Harley-Davidson Design Team

Harley’s product development center is located in a steel-and-glass building tucked behind the company’s manufacturing plant in Wauwatosa. Company executives review designs and prototypes in a large conference room called "the bunker" The bunker’s tall glass windows have motorized shades to keep prying eyes from getting even a glimpse of bikes that might not be released to the public for years,. As you know, Willie G is the styling guru and is assisted by styling director Louie Netz (if you participate to any official Harley Bike Show, he is the one who is there to decide the winners). Above the bunker, there’s an 11,000-square-foot-design studio and model shop where artists work with drawing boards, clay, wood and plastic to breathe the initial life into a motorcycle design. The studio has a motorcycles only elevator. From a raw concept to a finished product, a Harley design might go through dozens of changes. Harley has 10 stylists responsible for ushering designs from the drawing board to final production. It’s a lengthy, arduous process involving engineers, cost accountants and manufacturing specialists. The designers have now a very specific objective: to bridge the generation gap between baby boomers, who turned the Harley brand into an icon, and younger riders who may have no brand loyalty at all. Designing a new model can take from 5 to 10 years (V-Rod). Harley is now beginning to work on the 2012 models. Makes me think how good we are all at building custom/concept motorcycles in a time frame of 6 to 12 months. True, we don’t have the cost constraints of mass producing. But, since we are establishing the new trends, why Harley doesn’t hire a few of us as consultants?


5 Responses to “Harley-Davidson Design Team”

  1. 1 goldiron Oct 11th, 2007 at 10:17 am

    Amajor problem with the Harley Davidson product line exists in the belief that the frame must act as a presentation platform for the oil-cooled V-Twin. Many of the problems that have been experienced over the years have evolved from this strict dogma.

    I agree that outside designers should be contracted as consultants.

    I also believe that the time gap from design to production can be significantly shortened.

    Younger riders have been shunned by Harley and they may take the wrong approach in garnering their loyalty. This approachof taking the wrong path is noted recently with their approach to more women riders. Karen Davidson is notably in charge of motorclothes for Harley-Davidson. The women that ride would prefer to have a motorcycle that is quick, agile, reliable, and comfortable that has an individualistic flair rather than something that is an accessory to a leather outfit.

  2. 2 scott Oct 11th, 2007 at 5:08 pm

    Amen, Goldiron. I for one am disgusted by the former Harley shops,now Harley Boutiques.

  3. 3 Norman Oct 12th, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    Interesting story.

  4. 4 Mike Oct 14th, 2007 at 10:06 am

    Yes, it was very interesting to read this post.

  5. 5 dragon Oct 18th, 2007 at 11:01 pm

    i have to say goldiron hit the nail on the head with that one

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