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Harley targets 4 million new riders

New Softails million child age

Harley-Davidson claims they will increase the number of new Harley riders by four million in the next 10 years with new “high-impact” models that have already won the tick of approval from Roland Sands design.

The bold prediction was made by Harley international PR manager Nik Ellwood at the LA launch this week of the new range of eight Softails.

Read our first impressions of riding the new Softails.

Nik says they will increase the number of new Harley riders by two million in the US plus two million more worldwide over the next 10 years.

He says that to achieve those four million new Harley riders they will have to grow international sales to 50% of volume.

He believes that new “high-impact” bikes, such as the updated 2018 Softail family, will appeal to a younger generation.

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The new Softail family being tested in California

The eight new bikes make a total of 10 new models released this year which puts the company on its other 10-year target to introduce 100 new models.

This comes as Forbes magazine says the biggest competition for new Harley sales comes from ageing baby boomers who are selling their old Harleys to younger riders.

So the release of modernised Softail models with LED lighting, more sophisticated and powerful Milwaukee Eight 107- and 114-cube engines and trendy styling touches come at the right time.

They are designed to reach a younger demographic. Even the “classic” models, such as the Deluxe, Slim and Heritage Classic have modern styling with less old-fogey chrome and more black and satin metal finishes you find on cafe racers and custom bikes.

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Softail Slim

Roland Sands approval

LA motorcycle design guru Roland Sands of Roland Sands Design has given the updated Softails his tick of approval, although he says “it’s going to take some getting used to”.

“What a strong offer,” he says. “I was blown away.”

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Roland Sands in his LA design office

He says the “Asian-influenced” designs will be “polarising” for Harley fans, but should appeal to new and younger customers.

Roland has so far ridden the new Fat Boy and Fat Bob and is impressed by their quick handling.

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The new Street Bob is now a Softail, not a Dyna

“We will sit down with the new Harleys, deconstruct them and see what we can modify,” Roland says.

“Harley provides a great platform for modifications and it’s a good-looking motor.”

While RSD has done some design work for Harley in the past, Roland says he has offered to do more, but says there has been silence from Harley’s end.

Roland admits that the axing of the Dyna family with their twin shocks and rubber-mounted unbalanced engine and bringing them into the Softail family with its single hidden shock and fully balanced, hard-mounted engine was controversial.

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Confronting oval LED headlight on a Fat Bob

“Killing off the Dyna was a tough thing to swallow, but once people get over it, they will see that it’s a cool platform,” he says.

“People freak about about a new design, then in a few years they tell you that they love it.”

By the way, at the end of the interview, this is how Roland left the building …