Why do we love Harley Davidson?

Is the desire to own a Harley hard wired into the DNA of every red blooded American? You can get a better motorcycle for less money elsewhere! There are other American motorcycles. Why do we still insist Harley is the best?

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People all around the world love Harley Davidson motorcycles. Especially here in America! And if you love Harley Davidson’s than you love everything related to them. Heck, I just received a Harley Davidson Monopoly game as a gift. I don’t play Monopoly, but I do like this game! You could give me a drink coaster, key chain or any trinket with the Harley Davidson logo on it and I would like it! Why do we love the Harley Davidson brand? Why is the Harley Davidson logo the most common tattoo to be permanently inked on human flesh? It’s not the outstanding workmanship. It’s not the pricing. According to Steve Bennett in a letter to the editors of Motorcycle Consumer News it’s all due to image! This letter, Separating Motorcycling and H-D, appears in the January 2008 issue.  It can’t be that simple Steve!

A co worker asked me recently why I ride Harley. She was surprised when I told her I’m not sure. I told her the bike is technologically inferior to less expensive Japanese bikes. The Japanese are building cool looking higher quality cruisers like the Yamaha Stars. It’s not because we are buying American. Victory is an American company that offers great bikes with custom looks, advanced technology for slightly less money. We don’t run off and buy Victories! Harley Davidson bikes, accessories and apparel are overpriced. The engineering and workmanship are lacking. The service sometimes feels like punishment. I know some riders with warranty issues not easily resolved. I am disappointed that my new 2007 Dyna has moisture in the gas gauge on humid days. I was surprised to find a loose piece of metal jingling around inside a sissy bar upright I purchased new for eighty five bucks! This was one component of a four hundred dollar backrest (assembly not included). The Harley Davidson workers must think it’s hilarious that we spend hundreds of dollars on second rate products. The guy who built that upright with the joke BB inside must be having himself a good laugh. He’s probably riding a BMW or Honda that came stock with backrest and saddlebags! I’m sure he didn’t have to relocate the turn signals to add these accessories like I did. I’m sure he was happy with the seat, handle bars and exhaust from day one. No need to accessorize! Imagine buying a bike that came the way you wanted it from day one. Not our beloved Harleys. You can easily spend a grand just getting it set up to your liking.

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So why do we religiously love our Harleys and everything related to them? Is the desire to own a Harley hard wired into the DNA of every red blooded American? I’m an educated man and would hate to think I bought a Harley Davidson just because it’s cool. If cool was the only factor we would all be riding choppers. The fact that we are buying American can have something to do with it, but I could have bought a way cool looking Victory. It’s got to be more than image and or patriotism. I say it’s a combination of image, patriotism, heritage, prestige and the need to belong.

When you buy a Harley Davidson motorcycle you’re not just buying a two wheeled vehicle.  You’re buying the Harley Davidson culture and a genuine piece of Americana. You’re buying a sense of belonging and prestige that only comes with the ownership of the most established name in motorcycles. When you ride a Harley you’re connected with the pavement, the country and all other HOGS on the road. Ya, it’s cool to ride Harleys! But that’s not the only reason we ride them!

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10 Responses to “Why do we love Harley Davidson?”

  1. You know I’m with you all the way on this one Jay.

    I really can’t put it into simple words myself. That’s probably why I decided to blog myself. There’s a ton of things to tell in order to begin to express the whole Harley mystique. There’s a guy with a Victory who occasionally rides with us as a guest. It’s a nice bike, but it doesn’t do anything for me. I’m not putting it down at all; I just have no interest in buying one.

    I know I’ve spent more than a grand accessorizing my bike. Hell, it was nearly 5 large just for a new Mustang seat! H-D…”Hundreds of Dollars” every time you make a change. Maybe we are crazy. They say love is blind right? And I just LOVE my Harley!

    Keep up the great work on your blog!

  2. Thank you Joker and congrats on your blog My Harley-Davidson Mystique being listed on Clutch & Chrome as of this morning. We are crazy. Those Victorys have 100ci overhead cam engines!

    Here is a question: is a V-Rod a “real” Harley?

  3. That’s a tough question Jay.

    Since my definition of a “real” Harley is a highway cruiser with a distinctive design and sound, I’d have to say “no.” Even though it may be made by The Motor Company and carry the badging, it’s no more a “real” Harley than a Buell is. I can understand H-D needs to compete with muscle bikes. It is in the end a business, and expanding the market and increasing sales is all part of that. I may understand it; I do not embrace it.

    I’ll put it this way, there are over 100 members in my HOG Chapter. There are no V-Rods. I’m going to be fair and say I have never ridden one, so I may be missing something. I’m also going to say that “the look” is as much or more a part of the Harley brand than performance. For the simple fact that the V-Rod in no way resembles a traditional Harley-Davidson motorcycle, I’ll have to pass on it. Owning one will get you into HOG, but in my opinion, you may as well be riding a Victory.

  4. Wow Joker you got yourself some big ones! First you post a little piece about Wendy the Welcome Committee and then you put down the V-Rod as a non Harley. As a Sportster rider don’t you feel you should come to the defense of the V-Rod? I never felt anyone accepted my “mini bike” as a real Harley. Let me know if you want me to edit your post. I will respect you more if you stick to your guns though. For the record, I don’t think we currently have any V-Rod riding “participating” members either.

  5. You don’t have to edit it Jay, I always stand behind my opinion.

    Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not putting the V-Rod down, I just answered your question honestly. I don’t feel a need to defend the V-Rod as a Sportster owner at all. They may both be designed to be quicker and more nimble in the turns, but since 1957, the Sporty has been a recognizable Harley. The V-Rod looks like a rice burner, it doesn’t matter to me what’s written on the tank.

    I’m surprised the Painted Pig wasn’t accepted as a “real” Harley by people you ran into. It may have had mechanical troubles, but it was a nice looking bike. Like I said in my blog, the Sportster has really evolved, and I think people have noticed. I think they get much more respect now than they did before the re-design, at least that’s been my experience.

    I will however both defend, and sing the praises of, Wendy the Welcome Commitee any day of the week!

  6. The Painted Pig actually drew a crowd of admirers and was definitely accepted as a real Harley. Problem was it never ran well enough to take it anywhere on a regular basis. But then I got a new 2006 Sporty and my friends on Fat Boys would joke with about it being a mini bike. Then like you I started riding with HOG and the LOH were on biger bikes than me. That was OK until one of the ladies referred to me and my bike as a “little fella” when I wanted to stop for gas. Maybe I care too much about what people think, but that was the spoke that broke the hogs back. Had to go out and get a BIG twin after that comment. I do miss my 2006 1200c and the sound of those Rinehart pipes.

  7. Thanks for the balanced approach to this subject. Many of the Harley guys I know aren’t quite so balanced.

  8. Good observation Rick about this being a slippery slope of a topic. This is a blog for Harley riders with a Harley Owners Group slant to it. That means I have am pro harley and I didn’t want this post to come off negative. But we all seem to have a gripe or two about the MoCo. It’s definitely a love hate relationship.
    By the way, I know alot of Harley guys and non Harley guys who are not so balanced either if you know what I mean!

  9. I’m sticking to the story and responding to the ‘why do we love Harley Davidsons?The way you summed it up was PERFECT, Image,Patriotism,heritage, prestige and the need to belong. I feel this is IT, because like you said it not being american, but it could be in the DNA of every redblooded American to own one, Since they first came out a unique group of people began to own them, and the price is higher, in Oklahoma the waiting list is long, but ‘when you have one “ON THE LIST’ sounds good. Children brought up in groups now,clothing ‘my mom rides a harley’ etc. It is part of a different crowd, of great sacrifice for some owning a Harley before a home, and others a weekend thing riding with their clubs for a cause, and who has the biggest, newest, loudest, etc. what’s new and it has to be Harley, they weren’t built for comfort for the I’ll say ‘chick on the back’ either, it’s just a dream, and yes prestige of saying, Hell yes I have a Harley what else? It is a dream for every kind of profession from Dr.’s I’ve worked with for 20 years, to firemen all the way to farmers, and everyone inbetween. They all have the dream and hopefully it’s not when they’re retiring to own a harley, ultimatly fulfill the need to belong. Great job! Lisa

  10. Thank you Lisa!!! 🙂

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