Both Harley Davidson and Triumph motorcycle manufacturers have recently entered into a collaborative partnership with Indian motorcycle manufacturers to produce smaller displacement engine bikes predominantly for the largest bike market that is India.
Triumph with Bajaj and Harley Davidson with Hero Motocorp. Both are producing bikes in the 400cc range and both are aiming to attract premium prices and buyers to match.
Bajaj-Triumph are just about to officially reveal their first bikes which will be a scrambler and a roadster in London in just over a week, which have been seen riding in testing grounds in India. Harley Davidson are set to release their new X440 bike sometime from July, but make no mistake…these two manufacturers are going head to head to gain the prominent market share in this category.
It is not only the two ‘western’ manufacturers that are preparing for battle, as Bajaj and Hero are equally competitive in their domestic markets also, so it could get spicy right from the word go.
However Bajaj already appear to have prepared to win by announcing that they will be opening dealerships in 120 cities to push out the new bikes whereas Hero have not made such a claim.
Both companies already have a match on their hands trying to fend off BMW and KTM who also have existing manufacturing and bike sales in India in similar sized engine bikes however they are of a different style; rather mini adventure bikes than scrambler/flat trackers or roadsters.
The likely main competition for these bikes will be from the very well established and ever popular Royal Enfield with many of their bikes sporting the 350cc engine and with the company about to announce another batch of new models and new engines this year, the market could get very crowded for the British and American brands.
So who will win the battle for hearts and minds? Will Royal Enfield brush these tow upstarts aside or will these new bikes offer the Indian market something that it has yearned for? There is no doubt that there will be cheaper bikes on the market but for those with slightly deeper pockets and an enthusiasm to ride a British or American brand, then times could get exciting.
The only hurdle Harley Davidson will have to get over is that ongoing connection with British brands even though India has long since been independent. There is still a high regard for British engineering and the way things once were…well especially for the old guard Indians. The question is whether the new customer base will favour the Triumph or will want the Harley Davidson…even if it is in name only?