Harley's Street 500 knocks Honda off sales top spot in Australia

Will bargain-priced Street 750 have the same effect in the UK?

IT’S never a surprise to hear that Harley-Davidson is the best-selling road-going motorcycle brand in America but after the first six months of 2015 the firm has taken the top spot halfway around the world in Australia as well.

In terms of road-going bikes, Harley’s 4,566 sales in Australia between January and June 2015, up from 3,985 the year before, was enough to easily eclipse Honda (on 3,980 sales). That’s something that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago. The figures give Harley a 21.1% share of the overall road bike market, beating Honda into second with 18.4%.

The growth in H-D sales was largely down to the introduction of the Street 500, not available last year. An impressive 745 of them were sold in the first six months of 2015. That’s enough to outstrip the Yamaha MT-07 in the Australian market (701 sales), as well as easily outselling machines like the Honda CBR500R (564 sales).

While we don’t get the Harley Street 500 that’s so successful in Australia, the firm’s near-identical, but slightly larger-capacity Street 750  is going on sale here soon at a tempting £5,795, so in a few months we might be reporting impressive improvements in the company’s UK sales as well.

Perhaps surprisingly, the Street 500 still isn’t Australia’s best-selling Harley. That prize goes to the far more expensive Softail Breakout; 765 of them were sold in Australia in the first half of the year, up from 596 in the same part of 2014. Only Honda’s CT110X (1123 sales) and Kawasaki’s Ninja 300 (1096 sales) sold in greater numbers.

And what of the BMW R1200GS, which so dominates the European sales charts? In Australia, where you might think its rugged touring abilities would shine, only 213 examples were sold in the first half of the year. That means it’s beaten by not only the Harley Street 500 and Breakout but also the Night Rod Special (320 sales), the Street Bob (318 sales) and the Iron 883 (217 sales).

Honda might have lost its lead to Harley in the road bike market, but overall sales in Australia are still biased towards off-road, where the Japanese firm leads with a 28.9% share of the off-road market. Overall, combining road and off-road sales, Honda achieves 24.6% of all sales, followed by Yamaha, Kawasaki and Suzuki before Harley – with no off-road machines to offer – appears in fifth place at 8.9%.

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