I think your view on the paint isn’t quite right. I’m not talking about cost, but visually, I hate bikes that are slaughtered in Chrome. It’s just to much. Not to mention maintenance as far as polishing it. I’m sorry but this isn’t a cost thing for me and many others, it’s an aesthetic preference. I love the blacked out engines, blacked out pipes and handle bars. Looks (in my opinion to my taste) a thousand tones better then having a bike so shiny when you ride it you blind people lolI enjoyed reading this old thread, because I have owned allot of bikes over the years - many of them, Harleys. A couple of thoughts:
The Sportster is not a "Chick Bike", but the updated version of what used to be one of the lightest, fastest Harleys on the market.
The " Harley Tax" referred to the extra money you had to spend to modify your Harley carburetor and exhaust,to undermine the government imposed emission restrictions on carbureted motorcycles.
Harley's new ownership of 12 investors, including Willey G. Davidson, got Ronald Reagan to support a tariff on Japanese motorcycles, over 900 cc's. This was to help H.D. regain market share, after the disastrous AMF ownership.
The unique, "Potato-Potato" sound of the Harley Davidson v twin, came as a result of a v-2 engine, with a single carburetor, with the piston rods attached to a single journal of the crankshaft. Modern Harleys have lost this unique sound due to fuel injection and increased idle speeds.
The "Dark Custom" look of the new Harleys leave me cold. It also makes me suspicious of marketing that tries to guide people towards cheaper, black paint, rather than the more-expensive chrome. Call a cheap product "Cool" or "Extreme" and gullible people will spend their money on cheaper product.