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Harley-Davidson powers ahead

A new generation of motorcycle enthusiasts are buying Harley-Davidsons, thanks to a concerted marketing push aimed at refreshing the company's image.

Cheaper, sleeker, customised machines are appealing to under-35s, and the company tours its "Jumpstart" experience round music festivals and other youth hangouts, so that people who have never ridden a motorcycle can try it out on a stationary bike.

Harley sales were up 14.6 per cent in the second quarter, to $1.73bn (£1.1bn), and profits came in above expectations at $247.3m, up 29.7 per cent. The company warned it was not immune to Europe's economic slowdown, though, and its cautious outlook sent shares down 3 per cent in morning trading in New York.

Keith Wandell, chief executive, said the company was "working hard every day to unleash the full potential of Harley-Davidson", and it was opening new dealerships internationally, including in the UK.