Why Bikers Are Questioning Harley-Davidson | NYT News

Why Bikers Are Questioning Harley-Davidson | NYT News

“We are rabid Americanists.
So we believe that our industry
should remain in our country.
We love our Harleys.
We love the whole spirit
of the whole thing.
It would break our hearts
to have to condescend
to an inferior motorcycle.”
This is Sturgis.
It’s a motorcycle rally that
attracts half a million bikers
to South Dakota every year.
“It’s like a pilgrimage
of misfits, blue collar,
evangelical bikers for
Christ and veterans.”
And while it’s not an exclusive
Harley-Davidson rally,
their presence is overwhelming.
“Harley-Davidson has attitude.”
“It’s the sound, the feel.”
“The rumble and the shake.”
“It’s in my blood.”
“If I have to explain,
you wouldn’t understand.”
“It’s American made. Or, was.”
And that’s what makes this year
a bit more political than usual.
“Harley-Davidson, please build
those beautiful motorcycles
in the U.S.A., please. O.K.?
Don’t get cute with us.
Don’t get cute.”
After Trump announced tariffs
on steel and aluminum,
the E.U. responded
with tariffs of its own,
targeting American motorcycles,
and Harley said it
would have to move
more of its production overseas.
That did not sit well
with some Harley owners.
“This is my last Harley-Davidson.
I’ll go to an Indian next time
unless they change
their mind and wise up.
We know that there are
parts on here that don’t
come from America cause
America don’t make them all.
But that’s not moving
the whole factory over.
We’ve been loyal to them,
and we just want loyalty back.”
This is the Fab 4.
and Stinger.
They founded the Dirty Old
Bastards Society five years ago,
and they own Stinger Saloon
in downtown Sturgis.
For them, this recent move
by Harley crosses a line.
“The reason why people move
to foreign countries
is because they’re
greedy bastards.
I’m not saying that Harley’s
a greedy bastard,
but usually when people
leave this country
it’s because they want
to make more profit.
They don’t want to pay the
common man a fair wage.”
It’s not that Harley hasn’t
moved jobs abroad before.
They have factories in India,
Brazil, Australia and Thailand.
But Trump has put the company
at the center of
the political stage.
“Made in America!”
At the State of the Union,
Trump said Harley
was a victim of unfair
trade practices abroad.
“They weren’t even asking
for a change. But I am.”
And those politics have
trickled down to Sturgis.
“We want Harley-Davidson
to survive this storm,
but the person they’ve
got steering this ship
is way out of touch.”
Chris Cox is the founder
of Bikers for Trump.
He takes aim not at the brand,
but at the company’s C.E.O.,
Matt Levatich,
for moving things abroad.
“They’ve been planning
this for a long time
and for him to suggest
that it was because
of Donald Trump and
the tariffs is absurd.”
But some people feel
that this is what Harley
has to do to survive —
as long the bikes they buy
remain American-made.
“Well Harley owners
are feeling betrayed
because it’s ‘U.S.A., Harley!’
But if I owned Harley
I’d do the same thing.”
“If they’re going to go
abroad to save money,
hopefully they’re only
going to do that
for the motorcycles that
they’re going to sell abroad.
Hopefully us in America
are going to be able
to buy what’s made in America.
You know, but I support them.
I love their motorcycles.
I love their brand.
I couldn’t let them down.
There’s no way.”

100 thoughts to “Why Bikers Are Questioning Harley-Davidson | NYT News”

  1. harleys are ugly , too heavy and underpowered …when are you going to realise this .. no they arent pretty .. Ugly full stop

  2. I like Harley, they are doing ok in India but our market is extremely competitive and Harley needs to make affordability and high quality bikes to survive abroad. Royal Enfield has begun entering the mid range with 650 twins and other Indian bike manufacturers are working on high displacement motorcycles with ever dropping prices and refinement in quality. There will always be a Harley's in India but they would be a lightweight in the market if they don't re-invent themselves. Maybe they can launch a separate brand under harley for the next gen's and call it a day. Indian market will always embrace retro style bikes like Harley but with a very slow pace of growth.

  3. So the last real HD riders complaining strongly against the brand. Do you really think HD cares about you? In a couple of years you'll not be able to ride and they're aiming to the next generations buyers. Forget about it. This fight is lost. I'm a purist at my 40's and I'm resigned.

  4. I don't understand what is the problem? Since 2007 Harley Davidson are being assembled from Chinese parts mainly.

  5. I ride an 1100 Yamaha V Star and couldn't be happier. Like, I get it guys, Harley's are nice bikes, but they are really overpriced and not as great as some people might have you believe. You really are paying for the name brand when you get one. If you're a seasoned rider and have a lot of disposable income (I do not), then by all means get a Harley. If you're just starting out and are poor like me, be smart and get a Honda or Yamaha. These are the blue collar bikes now. Harley's are expensive show pieces. The competitive cruiser counterparts are simply better.

  6. Harley Davidson has long since let us down.
    Until they make it right with Buelle I'll never buy a Harley, especially when i can buy a cheaper Yamaha that's 100 times more reliable

  7. 1982 Honda cb450
    1982 Honda cb900
    2006 Kawasaki KLR 650
    1993 Honda cb750 NightHawk.

    I don't foresee myself buying a rumbling Harley anytime soon.

  8. The real problem is the demographic which is their main base is shifting. The boomers had a lot of expendable income to be able to afford to buy a $20,00 – $40,000 motorcycles.
    A lot of the other generations do not have that expendable income, and as the bloomers die off, so do a lot of their buyers.

    But you could look at their motorcycles and try to figure out why they cost so much. There’s not $40,000 worth of technology in the motorcycles, I love my Harley, but I will never buy a brand new one. I will always buy about five years old and save the money.

  9. No one cares about America it’s more like a big choke to everyone else.
    And guess what no one cares about UD anymore…
    and Harley has probably more sales outside us

  10. My neighbor is a Harley Mechanic. Heard him saying that people a switching to indian & japanese bikes becos harley parts are not always available despite of some issues. The price also is so expensively overpriced.

  11. "I won't buy it if its not american" stupid americans, a country of immigrants that hates immigrants…

  12. harleys are not good motorcycles, in terms of mechanical, ergonomics. it's merely a name in hype. the iron 883 for example, 150km or 93 miles gas tank?! the street bob with a rear brake peddle at the same level as the foot peg. where they designed by roosters, built on Mars?

  13. Erm, imagine Ferrari’s were made abroad? The Italians wouldn’t have it so why would the Americans?

  14. America is the biggest hypocrisy in the world,Donald Trump stands there talking about making in America and all that good stuff,meanwhile his properties were full of illegal aliens and low wage workers from Romania and Haiti,even his products and Ivanka's are made in China,Mexico,Dominican Republic,etc……Heck,even Nunes family has illegals in their dairy farms…..gtfo!!

  15. I understand wanting the bikes to be made in USA, after all Harley is a part of the American culture. but this isn't a presidential level problem.
    Ps.: inferior quality? That's bs.

  16. I demand that my Harley be produced in a robotic factory in America. I'm prejudiced against robotic workers from overseas.

  17. The premise of this video is SO dishonest. Harley was moving factories out of the U.S. even before Trump took office. This is propoganda.

  18. Harley's are overpriced to begin with. They're only going to China to futher maximize their profits. And isnt it about time these fools learned to grow up? It's not Halloween every day. They play dress up like they're teen girls. 😂

  19. $30,000 motorcycle and $200+ for an oil change… Only the rich can afford them. Pricing themselves out of the market.

  20. Customer service blows! Left me waiting from out of town with a shot wheel bearing for 8hrs. I already took the wheel off at my buddies house and all they had to do was pop a new one in. I got home, sold it and will never buy another again. Went back to a bmw. Couldn’t be happier.

  21. Did anyone ask the bikers if they would still pay a much higher price for a Harley, if Harley Davidson had to make everything in the US?

  22. If you want to stay "American" get a Victory. You can get 3 of them for the cost of 1 Harley. I believe that they're also fuel injected.

  23. Someone please explain the craze of Harley Davidson. They’re expensive, loud and get out performed by every other bike in every category a bike is suppose to perform in. Here’s how I see it: it’s made in America by Americans, so it’s a pride thing for Americans. I get it, but if HD cared so much about national pride than they would step up r&d and produce a bike that’s actually good and not charge the working man $20,000 to own it.

  24. Not saying I’d turn my nose up at a Harley if I was given one, but my neighbor’s Harley always seemed to require another $1,000 every time something went wrong.

    Also, seeing some dipstick in dealership leathers with their brand all over them and more leather than a BDSM bar makes me kinda think ‘nah’. I also think Harley hurts long term motorcycle investments in general as new riders don’t know how to control crap and they buy a barge of a bike for their maiden voyage…

    That said, I have friends who love them and don’t even look at other bikes.

  25. Harley bike are pieces of junk. Over priced on selling and service not mentioning the noise pollution. I ride a Honda.

  26. Harley fan boys are some of the worst. Just goes to show you it’s 90 percent image and 10 percent actual performance of the bike itself.

  27. Why would Harley build bikes in the USA for the world market. These morons will always be able to buy a made in America piece of crap. I'll take a better engineered bike any day.

  28. There are plenty of far more cool far better performing bikes at Sturgis for sale. There’s tons of customs if you have the cash. Those bikes are more built in America and fit the Sturgis rider ideals better than the totally sold out big corporation, HD. I don’t ride any more but parked in Deadwood at the DQ and watched lots of cool customs.

  29. Harley Davidson sucks Kawasaki motorcycles are far superior and are better built then Harley Davidson motorcycles it’s a fact.

  30. Idk wtf these guys r on about, I bought one cause I liked how it looked, I really dgaf about the details.

  31. Ughh…. these guys and their Harley's, Zippo lighters, Nazereth songs, Jack Daniel's T-shirts, and Sons of Anarchy hoodies ..…. It's like the Republic of White-trash-istan.

  32. Another HUGE problem for Harley-Davidson is their customer base is dying. Younger bikers are not buying HD's. Very few bikers under 50 are buying a Harley-Davidson.

  33. Harley Davidson is the POOREST QUALITY motorcycle ON THE PLANET! … I used to run The Toronto Motorcycle Show. …. I regularly visited all the bike dealers in Ontario. …. I saw four salesmen at Honda and Suzuki Dealers I had previously met at Harley Dealers so I asked them why they migrated. … All four told me the SAME story. … As Harley Salesmen their first job every morning was to wipe up the LEAKING OIL from underneath the brand new show room models — Harley's American-produced gasket seals LEAK RIGHT FROM THE FACTORY!. … Twice the price and not even HALF the quality and value of Japanese bikes. … "Bikers" are dumb willing FISH, devoted to over-priced poorly-made garbage

  34. Harley is a poorly run company with no future vision. They consistently disappoint their core customers and turn away new customers. They drove away young men in their 20s-30s by removing Buell from their showrooms. Additionally, they continue to discourage current riders by offering no variety in their range and continually increasing their prices.

  35. I own two Harley’s but gotta admit the bikes are so far behind what’s out there now it’s really stupid.

  36. Notice that not one of them mentioned the quality of the bike, just all the BS "heritage", "tradition", "american made" buzzwords that surround it. I want a motorcycle, not a 'click' to belong to. How can these guys put Trump patches all over their leathers and not understand anything about capitalism or the free market at all? At this point I hope Harley dies just to save other bike companies from making the same mistakes.

  37. Owning and riding a Harley is the ultimate experience. There is more to riding than just going somewhere. A Harley gives you a feeling of pride and belonging to a unique clique of people who may not be able to explain their loyalty to this American icon. It's about tradition and owning the original symbol of freedom on a powerful machine that is without a doubt the most well made motorcycle in the world.

  38. i've been riding since the 80's. Back then when a Harley riders were the real deal, they knew how to fix a bike (out of necessity I suppose) and they weren't posers. They made fun of my bike calling it a "rice burner". Now the tables have turned; Harley riders are whiny chrome queens that have minimal riding skill and zero mechanical knowledge. They say things like "torque wins races" and "there is no replacement for displacement" without have any clue or context. In general terms, most Harley riders are nubie's that cashed in their home's equity to but an outrageously overpriced under performing motorcycle. I'd much rather be labeled a rice burner and ride a bike with twice the performance and half the operating cost. Is it fair to paint all Harley riders with one brush stroke? I think it is fair to say that my assessment covers 80% of all Harley riders. When this generation of cosplay Harley owners retire from riding the price of these bikes will plummet; the younger generation see it for what it is.

  39. BIKERS..don't fall for trumps bs! Harley Davidson wouldn't be able to do that if trump would've eliminated NAFTA AS PROMISED instead of renaming and burying it..HES PLAYING YALL!

  40. Inferior motorcycle. That's a good one. That is like a pilot in a WW2 era propeller plane sitting next to a stealth bomber saying ( I'd never fly an inferior airplane).

  41. Not to try to sound like the 60 year old guy that's been riding for 60 years and working on them for 59, but you can get an S&S engine. A Kraft tech frame, a baker 6 speed, hunt down a bunch of other made in the USA parts, assemble them and have exactly what you want with 90% or better US made parts.

  42. The company dropped the DYNA line, so I don't have any use for them anymore.
    I'll ride my DYNA till the wheels fall off an just use S&S and other aftermarket parts. I don't have to deal with the douchie dealers and the attitudes anymore, so it's a win-win.

  43. If Harley Davidson stays in the US they are going to sell way less world wide, since the price tag+export makes Harley's a luxury those in the EU can't afford. They need to make bikes in the US for the US, and then have a factory in Spain, Germany, Italy, Greece or Turkey to sell in Europe.

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