The Future Starts Here. Keynotes From Harley-Davidson And Polaris CEO’s To Address The Critical Topic Of Acquiring New Riders.

A softening industry environment, many aging baby boomers being no longer active customers, are adding to the the 2 US manufacturer’s woes. Developing new riders who will become future customers is the big issue they both face.

On September 21st, from 8.30 a.m. to 9.45 a.m. at the AIMExpo at the Greater Convention Center, Matt Levatich (left) President and CEO of Harley-Davidson and Scott Wine, (right) CEO of Polaris Industries will speak about this most pressing motorcycle industry topic. All trade attendees and show exhibitors are invited for free.

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37 Responses to “The Future Starts Here. Keynotes From Harley-Davidson And Polaris CEO’s To Address The Critical Topic Of Acquiring New Riders.”


  1. 1 fuji Sep 2nd, 2017 at 8:41 am

    Silence from all until the great Carnac of the East responds, know all tell all BS. Ok great Carnac the floor is yours

  2. 2 InsideLine Sep 2nd, 2017 at 8:45 am

    Pardon me but methinks their attitudes are at the heart of the problem treating the customer like a commodity rather than a human being . Specifically one does not ‘ acquire ‘ riders / customers . One attracts them . One persuades them . One markets to them . So to both as long as in their eyes I’m nothing more than a commodity methinks I’ll keep my business elsewhere despite a 91 year family history with the MC

  3. 3 BobS Sep 2nd, 2017 at 8:49 am

    Both companies motorcycle sales are down, a good plan would be to take what these two say and do the opposite.

  4. 4 Mike Greenwald Sep 2nd, 2017 at 9:27 am

    Motorcycles and the riders have survived in spite of naysayers and opponents. Sales are down when the consumers refuse to be force fed a product that is unpalatable and undesired. The industry has complied with the government and produced overpriced vehicles that form and function have uniformly escaped the entire gamut of users.
    Mike

  5. 5 Chad Foster Sep 2nd, 2017 at 9:29 am

    They don’t know what to do. So it will be only blah, blah, blah. Each company trying to limit the damage until ready with electric bikes.

  6. 6 Perrry Sep 2nd, 2017 at 9:38 am

    Polaris is diversified so at less risk than Harley, although their number of recalls will cost them a fortune on several years

  7. 7 richards Sep 2nd, 2017 at 10:07 am

    Oh ye of little faith….I think I’ll listen to what these gentlemen have to say…THEN I’ll decide the value of what they have said.

  8. 8 Roberto Sep 2nd, 2017 at 10:47 am

    Electric bikes? No thanks.

  9. 9 BD Sep 2nd, 2017 at 10:52 am

    why do these guys always look like weenies??

  10. 10 Fzzzz Sep 2nd, 2017 at 10:54 am

    Any mention of selling a reliable bike with decent longevity for a realistic price? Realistic from a buyer’s point of view.

  11. 11 Steve Carr Sep 2nd, 2017 at 11:13 am

    The problem is….today’s youth can’t get off the couch long enough to explore things other than a phone app or video game.

    So discovering the thrill of motorcycle riding is slowly going away….and getting excited over the number of points they can get on Super Brain Match is simply more important because it takes no effort.

    Steve Carr

  12. 12 Mike Sep 2nd, 2017 at 11:32 am

    Ding Ding Ding. Steve Carr has got it right. New generation coming up have their faces buried in a smart phone 23 out of 24 hours per day. Motorcycles don’t interest them unless they can take and post selfies while riding. Don’t believe me? Stop and look around in any public place. Tell me what how many people under 40 walk, drive, sit while glues to the phone. It is depressing and terrifying all at once.

  13. 13 InsideLine Sep 2nd, 2017 at 1:04 pm

    Ding ding ding . To put a point on Mike and Steve’s comment read the article in current issue of The Atlantic titled ;

    ” Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation ? ” available online

    So – Ding ding ding ( in conjunction with my previous comment ) Slam Dunk !

  14. 14 The Judge Sep 2nd, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    We grew up riding and working on bicycles – night and day – put cards in the spokes to give them a motor – held our hands out like we were holding handlebars, pretend kickstarted and rode our bikes from class to class at school.. then naturally graduated to mini bikes – dirt bikes – then brokedown old Jap streetbikes then Harleys. I am rarely seeing that natural progression today with kids unless they are encouraged by parents or grandparents.

  15. 15 KIrk Perry Sep 2nd, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    Electric bikes are the future. They can be sold (50 to 1350cc) and dropped-shipped from amazon just like ordering a computer.
    Ask that next kid that’s riding that Pep-Boy’s puddle-jumper if he knows any thing BUT electric two-wheeled transpo. All the kids know about motorcycles is that want a bigger electro-cycle one day.

  16. 16 Harvey Shulman Sep 2nd, 2017 at 7:44 pm

    The virtual motorcycle will be popular with the younger riders. That is if they can make it to the bedroom to ride.

  17. 17 RUB Sep 3rd, 2017 at 3:06 am

    One thing is certain , both these guys will receive large bonuses regardless of the out come .

  18. 18 D Franklin Sep 3rd, 2017 at 7:35 am

    if you want to know what both companies really think about their customers that have purchased their bikes…try calling their customer service and ask for some help on a issue like excessive engine heat or leather that has turned due to sun damage.

  19. 19 Xenu Sep 3rd, 2017 at 8:32 am

    Kids these days aren’t like us. Why should they?
    They aren’t living in the confomist Eisenhower years that drove boomers to rebellion. They weren’t fed a diet of B movies glamorizing one percenters .The seldom even ride bicycles.

  20. 20 Guzzi Greg Sep 3rd, 2017 at 8:38 am

    I can only speak for myself,I can’t take the foot forward position of their bikes. Hurts my body.Too heavy,too expensive and the nostalgia thing is dying.Not interested in a brand new antique.And Harley, I won’t buy a Korean Honda replica with the HD logo stuck on.

  21. 21 chris w Sep 3rd, 2017 at 8:44 am

    wonders if these pair are closely related? (banjos in the distance)

  22. 22 SYF Sep 3rd, 2017 at 10:15 am

    I completely agree with The Judge and Xenu. Kids these days don’t play with motorized vehicles like us older guys did. And the police have been out for dirt bikers since day 1, at least where I grew up.

    I think that these new electric dirt bikes could have huge advantages for riding near residential areas. If residents don’t hear the bikers, they won’t complain to the PD, and kids may be able to have fun like most of us did.

  23. 23 Marc Frantz Sep 3rd, 2017 at 10:53 am

    It would be wise of these two CEOs to read all of the above posts, as the majority of comments are spot on. Motorcycles are a big part of our generation (boomers) due to the culture we grew up in. As we get to an age where we begrudgingly have to hang up our helmets due to advancing age or health issues, the generations behind us are not stepping up for a number of reasons, and the great comments above speak to this. It’s not the millennial’s fault, for as Harley has always said “If I have to explain, you wouldn’t understand”.

    This being said, another consideration is price point. Millenials will not and cannot pay the prices that these motorcycles command. I’m sure everyone has read that this generation stays at home with mom and dad as long as possible, and like all have said above, prefer to live in the virtual world instead of the bricks and mortar reality that us boomers grew up in. Husqvarna will soon roll out ‘Urban’ motorcycles which are small in displacement and price, to attract the young people, and it will be interesting to see if they are successful or not. One thing is for sure, in that the generations coming up behind us don’t share the same reverance that we hold for Harley and Indian, or for motorcycling in general. Things change, and nothing lasts forever. Both companies will live on (hopefully) but will exist with smaller production output and the pairing down to a smaller number of model offerings.

    We had a great run, but it’s no longer our world. It belongs to a generation obsessed with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pineterest. For us boomers that are still alive, we get to witness this sea change in the world and the shrinking of a sport/lifestyle that has defined our lives.

    For me, this is ok, because this was our legacy (boomers) and not theirs (millennials) and I’m greatfull to have experienced and lived the two wheeled way of life.

  24. 24 Guy Sep 3rd, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    Are they Brothers?

  25. 25 Xenu Sep 3rd, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    One motorcycling site I used to follow often has long articles on video games and cartoons simulating bikes. The comments are mostly supportive. Heads-up displays, intercoms, audio systems and all that stuff also creeps in. More positive comments. Ride by wire, TC, and ABS on a monthly payment machine that’s insured against everything.
    I’m a living fossil.

  26. 26 highrpm Sep 3rd, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    “build it and they will come.” though not likely in the numbers wall street wants. these two execs chose to pull up chairs at the high stakes big money tables. hope they enjoy playing the game. though i think creative energies are better spent at on the product design & manufacturing floors rather than jive talking about how to acquire next generation riders.

  27. 27 Davis Sep 3rd, 2017 at 8:43 pm

    $2 on advertising something you spent $1 on research and development or $3 spent on R&D that produces a product that sells itself by its own merits. Everyone can appreciate a company that does not advertise.

  28. 28 domino Sep 4th, 2017 at 7:08 am

    @ Marc Frantz …. You said it perfectly for me …. Nothing more I need to add ….

    …………………….. Domino Dave …………………………..

  29. 29 BuzzD Sep 4th, 2017 at 8:50 am

    after being retired a few years can ‘feel’ the end of the days of riding two wheels (after 50 yrs)coming closer to an end–can remember the rants of father(and grandfathers) against the kids of the day–from music to haircuts(or lack of),clothing styles and desired methods of relaxation! Think bikes are a niche market at best—and sometimes think it was better when the niche was smaller!!

  30. 30 reyn Sep 4th, 2017 at 9:50 am

    Yes, the smartphone and digital entertainment have limited a generation’s interest in many physical activities.
    Personal transportation has been somewhat demonized and the effect has been that the age for first getting an operator’s permits for an auto has risen not from new legislation but because the teenagers are not learning to drive and show little interest in operating motor vehicles.
    They have been raised in a risk averse society and that limits interested in a motorcycle.
    Motorcyclists themselves have presented a less than attractive public image, from the anti-social “biker” to the threatening ‘crotch rocketeers’, the whole milieu of riding is not attractive to many. I became aware of motorcycles when. ” You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda” created a modern motorcycle culture. I was never a fan of the biker B movie, Easy Rider being the only one I saw in a first run, that had no bearing on my interest in motorcycles.
    The OEM in the 1990 and early 2000s focused to larger, faster and offered nothing for the entry level riders. That has kept the generation that should now be buying Ultra Glides and BMW K1600 out of the market, in essence, we skipped a generation. So now the industry has to hope to create something that will bloom in 10 years or more.

    There is hope, two new BMW models are about to be released, the K1600 Bagger and the G310R/GS. Dealerships I am familiar with have one or two deposits on the Baggers but most have a half dozen or more deposits on the new 310 slight unseen months before they arrive. I see lots of Groms and small bikes around the local high school, so that’s a good sign.
    Insurance cost needs to be addressed by the industry, that keeps many away.

  31. 31 Marc J Beaulieu Sep 4th, 2017 at 9:50 am

    The future of motorcycling…is not about “acquiring” new riders but the industry needs to “create” new riders by making it easier for young folks to be introduced to the joys of riding motorcycling adventures. The industry cannot grow significantly by simply hoping that riders from one motorcycle brand will switch to another… ~ MotorcycleMarc

  32. 32 Dieter Sowade Sep 4th, 2017 at 10:14 am

    WTF ? Polaris HAD (has) a product that, with a little more development, could easily have appealed to a whole new generation of riders and in case they have forgotten about it, it was called VICTORY !

    Now they’re bemoaning the fact that Indians don’t appeal to the “younger rider” ! Really ??? And they could not have worked this out 8 months ago.

    Dust off the Victory Factory and start producing some of the “concepts” that you had on the table and watch what happens.

    Give me a break

    Dieter Sowade ( South Africa )

  33. 33 Stony Crane Sep 4th, 2017 at 1:46 pm

    Their problem with new (younger) riders is one of macroeconomics, technology and globalization. The millennial generation has less economic opportunity than previous generations because tech has replaced middle management through computerization, manufacturing has moved to China, thanks to the mother of globalization – Walmart and we moved from an asset based economy, the one President Trump and his money shuffling Wall Street cabinet are familiar with to an intellectual property based and service economy.

    Forget Chuck Schumer fixing anything; the Democrats are the party of the coastal elite who just want things to remain as the are, thank you. He is the champion of money shuffling and keeping potentially productive people on the public assistance roles for their “own good”. But hey, both groups thank they have it good.

    I live in Silicon Valley and this economy is booming – for a few sectors, those that can get capital. Yet San Jose, the richest metro area in the nation has the largest homeless population in the country. There are now more people on public assistance in California than are employed.

    So what is the solution? Localization of entrepreneurial activity across all SIC codes (industries).

    How do we do it? I’ve outlined it here in my article “Revitalizing the America Dream”.

    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/revitalizing-american-dream-stanford-crane

  34. 34 Pat h Sep 4th, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    Did I miss something what did these guys say

  35. 35 Black Vision09 Sep 6th, 2017 at 9:28 am

    I agree with Dieter Sowade. Polaris introduced a real competitor in developing a truly different brand of motorcycles that appealed to a new generation. They decided to ignore that generation and go with a dying one. They were futuristic. Hello keyword!!! “Futuristic”. So what we now have are an American Market flooded with motorcycles that all look alike. Nothing cutting edge. They look like copy cats of each other. They took old bikes and added new stuff. They they took new bike i.e. Victory and did nothing more than introduce them. It took Harley a 100 years to get where they are. Polaris is aiming for the fast dime rather than the slow nickel. What a shame. They should have taken note in 2012 and built off of it. They went stagnant. What a shame.

  36. 36 Paul Sep 6th, 2017 at 9:54 am

    Either one of them ride?

  37. 37 badams Sep 15th, 2017 at 12:37 am

    clearly the red pill theory doesnt apply to these two.

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