For years, doomsayers have been predicting that a demographic time bomb would blow up Harley-Davidson Inc. (HOG
). The median age of a Harley buyer has leapt from 35 in 1987 to nearly 47 today. Whatever youthful countercultural mystique Harley may have once enjoyed, it is now a middle-aged nostalgia brand.
While the clock is still ticking, the explosion has yet to come--thanks in large part to fanatical riders like Jose Escalante. The 45-year-old roofing and landscaping company owner from El Paso has bought a dozen Harleys over the years and still owns four of them. He picked up a 2006 Screamin' Eagle Ultra Classic just last April, but was so psyched about the powerful new engine and transmission the bikemaker added to its line this past summer that he shelled out $36,000 in September for the 2007 model of the big touring hog. "When I get on the bike, all of a sudden I'm thinking about the road and nothing else," says Escalante. "It shifts you from one life to another."