Harley-Davidson And MV Agusta/Cagiva. What’s Going On?

harleymvagustaOn June 5th, 2008 I posted on the acquisition of all Italian MV Agusta Group shares by Harley-Davidson for a total consideration of approximately 70 million Euros (about $110 million). At the time, all speculations were made about the way Harley-Davidson was going to exploit this acquisition. Officially, we only knew that Harley-Davidson, Inc. intended to continue to operate MV Agusta Group from its headquarters based in Varese, Italy and that the acquisition was to expand Harley-Davidson presence and footprint in Europe, complementing the Harley-Davidson and Buell motorcycle families. Since then, total silence.

 Then, this week James Ziemer, President and CEO of Harley-Davidson Inc., showed up in Italy and visited for the first time the MV Agusta and Cagiva Headquarters and a few selected dealers. A lot of speeches are made on the register of  “we have the best for the rider”, and “together we are going to achieve greater success”, but still nothing concrete about this new alliance marketing, products or dealers strategy.  It’s difficult for me to believe that Harley-Davidson doesn’t have a planned strategy. But which one? Using only MV Agusta has a source of revenue? Mixing American & Italian bikes on the show floor just to increase distribution? I doubt on both. Building a new Harley branded high-performance sport motorcycles using MV Agusta technology?  It’s where I lean and what I hope. But Harley should act fast not waiting that generation X get hooked to other brands and proposing a product in the very low 10’s. And now, what’s going to happen to Buell? Any idea? (left to right: Chairman Claudio Castiglioni, CEO & President Jim Ziemer, Managing Director Matt Levatich).


23 Responses to “Harley-Davidson And MV Agusta/Cagiva. What’s Going On?”

  1. 1 J Mar 21st, 2009 at 9:38 am

    LOL- I suppose it depends on how the deal was made- if it was in stock, I imagine that Harley hasn’t been too anxious to show their faces over there!

    I’m just waiting for the Low Rider Midnight Willie G Signature Edition scooter to come out- in suede, of course………

  2. 2 Strada Mar 21st, 2009 at 11:14 am

    Perhaps H-D is having second thoughts about their acquisition of MV Agusta. In the meantime Castiglione got money to keep on going, and H-D got a storied brand…will it fit together?

  3. 3 JB Mar 21st, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    Buell sales will not be affected I guess. MV Agusta buyers would not consider a Buell as an alternative. HD now has 3 distinct brands.

  4. 4 Frank338 Mar 21st, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    as a Buell rider and fan for years, I do wonder what Eric thought of this “merger”? I was hoping that this might lead to a “sportbike” oriented dealer network, but probably not. Let’s face it, a typical sportbike customer is not going to walk into a HD showroom….they need to keep the MV and Buell away from the HD showroom. my 1.25 cents worth (adjusted for inflation).

  5. 5 spotcom05 Mar 21st, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    Somehow I just can’t see the synergy. And I can’t contemplate the idea that they’d want to use the acquisition to bring the best bits from both brands into one bike. Are we going to see an MV F4 with tassle fringes on the seat? Fatboys with water cooled four valve heads?

    I think HD’s best bet would be to go more with option 1 or 2 that you put forward. Revenue, or co-distribution. The “Revenue” option would only work, though, if there were synergies to be had – such as merging design departments or back-office functions or supply and distribution channels.

  6. 6 Nicker Mar 21st, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    Never expected to see HD and MV even mentioned in the same breath, let alone merged in the same business.

    But then i never expected to see a Marxist in the White House ether.

    Go figure.


  7. 7 rodent Mar 22nd, 2009 at 6:51 am

    Maybe now that HD owns MV Buell will die. Buells are a waste of time. They don’t compete with Jap crotch rockets. and are a waste of HD resources. MV is the ultimate 2 wheeled vehicle and we can only hope that Harley doesn’t screw up the marque.

  8. 8 Strada Mar 22nd, 2009 at 10:06 am

    There is a simple solution, most H-D dealerships are huge, its not a big deal to build a “dealer within a dealer” with a separate entrance for sport bikes / naked.

    MV Agusta and Buell would work well together in a separate showroom within an H-D dealer.

  9. 9 gustian Mar 23rd, 2009 at 5:49 am

    Re: Rodent; “Buells are a waste of time. They don’t compete with Jap crotch rockets. and are a waste of HD resources.”

    I wouldn’t look at it that way Rodent.
    The European market can’t be compared with the American market.

    For the moment, what we see over here is, let us call it, the erge to be “different”.
    Even the younger generation is re-decovering the Café-racers, twin-cylinder-bikes like the Ducati’s -Moto Guzzi’s, Triumph Bonneville and yes, they find also their way to the Buell and Harley XR1200……..

    In Europe, starting in the late seventies, we were “attacket” by the Japanese with their (for those times) powerfull four-cylinder-bikes. (Honda CB 750Four and CBX 1000 (six-cylinder)- Kawasaki 900 and 1000′, Suzuki Katana the Yamaha two-strokers etc.) And the evolution kepped going on. If you see the horsepower the CBR’s – GSXR’s, ZXR’s and R1’s those days are spitting, then it makes you ask serious questions.
    A stock sport-bike those days is more powerfull, even more reliable than a GP-bike back in the eighties. But what the hell can you do with this on the road….???? And that’s exactly what (thanks God) some young riders are about to discover.

    Your’e right if you say the Buell’s can’t compete, but the interests over here in Europe are so different as they are in America. That’s perhaps the reason why Harley wants to get foot in Europe????

    Peace Gustian

  10. 10 gustian Mar 23rd, 2009 at 6:07 am

    ahum “re-discovering” off course


  11. 11 Mario Van den Broeck Mar 23rd, 2009 at 10:34 am

    With all due respect,

    Buell is a fantastic addition to Haley-Davidson, if you beleave in its potential. As TOP seller for Buell in Belgium and Luxemburgh I can assure you that there is a big future for active dealerships who beleave in the future of Harley-Davidson AND Buell !

    And I also fully trust in the future of MV Agusta, if it is retailed in the right dealerships with the correct organisation and long term vision!

    Award winner “best dealership” Belux
    H-D Capital Brussels

    Mario Van den Broeck
    Owner Principal

  12. 12 hoyt Mar 23rd, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    The attitude of some of the HD “faithful” is comical.

    “Buells can’t compete” is blatantly false.

    Can’t compete in what? racetrack finishes? street riding attributes?

    The 1125R has competed very well on the track in its first year (last year). Look into the finishes (there are other races besides the Daytona 200 in case you were wondering). This is from a bike that wasn’t solely designed for the track, but designed for street riding. Look at the torque figures of the 1125R compared to the torque of other repli-racebikes from Japan and Europe. That mid-range focus over hp was intentional because it is sold as a streetbike first and foremost.

    The 21 year old Squid is not the only market out there for performance motorcycles, so the Buell can compete very well for street sales too.

    HD riders who criticize the Buell brand do not know what they are talking about when it comes to Buell. This includes numerous dealerships who mistreat the Buell brand, causing many would-be riders to not enter the HD showrooms.

    one of many examples: putting brand new Buells in the “used” section of their shop.

    Why is the merger of HD and Augusta difficult to imagine? Aermacchi sound familiar?

  13. 13 rock star Mar 23rd, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    dear hoyt

    do you know the displacement difference between 1125R & the Japanese bikes it competes against?

    it is a joke & so is DMG.

  14. 14 hoyt Mar 23rd, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    dear rock star –

    did you know i was NOT referring to the AMA race series & DMG (hence the comment about the 200)?

    Do some searching. You will see how the 1125R competed against Ducati 1098’s, KTM RC8’s, Aprilia RSV 1000 in various races in France, Germany, Canada, and the Road America race.

    2nd in the German endurance race is good.

    As I wrote above, this bike was not solely designed for the track like some of the European and Japanese bikes, yet it is doing well even on the track.

  15. 15 Nicker Mar 24th, 2009 at 12:16 am


    “…Why is the merger of HD and Augusta difficult to imagine? Aermacchi sound familiar?…”

    Wouldn’t comparing the MV demographics with Aermacchi demographics be like comparing apples and peanuts…. ???

    Visited a Montana HD dealer last year, they also sold Ducati……
    The place was empty.
    What’s the business case…???


  16. 16 hoyt Mar 24th, 2009 at 1:37 am

    The reference to Aermacchi was to point out that HD has invested in a European performance bike in the past. So it is more of comparing a Honey Crisp apple to a Macintosh apple than it is to your peanut.

    One dealership in Montana isn’t a complete measuring stick

  17. 17 Nicker Mar 24th, 2009 at 2:16 pm


    “… One dealership in Montana isn’t a complete measuring stick…”

    Point taken.

    But on Comparing MV to Aermacchi.
    “… more of comparing a Honey Crisp apple to a Macintosh apple …”

    Personally, don’t see-em as even being close in engineering sophistication.
    Hell, the HD Sprint was a push rod single.


  18. 18 Stefy Mar 25th, 2009 at 4:37 am

    for those that are curious the new MV models will be presented at EICMA 2009 in november and yes they are the last Tamburini’s MV
    anyway HD is already doing a lot in the last months to promote the MVs, check they’re new youtube channel http://www.youtube.com/user/MVAgustaMotorSpA

  19. 19 hoyt Mar 25th, 2009 at 10:56 am

    Nicker –

    I wasn’t directly comparing demographics or engineering sophistication. Although those are topics to consider when investing, where is written that those 2 topics must be a direct parallel to warrant an investment in MV when the opportunity presented itself?

    If a company has cash & wants to branch out into different engineering skills, what is the quickest and easiest way?

    Pushrod single – right. What was the year? late 60’s through 70’s.

  20. 20 Nicker Mar 28th, 2009 at 11:36 pm


    “…where is written that those 2 topics must be a direct parallel to warrant an investment in MV when the opportunity presented itself?…”

    “…Why is the merger of HD and Augusta difficult to imagine? …”

    Well, it’s difficult to imagine for two reasons:

    -1- The HD market is based on an old V-twin design. Not new technology.
    The V-rod is a good example of a new technology play. As good as it is how well is the V-rod selling….???,

    -2- The new Buell design isn’t “parallel” to anything HD has fielded before. How has that worked out for HD so far…???

    Simply can’t see how HD dealers selling MV as a better fit than Buell or the V-rod.

    Look, do you seriously think the average MV customer is gonna skip down to the local HD dealer and suddenly relate to an Ultra Classic…..???

    Isn’t this more like selling F-100 and a Jaggs out of the same dealership….???
    Maybe when we’re all …”One World, One People”…. but not to day.

    Sorry, i just don’t see the logic.


  21. 21 harold Jun 24th, 2009 at 11:18 pm

    Nicker, a marxist in the whitehouse? Funny…but I must assume you slept through political science.

  22. 22 nicker Jun 25th, 2009 at 12:02 am


    I took Poli Sci at Sac State from a Mexican Prof, educated in Mexico City. This was at the time that the CA Farm Workers issues were first got media coverage (about 1966).

    As a conservative, legal Immigrant, you can bet i didn’t “sleep” trough that class.
    More like i “fumed” through it…..
    And my response to this crap was, predictably reflected in my grade…… 🙁

    That Prof. was quite a clown. Not unlike Bo he was an angry ethnic minority trying to “get even.”
    He liked to take some of his students down to the skid row bars (Sacramento K-Street in those days) to try and shock us i guess…???
    He also bragged that his wife had ridden with the HA…..
    He didn’t know my background, non of his crap fooled me a lick.

    I was born into the smoking rubble of WW II Germany. As a toddler i listened to my grandma tell stories of the Jewish neighbors who were taken from their homes by Hitler’s German Workers Socialist Party.

    I was raised by a father who’s family, behind the Iron Curtain, had everything taken from them by the Russians who ran and robbed their country, Bulgaria.

    All through high school and College, California’s Best Socialists tried to “influence” me. It didn’t work. In 1989 “management” tried to send me to “diversity” training. I went loaded with reference material and took over the class.

    Our schools are why 33% of those under 30 years old in this country think that Socialism is just fine and another 30% of the same demographic are undecided (Human Events Pole).

    Dude, i knew all about Bo’s Marxist mentor Sol Alinski (“Rules For Radicals”) well before BO was elected to public office.

    Trust me, i’m REAL familiar with this stuff, on a VERY personal basis.
    (would ya like a reading list…???)


  23. 23 Mike Greenwald Jun 25th, 2009 at 10:05 am

    Speak up, Harold, I can’t hear you.

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