Harley-Davidson Is Taking Over a Whole Town in North Dakota


Ryder to riders harley-davidson You’ve heard of homepage takeovers, but how about taking over over an entire town?

That’s what Harley-Davidson is attempting to do to Ryder, N.D. While the population of the hamlet is only 85, Harley is trying to get everyone—that’s every person—signed up to take motorcycle lessons so that the company can help make Ryder the first town in America where everyone has their bike license. There’s no early word on whether this would constitute a feat worthy of being included in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Harley faces challenges that won’t be easily resolved even if it’s successful in Ryder, of course. It’s facing slower sales and increased competition in the US and abroad, the aging of its loyal baby-boomer base, a relative lack of interest by millennials in the wonders of motorcycling, the challenge of selling lower-priced machines and pulsing excitement in lower-displacement segments where Japanese brands have reigned, and a slow ramp-up of its all-electric future machines.

There’s also still the occasional safety recall. And there’s always a market whose performance is tied to a variety of uncontrollable factors ranging from gasoline prices to trends in US household income.

But as it becomes ubiquitous in little Ryder, Harley is focused on making sure that every denizen gets that license. It’s off to a good start, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported, as about 50 people registered for motorcycle-driving instruction classes on Saturday at a party there. Harley had set up a stationary bike so that anyone could at least rev the engine and run through the gears. They were joined by several hundred bikers ion Main Street celebrating the occasion, the newspaper said.

“What a way to kick off the summer,” Mayor Jody Reinisch said. He presented a wooden key to the city to Harley-Davidson executives; Harley had already repainted the town’s tower, which is a dead ringer for the one that Harley has in Milwaukee, with the company name on one side. “The tower was in dire need of a paint job,” the mayor told the Journal-Sentinel. 

The town also changed its name to “Riders” for the motorcycling season. Harley considered other appropriately named US towns such as Freedom and Independence for the takeover. But for now, it’s riding Ryder.


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