An all-new platform for the first time in 13 years and the lowest capacity engines ever are the highlight of the new Harley-Davidson Street 500 and Street 750. But the bigger news is that these motorcycles are designed for Asia and will be manufactured in India. Harley-Davidson is targeting young urban riders in developing markets like Southeast Asia with the two motorcycles, hoping to add substantially to its volumes.
A Harley-Davidson made-in-India for Asia opens up new market opportunities for the iconic brand, and the Harley-Davidson Street Street 500 and Street 750 mark a significant shift in approach.
The EICMA Milan motorcycle show witnessed the unveiling of these two eagerly awaited motorcycles which will also be exported to select markets in Europe like Italy, Spain and Portugal. As many as nine models are assembled at the Indian Harley-Davidson's manufacturing location, but this is the first time that Harley-Davidson will be manufacturing complete motorcycles outside the USA. The engines will be manufactured in India with a high local content to keep costs in check. This is a radical shift for Harley-Davidson since until now even though parts and components were sourced from around the world, engines have always been put together at its Kansas facility in the USA. Apart from being sold in Asia, the Indian-made Harley-Davidson Street will be exported to Europe and other Asian countries as well, but the Harley-Davidson Street sold in the USA will be Made-in-the-USA.
Both the Street 500 and Street 750 are part of Harley-Davidson's Dark Customs line-up and sport a matte black theme that Harley-Davidson says is a big hit among the youth. Both motorcycles look identical except for a few details like alloy wheels, and are low-slung, sporting a traditional cruiser design that has been enhanced keeping in mind the relatively shorter average height of riders in Asian markets along with a lower handlebar and more comfortable ergonomics.
Single caliper brakes will perform duty at both ends to keep production cost low. The Harley Street, also get thoughtful features like lockable fuel tank lids and forks and ignition locks keeping in mind the high theft rates in some developing countries.
The all-new 500cc and 750cc engines are a radical departure from Harley-Davidson's traditional 45-degree air-cooled V-twins as well. Dubbed the Revolution X, these are 60-degree V-twins with liquid-cooling and four-valve heads (two-inlet/two-outlet) and displace 494cc and 749cc. This isn't the first time Harley-Davidson has employed liquid-cooling though, with the H-D V-Rod family getting liquid-cooling engines apart from the recent Project Rushmore. The Harley Street 500 and the Street 650 both get 6-speed transmissions and use final belt drive like other Harley's.
The motorcycles are expected to sound as good as other Harley-Davidson' s with the signature V-twin rumble which is an inherent part of the Harley experience. Given the riding conditions in some countries in Asia both motorcycles sit higher – ground clearance and suspension travel both up by 50mm as compared to the Harley-Davidson Iron 883. The Harley Street 500 and Street 750 will both come equipped with specially developed Michelin tires – a 100/80 section tire performs duty p front along with a 140/75 tire at the rear on 17-inch alloy-wheels to improve riding in busy city traffic.
Both motorcycle will be launched in the end of 2014 in Thailand, and the final launch dates and prices are expected to be revealed at the upcoming Bangkok International Motorshow.