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I read a great editorial piece on AutoEvolution that took a critical look at Harley Davidson and its new Street 500 and 750. The main idea is that Harley-Davidson is using marketing genius to sell the Street. And that can be taken for better or for worse.



I wonder how much money it took to put the Harley Davidson Street into the next Captain America movie. It couldn't have been cheap. This move is aiming to get the bike as much exposure (to a younger audience) as possible. Ideally it would spark a trend. Captain America rides a Harley, and you can too!

Now, it's only a fraction of posers who bought a Harley just because it represented something which looked good. They hoped their own lives would become better just because they were wearing some branded clothing and ride on Sundays around the town to be seen on lab-clean bikes and with carefully ironed shirts.
Is this quote accurate? Are Street 750 buyers buying a brand and not a bike? I think that represents only a small fraction of buyers.

Are these machines bikes like no others? Definitely not, as middleweight Japanese cruisers have been around since forever. Oh, wait, but they're not Harley, right? So back to square one.
It is true that there is something about it being a Harley that sets it apart from other bikes. It also is the fact that it is a first. The first Harley that is affordable, and the first Harley that goes with "less is more" rather than "bigger is better."

Advertising a locking fuel tank cap as a feature for a modern, 2014 bike is pure crap. It's like selling bottled water and saying that being able to drink it is a true feature and benefit.

The same goes for the passenger pegs and the dark attire. Seriously, is the all-black color one of the big selling points in a modern, all-new bike? Many of the decent, true-to-themselves riders will smile, I just know. Because this is the truth. Still, the way these bikes are marketed can make them sell very well, especially with the right price tag.
The Harley-Davidson Street 500 and 750 are kinda like the iPhone 5C of motorcycles. Sure, its a Harley, and it works well and is cool, but you know that you are missing out on the real thing to a certain degree. Harley-Davidson has done an amazing job at marketing so that you don't get this feeling though. The Harley-Davidson Street is ridden by Cpt. America. It represents freedom and heritage, just like every other Harley.

So what's the difference? Oh yeah, its a 35hp, 480 lbs cruiser. Not exactly your dad's Harley.

On Bigger Is Better and Less Is More
 

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Eh, the Street models are a clean break if you ask me. It might not be the ideal bike for how I ride but I can see Harley paid some attention to function and light weight for a change aiming at a completely different market segment than they have in the past.

I don't see them trading on thier heritage with the Street. Rather I think the Street is kind of a rude poke in the eye to their existing heritage. They will build a new heritage from the ground up along the lines of what BMW did with the liquid cooled K bikes and the F series singles.
 

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The way some people are reacting to this bike, you would think that HD were going to stop making every other model they produce & just have two models - street 500 & 750.

I don't see what the big deal is, Its an addition to the range. Most of the negative comments seem to be coming from HD enthusiasts.

Nobody said you have to dispose of your current larger HD model & buy a street.

Do you hear Honda riders complaining because that company sells a 500cc bike as well as the Gold Wing & other large capacity bikes?

Why is it that the Japs can sell a wide model range but HD should not?
 

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people just like to complain

its what humans do

personally i have a great appreciation for the rest of the HD bikes and I find the Street to be a great addition.
 

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The way some people are reacting to this bike, you would think that HD were going to stop making every other model they produce & just have two models - street 500 & 750.

I don't see what the big deal is, Its an addition to the range. Most of the negative comments seem to be coming from HD enthusiasts.

Nobody said you have to dispose of your current larger HD model & buy a street.

Do you hear Honda riders complaining because that company sells a 500cc bike as well as the Gold Wing & other large capacity bikes?

Why is it that the Japs can sell a wide model range but HD should not?
I have a Street Rod and have been told condescendingly by the bandanaheads that it's "just a crotch rocket". They are insecure little babies and their Milwaukee vibrator is their affirmation of their worth. Bring up that something else might be a better motorcycle and you have just assaulted their self image.
 

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I mean I wouldn't say that the Street 500/750 is a "better" bike than more traditional Harleys. That's kind of the point of the article in the OP. Harley has marketed the Street well enough to make people feel like the Street is just another Harley even though it is not the same as previous Harleys. Its about selling the Street as part of the Harley family even though it really doesn't fit into the typical Harley-Davidson range.
 

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The way some people are reacting to this bike, you would think that HD were going to stop making every other model they produce & just have two models - street 500 & 750.

I don't see what the big deal is, Its an addition to the range. Most of the negative comments seem to be coming from HD enthusiasts.

Nobody said you have to dispose of your current larger HD model & buy a street.

Do you hear Honda riders complaining because that company sells a 500cc bike as well as the Gold Wing & other large capacity bikes?

Why is it that the Japs can sell a wide model range but HD should not?
Ive been noticing the perception from the harley crowd for the street models. I really don't understand why it should even be a topic of discussion for those guys. Ride what you own and move on.
 

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I mean I wouldn't say that the Street 500/750 is a "better" bike than more traditional Harleys. That's kind of the point of the article in the OP. Harley has marketed the Street well enough to make people feel like the Street is just another Harley even though it is not the same as previous Harleys. Its about selling the Street as part of the Harley family even though it really doesn't fit into the typical Harley-Davidson range.
Liquid cooled, overhead cam, plane bearing bottom end, thoroughly modern engine architecture, it is a better bike. It is more than half a century more advanced than most of the old fashioned garbage Harley peddals and the bandanaheads cling to faithfully like it was a religion or something.
 

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Liquid cooled, overhead cam, plane bearing bottom end, thoroughly modern engine architecture, it is a better bike. It is more than half a century more advanced than most of the old fashioned garbage Harley peddals and the bandanaheads cling to faithfully like it was a religion or something.
but it really is religion like isnt it? What I think is going to become interesting over time is how Harley integrates the new Street crowd with their existing "bandanaheads" as it was so eloquently put ;)

I see this as playing out one of two ways.

1) Harley overall image begins to undergo an overhaul and it settles into a happy medium.

2) The crowd Harley IS targeting with the street is really just the same crowd laying in wait. And what I mean by that is I wonder if we will eventually see this new generation of harley riders eventually amalgamated into the current culture...
 

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Oh boy. I have expressed a few times on this forum about how the "traditional" air-cooled big twin Harley guys generally feel about any bike, even of the HD brand, that does not fall into the archaic design and engineering. They hated the VRod when it came out, they also hate the Street, and many even go so far as to run down the Sportster as a "girl's" bike. These people are so closed-minded and they have the attitude that if you don't ride what they think you should ride, you are wannabes and posers. That is just the way it is. So what? I would bet dollars to donuts, that 0% of these self-proclaimed bad-ass "bikers" came out of their mama's womb on a Harley, and that 99% of them have owned non-Harley bikes at some point in their lives. Can you say "hypocrite"? Now keep in mind, not ALL HD big twin riders are like that, but you can generally tell them quite easily by the end of their first sentence. You can't necessarily tell them by appearance, because there are a lot of guys that you might assume will be the anal appendages of the HD motorcycling realm, that actually are down to earth and decent folks... and won't judge you by what you ride. What is interesting is that there is a split between big twin riders and Sportster riders, even though the Sporty is archaic and air-cooled. The divide is not nearly as bad between BT and VRod/Street models, but it is still there. In the end, I would not worry about what the anal appendages think. Buy and ride what YOU want. If you want a Street and want to dress up with all the leather, doo-rags, gloves with no fingers, spike collar, and whatever... go for it. If you want to buy a road couch and dress up in a fully armored textile sport bike suit, go for it. Who cares. There will always be someone that will ridicule you no matter what you ride. There are just as many Harley haters riding Jap bikes, Brit bikes, Victorys, and Indians. Just look around the internet at Youtube and mc forums, the hatred is running wild in all directions. So the moral of the story is, it doesn't matter what you ride, somebody is gonna hate you. Err, no, I meant ride what pleases YOU.
 

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but it really is religion like isnt it? What I think is going to become interesting over time is how Harley integrates the new Street crowd with their existing "bandanaheads" as it was so eloquently put ;)

I see this as playing out one of two ways.

1) Harley overall image begins to undergo an overhaul and it settles into a happy medium.

2) The crowd Harley IS targeting with the street is really just the same crowd laying in wait. And what I mean by that is I wonder if we will eventually see this new generation of harley riders eventually amalgamated into the current culture...
I would guess that there will continue to be a split, that will grow with the release of the Street. I say "that will grow" because the split is already there as Desert Tortoise's reply has noted regarding getting snubbed on his VRod. I don't see the diehard BT crowd changing and becoming receptive to the liquid cooled Harleys. The Harley culture, or perhaps stereotype is a better term, will undoubtedly spill over into the "new generation" of HD riders, since some people will buy just for that badass image, and will look the part. The good news for you new HD Street riders is that Desert Tortoise has already paved the way for you in the HD hate club, you guys will just grow the numbers. Maybe someday the VRods and Streets will outnumber the big twinners, and the red-headed step child will prevail.
 

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BMW faced this when they introduced the K100 and K75, but they ended flat twin production in 1984 (that lasted all of one year, the backlash was too strong to overcome). Likewise Porsche faced a huge and angry backlash, first when the flat six adopted liquid cooling and again with the introduction of the Cayenne. The traditionalists never got over it, and too bad. They are dying off and these firms have to look to their future.

Now look at both companies. BMW sells flat twins still, along with across the frame fours and parallel twins, an across the frame six, and a number of singles. Porsche has an SUV (and a new smaller one in the works), a big four door the Panamera and more traditional offerings like the 911, Boxter and the thoroughly cool Cayman that is more like the original 911 than today's 911. The die hard traditionalists can fight over used models. Porsche has to look to the future, and so does Harley Davidson.
 

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I have been blown away by the idea that HD is making a bike that I would want. Too bad I won't be buying one, but maybe one day, I'll end up with a used one. I made a trade last year, and can't afford to make another change, but that will not deter my interest in a mid-range, HD bike. I'm stoked about what HD has decided to do with the Street 500 and 750.

I'm just a sophomore rider, but I'm already hooked on riding. I ride to commute and therefore will never have an interest in a big bike of any brand. The first year, I owned a scooter; a 330 cc. Then Honda came out with the almost-perfect bike for a commuter, for short people, so I traded the Piaggio BV350 (which was great), for an even-better Honda CTX700 cruiser.

But I love HD as a company, and the fact that they use belts for a drive, but never thought they'd make a small bike for commuters. I'd love to have an American-made HD or Victory that fits my needs.

The Honda is good but not great. It has a grindy, whinny sound. The exhaust note of the engine is good (when you can hear it) but lacks volume, which makes it hard to ride. Dealing with the chain maintenance is aggravating, especially since I'm a daily rider who rides rain or shine, and it has little or no character. But it is very smooth, quiet, and gets exceptional mpg, and it looks decent. Since the bike is so quiet and smooth, when accelerating on the highway, one has to look down at the tach to see when to shift. There is no other way of knowing whether I'm turning 3,000 RPM or 6,000. Not enough noise or vibration to know when to shift, so in traffic situations, while accelerating, it is difficult to accelerate smoothly.

Even though the Honda looks good, the Street 750 puts it to shame in the appearance department. They both have the blacked-out look, but the Honda has a huge, chrome muffler. Of course the paint looks better on the HD, and so does all the steel parts. The only bad thing to me about the HD Street are those chrome shocks. I would want them to be black as well.

Another big, big problem with Honda is that they tend to just engineer great products and try them out on the market with no support, few accessories, and no advertising or marketing effort. If they do well, they keep them, and if they don't, they pull them. The CTX700 is a great concept to reach the younger generation and is loaded with new, inexpensive technologies to give that bike alot of bang for the buck and is available in an automatic, which should be selling like crazy to the younger generation who so far have not been attracted to bikes. But what this bike should be doing is not what it is doing. And that's because Honda won't make any kind of effort to communicate what they've got to the American public.

HD's Street 500/750 is a direct response to Honda's new 500s and 700s and a few other products from other brands like it. But where Honda doesn't get it, HD will. HD will act like they have a passion for making products for the American consumer. They will advertise and show the public what they've got. They do research and find out the look, sound, and features the public wants at a certain price. HD also sells themselves as a company to America; Honda does not. Honda does none of this for the American market. Therefore, HD will sell 5 to 1 of these over the Honda in the U.S. and Canada. There will be many more after-market accessory choices; and many more mechanics will know how to work on them, and parts will be easily accessible. HD Street 750 will not be as smooth and probably not quite as quick as the CTX700. Overall value will be slightly less. It will have about the same hp and torque and curb weight wet. The performance difference will not be significant. The mpg will be far less I would guess. The CTX700 from a totally objective rating will be better, but the HD will have the HD attitude built in. It will be the cheapest belt drives on the market and Honda might as well pull out of America if HD starts coming in the other classes of bikes.

Hurray for HD for deciding to build bikes for more riders.
 

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BMW faced this when they introduced the K100 and K75, but they ended flat twin production in 1984 (that lasted all of one year, the backlash was too strong to overcome). Likewise Porsche faced a huge and angry backlash, first when the flat six adopted liquid cooling and again with the introduction of the Cayenne. The traditionalists never got over it, and too bad. They are dying off and these firms have to look to their future.

Now look at both companies. BMW sells flat twins still, along with across the frame fours and parallel twins, an across the frame six, and a number of singles. Porsche has an SUV (and a new smaller one in the works), a big four door the Panamera and more traditional offerings like the 911, Boxter and the thoroughly cool Cayman that is more like the original 911 than today's 911. The die hard traditionalists can fight over used models. Porsche has to look to the future, and so does Harley Davidson.
What do you think of the BMW Nine T?
 

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I have a Street Rod and have been told condescendingly by the bandanaheads that it's "just a crotch rocket". They are insecure little babies and their Milwaukee vibrator is their affirmation of their worth. Bring up that something else might be a better motorcycle and you have just assaulted their self image.
Yeah, the condescension comes from the posers because they're afraid their image will be diluted. True bikers make their own image and so aren't concerned by that. Anyone who cares about bikes, and Harley as a company, will recognize the merits of these new models and the fact that bringing more riders into the Harley fold, of any stripe, can only make Harley stronger as a company and better able to trump the competition into the future.
 

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What do you think of the BMW Nine T?
I just like this Beemer and is classy. Still not launched in India but gonna be pretty expensive. I think if you have your mind on it just go ahead. Read a few reviews for more info as I am not the right person to give views with no experience with this bike. But from the looks it's perfect. I'll put my money on it any day !
 

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Eh, the Street models are a clean break if you ask me. It might not be the ideal bike for how I ride but I can see Harley paid some attention to function and light weight for a change aiming at a completely different market segment than they have in the past.

I don't see them trading on thier heritage with the Street.
I would agree with this completely. The Street 500 and Street 750 target a completely different demographic of riders and will not generally affect those that purchase other Harley-Davidson motorcycles. It's an "addition" to the Harley market and not a change in the existing Harley market.

In addressing the title of the thread I would say it's both. Harley-Davidson, because of the Harley Owners Group does have a "life-style" unlike any other motorcycle brand. It is the only manufacturer that has a world-wide social organization based upon it's dealer network. No matter where you take your Harley if there is a dealership then you have "friends" that you can contact.

So personally I believe its about both the motorcycle and the lifestyle as each is an important "sales" point when it comes to the Street 500 and Street 750.
 

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What do you think of the BMW Nine T?
It is close to what a lot of the old traditional airhead crowd has been asking for, a light weight, simple and unadorned air cooled flat twin (well, air and oil cooled in this case). It's still a little high tech for their tastes but is closer to their hearts than 90% of what BMW makes. It still doesn't quite hit the nail on the head as a retro/tribute to the old R90S the way Ducati nails it with the GTS 1000 and Paul Smart, but it is a heck of a lot better bike than the R1200C thing. It is also playing in the naked hooligan bike sandbox with Triumph, KTM and Ducati.

My sadness is that BMW is no longer going to build bikes with separate engines and transmissions, each running in their own oil (true GL5 gear lube for the gearboxes) with a single plate dry clutch sandwiched in between. With the introduction of the liquid cooled R1200 engine we see BMWs last such drive line about to be replaced with multi plate wet clutch and gearbox running in engine oil. They won't last as long as their legacy drivelines did (my daily commuter K100RS gearbox lasted 290K before needing an overhaul, a couple of noisy bearings and the nitride was wearing off the shift drum, making for hard shifting, not bad for that kind of mileage) but the owners of BMWs have changed, don't maintain their own bikes the way a lot of us did (stock BMW tool kits used to come with feeler guages for valve adjustments and tools for adjusting the steering head bearings and removing fork caps, the assumption being the supplied tool kit would have everything you needed for routine service and indeed it was all the metric tools I had for a couple of years), being more concerned with premium performance and image than they are with ease of maintenance or ultimate durability.

Now the only manufacturer making a bike with the kind of driveline I prefer is Moto Guzzi, which isn't a bad thing by the way. With what I have seen of modern BMWs I think Guzzis are more durable and less costly to live with. In any event, I have enough bikes in the fleet now to last me the rest of my life and then some.
 

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Harley sells both... to the mind that believes they have become something for buying a Harley there exists plenty of culture to prove them correct.

To the mind set that just wants to ride a thumbing V twin they also sell.

Now does Harley make that happen, not really, do they promote it? Absolutely. Fact remains Harley would not be carrying 65 percent (2010) of the market if not for the fact the market exists. Proof positive that it is PEOPLE not Harley that decides the V-twin air cooled machine is what is demanded by the market. DON"T BELIEVE ME... why would Polaris, after creating the Victory, good back and engineer an air cooled V-twin to launch its newest flag ship brand? It was not because their research showed no one wanted a air cooled V-twin in the Indian remake. It was precisely because the market is so big for the classic styling of the V-twin that if they went with water cooled the research showed they would be laughed out of the marketplace. The market spoke and continues to speak to the air cooled V-twin.

Thinking Harley somehow has their head in the sand and just cannot see the forest for the trees, is to suggest you got really bad mushrooms on the salad bar and are hallucinating severely. If that is not the case, rest assured you have a condition, but fear not for pharmaceutical research continues and you may be helped in coming years. Markets (People) drive what is offered, not the other way around.

I have had people suggest my Vrod is not a real Harley.... but I really don't give a crappp what other people think. I bought it because I thought it is a **** nice bike, I put over 25K on it because it has proven itself a very nice bike. And I don't care if others accept it or not. I am interested in whether I like it only....

I also have an air cooled V-twin in the form of the FLSTFB. I bought it because the engine and systems are modern. The 103 is EFI and mass-balanced with O2 sensor and direct feedback. Mated to a six speed transmission this thing runs mile after mile with never a problem. Purchased for one reason.. I saw it in the show room and liked it so I purchased it.

Order the Street 750 for the simple reason it looks interesting to me. When I was young Harley had small displacement units that it licensed from Italy. They are fun. My choice was between two bikes. The Street and the SR400 from Yamaha. Both appealed to me, but only the Street was truly a new design engine so it won for intrigue.

Do they sell to a lifestyle.. yes to those that believe by purchasing a Harley they are suddenly something they are not.....

Do they sell great bikes? Depends on what you consider a great bike, but 6.5 of every 10 sold in the USA chose an HD for their own reason and that is not bad for a company guessing what people want. Most of those reasons are personal, lifestyle, escape, always wanted one, nostalgia because dad had one or grandpa had one, got picked last in team sports, got beat up in gym class a lot and want to feel like a bad assss... who knows......

But don't get analysis paralysis.... buy what you like, if it is not Harley there are many others out there...... and remember Harley has proven itself with market share and you may not be their demographic!

Personally I think the Street will bring in a new group of users, not here in the USA as much as in the Pacific Rim. And I think it is good.

Also I don't consider the Street an Affordable Harley.... I consider it a Harley, affordable to different people is different.... I think of it as a commuter bike with a little 70s throw back to it.
 
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I was looking into the Victory Gunner and when compared to the SlimTail it kinda beats it out on most performance measures. That made me think that Harley is really riding on its brand reputation more than many of its competitors.
 
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