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10 Things Riding a Harley Says About You

  • What your car brand says about you
  • Jeannie Assimos
  • 4 minutes

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If you’re a Harley rider, you’ve made a specific choice about how you want people to see you on the road. Here’s what riding a Harley says about you.

1. You don’t feel the need for speed.

This isn’t Top Gun. This is Easy Rider. Harleys are made for cruising. You’re the king (or queen) of the road and don’t need to swerve through traffic to prove it. (Not that you wouldn’t leave your rivals in the dust should a chase be required, Terminator 2-style.)

2. You’re an easy rider, but not a lone wolf.


We rarely see just one Harley on the open road. Harley riders travel together. It’s a fresh-air fraternity. (It’s no coincidence that this brand was started by two childhood friends. The Harley was designed for community.)

3. You love tradition.

When you ride a Harley, you’re riding a piece of American history. An important contribution to the war effort in both World Wars — and one of only two American motorcycle brands to survive the Great Depression — Harley-Davidson is proud of its heritage. The brand celebrates tradition — and even established a museum to commemorate it — and so do you.

4, You have a rebellious streak.


Harley-Davidsons have long appealed to riders chasing freedom, rebellion, and adventure, those unwilling to go with the flow. Even as the brand adapts to new consumer needs and ever-changing technology — e-bikes! — it’s determined to get that rebellious spirit alive. (But please still wear a functional helmet.)

5. Appearances matter.

Sometimes too much. Harley drivers may want us to think they don’t care, but do they ever — to the point of modifying their vehicles for aesthetic reasons more than functional ones. (Building a bike without rear suspension might look cool, but it’s not especially safe or comfortable.) Customization and modification, for many, are an essential part of the Harley experience.

6. You’re part of a club — maybe literally.

Not every Harley rider joins an outlaw motorcycle club, but every owner has the opportunity to join HOG: Harley Owners Group. Even solo bikers not part of anything official know they’ve made an unspoken pact with like-minded bikers. Harley riders look out for each other, lending a hand when needed, giving a heads up when police are nearby, or just signaling a sign of recognition when you encounter one another on the road.

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7. You’re loyal and proud of it.

Harley riders are Harley riders. Brand loyalty is non-negotiable. They aren’t buying in response to trends or looking to switch up brands with their next purchase. Harley riders buy into a particular culture and fall in love with the history, tradition, and iconography of the brand. You might have a Harley logo tattoo. You probably own bike merch. In fact, a sizeable chunk of Harley-Davidson revenue comes from the licensing of its logo.

8. You’re badass — or want to be.

You don’t drive a Harley if you don’t care what you drive or how you look driving it. And you’re not exactly shying away from its undeniable “tough guy” aesthetic. You’re more than fine with turning a few heads, and conjuring up images of Rocky, Wolverine, and Bruce Willis (circa Pulp Fiction) as you cruise on by.

Fun fact: Harley-Davidson first started cultivating its macho “bad boy” image in the ‘60s as a response to Honda’s “You meet the nicest people on a Honda” campaign.

9. You love America.

No other brand screams “America” louder. Driving a Harley is driving pure Americana. In the 1970s, Harley-Davidson managed an important image pivot: from anti-social toughness to that of American strength and identity. (The brand even released a super-patriotic “Liberty Edition” in 1976, followed by a super-controversial “Confederate Edition” the following year.)

One branding expert called Harley-Davidson “one of the rare American brands that is as iconic as the Marlboro man or Budweiser.”

10. You’re getting old.

One of the brand’s greatest challenges right now is expanding its aging fanbase and appealing to a younger demographic, as the average age of the Harley driver has been creeping up over the years. (Harley-Davidson stopped announcing the average age of its drivers once that number reached 48.)

Your riding experience might be more Wild Hogs than Easy Rider these days but remember: you’re never too old to ride.

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