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Basem Wasef

Harley Sez "Screw it" Again... With a Twist

By September 4, 2008

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Harley Sez, So Screw It, Let's Ride Part II

"America, please don't buy a Harley because it gets 50 MPG," the Motor Company pleads in new print ads that debuted today (click the left image to enlarge.) Their fall campaign, similar in spirit to the first "So Screw It, Let's Ride" ads that appeared several months ago, bolsters Harley's devil-may-care attitude in the face of high fuel prices and a stumbling economy.

Whether or not you're a Harley fan, it's hard for a true enthusiast to argue with the statement that "MPG describes riding like biology describes sex." And considering the nation's current fascination with two-wheeled transportation as a way to save money at the pump, I think it's a timely message that draws attention to the passion of riding... what do you think?

Photo Harley-Davidson
Click to enlarge

September 4, 2008 at 6:54 pm
(1) the bat says:

“America, please don’t buy a Harley because it gets 50 MPG” Because you’ll only be disappointed to find out it dosen’t…

September 4, 2008 at 7:50 pm
(2) rick says:

“the bat”, he just don’t get it, does he…..poor guy.

September 4, 2008 at 11:26 pm
(3) MotoGuy says:

Actually my Sporty regularly gets 50+ mpg. And stock Big Twins usually are in the 40s. Very clever ad, BTW.

September 5, 2008 at 2:06 am
(4) Stefan, Denmark says:

As much as a ad like this will increase sellings in The States, as much, or even more, Harley will loose customers here in Europe. We just don’t buy that kind of rebel-childish arguments. Honsestly Harley. This smells like big time crisis.

September 5, 2008 at 11:34 am
(5) Scottie says:

Crisis? Probably not. Everyone seems to forget that they are still making a lot of money, just less than they were. They do have challenges ahead. The number of used of used Harleys on ebay has surged from 1,300 to over 2,200 in the last few months. That is seems like an indicator to me.

Doubt that Harley runs this ad overseas.

That said, I think Don Draper would approve.

September 5, 2008 at 12:05 pm
(6) Paul says:

“Harley will loose customers here in Europe.”

Good thing that Harley bills itself as an American company. I’ll bet that the ad gains more sales here in the States than it loses in commieland (er… “Europe”).

Frankly, the projects I manage go much more smoothly if EC companies are not involved and I’m happy that the true ethos of riding is finally being acknowledged. Euros may whimper and cower in fear at the idea of true freedom, but there are still a few of us left on this side of the pond. Those that have the testicular fortitude to say “screw it, let’s ride” are usually sucessful enough to afford alternative transportation that also expresses our love of freedom.

September 5, 2008 at 12:26 pm
(7) Pete says:

Paul …
“Commieland” ?? You idiot !! You ever been to Europe? You’ll be surprised to find they’re just like all the people (except you) in North America.

September 8, 2008 at 4:56 am
(8) Orlin says:

Great post Paul!!! Now I understand the true freedom is to ride a Harley and listen to the only true and great band – Manowar!!! Oh how I’d really love to ride with the almighty power of the 55 mph on a straight like a true guitar string road of freedom for days!!! Oh how I hate those oppressing twisty roads in the Alps. With the power of great freedom shall we destroy those evil restaurants and help those communistic slaves experience the democratic ways by opening McDonald’s instead.
By the way does your Harley spill oil? My communistic Yamaha, which I plan to change for a true great democratic Harley, does not and I’m afraid there’s something wrong with her.

September 8, 2008 at 4:58 am
(9) Stefan, Danmark says:

Paul: This has nothing to do with politics. An ad is an ad, and it is made just for one reason – to sell. In Europe most Harley riders are upper middleclass, well educated, wealthy and healthy. Most of them ride Harleys simply because they can afford one, and because they have some kind of lost rebel dream (Much like the guys in the Wild Hog movie). But the main differens between US and Europa is, that these rebelish, freedomwannabe, screw-the-world kind of thinking is considered unmature an childish, and therefor NOT OK, especially not for the wealthy clas, and NEVER for a tough Harley-rider.

I,ve been to America a lot of times, and I can tell you – Your freedom is no bigger than anywhere else.

September 10, 2008 at 10:25 am
(10) Dave says:

Harley is a great bike but I think they are going a little overboard with comments like “Screw It”. In my opinion this does not portray a professional image that I want to be associated with and I own two of them.

September 10, 2008 at 10:26 am
(11) Dr. Love says:

Harleys are over-priced, over-rated, under-powered, non-dependable, and more expensive to insure. The majority of their customers are bike novices, that only buy for the name and/or sound. I would better trust my Venture (Yamaha) or W650 (Kawasaki) on a LONG road trip before I would a Harley. For my money give me a Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, or Suzuki any day. “Hardley” folks forget…You about went under in the 1970s and were owned by the same people who made bowling alleys & pool tables. Need I remind you again?!

September 10, 2008 at 11:03 am
(12) Zoom says:

Dr. Love: Over-priced? YES! Over-rated? Subjective to the buyer! Under-powered? Definately! Non-Dependable? Maybe! More expensive to insure? Yes! Harley needs to step up and at least have an air-oil cooled engine like some others. My wife has a Harley (28,000 miles in less than two years) that has been very reliable. We have established many years ago that the Japanese bike are probably more reliable for the long haul. The good thing about buying a bike is you buy what you want and spend the amount you want. It’s all a personal choice! What I don’t like to see is someone running down another because of what they ride. Yes, Harley rides are guilty but I have seen the same out of metric owners. I don’t know about everyone else but I ride what I want and screw the opinions of the rest! Harley advertising doesn’t change my mind!!!

September 10, 2008 at 11:15 am
(13) TF says:

Have an 04 Ultra. Bought it new. Its one of the heaviest bikes Harley makes. I got 50 to 55 miles per gallon all the time. After warranty I started doing minor performance options like screaming eagle pipes. My mileage dropped into the 40′s. Needless to say, my bike is back to factory specs, and I’m back to 50 mpg. They wouldn’t make that statement if they couldn’t back it up.

September 10, 2008 at 11:17 am
(14) Dave says:

Well, as far as HD’s sales, they are off in the U.S., but up in Europe and other areas of the world, which is what’s helping to save HD’s butt. So what an ad says is important elsewhere, and I agree, a smart campaign probably wouldn’t run that ad in Europe.

And, as always, some would agrue that HD’s prices, which are higher than (particularly) it’s Japanese competitors, are like Ferraris prices, but there is one HUGE difference, and that is with Ferraris, there is a cutting edge level of technology and performance to go with the owner’s fanaticism, and with HD its just the opposite.

I promise you that if Ferarris started to be demonstratably inferior in many mechanical and performance based ways to comparable Lambos, Porches, Saleens, etc., the number of faithfuls would drop like a rock.

Objectively, look at ANY basically unbiased test of competing models, and HD’s rarely excel in any OBJECTIVE category (handling, braking, acceleration, dependability, ability to not overheat, price, you name it)

The simple fact is that HD prices particularly used ones) are high, is because people are willing to pay it, not because the machines are mechanically superior, which they are not.

Everything I twist the throttle on my Gold Wing and smoke an Electra Glide, which cost the same or a little more(or a lot more) I know the above to be true.

Hd’s generally DO get better fuel mileage than the competing Japanese, but then, HD says don’t buy them for that reason. Curious.

Nostalgia, the sound of a 45 degree single throw crank, and feeling a certain level of cool, based on what one rides, is worth a lot of dough, I guess. Of course, ‘ol Sonny Barger rides a vintage Indian.

I don’t hate HD, in fact, I own one,(probably am going to but another in the near future), and I like it, I also own a Honda and a Royal Enfield,(which is mechanically more primitive than a HD) so I’m pretty informed when it comes to the relative mechanical worth of machines.

I just wish the HD stuff didn’t break so much, and that the HD dealers didn’t adopt that HD marketing ploy “hands on hips, in your face” attitude toward their paying customers.

September 10, 2008 at 5:01 pm
(15) G.B. says:

Harley—Well,–Over Priced and Over-RATED–yes–As Harley put it–SCREW HARLEY–when are they going out of business OR make a good Motorcycle.–Bye Bye American Pie–along with Ford and GM- and the greedy UAW

September 10, 2008 at 6:24 pm
(16) Doc Robinson says:

Ah, the old Euro jealousy spawned when America had to save your ass in two world wars rises to the surface yet again.
Get over it guys. The modern Harley-Davidson is technically very clever, very advanced in many ways (fly-by-wire) throttle and ABS brakes to name but two examples and the last Harley to break down or to leak oil was built back in the AMF days. Open your eyes and your minds. A closed mind is like a closed fist – it cannot give or receive.

September 10, 2008 at 9:14 pm
(17) Joe says:

Hey Doc, couldn’t have said it BETTER!!!! I think a lot of it is that they can’t afford a Harley and have to put them down. Everytime a blog is posted about Harley on here it always goes back to Harley being expensive and that they always break down( not true, got 40,000 miles on my 05 Dyna with no problems). I have a friend with a 109r and he has nothing but problems with his bike.

September 10, 2008 at 10:48 pm
(18) Thom says:

Doc and Joe have said it well, I ride HD’s because they are what I prefer, the fact that they are dependable and get desent mpg are just a plus. I have seen more then one blog post on this site go to instent negative when Harley or Harley riders are involved. What ever to happened to “It’s about the ride”?

September 11, 2008 at 2:43 am
(19) Steve says:

To: Doc Robinson

The Belgian army had a shaft drive motorcycle called FN back in 1910.
ABS was invented in 1920s
Hondas have disc barkes since the 60′s.
Fuel injection was introduced in motorcycles in the late 70′s.
And here is one for you Americans: Hendee (Indian) invented an electric started motorcykle 1913.

And so on …

And Harley has an engine called “evolution”…

Well well …

September 11, 2008 at 2:02 pm
(20) Big Jim says:

come on guys grow up if ya want a Harley Davidson buy one if ya don’t then don’t just like anything eles in this world it has its good points and some bad points ……somebody should really check into the MMI school in orlando fl cause they run it like a kindergarden jail more then an institute of higher learning believe me i’m there and can tell some horrific stories

September 12, 2008 at 1:42 pm
(21) Brett says:

Are you serious people?? The point of leaving a comment on this story is to comment on the add that Harley has released, not wheter Harley is a dependable bike or if American or European bikes are better! People, please, show some composure. And last, to the Europeans, I can understand you thinking that the Harley add is childish, but yet you leave childish comments (along with the americans) and bicker back and forth about biosed, opinionated believes… If you ride, you ride.. no matter what you ride. We need to stick together!
Sooooo…. now to discuss this advertisement (the whole purpose of leaving a comment). I know Harley has a bad boy image, grew up on Harley’s myself, but this advertisement is a little out there. I like the way that they convey the freedom just do attitude but I think it could have been worded a bit differntly. Regardless, people are going to buy Harleys if they want one. I would have to say that Harley sales are not really based off of advertisement. Its more like something you physically see and want, a lifestyle that you want to be a part of, a need for a tradition to be carried on… All the bad things that people have to say about Harleys really doesnt make a difference, for I believe that Harley just conveys that lifestyle that people want more than any other bike maker out there and thats why they do so well! props HD! FYI, I ride a honda CBR sportbike… so trust this is a very unbiosed opinion.

September 12, 2008 at 1:56 pm
(22) Joe says:

Hey Brett, have to agree with you. Harley is more about a lifestyle some people want. Don’t think the ad is going to make or break Harley. You are also right about everyone getting off the subject on this blog. Always seems to happen when it’s about Harleys on here. Maybe Bassem can do a blog on why some people hate Harley so much.

September 13, 2008 at 12:10 pm
(23) G.B. says:

Hey Joe–where are you going with that gun , Joe—I really like the Harley Haters Blog Idea.—Steve you know your motorcycles.–Doc and joe, well.

September 13, 2008 at 12:58 pm
(24) Basem Wasef - Motorcycles Guide says:


The love/hate Harley thing has always baffled me. I may never make sense of it– can’t we just ride what we ride and call it a day?– but at least it’s entertaining.



September 13, 2008 at 2:50 pm
(25) Joe says:

Basem, I feel the same way, don’t care what you ride as long as ya ride. I belong to a MC and the guys in my club ride all different bikes. Just thought it would make a good blog sometime. Just don’t understand the love/hate thing with Harleys.

September 24, 2008 at 4:52 am
(26) Orlin says:

@ (25) Joe, imagine this:

You’re sitting in front of a computer for 8 hours every day and you do NOTHING. Then suddenly you decide that you love Harley. I’m sitting in front of a computer for 8 hours every day and I do NOTHING. Then suddenly I decide that I hate Harley.
Then we both write this in a blog. Love and hate are easier ways to finish the day and go for a ride.

January 23, 2009 at 12:41 am
(27) Harley4Life says:

Heres the deal: We wouldnt need bailouts and babes..if you just buy American. I will take my Harley over any sportbike..No, its not about speed or wheelies.

March 8, 2009 at 10:51 pm
(28) Gimme nimble midsized bikes says:

I can think of some words to describe riding a Harley other than MPG. How about punishing vibration, slow, and steers like a cow? Harley4Life doesn’t seem to know his Harley is full of foreign parts. He says buy American and all will be well. He’s living in the past. His beloved Harley company sold him out a generation ago. Wheels, forks, brakes, electrics, basically everything but the fuel-to-noise converter is foreign. Americans work at all dealerships, where most of the money on bikes is made. I will buy a Harley when they make something I like, and that would be similar in size to a Sportster, but with a smooth, modern, mid-size parallel twin engine, not an antique 45 degree V-twin. It would have DOHC, 6 gears, a stiff frame, suspension that actually works, good seating for two, not that joke seat they put on the back, and weighs 400 lbs. The V-Rod is very cool but is too elaborate for my taste. It’s not very suitable for every day use, and I ride whenever I can, not just bar-to-bar and dice runs like most of you. Good performance and good mileage is very possible. Trouble is Harley isn’t interested in good performing mid-size bikes, (where the most fun is) so I’m not interested in them.

March 31, 2009 at 9:56 am
(29) Jonthecomposer says:

Wow, it’s amazing how many people here hate Harleys when they are not physically in front of Harley riders.

It’s like Harley4Life says: “No, its not about speed or wheelies.” In which case, he is ABSOLUTELY right.

What I think people are missing here is that Harley isn’t just a company or a manufacturer. They are a culture. Not only is Harley a culture and a way of life, but Harley is a throwned king whose followers are loyal to the death.

To a Harley rider, it’s not about speed, or gas mileage, or dependability. It’s about freedom, independence, and homage to the king. There are more Harley riders who would rather fix their bikes 100 times than to pay homage to a Japanese *prince*. There are Harley riders who would rather be buried with their bike than in a casket. Others prefer to spend their last breath on their Harley and give it away as a last gesture of good will.

So you can’t just say that Harleys are physically this or that. Sure, comparatively speaking, some are underpowered and undependable. But they are Harleys. And it’s not the bike’s physical characteristics that make it the king. It’s the bike’s spiritual being.

It’s the idea that, when you get on your Harley, you KNOW you are riding something REAL. There’s no faking there. From the big, loud, loping, unbalanced, vibrating V-twin to the idea that you may HAVE to man-handle the thing to keep it upright – all tells you that this bike was designed from the heart to be ridden like it should be: hard. And at the end of the day, if you come off the ride with blisters on your hands, a sore back, and bugs in your teeth, you KNOW you’ve had a good ride.

So it doesn’t really matter what all the nay-sayers say. Because in the end, it’s not even about how the thing is built, the gas mileage, power, or ride….. it’s simply because it is a Harley.

August 6, 2009 at 1:44 pm
(30) Ruben lone wolf says:

Fellows and lady riders:

I have a 2000 Heritage Classic, it runs great, been to the Grand Canyon, Key West, Ocean City and up and down the Natchez Trace. I get average 30 mpg. Stay on top of the maintainance and you’ll be fine. Just ride. I live three miles from Madrid, NM (Wild Hogs movie) and the roads are full of HDs

September 19, 2009 at 9:12 pm
(31) Cagetender says:

If you live and die by Harley you become legend and go to Valhala. If yo live and die by Jap bikes you are a just a skidmark,nuff said.

October 20, 2009 at 12:09 pm
(32) rod says:

In stead of Harley saying “screw it” they should have said hey “we lied” about our MPG advertisement. I have had many big bikes and they get 40 mpg. I currently have a 2010 ultra with the 103 and I get 40 mpg stock and that is what I expected but would like 54 like the ad read. We all want more gas mileage and Harley puts that in their adds to help sell bikes so if people are upset after they buy the product and don’t get what they paid for they should be upset. Harley is avoiding the real issue with their add and it is working. We love their bikes but are disscussing the add not the problem.

May 30, 2012 at 2:30 am
(33) Ruffin says:

Biker Bob just gave one of the best testimonials I’ve ever seen. Yes, when HD was owned by AMF, quialty took a nosedive. Now after people that care bought the Motor Co back, there’s just no badmouthing the superior product lines HD has now . And all that talk about just buying the name ?? That’s bullsh*t and you know it; the reality is the people that think that are not able to understand the legacy and history that HD means to the fabric of American motorcycling. -what, you think a Victory is American? think again. every single fastener is metric and every part is imported. every single one the Yamaha I rode in 1986 was assembled out in California, that doesn’t make it American Just like BB’s, my bike bike is extremely reliable, comfortable and has NEVER lost a part, dripped, or used any oil, looks and sounds like no other motorcycle on the planet, and is instantly recognizable .(and very attractive to the fairer sex) .and will run HARD all day long, EVERY DAY and come back for more what other motorcycle can you say that about? Why is it do you think EVERY SINGLE MOTORCYCLE MANUFACTURER WORLDWIDE has made a huge effort to copy the HD V-Twin engine?? -and bike styling designs?? What other bike has been around for over 105 years?? -And to those that say HD bikes are slow?? are you aware that HD is kickin azz in NHRA drag racing beating everything?? You won’t be seeing any Victory’s, or Suzuki’s, or Kawasaki’s taking the trophy home in the foreseeable future Out here on the street, when you ride a bike with this much class, you don’t have to go fast. It’s a maturity thing; some people simply cannot grasp that concept.. get it? My HD will still be running when your Jap bike is in the crusher getting recycled .how many 1941 Honda’s have you seen? THATS why Harley’s are worth every freaking nickel. .and yes, they are brass, and clank when I walk (edit) Bart you are a moron the 883 has WAY more than a Honda rebel,(any 250 for that matter) and the guys I see on 883 s are on it by choice .even if a chick rides one she still smokes your narrow azz..and that same 883 will still be running in 30 years, yours won’t.

March 7, 2013 at 3:54 am
(34) Enlightened Biker says:

Amazing – the discussion was supposed to be about the AD, and again it turns into a lot of bickering about bikes. I currently own 5 bikes, Italian, Japanese and German. Each has it’s strong and weak points. Each can be evaluated ito finish, performance (various aspects), handling, value, aesthetics, practicality, technology etc. I ride and enjoy them all. I do not own a Harley because I don’t want one. They are beautiful, overpriced, specifically designed bikes that appeal to a certain type of person. They rate low in most of the criteria listed above, yet they have a strong following and they retain their resale value well. This all points to people buying them more for emotional / image reasons, and I’m happy for them. As for the ad – I’ve never liked the reverse psycology approach. The advertising brigade are really scraping the bottom of the barrel. Combining it with a the ‘rebel without a cause’ image is just plain ridiculous, but hey – it’s bound to appeal to some folks….

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