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Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Comment by Editor-in-Chief, Robin Bradley

Can Harley Do It?

With two new mid-cycle models due to be unveiled by Harley in early 2020 - a CVO Road Glide and a Softail Standard - this year will be dominated by the August MY2021 introduction of Harley's all new liquid/air-cooled 60-degree 'Revolution Max' engine and the 1,100 cc Pan America ADV and 975 cc Bronx Streetfighter it will power.
The rumors are that with the new platform taking center stage, changes to the 'core' range most probably will be limited to paint jobs and accessory upgrades - especially connectivity and 'infotainmant' as Harley continues to track the creature comfort advances that have been made by other manufacturers.
The 'Pan America' and (what we now know to be) the 'Bronx' Streetfighter were among the initiatives outlined in the 'More Roads to Harley-Davidson' strategic plan unveiled in the summer of 2018 - and unveiled for the first time in public at EICMA and then Long Beach in November.
Other highlights on the Harley 'More Roads' wish list included a continuation of its determination to invest in growing more riders through its rider training academy program, and continuation of the revolution in the structure of its dealer network (in the United States especially) with 'old school' brand-passionate Harley dealers being replaced by dealer groups and, as we discovered in 2019, private equity backed dealer group ownerships.
In 2019 the major stubbed toe in Milwaukee centered on the stillborn appointment of its first ever Global Brand President - a significant tuning of Harley's leadership structure - and an appointment that is rumored to have had as much to do with lining up a replacement for CEO Matt Levatich (should he decide to press the retirement option button in 2020) as it did to trying to rebuild Harley's shambolic marketing programs and structure.

"strong platform in Europe"

The plan had been to bring one central executive to the senior decision-making table with overall responsibility for coordination of brand management and development - a much needed and decades overdue move.
However, the appointment didn't work out, and to be fair to Harley, the rumors are that the "toe stubbing" apparently had as much to do with the peccadilloes of the appointee as it did with being a fundamental HR failure by Harley themselves. Not that I am one to throw stones in that particular glass house!
In principle, the plan to appoint a single board level manager with overall marketing responsibility to coordinate programs and "evolve the brand to support the company's strategy" makes perfect sense, even if it does beg the question 'why wasn't it always thus'?
Harley's statement at the time of the appointment went on to say that "as the company expands into new segments and new geographies and seeks to inspire diverse, new riders around the globe, the Global Brand President will be responsible for all aspects of the Harley-Davidson brand including product planning, marketing, retail, apparel and communications."
At the time of the announcement, I worried that although I see "marketing" as such as being a primary weakness at Harley-Davidson, no way should marketeers be allowed anywhere near engineering decision-making or productionization. That way madness lies!
However, being able to coordinate the planning of what needs to be engineered and produced with the available business opportunities is fundamental to any manufacturer's game plan.
In the 1990s, when Harley canned the still much loved FXR just at the time when streetfighters were the 'new black', it was patently obvious that the ever growing retail price-points of the Tourers and Softails would ultimately lead to a disconnect between Harley and market opportunity as its traditional 'Boomer' core customers aged out.
While I have every sympathy with a corporation that wants to preserve its perceived brand value and MRSP policy in order to make more from less (a perfectly valid and laudable business objective), it was inevitable that the schism between the demographic that could move up the price elevator with Harley and the unit volume opportunities in the future motorcycle industry were going to bite them.
Meanwhile, one of the other 'More Roads' strategic objectives does look like it could be somewhat of a salvation - namely the plan to aggressively grow demand for Bar 'n Shield badged PTW product outside the United States to around 50 percent of production by the middle of this new decade. Coincidentally an ambition echoed by Indian Motorcycle at around the same time that Harley broke cover on its plan.
Although Harley-Davidson sales internationally haven't been as strong in 2019 as might have been hoped, especially in the all-important European markets, compared to a decade ago, Harley is nonetheless in a massively enhanced position, both in national market share and unit sales terms in many of the most important international markets.
The fact that a decision that saw Harley embrace the 60-degree V-twin combi-cooled layout in a marriage of engineering with product planning some two or three years before announcing a Global Brand President, shows that Harley can do it, namely bring market opportunities and engineering and production planning together.
Even if the softer numbers in the U.S. market lower the bar of achieving 50 percent of production to be sold internationally, the currently robust European market (in particular) can prove to be a life- saving platform for Milwaukee if they continue to refine the start-point and can do better in price-point terms there.


WPS/HardDrive Opens New Georgia Warehouse Ahead of Schedule

Western Power Sports and HardDrive, their specialty V-twin parts and accessory program, have announced the completion of a new 245,000 square foot warehouse at Midway, Georgia.  

Scheduled to open in late January 2020 (two weeks ahead of schedule), "this state-of-the-art facility is part of an ongoing effort to increase support for its vast dealer network across the south eastern United States." 

Designed and built from the ground up, this new WPS distribution center "combines the latest in warehouse automation and the industry-leading service WPS is known for. This new location will fundamentally change how WPS is able to serve the entire southern region, opening the door for one-day shipping to a greater number of dealers."
"This new warehouse is a great opportunity to better serve the powersports dealer network and the future growth of the company. It delivers on the latest in automation and allows us to properly facilitate dealers who need products quickly. The building is complete, the four-story pick module and racking are close, and we have started filling the warehouse with product and plan on shipping soon," WPS CEO Craig Shoemaker explained. "This has been in the works for several years and we are excited to start shipping orders out as soon as possible."

Shoemaker said that to maintain maximum efficiency, the current 109,000 square foot warehouse in Memphis, Tennessee, will be integrated into the new Georgia location. All shipping operations from the Memphis facility will switch over to Georgia.
"The new warehouse is a vital component of the continuous growth WPS has experienced and shows our continued commitment to supporting our industry and dealer network.  With recent expansions at two current WPS facilities in California and Idaho, as well as an additional warehouse in Pennsylvania, WPS will continue delivering its dealer network with the ultimate in service and speed – all while offering more brands than ever before." WPS also has warehouse facilities Indiana and Texas.

News Briefs

Established in 1940, H-D of Bloomington, Indiana, has been sold by owners (since 1998) Carol and Jeff Stevens to Mark and Michael Forszt, who already own multiple other dealerships in Indiana - H-D of Kokomo, H-D of Valparaiso, H-D Shop of Michigan City, Hunter's Moon H-D and Indy West H-D. H-D Bloomington will remain at its present location for a couple of years until a new facility is constructed.

The latest data from CDK Global Recreation shows that dealerships that use the Lightspeed DMS on average have had a strong start to the first ten months of 2019. Overall revenue growth on average January through October exceeded +6%. All regions have experienced growth. PSB reports that the South was the big winner, with revenue from new and pre-owned unit sales, parts and service up +9.7 percent. The Midwest was up +7.3% and the Northeast +7.2%.

A month after Paul and Michael Veracka, owners of the Veracka family H-D dealer group, officially split the group between themselves, separating their ownership into two competitive entities, Paul Veracka has made the first acquisition to his roster of Harley stores, completing the purchase of Alligator Alley H-D near Fort Lauderdale, Florida. His current dealerships include High Octane H-D in Massachusetts, Motown H-D in Michigan, along with two other South Florida dealerships - Rockstar H-D and Palm Beach H-D.

The Ducati Streetfighter V4 was chosen by visitors as the 'Most Beautiful Bike of the Show' at EICMA ('Milan Show') 2019 - 36.7% of voters in the Motociclismo organized election declared Ducati's new super-naked bike to be the winner of the 15th edition of the award - the 10th time Ducati has scooped the award.

AFT has announced a multi-year extension to its media rights deal with broadcaster NBC Sport.  There will be two race day telecasts, with the other events to be aired within one week. All events will be featured in one-hour telecasts with race coverage of AFT Singles, AFT Production Twins and flag-to-flag race coverage of the revamped AFT SuperTwins class. The DAYTONA TT and Buffalo Chip TT will air race day on NBCSN.

Polaris Inc. has granted more than $90,000 to off-road and all-terrain vehicle (ATV) organizations across the United States as a part of its T.R.A.I.L.S Grants program. The 10 non-profit organizations that were awarded a September 2019 T.R.A.I.L.S Grant received awards ranging from $5,000 to $10,000, totaling more than $90,000.

Pompano Beach, Florida-based online retailer Demon's Cycle has new ownership - Jason Dooley has purchased the 25-year-old company and announced major changes that will take place before the end of the year and early part of 2020. These changes include a new website, the hiring of a new customer service staff, the expansion of inventory, faster delivery services and more.

H-D was in fifth place in motorcycle market share terms in Switzerland for the first ten months in 2019 (1,978 units sold). Yamaha is market share leader there, followed by BMW, Honda and Kawasaki - all ahead of Harley. Indian Motorcycle is in tenth place, selling 469 units YTD, in its European home market. On low volumes, Royal Enfield is in 15th spot, with Zero Motorcycles 24th. 

Canadian distributor and Corona, California based MTA Distributing owner Motovan has closed its Edmonton, Canada warehouse. Motovan had acquired Edmonton-based Steen Hansen Racing (SHR) in 2011.

Polaris Inc. announced a regular quarterly $0.61 per share cash dividend payable on December 16, 2019 to shareholders of record at the close of business on December 2, 2019.

Auto Club NHRA Finals

Hines Claims Record Sixth Title and 10th Championship

Harley-Davidson Screamin' Eagle/ Vance & Hines rider Andrew Hines was crowned the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Pro Stock Motorcycle drag racing champion following a day of drama at the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California, in November.

After fouling in the first round of eliminations, Hines watched from the pits as the two other contenders for the championship advanced to the semi-finals before also being eliminated, leaving Hines with the points he needed to wrap up a dominating season with his sixth NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle title and the 10th championship for the Harley-Davidson Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines team.
Hines (2004-06, 2014-15, and 2019) is the second rider to win six NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle championships, matching the record set by the late Hall of Fame racer Dave Schultz, who won the title six times between 1987 and 1996. Hines is one of only ten competitors in NHRA history to win six championships. In 17 seasons racing for the Harley-Davidson Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines team, Hines has won 56 finals, also a record for the class. The 2019 championship caps a 16-race season that saw Hines dominate the class aboard his Harley-Davidson FXDR drag bike, taking eight victories in ten final-round appearances and earning the number-one seed for the countdown to the championship playoffs.

Hines claims his record sixth title and 10th championship for the Harley-Davidson Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines drag racing team.

"The Harley-Davidson Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines team races competition drag bikes inspired by the Harley-Davidson FXDR 114, a performance cruiser based on the Softail platform that combines the unrelenting power of the Milwaukee-Eight 114 engine with the liberal use of alloy and composite components to maximize acceleration, braking and handling performance. The FXDR drag bikes made a dominating mid-season debut in July at the Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals near Denver, where Hines and teammate Ed Krawiec stormed through the Pro Stock Motorcycle field and staged an all-Harley final, which was won by Hines.

Andrew Hines celebrates while being pushed by crewman Mike Mullaney.

Hines qualified fourth for the NHRA Finals in Pomona with an elapsed time (ET) of 6.845 seconds at 196.22 mph. Harley-Davidson Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines riders Krawiec and Angelle Sampey qualified in seventh and 10th positions respectively - Krawiec lost to Sampey in the first round of eliminations, and Sampey was eliminated in round two.
For the season, Hines led the Pro Stock Motorcycle field with 2,599 points and eight wins in ten final-round appearances and was the number-one qualifier two times. Krawiec, a four-time Pro Stock Motorcycle champion (2008, 2011-12, 2017) finished in fifth place with 2,474 points after making seven final-round appearances and claiming the top qualifier position three times. Sampey, a three-time Pro Stock Motorcycle champion (2000-02) completed her first season with the Harley-Davidson Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines team in seventh place with 2,381 points and was twice the top qualifier for a race.


Motor Bike Expo
Verona, Italy • Jan 16-19

MC Massan
Gothenburg, Sweden • Jan 24-26
IMS - J&P Ultimate Builder
Cleveland, OH, USA • Jan 24-26
IMS - J&P Ultimate Builder
Minneapolis, MN, USA • Jan 31-Feb 2

IMS - J&P Ultimate Builder
Chicago, IL, USA • Feb 7-9
The One Show
Portland, OR, USA • Feb 7-9
Garage Brewed
Cincinnati, OH, USA • Feb 8
Salon Du 2 Roues
Lyon, France • Feb 13-14
Utrecht, Netherlands • Feb 20-23
Swiss Custom
Zurich, Switzerland • Feb 20-23
Hamburger Motorrad Tage
Hamburg, Germany • February 21-23

Roma Moto Days
Rome, Italy • March 5-8
Motorraeder Dortmund
Dortmund, Germany • March 5-8
Czech Custom Grand Prix MotoSalon
Prague, Czech Republic • March 5-8
Motorama Madrid
Madrid, Spain • March 6-8
Motorraeder & Roller
Magdeburg, Germany • March 7-8
Mama Tried
Milwaukee, WI, USA • March 13-15
Tokyo Motorcycle Show
Tokyo, Japan • March 27-29
Donnie Smith Bike & Car Show
Saint Paul, MN, USA • March 28-29
Salon de la Moto Pecquencourt
Pecquencourt, France • March 28-29

Custom Show Emirates
Abu Dhabi, UAE • April 2-5
Moscow Custom & Tuning Show
Moscow, Russia • April 3-5
Austin, TX, USA • April 3-5
Toronto International Spring MC Show
Toronto, Canada • April 4-5
Billsport Performance & Custom Show
Jonkoping, Sweden • April 10-13
Motorcycle Taiwan
Taipei, Taiwan • April 15-18
Vive La Moto
Madrid, Spain • April 16-19
*Laughlin River Run
Laughlin, NV, USA • April 23-26


H-D Euro Festival
Port Grimaud, France • May 7-10
Myrtle Beach Bike Week
Myrtle Beach, SC, USA • May 8-17
Biker Fest
Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy • May 21-25
Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este
Lake Como, Italy • May 22-24
*Bike Shed
London, GB • May 23-24
FH-DCE Super Rally
Oland, Sweden • May 27-31
Bike & Art Moto Brasil
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil • May 28-31
Euro Bike Fest
Pasohlavky, Czech Republic •
May 28-31
Gerardmer Motordays
Gerardmer, France • May 29-31

Dates/venues subject to change or cancellation. (*) Some dates provisional. "Check before you buy"


Zodiac International Additions

Badlands Illuminators for CAN Bus

Starting from 2011, Harley has gradually equipped its models with CAN bus modules. Great for making diagnostics and electrical smart systems, but horrible for the customizer who wants to install parts other than stock. Badlands took the challenge and has designed a new series of illuminators for these models. The illuminators will allow you to install their well-known Run, Turn & Brake style rear indicators on any CAN bus equipped model without the hassle of permanent fault codes. Available with hard-wire scotch lock connectors for universal fitment, or with easy Plug-n-Play for specific models. Works with LED, halogen and incandescent bulbs, single output wire for left and right sides.

EZ-CAN Plug & Play Accessory Manager

The HEX EZ-CAN accessory manager lets you add and configure up to four accessories. It makes it simple and easy to fit additional lights, an air horn, cell phone charger, dash cam and emergency brake lights without cutting any wires - one water- and dust-proof device that manages everything. Features include integrated control (that integrates additional safety features); does not void warranty; plugs directly into CAN bus, which saves installation time and wiring complexity; unobtrusive - fits perfectly under the seat; easy configuration via built-in USB connection with Mac or Windows PC; provides four individually electronically fused channels (10A continuous per channel or 25A for maximum 20 seconds) - total of all channels cannot exceed 25A continuous. Fits 2011 to present Softail, 2012-2017 Dyna, 2014 to present Sportster, Touring and Trike models.

Forward Control Relocation Kit for M-8 Softail

Installs the stock footpegs, rear brake master cylinder, brake arm and shifter arm 3" (7.5 cm) further forward than stock. Includes extended left and right-side control brackets and extended shifter rod. Available in chrome or black.

S&S Crankcase and Crankshaft Kits for Evo Big Twins

 These S&S Short Block assemblies include a crankcase with pre-installed flywheel assembly, cylinder studs and bearings. Features stock 3 1/2" bore and 4 1/4" stroke as in all 80 ci (1340 cc) Evolution engines. Available for '84-'91 or '92-'99 in natural aluminum or wrinkle black finish.


Magnum Shielding

Braided Softail Dual Disc ABS Brake Lines

Brake line manufacturer Magnum Shielding has introduced lower brake line assemblies designed for 2018 and up Softail models equipped with ABS dual disc brakes.
The DOT compliant brake line assemblies are manufactured with enhanced constructions designed to be compatible with H-D ABS requirements for stock and alternate length brake lines. "This provides the ultimate in high performance by greatly reducing line expansion for safe and reliable braking." 

The kits consist of a direct fit lower assembly used with alternative length upper lines - stock through plus ten inches. The use of a -3AN connection eliminates the need for the adapters that are normally used with 2018 plus Softail models. A Magnum upper brake line is required to make the connection from the lower brake line assembly to the master cylinder. 
Magnum’s Designer Series ABS upper and lower brake lines are offered separately with either Sterling Chromite II or Black Pearl premium signature braids, and the matching 12 mm upper brake lines have a choice of 35 or 90 degree banjo angles to ensure a great fit. These brake lines are manufactured with PTFE inner tubing, DuPont Kevlar aramid fiber, and a crystal clear outer PVC jacket.

"As a lower price point alternative to the Designer Series, the XR Stainless brake lines incorporate PTFE inner tubing braided with heavy duty, stainless steel reinforcement embedded in a tough nylon outer jacket.
"Economically priced XR Stainless DOT brake lines are sold as a kit that includes the ABS dual disc lower and a 12 mm upper brake that has the stock banjo angle of 35 degrees. XR Stainless brake lines are available in either clear coated stainless braid with chrome fittings or black coated stainless line with a choice of either chrome or black chrome plated fittings."
Both the Designer Series and XR Stainless upper brake lines are available individually for use with an adapter if the lower line is not being replaced.
Magnum Shielding has been a Tier-1 manufacturer of matching braided products for over 37 years, including brake lines, control cable and ignition wires. Every Magnum Shielding brake line is compliant with all DOT FMVSS-106 specifications and assembled in the USA.


Feuling Parts

OE+ Twin Cam Hydraulic Cam Chain Conversion Camchest Kits

Californian performance specialist Feuling Parts offers dealers access to a flexible program of engine conversion options. The company's Good, Better and Best is an OE+ line, which is essentially OE replacement, but with improvements; the HP+ (High Performance Plus), which is aimed at upgrading street bikes to the max, and at the top of the range of options is the 'Race Series' - seriously enhanced performance for those who want to arrive before they've left!

Seen here, Feuling's OE+ complete camchest kits for 1999 and up Twin Cams include all necessary components from top to bottom of the camchest conveniently packaged under one part number.
These combination kits not only ensure individual parts are designed to work and function together, but to do so in total harmony - taking the guesswork out of the ordering process and guaranteeing  the engine builder "maximum reliability, peak performance and the coolest engine/oil temperatures obtainable."
The kits include the legendary Feuling​ high-volume oil pump, a high-flow camplate, a choice of Reaper ​series camshafts (from the workhorse 525 for increased torque band width and fuel economy to the 574 - ideal for modified heads), hydraulic roller lifters, adjustable pushrods, Timken ​bearings, gaskets, O-rings, exhaust gaskets, ARP ​fasteners, washers, moly paste, Loctite and hardware.
The included conversion camshafts update the old mechanical style cams and tensioners to the new hydraulic tensioner system, and the sprockets, hydraulic tensioners, chains and spacers needed for installation.
These camshafts utilize the 99-06 inner cam journals, with the 07-16 outer cam journals allowing the use of the 07-16 camplates, oil pump, hydraulic chain tensioners and chain drive system.
Feuling says the results are cooler engine temperatures, cooler oil temperatures, increased oil pressure, quieter and smoother engine operation and an end to wet sumping, blow-by and oily air cleaners.