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Full Boar Open House at the Harley-Davidson Vehicle and Powertrain Operations - Kansas City, Missouri

Written by  November 1, 2012

Come on and take a Free Ride! The best thing about Harley-Davidson’s Open House events is the opportunity to take a ride on the bike of your dreams, free! No charge, no hidden costs, no fees! To ride that brand new Harley, just show up at the Open House event, provide a current driver’s license with a motorcycle rating, put on a helmet, register and go!

On Friday and Saturday September 7 and 8, the Harley-Davidson Vehicle and Power Train Operations facility in North Kansas City celebrated 15 years since groundbreaking ceremonies in 1997. This year’s Full Boar Open House event offered demo rides, self-guided tours, a motorcycle stunt show, live music and family entertainment. This celebration is certainly worth taking advantage of, and the staff from the plant, as well as from other H-D facilities, do all they can to make you feel welcome. 

The demo fleet available for your riding pleasure included multiple bikes from each of the company’s five models; Touring, Softail, Dyna, Sportster and V-Rod. Also available for demo rides are the limited production, highly accessorized Custom Vehicle Operations machines, complete with custom colors and larger motors. The defined tour route provides ample opportunity to get a feel for each model.

I used this year’s Open House to test ride a CVO Road King, a Heritage Softail Classic, a Seventy-Two Sportster and my new personal pick, the Dyna Switchback. The CVO King is the first factory Road King with a sound system, while the 110 inch motor just begs to be pushed. The Heritage remains a favorite among riders who prefer a Softail suspension but can still pack the saddle bags and go the distance. The Seventy-Two Sportster has a real retro look and feel, with a peanut tank, solo seat, whitewalls and mini-ape hangers. Finally, the Switchback, in its second model year is a Dyna cloaked as a legitimate touring machine. This bike possesses that nimble Dyna ride with hard bags and a low seat height. The combination of function, fit and feel is sure to satisfy many riders, men and women alike!

Communications Manager, John Mink lined me up with Plant Manager Steve Wiggins for a personalized tour inside the plant. This was my second opportunity to tour the facility with a camera. Things have not changed much since 2007. Operations and production details are relatively unchanged and are included in an article I had published back in our September 2007 issue entitled A Decade of H-D in KC. Twin Cam and Sportster engines and transmissions continue to be assembled in Milwaukee. The completed drive trains are then delivered to York, Pennsylvania for Touring and Softail assembly or to Kansas City, where the Dyna, Sportster and V-Rods models are assembled.

At the Kanas City facility, the plant is divided into fabrication and paint, VRSC motor assembly, final assembly and the warehouse. It’s always impressive to see volumes of raw materials transformed into fenders, tanks, frames and other critical components within the paint and fab area. Here, two shifts per day continue to support production line demands. Rack after rack of painted tanks and fenders leave me in awe that all of these parts will soon be part of someone’s very personal ride. Three final assembly lines for V-Rod, Dyna and Sportster were all crowded with new machines in various stages of assembly. Current staffing levels are around 800 personnel for the Kansas City facility, down from just over 1,000 at its peak.

Harley- Davidson Motor Company has been a longstanding corporate supporter of Muscular Dystrophy Association. The Open House event provides an opportunity to show your support for the MDA by purchasing raffle tickets to win a new motorcycle. This year, the winner received a 2012 Harley-Davidson Sportster Seventy-Two.

If you find you would like to visit the factory, guided tours are available weekdays from 9 AM to 1:30 PM. If you want to take advantage of a FREE demo ride, plan to attend next year’s Full Boar Open House, on September 6 and 7, 2013.

By Nic