The Harley-Davidson motorcycle company was founded in the year 1903 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA. Over the century since its inception, the company has lived through scores of challenging phases – financial and product-related, breakneck competition from the likes of Indian motorcycles and multiple ownership arrangements. It was one of the many conglomerates that survived the great depression. Despite numerous setbacks, it went on to become one of the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturers and an iconic name with an overwhelming fan following. Harley owners across the globe, enjoy privileges such as exclusive memberships to their clubs, invites to events and discounts on merchandise. The company also has a museum, with their entire history on display for owners and enthusiasts alike.
Their manufacturing addresses include York in Pennsylvania, Milwaukee in Wisconsin, Manaus in Brazil and Bawal in India and one in Thailand. In addition to the worldwide export and sale of their very special motorcycles, the Harley-Davidson brand also merchandises apparel, accessories, home decor and ornaments, toys, scale-models of its designs and video games.
They entered the Indian market in 2009 and started selling their motorcycles from 2010. The company established a subsidiary company by the name of Harley-Davidson India, in Gurugram and began working on a dealer network.
The company is known for being a manufacturer of heavyweight cruiser motorcycles with 700cc or larger engines and over the last two decades, have grown to include the middleweight segment in their line-up. All Harley Davidson motorcycles have either been cruisers or bobbers, and the company has dedicated their journey to rule these two segments worldwide.
They plan to build on their existing market reach by introducing two more new segments of motorcycles to attract younger people to buy them. The first one is a 1250cc V-twin engined adventure tourer named “Pan America” which was revealed late last year, and the second is a naked-sport named “Street-fighter” with a 975cc liquid-cooled V-twin engine. Both motorcycles have been unveiled via digital videos and photoshopped renderings.
The official spec-sheets are yet to be released and are eagerly being awaited. The Pan-America can be expected to cost around INR 15-16 lakh, and the Streetfighter will be priced between INR 10-12 lakhs.
The company’s recent partnership with Qianjiang aims to bring new and affordable bikes to the South-East Asian market, including India. Chinese company Quinjiang also owns the motorcycle brand Benelli and has partnered with the American manufacturer to create smaller-engined motorcycles. Together they plan to dominate the premium small-segment motorcycle market through this endeavour. As part of this arrangement, their very first product is a 338cc entry-level street/naked-sport motorcycle, inspired by their upcoming Streetfighter. It will be one of the company’s most significant launches of this year and hopes to shakedown the 300-400cc segment while making their place in the smaller sport-segment of the motorcycle market.
Though a smaller and more affordable Harley is exciting news, the long-term cooperation agreement between the company and its Chinese partner includes vetting of this market in countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Japan, India and Australia. While the 338cc Harley will enter the market in China before anywhere else, the company has elaborate plans of bringing it to India, Australia and the ASEAN countries.
The all-new 338 cc baby streetfighter from Harley-Davidson will be breaking their tradition of V-twins and will instead, be powered by a parallel-twin motor which is possibly based on the Benelli 302S. The Benelli 302S is a 300cc parallel-twin powered motorcycle with a maximum power output of 38 bhp at 11,500 rpm and peak torque of 26.5 Newton-metre at 10,000 rpm.
The motorcycle has been planned as part of the American manufacturer’s expansion plans in the eastern part of the globe. They have a series of new motorcycle models in the pipeline for the coming few years and their primary focus will be on the eastern-most markets of Japan, China, India and the ASEAN countries. Once established, the company plans to strengthen its grip in these markets with more significant volumes and service support.
The upcoming Harley was dubbed as “project HD350” at the time of its design finalisation process. This might give one the speculation that the company may end up similarly naming the motorcycle. However, fans and admirers of the brand would surely want a more significant name for their smallest offering yet. Production plans of the 338 cc Harley indicate that though the Chinese subcontinent may see its entry sometime in mid-2020, the Indian market will have to wait until next year.
The company’s smallest motorcycle on offer is currently the 750cc Street, which comes at a starting price of 5.35 lakh rupees for its base model. It is powered by a 749 cc V-twin engine that produces 57 Newton-metre of peak torque. The engine is mated to a six-speed transmission unit. It is also the highest-selling Harley-Davidson motorcycle in the country with an average of 100-150 unit sales a month.
The 338 cc Harley will further up the game for the numerous motorcycle manufacturers who are already in the country and are competing to sell their products in the 300cc segment. The simplest reason for most of the Indian buyers being excited about the motorcycle is because it’s after-all going to be a Harley.