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I listen to a lot of podcasts while riding, exercising, doing chores, etc. And I recently listened to an interesting series on the Business Wars podcast -- it's called Harley and the Biker Wars.

Each episode runs around 30 minutes and covers a significant era in the Harley-Davidson history.

Even though I'm not a huge fan of their product, I still found it interesting to learn about how the company made it through 100+ years of ups and downs.

A couple things to note about the episodes. They say it's a 6-part series, but there's an episode called 'Electric Bikes' that's sort of related. It's an interview with a Jalopnik journalist that got some extensive test riding on the LiveWire, and there's lots of talk about the burgeoning electric motorcycle scene. Also I recommend listening to episode 2 first, if you're interested in hearing things in true historic order.
 

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Harley the most efficient way to turn gasoline into noise and the least efficient way to turn it into speed.
>:)
Pretty sure they dominate or damn near dominate NHRA, correct me if I'm wrong? :wink2: Hopefully this won't turn into another HD bash fest, I appreciate the OP sharing this thread however. NONE of us should wish the demise of HD, who has overall done more for motorcycling worldwide than them? I really like what Indian is doing and where they are heading, have a feeling they will just continue to grow and think outside the box.
 

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Pretty sure they dominate or damn near dominate NHRA, correct me if I'm wrong? :wink2: Hopefully this won't turn into another HD bash fest, I appreciate the OP sharing this thread however. NONE of us should wish the demise of HD, who has overall done more for motorcycling worldwide than them? I really like what Indian is doing and where they are heading, have a feeling they will just continue to grow and think outside the box.
I live 2 blocks from a biker bar. Noisy, slow, overpriced and poor handling is the hallmark of harley street bikes. I can stick a yugo sticker on a racecar too. Indian is a whole other story, an old brand name bought by a company that makes a ton of cool stuff so that they can make more cool stuff.
In any event, seems like it belongs in offtopic unless harley is building vstroms.
 

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I am a recovering Harley rider. Just kidding. I like the Sportsters, they are simple to work on and can be fun to ride. I prefer my V Strom, but I have to admit it can be a bit more challenging to work on. There is a really good early Harley docudrama called Harley and the Davidsons that you might enjoy. I think it was commisioned by Discovery Channel, look it up.
 

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I get a kick out of HD bashing. Most of the time its by people that have never owned one, or they did and had a bad experience with a crappy dealer. They are just machines like any other brand. If you take care of them and leave them STOCK, they last forever and are just as reliable as any other brand. I have owned probably a dozen Harleys over my riding life that started in the early '70s. I can work on Panheads, shovels, Irons, evos and Twin cams. I think I was probably riding Harleys when most of you here were still jumping from nut to nut or pissing in a diaper. I rode an old ironhead from Philly to LA in 78 with nothing but the clothes on my back and a roll bag, blanket, and tarp. Now you guys need 800.00 tents, 150 liters of storage and a GPS to tell you where to turn. As bikers, riders, motorcyclist or whatever we want to call ourselves we have lost our soul and sold it to the best online retailer. It was disgusting to watch my local HD shops go from wooden floors, leaky roofs and greasy techs stepping over engines, to a boutique full of motor clothes, chrome, and tit heavy salespeople without a clue. What most outside of the brand fail to understand are that there are two families of HD riders. The bar-hopping loud pipes hey look at me riders and the real hardcore iron butt types that wear out their bikes in all kinds of weather over decades of riding. Below are a few shots of my last HD I sold in 2014. I bought in new in Orlando in 2003. It had 183,000 miles on it that I accumulated over 11 years of ownership. It has been to all lower 48 states 4 times and half a dozen coast to coast rides, as well as everything in between. The only time I have been stranded on the bike was because of nails in my tires and I ran out of fuel once in Wyoming. Nether are hardly the bikes fault. Along the way, it needed tensioners, a stator, and several motor mounts as well as general maintenance. Now tell me HD's arent reliable. Fake news spreads like wildfire online, usually by the uninformed. There is a ton of fake news online regarding Harleys. I love the bikes, the dealerships are a joke today, and half of the owners are douchbags. But none of that has anything to do with the bike or the experience. Now I may just go out and add me a 2020 Road Glide Ultra to the stable because this thread has sparked my interest.
 

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I live 2 blocks from a biker bar. Noisy, slow, overpriced and poor handling is the hallmark of harley street bikes. I can stick a yugo sticker on a racecar too. Indian is a whole other story, an old brand name bought by a company that makes a ton of cool stuff so that they can make more cool stuff.
In any event, seems like it belongs in offtopic unless harley is building vstroms.
So this is what your experience with Harley's is based on???
 

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LOL, Big B, there's no way you can mention the dreaded "H" word in here without someone acting like a Harley killed their dog in the past and they've sworn revenge. And it's always the same "assless chaps/pirates/big-slow-bad handling/leak oil/all their riders are poopyheads who won't wave to me" theme. Doesn't matter if you show them hours of video footage of Harleys being ridden in ways that show they decidedly aren't "poor handling", evidence is irrelevant.

Harley Davidson must be staffed by evil wizards. Here they are, making the worst motorcycle ever to take to the highways, yet they managed to not only stay in business for over a hundred years, but grew into a global corporation making bikes that were coveted all over the world. Obviously black magic and nefarious spells were at work.

And thanks, Bajakirch. Harley does have a pretty interesting history,
 

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I get a kick out of HD bashing. Most of the time its by people that have never owned one, ... I rode an old ironhead from Philly to LA in 78 with nothing but the clothes on my back and a roll bag, blanket, and tarp.... As bikers, riders, motorcyclist or whatever we want to call ourselves .... What most outside of the brand fail to understand are that there are two families of HD riders. The bar-hopping loud pipes hey look at me riders and the real hardcore iron butt types that wear out their bikes in all kinds of weather over decades of riding. ... last HD I sold in 2014. I bought in new in Orlando in 2003. It had 183,000 miles on it that I accumulated over 11 years of ownership. It has been to all lower 48 states 4 times and half a dozen coast to coast rides, as well as everything in between.... Now I may just go out and add me a 2020 Road Glide Ultra to the stable because this thread has sparked my interest.
My favorite motorcycle is whatever one I'm riding at the time.
My first full size motorcycle was a BSA 500 Royal Star _ CHOPPER. I bought it cheap from a guy who woke up one morning realizing that, no, he wasn't James Dean. I promptly went to the old wooden floored shop that had turned it into a chopper and asked the guy if he still had the original parts. "Yup". I traded him that chrome girder front end and the bobber tank, etc straight across for the originals and he helped me with the re-transformation. It took 3 days. I was 16. Once done, it was good as new, which meant that it was fussy to start, slow and I had to plan ahead when it came to stopping it. I LOVED that motorcycle.

My point, and I think DaveNC's, is that it is okay to rib fellow bikers about the brand they ride. However, I think we should realize and respect that all bikers are family when squared against the general population.

I have never owned a Harley Davidson. And yes, I too get asked by "civilians" do you have a Harley. More often than not I reply with a smile, "not yet".
 

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Some of the most hardcore badass mile muncher riders I have ever known have done it on Harleys. Before I became an old man, I rode an XLCH 1000 from Philly to Phoenix nonstop except for fuel and bathroom, just so I could spend one last night with my GF before I went in the Navy. Next time you see a group of riders on the interstate in the worst weather possible, take note of their rides. I bet they are on Harleys.
 

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Thanks bajakirch

Now I just have to find out how to find/listen to a podcast.
 

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The only Harley worth getting is a Buell.
Everything else is overpriced steam engine era tech designed for rich posers who dress up like weekend 1%ers
 

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Some of the most hardcore badass mile muncher riders I have ever known have done it on Harleys. Before I became an old man, I rode an XLCH 1000 from Philly to Phoenix nonstop except for fuel and bathroom, just so I could spend one last night with my GF before I went in the Navy. Next time you see a group of riders on the interstate in the worst weather possible, take note of their rides. I bet they are on Harleys.
I'll take that bet! I will probably be one of the riders you are mentioning. My bike won't be the dreaded "H", but the dreaded "B".

Funny how similar those two get treated on certain forums.

You are dead right about riding attitudes. Some of the best conversations I have had at rest stops, greasy spoons, has been with Harley motorcyclists. There are still some Harley riders that ride for the ride, not the event. Note I said motorcyclist. I refuse to use the term biker to describe how I ride and how many others enjoy riding motorcycles. I explain to non motorcycle people...."I am a motorcyclist, not a biker".

I rode from WV to Tampa Florida and back on a CB 500 Four in 1978 with a sleeping bag and little else. But now I don't want to ride without the gear I own and use today. There is a LOT about that ride I probably forgot for good reasons. One thing I have NOT forgotten is actually riding side saddle for a while because my ass was so sore......I will keep my Russell seat, call me soft!

I very much agree that newer Harleys are very much reliable and far from the stereotype most project. I would own one, and yes it would stay stock.
 

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I recently joined the American Legion Riders, and I am one of the few non HD riders in the group. We have gone on 3 rides since I joined, each about 150 miles. No one had any problems. As vets, we rib each other about the different branches of service, as well as different bikes, all in fun. That said, over the years I have listened to a lot of Japanese bike bashing from Harley riders, and they were not joking. This more than anything else turns people off to the brand. Harley doesn't have a monopoly on this kind of behavior, either.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Now I just have to find out how to find/listen to a podcast.
Here's one way.


Hopefully we can keep the HD bashing to a minimum, as that wasn't my initial intent when creating the topic.

One of the most interesting things I found after listening to the series was how so much of the stereotypes we've come to associate with HD motorcycles and their riders came from what were reasonable business decisions at the time, or things that were completely out of The Motor Company's control.

For example [SPOILER ALERT], I learned there's a strong through-line in the company's 1940s-1980s history that goes something like this: WWII --> Cheap War Surplus HD Motorcycles --> Bored Vets Looking for Thrills --> Motorcycle Gangs --> Owner Customization/'Chopping' --> Hippy Culture. Then you find HD in deep financial trouble in the late 70s, and Willy G. Davidson convinced the company to embrace -- rather than scoff at -- owner customization. Fast forward to today, and the company makes as much (maybe more?) from customization and merchandise than it does from selling bikes.
 

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I've a friend with a Harley. Used to ride a Virago. He regaled me with stories of the groups' rides. They involved a lot of picture taking and stopping at local dealers for Tee shirt purchases.
Then there is, or was, Hazel Kolb, the motorcycling grandma, who was a great spokesperson for things HD.

"If you take care of them and leave them STOCK, they last forever"

I always smile when I see and hear a Stock HD pass by. They really are quiet and unassuming.
 

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Pretty sure they dominate or damn near dominate NHRA, correct me if I'm wrong? :wink2: Hopefully this won't turn into another HD bash fest, I appreciate the OP sharing this thread however..
If you can call the bikes that dominate NHRA "Harleys" - they don't share a part with any stock H-D. They share the same general configuration (45 degree v-twin and 2 valves per cylinder, I think), and that's about it.

My issue with H-D is not the bikes per se, but the attitude you get from many of the owners - "ricer" this and "jap crap" that, and condescending "when you're ready to move up to a real bike" stuff.

I've owned many brands of bikes, and while I wouldn't rule an H-D out of my future, to me it's just another brand of motorcycle.
 
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