Harley marks 110th birthday with blowout party

The iconic motorcycle maker, whose fortunes have improved in recent years, throws a Labor Day weekend event for its fans.

By Bruce Kennedy Aug 30, 2013 2:19PM

A Harley Davidson motorcycle during the company's 110th anniversary celebration in Milwaukee, Wis., on Thursday (© Morry Gash/AP)For fans of Harley-Davidson (HOG), this Labor Day holiday weekend could be a dream come true. As part of its 110th anniversary celebrations, the motorcycle maker is throwing a party in its hometown of Milwaukee, Wis.

About 100,000 people are expected to attend the event, which will feature top-line bands, tours at the Harley-Davidson museum, motorcycle demonstrations and other festivities.

Harley is also one of America's most iconic brands -- with a financial history, especially in recent years, that analysts say has reflected much of the national economy's ups and downs.

Of course, sales in this industry can be -- pardon the pun -- cyclical.

The Motorcycle Industry Council reported 2012 retail sales for the sector's 19 top manufacturers increased 2.6% for the year. It was also the first time all four segments of the motorcycle industry -- scooter, dual, on-highway and off-highway -- reported increases in year-over-year unit sales.

But another recent council report, quoted by Motorcycle USA, says overall sales for the first quarter of this year were down nearly 15% compared with 2012. Weather was cited by both Harley and its nearest U.S. rival, Polaris Industries (PII), for their first-quarter sales downturns.

And Polaris, while having just a fraction of the high-priced, heavy motorcycle market dominated by Harley, isn't backing down. The company unveiled three new versions of its Indian motorcycle earlier this month at the annual rally in Sturgis, S.D.

But so far, nothing appears to be raining on Harley's birthday celebrations. The event has also been good for local businesses in metro Milwaukee -- especially Harley dealerships.

Todd Berlin, sales manager at Suburban Harley-Davidson in Thiensville, Wis., tells the Journal Sentinel that motorcyclists from nearly all 50 states have stopped by -- as well as bikers from Australia, Russia, Chile and Italy. And what's more, according to Berlin, the dealership also sold out its initial shipment of 2014 touring bikes.

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Aug 30, 2013 2:54PM
If you don't like Harley Don't buy one
Aug 30, 2013 3:15PM

I've rode a Harley for years, they are no worse than some of the Jap bikes I rode.

The newer bikes are leaps and bounds better than the older Harleys, and you just

can't beat that beautiful sound

Aug 30, 2013 4:11PM
If we have to explain it to you then you will never understand
Aug 30, 2013 3:17PM
Wow, the Vespa riders are really jealous today.
I used to own rice, and like everyone who owned/owns rice, I found myself riding less and less the longer I owned the bike.  Then I bought a Harley, now I ride more and more as time goes by.  If you never owned or ridden a Harley you don't know what I'm talking about.  Its a man's bike and they are a blast to ride, everything else is a chick bike.
Aug 30, 2013 2:43PM
It's really to bad that Harley's quality has declined. The cost of upkeep and maintenance is rediculous and runs into the thousands over the life of the bike.  All it has become is a status symbol. 
Aug 30, 2013 2:57PM
Congratulations to America's 2nd oldest motorcycle company... may you continue to find oil leaks that you build bikes around.
Aug 30, 2013 4:26PM
I was in college in Milwaukee during the 100th anniversary. All you can hear is motorcycles reviving all weekend long. 
Aug 30, 2013 2:57PM
Would you get in a jet plane if "Hardley Davidson" made it? I dont think so... 
Aug 30, 2013 6:11PM
I cant belive americans are trash talking Harley , for thoise of you who are bad mouthing harley and any other american made product out there FUNK YOU  AND GET OUT OF THIS COUNTRY
Aug 31, 2013 10:25AM
90% of the comments I've read here are just opinions it seems. I've been riding a long time...since 1967. In the 70's, you couldn't have given me a Harley to use for transportation. They were awful. The mid 80's changed all that with the Evo and then in '99 when the twin cam came out they were even better. I'm trying to wear out my fourth H-D now (I average 18,000 miles year in and year out) with a long commute daily to work and a yearly vacation summer trip consisting of 4500-7000 miles. Harleys are reliable, they don't vibrate parts off, they generally don't leak and I get 70-90 thousand miles out of them with hardly anything but oil changes and new tires. The Motor Company ruined things for us bikers when they started ramping up production to unreasonable levels in the early 2000's. That made my resale value drop through the basement and they did that for profit only and to benefit the company owners. Made the dealerships turn into boutiques for t-shirt sales. But I still ride mine and love my bike but I have no loyalty to the company that screwed me just for more profit.
Aug 30, 2013 6:43PM
Jeez just ride what you like. I dont like nor would I want a Harley. I along with a growing number (more than half now I believe) of police departments dont think Harley performs near well enough (handleing, braking, speed, acceleration) to be used as a persuit vehicle, So they are using more BMWs now. For me the Harley is just not a competent machine. That said, congratulations on your 110th! Now that they are back to being an American company (I think) I wish them 110 more!
Aug 31, 2013 2:26PM
If Harley is throwing a party for its customers, why do I have to buy a $110 ticket to get in, pay for food and drinks and pay extra for most of the entertainment.  Not to mention a $200 hotel room with a 3 day minimum.  I bought 5 new Harleys in the last 20 years and I love the bikes I.m pretty sure Harley is making money on this party, "for its loyal custimers"
Aug 31, 2013 10:40PM
I've enjoyed riding M/C since 1962. I've had nortons, Hondas , and now I have Harley's. I guess we ride what we can afford..thank you! 
Aug 31, 2013 9:53PM
Love those Harley's.  Too bad I am to old to ride one!!!!  I sure would love to bring back old memories.  So beautiful.

Come on up to Northern Wisconsin.  You have been up here a lot and such wonderful people and so charitable.  Be safe!!!!!!!
Aug 31, 2013 7:53PM
I ride a ridged frame dirt bike AKA 1963 XLCH. If you put them together right the only oil leak you will see is from the breather. I'm in the middle of a rebuild now and hope to be up by next summer. It will be just for cruising around town. I'm getting to old for those road trips.
Sep 1, 2013 12:05AM
They are having one great time in Milwaukee this weekend., I was involved in the 100th and the 105th and this one is allot better attended and as usual the folks are having a great time without any trouble. Unfortunately we have had six bad cashes involving bikes since Wednesday. I believe we have one fatality. There are two more days to go because of the Labor Day holiday.
Aug 30, 2013 4:45PM

I had a H

arley and women trouble .............never mind...I miss the hell out it....

Aug 31, 2013 6:03PM
Well, I Own the best BIKE - there is , a Plastic Big Wheel, ya know the Blue and Yellow ones for like 5 yr.olds with plastc wheels , Cool huh ? :)
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