More About The New Harley-Davidson Factory Customization Program HD1

Harley-Davidson just created a new website specifically designed to alert you on their HD1 Customization Program. In this new HD1 website, you can learn a little bit more and I summarize.

Starting February 4, 2011 you will be able to design online  from the comfort of your home (or directly with the dealer) your new Harley motorcycle to your own specifications. Your choice? Over 8000 items from the Genuine Motor Parts & accessories catalog. Then you will print your wish list and bring it to your favorite Harley dealer to finalize the design. I guess, your interlocutor’s job will be to tell you what is possible, what is compatible or not, what will look better and the final cost. Of course, most of potential buyers are going to be overwhelmed by the available choices, pick the wrong parts, and are going to visit their dealer for guidance. And it’s exactly what Harley-Davidson wants. To make you dream, then send you to one of their dealers, and make you spend as much as possible in genuine after-market parts at the time you order your brand new motorcycle.

I think it’s a good marketing strategy to increase traffic flow, for positioning your dealer as a custom builder (with your help), to make each new motorcycle order more profitable for him and the factory, and to compete with all independent after-market part vendors by pre-empting the customization process. The 1st thought coming to my mind is : will the person at the dealership in charge of helping the potential buyer always be competent enough at mixing and matching parts on all models. If not, it’s going to be a headache at the factory to fix all wrong custom orders coming from their dealers. I hope that there is a training going on at all Harley-Davidson dealerships. HD1 Custom Of One.

21 Responses to “More About The New Harley-Davidson Factory Customization Program HD1”

  1. 1 Darin Maltsberger - Instructor @MTI Jan 7th, 2011 at 9:23 am

    Interesting marketing strategy. I agree with Cyril that it probably will increase traffic, and possibly sales. I also agree that it will take some level of compatibility knowledge on the part of the salesman. All of that said, I believe that most people wanting to customize their new H-D, want components that make their bike uniquely their own. They don’t neccessarily want the same parts that every other person who walks into a dealership can buy. In my opinion, the customers that make our businesses work, will still come into our shops for the high quality, one off components and work that have allowed us to make a living from what we love.

  2. 2 Brother T. Jan 7th, 2011 at 9:31 am

    The 1st thought coming to my mind is : will the person at the dealership in charge of helping the potential buyer always be competent enough at mixing and matching parts on all models. If not, it’s going to be a headache at the factory to fix all wrong custom orders coming from their dealers.

    My recollection is that there is a customizer function on the existing HD website. Given a make and model of bike, you can only add certain accessories, and if you pick some of them, it prompts you to add certain fitment kits. If that engine is correct, then it should work pretty well…

  3. 3 Magnum Bob Jan 7th, 2011 at 10:16 am

    It will be interesting to see how they price the options.
    If they charge anywhere near the retail price of the items in the catalog, it will be a HUGE windfall for the factory. (Effectively charging the customer a second time for a part they are already paying for in the base price, often for a component that costs the same or only pennies more to manufacture. Not that this is a new concept, of course. The automobile manufacturers have been doing this forever.)

  4. 4 Woody Jan 7th, 2011 at 10:24 am

    Magnum, not to defend just the MoCo, but it is a much larger expense than just the cost of the part. Manufacturing costs are driven down by streamlining and consolidating every possible component and assembly technique. Any deviation from the “normal” build order is very time and labor consuming. When you figure the time involved, it actually costs more to get your McDs hamburger with no pickles than to just have then grab one from the tray.
    Hopefully the Company won’t rape folks on this, but value added really does mean cost added when it’s normally a mass-produced item.

  5. 5 Magnum Bob Jan 7th, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Point taken, and while I agree your point of view has merit, I personally don’t believe incorporating the new options will greatly impact labor costs.
    It’s not like they are going to pull the bike off the line to make changes. Rather in most cases they will simply install part B instead of part A, much like different color paint options. I’m pretty sure the factory will be able to figure out a way to make the whole operation pretty efficient.

  6. 6 rebel Jan 7th, 2011 at 10:45 am

    should have been an option to an extent years ago, and I would think the compatability issue is well taken care of on the site itself.

  7. 7 Sammy Jan 7th, 2011 at 10:53 am

    I am telling you, this Harley-Davidson is a winner…for Harley. Excellent. We want them to do well.

  8. 8 Mike H Jan 7th, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    Depending on how the program is structured even if the buyer had to pay full retail list for the part and/or accessories for those that do not have the tools, expertise or desire to do the installation, it could end up saving them money by essentially getting free labor. This of course may impact the dealers service departments bottom line and I am sure take away some of that business from independent shops. Could be a good opportunity for the buyer.

  9. 9 Ridewithchuck Jan 7th, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    The only bike they will do this with is the 2011 XL1200c Sportster, for right now. No other bikes are planned yet. However, I feel it will “roll-out” to other bikes in the coming years.

  10. 10 1550tc Jan 7th, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Starting February 4, 2011 you will be able to design online from the comfort of your home (or directly with the dealer) your new Harley motorcycle to your own specifications.

    ok so now you have; the joe blow bikes off the floor bikes, CVO i have more ego and coin than u do bikes, and now they will give you the, i have a special bike just for me build from their parts bin!!

    sounds ok but in some ways they will canibalize their after sales parts and accesories buiness i think??

    IT sounds like the big 3 in detroit, when you could factory order all the bells and whistles……….where as now u get a set options grouped together as a package or kinda like their cvo bikes?

    evrything old is new to these guys at HD

    Also they are still doing an old big 3 or mostly old gm business model of building 45 models on what 5-6 chassis and using the old iacocca hi profit its not a k car/ softail,
    its a new yorker/secreaming eagle something or other ………..loaded with hi profit parts from their parts bin.

    its still a union based production, keep the line going and ram it down the delaers throats driven business model……. as opposed to spupplying what the market and dealers really need or can sell!!

    you would think they would learn from the past 2-3 years in the auto industry??

  11. 11 1550tc Jan 7th, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    Mike i can see then canibalizing their P&A business some what! Its like their hi profit CVO division with a new spin on the ordering process…………they will just package up some REAL hi profit trinkets and put them into this new program, its a you select the options we want to sell you program………the end consumer is still better off buying a basic bike and dong his own upgrades like tires brakes, seat, engine ect 🙂 all the things that make these bikes better performers iam sure they wont have……….the $$$ is in trinkets

  12. 12 zyon Jan 7th, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    I wonder if they will give every custom bike it’s own series of letters like when they repackaged their own designs. “We’ll call this one the Sportster FLXWDSHT!”

    I guess the powers that be at harley got tired of mixing and matching parts to come up with a new ….”models” and now they just figure the customer can do it for them. I’m sorry but I see the new decade being a big fail for harley and I suspect additional market share loss.

    This will excite the die-hards but will do little to bring in new customers.

  13. 13 ray c wheeler Jan 7th, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    Dealer program in 1977 in Wichita, Ks.

    Bought my 1st new motorcycle, a 1977 FX.. at the dealer we traded parts and added mag wheels for spokes, 5 gallon tanks, chrome lifter blocks, chrome ignition cone, seat, sissy bar and a few misc parts and pieces. The dealer allowed full price for all take offs and all add ons were 10% over plus labor.
    Rode out the door for 3,200. and we added a dual disc brake system.
    Loaded up and hauled ass to SoCal.

    Might be a good idea.

  14. 14 sickboy Jan 8th, 2011 at 5:58 am

    The advantage is the parts will be installed consistently and correctly and Hd can warrenty those custom parts for the full warrenty period. I suspect there will be cost considerations to upgrade to the big ticket items such as wheels and paint sets. The customer can roll the cost into financing. The dealer will lose in labor and parts margin, ie new sales profit and no “take-offs”. More $ directly in the coffers for the Motor Co. This was a long time coming. I believe Yamaha was doing this 5 years ago.

  15. 15 Free Rider Jan 9th, 2011 at 1:33 am

    will HD consider the price of the replaced parts ??

  16. 16 Cobb Jan 9th, 2011 at 11:10 am

    I like the idea, anything that allows the customer to out together the exact bike they want is cool with me

  17. 17 cwglide Jan 10th, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    I think this a good and bad concept. More money for the factory in adding accessories online but its taking that revenue from the dealer. Its a great idea for paint but i don’t its a good idea for hard parts.

  18. 18 Slow Ride Jan 11th, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    Cyril, I hate to tell you this, but you have combined two different programs combined here in your article making the info inaccurate. Let me help you and your readers:

    One of the programs within the HD web site is the CUSTOMIZER program. Nothing really new here. The customer surfs the HD Web site, customizes his bike with Genuine Harley-Davidson Accessories and takes the list to the dealer, buys the parts, and has their bike customized by installing the parts themselves or having the service department install them. Yes, 8000 parts available. BUT THE FACTORY WILL NOT BUILD YOUR BIKE FROM THIS LIST. You would be customizing the bike by ordering the parts thru the HD parts department. This is a fun way to dink around in a web site and build a bike from Genuine HD parts and accessories, not AFTERMARKET PARTS as (kind of) stated in your article.

    H-D1 is the new, soon to be available on Feb 4th, program where you can build your Sportster 1200 Custom by choosing parts from within several different major, and well defined, catagories. For example, you will be able to choose from the “paint catagory” and pick one of xx number of paint designs. The next catagory might be “wheels” where you’d pick one of xx number of wheel designs. Other catagories might/will include seats, handlebars, engine treatment, foot control locations, and so on. This program will be available on the 1200C and according to HD, they have no plans on expanding the program to other models (for now). YOU WILL ONLY BE ABLE TO CHOOSE PARTS SPECIFIED WITH IN THESE CATAGORIES AND HAVE THE BIKE BUILT FROM THIS SHORT LIST FROM THE FACTORY. As Harley says on their signage: “Now you can BEGIN your customization at the factory”. So for example, if you want a chrome license plate frame or head light trim ring, you will not be able to specify this part on the factory order form, you’ll still have to order it thru your local HD parts/accessories department. This new program will allow a customer to get the bike closer to where they want to be with a factory order. This will allow a customer to order a bike with the wheels they want…..the old way was to buy a stock bike and then go thru the expense of buying new wheels and disposing of the stock wheels, which is the same as buying two sets of wheels….expensive. This is what customers have been asking for because Harley currently has a very short list of factory options for each model. Compare it to ordering a new car/truck from the factory. The customer decides if he/she wants the upgraded wheels, paint color, engine, …..fill in the blanks. And the vehicle shows up with those exact options as specified on the original order. Nice.

    To be clear: It will not be a headache for the factory, as the factory will not be building a bike from a list of 8000 parts. They will be building a bike as specified by the customer from xx number of catagories and short list of xx number of parts within each catagory. When HD rolls out this program in February, the catagories and parts within these catagories will be clear, defined, and exact. The factory will stock the parts required to build any order that arrives within a certain time frame. The bike salesman will only be able to “check a box” to order a bike, “making sure it fits” won’t be an issue.

  19. 19 Cyril Huze Jan 11th, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    Slow Ride. I didn’t confuse the 2 programs. My only mistake was to suppose that there was 8000 parts to choose from. Regarding “after-market” parts, I meant genuine “after-market” Harley parts coming from the catalog. Thank you for the precision regarding the rest of the program.

  20. 20 Poppymann Jan 18th, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    Sorry but customs don’t come from the factory.

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