Harley sued Honda For Being Too Harley!! - VTXOA
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-14-2017, 12:32 AM Thread Starter
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Harley sued Honda For Being Too Harley!!

Came across this evening. Had not heard of this before but makes sense.


Harley-Davidson owns the American cruiser market. In the 1990s, Harley was the only game in town, since Victory wasn't around yet and the Indian brand was in between owners. So-called "metric cruisers" from Japanese manufacturers had existed for a while, but no one would mistake one for a true American cruiser. Honda tried to change that by introducing a new version of the Shadow called the ACE, or "American Classic Edition."
It took the American cruiser styling even further than the standard Shadow, with long fenders and a teardrop gas tank very much like a Harley. They even switched their V-twin engines from their standard dual pin crank to a single pin to get the stereotypical Harley engine note. Honda even printed "Made In USA" on the seat to remind everyone that despite being a Japanese company, this bike was just as American as any iron from Milwaukee.
This didn't sit too well with Harley-Davidson. They filed lawsuits against Honda not only for copying their styling too closely but also for violating their sound trademark on the lope of a single pin crank V-twin. While sound trademarks are legitimate for short distinctive jingles, like the NBC Chimes or 20the Century Fanfare, Honda argued that you couldn't trademark the sound of an engine, particularly one like a V-twin that is common among many manufacturers. Yet there was little question the Honda had intentionally tried to mimic Harley's sound with the single pin crank they used in the Shadow ACE. This change actually cost the engine 10 horsepower compared to its dual pin version, yet Honda seemed to believe that the loss in power would be worth the gain in cruiser cred.
Harley's lawsuit against Honda lingered on into the early 2000s, with neither side ever really making a decisive argument. In the end, Harley-Davidson ended up dropping the case. By then, Honda had quietly discontinued the American Classic Edition of the Shadow. It seems the two brands agreed to disagree and just made the problem go away.
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Last edited by Mastertechie; 06-14-2017 at 12:35 AM.
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-14-2017, 12:41 AM
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Yes, I remember this. Harley really had to drop it because others started doing the same thing, and it was a lost cause. Honda realized a 750cc V Twin needed all of the HP it could muster.
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-14-2017, 04:53 AM
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this is not the first time HD went after Honda and the country of Japan.


mid 1970's, HD got the US government to place a Tariff on all Japan motorcycles over 550cc... between $500 and $1000 per bike.
and the reason Honda changed the CB500 to a CB550...


a New 1972 Honda CB750 was $1,500
a New 1975 Honda GL1000 was $3,000..
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-14-2017, 07:12 AM
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I had a Purple and cream ACE 1100. I came off of a regular 1100 Shadow. Loved the styling but didn't like the built in vibration. Wasn't worth the sound. Traded the ACE for a Valkyrie. LOVED that bike, I wish they would bring it back.

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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-14-2017, 11:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chuck_VTX F View Post
this is not the first time HD went after Honda and the country of Japan.


mid 1970's, HD got the US government to place a Tariff on all Japan motorcycles over 550cc... between $500 and $1000 per bike.
and the reason Honda changed the CB500 to a CB550...


a New 1972 Honda CB750 was $1,500
a New 1975 Honda GL1000 was $3,000..
As I recall that wasn't just against the Asian bikes, but the European bikes as well. Put the Brits in an even tougher predicament. On the one hand, it did create an unfair environment for the imports. OTOH, it saved Harley and an American manufacturer. Today Harley's American-ness is somewhat contentious, but it is still fully American owned and does employ American workers so that's good. Either way, I, personally, am glad Harley survived.
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-14-2017, 11:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harkon View Post
As I recall that wasn't just against the Asian bikes, but the European bikes as well. Put the Brits in an even tougher predicament. On the one hand, it did create an unfair environment for the imports. OTOH, it saved Harley and an American manufacturer. Today Harley's American-ness is somewhat contentious, but it is still fully American owned and does employ American workers so that's good. Either way, I, personally, am glad Harley survived.
I was never a Harley basher.. Yes its good they are still around. and YES, the Japan bikes made Harley produce a better bike. Yes , Euro bikes had LESS tariffs, because of less volume..
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-14-2017, 12:04 PM
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I had a 2004 Sabre but I don't know if it was single or dual pin. These days, I'll take my 1800F with the dual pin crank. Along with the Cobra pipes, it sounds more like a small block V-6 than a Harley.
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-14-2017, 12:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chuck_VTX F View Post
I was never a Harley basher.. Yes its good they are still around. and YES, the Japan bikes made Harley produce a better bike. Yes , Euro bikes had LESS tariffs, because of less volume..
I didn't think you were bashing, I was just sharing my POV.

I wasn't aware that the Euro bikes were treated differently. Thanks for the info.


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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-14-2017, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by eperk View Post
I had a Purple and cream ACE 1100. I came off of a regular 1100 Shadow. Loved the styling but didn't like the built in vibration. Wasn't worth the sound. Traded the ACE for a Valkyrie. LOVED that bike, I wish they would bring it back.
They did bring it back....still ugly as hell....lol...https://images.search.yahoo.com/yhs/...ullyhosted_003

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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-14-2017, 02:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Harkon View Post
I didn't think you were bashing, I was just sharing my POV.

I wasn't aware that the Euro bikes were treated differently. Thanks for the info.
I was NOT saying you were.. just my view on bikes. I have spent over 50 years wrenching on bikes and cars... retired Honda cycle dealer mechanic and Chevy dealer mechanic... not at same time I have worked on almost every brand of bike sold in the USA...
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