‘Retro-style’ Harley-Davidson teased as first model in Hero tie-up

An all-new mid-capacity roadster with a 'retro-style' is expected to be the first product of the Harley-Davidson - Hero MotoCorp relationship 


A new ‘retro-style’ Harley-Davidson badged motorcycle will be the product to emerge from the American firm’s tie-up with Indian giants Hero MotoCorp, it has been revealed.

The as-yet-unseen model is expected to be a roadster in the mid-range capacity and will be targeted towards Asian markets, but could make its way over to Europe to expand the firm’s range diversification.

The model was confirmed as part of a investor call, Indian website RushLane reports, with Hero CFO Niranjan Gupta revealing plans are well underway to utilise the tie up between two of motorcycling’s most significant brands.

Though Hero MotorCorp is little-known on European shores, it has a huge foothold in the Asian market and lays claim to being the biggest motorcycle manufacturer in the world in terms of sales, albeit with models at the lower end of the engine bands.

Its tie-in with Harley-Davidson came after the Milwaukee manufacturer took the surprise decision to cease distribution and production in India after only 11 years amid disappointing sales and large overheads. Instead, it signed a multi-faceted deal with Hero MotorCorp to handle distribution and sales of imported models, while utilisng its manufacturing capabilities to develop new more cost-effective models.

In return, Hero MotorCorp will work with Harley-Davidson to develop its own line of larger, more premium models to rival Bajaj, which has its own incoming range of models developed with Triumph.

What about the Harley-Davidson 338R

The news comes as things go eerily quiet on the Harley-Davidson 338R, a small capacity roadster built in conjunction with Chinese firm QJ Motors that shared its underpinnings with the Benelli 302R.

Though a seemingly finished version was spied back in 2019, the 338R slipped off the radar amid an overhaul of Harley-Davidson’s management structure. At the time new CEO Jochen Zeitz referenced taking the firm back to its core demographic of cruisers, suggesting the 338R perhaps wasn’t the right fit for the brand at the time.

However, there is little denying Harley-Davidson is missing out on a lucrative marketplace in Asia, where its larger models command premiums over locally-made models. It didn’t help that former US President Donald Trump - who touted Harley-Davidson as the quintessential American brand to be proud of when coming into office - launched an economic war of words with China, one that led prices to soar globally.

When Harley-Davidson was forced to respond by upping production in Thailand, the erstwhile President didn’t hold back in shaming the firm publicly in retaliation.

However, the new deal with Hero MotoCorp helps circumnavigate many of its issues by removing the overheads for its plants and entrusting production legwork with its partner, while creating new models that don’t dilute the brand badge engineering.