Sunday, July 28, 2002

Harley roars
through a century

Getchyer motor runnin', head out on the highway, but only if you like "smoke and lightning, heavy metal thunder," to quote Steppenwolf.

The Harley-Davidson 100th anniversary Open Road Tour is underway with no plans for a stop in Hawaii, but local hog owners won't be left in the dust, according to Joseph Nicolai, president of Cycle City and Pacific Harley-Davidson.

The global tour roared to life last weekend in Atlanta, Ga., and will culminate in August of next year with a days-long bash in Milwaukee, Wis., where the company is headquartered.

"We'll have a ride throughout the state on each island, as an example," Nicolai said.

"It's going to be a spectacular year for Harley-Davidson," he predicted as sales of commemorative Harleys have been brisk.

"They're basically all pre-sold," he said. "We reserve a certain percentage of distributor inventory on an open sale basis. We're always going to have some units for the year that will be available."

Calling Harley-Davidson motorcycles collectibles, Nicolai said, "In five years you can sell it for what you paid for it."

"It's a lot better than investing in the stock market plus you can drive it around and use it," he laughed.

Nicolai and 19 dealership-connected Hawaii-folk recently returned from the 100th anniversary dealers' convention in Wisconsin where there were "no suits but a lot of aloha wear."

He explained, "We manufacture it through our association with Tori Richards Aloha Wear," which produces more than 50 designs.

"It is marketed worldwide through the dealers."

The Harley-Davidson aloha wear is a "well-hidden secret," he said. "This year we anticipate doing around $10 million (in gross sales) exported from Hawaii."

The fabrics are customized by region so, for example, in Arizona the print includes cactus.

"We just started three years ago and 25 percent of the people at the dealers' convention were wearing it," he said.

Plates are also on Nicolai's plate as he considers a Harley-Davidson Cafe for his Symphony Park development proposed for the mauka-Ewa corner at the intersection of Kapiolani Boulevard and Ward Avenue.

The concept has been successful in New York and Las Vegas and there was discussion about setting up the theme restaurant in Waikiki but that was nixed.

Business at his two Harley-Davidson boutiques in Waikiki is "100 percent tourist," he said, while at Ala Moana the business is 60 percent local, 40 percent visitor.

"We think that it would be in everybody's best interest that we ... place it someplace that local people would feel comfortable going," Nicolai said.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin.
Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle,
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached

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