Harley-Davidson Vs. Honda Motorcycles: Which Do American`s Prefer?

Harley-Davidson Vs. Honda Motorcycles: Which Do American`s Prefer?

Harley-Davidson motorcycles were first built in 1903 in a Milwaukee backyard shed by William Harley and Andrew Davidson in 1903. A century later, Harley-Davidson motorcycles still capture the hearts of Americans and rule the roads.

Harley-Davidson motorcycles are mass-produced heavy bikes made for cruising and are known for their unique sound. Harleys are particularly known for the chopper-style motorcycle sound.

With the entry of Japanese motorcycles in the market though particularly Honda, competition for a share on the motorcycle-riding buyers get stiffer.

Honda’s motorcycles came at a much later date than the Harleys. The first Honda motorcycle was on sale in 1947. The American Honda Company came into existence in 1958. The 1959 Honda C100 Super Club was the first model sold in the United States. The Honda Club holds the distinction of being the best-selling vehicle in the world with 50 million units sold. In the 1970s up to the present, Honda is the recognized largest producer of motorcycles in the world.

During the 1960s, Harley Davidson had to contend with its tarnished image due to the motorcycles’ negative portrayal in Hollywood films. Harleys’ large motorcycles are often depicted as driven by rough characters. Harley-Davidsons were considered synonymous with “Hells Angels” and tough men who “beat up old ladies with chains”.

To compete with Harley, Honda adopted an advertising slogan that countered this tough image. The “You meet the nicest people on a Honda” campaign became the overriding theme of Honda. Armed with the slogan, Honda launched the SOHC inline 4-cylinder 750 in 1969 which became very successful.

Harleys never competed with Honda head-on. Their marketing strategy has always been focused on selling a lifestyle instead of a mere motorcycle. It is the classic form versus substance approach. With Harleys banking mostly on its form, while Honda focuses on the practical or substance aspect of the bike.

Instead of trying to match Honda, Harleys new management tried to win back customers in the US by promoting the unique “retro” design of the motorcycles. They built machines designed to have the look and feel of earlier motorcycles. To be able to maintain high standards and sell the bike at competitive prices, Harleys outsourced the making of their components abroad. Technical improvements to the motorcycles were made and the buyers slowly took notice and returned.

A typical Harley-Davidson customer would be one earning an average of $78,000 per year. They would most probably be riding a $16,000 motorcycle which is the average cost for Harley’s cruiser. Obviously, the bike is intended for above-average customers.

To be able to generate a loyal following, the Harley today focuses on fraternity rather than the machine. Once you buy a Harley, you can be assured of exclusive membership to a huge organization made up of Harley owners called as Harley Owners Group (HOG). There are 600 of them spread all over the United States and operated under the support of the dealer. Style is given due prominence for this group. It is not unusual for customers to furnish their Harleys with leather accessories and other expensive trimmings.

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lowellhenderson, posted this comment on Apr 13th, 2009

At 42 years of age I purchased my first Harley…a 2006 Sportster. I have ridden many other bikes most of my life, some were faster, some were smoother but none gave me the sense of pride that I got when took that first Harley ride. I didn’t just buy a bike I joined a brotherhood…lowellhenderson65

LuvMyHarley, posted this comment on Sep 4th, 2009

I have owned dirt bikes and sport bikes built by other manufacturers over the years. I swore I would never own a Harley because they were too expensive. That said, I purchased my first Harley at age 39. The ride was different than my sport bikes with a cruiser attitude. I loved my heritage and upgraded to an Ultra Classic at age 46. I believe the Honda Gold Wing is a better ride, but happy with my choice of riding the Harley. I think riders mature as they age and younger sports bike riders will enjoy the cruisers. Harley sells an image and once you own one, its unlikely you’ll change brands. They do sell a lifestyle and Harley riders find similiar minded folks everywhere they go.

Mike A., posted this comment on Sep 14th, 2009

My first bike was a brand new2002 Harley Dyna . It was a piece of crap.
I will never again purchase another Harley. If you want to ride and feel sure that your bike will go on a 200 plus mile ride,buy Japanese. Harley look good on back of the owners pick up,just like my dog does. But I will not ride my dog. I am a proud American, but Harley’s suck!!!

Truth, posted this comment on Jan 2nd, 2010

Harley’s suck!

I want to buy a product… not an image! LMAO

Rick, posted this comment on Jan 18th, 2010

I have ridden motorcycles for about 45 years and never wanted to buy into a myopic brotherhood of bikers. I like the very diverse universe of motorcycling and don’t believe I would ever become single brand minded. Why would I want to see myself coming and going and dress like a pirate in doing so?

justin, posted this comment on Feb 18th, 2010

harleys are awsome i am only 13 but i have more sense than you three mindless morons. lesson 1 dont buy dyna buy a softail.

jerry, posted this comment on Feb 18th, 2010

i agree with justin he is right. I know many people that ride a harleys. but you have to ask yourself what one feels better a metal beast that gives your balls room or you can get a little pussy bike. in the end you will drive a harley.

Paul Person, posted this comment on Feb 24th, 2010

The fact remains Honda does have a “brotherhood”. The Honda Riders Club(0ver 150,000 members stong),The VTX Riders Club; which has chapters all over the world and The Honda Owners Association.
I find that owning a safe, reliable motorcycle is better than paying a ton of money for the Harley name.

H.O.G, posted this comment on Mar 5th, 2010

im a twenty five year member and i just cant stand those damn fags on the road i drive a harley softail heartage and i have never had a problem whith it. it goes when i want it to and it keeps its value because harley isnt mas producing them like they were some kind of toy u would find in a happy meal.

F Off Losers, posted this comment on Mar 15th, 2010

Pussies roll in packs. All weaker animals in the wild roll in packs for protection, these are harley owners along will the general american sheep who are brainwashed by marketing, PUSSIES!! It’s likepaying 40k plus for a BMW when in Germany, BMW is their ford and some sell for less than 10k

No you f off fag, posted this comment on Apr 19th, 2010

Ok then but look at nerds and geeks do they have any freind no and cool peaple have freinds am I right. PS lone wolf bikers exist you idiot. What the he’ll is wrong whith the world somtimes i wonder about you rice rocket fags.

Oh and cheap ass you buy a BMW for image not that I’m into europien cars I prefer USA made Camaro is the nicest car around. So ya that’s sorta like comparing chevy to toyota or arctic cat sleds to yamah sleds and for the record who trust peaple to build a snowmobile in a place whith no snow what the he’ll

Dave, posted this comment on Jun 2nd, 2010

Buy American seems to be the Harley way. So how many Harley riders have an American made TV or Computer? Ford and GM cars might be assembled in USA but the parts are made worldwide. Harley is starting to listen to their consumers. GenX doesn’t want to sit at the shop waiting for repairs to be fixed.
There are two types of people, you either ride a bike or don’t ride a bike. Enjoy the freedom to chose. Enjoy the freedom to ride.

justin, posted this comment on Jun 8th, 2010

here are the facts for those of you who are so nieve to think that harley is just an image. underneath that classic look there is moder technoligy. i was watching youtube and there was a vid saying that there is no suspension in the back but there is thats why they changed the name Hardtail to Softail also as of 07 harley put in six speed and there is a computer built to conserve fuel and all the works so next time somone ever says that theres no technoligy in harleys you can call him a god damn moron or u can nicley explain it like i just did your choice.

justin, posted this comment on Jun 10th, 2010

and genearl motors CANADA is assembled in canada my country.

justin, posted this comment on Jun 10th, 2010

PS USA is so much better than canada but you guy should not get health care taxs will go up like crazy itll be like living here you also have the best roads

Tyler Hawkins, posted this comment on Sep 2nd, 2010

Americans should not talk about things they know nothing about. Especially other countries. Most Americans can’t even point Canada out on a map. And why should they? Their education level is 25th in the world, and Canada is 5th. Anyway Harley people can’t deny that Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Victory and BMW make some of the best engines in the world. You can’t argue that. I love Harley’s too. But lets face it if your gonna drop $20,000 on a machine it better work pretty damn well!

Brian, posted this comment on Sep 14th, 2010

buy and ride what makes you happy, just ride!! And for the record I’ve owned Honda and Harleys, But I’m most comfortable on the VTX 1300 Retro, it fits me like a glove!! But I may buy a Street Glide at some those are a sweet ride as well!! Not a huge fan of sportys softails or Dyna’s But I Do like the Harley baggers!!

ShadowStriker, posted this comment on Oct 10th, 2010

As far as reliability, i will never be on the street if it’s not a HONDA. Cars or motorcycles, if it’s not a HONDA, the hell with it!!! Hondas are the most reliable Make then all other makers of cars, bikes, etc. As far as the exhaust goes, anyone can make noise. Just install some Long Shots or whatever on the Honda bike and BAM!!! there goes some nice sounds. BUT, if you take the best Harley built bike out there and the “worse” built Honda bike out there and just let the two bikes ride non-stop for however long it takes, I GAURANTEE YOU the Harley will break down sooner than a Honda will. I’ve had my honda VTX 1300R and had over 100K miles and it still rides like it just came out of the Showroom!!! HONDA all the way, HANDS DOWN!

jack, posted this comment on Oct 13th, 2010

to shadow sriker harleys are very dependable they will run forever the only thing you have to do is change the oil and you can ride em hard too like hammering on it for hours in the arizona desert no problem.

Sockeye, posted this comment on Nov 9th, 2010

I know the Shadows have been engineered to minimize maintenance, but I still ride a 30 year old CB750. Might need to move up to 950, but like the nostalgia and history of early “Super Bikes”, so can’t criticize those who ride Harleys for reasons other than practicality. I just had some great experiences/memories on Hondas in the 60’s and they continue.

john, posted this comment on Jan 14th, 2011

It is all personal preference although I have noticed that once you own a harley It is almost like you are brain washed into thinking that no other bike stands up to the harley. Well we all no this is not true and it is just in the heads of the owners.

A RIDER OF A MOTORCYCLE, posted this comment on Feb 1st, 2011

This wouldnt be such a big issue if it weren’t for the multitudes of Harley owners who think their poorly and out dated machine was better than everything else on the road…… I used to like all bikes I have been riding bikes since I was a child…….But it wasn’t till the realization of how stuck up harley riders are towards everyone else on two wheels that has made me absolutely HATE Harley Davidson bikes…… I was raised with the philosophy “It’s not about the man or his machine its what the man does with his machine” we all ride we all risk our lives every time we get on our bikes thats why we wave when we pass each other I will wave to the guy on the moped and his buddy on the scooter why? because we are all riders….. Only the harley riders ignore your wave as you pass and because of that attitude I will never spend a single cent on anything Harley Davidson…… So the manufacturer can once again thank its clientele for its loss of business

Rudy Correa, posted this comment on Feb 3rd, 2011

Harley’s electronics are Japanese; the forks are made by Showa, brake calipers by Nissa, starter by Hitachi, suspension parts Japanese, carb Mikuni or Screaming Eagle China, FI is a German made part. American huh, Goldwing made and assembled in Ohio. HD riders are smug. The are driving Asian American Bikes-they should start the Asian American Motorcycle Club of America.

jack, posted this comment on Apr 25th, 2011

hey rudy what the hell is a goldwing?

justin, posted this comment on Apr 25th, 2011

the two best things about a harley are it looks its classic and will never go out of style unlike all the other plastic bikes around the other one is obviously the sound you can never mistake the rumble of a harley for a honda or yamaha. oh and there pretty comfortable too. 2010 harley davidson softail hearitage.

J Longstreet, posted this comment on May 4th, 2011

I owned a Kawasaki Vulcan Nomad, 01 FI. Good bike, but lacked in power. I traded it in on a 2005 Road King. I like the Road King a lot better. Fit and finish is far better, and so is the handling and torque. I think a lot of the “Harley bashing” is out of jealousy. It’s all about how you maintain the bike. And as far as Harley people being rude, hell I’ve read more Harley bashers being rude than Harley riders. Rude people ride all bikes, face it. Like said in earlier post, there’s nothing like the sound and nostalgic feeling of riding a Harley. I’m not knocking on Metrics( although that dual pin crankshaft engines sound awful with exhaust ) they are good bikes. But before you knock on something, own one and give an honest opinion instead of out of mere outside judgement. 2005 Harley Roadking.

your mom, posted this comment on Mar 24th, 2012

Canada sucks I can point it out on a map its the prime hunting ground filled with douches to the north. And keep your damn quarters in your own country they won\’t work in the pop machine at work . Probably because they are from Canada aka America Jr.

dariel w, posted this comment on Apr 28th, 2012

I prefer honda. Last summer, some loud biker got off his bike and approached my car cause he didn’t like how I stoppedin front of him or whatever. So I get out of the car and he decides fast he don’t want no trouple with a 6ft black man and he scurried away.
“tough guys” my a–

More like fat drunk old men who ride harleys.

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