As Harley rides out, bike ‘fanatics’ to scout for other brands

The Federal looks at the bike connoisseurs' love for Harley-Davidson and the sale of bikes in general across India in the past few years

Harley Davidson, after a decade-long stint in India, announced that it was stopping manufacture and sales across India. Representational image: iStock

The biker community in India may switch to other premium bike-makers after the exit of Harley-Davidson from India on September 24.

Triumph Motorcycles, Kawasaki, and BMW could stand to gain with Harley’s exit.

Harley Davidson, after a decade-long stint in India, announced that it was stopping manufacture and sales across India. It would be a significant move for any automobile manufacturer, given the size of the Indian market.

Let us take a look at the reasons behind the craze over Harley-Davidson and the sale of bikes in general across India over the last few years.


Harley, India’s beloved premium bike

The automaker had completed ten years in the Indian market in February 2020 and had sold more than 25,000 units in the country till then, with Street 750 being the most sought-after bike by Indians. It is also the most affordable model of the bike manufacturer.

According to the latest figures available for the 500-800 cc premium bike category, Harley had sold 1,513 units in the financial year 2018-19. The data was published by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. The sales in the same segment during the previous financial year for Harley was 2,043 units.

Harley ranked first in this category until 2017-18, with over a 50 per cent share of bikes sold under this group. However, Royal Enfield knocked it out of the park with sixteen times more sales later. It recorded sales of 5,168 units, while Harley’s sales stood at 1,513 units.

Kawasaki, Suzuki, Triumph, and Honda are the other players in the premium bike segment. However, together, they account for less than twenty per cent of the total market share.

Vishal Pawar, who is one of the first five owners of a Harley Davidson bike in Pune, shared his thoughts with The Federal. He said, “I don’t think there will be issues with service since there is a service network as well as trained manpower. Dealers will mainly draw flak for the sudden withdrawal by the company.” He also said there was no specific rule or law (such as the Indian Contract Act) to protect the interest of dealers during a crisis like the current one in India.

Related news: Hardly in India: Harley-Davidson rides out to ‘rewire,’ focus on Europe, US

“For riders, there will be an issue with the purchase of new models,” says Vishal. He added, “There will be about a 20-25 per cent spike in the price of any bike due to the unavailability of direct sales in India. All the bikes will now have to be imported separately. Also, the number of riders will decline.”

He also claimed there would be an automatic shift of preference from Harley to other premium bike makers like BMW, Honda, and their direct competitor Triumph.

The existing cult of Harley owners will be devastated by this move. The service networks for the bike manufacturer used to plan annual events, rides, and community meets, all of which will be affected now, says Vishal.

A source at Triumph Motorcycles, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Federal that the Triumph would be the next best choice to bring together the bike-fanatics community in India after the exit of Harley.

He added, “Triumph has the largest lineup of premium bikes followed by Harley in India. The Speedmaster, Tiger 900, and Rocket 3 are the three main bikes that Harley customers would look for. Our benefit is that we have bikes of all the categories including Classic, Force, Adventure, etc. Also, we have all BSVI vehicles right now while others will provide the same later this year.”

He also said the BMW GS series and Kawasaki would be other choices for bikers in the absence of Harley.

Harley Davidson did not comment on the development to The Federal.