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Angry Harley riders play the trump card



Harley took a public risk to protect his bottom line when it said that it would fall below the tariffs of the European Union, which are aimed directly at industry in retaliation for Trump's steel and aluminum duties. Instead of paying the tariffs or increasing the price of bikes sold in Europe by $ 2,200, the company said it would relocate some production overseas.

  Gary Rathbun with his Harley-Davidson, an Ultra Classic 2009. Like many of Harley's most loyal customers, Rathbun was angered by the company's announcement that the trump government's trade battle would start producing bicycles sold in Europe outside the United States.

Gary Rathbun with his Harley-Davidson, a 2009 Ultra Classic. Like many of Harley's most loyal customers, Rathbun was furious with the company's announcement that it would begin manufacturing bicycles sold in Europe outside the United States as a result of the Trump government's trade battle.

Photo: New York Times

In a warning to other companies following the example, Trump described Harley's decision as an act of corporate treason by stating in a Twitter post in June, "If they move, look, it will be the beginning of the end. " They surrendered, they stopped! This sentiment was shared by many hundreds of thousands of motorcycle fans gathered this week in the Black Hills of South Dakota, most of which developed a relationship with their Harleys before Trump became president, while leather-clad Baby Boomer engines spun and drank beer and Trump's influence swayed to classic rock ballads. [19659606] Like Trump, Gary Panapinto, 63, an Illinois machinist, had doubts about Harley's true intentions, believing the company was planning to sell most of its bicycle production, and how Trump has suggested that Americans would be forced to buy a product that was manufactured overseas, and while Trump has diversified that perception, Harley has said that it only produces bicycles that sell it in Europe. and that American motorcycles are still manufactured in the United States.

"They must especially here in the United States if you want to sell them here, "said Panapinto. "I think Trump is just trying to protect jobs in the US."

  Attendees pose last week with a person wearing a Donald Trump mask at a biker rally in South Dakota.

Participants pose with a person in a Donald Trump mask, at a biker rally in South Dakota last week

Photo: New York Times

The company declined to comment, but pointed to an interview in July, where her boss, Matthew Levatich, defended the decision. He denied that he wanted to postpone his production, and remarked that it would not take up to 18 months to execute the plan if he was stuck in the cards all the time.

"We have worked very hard to be apolitical about our business and our consumers around the world," he said. "We have to do what we have to do based on the facts and circumstances that lie ahead, and we do that."

Some stubborn Trump supporters said they understood the economic reasons for Harley's decision. Few complex machines are now fully procured and assembled in the United States, and even drivers committed to the ideal of a product made in America said they understand that companies around the world must compete.

Motorcyclists were among the groups loyalty to Trump, since motorcyclists in the United States are generally predominantly men of working age older than 50 and veterans – demographics that make up the bulk of the presidential base. Trump has accepted this loyalty and recently said, "I guarantee you all who have ever chosen a Harley-Davidson for Trump."

  President Donald Trump hosts members of Biker for Trump at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Saturday.

President Donald Trump receives members of Biker for Trump at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey on Saturday.

Photo: New York Times

On Saturday, Trump invited hundreds of bikers from the New Jersey Biker for Trump's Chapter to visit him on vacation in Bedminster, New Jersey. He praised them as "people who really love our country".

Some who are generally satisfied with Trump said he was wrong to bully the motorcycle manufacturer just because he was trying to make a profit, but they still remained loyal to him. [19659006] "You have to take it with a grain of salt, it's hot one day and it's cold," said Bill Schaner, a North Dakota electronics retailer who owns seven Harley motorcycles, about the president. "If you want to build bicycles in Europe and sell them in Europe, let them go, we will take the bikes made in America."

Veterans of the Sturgis Bicycle Rally, who are in their 78th year, said the hardships facing Harley-Davidson, beyond Trump's harsh words and from the years of decreasing passenger shipping in the United States

  Biker at the 78th Annual Meeting in Sturgis, South Dakota

Biker at the 78th Annual Meeting in Sturgis, South Dakota

Photo: New York Times

Leslye Biber, owner of The Beaver Bar in Sturgis and several other biker bars across the country, said that Harley and other US motorcycle manufacturers are at a crossroads because of their Products for young people in the United States are not attractive. She pointed out that the trade disputes have increased their raw material costs and hampered their ability to export to Europe, a growth market.

"I think they do what they need to do to stay in the game." Beaver, who lives in Georgia and supports Trump, said while patrolling the car park of her bar in a golf cart. "It's humane that people are upset because Harley is so American, but I think they want to be here."

For years, Harley-Davidson sales in the United States have steadily declined as the company struggled with Milwaukee, an aging population, a brisk aftermarket and the changing tastes of consumers. More recently, it has focused on selling its motorcycles to women, selling branded clothing, and increasing international sales to increase profits. Loading

The average The cost of a Harley is about $ 20,000, and the maximum price is $ 40,000. This makes the motorcycles a luxury item for people who do not use them as their main means of transport. In 2017, the company's US retail sales fell to 147,972 motorcycles for the third consecutive year, while sales in international markets grew slowly or steadily, giving more room for growth. Over the past five years, the price of Harley's stock has fallen almost 25 percent, even though the stock market has fallen into a tears.

  A Trump Unity floats on Buffalo Chip, a 250 acre campsite near Sturgis in South Dakota last week

A Trump Unity swims last week in Buffalo Chip, a sprawling 250 acre campsite near Sturgis , in South Dakota

Photo: New York Times

Harley is also under intense competitive pressure. In the '90s in Sturgis, Harley riders would torch "rice burners" – a derogatory term for Japanese motorcycles – or tie them to the back of their all-American motorcycles and pull them through the streets. Although Harleys continue to be the most popular racing machine, foreign brands such as BMW, Honda, Yamaha and Kawasaki are increasingly used

The greater esteem for motorcycles from abroad was shown on Buffalo Chip, a 250 acre campground 5 km east of Sturgis. At the campsite, Michael Lichter, a photographer and curator from Colorado, is hosting special motorbike exhibitions from around the world to make the rally less Harley-centric and to extend the interest and inspiration beyond American motorcycles.

People need to be more exposed, "said Lichter, who wants to show a show of all Japanese bikes next year," If you only buy because it's American, I do not think that's a good thing. "[19659006] He added, "It means there is no pressure on American manufacturers to build better."

New York Times


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