Motorcycle Monday: Harley Torques Up The Nostalgia

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Only this time there's a different twist ...
If you've paid any attention to American motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson, you know the company is in a difficult position. Some have predicted the slow death of the brand as their bad boy image, lack of meaningful innovation, and government protection all converge in a perfect storm scenario. Others only have problems with the design of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, including reliability issues. Then there is the problem that the number of motorcyclists in North America is decreasing. To combat all of this and more, Harley-Davidson has a brilliant plan that you've never tried before and that will completely blow you away: nostalgia.
Harley-Davidson is also entering the e-bike market. Find out more here.
Never before has Harley used the famous icons of its past to sell new motorcycles. At least you almost believe in the company's latest marketing push. Of course, that's not even close to the truth. The brand brought out some great models with nostalgia back in 2009, like the Cross Bones. The new Harley-Davidson Icons Collection, however, is different from what we've seen from the brand in the past, but of course it's not the nostalgia factor that sets this apart from other endeavors.
With a leaner Trimmer lineup for 2021, Harley-Davidson has released resources to bring out a whole range of special edition motorcycles. This is what the Icons Collection is all about. Before you knock, chances are that this is really going to help transform the brand into what I think it should be: prestige.
Image credit: Harley-Davidson
Last fall, it was announced that Harley-Davidson had left India, the world's largest motorcycle market. A number of publications immediately proclaimed loudly that it was the beginning of the end for the American motorcycle manufacturer. If you don't sell motorcycles in the biggest market, do you sell motorcycles at all?
The logic was infallible, of course, because "everyone knows" that Harley-Davidson is doomed no matter what happens at the time. However, I thought it might signal that management is finally understanding the real power of the brand: it can get high prices by making premium products.
If you look at the auto market, almost every premium brand Ferrari has learned the trick of building prestige and excitement by bringing out a few special edition limited editions each year. Many of these cars rely heavily on nostalgic designs, names, and so on. This is exactly how it now looks like Harley is doing it.
In the company's official press release, the motorcycles in the Harley-Davidson Icons Collection are described as "very limited editions". How limited? Well, the first model to be announced is the Electra Glide Revival, which sets the 1969 Electra Glide apart for much of its aesthetic. Harley will only make 1,500 of these, so not everyone and their grandmother's dog will cross one.
Every motorcycle in the Icons Collection is said to be a love letter to some of the most famous series bikes that Harley-Davidson has made. For the Electra Glide Revival, a two-tone look with Hi-Fi Blue and Black Denim on the fuel tank with a birch white stripe separating them and Hi-Fi Blue fenders combined with Birch White saddlebags is a blast from the past. Perhaps the most noticeable feature is the Birch White Bat Wing fairing, which helped put the 1969 Electra Glide on the map and lead to competitor imitations. The Electra Glide script on the front fender and fallback tank medallion as well as other details such as an adjustable coil spring and shock absorber for the solo saddle also set this special edition apart from other Electra Glides sold today.
Image credit: Harley-Davidson
Of course, the models in the Icons Collection are still equipped with all the modern bells and whistles, such as the Harley-Davidson suite of RDRS security improvements, voice commands for the infotainment system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, etc.
What's even more interesting is that Harley will currently only be releasing one or two models in the Icons Collection per year. Each is serialized and a certificate of authenticity is included. The company is undoubtedly testing the market to see what appetite everyone has for these limited edition motorcycles. I suspect they'll sell quite well and could easily be a good investment, especially in the long run.
It's too early to tell, but this is where Harley-Davidson could turn things around. I hope that subsequent Icons Collection models will be a bit more daring, but that's not bad for a first try. Sure, there are still plenty of pitfalls the company could get into, but it could prove that all of its critics are wrong in dancing around them or climbing their way out of one or two. Hopefully this new plan will work, if not just because life is more interesting when there is at least one independent major American motorcycle manufacturer involved.
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