MOTORSPORT NEWS NEW VEHICLES

HARLEY-DAVIDSON TARGETS NEW RIDERS WITH FOUR VERY DIFFERENT BIKES

Harley-Davidson is on a path to reinvent itself after years of falling sales and trouble attracting younger riders, and it hopes to do so with a range of bikes in segments that it has never played in (at least not seriously) until now. The longtime motorcycle maker unveiled a bold new plan for reaching those younger riders this week, which includes not only new motorcycles but new approaches to selling them.

Harley Davidson Pan America

First, the new bikes: The Pan America 1250cc adventure bike, pictured above, is aimed at off-road and on-road overland travel. Slated to launch in 2020, this is a genuinely new direction for the company, aiming for the likes of BMW and others.

The new Future Streetfighter, also due in 2020, will expand the company’s lineup of middleweight street bikes with a distinctive modern design, targeting a segment largely populated by offerings from Ducati.

Next up is the retro-styled Future Custom, which remixes classic design themes with more modern elements in a relatively compact package.

Finally, Harley-Davidson reconfirmed plans to offer an electric bike, previewed four years ago by the Livewire concept that drew a lot of attention from the motorcycle community. The production version of the Livewire will go on sale in 2019, but more electric variants will be in the works in the next four years, according to the company.

Harley-Davidson Future Streetfighter

The Harley-Davidson Future Streetfighter sets its sights on sport bikes for the road, a segment that HD has not dominated in recent years, to put it mildly.

“Leading the electric motorcycle market by launching Harley-Davidson’s first electric motorcycle, LiveWire, in 2019 — the first in a broad, no-clutch ‘twist-and-go’ portfolio of electric two-wheelers designed to establish the company as the leader in the electrification of the sport. LiveWire will be followed by additional models through 2022 to broaden the portfolio with lighter, smaller and even more accessible product options to inspire new riders with new ways to ride.”

The three gasoline-engined bikes will share a common architecture despite aiming at very different niches — an ambitious plan given the variety of goals of the three bikes — but all three will be aimed at attracting new riders to the brand in a way that will focus on entirely new customers looking for their first or second motorcycle. You’ve noticed by now that a traditional, chrome-heavy Harley is nowhere to be found in this product plan, signaling the company’s seriousness about mining new customer demographics.

Harley-Davidson Future Custom

The Harley-Davidson Future Custom combines retro elements with more modern touches, aimed at lifestyle owners.

This doesn’t mean that Harley-Davidson is ready to leave the classic touring model crowd behind, but it would like to increase the variety of bikes in its lineup.

“The bold actions we are announcing today leverage Harley-Davidson’s vast capabilities and competitive firepower — our excellence in product development and manufacturing, the global appeal of the brand and, of course, our great dealer network,” said Matt Levatich, president and chief executive officer of Harley-Davidson. “Alongside our existing loyal riders, we will lead the next revolution of two-wheeled freedom to inspire future riders who have yet to even think about the thrill of riding.”

It remains to be seen whether Harley-Davidson will be able to capture significant numbers of new, younger riders as it hopes — and to overcome the image of traditional Harley-Davidson motorcycles among a younger age group that may not even be thinking about motorcycles in the first place.

Source and images: Autoweek