Never would we have imagined immeasurable minds contemplating a greater rivalry than the American iconic brand and India’s favourite son…but it could become a reality and for all the reasons that you would not think of.
Royal Enfield have become the darling export from India to grace motorcycle fans in foreign markets. Whilst it is not the largest Indian manufacturer, it is the only one to have conquered some European markets and making sizeable dents in others too. However these are all small to medium displacement engined motorcycles for riders looking for retro cool and who would rather ignore performance in terms of willy waving horsepower and torque figures.
Harley-Davidson however sit at the other end of the motorcycling spectrum. For the fans of these bikes, the conversation is mostly about large numbers; Hp, Tq and £,$ or Shekels. The brand that is as much associated with American culture and open road riding as it is with a traditional leaning towards wholesome riding pleasures.
However as Royal Enfield start to produce larger displacement engined motorcycles and ones that are most capable for cruising and touring, then the gap gets narrower still. For those wishing to tighten their belts and look for cheaper modes of two wheeled fun and adventure, RE could mop up any potential exodus of riders from the Harley world.
However these are all ifs and buts! These two companies operate in different and contrasting landscapes. On their home turf there is little to threaten either of them but it is in the borderlands where territorial wins and losses may be most evident.
As Harley-Davidson in conjunction with QJ Motor of China embark on their collaboration for the X350 and X500 smaller engine bikes, this comes into direct competition for Royal Enfield with both brands being able to demonstrate similar performance figures but will they be comparable on price? You would imagine as the H-D motorcycles will be produced in China, then this would certainly be the case.
However, another dark cloud looming for Royal Enfield is the other H-D collaboration for the end of 2023 and into 2024. This now is with Hero Motocorp of India. Hero are the largest manufacturer in unit sales in India and have teamed up with H-D to produce small displacement engined motorcycles to be revealed at the end of 2023 and into 2024 and beyond.
Harley Davidson have thus far stated that these motorcycles are only for the Eastern markets and not for the West, however given the popularity of RE in Europe and even in the USA, then it would appear naive to ignore these as fruitful sales ground for the smaller bikes. Not everyone in the USA or Canada wants or can afford big powerful expensive motorcycles. Not everyone in Europe has the same open road, wide vistas American riding experience. Smaller bikes are much more conducive to European roads than larger ones.
Whilst Royal Enfield gain ground on the large Western manufacturers, they in turn ignore this challenge at their peril. As RE develop new bikes for 2023 and beyond with larger engines too, this challenges the wallets and appetites of riders from all walks of life and this could be their master stroke leaving everyone else scratching their heads in years to come.