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Tuesday 28 June 2016

Custom Bike Show, Twin Club

Custom Bike Show, Twin Club, Norrtälje, Sweden, June 4 2016

The 42nd annual Custom Bike Show held in Sweden at Norrtällje featured over 200 bikes, entered in 8 classes. This was the twelfth year of affiliation for this, the largest established AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building affiliate event, and over 11,000 visitors and 5,000 bikes from around Europe came to enjoy a weekend that is internationally renowned for the quality of bikes seen there.
Custom Bike Show is staged each year in Norrtälje's Societetsparken

A jury of industry professionals selects the three AMD Affiliate
prize winners who receive 2,000 euro towards the expense of competing at
the World Championship

Competing builders travelled from across Scandinavia and Europe, with bikes coming from France, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands as well as the regular attendees from Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland. 

Winning builder Johnny Martinsson's "Jolly Jumper" was built around
an S&S 93" Panhead engine.

Runner-up John Mathisen from Stockholm also took the 2nd place trophy
in the Custom class.

3rd place Juho Roohu's "Hard Soup" also won the Modified
Harley-Davidson class.

Three separate judging systems are used to determine the winners, with a jury of industry professionals deciding on three World Championship affiliate prizes, with the competitors deciding the class prizes, and a Public Choice winner, who this year received a RevTech transmission courtesy of Custom Chrome Europe.
A new addition this year was a Bagger class, which was well represented and provided the Public Choice winner as well as the Best Paint award.
This year’s winning bike, selected by the jury, was local Swedish builder Johnny Martinsson's "Jolly Jumper", built around an S&S 93" Panhead engine, which also won the Custom class. The Custom class runner-up, John Mathisen, also took the runner-up Affiliate prize; third place went to Finland's Juho Roohu's "Hard Soup", which also won the Modified Harley-Davidson class. 

The jury prizes earn the winning builders an invitation and 2,000 euro in expenses to compete at the AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building, taking place at INTERMOT in Cologne, Germany, in October 2016.
Our thanks, as always, to Twin Club MC for their meticulous organization, Custom Chrome Europe and Motorcycle Storehouse for their support of the event, and the City of Norrtällje authorities for their biker-friendly attitude and use of the Central park for the event.

Peder Johansson of Hogtech won the Custom Bike Show in its
first year of AMD affiliation in 2005

Pingel Enterprise

Fairing mirror drop brackets


The unique design of this fairing mirror drop bracket allows the OEM fairing mount mirrors on '14-'16 FLHX/FLHT models to be lowered 2-7/8" for that "cool Bagger look on models with tall bars." It is said to provide the same clear image with the OEM mirrors as compared to the shaky-blurred image when using handlebar-mounted mirrors. 

Designed specifically for FLHX models, it will also fit FLHT models by drilling small holes in the inner fairing. It is precision-machined in billet aluminum with a black finish. Mounting hardware and instructions are included. Made in the USA.


Joker Machine

2015 and up 5-hole derby cover


New from Lake Havasu City, Arizona based manufacturer Joker Machine, this new 5-hole derby cover for 2015-up FL touring models with the new primary case is a stock replacement available in black anodized or chrome-plated finishes. Requiring the use of a new aftermarket gasket, it is made from 6061-T6 billet aluminum in a choice of finned, smooth and CNC engraved flame styles, designed to be a match for Joker Machine's popular master cylinder cover and point cover product lines.

Namz Custom Cycle Products

Namz TBW and Delphi style connectors

Celebrating their 17th year in business, Oreland, Pennsylvania based Namz Custom Cycle Products are a leading "go to" source for all things Harley electrical, but as owner Jeff Zielinski readily admits, even they can't always get every contingency covered.
"Ever since 2008, when the factory began using throttle-by-wire, we have continuously come out with harnesses to support the new technology," explains Jeff. 

The original single-row connector for Harley throttle-by-wire harnesses

"But there was one part that we had a hard time bringing to market and that is the 6-position Molex connector attached to the throttle actuator motor. This elusive connector was always available, but the minimums were through the roof"!
However, as seen here, Jeff says they do always have the original single row connector in stock and ready for shipping.
Another important part that Namz has in stock is the Delphi 36-pin ECM connector, also seen here. Jeff says that "since the early days of fuel injection, this connector was used beginning in 2000 and is found on motorcycles all over the world. However, ours is unlike the factory version…it is packaged as a kit and comes with all of the materials needed to install it - terminals, strain relief, retaining lock, and seal and cable tie round out the kit."

The Delphi 36-pin ECM connector from Namz comes fully packaged as a complete install kit

The full range of NAMZ/Badlands products are available through Drag Specialties, Parts Unlimited, Tucker Rocky, Mid USA, V-Twin, Parts Canada, Motovan, Les Importations Thibault, Parts Europe, Custom Chrome Europe, Motorcycle Storehouse, W&W Cycles, Zodiac, Rollies Speed Shop, Wildrider International Pty Ltd, or if out of stock at your preferred distributor, dealers can order direct from their website.


Drag Specialties - Hogtunes

Lower speaker kit

Drag Specialties is the exclusive distributor for Canadian audio specialist Hogtunes, and this lower speaker kit includes 2 Ohm speakers, adapters, grilles and all the necessary wiring and hardware to install into the fairing lowers on Harley's twin cooled tourers.

The adapters provide easy access to the coolant reservoir, come in matt black and can be installed as they are, or they can be color-match painted. The supplied wiring harness is designed to simply plug into Hogtunes RM series amps, or it can be easily modified for other brands of amp.



Night Rod special accessories

Well known German accessory manufacturer Fehling offers dealers access to one of the largest handlebar, luggage carrier system and engine protection ranges in the industry.
Among recent additions to their ever growing line-up of model-specific applications, they are now offering these designs for the Night Rod special - a side bag luggage holder, a rear luggage rack and a 38mm stainless steel tube engine guard.

Fehling design and make all their own products in-house at their factory near Dortmund in Germany. Founded in 1945 as specialist metal-forming and processing engineers, the company specializes in motorcycle parts, currently employs around 25 people and is still in the founder's family ownership.



Genuine Zodiac products carry 2-year warranty

Multi-function 'Halo' style LED turn signals

These E-approved halo multi-function LED turn signals are available as either turn signal/running light combo with amber LEDs, or Turn/Tail combo light with amber and red LEDs in the center for the turn/tail/stop signal function and red LEDs on the outside that can be wired as running, marker or taillight. They fit the stock 2-bolt indicator mounts on many 1986 to present Touring, 1986 and later FXR, 1986 to present FLSTC, 2006 FLST and 1994 thru 1996 FLSTN.

Zodiac 'Peanut' style Sportster tanks

Zodiac's popular 'Peanut' style tanks fit 2004 to present stock Sportster frames. Fuel capacity is approx. 3.3 gallon (12,5L). 2004 thru 2006 style tanks are available with your choice of Aero-style or Pop-Up style gas cap. Tanks for fuel injected models are available with a screw style bung that accepts the stock gas cap or complete with Flushcap style gas cap. For fuel injected models there is also a version with nostalgic looking side indents that accepts the stock gas cap, or complete with Quick-cam style gas cap. Tanks are 49cm long, 28cm wide and 20cm high.

OE replacement speedo

This Genuine Zodiac electronically controlled black faced speedo, with digital odometer for use on 1996 thru 2003 Softail models equipped with the stock transmission fitted electronic speed sensor pick-up, are 4 1/2" (11.5cm) in diameter, fit the stock dash and feature the direct-plug in terminal as found on 1999 thru 2003 models. Installation on 1996 thru 1998 models requires re-use of the wiring harness from the stock speedometer and crimping our 12-pin connector kit.

Improved performance replacement Twin Cam oil pump

Stock Twin Cams have a small die cast gerotor oil pump that has a wavy washer (Belleville style) to pre-load the pump gears against the cam support plate and pump housing. The side loading from that wavy washer can cause excessive friction and premature wear and give a lot of problems. Because of the small size of the stock oil pump, they often have problems getting enough oil throughout the engine, especially to the valve train components.
Another problem is the lack of scavenging, causing "Wet Sumping". Instead of returning to the oil tank, the oil builds up in the crankcase and cam chest, causing excessive friction/power loss and the oil becomes like "peanut butter".
This can result in oil being forced out of the breather, air cleaner contamination, oil leaks, loss of oil supply, lifter clatter, component wear and even engine failure.
Zodiac say their own brand high efficiency billet, anodized, bolt-in replacement oil pump provides 40% more supply volume and 60% more scavenge volume than the stock oil pump on 88" Twin Cams, and provides 20% more supply volume and 30% more scavenge volume over Harley’s improved 2006 Dyna and all 2007 and later Twin Cam oil pumps. Large diameter gerotors and aerospace materials are used, and the parts of each and every pump are hand-matched to ensure close tolerances to create a high efficiency pump, without the need for a high friction wavy washer. This will provide the Twin Cam engine with maximum reliability and longevity.



Spring compression tool for Victory models

Ventura, California based clutch and cables specialist Barnett has a new clutch spring compression tool for 2001 and later Victory motorcycles that is designed to compress the diaphragm clutch spring, making it easier to remove and re-install the retainer ring. Barnett say this USA made precision machined billet aluminum, hard anodized clutch tool makes working on the clutch much easier and efficient and is a "must have" for anybody working on Victory clutches.
Barnett Clutches & Cables, USA,


Crusher air cleaners

The new Street Sleeper III air cleaner high-flow intake kits from Crusher are said to "deliver significantly enhanced airflow to all ’99-’16 Harley-Davidson Twin Cam motors."
The full perimeter and outer-end breathing is said to "provide unrestricted airflow for greatly improved performance versus the stock filter element."

Street Sleeper III

A unique internal crankcase breather design "eliminates the need for external hoses or fittings for a clean appearance. The cast aluminum back plate features a large, curved entry to the throttle body for smooth and precise air delivery to the motor."
Compatible with Kuryakyn 'Quantum' air cleaner covers (available in gloss black or chrome) and all ’99-’16 stock H-D round and oval center-bolt air cleaner covers; air cleaner trims available soon.
Also seen here, the Crusher Maverick Pro air cleaner is described as "the classic teardrop air cleaner getting a modern makeover in appearance and performance - slim, sexy and available in three finish options to enhance airflow for ’99-'16 Twin Cams, including '08-'16 models with electronic throttle.


The covers are crafted from forged and machined 6061 aluminum and offered in chrome, satin black or satin black machined finishes. Slotted openings in the outer cage "reveal the brushed stainless steel insert plate for aggressive styling and ample airflow.
"Air is guided smoothly and precisely to the throttle body via the high-flow radiused inlet on the aluminum backing plate. The slender design maximizes legroom, and integrated crankcase breathers eliminate the need for external hoses or fittings for a clean, tight appearance."
Both kits include a washable and reusable Crusher-designed lifetime warranty backed high-flow K&N filter element.


Rack and Pull Industries

Workshop frame realignment system

Rack and Pull Industries' versatile workshop frame realignment system is said to allow any motorcycle workshop to become known as the motorcycle frame and suspension alignment specialist in their area, and consign the days of waiting for another shop to do their job, so you can finish yours and get paid to history!

'The Rack' comes with two towers that are powered by electric over hydraulic and which can "easily slide around for 'The Rack' to be pulled from any direction with ten tons of pulling capability per tower."
'The Rack' also comes with a tool board/bench for the universal mounting system and a multitude of tooling and mounting brackets. It can mount and hold steady any motorcycle for frame repairs.
When used in conjunction with the Straight Shooter Live Laser measuring system, it has the ability to straighten any motorcycle frame (except cast aluminum tube frames, which can't be pulled).
Supplied with a two-piece aluminum ramp that’s sturdy, yet light enough to be picked up and stored away when not in use, if the motorcycle cannot be ridden up the ramp, due to excessive collision damage, there is a dolly and winch system to "effortlessly pull the damaged motorcycle to 'The Rack' for repairs.
"Once the motorcycle is on 'The Rack' there is a variety of pull clamps, brackets and straps that can be used to hold and pull the frame back to factory specs again. 'The Rack' can also be used as a service rack. There is a rear drop panel that unlocks and easily slides out for a technician to remove the rear wheel."


Tuesday 21 June 2016

Victory Motorcycles and S&S Cycle

Victory Motorcycles and S&S Cycle in Power Partnership

Victory Motorcycles has teamed up with performance specialist S&S Cycle to offer 20% more horsepower and 10% more torque in the output of motorcycles powered by the Freedom 106 engine, including the Magnum, Cross Country and Cross Country Tour, as well as the Cross Roads and Hard Ball.

The new Made For Victory S&S Stage 2 performance cam kit is designed to significantly increase performance without sacrificing smooth engine response at lower speeds to deliver the full-bore Victory Motorcycles riding experience.
Designed to be used in conjunction with the Victory Stage 1 Tri-Oval exhaust or Victory Stage 1 round exhaust (required and sold separately), this combined kit generates 20 percent more horsepower and 10 percent more torque than the already potent stock Freedom 106 engine for the Cross Country and Cross Roads models, which is well known for handling horsepower upgrades.

The kit includes front and rear cams, a high-flow air dam specifically designed to significantly increase airflow to the engine, and a calibration download card for the dealer. Currently available in 49 states (still pending CARB approval for sale in California), the kit features a one-year warranty.
A Made For Victory endorsement signifies factory approval in the use of these products on Victory motorcycles, that applicable quality, emissions and safety requirements have been met, and that the motorcycle warranty will not be impacted with the addition of these aftermarket products.
“Made For Victory products allows Victory Motorcycles to partner with some of the top suppliers in the motorcycle industry,” says Brandon Kraemer, Product Manager for Victory Motorcycles. “This kit requires no additional dyno tuning or aftermarket assistance and completely removes the normal trade-off of performance vs. drivability that is common when installing different cams.
“An additional benefit to the rider is a less costly upgrade vs. the aftermarket, with the production fuel system being utilized as it was designed to be without any further components.”
“Making power is what we do and we’re excited to partner with Victory in their efforts to expand their performance product range,” says David Zemla, Vice President of Marketing at S&S Cycle.
Made For Victory accessories are developed exclusively for Victory Motorcycles through partnership collaborations with leading accessory manufacturers that share our vision to provide the best products to riders. Polaris say that these partnerships reinforce their commitment to offer an extensive selection of custom accessories which deliver on style, performance and enhance the Victory riding experience.


“Summer of Speed” at the Harley Museum

AMA Pro Racing has announced that Harley-Davidson’s award-winning Museum in Milwaukee is getting fast this summer; very fast!

Three new exhibits will see it “going full throttle into the world of racing” celebrating dirt tracks, to drag strips and “everything in between.”
Open already, “Racing Machines” takes the Harley race story from the KR to the XR; open through September 5, “Race Day” is a photo celebration of Flat Track racing, and “Drag Racing – America’s Fast Time” will do what it says on its can from June 17 to September 5.

American Motorcyclist Association

Custom builders to display motorcycles at AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days     

The AMA (American Motorcyclist Association) has announced that seven premier custom motorcycle builders will provide a modern touch to AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days, as they display some of their best designs along Builders' Row at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, July 8-10. 

"These bikes will showcase innovation, attention to detail and amazing creativity," said AMA Chief Operations Officer Jeff Massey. "Every motorcyclist is going to want to visit Builders' Row during this event. To have this much motorcycle-building talent in one place is a real treat." 

The featured builders include: 

•Analog Motorcycles: Gurnee, Ill., builder Tony Prust combines skills from past careers and interests, such as audio engineering and carpentry, to create motorcycles and components that are complex in thought and design, yet simple in execution.

•Chris Carr Design: Founder and owner Chris Carr started his business as a hobby in a small garage with few tools. A designer and artist at heart, he now directs those talents toward vintage motorcycles in his Caro, Mich., shop.

•Federal Moto: The company, with locations in Chicago and in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, creates one-of-a-kind motorcycles and accessories for the everyday adventurer.

•The GasBox, Cleveland, Ohio: The GasBox builds custom motorcycles from the ground up and also takes classic motorcycles and transforms them into something new.

•Loaded Gun Customs: Owner Kevin Dunworth prides himself on always crossing the lines, blurring distinctions and challenging conventional concepts and wisdom. Those traits are evident in the motorcycles he produces at his shop in Selbyville, Del.

•TC Bros. Choppers LLC: Brothers Tyler and Tim Cobb possess a passion for garage-built custom motorcycles. Their Wauseon, Ohio, shop offers supplies for the do-it-yourself custom bike builder who is not afraid of getting dirty.

•Wilkinson Brothers: Graphic designers Casey and Corey Wilkinson are motorcycling diehards from Carmel, Ind. The brothers found a way to combine their love of motorcycles with their creative talents.

AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days features the Moto Armory AMA Off-Road Vintage Grand Championship, including vintage and post-vintage motocross, hare scrambles and trials, as well as vintage and post-vintage road racing on Mid-Ohio's road race course and dirt-track racing at the nearby Ashland County Fairgrounds sponsored by Nationwide Insurance. Mini road racing and a pit bike race also will be held during the event. 

The weekend includes North America's largest motorcycle swap meet sponsored by Federal Motorcycle Transport, the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Bike Show presented by Old Bike Barn, the American Motor Drome Wall of Death, a classic motorcycle field meet, demo rides of current production bikes, seminars, live music, raffle bikes, a beer garden with the region's best craft beers, and displays of AMA clubs and custom bike builders.
For 2016, with the support of Suzuki Motor of America, AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days honors the career of Suzuki rider and AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Wes Cooley. The infield display, celebrating 40 years of AMA Superbikes, presented by Suzuki, will showcase the rich history of AMA Superbike racing with a number of historic championship-winning machines. The central piece of the display will be Cooley's 1980 championship-winning GS1000, which Cooley will ride in demonstration laps around the road race course each day.
AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days is a fundraiser for the non-profit AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame. Financial contributors include Moto Armory, Nationwide Insurance, Suzuki Motor of America, Federal Motorcycle Transport, Old Bike Barn, Iron Pony/Pony Powersports and Sena Technologies Inc.

AIM Corp.

VP-LT Spider kits

Huntington Beach, California based clutch specialist AIM Corp., (Advanced Innovations Machinery), has released details of a new narrow primary cover variable pressure clutch design for 2015 and up six-stud clutch for big twins.

The VP-LT/Spider kits include a 1/4" narrow derby cover spacer and gasket and are said to deliver up to 70 percent more clamping pressure than stock at 4,000 rpm thanks to their special new lever design.
Three kits are available, giving coverage of most power option applications. The VP68LT/Spider kit gives a 30 percent clamping force increase with 40 percent clutch pull reduction; the VP84LT gives a 50 percent increase in clamping force and 20 percent pull reduction; the VP95LT is for the most powerful applications with a 70 percent increase in clamping force.


J.W. Speaker

7" adaptive headlights

In addition to their standard U.S. made 8700 Evolution-2 round LED headlamp replacement kit, J.W. Speaker's 8790 A-series "adaptive" headlights are designed to "fill the void of light that occurs during left or right cornering in up to a 30 degree lean."
This is a DOT compliant direct replacement for most stock and aftermarket 7" headlights, and a retrofit for PAR56 headlights. It has the option to program up to 12 start-up sequences, flashing and swirling (according to preference) and is an easy, plug-n-play install with the included H4 connector.
The unit calculates bank angles on a real-time basis, using proprietary technology and onboard sensors, automatically directing the light array up or down as the motorcycle leans.
Available in black or chrome and delivers a powerful 1150 lumen full beam and 750 lumen low beam; a 5.75" round headlight kit is also made by the Germantown, Wisconsin based manufacturer that was founded in 1935 by John W. Speaker.

It combines innovative low beam optics and 'ComfortLite' to provide "best-in-class foreground illumination and light above the horizon, which dramatically improve rider comfort and safety. The heavy-duty, die-cast aluminum housing and state-of-the-art LEDs not only deliver premium performance, but also give a bike a unique look."



Galfer 'Skull' discs

Manufactured to European standards by internationally renowned Spanish brake components specialist Galfer, the company has expanded its family of brake rotor applications for Harley-Davidson models with this special, limited edition 'Skull Design' series.

Noted as the originators of the race-proven Wave disc concept, these "specials" are custom designed with skulls to "match Harley-Davidson and other custom motorbikes’ aesthetics." The discs are slotted to improve cooling and have a "more aggressive" look.
The new Skull discs are laser-cut, tempered, painted, machined and rectified to assure high quality. All production processes are carried out in the Industrias Galfer facilities located in Granollers, Barcelona, Spain.
There's a fixed and full-floating version with custom styled or round steel core for all Harley-Davidson models since 2000. They can also be used on most 1984 to 1999 Harley models with a retro fit adapter of the kind available from leading distributors such as Zodiac International, who sell the Galfer range in Europe.


Le Pera

'Aviator Up Front' gets you closer on tourers and XLs

Californian seat specialist Le Pera say that if you are looking for a comfortable solo seat to move you forward, but don't want a design that overpowers your touring bike, then their 'Aviator Up Front', with its tapered low profile and heavily contoured bucket, is ideal.

This ‘Up Front’ version of the Aviator is for those who want to be further forward, up to 2" closer to the handlebars than with their standard 'Aviator’. The Aviator ‘Up Front’ is also available for '08-up Touring and ’04-’16 XLs. Also, with a 12.5" wide seating area, it tapers towards the frame to keep your feet flat when you stop.
All Le Pera seats feature a powder-coated steel base plate, marathon foam and handcrafted cover.
With almost 45 years of family ownership and experience behind them, every Le Pera seat is still hand-crafted; a specially poured high density "Marathon" molded foam foundation and double stitched cover with bonded polyester thread make their designs as comfortable and durable as they are stylish.


The Leatherworks

Versatile Scout solo bag


Californian custom leather luggage designer and craftsman The Leatherworks has come up with this versatile hand-made solo bag for the Indian Scout. The 101 measures 10" long by 6" tall and 3" deep and comes with the needed mounting belts. It can also be used as a tool bag under the headlight on most Harleys, and will also fit in various other locations on a wide variety of other makes and models. American made from 10-12 ounce leather, it is completely customizable.
The Leatherworks, USA,


Big Twin forward controls

Hazelwood (St Louis), Missouri based distributor MID-USA’s V-Factor billet forward controls for 4-speed frames with hydraulic rear brake and 1986 - 1999 Softails are CNC-machined from anodized billet.

They feature rubber inserts in the footrests, bake and shifter pegs and are available as standard length kits in 3/4" or 5/8" bore, with master cylinder rebuild kits separately available.


TTS Motorcycle

TÜV approved 26" Harley 'Bigspoke' wheels

Well known German spoke wheel specialist TTS has been given TÜV approval on its 26" version 'Bigspoke' wheels, for 120/55 R26 and 120/50 R26 tires.

Available for Harleys with or without ABS, the rims are available in chrome, copper, gold, black or colour powder-coated, with a polished stainless steel or copper, gold, black or colour powder-coated hub. The spokes come in polished stainless steel, brushed, copper, gold, black or colour powder-coated.
The spoke nipples are available in polished stainless steel or brushed, copper, gold, or black chrome.


Wednesday 15 June 2016

Comment by Editor-in-Chief, Robin Bradley

Harley’s share price woes now only part of the story – check out the underlying reality of what is happening to their market share

In the four months following Harley-Davidson’s full-year 2015 financial results announcement in January, their share price has fluctuated wildly, with no apparent explanation for the stock market’s uncertainty than just exactly that – uncertainty.
Uncertainty as to whether or not current pricing represents value or risk, uncertainty about whether the program of initiatives undertaken since October 2015 are sufficient to turn the company’s fortunes around, and uncertainty as to whether the company has got what it takes in its locker to affect a long-term response to the issues it faces.

Yes, those issues have included foreign exchange trends over which no individual business has control, and include the reasonably frequent spasms of (often China inspired) jitters that appear to be the defining characteristic of Wall Street so far in 2016.
There’s no doubt that wider economic uncertainties remain a concern, and that in a US election year, and this of all US election years, the only certain thing about those uncertainties is that they are not going to go away any time soon. The only adjective that accurately and fairly characterizes the global economy is “fragile”.
The primary benchmarks against which Harley-Davidson’s issues can be judged aren’t so much the performance of the stock exchange as the performance of the international motorcycle market itself.
With the international motorcycle market generally showing growth in most sectors, especially among the higher value, higher horsepower units that are doing well in developed markets such as North America and Europe, then given the instability of stock markets, this is a way superior background against which to calibrate the realities of Harley’s fundamentals -  and by any measure that analysis throws the company’s travails into even starker relief than the doldrums of its P&L and Wall Street performance does.
I am writing this towards the end of May, and as at May 23rd Harley’s share price stood at $44.23. This is a down to the $51.66 it hit at the start of April, but still up on the substantial improvement on the $37.49 it hit around the end of January following their 2015 full-year financial statements.

That said, when put in the context of the $55,41 it was at just before their 2015 Q3 financial statements announcement in October last year, and the $59.79 12-month high it was at just before their less than galvanizing MY 2016 announcements in August 2015, it is clear that the investor community remains distinctly uninspired by what it is seeing.
However, further context comes in the surprisingly weak performance of Polaris Industries’ share price over the same period. It is currently trading at $82.21, following a steady decline from a 12-month high of $153.49 in July 2015 – indeed Polaris’ all-time high share price was in the region of $157.00 as recently as November 2014.
So, it would appear that both companies have been hit by, presumably, similar issues – weakness of the US Dollar and wider economic issues resulting in uncertain market sentiment.
The difference between the two though is that during this time Harley’s motorcycle unit sales growth has stalled, while Polaris have seen their market presence stepped-up dramatically by their well-received Indian Motorcycle line-up.
A further dramatic difference is that Polaris had a pre-recession share price high of around $35.00 early in 2015, and was trading at around $20.00 a share at the time Harley-Davidson made their all-time high of nearly $75.00 in November 2006.
Despite the recent reversal of post-recession share price gains for both, their relative positions of a decade ago are now entirely reversed, and in motorcycle market terms sentiment has the wind filling Polaris’ sails whereas Harley is becalmed – caught between competitive pressures and their inability to respond quickly enough to the changed market opportunities.

With both manufacturers currently slugging it out for “Dark” and “Legend” bragging rights, another difference between Polaris and Harley-Davidson, on a moving forward basis (Harley’s MY 2017 announcement not withstanding?), is that in an evolving Victory motorcycles offer, Polaris are poised to keep Harley under pressure in Milwaukee’s core market while having the field to itself in terms of the “new opportunities” that the market offers.
While comparison between the share prices is meaningless without reference to margins, profits, turnover and market capitalization, out of fairness to Harley it is though relevant to point to the trading “headwinds” (most notably foreign exchange rates) and Polaris’ specific issues (juvenile dealer network, paint shop and other production issues) that Polaris CEO Scott Wine has himself acknowledged in the past 12 months, and the fact that Harley is not the only domestic US powersports industry “major” to have share price woes at this time.
Indeed, referencing Polaris as “the other” domestic US powersports “major” also goes to a much underestimated Achilles Heel that, in competitive terms, that may bite Harley in the coming years – namely their tendency to hubris.
In a recent Bloomberg interview Matt Levatich was fairly dismissive, by inference, about the threat to their dominant in-class market share that Polaris (and other manufacturers) pose in the domestic US market. Inappropriately so if Harley’s recent market share performance is seen in the context of the wider motorcycle industry.
A deeper analysis of Harley’s own retail sales figures shows that despite dramatically declining sales, their domestic US 601 +cc market share bucked the trend of the downturn and rose steadily from 2008 to 2013 when it peaked at 54.9 percent. However, having held broadly stable for 2014, it dropped back to below their 2010 market share performance for 2015 at 51.2 percent, and to judge by their 2016 Q1 data, is still headed further south.
In Europe the company did the same, bucking the downturn, climbing from an 8.9 percent market share there in 2008 and peaking at 12.8 percent in 2013; in the last two years sales in Europe have increased, in unit terms, but market share is down (12.0 percent in 2014 and 12.3 percent in 2015), also indicating that they are losing ground relative to the market – a market that Indian Motorcycle, in particular, are now a fast growing part of, and you can be pretty certain that their sales are not coming at the expense of large displacement sports and hyper-sports models!
In 2008, some 69.78 percent of Harley’s retail sales were domestic, with 30.22 percent international (including Canada), of which 14.36 percent were to customers in Europe.
Broadly speaking, Harley’s international sales percentage has grown steadily most years since then, peaking at 36.42 percent of retail sales being to international customers in 2015 (domestic down correspondingly to 63.58 percent) with 16.36 percent European (where sales as a percentage of global retail peaked at 18.85 percent in 2011).
From a low of 278,900 sales of units of 601+ cc in 2010, domestic US registrations have increased to 328,800 in 2015 - a growth of just over 18 percent at a time when Harley’s market share of those has stood still (actually down by -0.3 percent in those five years).
In Europe the decline in the market lasted longer than was the case in the USA with sales of 601 +cc machines bottoming out at 281,800 units in 2013. However, in the just two years since then, the market has rebounded by over 24 percent while Harley, albeit on increased sales, has actually also lost ground relative to the market by 0.5 percent market share points.
Such is the foundation of said hubris. 

While returning sufficient value to shareholders to keep the raiders from the door is a laudable and essential priority (assuming that appropriate third party ownership is discounted as being desirable under all or any circumstances – something that is now a lot less clear cut than it once was), and marketing the crap out of the product they have got while also seeking new customers - whether in demographic terms, which they continue to do very well with, or in terms of the one-third of buyers who are new to riding at all - is also to be applauded, wearing blinkers where what is happening in the sectors of the market for which they don’t have product is going to be what catches them out eventually.
Harley are right to be looking for new customers so assiduously, but as I said last month – there will come a point where that will require new metal, not just old promises, and the alarming truth behind their market share trend and what is likely to be happening this season too, is that they need that new metal straight away or else the apparent comfort of the market share gap between Harley and its nearest competitor will start closing very quickly indeed as those customers that could have been showroom traffic for Harley dealers will be being seduced by more contemporary platforms and the fast growing choice where “dark legends” are concerned too.