The harley owners group
A WORLDWIDE SUCCESS STORY In 1983 the Harley-Davidson Motor Company founded the Harley Owners Group® (H.O.G.®) and within six years the world’s first factory-sponsored motorcycle club had already attracted more than 90,000 members. Today – in 2013 – there are approximately one million H.O.G.® members in more than 130 countries worldwide, and more than 100,000 in Europe. There are now more than 1,500 H.O.G.® Chapters worldwide in more than 60 countries from Russia to Saudi Arabia and Iceland to Japan. H.O.G.® was launched during one of the most important periods of change in Harley-Davidson’s history as a means to leverage the company’s ‘Close to the Customer’ philosophy at a time of great problems and near bankruptcy for the world’s most famous motorcycle manufacturer. In 1981 the Motor Company had returned to private ownership under a management team led by Vaughan Beals, Charles Thompson and Willie G. Davidson after a 12-year period of ownership by American Machine and Foundry (AMF). The founding principle behind H.O.G. was to build a strong and lasting link between the Motor Company and its customers by developing a range of genuine membership benefits as well as an active rally programme. Being ‘close-to-the-customer’ remains a key part of the Motor Company’s approach with teams of people dedicated to managing and developing H.O.G. throughout the world. The Motor Company’s commitment to H.O.G. is also supported by the hundreds of Harley-Davidson® dealerships that sponsor local H.O.G. Chapters. The rally tradition was already a central part of the Harley-Davidson ownership experience and quickly became a key part of the H.O.G. success story. Back in 1908 Motorcycle Illustrated reported a meeting of 35 enthusiastic early members of ‘the Harley clan’ in Lincoln Park, Chicago and said the meeting was ‘an object lesson in the popularity of the Harley-Davidson machine’.
In 1988, Harley-Davidson and H.O.G. organised an 85th anniversary rally with riders departing from 10 starting points across the US – the final destination for festivities was Milwaukee, the Motor Company’s hometown. On this occasion 35,000 enthusiasts attended the rally and $650,000 was raised for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). H.O.G. activities and members’ exclusive facilities had also become an established part of Harley-Davidson’s presence at Daytona and Sturgis. In 1991 the Sturgis event attracted over 300,000 motorcycle enthusiasts and H.O.G. members helped to raise over $100,000 for the MDA. By 1991 H.O.G. membership stood at 135,000 with the strong sense of family strengthened when Bill Davidson (the fourth consecutive William Davidson to work for the Motor Company) was asked to direct H.O.G.’s world-wide operations and events. That year also marked a breakthrough year for H.O.G. in Europe with the first European H.O.G. Rally held in Cheltenham, England. Harley-Davidson enthusiasts from every corner of Europe travelled to the Cotswold spa town and the rally quickly established itself as a key diary date for European enthusiasts. The Motor Company’s growing export success (30 per cent of total production was exported overseas by 1991) ensured there was no shortage of new H.O.G. members at the early European rallies and by 1996 membership had broken through the 40,000 mark. Subsequent European rallies have attracted growing numbers of enthusiasts and at the 2010 Lugano, Switzerland rally more than 60,000 visitors came to the shores of Lake Lugano to take part in the H.O.G. experience. In addition to the annual European Rally dozens of additional H.O.G. events take place in Europe throughout the year. In 2011, H.O.G. members celebrated the 20th Annual Harley Owners Group® Rally in Biograd, Croatia in May. In 2012, 60,000 H.O.G. members flocked to Cascais in Portugal. In 2013 we move to Rome for the European celebrations of the 110th Anniversary of HarleyDavidson®, and this year’s European H.O.G. Rally moves to Euro Festival in the Golfe de St-Tropez for H.O.G.’s 30th Anniversary celebrations. The 110,000-plus members in EMEA share many of the traditions and passions of their US counterparts. For example, there’s a strong commitment to raising money for charitable causes with H.O.G. chapters securing sponsorship for long motorcycle journeys or appearing at fundraising events. During the 100th Anniversary celebrations alone H.O.G. members, Harley-Davidson dealers and Motor Company employees raised $7.3 million for the MDA.
The harley owners group
THE H.O.G.® TIMELINE Year
H.O.G.® launched in USA and Canada
First H.O.G. Rallies launched – in Reno, Nevada and Nashville, Tennessee
First US H.O.G. Chapters formed. 49 chapters formed by the end of the year Ladies of Harley® established. LoH events quickly become popular
H.O.G.® sponsors legendary racer Scott Parker
1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
95,000 107,500 132,000 151,600 192,000 233,000 270,000 292,000 318,000 380,000 430,000 504,000 582,000 652,000 744,000 840,000 900,000 993,000 1,000,000 1,120,000 1,200,000 1,150,000 1,200,000 905,000 916,000 tbc
5th Anniversary H.O.G. Rally in Asheville, North Carolina H.O.G. Mileage Merit Programme launched Harley-Davidson® Fat Boy® launched First European H.O.G. Rally at Cheltenham 2nd European H.O.G. Rally held in Alsace, France First Canadian National H.O.G. Rally in Ottawa First French National H.O.G. Rally, Vannes First German National H.O.G. Rally, Loreley First Japan H.O.G. National Rally, Yunogo First H.O.G. Posse Ride – Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine 15th Anniversary H.O.G. Rally, Milwaukee draws 53,000 members ‘home’ First Middle East H.O.G. Rally, Oman. www.hog.com launched. First South American Regional Rally, Iguazu Falls, Brazil 10th Anniversary European H.O.G. Rally held in Grimaud, St-Tropez – biggest yet H.O.G. key player in organising Harley-Davidson’s 100th Anniversary Celebrations Worldwide 100th Anniversary celebrations, including Club H.O.G.® European H.O.G. Rally held in Portugal – now an annual event H.O.G. completes Touring Ride of all 48 mainland US states First Russian H.O.G. Chapter launched in Moscow H.O.G. membership in Europe reaches 100,000 105th Anniversary Celebrations European H.O.G. Rally held in Latvia This year’s European H.O.G. Rally & Swiss Harley Days attracts 60,000 visitors H.O.G. celebrates the 20th European Rally in Croatia European H.O.G. Rally held in Cascais, Portugal H.O.G. celebrates its 30th Anniversary