Monday, November 7, 2011

Merry Milwaukee Musings

What with Christmas right around the corner (or "the holidays" if ones PC sensibilities dictate) thoughts naturally lean toward the joy of giving and receiving of gifts. OK, more likely the receiving part, be honest now. And we here at the Asylum are not immune to such impulses, we'd love nothing more than to stick a brand new shiny scoot up every fellow Chromies chimney, but alas what with the stagnate economy and continued cuts to our formerly unlimited advertising budget new bikes for all the good little boys and girls just ain't gonna happen.

So that's it then, a lump of coal and an IRS audit!? Please.....this is the Asylum, and we're nothing if not resourceful, you know lemons, lemoncelli, that sort of thing. We've got you covered. This year we're gonna stuff your stocking with the always in style, must have gift of rumor and speculation straight from Harleyville. See, we told you not to worry.

Good news, bad news. The bad gets next....looks like my beloved XR-1200X is on the chopping block. Guess my infatuation with this nifty little machine is a lonely love affair, sales simply haven't lived up to management expectations. Truth is, the XR wasn't exactly flying out of European showrooms during it's launch year either, it's simply never got the love it deserved from the market. Damn shame, it's one of the most grin inducing Harley's you'll ever throw a leg over. If you dig the whole American V-Twin propulsion thing lovingly cradled in the most flickable package ever to emerge from the hallowed halls of the Motor Company get your butt down to your local HD man and snap one up. Because much like land and natural breasts, pretty soon they just won't make them any more.

Dude, where's my FLH? Seems that the rumors of product shortages in the touring line are more than just a little bit true. The factory flat blew it and underestimated demand for the big cross country machines. Think about that for a moment, baggers have been the meat of the market now for nearly a decade, so how do you screw that up!? Then again, when it comes to management by the "best and the brightest" recent history has shown that the titans of industry and government don't exactly have a monopoly on street smarts. How long it'll take Harley to get it right is an open question, and one their dealer network would like resolved sooner rather than later.

Loyal Chromies will remember our reporting on a forth coming Buell Blast replacement to be imported from India. Plans are still moving forward, although we learned that there have been discussions that the mini-HD could be assembled in Kansas City (deft move to avoid that whole "....tell me again, where the f**k is that thing made!? Indiana? India!?!?). That said, at the moment, it still looks like the as yet named machine is coming from the land of the sacred cow. Stay tuned.

Here's a tasty tidbit from a very trustworthy deep cover source. Seems there's a very trick, "skunk works" 750cc radical, performance oriented v-twin snuggled in the R&D vault at Juneau Ave. The hi-perf lump has been around for a while, long enough to have been bolted to what my sources tell me is an XR (as in flat tracker) inspired frame. Very cool stuff. That is until one considers the soon to be administered death blow to the current XR. There's just seems to be no appetite in the market for a really sporty Harley, or is there? What if the Motor Company went "all in" with a Duc killer sport bike, something that could fight blow for blow with the best from Bologna?? Yeah, that's just silly.

Better late than never, but better never late. It's no secret that Harley is usually tardy to the soiree when it comes to devining trends on the street and turning them into production reality. Remember the Rocker? Only about two years after that whole "OCC style" chopper cratered in the market, Harley comes out with their very own new and improved version. Thankfully, the Rocker was put out of its and our misery, my condolences to the three self-esteem challenged tools that actually bought one.

The good news is HD is actually getting out front on a couple of trends. Sound systems being one of them, the Motor Company is currently offering some truly trick upgraded stereo/speaker systems. Sure they're way over priced, and still a bit dated from a tech perspective, but they're light years ahead of where they were just a year ago. Big hoops on FLH's your thing? Nothing firm yet, but don't be surprised to see some 21 inchers (with proper load ratings and suspension geometry to match) on the big touring beasts in the not too distant future, maybe on a CVO model to start. There's simply too much profit margin being given up to the aftermarket for the factory not to jump in and get their slice of the pie, and in this case, we all score. We'll get bikes that look cool, but actually handle, with rubber designed to handle the extra heft of the FLH family of bikes. Oh, and it'll suck for the bottom feeding product liability lawyers who are happily suing the tire manufacturers and the Motor Company every time some idiot with an oversized hoop ends up on his noodle. The current crop of 21's aren't designed for FLH's........jeez.

Lastly, here's something that lands squarely on the good list, by all measures it looks like the new Dyna based Swtichback is an unqualified success. The bikes have been streaming out of the showrooms, and everyone that I know that's ridden one raves about the machine. Makes sense, the Dyna family have always been a favorite of real riders of Milwaukee iron, the guys that put on daily miles and aren't afraid to attack the random curve. As soon as we develop a relationship with a local Harley dealer (are you listening Ft Worth HD?) we'll do a complete road test.

So there it is fellow Chromies; news, clues and a rumor or two. And if you're really good, maybe the fat guy in the funny red leisure suit will drop a few more tasty tidbits down the flu.....dare to dream.