What happened

Shares of Harley-Davidson (NYSE:HOG) jumped 15.3% in April, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence, though it wasn't nearly enough to make up for the 38% skid the motorcycle maker went into in March.

So what

The iconic big bike manufacturer is suffering from a multiyear decline in sales that has been blamed on its core, middle-aged customer aging out of the market. Younger consumers aren't looking to buy the heavy, chrome-laden motorcycles Harley produces, even when they are in the market for a bike.

Instead, smaller, lighter-weight bikes and scooters seem to be the style preferred by today's rider. 

The Harley-Davidson logo on a motorcycle gas tank

Image source: Harley-Davidson.

Yet during April, Harley-Davidson was restarting its manufacturing operations after having shut them down, and the threat of a proxy fight with a private equity firm ended with a whimper as the bike maker agreed to give it a seat on an expanded board of directors.

Now what

Harley-Davidson's first-quarter earnings report showed a disastrous 15% plunge in U.S. sales, but there was a glimmer of hope contained in the report as the motorcycle company said sales had actually been up almost 7% prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. After that, though, sales all but evaporated.

Management also said it was revising its roadmap for the future, and while it didn't provide many details on what that entails, there seems to be a sense that it will focus on what it does best and not abandon the U.S. market.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.