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Back at the EICMA motorcycle trade show last November, Harley-Davidson surprised everyone by introducing two motorcycles that were dramatically different from anything it offered at that time or previously.
These bikes were called the Pan America and the Bronx, with the former being a large-displacement adventure touring motorcycle in the vein of BMW’s R1250GS or Ducati’s Multistrada 1260 and the latter an upright naked bike meant to take on the smaller-displacement Monsters from Ducati, among others.
Both bikes looked awesome, and Harley seemed earnest in its plans to produce both for the 2020 model year, but then the pandemic happened and things took a turn for the worse. Now, according to a report published recently by Motorcycle.com, Harley won’t debut the Bronx in 2020 or 2021 at all. Does that mean it’s dead? Harley isn’t telling.
Harley-Davidson representatives have confirmed that while the Bronx won’t be happening next year, the Pan America has become the chief focus for the brand and that it’s focusing its efforts on that launch being successful. This makes sense, given how profitable the adventure bike segment has become in the last decade.
The change to the launch schedule isn’t the only thing going down in Milwaukee, though. New CEO Jochen Zeitz is pushing a new brand strategy that he’s calling the Hardwire, itself an extension of the Rewire strategy that saw several significant changes — including 700 jobs being cut — earlier this year.
“A total rewire is necessary to make Harley-Davidson a high-performance company. Building on our strong brand legacy, we are reinvigorating our core profit driving business – powered by our strongest dealers, most exciting products and careful inventory management, while focusing on the most important opportunities for future expansion,” said Zeitz, in a statement.
“We’re overhauling our operating model and our product plan and are rewiring our market structure and organization to focus on the strengths of our brand and company,” Zeitz continued. “We are now working on our new five-year strategic plan, the Hardwire, which will be grounded in enhancing the desirability of our brand and protecting the value of our iconic products.”
Rewire, hardwire, haywire — whatever. Harley-Davidson is still in a seemingly precarious position. The decision to push into other market segments seems like a smart one, particularly if it focuses on its strengths and looks for ways to improve its weaknesses.
I’m sad that we won’t be seeing the Bronx anytime soon, but hopefully, the extra time will give the folks in Milwaukee time to perfect the bike, giving it a chance to be something other than a weird American also-ran.