In 1903, Harley Davidson made its first motorcycle while operating from a shed thanks to a combined effort of William Harley and Arthur Davidson. However, the products did not gain popularity until the Second World War when the US military wanted 60,000 motorbikes, and Harley Davidson delivered. Once the war was over, soldiers realized that life is short and decided to live on the road; hence Harley Davidson represented a culture of freedom. By 1970, 2.8 million Harley Davidson motorbikes had been registered, increasing from the 198,000 in 1945. Even films began incorporating the motorbikes putting the brand on a global map. It continued growing, and one of the many models that the company has produced is the Superlow, which has been slowly dying. As the company and model lie on their deathbed, let's share with you a few details you need to know about the Superlow.
Some of Its Features
At about 260 kgs (569 pounds), a Harley Davidson Superlow is considered a lightweight motorcycle. Among the many advantages of lightweight bikes are their fuel economy and maneuverability. Therefore, it could be an excellent choice for a beginner since the weight will make it easy to balance, unlike the heavier ones.
If you are particular about your ride's color, Harley Davidson ensures that you get what you want by manufacturing the motorcycle in an array of colors. Each year, beginning from 2015 to 2019 has had different colors, but vivid black has never been forgotten in any lineup. In 2015, the Superlow was available in Vivid Black, white-hot pearl, blue hot pearl.
While you may wonder why the need for the range of colors in all years of production, experts believe that colors affect consumer purchasing habits. For instance, blue has a calming effect and is mostly preferred by men, while red evokes strong emotions and is used to entice impulsive shoppers. You should also note that if you pick a color that does not appeal to you, then later change your mind, changing the bike's color will adversely affect the resale value because it is usually assumed to be hiding damages from an accident. Therefore given the variety available, carefully consider your decisions.
Ever walked into an electronic appliances retail store and wondered why one refrigerator carries a higher price tag than the other because of its color? Well, even when shopping for the Harley-Davidson Superlow, you will find that different colored bikes have varied prices. According to Ultimate Motor cluing, the 2017 Superlow will have you parting with $10,000 for the vivid black selection while the superior blue and mystic purple bikes will require you to dig deeper and fork out $100 and $200 respectively. The teal blue is expensive, going for $11,049. Two-tone motorcycles are usually the most costly since the 2019 Harley Davidson Superlow has a retail price of $11,649.
Color plays a huge role in purchasing, and if you thought Harley Davidson was not keen on its target market, you are yet to learn consumer behavior. According to CrazyEgg, 85% of shoppers admit that color is their primary reason for picking a particular product, while 66% will not buy a product unless it comes in their preferred color. Unfortunately, since colors are related to emotions, consumers will pick a color depending on their mood at the time of purchase.
Meant for Shorter People
You can probably tell from the name "Superlow" that the motorcycle is relatively low, making it ideal for the shorter riders. It is frustrating shopping for a bike that will not have you feeling like you are suspended in the air, and only finding one that forces you to customize the seat to a comfortable height. Getting the right seat height, depending on your height, is essential because the inseam is affected. Too large seat heights mean that your feet will barely reach the floor.
The Superlow was made with short people in mind; thus, the seat height is 25.5 inches making it easy to reach the ground. On the other hand, if the seat is too small, you will have too much height, which you will compensate for by requiring more legroom. However, if you still cannot find the right Superlow to reach the ground comfortably, you can wear boots with thick soles. Alternatively, you can steer the bike away from the side you plan on putting the foot down. When going shopping, you can get the right inseam measurement from the inside of the groin to the floor.
Motorbike Writer claims that the Harley-Davidson Superlow has an impressive fuel economy of 4.9 liters per 100 km. Usually, the main reason people chose motorcycles over cars is the fuel economy, which means more savings. However, it is arguable that the 4.9liters /100km is not very efficient. A typical motorcycle will usually do 3.9 liters per 100 km, making the Harley Davidson a bit on the upper side.
Some hybrid vehicles have a fuel economy of 4.7 liters per 100 km, above the flaunted Harley-Davidson's figure. All the same, you can still ensure that your ride is fuel-efficient by proper maintenance through regular servicing, including a change of oil and using the right oil grade. Remember that revving your engine could increase fuel usage, so do not be tempted to have a "fast and furious" episode with your friends. Luckily, even the Superlow revs smoothly, facilitating a higher fuel economy.
The Harley Davison Superlow has a compression ratio of 9:1, which is on the lower side; usually, the 12:1 and 14:1 ratios are high. A high compression ratio means that there is a higher compression efficiency, which means less fuel for more power and less carbon emission gases. Since it runs on 91 octane gas, the most you can run it is 9.5: 1, but only if the engine has iron cast heads. Otherwise, if it has aluminum heads, you can go as high as 10.5:1 compression because aluminum will conduct heat faster than cast iron and dissipate it to the cooling system.
The Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) increases stability and prevents wheels from locking. Since motorcycles are less stable on their two tires than the four wheels in a vehicle, braking too hard can destabilize the motorbike resulting in either tire locking and the bike will overturn or slide. On the other hand, if you fail to brake hard, you will most likely fall as you avoid a crash.
Since the Superlow does not have ABS, the rider has to apply pressure on the brake pads and brake pedal to bring the motorbike to a halt. However, if it is a situation that demands emergency braking, then you are at risk of skidding when the wheels suddenly freeze; it can even lead to a collision. The reason for locking is that the sudden braking causes hydraulic fluid to be pumped at high pressure into the discs. ABS is, however, not appropriate for off-road riding making the Superlow an ideal choice if you plan on riding off-road.
On average, motorcycles hold 4.5 gallons of oil at full capacity, and the Harley Davidson Superlow is no different. With the 17 liter capacity, the motorbike allows the rider to travel long distances without the need to stop over and refuel. Luckily, with the so many gas stations available, you can still ensure you do not run out of fuel by checking how far you have traveled. On average, after every 50 miles, you might want to refill to avoid having your journey cut shot unexpectedly. Other factors, besides fuel consumption while on the road, still affect how often you will have to refuel.
Bolt from Yamaha's Star is a main competitor for the Superlow. The two have a few distinct differences; for instance, while the Superlow has 39mm tubes, Bolt has 41mm tubes. The price also could push riders to prefer Bolt since while the Superlow has the lowest price of $8,699, Bolt is more affordable at $7,999. However, both are similar in some aspects such that they both lack ABS and run on the single-disc front brake.
Its Discontinuation in India
In December 2010, Harley-Davidson introduced the Superlow model in India. Along with the Iron 883 model, both were the first two models to be released from the facility in Bawal. At the time, the Superlow was being introduced at Rs. 5,50, 000 and was flaunted to offer riders with the pure pleasure of riding coupled with balanced and responsive handling. The hype was only for five years because, in December 2015, Harley Davidson discontinued the Superlow and the Fat Boy models in India.
According to Overdrive, there was no communication regarding the discontinuation, but once it failed to show up in the 2016 line up, people filled in the blanks. The company was experiencing poor sales in both bikes and saw no need to keep selling them. They explained that their main focus is to cater to customer's needs, and every year, the lineup is in line with the customer's demand. Consequently, even though the Superlow and Fat Boy were notably missing, Harley Davidson India introduced Forty-Eight, Iron 883, and MY16 Street 750 instead.
While that was 2015 and only the Superlow model was discontinued, it seems that the Harley Davidson is closing shop in India entirely. In 2019, someone posted on a consumer forum asking if the Superlow was being discontinued because he wanted to buy one for his short wife. However, upon enquiring from the seller about ordering a new Superlow, he was told the model had been discontinued. As per some responses, rumor had it that the Superlow would not be manufactured in 2020; even the Forty-Eights were on their deathbeds. Unfortunately, although some thought it was in readiness for the "Custom" model to be unveiled in 2021, they were far from the truth.
As reported by Bikewale, Harley Davidson announced that it would employ a "rewiring" strategy in which it plans to exit the Indian market completely. As a result, it will stop manufacturing and selling the motorbike in the country. The Bawal manufacturing plant will, therefore, have to be closed. As they plan on halting sales, the Gurgaon sales office will be reduced as it evaluates the options available to still cater to the Indian market. This rewiring phase will go on until the end of 2020, when it will then enter the "Hardwire" phase of reinventing itself through products and the brand.
Why It Could Be a Dying Model
The future does not look bright for the Harley Davidson Superlow or any other model the company produces. In the past, the company set the pace for a "cool" lifestyle; riding a Harley Davidson put you in a class of your own. Of course, with customer loyalty came more profits, and by 1986, it went public. In 1984, the company earned $2.9 million, which grew to $1 billion by 2006. Unfortunately, the 207 Great Recession hit the market, and Harley Davidson was down on its knees. It began counting losses that amounted to $55 million in 2009, but things started to turn around when in 2014, it was reporting profits of $844 million.
Despite the turnaround, the customers were aging, and the company barely had enough cash flows to survive. The baby boomers who were once loyal customers are now old, and the Millennials are not interested in riding a motorbike. With the bikes' high price, it has become more of a luxurious commodity than a necessity. Even the CEO could no longer take it anymore, and in February 2020, he quit realizing there is no way the company is going to be salvaged. With shareholders even asking that the company be sold to receive the losses, we are almost sure that we have already seen the last of Superlow and other models.
Written by Benjamin Smith
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