Iron Run success leads to open HOG rallies

Iron Run HOG rallies

The unmitigated success of the inaugural Iron Run rally in Queenstown seems to be the clincher for Harley-Davidson to turn future national HOG rallies into open events.

Harley-Davidson Australia and New Zealand boss Nigel Keough told those assembled at the official VIP HOG party last night that the open rally was “showing us the way”.

“You are about a year ahead of us with an open event,” he said.

The Iron Run rally has been organised by New Zealand’s six Harley dealers as an open rally for all to attend.

While previous Kiwi HOG rallies have attracted about 1200-1300, the Queenstown rally has attracted a record 2000-plus.

Nigel declared the NZ rally the best of the past 25 years and says future Australian rallies should follow suit with an open-rally format.

However, he says there will be special closed events at the rally for HOG members.

Iron Run HOG rallies
VIP HOG event at Iron Run

“We will still protect the sanctity of what it means to be HOG,” he says.

“We want to make our HOG members have that special bond with the brand.”

Nigel says his experience with Latin America showed that Harley could host open rallies, but with special HOG-only sections.

Harley is expecting to experience an influx of younger non-traditional owners with the sales success of the novice Street 500 as well as the LiveWire electric motorcycle if and when it is released as a production bike.

Iron Run HOG rallies
Street 500 buyers will change the face of HOG

Consequently, HOG rallies are expected to change complexion.

The company is also hoping to reach out to new customers with open rallies, rather than “preaching to the converted”.

It is also believed that an open rally will attract more outside sponsors which will yield better entertainment for rally-goers.

While Harley’s move to open rallies is expected to receive a backlash from some traditional Australian HOG members, it doesn’t seem to have deterred New Zealand HOG members who have turned out in record numbers for the Queenstown rally.

Iron Run HOG rallies
Says it all, really!

More than 2000 have registered and about 95% are Harley riders, according to unofficial assessments of the crowd.

It is believed the Iron Run will continue as an open rally next year, but be shifted to a city on the North Island.

Similarly, Harley insiders have rejected a return to Tamworth, even though it was a highly successful venue this year with more than 2350 HOG members attending.

A decision on the 2016 national HOG Rally will be made in the next couple of weeks.

Iron Run HOG rallies
Perty time at Iron Run rally

2 Comments

  1. Having previously commented that the National HOG Rally should be an open event I am pleased that serious consideration is being given to open the Australian event.

    By being ‘open’, is doesn’t mean that every man, woman and their motorcycle will be there. It means that other Harley riders who are non HOG members will be able to go along as well as people who enjoy a rally. Good to see that there will be specific HOG areas and functions retained for those people.

    I’m a bike rider who owns a Harley but refuses to pay the huge fee just to ‘belong’. This means that I’ll be able to go there with other Harley riders, check out the rally and have a good time without being a ‘Hoggie’.

    1. Hi Erik,
      You’re right. I reckon about 95% of bikes here at the Iron Run are Harleys and they tell me about 40% of the registrations are non-HOG members.
      But they also have some closed events within the whole event for Hoggies and they are planning to have the HOG chapters at the front of the parade in future to make them feel a little special.
      Cheers,
      Mark

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