... I think I worked it out some time ago when I took my ONE & ONLY Harley test ride from a dealer. It went like this: What? WHAT?? this is it? this is IT???!!! it's only good if people see you on it (and then only members of the one herd) .... bah, but what a waste, duh !!
So, to me, Harley are ALL about show & image. The impression
of constant 'freedom', bit of 'rough'n'ready', some 'tuff-ness' implied .... however that's where it ends. Impressions only - never actually making the grade of real freedom because they're been simply duped to join a herd of constant upgrades, mass-individualization (there's an oxymoron!) ... all designed to create an impression only, rather than the real experience.
Impressions & looks are definitely not BMW's main concerns. Peer pressure not either. They will produce what they think is right and fitting for a purpose. If riders love the looks - well, that used to be a bit of a bonus for BMW, now it's changed a bit and they don't mind dressing up their bikes ....
No, they create tools. Nice, shiny, RELIABLE, tested, wonderfully engineered, with the most amazing ergonomic seating positions available in the market - for riders that is. For those who don't get that pained expression on their face when mates are talking about the next 500km ride. For those who spend expensive money to buy a piece of engineering which has proven itself capable of carrying a rider (the same in many cases) for 100.000's of kms without any dramas ....
... unlike H/D, where posers spend BIG to buy a bum-numbing vibrator with an antiquated, ill designed, overheating engine which even the Germans (Porsche) could only rectify to a certain extent, only to then spend HUGE on different stages of engine size & power increase kits - to finally have a bike which doesn't even come close to offering what a block of steel & rubber of that size could!!! duh
and they don't get it .... to them it's: freedom perceived
= freedom achieved
BMW rulz: only Freedom achieved = Freedom perceived!
H-D = lifestyle & show
BMW = pure riding enjoyment, allround satisfaction
we might pay more at the start (well, not in all cases - a decent H-D tourer costs around $40000, no?) but usually that's all our expenses. Servicing & oil changes - that's usually it .... not complete engine rebuilds after only 30.000 miles because H-D reckons they've done hard work .... (more like, the rear cylinder can't take anymore overheating, we'd better get that changed out ...
So it turned out to be an easy answer for me: as nice as they look - H-D only appeal to novice, or ignorant, or ill-informed short-distance riders who are concerned only about image, not reliability, or who had a partial lobotomy, kidding themselves they're riding good bikes .... mwaahahahahahahaha
(I've got a few good examples at work)
(excuse the longish blurb - it could be condensed down to only two words ... I know ... but this time I wished to keep it civil ...