanks to a claimed seat height of 25.9″ (laden), and the reach to the handgrips is relaxed and natural. The seat’s bucket shape is form-fit to my derriere, and the tinted stub windshield mixed with the fairing’s RUSHMORE ducting allows just the right amount of wind blast to entertain me without pounding me. The small winglets at the base of the aerodynamically shaped shark-nose fairing help with that, and because the High Output engine doesn’t have the Twin Cooled liquid-cooling option, there are no fairing lowers to further isolate me from the elements so I don’t feel like I’m wrapped fully in a cocoon. I’m on a motorcycle.

Now let’s discuss the Special’s attitude. There are two key elements to a bagger: it must be capable of toting a reasonable amount of gear for extended rides, and it must look cool in carrying out its mission. The RG Special’s two lockable saddlebags boast a claimed 2.3 cubic feet of storage capacity, and while I can’t exactly describe just what that equates to in real-world gear, I can say that I was able to pack three days worth of personal inventory plus my camera gear for the blast up US 395.
And the FLTRXS looked cool—you know, attitude— while making the run up 395. Start with the paint. Vivid Black remains the standard color for the base model, which places MSRP at a rather cool $23,999. Our test bike sported the Hard Candy Custom paint option (three new color choices are on tap for 2017, two of which are Hard Candy Custom colors), which boosts price to $26,999. Yeah, it ain’t cheap, so determine just how much attitude you want, and then set your budget.

No matter the color option, though, all Road Glide Specials ride with the same cool chassis features, giving each bike a stance that shouts Attitude! The parts mix includes the 19″ (front) and 16″ (rear) Enforcer cast aluminum wheels with Brembo calipers and Dunlop Harley-Davidson Series tires. The bike’s stance is further set by a lowered suspension that features Harley’s updated specs. Claimed front suspension travel is 4.6″ front, 2.1″ rear.

New for 2017, the 49mm fork legs are filled with Showa Dual Bending Valve (SBDV) technology to smooth the ride up front. Out back you’ll find a pair of coil-over spring shocks with hand adjustability to set preload. As a unit, plus the low-profile tires (130/60-19″ front, 180/65-16″ rear), the suspension sets the Special nice and low, the way a bagger should be. There’s a small price to pay, however, as shortened suspension means there’s less up-and-down travel to absorb some of the bumps in the road. To be sure, the new suspension technology works well over smaller road holes and frost heaves, but a series of repetitious bumps challenges the damping rates; expect some chatter or jack hammering at times.
For the most part, though, the ride remains controlled and rather refined. Moreover, after spending all day in the saddle, I never felt fatigued or beaten. I always looked forward to the next day’s ride. And for me, that and the attention to detail and attitude are what make the FLTRXS so special for me as a bagger enthusiast. AIM

Harley Expands Street Line, Launches 2017 Street Rod

Inverted 43mm fork, a new speed cowl, 17″ wheels, and a new seat spruce up the Street line.

Ah, so here we are again. Harley-Davidson, with its century-old heritage and wisdom, needs to sink its hooks into another generation of  young riders, thus bolstering the future of the brand by banking on customer loyalty, the bravado of the Bar and Shield, the familial feeling among Harley riders, and remaining the perennial cool kid on the block.  Alas, the question plaguing many big corporations trying to tap into the youth remains–how?

When Harley announced the new Street lineup in 2013, subsequently introducing it in 2014, this represented a shift in thinking. The Street 500 and 750 were the first lightweight models to roll out of the minds in Milwaukee since the Sprints of the ’70s. (The Kansas City factory handles North American production and shipping, and the factory in Bawal, India, handles production for overseas markets. H-D outsourced production of the smaller-displacement models there as early as 2011.) The models featured the Revolution X motor, which, like the V-Rod’s Revolution, is liquid-cooled and employs a single overhead cam; the differences, however, span beyond displacement, including a single internal counterbalancer, vertically split crankcases, and screw and locknut valve adjustment. In a two-pronged strategy, H-D set its sights on two major demographics with distant but similar tastes, both of which demanded a larger chunk of The Motor Company’s attention: Millennials (specifically new riders) and the Southeastern Asia market.

And while the new Street family received more of a distant cousin’s welcoming party in North America, the overwhelming reaction from Asia remained positive. In a land where lightweight, maneuverable, cost-effective, 500cc-and-less motorcycles are the main mode of transportation and commuting, Harley seemed to have finally and successfully embraced the market overseas. And if those specific tastes sound like a lot of the scoots (hmm…cafes and scramblers) you see in your city, well Harley smells what’s cooking.

There she blows, a new entry-level bike ready to hop from borough to borough.

Welcome to the fray the 2017 Harley-Davidson Street Rod, this designation repurposed from the V-Rod’s discontinued model. That’s where the comparisons end, however, as this Street Rod is the third member in the Street family and the first to feature a new, updated motor, the High Output Revolution X 750. That’s right, another new Harley motor. Only this time around, the design team merely revamped the liquid-cooled Revolution X with a larger air box, dual-throttle body, revised four-valve cylinder heads and high-lift camshafts, and a more voluminous muffler. Plus, the compression ratio bounds up to 12:1. With the target market ostensibly 18-34 year-old city dwellers, the brand-new Street Rod, equipped with the new High Output Revolution X 750, should be capable in the midrange, bopping through the accordion of stop-and-go traffic and offering the necessary giddyup.

The Street Rod’s air intake is inspired by superchargers, drawing attention to the new motor and helping with the power gains.

Rolling stock is new, too, with two fresh 17″ Split 7-Spoke black cast wheels, front and rear, wrapped in new Michelin Scorcher 21 radials. Up front, a 43mm inverted fork handles bumps, and coil-over rear shocks have an external reservoir to increase fluid capacity and improve control; rear travel increases to 4.6″. The seat was specifically designed for the Street Rod, a sporty piece that might call to mind something on, say, an XR1200. It’ll help achieve the leaned-over, aggressive riding style which many young guns employ carving through the city on brief jaunts. Couple that with a 29.4″ seat, 3.7″ higher, more gracious lean angle, and a drag bar, and you have yourself a sportier design capable of handling all the city terrors.

The drag handlebar moves the rider forward, and the bar-ends are a nice touch in cleaning up the front end.

 

Coil-over suspension with an external reservoir helps with control and adjustments.

Harley has good reason to expand the Street lineup. This is an entry-level motorcycle, one that allows a new rider to flaunt the Bar and Shield and break into the sport with style. As a bonus, Harley can start to cultivate its next crop of riders who may eventually upgrade to cruisers and, later, Touring models. Funnel the young through the ranks, and start that process early. Figures actually back up Harley’s augmentation; as maligned as the Street 500 and 750 might have seemed, sales of  Sportster and Street models increased from 23,396 in the first quarter of 2014 to 29,149 in the first quarter of 2015.

Consider this. CivicScience conducted a survey over the course of a year that compared adults ages 18 and up, regardless of gender, to adults ages 18-34 (Millennials, yo).  A simple question: Do you currently own a motorcycle? Of those aged 18 and up, 11% answered either, “Yes, but I need a new one,” or, “No, but I plan to buy one soon.” Of the Millennial demo, 14% are in the market for either their first bike or a new one.

Can Harley finesse its way into the tight pockets of new riders?  Offering a liquid-cooled, small-displacement package at a fair price point, one that represents enduring tradition, shows that Harley-Davidson is paying attention to all its markets and is starting to break from the norm while retaining standards that loyalists desire. Build from within, out. And tapping in to the Millennial market ain’t a bad way to expand your business model.

 

Harley-Davidson Ready to Rev at Daytona Beach Bike Week 2017

Festivities Include Free Demo Rides at Huge Speedway Display, Parties, Music and Thrilling Motorcycle Racing Action

Harley-Davidson welcomes riders with warm sunshine and cool motorcycles as a new riding season kicks off in Florida during the 76th annual Daytona Bike Week. Once again Harley-Davidson is the official motorcycle of Daytona Bike Week, and the Motor Company is ready to host all riders March 11-18 with special events, parties and free demo rides on all 2017 Harley-Davidson models, including Touring motorcycles featuring the all-new Milwaukee-Eight engine.

“If it’s March, you’ll find Harley-Davidson in Daytona,” said James Newton, Harley-Davidson U.S. Events Manager. “Each year the warm weather and clear roads of Florida reignite the passion for freedom we all feel when we twist the throttle. The bikes, the beach and the bonds of friendship are Daytona traditions that Harley-Davidson supports year after year. We invite everyone to swing by Harley headquarters at the Speedway to demo new motorcycles and have some fun.”

Harley Headquarters at the Speedway

Official Harley-Davidson Bike Week activities are consolidated at one action-packed venue located just off International Speedway Blvd. on the grounds of Daytona International Speedway. Open March 11-18, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Daily with free motorcycle parking, this expansive Harley-Davidson location will offer:

Harley-Davidson at Daytona Beach

Checking out the latest models and demo rides are just a couple of the attractions Harley-Davidson will have going on at Bike Week 2017.

• Motorcycle demos: See and ride more than 100 new 2017 Harley-Davidson models including the just-released Road King Special and other Touring models powered by the potent new Milwaukee-Eight engine. The demo fleet also includes the nimble Harley-Davidson Roadster model, fabulous 2017 CVO models and bikes fully customized with Harley-Davidson Genuine Motor Accessories.

• New Milwaukee-Eight Display Truck: Experience the all-new Milwaukee-Eight engine through technical displays and feel the rumble of this exciting new V-Twin on the Harley-Davidson JUMPSTART Rider Experience. Check out the customized Harley-Davidson Rebel Freightliner truck and a display of new items from Harley-Davidson Genuine Motor Parts & Accessories.

• See It/Try It/Buy It: Demo new Harley-Davidson helmets and riding gear when you demo-ride a bike. A selection of new Genuine MotorClothes will be available for purchase on site, including Willie G. and H.O.G. commemorative merchandise. Also, visit with Harley-Davidson fit consultants at the H-D1 Fit Shop for any customization needs.

• H.O.G. Rally Point at the Speedway: Join Sam, Thor, Bruce and other Harley-Davidson staff members at the H.O.G. Rally Point. Relax in the demo lounge area, pick up a cool pin (exclusive for Harley Owners Group members), and check out a new Harley-Davidson Museum display featuring The Race of Gentlemen.
Harley-Davidson Events During Bike Week

• H.O.G. Rally Rendezvous
Sunday, March 12 and Thursday, March 16, from 6–9 p.m.
Location: Full Moon Saloon on Main Street
Celebrate the 76th anniversary of Daytona Bike Week with fellow H.O.G. members. Open to members and one guest with valid H.O.G. membership card. Each attendee will receive two drink coupons and one food coupon. Capacity is limited.

• Harley-Davidson Main Street Party
Monday, March 13, 7 p.m. to close
Location: Dirty Harry’s on Main Street
Kick-off Bike Week with the Harley-Davidson crew and the amazing arena-rock tribute band Hairball.

Harley-Davidson JUMPSTART Experience

The Harley-Davidson JUMPSTART Rider Experience will be giving people who have never ridden the experience of sitting on a motorcycle and banging through some gears during Daytona Beach Bike Week 2017.

• MDA Women’s Ride
Thursday, March 16, 8 a.m. registration
Ride Start: Harley-Davidson venue at the Daytona International Speedway
This woman’s ride, led by Karen Davidson and a team of Harley-Davidson female employees, will take riders through the back roads of Daytona Beach to Bruce Rossmeyer’s Daytona Harley-Davidson and Bruce Rossmeyer’s New Smyrna Harley-Davidson. For more information or to sign up, visit MDA Daytona Women’s Ride.

• American Flat Track Daytona TT
Thursday, March 16, 2 p.m.
Location: Daytona International Speedway
Ride to the races and cheer on the Harley-Davidson Factory Flat Track Racing Team as it opens the 2017 American Flat Track season behind riders Kenny Coolbeth Jr., Jake Johnson and Brandon Robinson, each racing the powerful new Harley-Davidson XG750R competition motorcycle. The race will take place inside Daytona Speedway on an all-new 0.4-mile TT course featuring a jump. Go to American Flat Track for more information.

• Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals
Friday-Sunday, March 16-19
Location: Gainesville Raceway, 11211 N County Road 225, Gainesville, FL 32609
Ride up to Gainesville and feel the rumble of Harley-Davidson V-Twin thunder when the Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle/Vance & Hines drag racing team opens the Pro Stock Motorcycle season for the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. World Champion riders Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec will begin chasing another title and world-record times at this fast track. Go to NHRA for more information.

For the duration of Bike Week, Harley-Davidson is partnering with three iconic Daytona Beach Main Street establishments as the official motorcycle sponsor at The Bank and Blues Club, Dirty Harry’s and the Full Moon Saloon.

Be sure to follow Harley-Davidson on Facebook to join in the action and to check out activities virtually.