Harley Davidson is in an interesting position. Sales of all motorcycles appear to be pretty strong right now, but Harley Davidson’s higher priced motorcycle line sales are down about 9% this year, although profits for the company are up. So for 2014, Harley Davidson is cutting back on their product line, eliminating six models for the U.S. market, although some models may still be available for export to foreign markets. In addition to the sales of motorcycles, the company actually earns an additional $40 million a year by licensing their name for a large number of products including clothing, toys and other items.
The legendary U.S. motorcycle brand has been through a lot of history in it’s history since it was founded in 1903 where it’s first models were largely motorized bicycles. After 1978, the company eliminated it’s role building lightweight motorcycles, instead concentrating on larger motorcycles with 750cc or better engines. But, many of the older frames are a popular basis for many motorcycle enthusiasts to build custom motorcycles.
During WWII, the company produced 90,000 WLA styled motorcycles for use by the U.S. military and it’s allies, including Canada and the Soviet Union. The motorcycles were 740cc models that were largely used by couriers to send important information and communications where using radios was too dangerous.
In 1994, Harley attempted to file a patent for the distinctive exhaust note that their bikes produce because of the V-win engine design, however a number of other motorcycle brands successfully pursued legal action to prevent Harley from seeking this engine exhaust note patent by the year 2000, since many engines that use a similar V-twin design might produce a similar exhaust note sound.
Harley is no doubt here to stay as a brand. But, the company is cutting back their models a little to avoid product overlap or products that are not selling in great numbers. But, with the profit picture looking better, this legendary American brand is far from over with many bright days ahead for the rest of the century.