AIMExpo. CEO’s of Harley-Davidson and Polaris Offered Keynote Addresses Focusing On New Riders

We all know that the future of the power sports industry lies with new riders. How to discover and develop these new riders is a tough challenge. On this topic, on Thursday morning at the AIMExpo in Columbus, Ohio at the Greater Columbus Convention Center,  Harley-Davidson Motor Company and Polaris Industries CEO’s shared their ideas.

Harley-Davidson CEO Matt Levatich re-affirmed his mandate to “build” 2 million new riders in the USA over the next decade to replace aging boomers. Levatich explained that if the hardware is the blood of the industry, the riding experience is what will motivate brand new riders to join the sport. He said that his company and the industry must become very fast as good as building new riders as they are at building motorcycles…

Polaris CEO Scott Wine began his address by describing how much Polaris has achieved until now. But he is very realistic regarding current market condition: a very tough challenging environment, political polarization since the presidential campaign, weather-related disasters in Texas, Louisiana, Florida and South Carolina, Scott Wine also called for campaigns to attract new riders, increasing the number of dealers, and offering to bikers technological innovation. He would like customers to be able to design their motorcycles online, offering basic design options via smartphones, tablets and computers at home or via screens installed in dealerships. Polaris is also contemplating and evaluating Slingshot rentals and as a sharing vehicle in big cities.

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11 Responses to “AIMExpo. CEO’s of Harley-Davidson and Polaris Offered Keynote Addresses Focusing On New Riders”


  1. 1 Highrider Sep 23rd, 2017 at 11:28 pm

    In short—- They haven’t got a clue!

  2. 2 Hdrider Sep 24th, 2017 at 7:00 am

    CEO’s were pretty much clueless.

    I went to the first day of the AIM expo and was dissappointed to see very little offerings for the American V-Twin rider. Some nice custom and antique bikes on display, but not much of interest in the vendor offerings. Seemed to be more focused on offroad, atv’s, boats, etc.

    I hope the V-Twin expo doesn’t go belly-up, because it still serves a very real need.

  3. 3 Berdoobro Sep 24th, 2017 at 8:25 am

    I attended the session where both men spoke and thought they did a fair job of presenting their companies’ perspective about bringing young riders into the fold. The one fact that neither addressed was that many of these young people have large student loan debt, can’t find good paying jobs or both. If they can’t afford the company’s bikes they won’t be able to ride them.

  4. 4 Sam Sep 24th, 2017 at 9:53 am

    deja vous

  5. 5 James just another crazy kiwi Sep 24th, 2017 at 7:22 pm

    Well Berdobro,
    it’s the same here too, that’s interesting. Lots ride dirt bikes but never get on a road bike and more and more live and work inner city and don’t even own a car.
    Corporates trying to make better and better profits lay off the very people that would of bought their products. What is happening in the Western English speaking countries is unsustainable !!

  6. 6 Reyn Mansson Sep 25th, 2017 at 8:28 am

    The only campaign that ever successfully created new riders was from Grey Advertising in 1963-4. That ad increased demand not just for Honda 50s but from businessmen wanting to be dealers.

    Motorcycles no longer convey they are for everybody.Today the ‘All the Gear, All the Time’ advocates would freak out that people dressed in normal attire were enjoying two-wheeled transportation. But that image is what made Honda acceptable.

    The industry missed a whole generation between Boomers and Millenials. That hurts today. There was no focus in the 1980-90s in building new consumers.

    And the HD-segment of the industry must remember that many of the images and attitudes portraying the ‘Biker’ are not well received and off-putting to younger potential riders.

    The Hipster motorcycle event is the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, I’ve ridden in two, both dominated by Millenials and not a black leather, patch festooned vest to be found. You’re not speaking to these riders, Triumph, Yamaha, Ducati, BMW, Honda and even Royal Enfield are with small bikes and classy events

  7. 7 Junman Sep 25th, 2017 at 9:12 am

    Where is the Motorcycle Industry Council in the new rider campaign? It’s going to take a unified effort to turn the heads of young people toward motorcycling. Let’s face it new riders are going to be better served by the metric manufacturers with lower cost choices. It’s up to the American manufacturers to snag those up and comers when they are looking at their 2nd and 3rd bikes.

  8. 8 Nitrobil Sep 25th, 2017 at 10:44 am

    I believe the CEO,s should look at the automotive industry for some knowledge on how to gain brand loyalty. There is no doubt the factory looks at the aftermarket parts manufacturers for inspiration and design. They build concept cars like our aftermarket builds custom bikes. Some ideas eventually wind up on the floor of the dealerships for sale. This is true for the complete vehicle as well as well as optional parts. There is one huge difference to me between the auto industry and motorcycle industry regarding parts sales. The auto industry supplies drawings to the aftermarket on new cars to further develop parts offerings to the public. I can go into a auto dealership and but a Hemi crate motor or a platform roller to build a vehicle. I can’t even buy a part at a Harley dealer without a serial number of a bike with my drivers license to be sure I am in the correct zip code. I’m not going to sweat it now. After the rest of the production moves overseas I will be able to buy parts on Alibaba.com for pennies and get it delivered the next day.

  9. 9 Xenu Sep 25th, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    These fellows must consider the plethora of cruisers on Craigslist. The market is so flooded with low-mileage bikes from too-busy owners that it’s a buyer’s market. As soon as you buy a new bike….it’s a used bike.

  10. 10 Blackmax Sep 25th, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    I was in Columbus also for the opening !
    I heard wht they were saying but not so much how it gets accomphlished
    it was very superficial, I thought, then I get home
    & my home dealer gives me a whole new line
    that was totally the opposite of what i heard from up there ??
    I guess dealer meetings are a Lot different than the shows ????

  11. 11 Larrylittlemc Sep 26th, 2017 at 9:06 am

    @Junman As part of ‘The Future Starts Here’ opening program at AIMExpo, the MIC announced the RiDE initiative that will offer first ride experiences in conjunction with Feld Entertainment’s Monster Truck events. Essentially, in a controlled environment that will be part of the Pit Party, first rides will be offered to Mom, Dad, and children on dirt bikes, ATV’s and side by sides. The idea is to simply get the juices flowing so they’ll want more. There’s more work to be done, for sure, but it’s a start. I found it interesting that both CEO’s, Wine and Levitich, in their keynotes, showed pictures on their first rides, both dirt bikes. The morning created a sense that the industry is rounding up the wagons to make a concerted effort to create new riders for the future- and that no one company can accomplish what everyone can do together. While it’s a long road, we’ve at least started to put one foot in front of the other.

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