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Basem Wasef

Is Harley Building a 500cc Hog for India?

By January 7, 2013

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Harley-Davidson Builds a Bike for India

A difficult domestic market has forced Harley-Davidson to expand its efforts overseas, and if recent rumors are true, the American manufacturer is taking an even bigger step by planning a low-priced model exclusively for India.

Harley entered the Indian market in 2009, and has since established a small but growing network of dealers that sells bikes whose components are built in the U.S.A., and then shipped and assembled overseas. The procedure, known as CKD (or Complete Knock Down), helps the bikes avoid import tariffs, but the concept of building an entirely new bike for India reflects a significantly more involved (and potentially more complicated) approach to expanding their worldwide sales.

Harley's intentions to increase Indian sales tenfold lend credence to the rumors that they're fixing on a 400cc-500cc bike that would be priced at Rs 3.5 lakh (the equivalent of around $6,300) to compete against premium starter bikes like Kawasaki's littlest Ninja and KTM's baby 390 Duke.

Is Harley-Davidson in danger of diluting its brand by building a bike smaller than their entry-level Sportster 883? While we size obsessed Americans may think so, let's get real: our opinions are ultimately irrelevant in the face of the Motor Company's growing global footprint and increasingly insistent bottom line.

Sources: ZigWheels, India Times


Photo © Harley-Davidson India

January 7, 2013 at 8:21 am
(1) Joe says:

I think this could be a good idea. Don’t see how this would hurt HD. Even if it was at some late time sold in North America, HD could use a more entry level (smaller) bike in it’s line up. The 883 is a pretty big bike.

January 7, 2013 at 9:28 am
(2) Pete says:

No doubt there are more than a few long time HD fans who will be horrified at this idea – but, it can only be a win-win for them. Letting new riders walk away, hoping they will come back later, rarely works. If they don’t bring it to N.A. it’ll be a mistake.
Any MC manufacturer ignoring the China / India market deserves exactly what they get – left behind.

January 7, 2013 at 10:40 pm
(3) Steve says:

Harley used to sell small bikes, American and Italian made. So what’s the big deal?

January 8, 2013 at 10:49 am
(4) Scottie says:

I have to disagree with Joe. The 883 is a little bike. 883 may be a fairly large motor, but the bike itself feels like a scooter. The Vulcan 900 and Star 950 are big & roomy bikes with just slightly more displacement.

H-D better make a move for market share while it can. And I think it would be a good idea to sell it in the US.


January 8, 2013 at 12:22 pm
(5) Joe says:

Can’t agree with ya on that one Scottie, the 883′s are far from a scooter. I had an 883 yrs ago, way more powerful, handling is way different and the extra weight (around 100 pounds) makes it a totally different feel then a scooter. They are nimble bikes but not little. There is a reason why HD markets and says it sells “heavy weight motorcycles”.

January 8, 2013 at 4:45 pm
(6) Scottie says:

For good or ill, I was dealt a 6’2″ frame. The muscle and fat surrounding that frame hasn’t really helped me while cycling, running or competing in triathlons (though I float well in the water), however in or on a motorized vehicles I want power an space.

January 9, 2013 at 11:54 am
(7) Mn Jim says:

Sounds like the Buell Blast would be right for the Indian market

January 9, 2013 at 12:01 pm
(8) Faezal Yunus says:

They are just diluting their brand—who wants to buy a Harley Davidson made in Punjab?! They just started selling the Fat Bob in India with a smaller 96 cubic-inch engine block instead of the standard 103 cubic-inch—what a spoilsport! They do it on the premise of containing price, but it only translates to cheating the devout Harley fan. Instead, they should strike a deal with the Indian government over trade laws to lessen import tax levies (which almost doubles the cost).

January 9, 2013 at 12:41 pm
(9) Pete says:

Diluting the brand?? Hardly!
What they’re doing is staying in business.

Do you honestly believe anyone in India, China or any other 3rd world country, emerging market, poor country (call them what you will) can actually afford a traditional ‘western’ motorcycle?
You don’t see Honda, Yamaha or any of the Europeans selling litre bikes or Gold Wings over there…what makes you think HD would have any better luck? We’re talking about more money than some of these families will make in a life time.

January 9, 2013 at 3:09 pm
(10) Joe says:

Amen Pete!

January 9, 2013 at 9:15 pm
(11) Bobby says:

Your right Steve. My first bike was a HD 350 Sprint in the 70′s. Looked like a small Sportster. I loved it.

January 10, 2013 at 12:11 am
(12) Jerry says:

I think a quality 400 to 500cc entry level Harley Davidson motorcycle would be an outstanding addition to their current catalog in the USA.
Sales of Honda Rebels, Suzuki, Yamaha lower powered motorcycles are increasing every day for new riders. Not everyone needs or wants a 800 lb speed beast.

January 10, 2013 at 12:32 am
(13) Random says:

There are always rich people in poor countries (and it’s usually the reason they’re poor). HD and other premium brands have this market addressed, even a small number of units at a relatively high price may turn into an ok profit.

What they seem to be trying to do is entering the “true” mass market. Five hundred cc bikes are really perceived as big bikes on many markets, as Royal Enfield is. Even with higher numbers of sales the brand will still be offering a premium experience. It’s pretty much the case of BMW’s G650, an entry-bike motorcycle offering the “brand” package for a lesser price, hoping to keep the customer for a bigger sale later.

January 10, 2013 at 1:17 am
(14) Phoghat says:

“They are just diluting their brand—who wants to buy a Harley Davidson made in Punjab?”
Most likely, a Punjabi,
Why are you so jingoistic? America is a big market, but not the biggest and certainly not the only market, and just a small part of the global market.
I’m an American ex-Pat, living in Mexico, where MOST people have a bike as basic transport. I live on a moderately busy street and can look out my front window any time of the day and see Pop, Mom, and sometimes one or two kids driving by on a 150 CC scoot. Even those that could afford a Harley buy other brands because they cost less, and just make more sense in a city where the average monthly income is about $4,000 MXN ( ~ $300 US )
Even the Police, who could afford whatever they want, (and BTW, use Chrysler Chargers as patrol cars) have Victory ( who recently acquired Indian) bikes as their biggest, and most cops use 250-500 CC bikes by Yamaha or Honda.
No wonder the “Ugly America” still exists.

January 10, 2013 at 11:48 am
(15) Rider says:

H.D. has to stay in business, so a 500cc or lower is needed for thied world countries. If, you were in Nam or that part of the world you would see a whole family on a scooter. It could be too late for H.D. in this part of the world. You do not see BIG BIKES , and only the gated people own these.

January 28, 2013 at 5:44 pm
(16) Flame says:

Harley had it with the Buell Blast, and they dumped it. Idiots.

November 15, 2013 at 11:36 am
(17) Brian says:

I’m glad to see Harley is going to build a smaller bike. I buy American and don’t want or need a BIG HOG for the few miles I will ride to work or short hops to the beach.

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