Harley-Davidson look to break into Chinese market

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Harley-Davidson announced the biggest shake-up in their recent history back in 2018, and they’re coming good on their promise to break into emerging bike markets with a new 338cc bike for the Chinese market.

The American firm have agreed a deal to build a small-capacity model for the Chinese market in collaboration with Qianjiang Motorcycle aimed at arriving in Chinese dealerships in 2020.

It looked initially that the first of the Asian Harley-Davidson models would be made available in India, but Harley say the co-developed bike will be sold in China first, before being rolled out into other parts of Asia.

“Harley-Davidson has always been about inspiring riders around the world,” said Matt Levatich, President and Chief Executive Officer, Harley-Davidson. “Our ‘More Roads’ plan is all about bringing our brand of freedom to more people, in more places, in more ways.

“We’re excited about this opportunity to build more Harley riders in China, one of the world’s largest motorcycle markets, by creating new pathways to our brand.”

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Harley Davidson turn motorcycling on its head

First published – 30/07/18

Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 adventure bike

In the biggest shake up in recent memory, Harley-Davidson have thrown caution to the wind and unveiled a radical new range of motorcycles that will change the course of the brand for years to come.

Aimed squarely at attracting a new, younger audience both to the brand and to motorcycling in general, their new range of middleweights and electric bikes will take the old bar and shield until totally new territories.

At the same time, they’re also modernising and improving their core Tourer and Cruiser offering with brand new electronics and improved connectivity, changing the way their dealers operate and even exploring direct to consumer online sales. Strap in folks, this is going to be a wild ride.

New middleweights

The Harley-Davidson Streetfighter 975

The most radical and surprising news is that Harley-Davidson are to launch a 16-strong range of middleweights spearheaded by the Pan America 1250 adventure bike. The range will also include a Streetfighter 975 and a Custom 1250 model, and is expected to include a Scrambler, Flat tracker and a faired sportsbike. All the new models will be delivered between 2020 and 2022.

The engine is modular and shared across the different models, ranging in size from 500cc to 1250cc. The running gear is also modular, as on the Softail models, so Harley will produce two or three frames, swingarms and front ends that can be combined to make different bikes. You can read more information about these bikes here: Pan America 1250 Unveiled and New Harley Streetfight and Custom unveiled

New electric models

The Harley-Davidson electric bike range

Just four years after Harley-Davidson unveiled the Livewire concept, they’ve staked their claim as the first major manufacturer to bring a finished road going production bike to the world.

As well as the finished production bike due out next year, there will also be an expanded range of lower powered bikes to act as a stepping-stone into the brand, including two middleweight bikes and two lightweight urban bikes akin to electric bicycles. You can read more about Harley’s impending electrification here: Harley Livewire unveiled

Changing retail environment

The Harley-Davidson LiveWire production bike

To further Harley’s acceleration into the modern world they’re also changing the face of their retail environment. Some of it is simple stuff (growing the existing dealer network and improve the customer experience), some of it is a little more experimental.

For a start, Harley will be opening smaller bricks and mortar retail outlets in shopping centres, which will sell clothing, accessories and maybe the new small electric bikes. Harley will also be improving H-D.com to help customers buy more easily and they will also be partnering with a third-party online retailer to sell direct to customers.

For now that will just be clothing and accessories, but we also imagine the smaller electric bikes will be available this way too.

Small capacity gains

As if 21 new bikes wasn’t enough, Harley also announced that they will be producing a range of lower capacity bikes, around 250cc, for emerging markets. These will launch in India to begin with, as they’ve teamed up with an Indian manufacturing partner, but they will spread to South America and Asia soon afterwards.

More advanced tourers and cruisers

Harley-Davidson also said they will continue innovating their Tourer and Cruiser model ranges to keep up with customer demands. Other than that, Harley were quite coy on the details suggesting a release might be imminent.

In fact looking at the bikes in the ‘More Roads to Harley Video’ it looks like there are two new big twin cruiser models imminent (a Buell-esque sporty model plus a Diavel-esque powered cruiser) plus improved connectivity in the form of full-colour TFT dashes. To read the full analysis of the video click here: Harley teasers new cruisers and tech for 2018

The Harley-Davidson Custom 1250