I usually just discount any cool-new-bike story that is illustrated with a rendering or obvious Photoshop job, but something about this bike made me ask Harley-Davidson’s media relations man, Paul James, if Fuel’s story was more than speculation.
James told me that the rendering was a mashup, based on an official Harley-Davidson illustration of a future EV. But, he pointed out that the underlying message of the Fuel story — that Harley plans to work with an Indian manufacturer to produce a 250cc model for the Indian market — is true.
He forwarded a deck The Motor Company presented to investors last summer — titled “More Roads to Harley-Davidson” — in which the company promised a small-displacement hog for the Indian market. As of now, James told me, the company still has not publicly identified a production partner, and certainly hasn’t shown off any prototypes.
Here in the U.S., when we think of bold strokes coming from Harley-Davidson, we’re preoccupied with the $30k Livewire EV. The U.S. market was certainly underwhelmed by the Street 500 & 750 models. But something about this rendering immediately made me think, “What a cool little bike! I’d ride that.” I hope that when a made-in-India 250cc hog breaks cover, it looks more like this than a single-cylinder Street 500.
After all these years of motorcycle journalists calling for Harley to offer a really neat small, entry-level motorcycle, at an affordable price, I suppose I need to be ready for them to do so… and limit it to emerging markets.
But what do you think? If Harley-Davidson could sell this bike at a price comparable to the Royal Enfield Himalayan ($4,500 in the U.S.) would it increase The Motor Company’s market share?
Of course, Royal Enfield leaps to mind as a possible partner for Harley-Davidson. They’re both legacy brands, and RE has a massive engineering and production capability; we’ve only seen the tip of RE’s new-model iceberg with impressive offerings like the new 650 twins.
But it won’t necessarily be a Milwaukee-Chennai alliance. When I researched my Bathroom Book of Motorcycle Trivia, Volume II, I researched three other huge motorcycle companies in India, that are still nearly unknown to American bikers. Any of them have the capability to make the motorcycle sketched above.
Check back in the next day or so, and I’ll reproduce the daily entries devoted to those companies.