Eager to encourage riders to throw a leg over a bike they may never have considered before, Harley-Davidson is offering a hell of a perk for anyone test riding one of its bikes: the chance to join an epic road trip to Prague.
The 115-year-old company will be celebrating its birthday in style this summer with a huge multi-day party in the Czech Republic’s capital city. Riders in the UK and Ireland who test ride a bike between now and 31 May can win the opportunity to ride to the event on a Harley, be put up in a hotel for three nights at the MoCo’s expense, and be handed £2,000 (€2,250) in spending money to cover additional expenses (food, booze, souvenirs, strippers* – up to you).
You can get full details on Harley-Davidson’s website, but essentially all you have to do to be entered is spend an hour or so riding a motorcycle. That’s it. I know I’m coming over as one of those shills that the Motofire guys think have destroyed moto-journalism, but honestly: this deal strikes me as so cool. Harley wants you to do something fun, so it is enticing you with the chance to do something really fun.
This is all, of course, part of the company’s push to increase its influence in Europe and try to connect with riders who may have put up mental blocks against the brand. According to UK and Ireland Country Manager David Hackshall, the manufacturer is eager “to challenge preconceptions some riders have about Harley and encourage them to try the latest models for themselves.”
You’ve got to respect Harley for acknowledging the challenge it faces in overcoming riders’ preconceptions. Most people have a solid idea of what a “Harley guy” is and there are a number of riders turned off by that image. But in the last five years or so, the company has sought to shake off some of that negative reputation.
“When we talk with non-Harley riders, the majority of feedback is they won’t ride a Harley because, according to what they’ve heard or have been told, it doesn’t do X, Y and definitely can’t do Z,” said Hackshall. “Or if they have ridden one, it was 20-25 years ago and are under the impression that Harley-Davidson’s iconic styling means the bikes haven’t moved on in terms of technology, handling and engine performance.”
And to its credit, Harley does now make very good bikes. It may still be fair to raise an eyebrow at the price tag of some models, but at least that money isn’t wasted on a substandard machine. Suspension upgrades, vastly better brakes, and the introduction of the Milwaukee Eight powerplant have transformed the company’s big V-twins. Meanwhile, the Street Rod is affordable, fun, and customizable up the wazoo.
I always find myself surprised to be saying such good things about the company’s bikes, but it’s managed to win me over with all the dramatic changes made in recent years. A test ride may alter your opinion, too. At the very least it’s time spent riding a motorcycle. So, even if it turns out that you really don’t like Harley bikes, it’s not as if your afternoon’s been wasted – you spent time riding a motorcycle.
In this case, you’ll have spent time riding a motorcycle and you may end up getting to go to Prague… on a motorcycle. I can’t really think of a down side here.
*For the sake of good PR, it’s probably safe to assume that Harley would prefer you not spend its money on strippers.