HAS HARLEY GONE TOO FAR? I admire, respect, ride and enjoy all kinds of motorcycles. If it’s got two wheels and a motor, I’ll probably find something to like about it.
Additionally, I’m an advocate for greater brotherhood (and sisterhood) between riders of all kinds of bikes, the world over.
However, I can’t say I think Harley’s latest agreement to license their unique sound to Honda Motor Company is wise for Harley or good for the global motorbike community.
Now don’t get me wrong. Even though Harley and Honda are the two titans in the motorcycle making game, and even though I do not begrudge any company for licensing their logo to motorcycle apparel and gear makers, or anyone else, for the purpose of satisfying customer brand loyalty and increasing company profits, I just think that Harley has gone too far.
For many years, Harley was easily identifiable by its unique and classic cruiser “look.” At least up until Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha started making their own clones of the American cruisers. Within a few years after that began, it became increasingly more difficult to differentiate a Harley from any of the other major manufacturers. (Notwithstanding the price, quality, performance, or value items, which favor the Japanese).
But at least the American Motor Company has had their signature “Harley Sound,” which might be described as a choppy “potato-potato” rhythm.
Regardless of what percentage of the motorcycle public might actually be able to differentiate the “Harley Sound” from a Honda or any other cruiser with a V-twin engine, the very notion of the Harley sound has still served as an aural trademark of American tradition.
By licensing away their sound to Honda, Harley has sold off the last tangible item that identifies their machines in the world as the King of cruisers.
Although I believe all motorcyclists should respect and celebrate the global brotherhood of bikers, I also believe we should respect and celebrate the differences that each kind of bike offers in our world. In my humble opinion, Harley has not only sold its sound for corporate profit, but it has also sold off part of the soul of the international motorcycle community.
I’ll still continue to ride Harley, Honda and every other kind of motorbike, but this first day of April may perhaps be recalled long into the future as the day a disturbance was felt in the “force” of our motorbike universe.
PS: This was an April Fool’s article.