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Thoughts of a Harley rider…

Live To Ride, Ride To Live...

May 2012

Dyna Time

My Dyna Super-Glide Custom was delivered yesterday by Stratstone Harley-Davidson at Stoke - the bike was in pristine condition, polished to perfection with a Pure Guard coating, the first coating of pre-glaze seals the paintwork on the Super Glide, the second coating fuses together the first coating to protect the bike and it’s guaranteed for six years, so my bike should maintain it’s showroom appearance until I do decide to sell her (her because she has been named “Scarlett”).

The bike rides like a dream, almost 1600cc (96 cubic inches) of sheer Harley-Davidson Twin Cam 96 power matched with the ESPFI system. It handles so smoothly and the power is available as soon as you need it, don’t get me wrong, this is NOT a racer of any description, but it does have the power available to accelerate as soon as you need it. The Twin Cam 96 is developed from the 1909 V-Twin of Harley-Davidson’s heritage and that heritage shows and works!

The Super Glide is maxed out with the chrome and high end finishes, chrome rocker covers, tank mounted gauges with wrap around chrome, the solid stainless steel pullback handlebars are a perfect fit for my riding style, enabling me to just cruise in comfort. Probably one of the best design parts of the Super Glide is the self cancelling turn indicators, you don’t have to think about them, they judge their own distance and self cancel, all done using accelerometers.

The bike also comes equipped with ABS as factory installed, so stopping power is there in heaps and really gives you a feeling of security and safety. The bike also has an inbuilt security system, no key to fire up the ignition as most bikes do, the Super Glide uses a security key fob which activates the ignition system when you are standing near the bike, no key to think about!! Perfect as you just keep the fob in your jacket pocket and start her up when you are ready to ride.. and what a ride!!

Customer Service

I was reading a survey recently which asked the question “If Harley-Davidson make Motorcycles which have so many problems, why do they have one of the largest brand loyalty followings” ?

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is premised on the belief that developing a relationship with customers is the best way to get them to become loyal and that loyal customers are more profitable than non-loyal customers. There are situations where anecdotal evidence indicates that forming a relationship with a brand and/or the retailer selling it will be relevant. In markets where psychological and social value dominate function (such as luxury goods, cosmetics, and lifestyle brands), there may be a significant “brand component” that drives consumer choice and commitment. Some consumers may attribute a personality to the brand and want a relationship with it. For example, if you are Harley-Davidson selling big motor cruisers and the feeling of being free and somewhat rebellious, then forming a relationship with your customers makes sense. Here, much of what is being bought is social and psychological in nature. The motorbike is really a “ticket to entry” to one of the various Harley- Davidson subcultures. The company creates much of the “product” by fostering the core values of personal freedom, machismo, patriotism, and American heritage. They manage the customer relationship with a CRM program that involves bike rallies, services, clothing, collectibles, and their HOG club which has an incredible root culture within the UK, which is probably one of the last places that you would expect.. after all, we Brits are VERY conservative in our views.. unlike our American cousins. So why does Harley-Davidson have such a loyal customer base? Is the rebellious nature of the HD Rider? Is it that people who work at HD have that “Family Together” attitude?

With its feet firmly planted in both the present and the past, Harley-Davidson offers traditional - many say retro - styles and the best, most-refined 1940's technology around. That approach - marked by ample bulk (some models weigh almost 800 pounds, about twice that of otherwise comparable BMW machines), twin cylinders and a throaty growl -- has been derided by high-tech motorcycling enthusiasts as an inefficient relic of a bygone era. But to Harley's customers, the motorcycles are lovingly crafted works of art. And many genuine artists agree. In a recent exhibit of global design held at London's Victoria and Albert Museum, the object chosen to represent America's design sense was a Harley-Davidson.

I think that you only need to watch the video of the genuine Harley Rider video below (Living By It) and that sums it up.. pistons as big as dustbins (garbage cans - US version!!), petrol tanks designed in 1936, freight train sized headlights.. we don’t care what everyone else believes.. Amen..

But speaking from personal experience, I want to say that I think that one of the newest HD Dealerships in the UK have it right..
Stoke Harley Davidson - that’s why I purchased a new HD Super Glide Custom from them last week. From the moment that I stepped through the doorway, to the moment that I walked out with a BIG smile on my face, I knew that I had made the right choice of dealer for my bike. No pressure from the Sales Team (Paul Alcock), a desire to help you (Russel - BDM, Tim Williams, Bryan Adams - no, not THAT Bryan Adams, THE Bryan Adams for HD Parts and Service). I’ve yet to discover a nicer team of people, who’s one aim is to have a happy customer welcomed into “The Family”.. don’t believe that statement.. check out their Facebook Page, EVERY photograph of the happy customer - “Welcome To The Family” on the comments section.. start as you mean to go on.

As an example of the brand selling itself, how many companies with Billion Pound / Dollar turnovers only spends US$1 Million in it’s annual advertising campaign? Selling in excess of 110,000 Harleys in a year.. we’re in a double dip recession of course!! So why does the Harley continue to sell so well? Is it the brand or the fact that the brand represents a lifestyle? It’s that rebellious nature, the bad boy, the Wild West and the individualism. In fact, after speaking with the other Bryan Adams, I’m adamant that I’m going to customise MY Super Glide Custom over the next six months in the run up to Christmas - tip from Bryan - keep your Harley-Davidson Catalogue in the bathroom, with some post-it-notes and a highlighter.. great way to drop the hint for Christmas presents!!

You only have to look at Willie G. the Grandson of one of the founders of Harley-Davidson, his attitude of meeting the customers and sticking to the ethos of the 40’s and 50’s design and staying well clear of the slickness of the Japanese bikes, this helped to foster the brand loyalty even more, just look at the bikes now, they still maintain that retro look back to the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s when Harley’s were at their most popular and there is no sign of them changing the design that much into the future, the biggest change to the range was probably the
V-Rod which was the most radical styling change for Harley-Davidson. Whilst at the same time they are maintaining the retro look with the 72 range.

As long as the company keeps listening to their customers, promotes the family loyalty of HD and have staff who REALLY care about the customer and their bike, then Harley-Davidson will continue to grow..

Time To Shop

Well yesterday was a good day.. OK, it was GREAT day!! I decided that I would go and have a look at the Fat Bob that was advertised in Stoke Harley-Davidson’s webpage - oh boy was I disappointed when Paul (Sales Team) smiled and said “Sorry Steve, I sold that one in the week..” was I gutted!!

Then I started looking around the showroom at some of the other great Harley’s which they had on offer.. one caught my eye.. well actually three of them.. bikes, not my eyes! They had three brand new HD Super Glide Custom FXDCLV2’s in stock in the showroom, in
Ember Red Sunglow and they were a steal at £9,999 each on the road. That’s about £1,700 below the list price for the bike. I was getting tempted, sat on one to get the feel for it.. comfortable tourer seat, perfect reach distance for me (I must have weird arms!!), nice riding position.. then Paul struck again and put a sold notice on the bike.. was I jinxed? Or was Paul winding me up? No.. he’d sold his second Super Glide.

So on the initial delivery of four bikes,
Paul had sold two of them, well he soon had his hat trick in the bag.. I was number three.. couldn’t really let the Super Glide go to someone else could I? I made my decision there and then.. well Paul did gang up on me with the rest of the family, Wife liked the colour, Daughter liked the seat and Son was thinking about the Father & Son bonding time .. I was outnumbered from the start!! But at the price of £9,999 on the road, it was a bargain as a first time HD for me.

I have to say what a great day I had meeting everyone at the Dealership, Paul (Sales), Russel (Business Development), Bryan Adams (Spares and Service) and Chris (Spares and Service). I even got to chat to Ian and Paul from the
Stoke HOG Chapter. Nice bunch of guys who really took time to chat to my family about the HOG Chapter. So all the initial paperwork has been done, just need to send them a cheque for the balance now.. and the Super Glide will be delivered to me on my return from France in a couple of weeks time.

Roll on the 30th May, when I am onto the final Module Part 2 of my test and I can hit the open road and go riding.. HEAVEN!!
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