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50 States Special Feature #4

Special Feature Harley Museum, Number 4

I watched this robot, fascinated. It simulated welding on a frame and followed the frame as it rotated, providing a consistent weld from the top. Excellent quality every time. On a similar note, I read a Honda coffee table book at the bike shop during our service, and they can program it to weld a Prelude frame and when they are done with them, throw a switch and it welds Accord frames. Amazing.

Elvis Presley's bike. Sold a lot of Harleys.

This is the V-Rod and H-D hung it out there with this model. Quite different
than the typical V Twin models, super fast. More on the wrap up. And below, a
clay mockup of it. Every bike starts with clay.

Harley has had a colorful history, with huge successes and close calls with
utter failure, their worst when AMF bought them out. But they endured over a
hundred competitors early last century, the British Invasion, and finally the
Japanese competitors. They sell a ton of bikes and even more gear, with a loyal following like no other motorcycle or product.
But I don't get it. The Harley people look like hoodlums, but most are doctors and lawyers playing dress up. It's supposed to be a counter culture, but has a strict dress code. Don't kid yourself. The bikes are built with 1910 technology that's been refined. But come on, how about water cooling? Other cylinder types? Thinner, lighter engines, perhaps?
The quality is much better than previous decades, but many other brands are far superior. And the noise. Call it old age or tinnitus, but I find it irritating, more so if I'm riding it. (Funny, Harley marketed their bikes in the early days, touting their quiet sound.)
Yet the bikes sell, people love to buy them and pour more money into them and
fancy them up even more, and they stick to their brand and each other. God bless them.

I think H-D may be facing trouble in the future as the baby boomers er - go away. The next generation aren't wild about them, didn't grow up with Elvis, Fonzie and James Dean and all that leather. I guess we'll just watch and see. But the bikes dominate the cruiser crowd, that's for sure. Chances are you never have a day where you don't see a Harley. It's an amazing brand.

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