After closing 2017 with a nearly eight percent drop in sales, iconic American motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson recently announced that it will be closing its Kansas City, Missouri plant as it looks to cut costs. The facility currently employs more than 800 workers. It’s estimated that about 450 of those jobs will be moved to the York, Pennsylvania manufacturing plant.
The closing comes during a transitional period for American bike builders. In particular, Harley unveiled a new line of motorcycles last year that featured lighter frames, additional rider comforts, lower emissions levels, and better fuel economy as they look to attract a younger buyer.
Continuing in their efforts to bring more, younger riders into the fold, the company developed a new event and bike for the recently concluded Winter X Games held in Aspen. The Harley-Davidson Snow Hill Climb placed riders side-by-side on modified Sportsters as they raced to the top of a snowboarding hill.
The Sportster model featured a wider, lighter and longer frame that’s closer to a dirt bike than a touring motorcycle. The legendary V-twin motor’s horsepower was doubled to get the bikes up to 85 mph. The rear swing arm was extended by about a foot to improve traction, keep the rear tire on the snow, and prevent the bike from flipping.
The back tire was also fitted with bolts, studs, and paddles for added traction. Ironically enough, it was the X Games oldest competitor – 48-year-old Travis Whitlock – that would take home the inaugural gold medal.