Harley-Davidson now putting EPA information on Screaming Eagle mufflers

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In response to moves by many communities to crack down on noisy motorcycle pipes by ticketing bikes with mufflers that don’t have a valid EPA imprint certifying complaince with emission and noise standards, Harley-Davidson is now stampting their street-legal series of Screaming Eagle slip-on mufflers with EPA certification information.

The moves comes in an attempt to offset complaints that the company is only paying lip-service to the problem of noisy motorcycle pipes.

5 COMMENTS

  1. It is interesting to watch how HD deals with the bursting of their bubble. Sad, in many ways. HD was among the few bright spots in Milwaukee industries. Now it is struggling, like a lot of the rest of the town.

    It isn’t any mystery why it is happening. Much of the recent popularity of HD products has to do with fad buyers. Now they are on to the next fad or just out of play money. All of us know a few folks that own a Harley just so they can say they have one and occasionally act “bad” on sunny Sunday afternoons. There isn’t anything at all wrong with that, but it puts HD in the position of seeing their sales go away really fast in hard times. Your archetypal HD owner is a factory guy, and those jobs are going away alarmingly rapidly. A Chevy plant closed recently in my area and you would be really depressed at the dreams sitting in front yards with for sale signs on them. Motor homes, fancy boats, lake cottages and Harleys are for sale everywhere.

    Part of the whole cult of HD was to adopt the poseur image of some sort of cartoon desperado. It clearly isn’t true, as HD riders are for the most part, pretty nice people and not at all “bad”. But, in order to conform to the image of being a non-conformist, you have to adopt two of your pet peeves: Do-rag helmets and loud pipes.

    Folks that have a few miles on cycles and use them as something more utilitarian than ass-jewelry understand that you will crash. It will hurt and you won’t have the time to put your helmet on in the process of crashing. I am off this afternoon to visit a couple of friends who were out riding when a kid in a cage decided to do an impromptu U-turn right in front of them. They were wearing helmets and lived thru it, although one was paralyzed. The other one was knocked out with a full-face helmet on. No helmet-no friend is the only conclusion you can draw from that. So, even though their friends may mock them for it, you can spot a really serious HD rider a ways away. He is the guy in the helmet.

    The other required item for fad HD drivers is loud pipes. I think the world might have been a better place if Jesse James and the Tuttles had never hit TV. Now, if you want to be big and loutish, like daddy Paul, ya gotta have open pipes. It is all part of the “Hey, look at me! I have loud pipes and lots of chrome” attitude that is depressingly prevalent. The combination of no mufflers and no helmet is guaranteed to damage your hearing, but so what? It is all about the image.

    HD did a great job of riding the wave. They have moved an unbelievable amount of branded merch and numbers of scooters in the last ten years. It has been a truly inspiring American success story to see them rebound from being owned by a mediocre pin-spotter company somewhere in Yahoo, PA to regain much of their former glory.

    But…What happens now that the wave has crested? HD’s entire line can trace a pretty direct lineage to the early 1900’s. Retro is precisely behind their big fad move, but does it have any more legs? Do they continue to peddle only big, old, lumpy V-twins, or do they try to get modern? Triumph has proven that you can shed the old standards and sell some pretty modern mounts and make money doing it. HD gave it a pretty good shot with the V-Rod, but the bike has unfortunately met with a collective yawn from the HD community, even though it is a pretty nice piece of engineering.

  2. I took a ride through SouthWest Virginia a couple of weeks ago and observed the same collections of dreams for sale. There ought to be some deals out there for real motorcyclists…

    Yes, the real test of the meddle of a company like HD is how they respond to change. Both technilogical and customer-driven. So far their customers have insisted on more of the same.
    Companies like Buell have proven that there are other ways to package the venerable V-Twin and increasingly I’m seeing them on the road.

    “Ass-jewelry”???
    I’ve never heard a more hilarious description!

  3. I think you’ve made some truly interesting points. Not too many people would actually think about this the way you just did. I’m really impressed that there’s so much about this subject that’s been uncovered and you did it so well, with so much class. Good one you, man! Really great stuff here.

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