Mention the name Harley-Davidson, and visions of high-handled bikes growling down endless, sun-streaked highways instantly come to mind. Whether it was the 1951-52 Panhead Chopper that Peter Fonda rode across the country in Easy Rider or the 1991 Fat Boy in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s nail-biting chase scene in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the bikes have always been able to evoke a powerful feeling of American nostalgia and freedom.
So what is Jochen Zeitz, a European environmental activist and celebrated African art collector, doing behind the handlebars of the U.S.’s most iconic motorcycle manufacturer? He’s trying to save it from becoming an anachronism
Zeitz, who took over as chief executive officer of Harley-Davidson Inc. in February, is under pressure to turn around the storied company, whose heavyweight $22,000 bikes are prized by aging boomers but not so much by millennials.