Culture – 102 years and not a wrinkle – Used HARLEY-DAVIDSON


102 years old and not a wrinkle

Culture - 102 years and not a wrinkle - Used HARLEY-DAVIDSON

Twenty-four years after being taken over, dying, by a dozen executives, the Milwaukee firm – 102 years on the clock – displays insolent health in the United States and wishes to conquer the old continent. Moto-Net special report !

On March 23, the daily The echoes, not used to talking about motorcycles, headlined that the market capitalization of Harley-Davidson (317,300 motorcycles produced in 2004) on Wall Street exceeded that of General Motors, the world number one in the automobile industry (more than 8 million cars sold )…

Twenty-four years after being taken over, dying, by a dozen executives, the Milwaukee firm, 102 years on the clock, is showing insolent health: 2004 net income up 16.9% and turnover increasing quietly 8.5% over the same period.


And unlike the Ford or Dodge, which is suffering from competition from Toyota or Honda (four-wheel version under the Acura brand) across the Atlantic, Harley-Davidson is quietly taking the pawn of its Japanese competitors: 50% market share in the United States. (for the more than 650 cc) and 25% in Japan with, as a result, a leading position in the segment.

Conquer Europe

There remains the Old Continent and its … only 7.5% market share in Europe. The big bosses of Milwaukee, who hope to reach 400,000 machines produced by 2007 (notably with Buell), have understood this in recent years: Europe is their new Eldorado. There is therefore no question of being unemployed with the introduction of eight new models last year, not to mention the appearance at the 2005 Mondial of a trail in the Buell range, the XB12X Ulysses, a big 1200 cc as well cut. for the path than for the highways.

The first turning point in this conquest for the European or French "biker", generally in love with the classic "Harley" (by that means a good big air-cooled twin) was, in 2001, the appearance of the VRod. The solutions adopted (liquid cooling, overhead camshaft and collaboration with Porsche Design) for this new unit have comfortably installed Harley on the market so coveted by other (and not least) ultra-typical "super roadsters" and all as athletic as they are full of character.

Modern and fun to drive

This clearly displayed revolution made it possible to send a "strong signal" to motorcyclists in France, more accustomed to classifying the "harleyist" in the category of a full-fledged show-off or a slightly shady biker with a denim jacket. without and a platinum blonde passenger mounted in 100 large cups.

For those who had the curiosity to push the door of a Harley dealership and try out these "funny" motorcycles, the surprise was only greater! At a time when radars no longer make any concessions to the precious pink paper, choosing a Harley is not only modern but also gives a real pleasure to drive. Add to it a certain idea of ​​luxury, a guaranteed eye-catcher with the girls and voila! Which, let’s face it, is reassuring as one approaches quarantine…

Cuddle the basic biker

It remains for the team of Jean-Luc Mars, general manager of the brand in France, to perpetuate the thing and be ready for a possible failure of the States … This friendly boss has no equal to say, without Too much to add, how much he loves his bikes. Not crazy, he erases as much as he can the too "Yankee" side of his company (Bush Jr does not have particularly good press) and cajoles the "French-biker-base-who-wants-to-find-them- true-sensations-of-the-motorbike "without scaring it question price.

Because if the three or four ways of "riding Harley" (Custom, Touring, Sport or Roadster) are not given, young bikers must be convinced to dream in front of the Milwaukee machines. With these, there is no question of causing luxury, States and other freedom found on endless highways, because they simply cannot afford to go..

They need solid, inexpensive and rolling. A bet that may not yet have been entirely won … The solution undoubtedly involves custom "house" well in the biker spirit because given the depth of the myth, Harley undoubtedly still has a say. And for a long time !


Pierre SYLVESTRE – Photos DR

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