Would You Like Harley-Davidson to Resurrect Older Models?

They say that time is only history repeating, and taking a look at what’s happening in certain areas of the motorcycling world, I tend to believe that this saying is true, at least to a certain degree. We can see retro bikes making a solid comeback, even though the old machines have been revised and updated. Still, we are talking about bikes from the past, and this is exceptionally significant.
With all the financial turmoil in the last six years or so, everybody became much more careful when it comes to spending money, and this includes customers and bike manufacturers alike. This caused the marketing and management structures in the industry analyze carefully each move, model phase-out or introduction, upgrade, update, facelift or development from scratch or whatever means money.

The best part of this is that the industry seems to slowly regain momentum, and even certain brands who were on the verge have bettered their operations. Of course, not everybody is doing better and just yesterday I reported of Gas Gas’ troubles. Still, most of the makers are gradually improving their business and add more models, even some of those whose inertia was well-known, such as say, MV Agusta.

However, MV Agusta is still deep in the modern, high-performance segment, and therefore not the best example for my endeavor. On the other hand, Suzuki, Indian and Ducati are probably the most representative brands to back what I am about to say.

Suzuki has passed through some very rough times a year or so ago, bankruptcy, massive reorganizing and all, and still they are expected to deliver new bikes. So far they have been rather modes in this direction, trying to consolidate their (still) fragile new start. Even in the absence of all-new models and solid model revamping, they are making a move to recollect the past history with their new website dedicated to retro and classic bikes. Namely, they are offering a big number of parts for old bikes which are no longer in production and this is helping the riders who collect and ride these bikes.

It’s hard to believe that Hamamatsu will return to manufacturing old-school machines, but supplying parts for them will keep the existing ones alive. Or maybe the riders will be able to build new old stock bikes. Have this reading for more on classic bikes.

Ducati and Indian are even closer to the point, because the two brands are in a way back to the roots. I am speaking about the way both brought back to life re-iterations of certain old models which have been successful back in the day. Ducati resurrected the Scrambler, a bike which is iconic for the ‘70s movement and to which a large number of riders, both European and North American relate to quite strongly. And because just being back was not enough, the Scrambler is back with a bang, as no less than 4 different trims are going to reach the showrooms around the world this spring. Meanwhile, Indian…

Well, Indian was born again completely. Under new (Polaris) ownership and benefiting from massive investment in R&D and with new manufacturing capabilities, Indian was practically reinvented and not in the BS wooden tongue way. Since the historic brand has a tremendous following and a huge number of fans, it was only natural that the new generation of motorcycles was built on the most acclaimed bikes of yore.

The actual line-up comprises 5 models and one more is on its way. From the “casual” Chief Classic cruiser to the Vintage bagger and the imposing Roadmaster, passing through the modern version of the Chieftain dresser, Indian has managed to revive old ghosts. And since this was barely enough, they came with a modern Scout.

Now, the Scout is already a very hot subject, as the fans of the old-school bike say that the new one is crap, and are facing strong opposition from fellows who favor change and the changes modern technology brings to the two-wheeled world. Frankly, I don’t care which side are you on, because what matters is the fact that Indian found a way to reshape the past into contemporary bikes which sell well.

To make things better, a recent announcement from Spirit Lake confirmed yet another addition to the line-up and as you’ve probably guessed already, it’s going to be a modern version of an old bike. Indian is launching the new Chief Dark Horse next weekend and most likely has more such ideas in store for the future. After all, they’ve already announced a new bike and it’s still winter… certainly there are more goodies coming at Sturgis in August. The Sturgis Rally has become the go-to ground for launching new machinery and we don’t expect things to change.

So this brings us to the climax of this editorial. What’s cooking in Milwaukee? Is Harley so confident in the strength of its cult following so that it ignores the trend? The 110-year-long history of the bar and shield has more than one or two bikes which some would kill to see resurrected so there’s plenty to choose from.

Harley’s marketing department could set up a plan to determine which of the old icons would have the best chances to be reincarnated into a successful new machine. Harley riders, historians and fans could also help finding the two, three or even more models worth this honor… and the money. Even without being a Harley fan, I could count bikes such as the ’28 Two-Cam, the 1936 Knucklehead, the ’65 Electra Glide or the more recent KR750 among those worth a try.

And I am pretty sure that true Harley enthusiasts could talk about the best machines worth a resurrection for weeks and this means a huge potential. And what’s really cool is that Harley can play on two fronts with the same degree of freedom. They can use an existing engine and say they’re keeping true to the heritage side, or they can go for a completely new engine (many suspect they are working on) and say this is the New Age of Harley.

Of course the H-D hand will take sides, but even so, chances that a reborn bike proves to be a hit are very high and makes things worth a very serious try. So what do you say, which old Harley would you resurrect if you had the power?
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