Harley-Davidson opts for renovations to adapt to the times and beat the competition. The production of smaller, more compact motorcycles is one of the first steps in the brand's renewal.
By Joe Hurley
Harley-Davidson is synonymous with power on two wheels. The iconic motorcycle manufacturer is part of American history and a symbol that extends beyond its boundaries. But the legendary brand knows that the road to success is paved with renewal or death.
That appears to be the approach taken by Harley-Davidson, which is going through a transitional period in order to adapt to the new times and continue being competitive: after several years of absence, its powerful and historic rival, Indian Motorcycle, has returned to the market with a completely new range of attractive products that promise to challenge Harley-Davidson.
Aware of this, the brand from Milwaukee has launched the revolutionary Project Rushmore, a new philosophy that places great importance on the users and their experience riding on a Harley. The firm has gathered the impressions of a legion of experienced Harley aficionados to pick their brains and find out how to improve its range of motorcycles, both in performance and design or technology.
For now, throughout 2014, a total of seven motorcycles will be renewed under the principles of project Rushmore: the Road King Classic, Street Glide, Electra Glide Ultra Classic, Electra Glide Ultra Limited, Tri Glide Ultra Classic, CVO Ultra Limited and CVO Road King. All will offer improvements in the four key sectors of the project - style, control, sensations and "infotainment" - with the sole purpose of improving the driving experience on a Harley.
"As a company, we are doing a better job listening to the customer´s opinion from the beginning of the design and development process of our bikes in order to truly respond to their needs and requirements," says Keith Wandell, President of Harley-Davidson.
Harley Davidson Street 750.
Another decision taken by Harley-Davidson's leadership is to join the current, unavoidable trend: compaction. The surprise came last year with the announcement of a new generation of lighter and less expensive bikes, including the new Street 500 and Street 750, whose launch is imminent. Their prices will be $6,700 and $7,500, respectively, making them the most affordable Harleys in the market. Harley-Davidson has high expectations for this new line and hopes to expand their range of clients in the United States and in other markets in Europe and Asia. With a narrower chassis and greater maneuverability, these products aim to attract young, urban audiences, though the promised adaptability of their suspensions will not impede great performance in less manicured grounds.
These are Harley-Davidson´s strategies. But nobody knows if the brand’s legion of fans around the world will respond with the same enthusiasm to the new profile of the legendary motorcycle. ■
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