Harley-Davidson To Launch New 1200 Custom Model With Associated Factory Customization Program

In February 2011, Harley-Davidson is going to launch a new “1200 Custom Motorcycle”. Although I don’t have any specific info about this new model, nor it seems any Harley dealer at this time, the very interesting part is that in conjunction with this new model, the factory is going to launch a H-D1 customization program specifically conceived for it.

Code named HD-1, this program will let buyers personalize the “1200 Custom” with a selection of Harley options, and this before their bike arrives at the dealership.

I would bet that the basic “1200 Custom Motorcycle” is going to be a very raw/naked model easy to manufacture at a low cost, the objective being to sell each client as many factory options as possible, a very profitable marketing approach. At the same time, it can certainly be a very attractive option for the customer who can personalize, from paint job to accessories, without having to pay at the dealership for parts on his bike that he already knows he will later replace by other after-market ones.

We all know, after delivery of a standard model, a new Harley owner may want to change from 20% to 50% of his bike with after market parts, having already paid Harley for parts he never used or kept on his ride. For the dealer it is also a great advantage to be able to offer customers and deliver to them on the show floor a new model already personalized the way they wants it. I think that this new Harley marketing approach is very interesting, and if well executed, can help dealers attract new interest, generate new profitable sales and at the same time increase clients’ satisfaction. Harley-Davidson offering his clients to ride what they want is a very smart strategy. If successful, it is conceivable that Harley-Davidson would want to extend the HD-1 customization program to other models of the line. To follow…

32 Responses to “Harley-Davidson To Launch New 1200 Custom Model With Associated Factory Customization Program”

  1. 1 steve Dec 9th, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    Oh my god another sportster what a surprise!!!! How about they bring back the nightrain and lowriders. We need another 1200 like we need a kick in the balls.

  2. 2 Matthew Olsen Dec 9th, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    This is a very smart and neat idea. I am looking forward to seeing how it works out.

  3. 3 FYI Dec 9th, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    a sportster by any other name is still a sportster

  4. 4 Larry Dec 9th, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    For the 100% Harley brand guy and gal, it’s a good idea. Semi custom.

  5. 5 LENNY ASTC PERFORMANCE Dec 9th, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    With the economy down the Sportster still an HD is a market to look at HD still is selling a lot of these bikes. HD also has to address an entry level Sportster to get the new riders into the market at a competitive price as they did before with the 883. With out the new rider and younger customers the future for the industry is limited to the older rider leaving a future that will not be to good for the industry.

  6. 6 deadwood1783 Dec 9th, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    This was announced to Dealers in Las Vegas this past July. This is basically a pilot program to get our feet wet and see how this type system, which looks great as a concept on paper, works in the market place. It is really aimed at increasing customer satisfaction. After all, increased customer satisfaction is the key to driving demand, sales, and hopefully profits. Profit margins have been shrinking for quite a while now. “Profits” is one of the words that gets a bad rap. Profits are not evil, they are nessasary for survival. I hope this concept works out for the customer, the dealer, and the MoCo as well. If it does, I expect it to be expanded to other product lines in the future.

  7. 7 JonnyChrome Dec 9th, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    In our world, does the term custom not refer to modifying a factory vehicle? GM and Ford recognize what the after-market has done for their brand’s. HD it seems, not so much.

  8. 8 Mike Dec 9th, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    Very well said Jonny. H-D has always done whatever they can to hinder the aftermarket and not giving us the props we deserve for making parts that make people want the bikes. How great would your new bike be if you couldn’t find parts for it?

    The automotive companies see that and endorse the aftermarket all the time.

  9. 9 Sheridan Dec 9th, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    I wonder how much time this adds on to the delivery date for an ordered bike? I wonder if successful they’ll extend this programme for overseas markets, then you’d really have some long wait times.

  10. 10 B rad Dec 9th, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    With 35,000 miles on my 2003 XL1200C, might be a good time to buy a naked Sportster and add parts other than overpriced, made in ” name your favorite Asian” country parts from the MoCo.

  11. 11 PABSTBLUERIGID Dec 10th, 2010 at 2:30 am

    As “deadwood 1783” mentioned earlier, it is a “pilot” to test the water – “allegedly” the consumer/prospect visits the dealership and visits with a “sales associate” and/or “chrome consultant/parts rep.” the prospect can choose a LIMITED number of options to be installed at the factory prior to shipment…as expected, MUCH push-pack from dealers at the show in VEGAS as HDMOCO brass did NOT provide enough details (still) to keep the dealer network from taking offense (rightfully so?) regarding potential loss of labor & parts profits from “factory built customs.”

    ALLEGEDLY options will be : paint, seat, handlebars, wheels, and controls (mid-mount or forwards). That’s it. Period.

    Then an order is generated assuming the prospect is credit worthy/appoved/has funds & allegedly the bike will be there (@ dealership) in 4 weeks(ish). again, i/we were skeptical? how can that promise be made when we have to wait, at times, 4-6 weeks for factory “current year” painted parts when repairing wrecks?

    we are “supposed” to take advantage of the margins on the parts too. or so we believe?

    lots of questions…answers to come VERY SOON.

    “we” (an HD OEM) have been in this 35 years, have seen it all, good, bad & ugly. it’s a “cycle.”

    our glass is “half full” and we maintain optimism until there is proof otherwise…life is too short?

    Ride often, treat your customers like family, and believe me…loyalty still exists.

  12. 12 highrpm Dec 10th, 2010 at 4:47 am

    i think hd’s entire product line needs updating: the day’s of easy profits are gone for awhile and pushing old technology like gm did with warmed over pickups-turn-suv’s will only get them to bankruptcy. how about trying the bmw and mercedes lineups: offer different length wheelbases–a long wheelbase bagger for touring that seats the second rider in front of the rear wheel for more comfort–hey, this could be the hd 7 series (like the bmw 7 series); lighten all of the bikes (i’m 60 and my balance and reaction times are slower; a 700 lb bike scares me, and keeps me off gravel roads.); if ford can offer a supercharged mustang, why can’t hd? how about lightweight 4 cylinder–2 parallel v-twins but with shorter stroke offerings for flat hp and torque curves over a broarder rpm range? and even turbo diesels for better low-end torque and high mpg?

    if hd does not adopt the “every year new tooling” of the auto industry, they deserve to go out-of-bizz. (remember the amf disaster and hd’s near bankruptcy in the early 80’s?) when will they adopt the business model of the hi-tech computer and auto industries that require constant price/performance improvements? who remembers the apple 2 and windows xp? why should we still be looking at the 70’s sportster look?

  13. 13 Wiz Dec 10th, 2010 at 6:05 am

    My daughter [who is 22] came down from Minniapolis recently and took a motorcycle riders course an’ asked me to find her a scooter. I scored on a beautiful teal, stone stock 2001 883 Sportster with 2600 miles for $2,600.[runs sweet, ain’t even broke in yet]. It will be fine for her ’cause she don’t wiegh 120 lbs. wet. Of course I can’t tolerate anything stock so time to rock ‘n roll! First off I put a chrome lowering kit on, saddlebag supports, saddlebags, doo-wah dittie bag, turn signal relocators, visors on the headlight an’ tailight, blue dot in tailight, chrome licence plate frame an’ backing plate, 2001 quarter on the dipstick [quarterized, do it on all my bikes, it was a bitch finding a 1940 quarter fer my flathead], forward controls with iso pegs/shifter/brake/grips, windshield, chrome steering head bolt cover, diamond trim ring on the speedo, chrome fluff caps an’ allen covers everywhere, and chrome fender tips front an’ rear. Is that what Harley is doin’? If so, Groovy! Wiz

  14. 14 Chris Dec 10th, 2010 at 8:11 am

    This is a very smart move for Harley to do on all counts and I to will watch it to see what happens . I was a parts person for Harley for years and the thing we would do was sit down with people and help them get the look they were looking for . Harley does not like the aftermarket but will copy what people like , that’s why they are always a day late and a dollar short . This will keep Harley in control and give them the chance to keep aftermarket parts off their bikes . I feel bad for the Sporty though as it is the new test crash dummy that the Dyna was . It was no mistake the 6 speed and various other parts were tested on the Dyna and not the Softail line. Between you and me no matter how many chrome stock parts you put on a bike you don’t have a custom . Customs are built not bought .

  15. 15 FRED JOHNSON Dec 10th, 2010 at 9:31 am

    how about a hot rod say a 110 cubic inch XL110MO…MOVEOVER!!!

  16. 16 deadwood1783 Dec 10th, 2010 at 10:11 am

    PABSTBLUERIGID Very well put. I see both good and bad in what information HD has shared with us. But as you so eloquently put it, “we maintain optimism until there is proof otherwise”.

  17. 17 Knucklehead Dec 10th, 2010 at 10:31 am

    To all the naasayers. Go to the Honda Blog.

  18. 18 JonnyChrome Dec 10th, 2010 at 11:46 am

    I went to the Honda blog, theres no section for Naysayers…..

  19. 19 mack Dec 10th, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    pabstbluerigid hit it on the head … this aint gonna help the dealers out a whole lot .. the service dept is all that is keeping a lot of their doors open … if this bleeds over to all models some of the lower level techs are gonna be looking for work and its gonna cut a lot of billed hours out of the department where most of the money is made

  20. 20 PEDRO Dec 10th, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Nor is there section for Naysayers here.
    Onya Knuckle Head.
    Listen Carefully, the Motor Company ain’t gunna go broke.
    Were not the Automotive Industry we are independently the Motorcycle
    Industry and if any one wants to ride a turbo diesel HD the ask the
    New American Motorcycle company with all their so called hi tech
    Back ground to produce it for ya’s.
    The die hard supporters of the brand are happy with the direction
    The company is headed and remember 108 years given with ups & downs still = Success.
    No one else in our industry can lay claim to that.

  21. 21 highrpm Dec 10th, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    hd fits in for the old farts but it’s a fo for the z gen’s. not a good business model.

  22. 22 Conrad Nicklus Dec 10th, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    Jonny, Youre cracking me up man.

  23. 23 David Dec 11th, 2010 at 12:47 am

    IF you’ll remember ( it has been a long time) we were able to order our cars the way we wanted.
    Now we choose a brand and then Option package A or Premium Package B, and your choice of 5 or 6 paint colors and two interior colors.
    highrpm you have insulted me my computer still runs on XP.


  24. 24 David Dec 11th, 2010 at 12:50 am

    Jonny can you tell me how to get to the Honda Blog? I would like to see what Naysayers naysay !


  25. 25 fuji Dec 11th, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    If Honda would do the research and development that Harley Davidson does, there may be a very remote chance that some day Honda could be the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world. { Pipe Dreams } who does Honda think they are. Naysayers, what would they know about motorcycles.

  26. 26 Joe Dec 12th, 2010 at 12:08 am


    I rode a 70y/o flathead harley as my daily driver for 4 years until this past season when I bought a ’72 brit chop. Personally I say if it ain’t broke, don’t fix. Changing the tooling yearly and constantly redesigning bikes is only going to drive up the cost for the consumer. Not to mention that parts become impossible to find after a couple years. How many modern vehicles do you think will be road worthy in 70 years? Harley needs to focus on blue collar customers who need affordable, reliable and easy to maintain workhorses like they did for the years before they tried to become a luxury brand. If I can go into a dealership and spend 5 grand on a bare sporty missing all the junk I’m just going to yank off and change or throw away anyway but leaving me everything I need for safety and reliability then I’m damn well gonna buy it. But even better would be a factory kickstart setup on all their bikes. I’d give anything for a modern sporty with a kickstart. That’s the main thing that rules them out of serious competition for purchase for me. Carburators and points would be a bonus too. All in all, a machine you can work on yourself and not spend an arm and a leg maintaining. Call me old fashioned I guess.

  27. 27 Odlamn Dec 12th, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    With ya Joe.

  28. 28 Wiz Dec 13th, 2010 at 4:04 am

    Joe, Yer preaching to the choir with your statements. I put points an’ condensers [High Performance Blue Streak] on my own personal scooters ’cause when yer 100 miles from nowhere an’ something goes wrong with your magic box it looks the same as a good one. You don’t know what the problem is unless you got a diagnostic computer in yer saddlebag. Iffin’ you do manage to get another module [fer $150.] an it ain’t the problem you can’t take it back. With points you can snap ’em to see if you got juice, an’ file them with a matchbook to get runnin’ again. Chevy points are everywhere! That’s what old school is all about! Wiz

  29. 29 Englishman Dec 13th, 2010 at 8:48 am

    It will be interesting to see if there’s a minimum about of factory “custom” that MUST be bolted on before they will sell it to you.
    Will they let you just buy the base, naked bike?

    If they are selling the bike for $10, but require $20,000 of official “custom” hanging off it before they’ll ship it, I don’t think it’ll be that popular.

  30. 30 Oliver Snackwagon Dec 13th, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Back in the early 80’s when I attended a couple of H-D’s Dealer Advisory Committee meetings, myself and several forward thinking dealers proposed to H-D management that they produce a line of primered-black, bare bones, no-chrome production vehicles that had just enough DOT equipment on them to allow H-D to legally sell them to their dealers, and in turn be sold to the consumer. These were to be sold alongside the normal lineup of production models, but we proposed that the factory sell them to the dealers at a smaller profit margin than the standard models were fetching. The concept was that the bike could be sold as-is and end user could either customize the bike with paint/chrome/different handlebars, etc. at the dealer’s store before taking delivery, or customize on his own timeline H-D part by H-D part. The dealer would enjoy their standard keystone markup on the parts they sold to the end user, which was much greater than the markup on the new bike sale, and would potentially keep their service departments busy installing the items. The sheetmetal could be recycled back to the factory for a small credit and reused on the next bare bones production bike to roll off the line.

    This was a time when new bike sales were in the toilet. The H-D aftermarket was still very young and the choices were limited, and the factory’s P&A offerings were miniscule (anyone who has ever looked at a 1983 P&A catalog can attest to that). But the dealers were urging H-D to increase their P&A offerings making this the perfect vehicle (pun intended) to increase this segment of both the the factory’s and the dealer’s business.

    I could continue at great length about this concept, but you get the general idea. Needless to say, it went over like a lead ballon with the H-D management.

    So here we are almost 30 years later, and they have now partially embraced the concept. The big difference is that they are now doing the work on the assembly line prior to shipping the bike to dealer. The dealer still makes more money (maybe) than he would have had he sold the customer a normal production vehicle.

  1. 1 Harley-Davidson 2011 Promise. A Whole New way To Design, Build And Personalize Your Harley. at Cyril Huze Blog – Custom Motorcycle News Pingback on Jan 2nd, 2011 at 9:01 am
  2. 2 Random touring bike thoughts - Page 2 - Pingback on Apr 17th, 2011 at 8:25 pm
Comments are currently closed.
Cyril Huze