Why Harley-Davidson

by on June 24, 2005
in Brands

In one of the Harley discussion forums I visit, someone asked whether there was anyone in the group who had ever said they would “never” own a Harley, and then found themselves owning one anyway. I thought it was an interesting question – certainly there are people who are obsessively devoted to the brand, and then at the opposite end of the spectrum there are folks who claim that HD has “brainwashed” people with their pervasive merchandising.

I worked this question over in my mind a bit, and realized I had gone through a process to get to the point of Harley ownership. When I first started riding I wasn’t concerned a bit about what I rode. I learned and tested on an old Yamaha 250, and as soon as I had my endorsement I suddenly decided that the “learner bike” wasn’t good enough anymore. So the next spring I bought a new Honda shadow 750 – we had looked at an ’03 Sportster Anniversary edition (with the “Gold Key” package – DON’T get me started on that!) but it would have maxed out our available financing options, PLUS I would’ve had to spend another grand just to lower it and get the bars set back enough to fit me. I couldn’t justify that cost even a little bit! The Honda was a gorgeous bike, though not the one I originally wanted… Still, it grew on me and I was just not itching for an HD.

In late ’04, we bought my husband an ’05 Heritage Softail Classic, and joined the local HOG chapter. He is actually the one who seemed insecure about the fact that I was an associate HOG member and yet rode a Honda, and he kept telling me how much “better” it was to own a Harley, how much more “part of the group” I would feel if I rode a Harley. I didn’t really agree, or necessarily care, but it was the second time in two years he had tried to buy me a Sportster, so I said what the heck, might as well let him! :)

And now? Well, my Sportster is my favorite of all the bikes I’ve owned. It just “feels” different, like it has more motorcycle history behind it or something..?? Maybe it’s the residue of the “bad-ass” image… I don’t know, can’t really explain it, but I feel different on my Harley than I did on my Honda. I know that a lot of people have a big issue (or claim that they do) about Harley logos being on everything, but the end result of all that merchandising is that Harley has built tremendous brand loyalty – and therefore, a community of owners. Frankly, the metric bike companies don’t even come close – and as a former Honda owner, I found it very disappointing that I couldn’t walk into the dealership and buy a cool t-shirt, or even get greeted by my salesman, let alone find out about the next Honda Riders Club event. (Contrast that to my local HD dealer, who contacts me at least monthly by email with an owner’s newsletter and who built a huge new building and included a HOG chapter meeting room in his plans just so his customers would have a gathering spot.)

SO – while I never said never, and while I can’t explain very well why being an HD owner is a great experience, and while I certainly owe my entire “biker beginnings” to the metric bikes, I will be a Harley owner for the foreseeable future. I love my Sporty, and I have to admit, I really like the company behind it too!

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