01 April 2018

The Kids on the Street: Harley-Davidson's grab for the youth market



There’s a common misconception in the motorcycle industry that so-called ‘millennials’, or typically 20-somethings, are not riding or buying bikes.

While most of this noise seems to be coming from the USA, the market here in Australia inevitably reflects marketing strategies employed for overseas markets

When the GFC hit in 2007, the motorcycle market tanked as people’s disposable income evaporated. This hard reset resulted in a major swerve in demographics among the motorcycle riding and owning community. In 2003, only about one-quarter of U.S. motorcycle riders were 50 or older. By 2014, it was close to half. ^

Across the industry and particularly at Harley-Davidson, there was a pressing need to create machines for younger, first-time owners that still preserved the allure of the high-value Harley-Davidson marque. The bosses at H-D embarked on a massive customer feedback campaign that shook up the 115-year-old brand and resulted in the arrival of such smaller and radical models as the all-new, liquid-cooled Street 500 and 750 V-Twins.

Newly arrived Street Rod 750 features a special high output engine for Australia

While Australia may have weathered the onslaught of the GFC much better than the USA, persistent high real estate prices have burst many property dreams for the under-30s.

“We’re seeing younger customers in our showroom now,” says Craig Smith, dealer principal at Harley-Heaven Western Sydney at Blacktown whose ‘catchment’ includes many districts with ‘greenfield’ housing development zones like Penrith, Windsor and Dural.

“It seems these younger buyers may have turned their back on the punishing real estate market, for now at least, and have decided to enjoy themselves instead,” surmises Smith.

Some of the early reviews for Street 500 were not altogether flattering, but many overlooked the purpose of this Indian-built, liquid-cooled bike, engineered expressly to keep the cost down and be less intimidating for entry-level riders.

“When it arrived here in 2015 for under $10,000, it was hard to keep up with demand, but that's settled and it's become an ongoing sales success for us now and we're doing special events aimed at Street riders, like shop rides and sales incentives.

"Our Street 500 customers see it as instant 'street cred'. Going through the learner process on a Harley is something special compared to their mates."

Smith also points out that while Harley-Davidson Australia may have been a bit cautious initially, overwhelming customer demand was such that they have now released the up-rated and more aggressively-styled 750cc ‘Street Rod’ version along with further variants in paint and accessories for the 500. In fact, Harley-Heaven Western Sydney is even throwing in helmet, jacket and gloves with every new Street 500.

So rather than waiting for new buyers to reach that critical ‘mid-life’ point or even retirement, riders can embark on their Harley-Davidson journey 20 years sooner for a fraction of the price of a full-size Softail or Sportster.

Meet the team at Harley-Heaven Western Sydney

Come in and see and ride the full Harley-Davidson range, including Street 500 and Street Rod 750 at Harley-Heaven Western Sydney, 70 Sunnyholt Rd, Blacktown or call (02) 9621 7776. http://www.harleyheaven.com.au/harley-heaven-western-sydney

^ Bloomberg, July 5, 2017


24 March 2018

AC/DC's Malcolm Young is 'Back in Black'



When one of your idols passes away it can be a very moving event, to say the least.




And so it was when AC/DC guitarist and co-founder, Malcolm Young, struck his last chord in November. The elf-like Young with his wild guitar antics had given the guys and gals at Harley-Heaven Western Sydney so much fun and good times during their misspent youth, they felt a tribute was in order.

As so it came to be.

“We were already working on this customised 114 Fat Boy when the news broke,” recalls Craig, “we just looked at each other. Speechless. One or two of us even went for our own quiet moment somewhere private. It was still a big shock even though we all knew he wasn’t well.”

The big black Softail was an obvious choice, so the team decided it was worth some extra effort and set about installing some seriously dark kit.

This unique 114 Fat Boy 'Back in Black' is Harley-Heaven Western Sydney's tribute to Malcolm Young


“With the song ‘Back in Black’ all over the airwaves, it just kind of spoke to us, so we thought ‘let’s go all out’.”

“Initially we were looking to do something in contrast with the satin chrome without going too far, but we just couldn’t hold back. Harley’s gloss black components are beautifully finished so we utilised what we could there with available OEM engine components and what we couldn’t source genuine, we had custom-finished by Marc at Sydney Customs Spray painting whose work is absolutely faultless. The wheels were the subject of much discussion and we think what we went with works quite nicely. It gives the casting some depth and allows a pleasing contrast to the centre and hubs.

click to enlarge

“From the rider’s seat we ran with Harley’s Street Slammer bar in satin black and finished it off with Airflow grips and profile custom mirrors also in satin black. We left some chrome components like the headlight trim, pushrod tubes and lifter blocks as touch points. The foot controls are still standard which could be finished off with Airflow collection in gloss black or Defiance collection depending on the new owner’s taste.”

And it wouldn’t be finished without some musical ‘tuning’ and Craig reckons Mal would approve. They even thought of calling this trick set-up the ‘Malwaukee’ treatment.

“Performance-wise, the 114 Milwaukee 8 is ready to rock’n’roll with a TBR 2018 Comp-S 2-1 in Cerakote Black, Screamin’ Eagle Extreme Flow air cleaner with Calibre cover and Screamin’ Eagle Race Tuner.”



Just like the boys in the band, this tribute bike will certainly turn heads, even bounce 'em perhaps!


Meet the team at Harley-Heaven Western Sydney


Come in and see and ride the full Harley-Davidson range at Harley-Heaven Western Sydney, 70 Sunnyholt Rd, Blacktown or call (02) 9621 7776. 

20 February 2018

Suzuki Adventure Ride with V-Strom and friends




I’ve been on a few so-called ‘shop rides’ now with Harley-Heaven and Victory and I can’t help thinking what a great idea they are for brand and community-building. It’s all well and good to swap yarns and happy snaps on Facebook, but nothing replaces a good ride in the fresh air with like-minded guys and gals.

As fortune would have it, I was in Adelaide for Suzuki’s now annual Adventure Ride where riders of all bikes were invited to Wirrina Cove down the coast almost to Cape Jervis.

Adelaide Hills roads have to be some of the best in the country for bikes

All the Suzuki bigwigs were there and I found myself chatting to the GM of motorcycles, the urbane Paul Vandenberg, quite by accident at dinner as well as state manager, Vivienne Hoffmann (we went to the same schools!) and National Marketing manager, Lewis Croft.

Just the right amount of dirt 

“Some brands like to try and make a profit from these sort of rides,” Lewis told me as we waited for our steaks, “but I like to see them as a value-add for customers and a way to keep them in touch with our brand.”

Riders paid for their own meals, fuel and accommodation, but the legwork, route planning, guiding and support was provided by Suzuki, making the whole event feel very professional.

En route to Wirrina Cove

Of course, product placement was a key feature and a fleet of new V-Strom XTs in both 650 and 1000 models joined the entourage, with test rides for all out of Wirrina Cove to Second Valley.

The 2017 ‘Standard’ V-Strom 650 (right) comes with cast wheels, while the V-Strom 650XT (left) gets tubeless wire-spoked wheels, hand guards with larger bar-end weights and a protective lower engine cowl as standard equipment.

I joined the fray on a brutish Triumph Tiger 1200 Adventure and swapping to the lighter V-Strom for the test ride showed me how light and easy to ride these bikes were. For anyone wanting a jumpstart into proper adventure riding, the 650XT has what you need for under $12k and the big 1000 is less than $19k. Japanese reliability, adequate power and torque, selectable ABS and away you go. The 650s also come in LAMS-approved guise and can later be re-mapped.

Stu taking a break on his V-Strom 650 somewhere in the wilds of Laos.

Riding pal Stu, who lives in northern Thailand, has been singing the praises of his 650 for the last 18 months, taunting me with snaps from his rides in Burma and Laos.

Our ride through the glorious Adelaide Hills stopped at the Collectable Classic Car showroom in Strathalbyn as well as the popular bike pullover at Mount Compass on the way down and the surf club at historic Sellicks Beach and fun little schoolhouse cafe at Meadows on the way back. All the while, the route was mixed with just the right amount of sealed and unsealed roads to let us experience a taste of adventure.

In a forthcoming issue of Australian Road Rider, I will detail the Fleurieu Peninsula and its many attractions for motorcycle touring enthusiasts. Stay tuned.

12 February 2018

Get Out on the Highway




As published in The CEO Magazine

[media kit]

Anyone who has owned one, ridden one, or even just admired one will tell you there is a special allure about the all-American Harley-Davidson machine.

UPDATE: Now online






27 January 2018

Travelling Around Australia Mick’s Way


When six-times Olympic coach Mick Miller discovered a lump on the side of his neck after a swim at his favourite beach in Sydney, little did he know that his life was about to take a dramatic twist.

Following the diagnosis of throat and neck cancer, Mick was facing one of the biggest challenges of his life. During a 70-day stay in hospital, he lost a total of 24 kg, as he was unable to eat apart from a feeding tube and unable to speak.

In hospital, Mick realised that he had been given a wake-up call. Having travelled extensively around the globe with various athletes and sporting teams, Mick decided it was time to see more of his own beautiful country. Wanting to keep his journey as simple as possible, he decided to travel around Australia in his 1968 sky blue Volkswagen Beetle named “The Rocket”.

Mick and 'The Rocket'
When he had gained some strength back, Mick’s journey of discovery and recovery began. He packed the Rocket with a 2-man tent, an esky, a sleeping bag, a blender and a few clothes; took a quick look at the map (turned it up the right way), found highway one and then he was off.

Mick spent 15 months on the road and recorded his journey along the way. Every couple of weeks he would send a video clip and a bunch of photos to his friend Robbyn Ford, who transcribed these into Mick’s blog.

From Bulahdelah to Bruny Island, Travelling Around Australia Mick’s Way follows his journey and captures Mick’s daily adventures in the backdrop of the awe-inspiring Australian landscape. His story and his photography are real, heartfelt and inspiring.

To find out more about Mick Miller go to http://www.mickmiller.com.au

To read and hear more of Mick Miller

http://www.cancercouncil.com.au/people/mick-miller-webinar

14 January 2018

Web Spin: Harley-Davidson 2018 Low Rider Softail



With the majority of H-D models now falling into the Softail range, it follows that most buyers will be making their choice from the nine offered within this newly redesigned category.

You’ll recall we tested the Street Bob last September and we’ve ridden the Fat Boy and Breakout since then and can report that each one has its own character and appeal - or not.

Our Milwaukee-Eight 107ci Low Rider test bike came from Harley Heaven Western Sydney and I could see a glint in the eye of dealer principal, Craig Smith, when he handed me the keys.

“The boys have fitted a Screamin’ Eagle Stage 1 kit with race tuner, Street Cannon mufflers and an extreme flow air cleaner,” said Craig, “so you’ll notice a little extra sparkle in this one.”

He wasn’t kidding. Not that a Stage 1 will blow you away exactly, but you will notice the (around) 10 per cent extra power and torque coming in early and staying there as you accelerate through the rev range. The ‘oomph’ kicks in quicker and the twin pipes have the orchestra playing with extra ‘forte’. My apologies to the neighbours.

This bike also came in the factory ‘Vivid Black’ scheme which harks back to knee-high sports socks and horseshoe moustaches thanks to the retro tank livery. There’s lashings of chrome too, all around the twin tank dials and front fork arrangement. This much chrome can have its downside though when the bright sun reflects off it. Get Craig to throw in some H-D polarised sunglasses with this one.

2018 H-D Low Rider (H-D supplied)
Out on the road, I found myself on the pace quickly within our riding group of mixed abilities. We took the familiar route through the Royal National Park and back through Appin and Wallacia, so there’s plenty of tight corners and some lovely sweepers. Some might feel the riding position unfamiliar and perhaps not suited to brisk riding through the twisty bits but - remember I’m still an H-D novice - I don’t think I would have gone any faster or slower on any others from the Softail range.

The rear monoshock can be easily adjusted to suit your own style and comfort, as with any bike in the Softail range.

Low Rider comes in close to the Softail range entry-level and will suit regular sized guys and gals (up to about 180cm) as well as those keen on further customisation. And when you’re trying out your new Softail, be sure to test them all. It’s a very personal choice and if the Low Rider is not for you, there are eight others (and counting) to choose from.

At home and in good company. Test bike in Picton. (RE)

Test Bike:

MY18 Harley-Davidson Low Rider
107ci Milwaukee-Eight engine (1,745 cc) with optional Stage 1 Screamin’ Eagle performance kit.
Priced from $24,250
Stage 1 kit fitted: poa



Test bike supplied by Harley-Heaven Western Sydney
70 Sunnyholt Road,
Blacktown, New South Wales 2148

13 January 2018

Cuban Harleys, Mi Amor



Not just a book about motorcycles
Cuba: Exotic. In transition. Thrilling.

Cuba from the perspective of a small, unique subculture. 50 portraits of people who have resisted the embargo for a long time and have kept their Harley-Davidson motorcycles neat and tidy.

In 1967, the Government ordered all Police Harleys be buried in a hole in a prison in Santiago de Cuba for ideological reasons. Then, in the 70s and 80s, spare parts were nowhere to be found, so Cuban Harlistas cannibalized parts from Russian cars and adapted them according to their needs – pistons from Ladas and valves from Kamas, while exhaust pipes were made from old transformers.



A Harley was only worth a tip, nobody wanted these big and expensive bikes. Especially not in the “Periodio Especial” following the fall of the Socialist bloc, when an economic crisis almost drove the country to its knees, famine ruled and gas was unaffordable.

Against all odds, “Harlistas” defended their ancient machines which served them so well. In time, the American bikes regained their public reputation as means of transportation as well as a status symbol. The owner exudes not only self confidence but also exclusivity, a fact not to be underestimated in the macho country that is Cuba.




Ernesto Guevara-March
They tell readers about their bikes, but most of all about their country

These 50 portraits taken by Italian photographer Max Cucchi, were produced over a ten-year span and illustrate these beautiful motorcycles in archetypical Cuban settings. However, what these images also reveal are the owners in their private environment: In the living room, on the field, in the center of Havana, and of course, in their garages.

They tell us about their machines, but most of all about their country - about the problems, the difficulties which they have to face every day. You will get to know a lot about Cuba and about the people who live there, about their perseverance, their slyness, their passion and their tenacity.

Those who still want to get to know the “old” Cuba have come to the right place. Cuban Harleys, Mi Amor, is an entertaining history lesson. With this book and its beautiful images, readers are transported via the American Harley Davidson iron hogs, which page by page show the Cuban reality, (English, Spanish and German) which above all tell us one thing: What Cuba is really like.

Cuban Harleys, Mi Amor. 
Backroad Diaries Publishers. 172 pages, Trilingual: English, Spanish, German, hardcover, 35 Dollar. ISBN: 9783981602340. Available: www.backroad-diaries.de, Amazon.

Website: www.backroad-diaries.de

Facebook: backroad-diaries und Cuban Harleys, Mi Amor.

Contakt: cuba@backroad-diaries.de, Publisher direct: (+49) 151 – 19660291