HARLEY-Davidson has introduced its new H-D1 factory customization program with the launch of the new 1200 Custom. This is the second mid-model year new launch, following the debut of the Softail-based Blackline. This new initiative allows customers the opportunity to choose from seven option categories to optimize fit, function and style at the dealership at the time of purchase. customers have the option to select a choice of factory-installed wheels, handlebars, seats, paint, foot control position, security system, and engine finish. The black powder coated 1200cc Evolution engine with chromed covers used in the 1200 Custom is fitted with Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI), and is claimed to produce 79 ft. lbs. peak torque at 4,000rpm.
The 16 x 3in chrome, five-spoke cast aluminum wheels fitted to the bike are a new design created specifically for the 1200 Custom and further features include a front-end that runs new polished wide triple trees to allow the fitment of a 130-section Michelin ‘scorched’ front tire. Along with the wider triple trees the front end features 39mm forks with 30 degrees of rake and re-tuned suspension rates to match the new tire/wheel combination.
Under the H-D1 program customers have the option to change the wheels (to black five-spoke cast aluminum with machined highlights, chrome laced, or black laced), the handlebars can be swapped for drag bars or mini apes, the forward controls can be changed to polished mid-mounts, the two-up seat can be substituted for a solo seat, engine covers can also be changed, and Harley-Davidson’s Smart Security System can be specified as well as paint options.
The H-D1 factory customization tool is available on Harley-Davidson.com, where customers can view the bike they are creating as different options are selected and then print out a description of the bike and take it to a Harley-Davidson dealer to review the motorcycle with the dealership sales staff, and place an order. Delivery from the factory of each H-D1 customized bike is expected to be less than four weeks depending on emand. H-D1 factory customization will be available only through Harley-Davidson dealers in the United States and Canada. The principle behind the H-D1 program is neither new, nor is it rocketscience. The aftermarket has seen several attempts at something similar – projects from Hard Bikes and Dar Holdsworth (Brass Balls Choppers and Bobbers) come to mind especially. Indeed whether ‘brand-programmed’ or not, similar opportunities have been available, to a greater or lesser extent, from several OE’s before – not least from some of the Japanese manufacturers’ metric cruiser offers. Indeed it could be argued that the Screamin’ Eagle program itself has, in effect, offered much of this thinking at point-of-sale for years.
However, branding and programming such initiatives, and having a sales structure in place to capitalize on the marketing of them (as Harley now has with the burgeoning ‘Chrome Consultant’ program), signals an intent that is in keeping with industry trends being seen elsewhere.
Whether or not H-D1 is a deliberate and specific pre-emptive strike in response to the challenge to Harley issued by BMW when the ‘Lo-Rider’ concept was unveiled at Milan 2008 is to see the initiative in too narrow a context.
It should be judged as the startpoint of a direction that is intended to take the core values of Harley’s ‘stock’ ownership and riding experience to a new level – an intention unveiled by CEO Keith Wandell when outlining his vision of corporate recovery nearly 24 months ago.
The new initiative will generate increased sales in the short-term, and therefore also increase earnings for the hard-pressed authorized dealership network. However it is as a tool to help prepare the ‘Bar and Shield’ for demographic sustainability with a framework that can encompass the more diverse and individualistic consumer demands of new generations of customers that this debut for H-D1 should be judged.
Harley’s Customization Ad
Harley-Davidson really is one of the few motorcycle companies that truly seems to grok the idea that motorcycles are about personal expression, and are an extension of a rider’s personality. This simple understanding has lead to the company’s brand marketing and lifestyle business strategy being taught in business schools around the world, tattoo parlors keeping a healthy array of Bar & Shield designs at the ready, and ensuring the State of South Dakota stays out of Canadian hands.
-Asphalt & Rubber