Displaying an American car or motorcycle to add life to a retail store selling an American product is a common gimmick, but sometimes both the vehicle and the product are a bit off the mark. One such instance is this display in Singapore’s Changi Airport of a Harley-Davidson Hummer, a 125cc two-stroke single cylinder commuter bike by a company famous worldwide for its big-displacement V-twin touring bikes and cruisers.
As explained in Paul’s excellent history of the Hummer from 2011, Harley-Davidson introduced this line of bikes in 1948 using the pioneering DKW RT 125 of the 1930s as the basis for the design, adding the Hummer name starting in 1955. By the 1960s, the design was largely unchanged and no longer competitive with the Honda Super Cub and other small-displacement Japanese motorcycles, so Harley-Davidson dropped it after 1966. This example is nicely restored and well equipped with a plush seat and luggage rack, but being an oddball small model, it is an odd choice when a Sportster or Dyna would look more impressive and occupy only slightly more space. As for the store …
…it sells Kiehl’s skin care products, American and certainly high-end merchandise, but hardly the sort of product one associates with motorcycling. So thousands of airline passengers walk past this display every day, most ignoring it, and those who don’t thinking, “What is that little motorcycle, and what is it doing there?” instead of, “That’s a Harley, there must be high-end American stuff sold there.” It is a strange fate for this 50 to 60 year old product of Milwaukee, now residing far from its place of birth.
Definitely not something one would expect in a Chinese airport. Maybe it’s their tribute to the fine art of copying, as the HD Hummer was a knock-off of the DKW 125?
Not wanting to be pedantic, but Changi is a Singaporean airport, not a Chinese airport. A majority of Singaporeans are ethnically Han Chinese, but Singapore is an independent country, not part of China. In fact, Singapore is smack between the Malaysian peninsula and Indonesia. Quite far from China. At least five countries separate them: Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia.
My bad; I rushed in reading it, and jumped to a wrong conclusion.
If they wanted that Paul they coulda got a licence built Japanese model from the 30s and displayed that, China might be the only place the bigger Vtwins are hard to find?
Given the conflict over those rocks in the Pacific ocean, I doubt using Japanese lifestyle products would be a good marketing tool.
I’ve seen other vintage bikes (unidentifiable by me) at Kiehl’s stores in the USA (NY and LA). The marketing intent is to make the store and products manly, or at least safe for some men, in contrast to other specialty merchants of soap, hair shampoo, and lotion.
The 2-3 bikes I have noticed looked to be pre-WW2, with extremely shiny paint. A big Harley would probably look too normal to draw attention like the older, rarer bikes. I see they support actual riding, as well: http://www.kiehls.com/LifeRide/liferide,default,pg.html
Your observation makes it clear why this overseas Kiehl’s store had a motorcycle on display, Rich. I had not seen a motorcycle in a Kiehl’s store, but I have seen only a few, and none in the NY or LA areas.
The choice of a Hummer is still questionable, though. Singapore does have a Harley-Davidson dealership, so the Kiehl’s store at the airport does have a local source of advice, or possibly even of a classic bike on loan. Perhaps the Hummer was loaned from the local HD dealer, which did not really want to display it!
The original Kiehl’s in NYC had displays of bikes and race cars and such since at least the mid-80s, including street-driven ones parked outside. What I heard was that the owner was a racing enthusiast and collector and liked to show off his things.
(Wikipedia says it was the son of the guy who bought the pharmacy from the founder in 1921.)
Never heard of this model, pretty cool.
Harley was ahead of its time with this one. The idea was to do the “you meet the nicest people on a Honda” thing 16-17 years before Honda thought of it. Unfortunately, the late ’40’s/early ’50’s were not a time where bringing new, clean cut riders into the sport worked out. As Harley found to their minor annoyance, and Indian found out to terminal effect on the company.
Biggest problem facing this bike is that the dealer’s were all the enthusiastic about it, and Harley dealerships at the time weren’t exactly the kind of place where a suburban mother would take her teenaged son to get a new play toy.
Did you also see a Van Veen OCR 1000 ? You know, with the Comotor rotary engine.
I learned to ride on the British DKW copy,the BSA Bantam.The little DKW must be the most copied bike of all time.The tank looks very much like the Sportster tank.Cute bike
Reparations are fun . . . . . . when you’re on the winning side. Then again, nobody particularly cared about how the Germans felt about this.
I’m still trying to work out how Yamaha got their hands on a DKW to copy.
Bought one probably Datsun got hold of an Austin 7 and built an empire around it, BL sent the tooling for the Morris Ital/Marina to china but they most likely scrapped it.
I came across a couple of “Mist Green” D1 Bantams in an upmarket mens’ clothing store in Dublin at the weekend. Definitely a WTF moment.
Just remember that Singapore is an independent state, not even near China.
People read Singapore but thought Shanghai, perhaps!
Wasn’t this Kelly Leak’s motorcycle in ‘The Bad News Bears’?
Sorry to say that Kelly Leak’s bike was an Aermacchi-made HD 250 SX.
On a whim, I feel obliged to mention another memorable 1970s movie motorcycle: the Honda CB 350 K4 in “My Bodyguard.”
I got given 2 Aeromachi HDs 125cc 74 models, they were laying in a shed on a farm I worked on I made one run using the other for parts fun little toy but rubbish compared to Japanese bikes of that era.
Beautiful bike, the Harley Hummer. Too bad Harley didn’t stay the course, for here is the perfect starters bike, copied somewhat to a precise standard later with the Honda 250 Rebel and Yamaha Virago/V-Star 250. They could have used this bike as the stepping stone for the future Sportster and 1200 big boys bike.
BTW: Harley is set to introduce a 500/750 water cooled vee twin to capture the youth and first time rider market sometime in 2014.
If they copy the styling of the 883 Sportster and scale it down a bit like Yamaha did the 250/535 Virago they might have a hit. But HD is going to have a long way to go to match the reliability of the Big 4 in what for them is unproven territory. The Big 4 have had 50+ years to make their small bikes bulletproof. And they have. As a teen, I rode a Honda XL-75 on forest trails, gravel rutted logging roads & running flat out redlined at 50 mph (53 mph downhill!) on the local rural highways for 10,000 miles – nothing happened besides one chain replacement and routine oil changes. I sold it when I went to college.
BTW, someone tell Yamaha that Virago sounds too much like Viagra.
Yamaha may already know that. They changed the name of their V-twin cruisers to V-Star several years ago, dropping the Virago name, which I think they first started using in the 1980s, long before Viagra. Given the timing, I would be surprised if “Virago” now sounding funny was not a factor in their thinking!
Also, Virago means an unpleasant woman, harridan, shrew, etc. Bitch, basically, despite its original meaning of “strong heroic woman.”
(Funny how that works.)
Yamaha came unstuck with names in the 80s with the XJ750 Seca.When the bike was launched there was a porno actress called Seca who was very popular.
The new Harleys are to be 500/750 sizes. Made in India for overseas purchase or here for domestic. Time will tell if they are pulling a trick that will capture the luck of Honda or Indian. I am looking forward to seeing.
Pictures indicate that they will be good looking bikes. Btw thanks for including the 250 in the above comments. Didn’t care much for the hummer but the 250 was what I learned on and it was fun. I did like to park it on a hill because it was hard to kickstart even when I was young.
Someone is still making Royal Enfield Bullets in India is it the same outfit?
Wow, hardwood floors in an airport. You surely don’t see that in the US….
Super Awesome Bike.