Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Harley Still Seems to Think it's Brand is Golden

alpinestars st-1 glovesIt's hard to find a good pair cold weather riding gloves I've discovered. Well actually, there are a lot of good ones out there, but finding a pair that I really like is another matter.

Yesterday, I visited three different metric dealers, a Harley dealer, and two different motorcycle accessories stores. I ultimately settled on a pair of Alpinestars Drystar ST-1 Gloves (pictured here).

I found them at Cycle Gear, listed at $39.99.

Actually, I already have a pair of cold weather riding gloves which I bought a year ago from the local Harley dealer. And I really liked the look and feel, they're soft leather, and fairly plain looking (which is unlike Harley gear). And they were reasonably priced, at $39.99. But I made the mistake of buying them too large, and as a result it's rather clumsy working the controls on my motorcycle.

So back into the process of finding cold weather gloves I went.

The metric motorcycle dealers mostly carried "sport bike gloves", the stuff with all the armored knuckles, the bling and multiple colors. They also carried winter riding gloves, but they were all extremely thick, and quite long, coming half-way up my arms.

In addition, those metric dealers all carry the same line of cheapo gloves. The leather on this stuff is stiff, and almost feeling like plastic. As it turned out, half of their inventory is this cheapo stuff.

I went back to the Harley dealer, Biggs H-D in San Marcos, to see if they have the same gloves, but in a smaller size. They did not.

But they did have something similar, and something that I also liked. But nothing in my size. And it turns out they wanted $75.00 for them! These were very similar to the Harley gloves I bought last winter, but for whatever reason they tacked an extra $35.00 to the price tag.

A girl there asked if she could search nearby dealers to see if they had one in my size. I said "ok", and she said she found a pair in San Diego, which was another hour's drive further away from my home. I said "forget it, I'm not driving all the way down there just to pay $75.00 for a pair of gloves that are already overpriced!". She said, "Yeah, I know."

Then she offered to have the San Diego dealer ship them up to her store, and then I could pick them up. But I would have to pay for them now. "Nah", I said. It was that $75.00 price tag that made me sick.

And that brings me to a thought. This dealership, Biggs H-D, is the dealership where I bought my Electra Glide a few years ago. Back then, they were hoppin'. They had so many bikes on the showroom floor, and so many clothes and accessories, you could kill a couple hours going through it all. But yesterday, they had only 1/4th the inventory they used to have.

Harley is still trying to capitalize on its brand, at a time when people aren't willing to pay a premium for the brand.

I looked at their leather jackets. Some of them go for $500.00 or more. And on top of that, all of their jackets have that "Harley-Davidson" logo in extra large letters on the back. "Why the Hell would I pay $500.00 for a giant Harley logo on my back?" I kept thinking. "If they want me to advertise for them, they should give me the jacket for free."

That's why I'm really liking Cycle Gear these days. They sell good stuff, at good prices. And as a result, Cycle Gear stores always have customers in them. The Biggs H-D dealership I went to yesterday, had no customers except for me (at least not when I was there).

I think the recession put us into a new era of thinking. We're looking past the brand and evaluating the value we get from our money. Meanwhile Harley-Davidson still seems to think it's brand is golden. Yet, I'm no longer buying stuff because it has a Harley logo on it, rather I'm buying stuff because I need it, and because it fits just right, and because it's priced cheap.

And I think Harley may be getting the message. I just read this article about the Motor Company installing an upgraded version of its customer relations management software at most of its dealers. It's supposed to help them collect more information about each customer, and leverage it to increase sales.

And that's a start, though they still need to design bikes that last, instead of bikes that beg for upgrades.

1 comment:

  1. Harley riding gear golden? Most of it is garbage. I have three of their bikes but none of their gear. In fact I only have one tee shirt with their logo and that was given to me.


About Steve

A vagabond who hauls a motorcycle around the country in a toy hauler, earning a living as a website developer. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, craft beer, and/or public nudity. (Read more...)