Community Reacts to Closure of Kansas City Plant

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Harley-Davidson Forums members have a lot to say about the plant closure, as well as questions regarding the future of the brand.

It was our unhappy job to report that Harley-Davidson announced it was closing its Kansas City, Missouri assembly plant. Harley-Davidson President and Chief Executive Officer Matt Levatich said that Harley would consolidate their assembly plants, and cited that the “current business environment” played a big part in the decision. We know that H-D will be consolidating its motorcycle assembly from Kansas City into its York, Pennsylvania, but what does that mean for the brand and some of our favorite models, exactly? Our readers tackled this news in a thread in the forum.

Everyone expressed how sorry they were for 800 workers to be laid off from the Kansas City plant. The community has a big heart for those that work so tirelessly to make our favorite motorcycles. One question that many have is will all production be moving to York, or are some bikes going to be phased out? This especially pertained to the Sportster, assembled at the Kansas City plant. SgtThump shared this concern. “I wonder if this tells us anything about the future of the Sportster line? I don’t want to start rumors. Just curious.”

04Hali replied that “the Street, V-Rod, Sportster, and old Dyna line was made/assembled there. The V-Rod is gone…the Dyna is gone/re-engineered, and the Sportster is rumored to be getting a remake…If so, it makes sense that they would shut the factory down to save money and consolidate the manufacturing.”

H-D Assembly Plant Kansas City

Some tried to find the silver (or silver-adjacent) lining in the bad news. Cprhed wondered “if the demographic is aging out I wonder if there will be a shift in focus. Notice that the CVO line has been primarily baggers. Now the Dyna line is gone. Young riders don’t always want the big heavy bikes. I know I sure didn’t want a ‘geezer glide.’ Will be interesting to see if they start doing some cool new stuff with the other lines.”

1977 FXS Low Rider

We agree, and certainly hope that this may open the doors for new innovation. Looking at the last 115 years of Harley history, often in uncertain times the company made some bold moves and took chances that ultimately paid off big time. For example during the turbulent AMF-laden 1970’s, H-D introduced the FXS Low Rider, which exceeded expectations and increased sales by 26%.

Stretchman added his take on Harley-Davidson’s history, and how it might impact the future. “Long before the Dyna, was the regular old Factory Experimental, or FX models, introduced in 1971. They ran until 1991, when they were replaced by the Dyna. Should have heard the uproar then about Harley actually introducing rubber mounted engines. Thought we’d never hear the end of it. Truth be told, the new Softail frames are leagues ahead of both the old Dyna and old Softail frames. The mono shock makes for a much more stale handling machine. What kind of suspension do you see on most crotch rockets? Ever seen a crotch rocket with dual suspension? The new frames may take a bit to catch on, but they will. The thing that saddens most of us is what is going to happen to the Sportster? The powerplant on the Sporty has been in production for almost 100 years. There is no other bike quite like it, and no other bike of it’s kind currently in production. Sure, they make bikes that look just like they used to, but the Sporty? It’s the real thing. The K model was the first to use dual suspension as well. And the 1200 has been one of the mainstays of Harley’s line for years. Might be hard to say goodbye.” And hopefully we won’t have to.

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S.J. Bryan is an editor with Ford Truck Enthusiasts and regular contributor to F-150 Online and Harley-Davidson Forums, among other auto sites.

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