Saturday, January 12, 2008

Harley-Davidson culture

According to a recent Harley-Davidson study, in 1987 half of all Harley riders were under age 35. Now, only 15% of Harley buyers are under 35, and as of 2005, the median age had risen to 46.7.

The income of the average Harley-Davidson rider has risen, as well. In 1987, the median household income of a Harley-Davidson rider was $38,000. By 1997, the median household income for those riders had more than doubled, to $83,000.

Harley-Davidson motorcycles has long been associated with the sub-cultures of the:

  • Biker
  • Motorcycle club
  • Outlaw Bikers/One Percenters
  • Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs

Origin of "Hog" nickname

Beginning in 1920, a team of farm boys, including Ray Weishaar, who became known as the "hog boys," consistently won races. The group had a hog, or pig as their mascot. Following a win, they would put the pig (a real one) on the back of their Harley and take a victory lap. In 1983, the Motor Company formed a club for owners of its product taking advantage of the long-standing nickname by turning "hog" into the acronym H.O.G., for Harley Owners Group. Harley-Davidson attempted to trademark "hog", but lost a case against an independent Harley-Davidson specialist, The Hog Farm of West Seneca, NY, in 1999 when the appellate panel ruled that "hog" had become a generic term for large motorcycles and was therefore unprotectable as a trademark.

On August 15, 2006, Harley Davidson Inc. had its NYSE ticker symbol changed from HDI to HOG.

Harley-Davidson Riders Club of Great Britain

The Harley-Davidson Riders Club of Great Britain (est 1949) was the first British riders club (as opposed to motorcycle club) and organized national rallies and ride-outs from the outset. The 1982 rally began a popular run of events, probably due to the good fortune of having William G. Davidson attending his first rally outside the USA, in Great Britain. He is thought to have been more than curious to discover how the secret "Evolution Motor" had found its world exclusive on the cover of the spring edition of the HDRCGB magazine, the "Harleyquin", but having a forgiving nature, Willie G. returned in 1984, along with Vaughn Beals and Len Thomson to officially show off the Evolution engine by bringing a test ride fleet to the second Brighton International Super Rally run by H.D.R.C.G.B.. The demonstration rides were the first at any European Rally.

Harley Owners Group

Harley-Davidson established the Harley Owners Group (abbreviated H.O.G.) in 1983 in response to a growing desire by a new breed of Harley riders for an organized way to share their passion and show their pride. In 1991, H.O.G. went international, with the first official European H.O.G. Rally in Cheltenham, England. Today, more than one million members and more than 1400 chapters worldwide make H.O.G. the largest factory-sponsored motorcycle organization in the world.

H.O.G. benefits include organized group rides, exclusive products and product discounts, insurance premium discounts, and the Hog Tales newsletter. A one year full membership is included with the purchase of a new, unregistered Harley Davidson.

Current model designations

  • Sportster With the exception of the street-going XR1000 of the 1980s, all Sportsters made for street use have the prefix XL in their model designation. For the Sportster Evolution engines used since the mid 1980s, there have been two sizes of Sportster Evolution engine. Motorcycles with the smaller engine are designated XL883, while those with the larger engine were initially designated XL1100. When the size of the larger engine was increased from 1,100 cc to 1,200 cc, the designation was changed from XL1100 to XL1200. Subsequent letters in the designation refer to model variations within the sportster range, eg. the XL883C refers to an 883 cc Sportster with cruiser or custom styling, while the XL1200S designates the now-discontinued 1200 Sportster Sport.
  • Dyna models utilize the big-twin engine (F), small-diameter telescopic forks similar to those used on the Sportster (X), and the Dyna chassis (D). Therefore, all Dyna models have designations that begin with FXD, eg. FXDWG (Wide Glide) and FXDL (Low Rider).
  • Softail models utilize the big-twin engine (F) and the Softail chassis (ST).
    • Softail models that use small-diameter telescopic forks similar to those used on the Sportster (X) have designations that begin with FXST, eg. FXSTB (Night Train), FXSTD (Deuce) and FXSTS (Standard).
    • Softail models that use large-diameter telescopic forks similar to those used on the touring bikes (L) have designations beginning with FLST, e.g. FLSTF (Fat Boy) and FLSTC (Heritage Softail Classic).
    • Softail models that use Springer forks with a 21-inch wheel have designations that begin with FXSTS eg. FXSTS (Springer Softail) and FXSTSB (Bad Boy).
    • Softail models that use Springer forks with a 16-inch wheel have designations that begin with FLSTS eg.FLSTSC (Springer Classic)
  • Touring models use Big-Twin engines and large-diameter telescopic forks. All Touring designations begin with the letters FL, eg. FLHR (Road King) and FLTR (Road Glide)
  • Revolution models utilize the Revolution engine (VR), and the street versions are designated Street Custom (SC). After the VRSC- prefix common to all street Revolution bikes, the next letter denotes the model, either A (base V-Rod), B (discontinued), D (Night Rod), R (Street Rod), SE (CVO Special Edition), or X. Further differentiation within models are made with an additional letter, e.g. VRSCDX denotes the Night Rod Special.
    • The factory drag bike, the VRXSE Destroyer, uses X instead of SC to denote a non-street bike and SE to denote a CVO Special Edition

Model designations

Harley model designations are a sequence of letters and numbers, combined in limited ways. The sequences can be long, as in the 2006 model designation FLHTCUSE.

The first letter may be one of the following:

E, J, K ('50s small twin), F, U, V (Big Twin), D, G, R, W (Small Twin), X (Sportster), or V (VRSC)

Letters are appended singly or in pairs, as follows:

B (Belt Drive), C (Classic or Custom), D (Dyna Glide), DG (Disk Glide), E (Electric start), F (Fat Boy (1990-present) or Foot-shift (1972 and prior)), H (High compression), L (Hydra Glide forks), LR (Low Rider), P (Police), R (Race or Rubber-mount), S (Sport, Springer, or Standard), SB (Single belt final drive), ST (Softail), T (Touring), WG (Wide Glide), I (Fuel injection), SE (Screamin’ Eagle), U (Ultra)

Custom Vehicle Operations models can also have a number (2,3,4) added.

Note that these conventions for model designations are broken regularly by the company.