Harley Davidson Licenses Their “Harley Sound” to Honda

Harley Honda SoundHAS 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.

33 thoughts on “Harley Davidson Licenses Their “Harley Sound” to Honda

  • Some of these comments clearly show they have no sense when it comes to bikes regardless of brand. I like all bikes but I have my preferences. Fanboys in all brands can suck it.

  • You say about the japs taking the “American” tradition, but the yanks took the cafe racer from england, problem with you americans, so narrow minded.

  • I personally like the look and sound of a Harley, however I am a HONDA man.
    Harley’s vibrate too much, even though women love this feature, on the flip side,,,they also vibrate everything loose. HONDA, has always been good to me, I took a beat to hell 83 nighthawk 450 and rode it all the way from Cordes Lakes Arizona to Red Bay, Alabama with NO PROBLEMS !!! I stopped twice on the side of the road to help 2 other bikers , 1 just quit on him, and the other had a broken drive belt, 1 in new mexico, and 1 in Tennessee, BOTH HARLEY’S !!! BOTH NEWER BIKES. ALSO, Harley dealerships have always treated me like shit, just like a Chevrolet dealer and a Peterbilt dealer. Shitty customer service, shitty attitudes, lack of care and concern, NOW,,,HONDA dealers have ALWAYS been extremely nice and courteous, and always willing to help, just like FORD, and KENWORTH dealers

  • If were all bikers Here,,why are you talking to each other” your family “this way

  • christine …please ride what you want,what fits you, its ok but thats the way it was back then with us …we rode all sorts of bikes, some we liked and some we did not …even in the 50’s and early 60’s harley riders were ok …it was when the newer fake riders thought ride a h.d. and your something your not..and better then the rest.. i know its hard to believe but there WAS a time when h.d. riders did not all look alike ,dress alike, think alike …they were just everyday riders …but then they were sold a fake life style by h.d. because the bikes were so much crap and after HONDA showed them how to build a better assy line and better supply lines then came out of the near death fall ..so they reinvented their look and still sold the crap bikes but slow little by little made them better…and the look /life style made them $$$ by selling all the black tee shirts and i am a bad ass ego to all the people who want to PLAY bad ass -fear me -look at me …who in every day life were just every day folks but when they suited up in the clown cloths they become something they are not or wish to be …..even the true really true 1% ers look down on these fools who pretend to be them for a week end …and now they have a t.v. cable show ”sons of a– holes ” who help make them feel like they are mainstream … ”the good bad guys ” …its all a h.d. $$ mith ..reinvented life style to make $$ …ride a h.d. and your atrue bad ass….even if like your brother knows they are not up to standards of the industry … so ride what you want enjoy .. thats what everyone else has been saying for the last 60 years ..its not the tee-shirt,patch, head rag thats makes you a rider … its you …

  • OOPS…continuation, all get along and support each other. Sadly, human nature doesn’t work that way and so the discussion/rivalry will continue. ~sigh~

  • Afterthought: You all may be right about what the Harley company did and how some Harley riders feel they are superior. I’m just saying that I’m a Harley rider and I know many others, some of whom consider themselves superior and others who couldn’t care less. I know more in the latter category. Yes, we SHOULD

  • rOy: Actually, I realize what you are saying is reality. As I’ve posted before, my brother is so anti-Harley he couldn’t even get on my bike without making a face! (I wanted him to ride it b/c I wanted him to check something out that I heard in the engine). Then he said just last summer as he walked towards my bike: ‘ You know, people ride these things just for the name.’

    I mean, he has 3 bikes…all Japanese…and he, eons ago, sold Bridgestone motorcycles and raced motorcycles. He KNOWS bikes and yet he has no respect for Harleys?? Nevertheless, he tells me to stick with my bike since I’m now used to it. So, I will. I just don’t like other riders making assumptions about why I ride a Harley. It’s none of their concern. If they don’t like Harley, fine…but please respect MY right to ride one and keep your nasty thoughts to yourself, thank you very much!

  • christine —why through the 70’s -80’s – 90’s all the other bike riders heard was ” get a real motorcycle-get a harley ” or ”that jap tin junk ,rice burner ride a american bike ” well when HONDA had to show h.d. how to set up and run a assy line to make $ after they went out … and 1/2 of the parts are jap [ shocks,electric]…..now its OH your picking on h.d. why can’t we all get along…. well the chickens have come home to roost …girl..so live with it for 30 more years then we will be even …ok ..

  • I’m a relatively new rider who rides a Harley ONLY because my boyfriend rides one. Naturally, he always only took me to Harley dealerships and I just happened to fall in love with a white Sportster at the time I decided to learn to ride. Had he taken me to Honda dealerships, I’d be riding a Honda, no doubt.

    Some of these postings are so negative and hostile that it makes me sick. Half of them are nearly unintelligible due to the state of mind of the writer! And now knowing how many people must hate Harley riders, I wonder if it’s even safe for me to venture out into traffic. So far, other vehicles have been very courteous towards me and given me wide birth, if necessary…because they can see I’m a girl and figure I need extra space? If so, then being female serves me well!

    My neighbor rides a Harley Road King BUT he also rides a scooter…quite frequently for around- the- town errands. So you see this guy on a big Harley one day and on a little yellow scooter the next! I love it! That’s the way it SHOULD be. Ride what suits you and respect others’ preference to ride what THEY like. Don’t rush to judgement about the rider and why he rides what he rides. It could be a preference for one make over another, financial considerations or , like me, purely an accident! If a Harley rider thinks that he/she is superior b/c he/she rides a Harley…that’s THEIR problem. Humor them.

  • I think most of these people would qualify as “functionally retarded” in most states. No matter how solid of a point you have, throwing together words like a shit-chucking ape makes you sound like a lobotomy patient. What’s sad is that the people with the best logic (from what I can figure out) are the ones stringing together words with the clarity of a meth-addled schizophrenic. I love riding, period, and I think if you make the bike your own, then it doesn’t matter where you start; the choice of platform is just a means to an end. But hey, what the hell do I know? ‘MERICA!!!!!

  • Such hostility, seems like a bunch of young ones wanna bes whining away. Who cares what you ride, it´s what´s inside that counts man.
    When most of you little ass wipes were still a drunken mistake between your momma and papas I was riding a 250 Yamaha, from Honduras to Acapulco Mexico. Me and my wife, no helmets, no goggles, no leathers, no gloves, just jeans, t-shirts and old motorcycle boots, what I´da given to have some of the bikes you have. Real bikes in the hands of softies I´m afraid.
    Anyway the idea is to relax a little here, enjoy your time on the road, you never know when the good times will end for you.
    We met some wonderful people on the roads in Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, good folks and always willing to lend a hand with repairs and shit, for some reason you seem to get that when on a bike, and a little 250 egg beater at that!

  • Wow, all of this over an April 1st (fools day anyone?) post. Gotta love it!

  • In my country we love harley davidsons because nobody wants to steal them from us. Mostly the hondas and yamahas are stolen

  • Wow….I can’t believe the animosity of some of the posts on here….sad.
    I love motorcycles….always have.

    I’ve ridden motor scooters/cycles since 1963….started with an old used Cushman scooter…I’ve had several Hondas, and truly liked them all…they were great machines…now, I own a 2003 Harley Night Train…and I love this bike….

    I’m not bitter toward other riders of any other brands…I wave at every rider I pass, if possible….but, I will admit, I like my Night Train better than any other motorcycle I”ve ridden…even the old Cushman.

    P.S. Nothing else sounds like a Harley…and I love that, too. LOL

  • Well by golly if Harley can sell there sound to Honda the American Airlines can sell their sound to Delta Airlines then Delta can fly just as fast as American and that my friends is the American way. Personally I purchase the bike that will allow me to have both feet on the ground whill sitting in a upright position and all the controls with in easy reach. The manufacture that produces that will get my business. I ride for the pleasure of riding and the longer I can stay on a bike and not have to stop the more pleasurable it is.

  • The exhaust note a motorcycle makes is determined by the number of cylinders, the firing order, and muffler attached to the engine. All V-Twins and parallel twins that have an uneven firing order make the potato, potato or bang, bang, pause, bang,bang, pause…. exhaust sound. Whats the big deal? I challenge the original poster to supply a link validating his claim otherwise I will assume this is just another internet rumor.

  • To start with Im using my real name cause i dont need to hide behind a screen name like most of you dumb ass’s , azz holes , wonna be’s and scared punks. I have been riding since early 80s and have never red such bull shite. The ones on here trashing bikes, bikers and companys other than what they ride are so full a shite. Do you honestly think a Harley is a true AMEICAN bike………get real. Those of you trashing Harleys and the people that ride them your full of runny crap also. If your a scared tit sucking punk, do you honestly think a bike of any kind is gonna change you. Its not the bike that makes the man its the MAN that makes the bike. Im currantly hunting a new bike and im checking out all the cruisers from sever companys. Oh and to the jack hole that thinks he wears the pants at his house because he thinks he has balls because his wife LET him buy a Harley. Grow up. It take a real man to love and respect his wife. Not like you, a stupid little boy that thinks a Harley is gonna make him a man. Hahahaha. You know the words i speek are true.

  • wow. Has everyone on here lost their mind. You all gripe and argue about stupid crap that doesnt matter. If no one has looked at dealers in the last 10 years most of the bikes of comparable features are close to the same price. So thats not an issue. Harley has bad customer service in some areas. Honda didnt want to take care of me trading in my honda for a handa and treated me like crap trying to give me about 1/3 of suggested trade in for a bike at 90% condition. So customer service is all out. All manufactures have had bad times and good times so that out. All bikes have something a little different about them to set them one off form another. not much but a little. Kawasaki programed in a miss in some of their efi bikes and they almost exactly duplicated the sound. doe that bother me. no. I change my opinion daily on if i want my bike louder or quieter. Currently its a harley but it was a honda. The only reason I bought a thumper is because custom parts are plentiful. The only problem left between bikers is some dumb ones just like a few on here. If you have a problem keep your constipation to yourself and dump it when appropriate. Gorw up. I ride will all makes of bikes and riders. My group has one common enemy Some and I use this as nice as possible some dumb drivers of 4 wheeled vehicles and dumb motorcycle ryders that think we are on their own private closed coarse. Idiots like some of you just will never get it.

  • Sounds like the “Harley-Davidson Rider!!” has been eating a lot of sour grapes! Riding something besides a Harley is like driving a Dodge instead of a Chevy or, rather, a Toyota instead of a Chevy. It’s simply a matter of preference, whether it be due to style, value, etc. For me, it’s all about value. I have a Yamaha Road Star. It didn’t cost me a fortune, but it’s got a 98 c.u. motor, compared to Harley’s 88 or even 96 c.u. It’s actually bigger than a Heritage of Fatboy in overall size. I didn’t buy it because I couldn’t afford a Harley. I bought it for the value it gives me. My wife also has nothing to do with it, since I have 5 – count ’em – 5 bikes! She doesn’t care what I get. So don’t go bashing someone else just because they don’t ride what you prefer. By the way, I’m selling a Honda to buy a used Sportster, so I DO like Harleys. But I’ll never replace my Yamaha Road Star with one. Why would I want to downsize?

  • hey MY PAL all you do is rave about your click, and being cool, thanks for proveing my point. its not the bike its the rider.

  • had my first harly in 1959, sportster with a mag, kick start. remember how thay worked –.were you even born kid-. then they were motor cycles. you bought them for them not the image, or head rag, but its funny all through the 70’s after amf h.d. almost went out.[ wonder why -oh ya no one wanted the junk they sold ] and HONDA had to come in and show them how to make a assy plant make $. and the the 80’s & 90’s non h.d. riders had to listen h.d. riders bull about get a real bike. and american bike. but when they saw that the parts had jap words on them they changed there tune.[ maybe the new riders could not read ] now in the 2000’s all you want a bees with your fake tats,and i am bad ass black. and trailer to daytona. wine when it now comes back on you.- so how do it feel kid, just drink your beer, look bad ass,what ever makes you happy. PS i do not own a jap bike at the moment i ride a buell. at least it stops , goes, turns..what all h.d. should do.

  • To the guy that doesn’t like Harley’s and says we ride them because we have a complex, well you are right!! We do have a complex, our complex is towards guys like you!! Guys that bash harley’s and the riders on them because they can’t afford one for one thing, maybe your wife has got you buy the balls and wears the pants in your relationship, or you are the biggest wannabe geek of all time and we can sense the fakeness, thats why you where treated like a joke!! Because you are one!! So than your feelings are so hurt because us harley guys wont let you in our click and you get the same feeling you did as a young boy at school and most of your life, here you thought with age it would have gone away, but it didn’t, than you had a complex, and thought maybe if I had a Harley, I would look cool, and bad and everyone wouldn’t push me around so much, but than you asked your wife and checked your bank account, and all you can ride is an old beat up 80s style jap bike, and sit and search harley forums bitching about something you cant have!!
    Have a great life, and I hope to read more of your bullshit in the near future!!

    Your Pal,
    Harley-Davidson Rider!!

  • Who gives a shit? The sound doesnt bring you home or get you down the road. The “sound” only matters to meatheads that think they are better than anyone or anything on the road anyway.

  • I find most Harley riders have a major inferiority complex. Yes, you heard it correctly. Even the company Harley Davidson has a very poor atitude toward the motorcycle industry and the average motorcycle rider. There are more people who do not ride Harley’s than there are who ride Harley’s. I once was interested in buying a Harley Davison Motorcycle, but when I went into almost ALL of the Harley Davidson dealers…. they treated me like I was trash and that they really did not need my business. I would NEVER buy a Harley from a Dealer ever!! Honda has the BEST reputation and the BEST customer service and the BEST RESEARCH and DEVELOPEMENT of ALL Motorcycle manufacturers. Honda rider’s and the people who ride them have more repect for others than almost all Harley riders… OK time to hear from you hoodlum Harley Riders now! Yes, Punks and trash is what most of you are! Yes, most of the Dealers are trash too. LOL 😉

  • OK first of all this is a huge MYTH! Never happened, Harley went after several Motor Companies because they were copying their motorcycle designs.

  • corporate greed is governed by soul less people.they,re all going to hell for selling off another piece of americana.

  • I live in Milwaukee and know more than a few folks that work at Harley, I drive one. I’m a H.O.G. Member – Local H.O.G. Chapter member – most guys i ride with are Harley people. It’s in the water here. Sad to say but, the company is going downhill fast. It’s turning into Wal-Mart or any other nameless faceless corporation. They have lost touch with their Core Customer. When I hear reports of baby strollers in Downtown Strugis on Saturday night ..and plenty of other tales … the layoffs .. more layoffs … it wont be long before it’s “Harley-Davidson a division of Microsoft” …

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