~Since 2004~
A site about memories, thoughts, photos, and unrepentant opinions about motorcycles and motorcycling after four decades of twisting the throttle.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Opposites Attract

How ironic. Back in 2006 I pontificated on the sullying of the MV Agusta brand by car maker Proton and assorted Italian investment people. The title of the blog entry was Pearl Before Swine. Now comes news that Harley Davidson, the very representation of the term "hog", is purchasing MV Agusta from the Italians.

Out there on the other motorcycle sites and blogs some people are wringing their hands in anguish that the plodding, retro-fixated American company is buying the storied Italian marque. This is seen like some kind of sacrilege, like a hog farmer buying a kosher deli or a rider wearing full protective riding gear while riding a chopper. Inferred in many comments is "Does not Harley-Davidson know it's place in the lower cosmos?" or "Some things are too special to fall into the hands of mere mortals." Some cruel folks have made jokes about future MV Agusta bikes coming with leather fringe on the carbon fiber fairing or the new MV Agusta "Willie G" Edition. Ok, that last part was me writing to my friend Shane who owns an MV Agusta Agostini Edition.

To all the hand wringers I say piffle! First of all, the real MV Agusta company quit building motorcycles in the '70s when Count Agusta died. The current bikes are modern sport bikes badged with the Agusta name purchased for 30 pieces of silver from the MV Agusta helicopter company. I'll give the current MV Agusta bikes their due though. They are brilliantly engineered and as perfect a piece of motorcycle as you can buy these days.

I would truly love to own one.

Oddly enough, these days I'd like to have one of these too:

The proper way to look at the acquisition of MV Agusta by H-D is in the same vein as Volkswagen AG and Audi AG buying Bentley and Lamborghini back about 1999. Everyone in the car business thought VW was nuts; enthusiasts of the small brands, especially Bentley, howled at the horror of it all. The great, hulking, German people's car giant was sure to ruin what little was left of the aristocratic British car and wild eyed Italian sports car brands.

Funny thing though, under VW and Audi guidance and with deep German pockets to fund brilliant engineering teams in their home countries both brands have propered in sales numbers, quality, and profit. Sometimes a small premium brand does not need anything more than a serious minded overseer with some cash and discipline. Therefore, I hope Harley-Davidson, who is certainly a world champ at marketing, does as well by MV Agusta as VW and Audi have done by Bentley and Lambroghini. On the other hand, if H-D further sullies the MV Agusta name then a pox upon Harley-Davidson who, having a great sense of heritage themselves, should have respected the Agusta name also.


Mr. Motorcycle said...

I like both of the motorcycles too, but no question which one I'd want to take home.

"Joker" said...

This is no surprise to me.

With the advent of the V-Rod, and let's not forget about Buell, H-D has made getting a piece of the sport bike market no secret.

I'd like to think they'll honor the brand the same way they've honored their own.

FLHX_Dave said...

Did you come up with that graphic? I got a kick out of it.

If HD is careful not to poke it's grease monkey fingers into places the require a more refined stroke, it will be a great thing.

HD realizes it needs to get into the sport bike market and fast. I'm thinking two things; The reason HD has survived in my opinion is heritage, well that and taking AMF out of the picture. I think that honoring the Agusta heritage is what they are counting on. HD deliberately exploited it's heritage to make the comeback. So your right on in my opinion in your last paragraph. Two, You are right again on engineering point. Maybe an old dog can learn some new tricks. Components that improved the Harley have come from foreign manufactures. (no, your Harley is not all American...I'm going to get pummeled here) Hopefully HD will be able to take some tech and apply it and still claim made in the U.S.A. $109 million for a company that has bank debt of $70 million? Someone has to know something we don't with vision...or they are just really stupid. We shall see.

Sometimes change is good. Thanks for the info and insight. Always learn something new here.

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