Sportster Iron 883: The Bike That Won't Save Harley

It seems that someone at Harley has been reading my Hubs! In RIP XLH I lamented the death of the basic Sportster after many years of providing accessible entry-level Harleying! Given Harley's current dire economic predicament, it seems that somewhere in Milwaukee the light bulb went on in somebody's head, and they figured that their current product line where you can easily drop $50K on a Screaming Eagle, might not be the absolute best product strategy in a severe recession.

It is highly unfortunate that their new US$7,995 motorcycle is the Sportster Iron 883, a bike that does nothing but harken back to the all-black uglharleys of the past. It's all blacked out, it has the most hideous fork gaiters this side of a pogo stick, cheap looking cast wheels, a wimpy looking front disk brake, flat standard handlebars, and has all of the Harley appeal of a 1966 Bobcat... if you were to let a hyperactive child loose on it with a couple of cans of flat black spray paint.

If Harley thinks that this little monstrosity is going to be their saving grace, they are dead wrong... and may be dead soon, for that matter. It seems that things are not exactly looking up at the venerable firm.

Harley Davidson's 2008 total fiscal revenue dropped by 2%, while the actual profits declined by 25%. Per-share profits for 2008 totaled $2.79, however the precipitous drops seen earlier in 2008 accelerated significantly in the fourth quarter as the economy stalled out and people found other priorities like food and mortgage payments instead of dropping $30 K on a Hawg. Harley Davidson's revenues dropped 7% year over year and very significantly, the company's earnings declined 56% to $0.34 per share.

These actions could end up costing Harley's shareholders over $125 million in restructuring charges before it's all done. Combine this number with Harley Davidson management's forecast of a 350-basis-point decline in gross margins, a $2.2 billion debt, and it all adds up to what could be Harley's worst year since the pre-AMF days. At its current cash-burning rate, Harley could be flat broke before the end of this year. Bailouts anyone?

To combat this virtual collapse, Harley management plans double-digit percentage reductions in shipments this year which will mean that there will be far less motorcycles on the dealership floors. Furthermore, Harley Davidson plans to consolidate several of its plants and warehouses as part of its plan to reduce capital spending by approximately 20%. The worst news of all for Harleyphiles everywhere is that 1,100 employees are going to be tossed into the same pile of unemployed as 7,000 Home Depot, 8,000 Sprint, 20,000 Caterpillar, and hundreds of thousands of other workers that are getting their pink slips this month.

All of these corporate financial plans mean nothing if riders can't afford to buy your bikes and / or your bikes are really fundamentally butt ugly embarrassements that no self respecting rider would be caught dead on.

If Harley had taken the Honda Fury approach instead of this blacked out gargoyle, we might be looking at an entry level Sporty that riders would actually be interested in, instead of passing over in droves.

Willie G., listen to your old friend Hal. (And yes... you should have taken the leap, bitten the bullet, and hired me way back then at Daytona... by now you'd be producing really great bikes...) Take the 883 Sporty. Sleeve it down to 600 cc. Lighten it up a bit. Gently rake the front end. Chrome it and candy color it and follow the lead of the Honda Fury in styling. Now price it at $5,995. And get ready to crank up the assembly lines as this model could very likely be the single biggest selling motorcycle of the decade!

And toss this black Iron mutation into the nearest dumpster!

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Comments 139 comments

Misha profile image

Misha 7 years ago from DC Area

LOL What's wrong with the black Hal? It does not look ugly to me on the pic - but heck tastes differ of course :)


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

There were a series of Sportsters in the early '80s that had the same color scheme and were generally received with snoozing apathy by Harley buyers. In my humble opinion, this is a direct xerox copy of those failures from 25 years ago, and is not the direction that an entry level Hog should be going in, especially when Harley is in such dire straits. By far the most exciting motorcycle to be launched lately is the Honda Fury, and Harley could learn valuable lessons from their Japanese competitor in this respect.


Misha profile image

Misha 7 years ago from DC Area

LOL Who needs Harley (or Honda for that matter) in a countryside hideaway? Some kind of armored truck preferably working on wood is much better ;)


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

If you really want to keep on two-wheelin' when you're in your backwoods hideout trying to keep a low profile so that the rampaging, starving, depression-crazed urban mobs don't find you and turn you into a rotisserie dinner, try a Rokon! Two big fat wheels that are both powered! In this single tracked version of a Humvee, you can go anywhere a mountain goat can! :)


Misha profile image

Misha 7 years ago from DC Area

You got me interested, gonna look it up :)


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Just google Rokon. It's been around for several decades. They are funky looking but completely bulletproof two wheel drivers! :)


Misha profile image

Misha 7 years ago from DC Area

Yeah, I just did. It's a one sick bike I would say. Much nicer than any enduro or even motocross model, due to all-wheel drive and wide tires. Definitely something to ponder about having IF there is a need to go to a hideout.

Yet, it's color schema is boring :P


Herb 7 years ago

Your interpretation of the 883 iron is subjective. I've had 6 Harleys. Bought a new XLCH 1000 sporty in 1976, an 80's police special, a panhead, a 63' sporty, a superglide, a 92 sporty. I'm buying a 883 iron next month. It looks great. Not everyone likes Honda style, or even a lot of chrome and ghetto paint. If you look at some of the stats, the dark HD's are selling good and have a wide appeal. The economy's diving, and everyone's experiencing problems.

I remember Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki bad mouthing HD's for years, stupid V'twins, ugly fenders, gas tanks, etc. These are the same foreign manufacturers that are making twins now, copying the HD design, even the logos 80%. Harleysare a different bike, for certain peole, just like some peope get jeeps, or GTO's. A true HD fan would never commpare one to a Honda. You can't. Marketing and sales are another issue. Personally, I would never buy any bike but HD. I've got 5 guys at work here that 4 bought foreign bikes, and they all say it looks like an HD, almost sounds like an HD. Guess what they're comparing them to? Harley's doing somethging right besides spitting out trendy bikes. Why do you think they hold there resale value. Can you say the same for rice?


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Misha, maybe we can get one for each of us and the dealer will cut us a bargain price! As for the colors, we can just paint them in camo which will make them harder for the rampaging hordes to find!

Herb, I had a 77 XLH, as well as several other Harleys, so I can certainly appreciate your point of view. In fact, I got rid of my last beloved Harley just months ago. I don't have a prob with the dark HDs, I have a problem with this Iron thingy. It's ugly. There are a few things that HD could have done with the bike to make it somewhat more aesthetically pleasing and they didn't, so they left it parked right smack dab in the middle of uglyville. What I am referring to about the Honda Fury is the approach of doing a Saxon/Big Dog/etc. sort of precustomization and doing RIGHT unlike the Yammy Raider. The Sporty could have benefited immensely from that.


herb 7 years ago

I understand. Im just looking at it from a different point of view. Harley has several other models available, and each of those have several sub models to include styling and displacement. So when I look at the "dark custom" series, specifically the sporty iron model, it's the black sheep choice kinda' thing. There are other models available, but this one stands out and has appeal to a certain group. I love it. I think HD threw it on the table and made something that didn't appeal to everyone, but realized a a need for a percentage of their potential buyers and still produced an option for those of us that differ from the mainstream bikes. I grew up around drag racing, chopped 3 of HD's from the ground up, have raced bikes and cars at the drag strip, and this bike is like it was made for me. I don't like a lot of chrome, or accessories, and the first thing I did when I bought my police special was remove the windshield, crash bars, fariring, and luggage, and paint the white bike black. I'm one of the old school guys I guess. Like the clip, if it doesn't make it go or stop, then it doesn't belong. It disheartens me to look out my window at work and see 4 bikes that the owners claim are just like Harleys. I'm glad aHD had the b@lls to get this out there. I don't think the imports would as it doesn't meet their target demographic sales. But you can be assured if it succeeds which the other "dark customs" seem to be, it will be duplicated like everything else HD stood alone on.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Sure, I can see that marketing philosophy and I'm sure you're not wrong, except when we factor in the price. This is the LOWEST priced HD and should serve as an introduction and entry level into the marque. As Harley's low price standard bearer, it's way off the mark. They would have been much better off going in a more conventional chromy semi-chopper direction, IMHO.


Haji Killer 7 years ago

I effing hate those chromed out abominations with Technicolor vomit paint schemes like OCC and their ilk defecate onto the market. The only thing this Sporty needs is a lower stance, and Black pipes. This is a great bike for a child of the 1980's. There are plenty of other 330 tired penile implants available for geezers to pose with. As far as the price point, It doesn't need to be priced with a Jap bike, why would it.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

You're missing the point, dude. This is supposed to be the lowest priced HD to appeal to as many people as possible in order to bring some much needed cash to Milwaukee. This sucka doesn't do the trick!


dino head 7 years ago

So many motorcyclists putting each other down and their bike choices! What difference does it make that some folks like a different style? All the variety is great! Some people in the motorcycle community are sounding closer to the hicks who blew-away the heroes in "Easy-Rider." Shame on you. You are not thinking clearly about the sport of motorcycling and what it means to most of us.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

This Hub is not a comment on the preferences of motorcyclists, it's written to show that the marketing dept. at Harley did not present their most popular and best effort for their entry level motorcycle. I can't see where you can interpret it to be a hit on bikers.


dino head 7 years ago

"I will not judge other bikers on their choice of machine, their appearance, or their profession. I will judge them only on their conduct as bikers. I am proud of my accomplishments as a biker, though I will not flaunt them to others. If they ask, I will share them." excerpt from "The Biker's Creed"

You're entitled to your opinion, but there's plenty of excitement and buzz about this retro-aesthetic available to the mass public. Everyone I talk to flips over it! And sure, candy color and chrome is nice too. Sorry Willie didn't hire you. You would have certainly shaken things up there.

Peace, Love and Tolerance for Differences.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Peace, Love and Tolerance for Differences.

I do agree with that! :)


Blizaine 7 years ago

wow, I love the Iron 883. Everyone I've shown, thinks it looks badass.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Hey, I can understand that some people would like the look of it. But is it the RIGHT look to be Harley's ONLY entry level bike in a market that's this tight? ABSOLUTELY NOT.


904cafe 7 years ago

I completely disagree, though Harley sales may not be where they would like them, by any means, this is the ONE and ONLY Harley I would ever purchase! I have never and I mean NEVER liked the style of Harleys, even most Sportsters until I saw the IRON.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Great! I'm happy that you have found your true love and EXTRA happy that Harley's going to make another much needed sale! :)


E. Porterfield 7 years ago

I like (No, Love!) this bike!


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Good! Go to your nearest dealer and buy it! Harley needs the $$$! :)


stevenschenck profile image

stevenschenck 7 years ago from Sacramento California

The best day of my life was when a friend lent me his new harley for a 1,000 mile ride. It made me realize how perfect my BMW was. The only good part was that half way through my wife flew home because the harley was so dam uncomfortable, handled so badly and stopped faster dragging my feet than using the brakes.

The few sports I have ridden are great, but the kidney transplant hurts, they just convert fuel to vibration. We just converted a 1200 wing into a sport bike, talk about smooth, quiet, fast, corners like on rails and cost 2,000 total for the entire project.

I would love to buy a good harley - when they start building one that is worth buying.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

If you try to compare a Beemer with a Sporty on "actual real world motorcycle benchmarks" there's absolutely no comparison. I doubt that the Sporty is even in the same league as the Beemer in braking, handling, power, etc. That's not why I loved my Sporty and why I'd buy another one in a NY minute. I loved to chug around town and take sweepers on country roads at the speed limit on it. Having raced superbikes, I'm well aware that the Sporty handles like a wheelbarrow, and don't care. If I want to carve corners I'll go dig up the MV Agusta I raced. You might want to look at the VRod. Even though I despise the aesthetics, is actually a decent performance bike.


Epyx 7 years ago

I love the Iron Hal, and I am soon to buy one (If I can find one near me NOT over MSRP). I think you are wrong in your understanding of the lineup. The Iron is not the entry level model, the 883L is the least expensive at $6999. The 883L is exactly the bike you have been asking for, lots of crome (more than the XL883C) and bright colors. The Honda Fury is hideous and I doubt it will sell very well, I have yet to speak with anyone that thinks differently. Hal, have you considered that maybe you are out of touch with the target market for the 883N? No offense, it happens to us all.

The 883L, 883N, and 883C are all available for less than $8K and each is pretty cool. The only thing I would suggest for both the 883N and 883L is a change to a spoked front wheel. The 883n is ok with the blacked out wheel but the 883N looks pretty bad with it. The 1200N looks much better with the blacked out spoke wheel.

Anyway, I repectfully disagree with your assertation that HD missed the mark with the 883N Sporty. If anything the 883L is the bike that needs the work to appeal to a younger audience.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Dang, dude. I don't know where you live, but the three closest Harley dealers to me are selling it at sticker, and I assure you that they'd knock off a few c-notes with a bit of haggling. My point as to this model being their new entry level, is that they should have brought in a bike with a rock-bottom price, preferably below $6K to get people in the dealerships (where they are evidently not heading when we look at Harley's recent sales stats). I completely disagree with you as I believe the Fury is drop dead gorgeous, but to each his own.


Epyx 7 years ago

I have not tried haggeling yet but here in Pittsburgh the prices have been over MSRP - I suppose the dealer may have tacked on some extras but I thought they were stock. (I have only looked online at this point). I plan on purchsing in June so I did not want to be the irritating browser at the dealer for months (or get sales calls every day).

As for the Fury. I dont care for real "custom" choppers let alone the factory versions. I can respect the fact that you like it. I just have not spoken to anyone (my circle) that has anything complimentary to say about it. Maybe I am out of touch with that demographic!

I see your point and logic behind a sub-$7K HD model. Maybe it should be something other than a sporty? Possibly a thumper (not the Blast) (or smaller V-Twin)with a HD twist on the Triumph Bonneville or Royal Enfield style bikes. I could see that, but I am not sure how HD could delute the Sporty enough to hit the sub-7K price point without lowering the entire range price. That would work for new sales but kill the resale market and piss of the loyal customers.

Who knows, maybe 2010 will bring a new model. HD made scooters at one time so anything is possible!


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

If I were in the shoes of my good ol' friend Willie G., here is the entry level Harley I'd have in the showrooms right now... an 883L but with:

Bore x Stroke not 76.20 mm x 82.14 mm (not 76.20 mm x 96.77 mm) for a displacement of 750cc (after all, Harley has a long and proud tradition of XR750s)

Carb replaces Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection

Rake (steering head) 32.5° (not 29.6°)

Drum brake in the rear.

Front wheel 21 in. x 2.15 in.

Rear wheel 16 in. x 4 in.

Spoke wheels on both

Traditional Sportster Buckhorn handlebars

Available in any color as long as it's black.

MSRP $5499. Dealers who hike the price will be shot.


Epyx 7 years ago

"Carb replaces Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection" I dont think they would be able to sell it in Cali, NY, Pa, or Mass. Def not Europe. That could be cool but I think a even more low tech Sporty could just fuel the fire of the HD detractors. But sometimes I get the feeling that many of the young detractors are negative towards HD because they feel priced out of the market and alienated.

Maybe the fear of HD is deluting the market? A fear that could be warrented in a high flying economy - a luxury they may no longer have.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Actually, some of the newer carb setups can just breeze through the emission standards, but it would have to be an engineering determination based on whether the cost savings of the carb over the ESPFI would be worth the additional emission tweaks. There is no doubt that luxury is now a dirty word, and when you look at some Harleys which tickle the $40K MSRP, you can certainly see why there is growing consumer resistance. After all, that would buy you 8 decent houses in Michigan! :)


Roy B 7 years ago

I don't have much to contribute to this coversation, other than another datapoint for the blacked out bikes.

I've been riding a CBR for the past few years and wanted to slow things down and enjoy the ride. I was looking at the Triumphs. But when I cruised over to the HD website and saw the Iron, I knew that was the bike I wanted.

I went from being a guy that never understood why anybody would want a HD, to the proud owner of an Iron. I haven't met any body yet that hasn't loved the bike (or atleast said they did to be polite). In fact, I get dudes rolling up next to me at stoplights wanting to talk about it.

Now, if I can only get people to stop trying to big d*#k me about how the 883cc is too slow/small. Sure the 883 isn't going to win any races, but since when is a 900cc engine small? If all I wanted to do was go fast, I sure wouldn't be riding a HD.

The Iron got me in the dealership. I've never been this excited about a bike before. My decision of the Iron had nothing to do with money, I would gladly have paid more for this bike. This is just the only HD that I like (maybe the Night Train, but still too much chrome.) I was pleased that this bike was still less expensive than a 600cc sportbike.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Roy B, I think it's great that you love your new bike and more power to you! :)


Epyx 7 years ago

Hal,

I visited my local HD dealer this weekend to look at the Iron in the "metal" and I was disapointed. I hate to say it but I now agree with you. It looks much better online than in person.

Not a total loss for HD though as I am now looking to purchase (this week) an XL833C in Pewter Pearl or Red/Gold. Have not deceided on color yet but that is a good problem to have! Turns out my wife hated the Iron so keeping her on board with the purchase is the most important thing. I still appreciate the Iron but realized I am still a sucker for the Chrome and look of the custom.

Any advice on negotiating with the dealer? I have about 400 in accessories I want and ~$1000 in motorclothes (two helmets and two jackets). The bike is at MSRP and so far so is everything else. I figure the markup on the clothes has to be HUGE so maybe I can work the deal on that end...what do you think?

I found a dealer I am comortable with but I dont want limit my savings with that fact. I just dont want to pay more than others are paying and figure with the HD economic condition there has to be savings potential.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Glad to hear you're going for the C! That is a traditionally gorgeous Sporty! (Although I'm not crazy for the tank and headlight, preferring the peanut and brow look...) I'd go for the Pewter Pearl, but that's just my own preferences. As for the negotiation with the dealer, the best single practice I've found to be effective in knocking dealer prices down to size on scores of occasions is:

1) Call up at least a dozen dealers in your area. Tell them that you're buying TODAY the following list of stuff: XL883C, Accessories, Clothes... give them the entire and exact list.

2) Inform them that you don't mind driving a few hours, but you are giving the dealer who gives the best bottom line out the door price the deal TODAY. (Make sure you keep insisting TODAY, as that makes a huge difference to the dealer... they'll know that its not just time wasting but they can have a sale by the end of the business day).

3) Take your lowest price and all the details to your own local dealer and tell him "match it and I cut a check TODAY" (that good ol' TODAY). If he says he can't match it, turn around and start walking out. $20 says that you won't get to the door before he runs after you! If worse comes to worse, put up with a short drive and go get the deal from the dealer who gave you the best price. I've found very little difference in customer service, technical quality, etc. between Harley dealers these days (unlike the bad old days)!

Let me know how you make out! Good luck and I'm sure you'll be ecstatic with your XL883C! :)


Epyx 7 years ago

Hal,

I had planned on following through with your advice, and did to some extent, but then fell into a great deal on a gently used 2007 833c. Local owner, 2100 miles, mint condition, and a color I like. The color is a minor compromise to my first choice but everything else is perfect. V&H pipes, lace front and back profile wheels, HD security sysem. Its an 07 so it has EFI which I wanted as well. I love it and could not be happier. I was surprised that the dealers were not more aggressive with pricing.

I have been able to get some discounts on the accessories and gear we needed. One dealer gave us 15% off our 2 jackets, 2 helmets, sissy bar set up, and windscreen.

Ill tell you though, we did have a bad expereince at one local dealer. My wife is new to all of this and wanted to have some explaination from the dealer about her gear and what she would need to be safe. The first dealer knew next to nothing and provided no help, not to mention it seemed like there were 10 people "working" in the dealership and none were interested in helping, just talking to each other. Little did they know we were about to spend over $1K with a little help. We left and went to a different dealer that provided excellent advice, service, and made the process fun - I do think some dealers are still better than others.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Way to go! If you are looking for a bike that you intend to customize anyway, you will usually find that you can find a "pre-loved" one with the goodies you want already bolted on for a mere fraction of the cost that it would have hit you to buy all that stuff new and have it installed. I'm sure you are gonna love your bike!

Your dealer story reminds me of when I walked into a Triumph dealership in Britain. My friend wanted a Speed Triple (who knows why, but I digress) and asked me to get a good deal on his behalf. He was going to pay cash on the barrelhead the next morning. I wandered around the dealership while the sales guys were animatedly arguing over why the home team lost last night's soccer game. I asked THREE salesmen for assistance, they all barked "In a minute" and continued to talk sports. After about 15 minutes I'd had enough. I called up the regional manager for Triumph, told him about it, also told him that we ended up buying the Speed Triple elsewhere, and sure enough, the next time I walked into that dealership a couple of months later there was a new sales manager and new staff!


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Hmm... does that mean you'll wait? :)


Alan Myrvik 7 years ago

I like the look. It's good to have a retro style available. BTW, you remind me of the good ole English management before Triumph went belly up. Put a little motor in it, chrome it up and spray it candy apple red and boy here we go! Yeah right. Also, there was no Bobcat made in 1966. That was the Mercury siibling to the Ford Pinto.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

What ARE you talking about? The 1966 Bobcat I'm referring to is the little Harley motorcycle, not a Mercury car! Sheesh... :)


nic 7 years ago

After seeing the Iron 883 it made me want to go out and learn how to ride and I think I will. Its a beautiful machine. I like the minimal approach and the black is killer. Well done HD.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

You're entitled to your opinion. It's aesthetics turn me off, but I've already made that amply clear. :)


Aaron 7 years ago

I think your crazy haha I love the way this bike looks, I like the silver paint job it has better than the black, but the flat black is all right by me. plus I think they're trying to make a bad ass bike to get young people off the croch rockets and onto a HD. I know im gonna get this bike when I get the chance, i looks alot more fun then my Ford ranger haha. Im gonna go out on a limb and say you probably are a fan of the older bikes huh?


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Nope. I love half of the other 2009 Sportsters, am not too crazy about the other half, and am really not happy at all with this Iron mutant.


Lee Geurts profile image

Lee Geurts 7 years ago from Green Bay, WI

I hate chrome, I love flat handle bars. This bike is nice. I guess opinions vary.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Yes, they do! Mine is right, opposing ones are wrong. See? Simple! :)


Austin  7 years ago

I actually like the bike a lot. Ive been looking for a mid size bike and in between the iron and m50. I really like the old school style on the iron, the flat black reminding me of a lot of old roadsters painted flat black. I love the disc brake on the back, never been a fan of the drum brakes on the back of most jap cruisers. As far as marketing, everyone I show the bike to loves it. Its a hot bike in my opinion and size wise the sportsters are running cheaper then the jap bikes. M50 starting at 7899, honda shadow starting at 7699. Sportsters are well priced, little skinner then others though. I do admit Ive never ridden a harley before but I do plan to rent one from a local dealer so I know how they ride before I buy. I would be surprised if this bike doesn't sell well, considering the recession. O and the fury Does not look very good and Ive heard from a lot of local dealers; honda, suzuki, and such, that its not a good riding bike. Not worth the buy.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Wow, dude, you've buried me in your opinions... mostly wrong ones. Only agree that drum brakes don't belong on either wheel of a bike. Fro the rest... er... oh well... :(


Austin 7 years ago

Yea sorry. There was a lot to read and a lot to comment on. Over all though it seems that a lot of people disagree on the looks with you, a lot of sites Ive gone to to read about the bike 90% of people seem to like it. So I think the bike was well designed and you might need to rethink your opinions on how harley made a fundamentally butt ugly bike. I do agree they need to design some cheaper bikes to compete with a larger demograph, though I think that might defeat the purpose of a harley.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

The prob is that Harley itself might be defeated if they don't do something drastic at the lower priced end. The day of morons shelling out $50k for a Screamin' Eagle without wincing are long gone. HD's Q2 financials are a train wreck, they have just cut half of the KC staff of 900, they're looking at pulling out of Pennsylvania altogether, and unless my ol' friend Willie G and his buddies don't pull their thumbs out of their nether regions and start pricing their bikes at a level that mortals can afford, there will be a takeover that will make the AMF debacle look like a great business deal. If I have to see a Chery Auto logo on a Harley tank, I'm gonna kill myself... :(


Austin 7 years ago

LOL. I do agree with that, but I have to say the sportsters are priced relatively cheap compared to other mid size models. 883L at 6999, M50 at 7999, C50 at 7799, Shadow at 7699. It priced pretty low. I think they should change it up a little though like you were talking about earlier, definetely include the back pilion and pegs. Id keep the engine size, fuel injection, and if it would be possible a lower price is nice but comparetively speaking I think the sportster is competetive. Many of their other bikes are the ones you need deep pockets for. I think most people dont think harley because of that.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Yes, and that is clearly seen in the latest sales figures. All of motorcyclingdom is down, and Harley is no exception. The problem is that Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki and BMW have other vehicles and products that can keep the motorcycle line afloat. Harley is a one trick HOG. And that can spell REAL TROUBLE. :(


Alex 7 years ago

I LIKE that bike. Fork gaiters make sense, good for fork seals. I've owned a million metrics and test ridden several bikes recently, loved the 1200 Sportster hated the 750 Shadow Spirit I expected to fall in love with.

I'm off to go to the Harley place up the street and crawl around UNDER some bikes, just changed the oil on my "nice simple" Honda and it's always a nightmare, I miss the easy to work on bikes of the 70s and 80s, actually they started getting bad in the 80s, I have a sneaking suspicion the Sporty is the best "survivalist" bike out there due to probably half the parts count of my present little Honda, and the lack of a centerstand more than made up for by a sensible frame/pipe design and all the nice aftermarket stands and stuff out there.

PS - I may start a Hub Page, this looks like a nice site.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Alex: First of all HubPages is the best site of its kind anywhere, so you will certainly enjoy writing here. As for the bike, the gaiters are strictly cosmetic as it's the same old Sporty fork underneath.


Jmac 7 years ago

I really believe HD is trying to market to a younger demographic here with the Iron 883. And as a 26 year old who works closely with youth, I can honestly say they are right on target. I mean just watch MTV for crying out loud. Everything is getting what they call "blacked out" now... cars, rims, bikes, you name it. The culture is changing. The younger generation likes a simple, clean, and yet a tasteful look. We see a blacked out bike like that and think it looks hardcore not ugly. A sparkly gloss finished, chromed-out bike looks like something our parents should ride... not us. Our generation loves vintage! I've spoke with several young riders who love the look of this ride. Simplicity and quality always win when they go hand in hand.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Great! Now why are the Irons NOT selling well, or almost at all? :)


mike 7 years ago

this bike is awsome!


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Yup. It's AW SOME ugly piece of crap... :)


Jmac 7 years ago

The only thing I can say is... recessions suck! I'm not sure what HD's marketing strategy is but they need to get this thing more visible on the network and cable channels that the younger gen is watching. Get it in a movie or something... I'm sure it would blow up. The internet is a good start but they need to do more in the realm of strategic marketing aimed at our demographic, or maybe they can't. Who knows? That is big bucks we're talking and like you said, they're like everyone else, hurting in that department. Unfortunately I do not work for there marketing division:(


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

The problem is that HD doesn't have a marketing strategy. They're just plodding along hoping that the world changes back to their Golden Age. As you stated what they need right now is a new Then Came Bronson to etch HD into the minds of a new generation. Their chances of that are unfortunately next to zero. It really doesn't look good. :(


Phlip 7 years ago

I bought an Iron 883 almost 2 months ago now. I love this bike. I definitely understand that people have different tastes in bikes, so I don't expect everyone to like. I will say that most of the people I know who have seen it do like it. Also, I'm not sure how anyone can say that this is HD's only entry level bike. I would say that just about any Sportster can be considered an entry level bike. The Iron 883 may be there least expensive bike, but adding chrome and different paint schemes raises the price of any bike.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Actually, the 883 Low has an MSRP $1000 below the Iron.


Zach 7 years ago

I love my Iron


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

I do too. Especially the new steam one I got that keeps the collars on my polo shirts nice and flat all day. :)


custom motorcycle profile image

custom motorcycle 7 years ago

Ok Hal, you're right about one thing. This bike will not save HD. But you're wrong about the reason. This is the best looking sportster availble today since they've already de-chromed all the other sportster options. If you're going to buy a Sportster you might as well buy one that looks complete rather than these stripped down cast aluminum loaded pieces of crap they're trying push off on new riders.

But that's not the reason this bike won't save Harley. The reason is that they've loaded up their dealerships with Sportsters and Dyna glides when everyone currently wants touring models. I've never seen a company so out of touch with what their customers want. The Rocker was a good idea done badly, The Crossbones failed to truly look nostalgic and now they've screwed up again by over producing bikes that no body wants. Let's all hope Waddell gets them back on track.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Well... you're entitled to your opinion but I do agree with the point you've made of "never seen a company so out of touch with what their customers want"! :)


one zero five 6 years ago

I think JMAC has had the best thread so far (first comment)... tho I believe it will tread well with both the young & old.... There is a HUGE market for this bike. I do think it will market better with the youth & I do believe sales will ramp up as more marketing is delivered. This is a recession.. so obviously sales is not only effected now, but will be for the next year or so as we climb our way out.

I love the look of this bike.. I would only change the pipes (slap some blacked out pipes gearing down at a 30 degree angle).... Every person I have spoken with (girl & guy) have said that this bike is disgustingly hot... it's pathetic really.. because I know there is probably better bikes to pay for (as far as bang for buck)but I just can't get over the look & feel of this one... it's a jaw dropper to everyone I've shown (all ages, but mainly mid twenties)... I will have one by the first of the year (HD dealers are out of stock in my area - Southern, CA).. Someone around my house drives one around a lot.. I stopped and bs'd with a guy who bought the silver & black version (also nice).. his buddy owns the all black one... he said they both get stopped 24/7 by people who just love the thing... I mean no offense to you bud... you undoubtedly know 1203948087% more about bikes than myself... but you've lost touch with the average joe on this one.. This bike looks sweet... it's going to start doing better.. i just recently saw a commercial for it like a month ago... it seems they are ramping up some marketing in my area.. and I think it will pay off in the end. I have never cared for Harley's until this bike.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

You're more than welcome to like anything, but I am sticking to my guns. This is the wrong bike to have as an HD entry level. And whatever sales the Iron is having certainly aren't having much effect on the collapsing bottom line over in Milwaukee!


one zero five 6 years ago

Companies do not fail overnight, not over month or year (not without drastic measures impeding on top). Does the recession effect sales? Yes. Does it effect sales more when your in one of the largest recessions in a nations history? Double yes. Does it effect it even more when your product is a luxury item? Yes. Does it effect it even farther when your considered a top branded item of a luxury item? Yes. At this moment, there are still drastic-active lay offs around the country (especially in large cities). All luxury items are feeling the crunch really hard. Harley is not only a luxury item, but its a top branded luxury item (which ensures it feels the pain that much harder).

HD is doing bad because it's business model only works in the best of economies. When your only sales item is a luxury item, you absolutely need a good economy to thrive. When over half of your items are a luxury item of 20K... well lets face it... your going under unless you side step your business plan. It was poor planing that led them into this situation. A good leading CEO would have had a plethora of lower & higher end products to balance their sales amongst a vaster market. But even then, they're product is still a luxury item. This is the biggest failure within the luxury molding; people can't buy what they can't afford. This is compounded by the fact that the highest salaries (HD's market) are typically within City regions; which are taking the most hits on the job market. Even an 8k bike is relatively expensive to the average Joe trying to make ends meet. How many people can afford a luxury bike at 30k in this market? 25k? 20k? Even 8k? It's taking the average Californian 6 - 12 months to find a job after a lay off. That's a lot of time without a full paycheck. Which is why a lot of people with a decent cash flow are still watching their pocket books instead of purchasing luxury items. And for the people who use it as a primary vehicle.... lets face it, if a motorcycle is your main means of transportation (for all that are not in a NY type environment).. chances are that you probably don't make a huge deal of money. So a HD may be just out of your range by... I don't know... maybe 15k+..

The question you pose is whether HD made a smart decision going with the 883 IRON to pull them out of the slumps... which is the wrong question to ask. The Sportster should be what your referring to, not the IRON 883. The Sportster is their cheapest model. This was designed to hit a different market; a consumer that could bring in extra revenue (during a normal market) & still possibly keep them afloat in a receding market. It's offered in shiny, dark, colorful, powerless, and powerful models (varying prices, but all relatively low compared to their normal stock). The IRON 883 is just one model of the Sportster (not even their cheapest model). It was a brilliant idea as it appeals to a specific consumer, as well as the general younger crowd. Will the 883 pull them out of the slumps? No. It will help they're sales though (presuming they have them out on the floor and advertise correctly). Will the Sportster models pull them out of the slumps? No. But it will also help they're sales. My guess is that the Sportster models will do the best of all the sales within the corp. during this time. HD should have had at least two (if not three) different brands (like the Sporster), with varying models of each (like the IRON 883) or Nightster.

All things considered, they're still pushing luxury items.... High end/priced luxury items... in the worst possible market. They're sales are suffering because of the current market and they're poor business model. The IRON 883 will only help it.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

I stand by what I stated earlier:

If I were in the shoes of my good ol' friend Willie G., here is the entry level Harley I'd have in the showrooms right now... an 883L but with:

Bore x Stroke not 76.20 mm x 82.14 mm (not 76.20 mm x 96.77 mm) for a displacement of 750cc (after all, Harley has a long and proud tradition of XR750s)

Carb replaces Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection

Rake (steering head) 32.5° (not 29.6°)

Drum brake in the rear.

Front wheel 21 in. x 2.15 in.

Rear wheel 16 in. x 4 in.

Spoke wheels on both

Traditional Sportster Buckhorn handlebars

Available in any color as long as it's black.

MSRP $5499. Dealers who hike the price will be shot.


one zero five 6 years ago

Well I can't disagree with your pricing... They should be trying to go as low as feasibly possible during these economic times... Obviously providing less of a bike to hit the target price, but making it as close to the line as possible, as to still attract buyers.. Also, making it more appealing to the eye could make some buyers overlook the the subtractions they pull from the bike (such as engine size/tweaks). They need to find the right medium as the lower in price they go, the more sales but less profit per bike. I think this is what they attempted with the IRON 883 as it appeals to a cult of people & is considerably less than their main product line. I personally, do not really want anything less than an 1100 for my next bike.. But I've strongly considered (maybe even have chosen) this bike due to the look & feel. I was pretty firm on my 1100 stipulation, but the price & look of this bike may have just done enough to push me past my barricade. Is the price low enough? No, but it will help. I still think they should be hitting the 5 to 6k pricing with a new sharp looking bike. But then again, I believe the low end Sportster is around 6k (just doesn't look appealing to the average Joe). Will they hit the same profit margin per bike? No, but they make up in volume... They're is a large amount of consumers that only travel intercity who would be more than happy to look at an affordable HD, versus there current vespa..


clawbrant 6 years ago

I've went to several Harley dealers over the summer looking for an Iron and every one told me that they couldn't keep them in the showroom they were selling so fast. So you think that they should get rid of the bobber styling, which happens to be very popular now, get rid of the EFI so it can't pass emissions and put buckhorns on it to make it really uncomfortable. Sounds good.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

one zero five: Harley is hurting. Their prices are too high across the board. The market who was rushing to buy a $25K bike has evaporated and they had better wake up and smell the coffee.

clawbrant: The % of HD sales made up by the Iron is so small that it makes virtually no difference on their bottom line. So go have fun. Bye.


Tribal Dave 6 years ago

Hal,

You are obviously too old to realize what is in and what is not. This hideous Iron 883 is exactly what the young motorcyclists (the one's paying $8K for a bike right now) are turning their used Sportsters into. Harley has taken the "street cool" custom of people 19 - 25 year old and created a bike they would buy brand new puttoing that money right into Harley's pocket rather than the pockjet of the BBQ pit spray paint manufacturers. I can understand how an old dog who thinks the Electraglide (or worse a BMW Sport cruiser) may be cool would not like the new Iron 883 or Nightster (the 1200CC version) but for the people in the market for this price range and size bike the designers at Harley hit the nail on the head. Sorry you don't know cool anymore but this bike is it.


Thumper 6 years ago

you need to do more research comparing the iron to the honda fury. the honda fury starts out at $13k, not much of an entry level bike, you can get a more powerfull chromed out 1200 sportster with your spoked wheels for roughly $11k. and if there isn't a market for blacked out bikes why does the high end honda fury offer flat paint and black rims. i love my iron, the only people who have made neggative comments about its appearance are chrome queens. another fact about your precious fury... its mostly plastic. and sportster would be a better buy even the $7k 883 low...


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Tribal Dave, the only way the Iron would be cool is if it was ridden around on Antarctica. It's one ugly crappy looking bike. Period.

Thumper, I've stated in my Fury Hub that it's way overpriced, no doubt about that. But from a strictly aesthetic standpoint, it's like comparing the Mona Lisa to a dog turd.


Adrian 6 years ago

I like your 600cc sporty idea. I doubt it'd ever happen though... but I could see a 750 working really well if they just tried. I think going down to a 600 would lower the brand in the eyes of its diehard fans. H.D. clout is about being the "big boys", even if the bikes are underperformers. Having a "small" 600 sized bike that actually performs, handles, and gets good MPG... the HOGS would never have that.


Brian 6 years ago

I've had the Iron 883 for about 3 months now and I couldn't tell you how many times I've gotten comments from total strangers loving my bike.

If somebody gave me a brand new Honda Fury for free, I would sell that thing in a heart beat and buy some other bike(such as the Iron 883) with the money.

I've never liked Harleys until I saw the Iron 883 and would have never bought a Harley in my life if it wasn't for the Iron.

So I think that in conclusion, your opinion of the Iron looking so ugly and the Fury looking so great isn't really shared with the comsumer mass. Your judgement of H-D utterly failing at what they sought to do with the Iron is "mistaken" at best. All is still well but the fact that you seem to think your sole opinion is the direct representation of the better chunk of the mass market, which comes across to me as a text-book case of the word "arrogance".

I respect your experience and knowledge of the motorcycle world and history. But honestly, I would have much more respect for you if you didn't mention things like how long ago you were the editor of whatever magazine and buddies with someone like Willie G(whether in jest or not). To me, they portray potential arrogance more than they incite respect.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Adrian, the only thing we can say for sure is that what HD is doing now is not working. They are bleeding red ink like crazy and they have to either figure out how to expand their market appeal or end up getting bailed out by Obama and his endless funds.

Brian, I'm glad that you love your bike. As for my background and knowing Willie G. I'm very proud of all that. If that turns you off, then there are lots of other meeker, milder and wimpier motorcycle journalists you can read. Have a nice life! :)


Shaun 6 years ago

Lol at this article. Every HD dealer is sold out for 6 months solid in NSW. You want one get in line. The bike may not save HD but it's selling like hotcakes cause it's just what the younger generation wants. Not some chromed up oversized piece of jewelery, we want aggressive mean looks. If that means it's little ugly, a little rough around the edges so be it. We're channeling old school brit bikes and garage tuned metal not the steeds retired saggy funsters are riding around.


Dakovich 6 years ago

I equate those chrometastic customs with the cast of "Jersey Shore"...a bunch of greasy, flashy, shallow, D-bags...but to each their own. Those types of bikes just make me feel dirty for some reason. The Iron and some of the dark customs are a different story, though. This style theme has really made an impact with my peer group (late 20's-early 30 somethings). The price point with the Iron is right on at sub-$8k as this is where people in my peer group can actually see themselves affording a Harley. Just as you've mentioned, so much of their line is way out of our reach price wise. And as for the "cheaper" Harley idea, I think all that would do is dilute the Harley brand. Its like Hummer rebadging a Chevy Aveo for sale as the Hummer H-1...just doesn't fit the brand image. Instead, create a new brand to address the low end as well as fill the spot left by Buell.

-Go Sabres!


Dakovich 6 years ago

-H4, not h1- oops


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Shaun and Dakovich, you're definitely entitled to your opinion as well as an optometrist visit! :)


Dakovich 6 years ago

Hal, what do you think about the new Harley 48? I think the Iron and the 48 are what make me even consider looking at Harley. I'm not saying either style is for everyone but you have to admit that when my generation gets excited about it that maybe something is right with these bikes. I have to admit, this is coming from a guy who is on the outside looking in on the riding world. This summer I'm siging up for a riders safety course to get my license (yeah tax return!), and borrowing my buddy's old bike to get some miles under my belt. I plan to head to the dealers to find a nice bike for the following summer, so you have until then to sway me away from the Iron...which I'll be honest is the reason I want to get my license in the first place, but I am open to suggestions.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

I couldn't hate the styling of the Harley 48 more if it was convicted of genocide. I'll take the silver tank paint job alone and throw the rest in the slag heap. Get a box stock base model 883 and you'll not only save money, but get a far better looking bike than these ugly lumps. :)


bryn 6 years ago

grudge much. it looks quite nice in my opinion, but lets be honest, have you said how it goes? thats kind of important ...no?


Jimmy Mack 6 years ago

Hal, you are whack cuz the Sportster 48 is old skool kool.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

bryn: All sporties run the same. The 883 is fairly gutless and the 1200 is not much better. They're WAY behind the times if you're only comparing performance to any other brand of bike.

Jimmy Mack: Nope, just old skool fool! :P


Al Costain 6 years ago

clearly you are biased and misinformed people such as myself who like and ride sportys like the blacked out look .i have a nightster and its basically the same but larger displacement.the new 48 is even better looking and sure to sell like hotcakes as did the iron and the nightster .dealers couldn't and cant keep them on the floor.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

I have a four letter word for these blackened POSes that look like nice bikes that were caught in a garage fire: UGLY! :)


mike 6 years ago

Your sadly out of touch. I’m from the Toronto area and Harley can not keep these in stock they were on a waiting list last year. I own the bike and it’s my first Harley I wouldn’t have touched anything they made in the past this is the model that made me a Harley owner and as for it just ugly it converted two of my friends into Harley owners also after I purchased mine. Every one is entitled to their opinion just don’t be so sure of your self like I said it’s sad and strikes me to be the opinion of and old man out of touch.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Nope, you have an opinion because you have the aesthetic appreciation of a garden slug. I have EYES therefore I speak of FACTS. :)


Joe 6 years ago

Wow Hal....I didn't read every comment, but it seems that the large majority are really positive for the Iron. I myself love the new lines of bikes especially the 48. You seem to be out of touch with reality. Hope you can join us sometime back here on earth.


Sujan 6 years ago

I am not sure....where and what you are seeing, but to every guy I know I showed the picture of 883 Iron they loved it.

This is probabaly your wakeup call where there are a lot of people who are getting out of too much chrome


Truth 6 years ago

The new Iron and 48's are great looking bikes for everyone trying to pick up a cool bobber-style bike at an entry level price. Get over yourself Hal, the Fury is hideous and that old elongated chopper-style has come and gone... just like the Rocker, too little too late.


Yup 6 years ago

My local dealer says they can't keep the iron 883 in stock.

The youngsters like me love them. You know the youngsters, the ones who will be buying bikes in the coming decades.


CHIQUITO 6 years ago

HAVE A SOFTAIL DELUXE, AND AFTER I SAW THE PIC OF THE IRON 883 I WENT DOWN TO THE DEALER FOR A TEST RIDE 1 1/2 HOUR LATER I NOW OWN AN IRON ASWELL. IM ONLY 24 BUT HARLEY HIT MY AGE GROUP PERFECT AFTER MY BRO LAID EYES ON IT HE WENT AND BOUT ONE AND ANOTHER BUDDY BOUGHT A NIGHSTER HARLEY HIT IT RIGHT WHEN THEY FIRED YOU


MRE 6 years ago

i agree, i fell in love with the Darkness of the Iron 883, after wanting one since they came out i finally took one for a test ride... i owned a Honda CBR for a couple years but this bike is a different animal and it just felt right for me, its not about speed its about the sound and looks and general feeling of the bike. well long story short i now own a 2010 Iron. this author was dead wrong when he said it wouldn't save Harley, because all the dealers around my house cant keep them in stock!!!! the Dark Customs line is a work of art... just look at the Forty Eight! another beautiful master piece!!!!


A C 6 years ago

Hal, have you ever heard the phrase "beauty is in the eye of the beholder. All I gotta say, the marketing team at HD did a splendid job, they new exactly what the masses are looking for, and hit it right on the dot! You should learn more about fashion and what's in, they go hand in hand!


chris 6 years ago

Hal,

I am going to completely disagree with you. As a first time (new) bike buyer, the iron 883 is the thing that got me interested in bikes again after 15 years. I love how this bike looks! If I could afford it, Of course I would get a fat boy low as it has the same dark styling, but I like the tank shape better than the sportser. I just wouldn't use it enough to justify having it. This I can justify. I think the iron looks awesome with the matte black paint; it got harley a new customer- never had even ridden one before, so it works in my case.


IronRocks 6 years ago

At least Hal could admit he was wrong. He can not like the bike personally, fine, but admit that you HAVE NO understanding of the youth market. Furry...yeah that has been selling well.

Well it looks like the market is proving Hal mostly wrong. He is correct that the bike wont save HD (not that it needs savings per se or that any one product could do that) but he is wrong in that it is a robust seller for HD. Hal thinks because HE is out of touch with what younger buyers want that in some way can best gauge what is good for HD. Clearly his fashion clairvoyance is way off when it comes to the Iron, Nightster, and 48 as these are wo of the best sellers in the HD lineup and the 48 is gaining popularity.

By the way, the Honda Abortion er...Fury has been a sales nightmare, as has the Rocker C. That market has passed, along with the relevance of your generation's excessive taste for chrome. Go have fun in your Yellow Hummer while trailering a Blinged out Honda Fury. We will be ridding our Iron's with matching Chucks.


John 6 years ago

I'm 22 and was shopping for a bike for months until i found the iron. I would have never considered a harley coming from a big bmw background, but now I own a harley. No offense, but the Honda fury looks like a 3rd grader designed it on the back of a spelling test while the teacher was collecting it. It has plastic fenders for Hank's sake!! I wanted a motorcycle that looked and felt like one. Not a two wheeled pressure washer that really really wants to look like something built by OCC (which is lame enough..) but doesn't even live up to THAT!!

Did I mention the Fury has PLASTIC fenders??? How over-the-top LAME is that?!?!


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzz... :)


Thad Capps 6 years ago

Hal , I went from a Honda Shadow to an Iron 883. You got it all wrong. This is one of the best bikes on the market. It has received raved reviews from everyone but you. It is the greatest bike I have ever owned. I am a new Harley owner and in the short time I have owned this bike I have come to 1 conclusion. I will never own any bike other than a Harley Davidson. Sorry Hal, you were wrong.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

ZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzz squared. :)


Neognosis 6 years ago

I am in my mid 30's and got my license winter of 2008. I did not even consider a harley until I saw the Nightster. I wanted one, but it was just out of reach. Then they brought out the Iron 883. I bought one. Most everyone who sees it says they like it. In my OPINION, chrome is lame and garrish. Seems that the sales numbers on the Iron would indicate that a lot of people like it.

I think Harley would ruin their image if they put out a sporty for 6K with drum brakes in the rear. I sure would not have wanted one.

What's attractive is subjective, and it would seem that you are in the minority, at least compared to the folks to which this bike is marketed. It made a harley fan out of me and several others my age and younger. Seems like if the bike is selling (it is) and the younger demographic likes it (they do) then the bike is a success.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Where are these sales figures that show ANY HD as a success? Hawg sales are in the dumpster right across the range and have been there for 2 years now! Anyone else who claims that the Iron's sales figures are so astronomical will have their comment deleted unless you can SHOW ME A LINK THAT PROVES IT! (P.S. Before any more people berate me for being anti-HD... WHAT IS THAT BIKE IN MY AVATAR? It's my Black FXD! Sheesh!)


neognosis 6 years ago

Where are your links showing that the iron 883 is not selling? I don't know where to get stats on the number of bikes sold this year or last year by model. I would like to see them though. I suspect, based on what I have seen on dealer's floors (and quickly disappear from dealer's floors) and what my friends and I buy and want to buy, that sales of the Iron are strong.

Hal Lucino, you started this blog with a bevy of sales figures, then claimed that the iron would not sell. I think the burden of proof to show poor iron 883 sales is on you.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

http://www.harley-davidson.com/wcm/Content/Pages/H.../0685_press_release.hdnews&newsYear=&history=

Worldwide retail sales of new Harley-Davidson motorcycles declined 18.2 percent in the (2010 1st) quarter compared to the first quarter of 2009, an improvement in the rate of decline from the prior three quarters. In the U.S., retail Harley-Davidson motorcycle sales were down 24.3 percent.

And the decline continued in Q2:

http://www.webbikeworld.com/motorcycle-news/statis...

HD has not released official per model statistics this year, so since I've been on a first name basis with most of the execs at HD including Willie G. since 1981 and came within a whisker of putting together a deal a few months ago with a famous former HD VP to buy MV Agusta, I'd say that you'd better just accept my statement that the Iron is NOT outperforming most other models in the range. And if you don't believe me, you can take a hike. :)


Neognosis 6 years ago

I'm sorry, I don't take your word that the iron is not selling well. My observations at the dealerships from buffalo to syracuse say different. My friends and I are also living proof that the model has accomplished what it was designed for: to attract my demographic to harley davidson.

I'm sorry you don't like it. Actually, I'm not sorry you don't like it. If you did like it, it would likely be lame in my opinion, based on your descriptions of what you find aesthetically pleasing.

I say you can like or not like, buy or not buy, whatever you want.

But the fact is that people my age and younger generally don't want shiny paint and chrome. And we like this bike. I like mine an aweful lot and it has made me take note of the other dark customs, like the street bob.

So while one bike won't save harley (I don't think they need saving... yet) the bike has clearly gotten the attention of a new crowd of riders.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Like I said, your hike is waiting, dude. Besides, what do you expect from people in Western New York. They're all either too poor or too dumb to leave and find a nice part of the country! :) Buffalo! Rochester! Syracuse! Yuck!

http://hubpages.com/travel/Why-Does-Buffalo-NY-Exi

Enjoy! :)


Neognosis 6 years ago

Ok, take your ball and go home then. If your point was that you don't like how the bike looks, then that's fine for you.

If your point was that it is not selling, you are wrong

If your point was that it is harley's least expensive bike, you are wrong again

If your point was that the bike is not aesthetically pleasing to a new generation of riders, you are, again.... wrong.

Now, you claim that the bike is not selling as well as"outperforming" other bikes in "the range." I am not sure what you mean by that. What is "the range" and what do you mean by "outperforming?"


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

It's selling as badly on the average as all the other Harleys. HD has NO models that can be called "successful" in 2010. Period.


Neognosis 6 years ago

Prove it. But you can't. We are supposed to ignore everything we see around us because you claim that you are pals with Harley Davidson execs? And they gave you this information?

Sorry, fail.

You can go ahead and insult my hometown, and keep making all the other snide and childish comments you've been making when nice folks counter your opinion, but you've not shown anything to back up anything you have said, except that you don't like how the bike looks.

This Hub, while certainly entertaining reading, fails to set forth anything but your opinion.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzz.... Go write your own Hub and then we can all marvel at your genius and inside connections. ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzz....


ghshafer@gmail.com 6 years ago

I laughed when I saw Hal admit his real reason for blasting this bike: Willie wouldn't hire him!


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Nope, Willie's cheesed off because I wouldn't hire him. At least now he'd be working for a successful growing company: mine. :)


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

tpd72, you're late for the hike. Neo is waitin' for ya up the trail. Don't let the door hit you on the way out. :)


Penectomy 6 years ago

Hal,

True, Harley sales are down, but the decline is improving. The ENTIRE motorcycle industry is doing poorly with a few exceptions (Triumph, Ducati). Japan is struggling and have been for some time:

http://www.webbikeworld.com/motorcycle-news/statis...

There are some good signs coming out of Milwaukee.

“Despite the decline in second-quarter retail motorcycle sales, we believe interest in the Harley-Davidson brand remains strong among riders of all generations. In fact, Harley-Davidson is the U.S. market share leader of on-road motorcycles among young adults. We will continue to focus our resources on expanding the global reach of the brand and developing new products that will reach even more riders going forward,” Wandell said. “I would like to thank our employees for their continued hard work and support of our strategy.” - 2nd QTR Report

From the for 10-K that H-D filed with the SEC, more interesting news:

H-D accounted for OVER HALF of all new “heavyweight” motorcycles in the U.S. in 2009- 53.3%. This is up from 45.5% in 2008. Before Hal says something ill informed and reactionary about the term “heavyweight”, the term is defined as an engine displacement exceeding 651ccs- we are not talking about Gold Wings and the like only. Chassis type is not part of the definition, only engine size. We are talking about the same classification as Bonnevilles (great bikes), CBR1000RRs, GSX-R 1000s (and 750s), Concours 14s, Triumph triples, etc., etc., etc.

This means of all U.S. new registration in 2009 of ALL motorcycles over 651ccs, H-D outsold all others COMBINED.

I don’t know how that can be bad news for them.

Over 651ccs, Hal. If you hate H-D for some reason, buy what you like and ignore this news. However, don’t use a bias to make unsupported assumptions about the numbers.

Perhaps more interesting is that H-D had 12% of the heavyweight market in Europe in 2009, up from 10.6%.

Granted, the same report shows an overall drop of new “heavyweight” motorcycle registrations in 2009 of 36.6% in the u>S. from 2008 to 2009, but this means that H-D is maintaining its position better than other manufacturers in a horrible market (the drop in Europe was 19.5%).

In sum- bad times for all motorcycle manufacturers, but less bad for H-D. It seems to be positioned well for these difficult times. The fact that it is still profitable when so many businesses of all types are just hoping for the smallest loss possible and trying to survive until there is an economic turnaround, is a very good sign for it.


Penectomy 6 years ago

Sorry - the above statistics are from R.L. Polk and were covered on the HD earnings call.

· . . . in the U.S., no one is reaching new customers better than Harley-Davidson.

· Based on recently provided Polk data, we have been the heavyweight motorcycle category market leader in new motorcycle sales to young adult men and women ages 18 to 34 since at least 2006.

· We have also been the heavyweight market leader since at least 2006 in new motorcycle sales to women riders, Hispanic riders and African American riders ages 35 and older.

Of course, we are also the market leader among Caucasian men ages 35 and older.

· And when it comes to new motorcycle sales to young adults in ALL sizes of on-road motorcycles, Harley-Davidson has been the U.S. market share leader since 2008.

Bob Klein from HD attributable the gain to sales of the Iron 883 and the Forty Eight.

So...go take a hike.


HootieWho 6 years ago

Wow, this is still raging on?

Hal - it looks like HD released an entry level product you can get behind - the 2011 SuperLow. Same price as the Iron but its not black.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Where do you morons get the impression I'm an HD hater? I've already told you that's me and my FXD in my avatar. I've been a Harley rider since 1977! I was riding Hawgs coast to coast when you guys were still trying to paint on the sides of your crib with the filling from your diapers. :)

Besides, sales gains from nearly nothing to a bit over nearly nothing is still nothing. Klein is a bozo.

HootieWho: Hey, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the 2011 SuperLow. I love it soooooo much I am posting a Hub on it today. Two probs with the SuperLow:

1) If it aint got a peanut tank, it aint a Sporty.

2) Overpriced by exactly $2000.

If this baby could hit the dealerships at $5999, HD would sell more SuperLows than all of their current Sportster lineup combined. At eight grand, the SuperLow only defines the sales figures.


HootieWho 6 years ago

...You guys were still trying to paint on the sides of your crib with the filling from your diapers. :)

_____

Hal is that not the point of the Iron, get a younger demographic?

The SuperLow is nice. I agree the price should be lower. Not $2K (unless all Sportsters get $2k less expensive), but $7K even would make it the lowest priced bike in the class.

Vstar Midnight Custom: $6790

2010 HD Sportster Low: $6999

Triumph Bonneville: $7,699

Boulevard M50: $7,799

HD Iron 833: $7999

HD SuperLow: $7999

Honda Shadow Phantom: $7999

Honda Shadow RS: $7999

Vulcan 900 Custom: $8349

Moto Guzzi V7: $8,490

So I think "overpriced" is the wrong term. It is competitively priced with the market and segment. Arguably it is a much better bike than the Shadow RS (drum brakes, plastic, less power) and Vstar Midnight Custom (650, Drum brakes)

Harley should not be in a race the bottom pricing war, it is a dangerous game that the metrics are better positioned to win (cheap third world labor).


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author


HootieWho 6 years ago

"HD branded Suzuki Savage"

I agree 100%. It CAN NOT be a mini cruiser. Mini cruisers are uber lame.

The only way a thumper would work is if it was a mini XR. A little street tracker with a plastic tank and tail and rubber mirrors and lights (like the Blast). Cheap, cool looking, distinctly HD, and forgiving for new riders when dropped (just like the Blast but not lame looking)


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

I can see that bike as being appealing, but I don't see HD getting off the V-train anytime soon! Good idea though! :)


tpd72 6 years ago

@ Hal: Wait, where is my post? You make a snide comment about it, but it is not visible here. Have you deleted it because it isn't genuflecting to your opinion?


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Deleted due to language. Clean up your act and get your comments posted. :)


Neognosis 6 years ago

there was nothing offensive in the language of that deleted post. And it wasn't even mine. That's pathetic, hal. You delete posts from people who call you out now? Shame. Noticed you deleted some of mine too. Weak.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

I delete comments that have non family friendly language. I have never deleted a comment for viewpoint in 2311 Hubs and I'm not about to start now.


Kevin 6 years ago

I've never... ever thought about purchasing a Harley. The moment I saw the Iron my jaw dropped. It's almost the exact bike I had in my mind. Now I'm also finding myself looking at other HD's like the V-Rod and old ironheads. I may not be a majority here, but if it weren't for the Iron HD wouldn't see one dollar from me.


MIke 6 years ago

Kevin i have to agree with you. I have never considered buying a harley before, and as a 26 year old, this bike has really turned my head that way. my friends all seem to agree. Hal can have his opinions, but that doesn't change what is really happening out there to the Iron's target customers.


Bruno Felipe 6 years ago

Hal Licino, I'm sorry but the 883 Iron is awesome!!! the color scheme is perfect for the look and feel of the bike... a true entry level without all that fancy ugly chrome stuff ... completely disagree with your assumptions that it's an ugly bike ... and I'll certainly help HD to get out of their financial problem buying one for me...

Actually I don't care about their financial problem ... the only thing I know by now is that they did a great job with this bike!!! have a good one!


Darwin 6 years ago

Hey Hal,

I agree 100% with Bruno. I didn't even look at Harley as a possible option until the iron 883 came out.. I ain't a big fan of the flashy chrome, I want my bike blacked out and nasty.

I also like the fact that it's a small, maneuverable bike... Not a heavy monster bike.

If I were to make any changes to this bike, the only thing I'd like to see is a 6th gear (for highway), but other than that this bike is exactly what I'm looking for... lol and don't tell me to go buy a Nightster 'cause I don't wanna!


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

I have nothing against Sportsters, dude. Check my fave bikes hub and you'll see my old ironhead is one of my top 3 bikes out of the 37 I've had. It's this blacked out icky thing... it's nasty alright, but not in a positive connotation! :)


Andrew 6 years ago

I've always wanted a Harley, but they have always been out of my price range for what i consider a Harley that i like, The Iron 883 is almost spot on with what i like in a bike, im saving my dollars and should have one soon. Hal in your OP i think you really sound bias, is it becuase you didn't get employed by them?


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Nah, I should be employing their exec team... and might if they continue on the road they're on... they'll be perfect for mowing my lawn and shoveling my drive. :)


Hein 6 years ago

If the 883 Iron is such a huge mistake, why is there so few available. I have never heard anybody compare a HD with any other bike, but there are loads of wannabees on the road. Shame on them. I want and 883 Iron. Keep cruising.


Yeshai 5 years ago

I totally disagree with your article. I never liked harley's before but the iron is totally beautiful and the badest bike I have ever laid eyes on.

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