Street 750 And Street 500 Models. Harley-Davidson Aggressive Move To Find Its New Sweet Spot.

1Street2Street3Street4Street7StreetHow many years before baby-boomers stop riding? How many years before legislation force manufacturers to produce liquid-cooled motorcycles? Not many. The world changes. Change with it. Here and abroad, markets disappear, others are born ready to be conquered. It’s easy to figure out that future motorcycle sales growth will not come from the big, heavy and expensive motorcycles sold to relatively wealthy white men over 50 eager eager to revive their inner Dennis Hopper. It’s also easy to identify your new younger potential clients. But it’s difficult to conceive and produce the right new models to attract them and to keep them buying your brand during the next 3 or 4 decades. What happens when a company digresses from its traditional strategy? 5Street6Street

When Harley-Davidson blew the covers off the Street 750 and Street 500, many didn’t realize, including some industry professionals, the dramatic turn of marketing strategy and of products development Harley-Davidson was taking. The great recession has been a very disruptive time for all manufacturers. Because of its dominant market position in the heavy cruisers V-Twin market segment, Harley-Davidson was deeply affected. With the Street models, the company is the first major motorcycles manufacturer able to explore and measure what the future holds with youngsters and women. Will they rush to buy the Street new dark urban concept? We will get a pretty good idea towards the end of Harley’s fiscal year.

It is my opinion that the Street models small and light package (489 lbs fueled weight versus 562 lbs for a Sportster 883), with a low seat (under 25 in.) and moderately priced motorcycle ($6,799 for the Street 500, $7,499 for the Street 750.) will be a long term success. If not in terms of volume during the 1st year versus other popular Harley models, at least in bringing a much younger clientele of men and women who are now in the financial position to ride the Harley brand.

As the opposite of the LiveWire Project where the initiative is geared to find out to who this type of electric motorcycle should be marketed and how, the Street models have a very defined potential clientele and succeed in maintaining the rebellious attitude characteristic of the young and of the Harley brand. The small/affordable motorcycles market is the new sweet spot for manufacturers. Is Polaris Motorcycles Division currently working to address this market segment? We don’t know yet, but in 2015 the Harley Street may become the most disliked bike by its direct competitors, including Triumph and Royal Enfield. (photos@h-d)
8Street

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34 Responses to “Street 750 And Street 500 Models. Harley-Davidson Aggressive Move To Find Its New Sweet Spot.”


  1. 1 Jason Dietrich Jul 17th, 2014 at 8:23 am

    Big bikes sales are going to start to decline with baby boomers retiring to their lazy chairs. Small bikes sales for generation X and Millenials are going to replace them. Manufacturers are going to fight hard for youngsters and ladies, then try to keep them as long as possible with bigger and more comfortable bikes to be ridden long distance outside the urban jungle. A new cycle (pun intended) has already began. Good analysis CH.

  2. 2 TJ Martin Jul 17th, 2014 at 8:44 am

    So I’ll play the Devils Advocate and say this shift in the company’s direction … like every one they’ve tried in the past will bite them on the posterior big time . Why ? Because first of all .. the new age group they’re targeting aren’t riding/driving anything ! Big , small , gas or electric . The upcoming generations aren’t even bothering to get their licenses … never mind buy anything with money they do not have . Secondly and more importantly though . When a company with a deep heritage suddenly tries to change horses in the middle of the stream … 99.999% of the time the stream overwhelms them … drowning them in a wash of irrelevancy . Simply stated .. Faith Popcorn [ " The Popcorn Report " .. silly title and name .. great book and a definite must for anyone in business ] said it best when she told both Cadillac and the Company to look to their roots and do what they do best if they wish to survive and hopefully thrive . Cadillac didn’t listen and look where they are now ! Up until now the Company did and look where it got them . End of sermon . Donuts and Coffee in the narthex :o

  3. 3 Patrick Jul 17th, 2014 at 8:53 am

    TJ Martin. C’mon. Generation X (born 1965-1980) represents 82 million people in the US. They drive and some already ride. More would ride HD if the bikes didn’t look like the big ones of their parents and were more affordable. The Street has a dark/rebellious look compatible with HD image. I think that the Street launch is a great marketing approach.

  4. 4 Shifter Jul 17th, 2014 at 8:54 am

    I wonder what makes a young rider, male or female, choose a Street vs a Sportster.

  5. 5 Lonny Jul 17th, 2014 at 8:55 am

    Answer. Price.

  6. 6 Andy White Jul 17th, 2014 at 9:13 am

    Well said. And as we’ve seen with models like the XR1200, HD is willing to experiment and even use the metric tactic of doing a run of only a couple of years until they throw something at the wall that will stick. Everything doesn’t have to be an E-Glide that is made for 50 years. They can play with new bike platforms just like any other maker. Surely they have terabytes of R&D all the way beyond the Nova project and their Penster concept. In fact, just the notion the would consider new stuff has made some consumers give the moco a 2nd glance.

  7. 7 MMA Jul 17th, 2014 at 9:33 am

    MOCO’s marketing strategy is smart; they are building a variety of bikes that can be customized to fit the sensibilities of the rider that is interested in a new bike. Novices can start on Street models or the venerable Sportster. Baby boomers have their crusiers and their trikes. The bike can be chromed or blacked out, or just about any permutation in between. They can accomodate urban riders just as well as they can accomodate distance riders. And they can clothe you in just about any style of clothing that will suit your taste. And the same goes for your partner; putting her in something that will suit her tastes as well.

    The LiveWire and the Street model build interest. Get them riding, and then grow them into something larger or pricier. Most car companies follow this system; entry level vehicles, mid-sized/priced sedans and crossover vehicles, and then finally full size vehicles.

  8. 8 Greg Howell Jul 17th, 2014 at 9:40 am

    Now imagine the project livewire frame being modular at the factory, so you can choose the chassis and select either electric or maybe drop in a 750 revolution engine in it. Would be interesting…

  9. 9 Darry Wagner Jul 17th, 2014 at 9:50 am

    Agree. Harley is smarter than most imagine. When they eventually realized that they made a big mistake (not addressing new markets during period 1995 to 2005), they showed us that they can rebound with the right products. Both the Street & LiveWire project are Harley’s future. HD will continue to lead. Love this type of articles. Creates great debate. Thanks Cyril.

  10. 10 bobx Jul 17th, 2014 at 9:56 am

    i saw this the other day. made me think of a honda cb1000. good on HD to go this route.

  11. 11 richard Jul 17th, 2014 at 10:11 am

    This could be a great alternative for older riders. I’ve already moved from Electra glides to Road Kings. As we get older, the really big bikes can present problems in certain circumstances and a lighter, more agile, lighter platform begins to look attractive. Additionally, our long distance rides become fewer over time. I wouldn’t rule this demographic out…

  12. 12 Mr Dick Jul 17th, 2014 at 11:16 am

    Sweet spot? How about being sweet to Canadians? Up here getting into a street glide, for example will set you back around 30k, out the door, ( taxes, doc.fee, enviro levy, b.s.) Ask any dealer here how it’s going.

  13. 13 TJ Martin Jul 17th, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Patrick … Actually …. they aren’t … driving or riding for the most part that is . The later generations even less . And if they are they’re driving/riding used …. very used actually …. not new . The Gen Xer’s losing interest in motorized transportation in general and not having the money to buy new even if they do Sorry … but those are the statistics as they stand [ WSJ CR NYTimes Reuters etc ] Fact is [ AARP NYTimes WSJ NBCFN etc again ] Its us Boomers with all the disposable cash and the willingness to part with it for things like cars , M/C’s homes , luxury goods etc . Fact is … we Boomers now control over 80% of the wealth in the US , CDN as well as the EU/UK . And thems the facts . Hard core and ugly as they may be . Which by the way …. almost everyone from the auto/motorcycle makers , music business , TV and movie business , publishing etc are completely ignoring … which is why they’re all hurting for cash . Aiming their marketing and products at demographics that couldn’t care less and wouldn’t be able to afford it if they did .

    Making it time everyone finally realize ; Old Guys [ and Gals ] Rule … especially when it comes to the almighty $

  14. 14 MDK Jul 17th, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    Clearly they ripped off the Yamaha Bolt.

  15. 15 Darry Wagner Jul 17th, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    TJ Martin,

    You don’t understand marketing. Companies prepare for the short term future. For evident reason, a motorcycle is the first luxury item that boomers is going to abandon. We are not talking about 70″ LED TV’s.

    Do hipsters comprise a genuine cultural movement with real spending power?

    Hipsters have something else that makes them attractive to marketers: greater numbers. Luxury marketing consultant Pam Danzinger says that Millennials in general–and hipsters especially–will be one of the next big consumer demographic targets.

    As children of Baby Boomers, the number of people–with money to burn–born as Millennials is 70 million and growing. That’s much larger than Generation X, which includes about 46 million Americans. Gen Xers’ spending power–which amounts to about $125 billion annually–can’t compare with that of the Boomers, who boast an estimated buying power of $2 trillion a year with a population of 79 million, according to Mind Comet, an Orlando-based market research and consulting firm.

    The rise of those currently reaching affluence will have global implications. In other words, it’s not that companies are definitely profiting from hipsters in the here and now, it’s that the hipster demographic is currently more powerful than any previous counterculture, yet still has a lot of growing up and spending to do in the future.

    The younger money-spending audience is everybody’s their ‘future clients. The hipster is here to stay. And here to spend. The aging boomers, for sure, are going to consume less and less until they disappear.

  16. 16 James just another Crazy Kiwi Jul 17th, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    Richard is spot on ! I will ride if able when older. If it means a street so be it.
    As for the young people allot of guys and gals are racing and riding chook chasers.
    Bit like the 70’s but we need to get them off the dirt when they progress and on to the seal.
    todays generation will always have a car and a MotorCycle. Me I could only afford motorcycles.

    This bike may well be a catalyst to get some of those kerosene cowboys on to road bikes.

    For the sake of the industry and a way of life lets hope so.

    Otherwise we will be the dinosaurs watching the comet about to hit ……………………………………

  17. 17 fuji Jul 17th, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    Too funny . Now those little Honda Shadows look more like a Harley than the small Harleys.

  18. 18 Kroeter Jul 17th, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    Most teens and 20-somethings I know can only afford a car they can drive year-round to a job to support their technology expenses. A lot of them still live with their parents. They won’t drop 7-grand on a bike they can ride maybe six months out of the year, when it’s not raining or too cold.

    Kawasaki did it right with their 250 Ninjas. A kid can get one bone stock for 3-grand. It’s a glorified scooter but it’s affordable and cool. Kawi has sold thousands of them over the years; the other Japanese manufacturers are following suit with smaller cc bikes. If Harley slapped their logo on a 300cc machine, modeled like a Buell Blast replica, I think that would be a game-changer.

  19. 19 Blackmax Jul 17th, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    Guys!!! It’s Ok !!!!
    Really, Like everything else the market will decide
    Me, if I was going to spend just short of $8000 for a cycle
    and was not going to do a lot of long distance travelling,
    it would come down between the 750 Street & the Star Bolt at 900cc’s .
    I’d prefer the Bolt as there is “no replacement for displacement ”
    But again if I’m financing I might decide to step up to an 883 Sportster ?
    Who knows???
    It also depends if the individual just has to HAVE the have the Bar & Shield or just wants a good bike.
    As stated, by many entries before, people are going to vote with their wallets, as they always do…..

  20. 20 nicker Jul 17th, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    RE:
    “… The Gen Xer’s losing interest in motorized transportation in general – …”

    Certainly the way i see it happening around me.
    Few of the youngsters are much interested in what they drive, as long as it gets them to where they want to go. Prime candidates for “Driver-less cars.” .

    No young grease covered garage rats around here.
    Just some old guys still building hot-rods…. but very much slower then in past years.

    Those kids i’ve seen hanging with Dad in the garage are simply taking up space and aren’t much interested in picking up a wrench. They’d as soon play with their I-Phone & expect you do the wrenching for-em.

    And today’s new riders with HDs don’t really care much about HD tradition. They.re more about a last-ditch effort of “trying to be somebody” at any cost. And that won’t last long.
    Doesn’t seem much of a basis foe a growing industry.(???)

    Seems like we’re running out of rugged individual. Just more Allen Alda types;
    None of these folks are going to the Moon any time soon.

    IMHO anyway.
    -nicker-

  21. 21 LowriderLarry Jul 17th, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    @nicker: you said it all; so well observed…

  22. 22 James just another Crazy Kiwi Jul 17th, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    Geez nicker you often mention Allen Alda, he used to be in
    MASH (would love to of bent hot lips over a Willy’s ) and then he was on the black list. What’s happened ? is he a candidate for the Village people or something ?

  23. 23 Aaron Jul 17th, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    Relax, it’s meant for the markets in India and Asia, they love the American brands and these bikes were designed for Urban riding!
    Potholes dirt roads as well as city streets all over the world, reliable transportation moderately priced it will be a better choice over English & Japanese street bikes!
    On the offence HD is positioning themselves for a market they’ve not attempted before!

    AA

  24. 24 James Guerini Jul 18th, 2014 at 5:56 am

    Many baby boomers ride because of the “Easy Rider” movie. It would only take a “Hipster Rider” movie to have all the young generation ride the Street and the Sportster.

  25. 25 KD Jul 18th, 2014 at 6:24 am

    @Patrick – you’re wrong about Gen X’rs not wanting big HD style bikes. I am one and, therefore, most of my friends are and we ALL like and ride big HDs/Indians. Not to say we don’t like others, hell we were raised on Yamahas/Honda/Kawasakis but we still like the classics and that’s why we ride them.

    @TJ Martin – you’re wrong about them too. Gen Xrs LOVE cars from the 70’s & 80’s, ie: the last of the muscle cars (notwithstanding the fact that most agree the “true” last ones were 75 and earlier) and continue to prefer to drive today. It is true that we buy used most of the time though but I think that’s more a reflection of the economy right now.

    @Nicker – I don’t know what Gen X “youngster” you see with Dad in the garage not wanting to help out but take another look at the definition of a Gen X, the youngest right now would be 34 years old. The “youngsters” are the Millenials trying to help out their Gen X dad. Those folks (and subsequent generation) are definitely less interested in owning cars as a whole and would be the target of these “new” smaller bikes. Just like the Gen X crowd was the target of the little Honda minibikes in the 70’s.

  26. 26 BigWave916 Jul 18th, 2014 at 8:00 am

    @KD, well said. There are exceptions, of course.. I am proud father of a Gen X daughter and two millenials. My oldest (Gen X) and my youngest (millennial) Have the car/motorcycle gene. Older one rides a Sportster. The youngest one has an ’83 El Camino with a crate motor, custom paint etc.

    The Street 750/500 suits their taste and pocketbook and they have no aversion to liquid cooled versus air cooled. I think H-D has this well planned to take advantage of the growing markets of Brazil, China, and India while at the same time providing a motorcycle that will fill the need for a better offering at the entry level here in the US.

  27. 27 Doc Robinson Jul 18th, 2014 at 8:00 am

    MDK “Clearly they ripped off the Yamaha Bolt” – what??? The Bolt – excuse me while I throw up for a minute – is the worst ever of a long line of Japanese rip-offs of American designs. I walked past one three times in Lazelle St last year before I realized it wasn’t a customised Sportster.
    TJ Martin “When a company with a deep heritage suddenly tries to change horses in the middle of the stream … 99.999% of the time the stream overwhelms them … drowning them in a wash of irrelevancy”
    Probably true – but – H-D are not changing horses, they are simply adding to their stable, diversifying their model range. Smart.

  28. 28 Jusmecuz Jul 18th, 2014 at 8:23 am

    Right on, KD. At 35, I’m a gen X’er and have a lot of friends that are so. We spend more time in our shops & garages than we do in the house… most I know ride FXRs, Dynas & chopped up sportys.. and maybe a few hacked up metrics. We love workin on our bikes, cars, trucks and anything with wheels. I’m a mechanic by trade and a lot of my buddies are..some aren’t. At the moment, my bike is my only form of transportation and gettin around. That’s how it is here in Alabama.

    Sometimes I get a kick out of the comments here…haha. Everyone seems to be an expert on everything

  29. 29 Matt W. Jul 18th, 2014 at 9:15 am

    Aaron is correct. The primary motivation behind the Street is to break into the growning Asian market.

  30. 30 James Guerini Jul 18th, 2014 at 9:18 am

    …and to attract the hipsters in the US.

  31. 31 steve risdal Jul 18th, 2014 at 11:55 am

    As to us old guys going to wheelchairs..first we will go to trikes. As far as big bikes go Harley sells more to the 18-35 age bracket than all other brands combined…thats a fact. The Street was introduced for two main reasons. First to replace the Buells that were being used for Riders Academy . It takes a while to introduce a new model . Secondly this model will be a big hit in the overseas market and also for people looking for a lighter bike. My response is Harley’s management is deadon and I’d suggest you all buy Harley’s stock.

  32. 32 James just another Crazy Kiwi Jul 18th, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    I will not ride a Trike if it does not lean over in da corners me not doing it.

    Rather ride a lighter MC and remember when we stop work ol folk do not earn much !

    Aaron is on the mark !

  33. 33 richard Jul 19th, 2014 at 10:48 am

    Nicker

    You said…”And today’s new riders with HDs don’t really care much about HD tradition. They.re more about a last-ditch effort of “trying to be somebody” at any cost. And that won’t last long.
    Doesn’t seem much of a basis foe a growing industry.”

    “Won’t last long”…??? This seems inconsistent with a company that’s been doing what they’ve doing for 111 years!

  34. 34 nicker Jul 19th, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    Richard,

    Tradition only lasts as Long as there is someone around who cares, remembers, and conserves it.

    One MC tradition was about HD -vs- Indian (race on Sunday, sell on Monday).
    What’s JJ gonna race at Sturgis… HD or Indian…???
    Hell, not even racing a motorcycle.

    Tradition isn’t something that lends itself to being watered down to appeal to the masses.

    When the HD market ends up populated mainly by people who have to be told “Why I ride” then your on the down side of a market. There is no “tradition” you can build on “me-too” participation.

    Seems to me the last true scooter jockies are reverting back to Rocker style cafe racers.
    Not necessarily because of the “tradition” but because that scene is open to many different MC brands, making participation way more affordable.

    And lets face it a cafe racer doesn’t exactly lend itself to a “casual putt with the your Bros”…. :-)

    -nicker-

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