What does it mean to own and ride a Harley-Davidson motorcycle? Is it the style, the comfort or the heritage? Or is it that you are buying into the American motorcycling ideology?
Many H-D riders insist that the American motorcycle must be American made…but how true is that today as most if not all motorcycle manufacturers source components from around the globe. Sure, some motorcycles may be assembled in the country of origin but that does not ensure nationalistic credentials.
In times gone by you could be rest assured that Harley-Davidson riders would be riding an American made motorcycle! They would attest to the quality of manufacture and the origin receipts. However whilst many still believe that to be the case, the truth is anything but that.
Harley-Davidson have closed down factories and moved some production overseas. Some to Brazil, a short period in India but for the last few years it has been to Thailand. Sure, there is still an assembly plant in York P.A. for motorcycles destined for the North American market, but for the rest of the world…certainly the non Americas…most motorcycles are originating from the Thailand plant.
I bought my Harley Davidson in 2019 and it was once of the last few that was made for the European market that was built in the USA. If I wanted to buy a new Harley now, it would moist likely come from Thailand…but does that matter as long as the quality is the same?
Some riders have noticed a change in quality from those produced int he USA and those in Thailand. Some remark that they will not buy another H-D now that they are made outside of the USA. These bikes are made to circumnavigate trade tariffs contra American made products and for lower unit cost production too.
The real stumbling block here is that most view H-D as the American Icon! The company have been selling the American dream or rather their version of motorcycling to world for many years. Customers have become accustomed to that notion, so when the product they are buying is not American made…the facade begins to break down, it becomes translucent and fails to satisfy whimsical dreams of Americana.
Perhaps the reality is there is no difference at all! Or heaven forbid, the quality is even better? But the story to believe in isn’t there anymore and riders from outside of the USA have realised this now. It does not mean that this will affect sales, but rather it means that riders may still buy into the brand and the thought of owning a Harley-Davidson but without being burdened with buying into that slice of American pie that does not exist anymore.