Harley-Davidson‘s (NYSE: HOG) new Street 500 and Street 750 bikes were the brightest spots in the
motorcycle maker’s fourth-quarter earnings report, recording a 20% sales gains for the division, more
than double the growth of its touring bikes segment, and infinitely better than the custom division,
which experienced a sharp decline in sales.
No wonder the big bike maker is heavily promoting the Street platform with a new marketing campaign
that, if nothing else, makes clear this isn’t your dad’s Harley-Davidson anymore.
No more aging graybeards
Harley’s core customer is the 35-and-older white male who for years has been the backbone of its motorcycle
sales. But that all changed with the economic recession, which set back that upper-middle-class rider and
caused worldwide bike shipments to crater from a high of almost 350,000 in 2006 to 270,000 last year.
That’s, of course, better than the 210,000 bikes it shipped at Harley’s nadir in 2010, but it’s still 22% below
the peak, and the core customer just doesn’t have the heft he once did to carry the nameplate anymore.
Which is why Harley’s got to be stoked about the reception the Street platform has received.
A new class of riders
The runabouts actually debuted in India in January of last year and went on to be christened Motorcycle
of the Year there, where it anticipates seeing double-digit growth rates for the foreseeable future.
Harley-Davidson also introduced them into several other European and Asian markets last year, but for 2015,
the bike maker plans on expanding the platform’s distribution to wherever it has a presence. Expect to see
Street sales take on even greater importance for the brand.