Harley-Davidson Killing Off the Dyna Line to Win Younger Riders

Dyna Line

The changing demographics of motorcycle riders is causing Harley-Davidson (NYSE:HOG)

to rethink its motorcycles. Harley is launching 13 new models as part of an ambitious product-

development program that promises to bring as many as 100 models to market in 10 years, and

has surprisingly killed off two existing ones.

 

It might not be as dramatic as Polaris Industries (NYSE:PII) ending production of its Victory

brand of bikes to concentrate solely on the Indian Motorcycle nameplate, but Harley-Davidson’s

decision to fold the Dyna line into its Softail line and quietly shelve the V-Rod is every bit as

significant.

 

Looking to gain traction

Harley-Davidson’s motorcycle sales hit a five-year low last year, and when the company reported

second-quarter earnings results in July, U.S. sales had fallen 9% for the period and were down 8%

over the first six months. The dour report left the bike maker with little choice but to revise its

full-year shipment forecast lower while also cutting production and firing workers.

 

It had been clear for some time that Harley was riding the disappointing sales trend wearing

rose-colored goggles, and it’s possible that it’s still being too optimistic. Harley has suggested it can

ship as many as 49,000 motorcycles in the historically weak fourth quarter — a feat it hasn’t achieved

since 2011, when it was rebounding sharply out of the recession.

 

But it’s equally obvious that Harley-Davidson knows it needs a change. With middle-aged males not

buying bikes in the same numbers they used to, focusing on the younger, more urban demographic,

including female riders, needed to take precedence. The introduction of the 13 new models, with their

lighter weight, Harley’s new Milwaukee-Eight engine, and better handling, is a direct attempt to

appeal to this class of riders.

 

The death of Harley’s “bad boy” image?

To that end, Harley eliminated the Dyna, which has always been something of a step up from the

Sportster line. First introduced in 1991, the Dyna arguably best expressed the raw experience of riding

a Harley-Davidson, with an exposed rear suspension that connects the swingarm to the frame and

motor mounts that transferred the engine vibration to the rider.

 

Unfortunately, with the debut of the Milwaukee-Eight engine last year, the writing was probably on

the wall for the model since its chassis was unable to accommodate the new Big Twin. Harley folded

the Dyna into the Softail lineup, which includes the Fat Boy, Heritage Classic, Low Rider, Softail Slim,

Deluxe, Breakout, Fat Bob, and Street Bob.

 

The Softail has always been built for long-distance rides, so its engine mounts muted the vibrations

and its rear suspension was hidden, but Harley revamped it as well, unveiling a new monoshock frame

that eliminates the Softail’s dual-shock suspension. It might not erase the brand’s outlaw image, but it

certainly smooths it over and tones it down, something that may also appeal to the new demographic.

 

the dyna line

 

Equally monumental was the death of the V-Rod, a racing-style, liquid-cooled sports bike that was

introduced in 2001 but never really fit in with the cruisers, touring bikes, and yeah, even the Sportsters

and Dynas. And it never really caught on with U.S. riders, either, so as Harley turns to its new target

demo, slimming down and merging models onto a central platform will help it control costs, a task

just as critical in this period of falling sales.

Please follow and like us:

One thought on “Harley-Davidson Killing Off the Dyna Line to Win Younger Riders”

Leave a Reply