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Tuesday, 24 April 2018


Harley Q1 Revenue Up, but Domestic U.S. Sales Down by -12 percent in a 601+ cc Market That Was Down -11.1 percent
In an announcement that is long on hyperbole and the promise of sunlit uplands to come, in the context of the hopes pinned on the M-8 Softails, Harley-Davidson’s first quarter performance disappoints.

The good news is that revenue is up as the company’s model mix continues to track higher in mean price-point terms and that international sales were essentially flat (actually +0.2 percent up) against recent declines.
The bad news is that Harley still appears to be underselling a declining domestic U.S. market and seeing an ever greater proportion of its sales dependency migrating away from the kind of price points where growth is expected to be found in the next five years. While the M-8s (Softails and otherwise) are continuing to favorably affect the revenue position, there is no evidence that they are enabling Harley to grow new unit sales ahead of market decline.
Indeed, the company also announced that it is accelerating its strategy for growth, “anchored by its objective to build the next generation of riders globally” and that, in what is a tacit admission that its plans to return to growth have failed so far, the company says that it is “currently refining its plans, and this summer intends to reveal significant additional steps to improve performance and value creation through 2022.”
Harley-Davidson international retail motorcycle sales were up +0.2 percent in the first quarter of 2018 compared to 2017, and U.S. retail sales were down -12.0 percent. Worldwide retail sales decreased -7.2 percent.
“We are pleased to deliver revenue growth on the heels of our recent product investments in Softail and Touring. This, plus solid financial services segment performance and strong cash returns during the first quarter, underscores our commitment to drive shareholder value,” said Matt Levatich, President and Chief Executive Officer, Harley-Davidson, Inc.  “Our international markets returned to retail sales growth supporting our long-term objective to increase international sales to build the next generation of riders globally.”
The company says that during the first quarter it continued progress on its 2027 objectives: build 2 million new riders in the U.S., grow its international business to 50 percent of annual volume, launch 100 new high impact motorcycles, and do so profitably and sustainably.
The company’s release also states that, considering the prolonged softness in the U.S. industry, and what the company believes is untapped potential in international markets (and in certain high-growth spaces globally), the company is “crafting strategy accelerants to deliver significant value through 2022” and that it “plans to leverage its core business more fully and expand in new directions to accelerate value creation as it pursues its long-term objectives.”
Matt Levatich goes on to say that “our view of the highly competitive global motorcycle market is grounded in a realistic assessment of risks, opportunities and capabilities needed to inspire ridership and grow our business.  Our data-driven insights compel us to enhance and accelerate our strategies to ensure we deliver on our long-term objectives as we build the next generation of Harley-Davidson riders.”
Continuing its “building riders” thesis, Harley states that as it “continues to make progress building the next generation of riders,” it has “increased its reach and impact during the first quarter through a wide range of efforts.”
The efforts cited include adding to the “long legacy of its Sportster motorcycle line with the introduction of the Iron 1200 and Forty-Eight Special models, the latest in a line of 100 high-impact motorcycles the company expects to introduce by 2027”; continuing to “grow the appeal of motorcycling by debuting Harley-Davidson Snow Hill Climb at X Games Aspen alongside ski, snowboard and other action-sports competitions” and that it “increased brand access by adding new international dealers and new apparel and lifestyle boutiques in popular shopping areas in China and India” and “welcomed riders and non-riders to celebrate freedom as the company recognizes 115 years of continuous motorcycle manufacturing in 2018”. Fans were “invited to join the global freedom movement on social media and join celebrations in Prague in July and Milwaukee over Labor Day weekend.”
Harley also sees its investment in a “collaborative agreement” with Alta Motors as “supporting Harley-Davidson’s commitment to lead in the electrification of the sport of motorcycling to reach new customers in new spaces.”
Still claiming that reducing manufacturing capacity is a good thing and a practical step towards growth, the company went on to say that it had commenced its previously announced “multi-year manufacturing optimization initiative anchored by the consolidation of its motorcycle assembly plant in Kansas City, Mo. into its plant in York, Pa.” in order to “further improve its manufacturing operations and cost structure.”
The company says that it continues to expect to incur restructuring and other consolidation costs of $170 million to $200 million and capital investment of approximately $75 million through 2019 and expects ongoing annual cash savings of $65 million to $75 million after 2020.  In the first quarter, costs related to the manufacturing optimization were $47.6 million.
Harley-Davidson’s first quarter market share was 50.4 percent in the U.S. The 601+ cc industry in Europe was down -7.3 percent in the first quarter compared to 2017.  Harley-Davidson’s first quarter market share was up +1.3 percentage points to 10.4 percent in Europe.
First quarter revenue from motorcycles and related products was up versus the prior year. Operating margin as a percentage of revenue decreased in the quarter compared to 2017, primarily due to costs associated with the “manufacturing optimization initiative.”
Financial Services operating income increased +20.8 percent compared to the first quarter of 2017. Harley-Davidson’s first quarter effective tax rate was 24.1 percent compared to 34.5 percent in 2017, due to the favorable impact of the ‘2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’.
Cash and marketable securities were $753.5 million at the end of Q1 2018 compared to $844.7 million in 2017. Harley-Davidson generated $191.6 million of cash from operating activities in 2018 so far compared to $159.9 million in 2017. The company paid a cash dividend of $0.37 per share for the first quarter, an increase of 1.4 percent compared to the prior year.
On a discretionary basis, Harley-Davidson repurchased 1.4 million shares of its common stock during the first quarter for $65.1 million. During the quarter, there were approximately 169.2 million weighted-average diluted common shares outstanding.  At the end of the quarter, 24.2 million shares remained on board-approved share repurchase authorizations.
Harley forecasts motorcycle shipments to be approximately 231,000 to 236,000 motorcycles in 2018; approximately 67,500 to 72,500 in the second quarter.

Biker Fest 2018

Biker Fest 2018 to Host AMD World Championship Affiliate Custom Bike Show

The 32nd annual Biker Fest (aka Italian Bike Week) at Lignano Sabbiadoro, on the Adriatic coast of Italy, north of Venice, is being staged from 10-13 May 2018.

The event will again be hosting the final of the 14-round Italian Custom Bike  Championship and will be the official affiliate round of the AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building for Italy.
Last year saw thousands of bikers descend on Lignano Sabbiadoro for one of Europe’s oldest custom bike events, the brainchild of father and son team Moreno and Micke Persello, creators of the original Chopper and Custom Show at Padua back in the 1990s, and publishers of leading Italian custom lifestyle magazine Biker’s Life.
This will be the seventh time the ever-popular Biker Fest will play host to the climax of the Italian Bike Championship with no less than four builders winning 1,000 euro each of expenses to compete at ‘AMD XIII’ at INTERMOT ‘Customized’ in Cologne, Germany, in October 2018.
Over 100 bikes in total were on display at the impressive Terrazza Mare last year, and classes will again include Freestyle, Modified Harley-Davidson, Metric, Streetfighter/Sportsbike, Cafe Racer, Scrambler, Bagger and Old Style, with the three ‘Best in Show’ winners and ‘Public Vote’ pick scooping the ‘AMD’ prize money being put up by the show organizers.

Best in Show, Italian Motorcycle Championship 2017

With a larger vendor presence at the event last year, an expanded additional “customizer” vendor area was set up opposite the Terrazza (in addition to the usual vendor lot at Luna Park), where there were opportunities for builders and custom shops to present their work - a new feature that is developing into a popular opportunity for custom builders to connect with the over 35,000 riders who attend.
Exhibitors backing Biker Fest will again include Custom Chrome Europe, Motorcycle Storehouse, Free Spirits, Italian suspension specialists Andreani and Bitubo, Asso Special Bike and motorcycle manufacturers such as Harley-Davidson, Indian Motorcycle, BMW, Honda, Aprilia, Ducati (Scrambler) and Moto Guzzi.

AFT Race News


KTM’s contingency offering for AFT Singles riders such as Dan Bromley, Sandriana Shipman and others totals $56,300 for 2018, and includes 2016-2018 KTM 450 SX-F models. An AFT Singles championship bonus of $5,000 is also included.

Japanese E-Bike manufacturer Mugen will race three Shinden Nana electric Superbikes at the Isle of Man TT Zero race as they go in search of a fifth straight and seventh overall win - with 2018 improvements said to include reduced mass and increased capacity as the performance of lithium-ion batteries gets ever better with less mass and greater capacity.

In addition to the AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building, this year’s INTERMOT ‘Customized’ (Cologne, Germany, October 3-7) also features The Sultans of Sprint and ‘Essenza’ - “the essence of motorcycles” - sprint specials and race series

With fresh American Flat Track contingency offerings from Suzuki and KTM, AFT’s contingency pool is now approaching $3 million, by far the largest in series history. Suzuki’s contingency for AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines is massive, totaling just over $424,000, and includes the V-twin power plants from the popular SV/DL650 and SV/DL1000 models. In AFT Singles they are offering $171,500 in payouts, taking their total contingency pool to $595,500 - the largest combined OEM posting in series history.

TCX Boots USA has posted contingency support to AFT Singles competitors for the 2018 season. The Italian-based company produces a wide range of motorcycle boots and has been a long-time supporter of AFT racers, including Harley-Davidson factory rider Sammy Halbert and Indian-mounted privateer Kenny Coolbeth. TCX’s contingency offering totals $10,000.

Dainese has returned as AFT Official Motorcycle Safety and Race Apparel for 2018. Along with its 2007 acquired AGV helmets brand (whose heritage goes back to 1947), Dainese can list icons such as Giacomo Agostini, the late Barry Sheene, Kenny Roberts and Valentino Rossi among its past riders. The Italian firm is partnered with the Indian Motorcycle Wrecking Crew - Dainese-wearing riders were victorious in 14 of 18 races last season en route to securing the top three spots in the AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines championship. This season their involvement includes continued development of its breakthrough D-Air intelligent airbag-based protection systems.

Dillard Family Racing/Lloyd Brothers Motorsports are racing in the Indian and Harley dominated Twins class with three-time AFT race winner Stevie Bonsey aboard a liquid-cooled Ducati Testastretta 82. Having debuted in Round 2 at Atlanta, they will run in all eight of the mile races and the Lima half mile. Bonsey is racing again after serious injury in 2016. Lloyd Brothers “have game” with Ducati – they ended Harley’s near two-decade run of uninterrupted dominance at the series’ Miles with a victory at the Arizona Mile in 2010.

Drag Specialties and Parts Unlimited NVP 2018 Part 2

DP Brakes: In addition to recent additions to its program of stainless steel replacement front rotors for late model Touring Harleys, DP Brakes, the pioneer of sintered metal braking technology, has updated its “quiet and dust free” OE brake upgrades  for 2018 Softail coverage. “We now cover most 2018 and prior Harley models - Sportsters, Dynas, Softails and FLHs - back as far as the early 1970s,” says Larry Mills, President of DP Brakes North America, “plus Street Glide trikes and the 500/750 Street models. In addition, DP brake pads are fitted as original equipment on all Performance Machine (PM) and HHI (Hawg Halters) calipers. Plus, they are very popular for those dealers servicing police bikes and H-D rental companies worldwide. Extensive dyno and highway testing have proved that DP brake pads have shorter stopping distances and improved overall performance;”


Drag Specialties Seats: One of the longest established seat manufacturers, Drag Specialties Seats’ new products for 2018 include Touring, Dyna, Softail, Sportster and Indian Scout designs, including the top-selling ‘Predator’ styles. Many Drag seats feature the company’s patented ‘Solar Reflective Leather’ technology. Designed to keep the seating area cool, even in direct sunlight, it has been shown to reduce surface temperature by as much as 25 degrees F for improved comfort and durability. Customer order program available;


Revolution Performance: The Plymouth, Wisconsin based engine upgrade specialist unveiled its long awaited 124” M-8 bolt-on big bore kit - taking the stock 107” ‘17-‘18 M-8 (‘18 Softails as well as -’17-‘18 Tourers) out to 124”. The company says the kit makes +25 percent more power and runs 30 to 40 degrees F cooler with no other modifications. “True bolt-on power and reliability,” says Revolution’s product specialist Andrew Dellenbach. The kit comes complete with new 4.250” all aluminum plated bore cylinders, new 4.250” flat-top forged pistons and new Cometic head/base gasket kit (0.030” head, 0.020” base);


Dynojet: The North Las Vegas based specialists’ award-winning Power Vision flash tuner now fully supports the latest ECM calibrations that are found in the MY2018 bikes, as well as the updated software levels for MY2017 bikes, including the new M-8 Softails. The Power Vision Update Client allows dealers to access the latest firmware and tune database, with additions that include calibrations for popular exhausts, intakes and cams for Touring models. Dynojet says that Power Vision is “the first and only touch screen flash tuning system for Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Designed to flash the bike’s ECM with a proper tune for chosen modifications, it will monitor critical engine data, and even refine the tune while the bike is ridden with its innovative auto tuning feature”;


Custom Cycle Engineering: Available through Drag Specialties, legendary Californian parts specialist Custom Cycle Engineering’s black fork tubes are DLC (Diamond Like Carbon) coated for performance and durability, with their gold fork tubes featuring state-of-the-art titanium nitride coating. The company has been manufacturing extension fork tubes for more than 30 years, and start with DOM 1026 steel tubing that is centerless ground to OEM specifications, with the rest of the tube precision- machined to exact ID specs;


Biltwell: From handlebars to helmets, the California based parts, accessories and gear specialist has branded its way to a leading position in the new wave of vendors who are able to speak to the new wave of customers as demographics change the landscape of the custom motorcycle industry;


Hawg Halters: As reported elsewhere in this edition of AMD Magazine, the Georgia based specialist continues to develop its award-winning bolt-on X Series neck rake kit family, with the X-30 kit for 30” front wheel and fender installs. Hawg Halters offers a full range of accessories and performance parts to finish off X-30 and other conversions, including billet lower legs, fork covers, fender spacers, 18 inch single and dual caliper kits, and a full range of Renegade wheels, with matching brake rotor and pulley options;


Burly Brand: An example of a brand “whose time has come”, the Burly Brand stretches from luggage and air cleaners to pegs, handlebars, shock absorbers, fairings, cable kits, sissy bars and lights – all under the discerning guidance of brand manager Sean Delshadi;

Curtiss Motorcycle

Hello Curtiss, goodbye hydrocarbons!

Confederate Motorcycles has completed its transition to Curtiss Motorcycle with what CEO Matt Chambers says is “the first new Curtiss motorcycle in over 100 years.” In all likelihood it will also be the last too - at least the last internal combustion engine motorcycle under the Curtiss name as Chambers embarks on his plan to abandon hydrocarbons and re-invent as an E-bike manufacturer.

Sharing a name with its famous World War II fighter plane ancestor, the new Warhawk pays homage to the man who invented the first American V-twin motorcycle – Glenn Curtiss. The announcement marks the first product release since Confederate Motors rebranded to Curtiss Motorcycle earlier this year.

“We’ve spent the past 27 years working to optimize and perfect Mr. Curtiss’ V-twin invention,” explained Curtiss CEO Matt Chambers. “Everything we know is built into this machine. Because the Warhawk is based on our acclaimed P51 Fighter, the engine, powertrain and chassis are as solid as a bank vault. But now, we’ve cranked it to 11. There are no more rabbits we can pull out of the proverbial hat. There’s simply no way to make a more explosive hot-rod American V-twin than the Curtiss Warhawk.
“The American V-twin is undoubtedly the most iconic and revered powertrain in motorcycle history. As we prepare to lead an all-new golden age of electrified motorcycles, this Curtiss Warhawk represents the best and final chapter in American V-twin power and refinement. We’re building a handful of these Warhawks in honor of Mr. Curtiss and as a bequest from the brand of yesterday to the brand of tomorrow.”
Only 35 Curtiss Warhawks are scheduled to be crafted, with an MSRP of $105,000 USD. Based in Birmingham, Alabama, Curtiss Motorcycle Company is on a mission to “lead an all-new golden age of sustainable motorcycles by designing and crafting the world’s best and finest electric motorcycles.”


Q-Pak Quad Valve Manifold System

Q-Pak is a new concept in air suspension component terms – a quad valve manifold system - that “redefines air suspension management,” according to Jeff Schwindt, founder and manufacturer of AirFX.

Schwindt says: “The new Q-Pak quad valve manifold system is a motorcycle-specific product that delivers outstanding performance. Its compact design (2.5” x 2.0” x 2.5”) has the smallest footprint in this category.”
The package comes complete with all the fittings installed, a muffler and electrical plug with 3 feet of wiring harness ready for installation, and Schwindt says that AirFX tests every system prior to shipping.
“The Q-Pak is an extremely efficient package, drawing only 0.4 amps, which allows for a wide range of installations from new to existing systems. Made by us here in the USA, it is fully serviceable and features a 300 PSI operating range rated manifold with built in air filters for long life and safe operation.”
Available direct from AirFX or through its distribution partner, Hawg Halters.



New battery activation made easy – and fast!

New battery activation is important to guarantee new batteries will deliver their rated power and cranking amps for longer than the warranty offered by the manufacturer - but doing so is never a dealer’s favorite way to spend time! 

One thing dealers don’t have in abundance is time. New battery activation can take a long time, and when under pressure to have a new vehicle ready for a customer within hours, it is an often overlooked but important aspect of pre-delivery preparation.
Since the 1990s TecMate has made battery activation easier for dealers and OEMs alike. Many motorcycle OEMs recommend TecMate’s OptiMate PRO-S battery charger and tester and the OptiMate PRO-4 4-bank version – both have automated battery activation and reduce the task to the level of ‘quick and easy’. 
After the acid pack has completely drained into the battery and a sealing strip has been fitted, they activate a new battery within an hour - and do so easily - all the technician has to do is Select NEW and connect the battery. Done! Yes, it really is that easy!
During NEW activation OptiMate PRO’s unique Ampmatic charge method and pulsing absorption mode fully activates all six cells and brings the battery from 70% to full charge within an hour or less. The green TEST light confirms the new battery is charged and ready for fitment.

For new factory activated batteries that may have been in storage for up to a year or more, there is a 2A and 4A selection that allows more time if needed. The best practice for factory activated batteries is to recharge every three months, in order to prevent ‘killer’ sulphation build-up weakening the battery. If a battery did sulphate to the point that it does not hold charge any longer, OptiMate PRO’s two-step recovery mode can bring it back from as low as 2 volts.
Smart dealers will, of course, know that fitting an OptiMate cable O-01 weatherproof battery lead allows them to upsell the customer on an OptiMate battery saving maintainer, so they don’t ever have to experience that battery being returned ‘under warranty’. OptiMate O-01 cables are available in four packs, a jar of 20 and even a box of 100.
There’s nothing worse than watching a new customer struggle with weak starting – giving them access to that immediate surge of full power straight away brings the grin that brings them back.



Trask Assault series air cleaner and extreme duty TC clutch basket

These ‘Assault Charge’ high-flow air cleaners from Trask feature a billet aluminum backing plate with hidden integrated breather system and a plexiglass outer cover.
Dyno developed and tested, the snap-in velocity stack delivers improved air flow; available raw machined, chrome or reverse-cut for 2017 FLHT, FLHR, FLHX, FLTRX and FLTRU.

Also seen here, this Trask clutch basket is said to be able to handle engine builds making in excess of 300 horsepower and is strongly recommended by Trask for engines producing 100 horsepower or more.

Available for ’07-‘17 Twin Cams, it includes mounting bolts and lock tabs, has a hard anodized red finish for added durability and is a direct bolt-on replacement for the stock clutch basket.