Iconic motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson has been criticized in recent years for having a customer demographic problem: the Baby Boomer generation has long served as Harley’s bread-and-butter and many of these buyers are simply aging out of the motorcycle game.
In their place, a new generation rises up with less money and, probably more importantly, less interest in the loud and bulky hog of their parents’ generation. This has left Harley struggling to find the right niche to appeal to these younger riders while it simultaneously fends off other market pressures like metal tariffs.
The shift has been so pronounced that Harley actually changed its strategy, according to CEO Matt Levatich, going from a mission of building “motorcycles” to building “riders.” Last year the company introduced eight new Softail motorcycles, which are about 35 pounds lighter than their traditional bikes. In addition, they’re exploring a few electric powered options, and offering more classes at their Harley Davidson academies to help encourage newbies to learn to ride.
But if the Millennials don’t bite, Harley has a backup plan and these future Harley riders are just finishing up their afternoon snack: that’s right, Harley’s newest customer pool is in the 3 to 7-year-old range, which let’s just call the Paw Patrol generation.
The company announced earlier this week that it would acquire StaCyc, a manufacturer of two-wheel electric bikes for young children or, as StaCyc calls them, “little rippers.” The company makes two versions of its product and they max out at about 10 miles per hour. Heather Malenshek, Harley’s senior VP of marketing, said that acquisition made sense because StaCyc shares the company’s vision “for building the next generation of riders globally.”
The bikes sell in the $600-700 range and should be available at Harley dealers in the third quarter of this year – just in time to get out on the open road before school starts.