The first open Australian Harley-Davidson rally, called Harley Days, held at Wollongong over the weekend was a “home run” for the brand. However, a decision on the future of the event will “not be rushed”.
HD marketing manager Adam Wright says they had about 10,000-plus people at the Stuart Park venue over the three days. Among the many attractions were demo bikes, escorted scenic rides, BMX stunt shows, trade stalls and free concerts by acts such as Hot Dub Time Machine, Ross Wilson and The Screamin’ Eagles.
“We ran out of our supply of 10,000 armbands at 1.30pm,” Adam says, although he suspects numbers were closer to 12,000.
HD Australia boss Nigel Keough says the event was a “home run” for the company, but he stopped short of confirming it would return in 2017.
“It’s a little early at this stage to make any decision on that,” he says. “We will take as long as it takes. We want to get all our ducks in a row and then make decision. We need some time to take in all the data.
“This will be about the making right decision at the right time.”
Happy with the vibe
But Nigel was very happy with the crowd numbers, the vibe of the festival and the hard work put in by Harley staff.
“The team really did a great job and we go some nice support from dealers, sponsors, supporters and, of course, our customers,” he says.
“We’ve got the best customers in the world and all you have to do is talk to one of them and you get a flavour of what the brand is all about.”
Showers got the festival off to a slow start, but kept the temperatures cool for the traditionally hot Thunder Run on the Sunday.
It was led by Sydney’s Throttle Dolls female riders and Olympian Caroline Buchanan.
“The weather wasn’t everything on the first couple of days, but we had a great day on Sunday with a festive atmosphere that Harley Days is known for around the world,” Nigel says.
“We wanted to do something special for our Hoggies but also wanted to see other brands being welcomed along.
“We also wanted to see families experience everything that Harley is and we saw all that. It was a home run all round.”
The open rally has been a huge hit around the world and has converted riders from other brands to the iconic American manufacturer.
“I would like to think we won some converts, but you just never know how many of those kids from families sitting on our bikes will end up owning one,” Nigel says.
“We had a lot of young riders come along. It was a much younger demographic than usual Harley rallies, particularly on the Saturday afternoon through to the Sunday close.
“There was a good mix of 20 somethings which is our outreach market.
“The new Street 500 was very prevalent on the Thunder Run which was just fantastic.”
Riders came from as far as Western Australia, Far North Queensland and South Australia. Nigel says he even heard there were a few from Europe who called in.
Harley Days winners
The winner of the Dyna Low Rider S was Queensland miner Brett Humphries who could not be at the rally. He answered the phone on stage after his name had been drawn out from those who bought a rally pin from a HD dealer.
Adam says Brett told him over the phone from his mining job in WA that he had wanted to buy a Harley for a long time. “But he says he has been going through some tough financial times,” Adam says.
“He couldn’t believe it when we rang him,” Adam says. “He was over the moon. He actually rang back a little later and said ‘are you sure this isn’t a joke?. It’s certainly gone to the right winner.”
The winner of the Harley Route 66 competition was Graeme Cottrell, of Canberra. His name was picked from the many who have been testing Harley Tourers over the past few months.
Harley Days 2016 was supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW.
Nigel says their support and the support of the City of Wollongong and Mayor Gordon Bradbery who visited on Sunday were much appreciated.