Harley-Davidson open house event spotlights company's future

Harley-Davidson product engineer Pat Gwinn, right, talks to a visitor during last year’s open house. This year’s event starts Thursday.

Harley-Davidson product engineer Pat Gwinn, right, talks to a visitor during last year's open house. This year's event starts Thursday. (dispatch file photo)

Harley-Davidson puts out a U.S. map during its annual open house event so visitors can place pins to mark where they're from.

Pins end up all over the map, including a significant group from the West Coast.



But the map was too limited for the event people began to draw in the countries they'd come from. Japan ended up somewhere off to the west of the U.S.

And that's not unusual, said Harley-Davidson spokeswoman Bernadette Lauer, who said she expects thousands of people to turn out for this year's open house, which will run 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

The free event will feature demo rides of the 2016 batch of Harley-Davidson bikes, self-guided factory tours, live music, demo rides, food vendors and a peek at the company's Project LiveWire electric motorcycle prototype.

The electric motorcycle isn't for sale yet, and it won't be one of the bikes people can ride at the open house, Lauer said. But a working prototype bike will be there on a contraption that allows it to run while remaining stationary, so people can get a simulated riding experience, she said.

"It's good for people who don't have a motorcycle license or maybe haven't ridden a motorcycle before," she said.

Also of note at the event will be a couple of bikes from the big screen from "Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron" and "Captain America: Winter Soldier." Lauer made sure to clarify that these bikes will not be available to ride, but you can take your picture with the superheroes' motorcycles.

Tours: The factory tours run from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. each day. Lauer said the factory will not be in production mode Friday and Saturday, so Thursday is the best day to come for tours.

After Friday's open house, another motorcycle event will take place around town at 6 p.m., the Bike Night parade will wind from the York Expo Center down Market Street.

Paul Quickel, director of the local Harley Owners Group chapter, said the open house event is always popular among the local riders.

"A lot of members go to it," he said.

Quickel worked at the Harley-Davidson plant for 31 years before retiring a few years ago. The plant brought many riders to the area over the years, and everyone keeps coming out to events such as this one.

"It's like a reunion," he said.

Reach Sean Cotter at [email protected]

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