Two years ago I lamented on the fact that Harley-Davidson didn’t have a model under 800cc, which among other things, left the company at odds with its efforts to push into the emerging Indian motorcycle market.

Six-months after I wrote that piece, there seemed to be some hope for the Bar & Shield brand, as rumors began to circulate about a 500cc class motorcycle that was being designed with emerging countries in mind. It would seem now, those rumors were true.

Confirming that Harley-Davidson would soon debut a 500cc class motorcycle for the Indian market, Harley-Davidson Motor Company Chief Operating Officer Matthew Levatich revealed last weekend that the Milwaukee-based company had a 500cc model in an advanced stage of development.

Hinting strongly that the machine would be built in India, and be aimed specifically at that market, Levatich also hedged his bets on the possibility of the model arriving on US soil.

Taking into account the expected reaction from loyal “Made in America” Harley-Davidson fans, Levatich and the rest of the company’s Board of Directors are surely pitching different variations of the “Designed in America” tagline that companies like Apple have used to denote American design while using low-cost labor in China or elsewhere.

Marketing issues aside, the machine is quoted to be very Harley in its design and function. According to Levatich, the 500cc Harley-Davidson sits low to the ground, is lightweight, and has a good throttle response and braking feel. Insert a “that’s not a Harley” joke here.

Reading between the lines of the Levatich’s comments though, a true 2014 launch window may be a tough goal, but the important news here is that Harley-Davidson is realizing that if it wants to play in markets outside of North America and Europe, it needs to bring out smaller displacement machines — after all, in India, China, and South America, 500cc is considered huge.

With the market opportunities available abroad, one could forgive Harley-Davidson for choosing to side-step the marketing and branding issues it would have by bringing a “Made in India” machine to the US market; however, a 500cc motorcycle could do wonders for the company’s ability to get new, young, and possibly female riders on a Harley-Davidson.

As if all this news wasn’t enough already, Levatich left the door open to a future where Harley-Davidson produces an electric motorcycle (something again that we reported on two years ago).

“I am sometimes asked whether there will be an electric Harley. People would say, hell no. But why not? Our engineers are quite intrigued with the idea of what an electric Harley would look like, sound like and feel like. And would it be visceral, would it be emotional, would it be luscious. There’s a way to do that, I believe. And it would be very exciting.”

Source: Gizmag, Motorcycle.com, & Cyril Huze Blog

  • This is great news for the ears!!! A 500 cc Harley Davidson would prove to be a magnet for all the cruiser starved of India!

    That being said, it would be crucial to ascertain this 500 cc would power a soft-tail or a 48 style motorbike.
    Looking forward to the 12th Auto Expo in India #2014.

  • JW

    A made in India American Legend. Will this improve the brands loyalty in the USA?

  • dream bikes

    I think they are going to reissue the single-cylinder Buell Blast only for the Indian market, but now with the Harley-Davidson name on the sides of the tank …

  • Kenny

    What are the odds it’ll be a jap micro-cruiser clone?

  • buellracerx

    Perhaps changing he statement slightly to read “feels lightweight” would be more accurate. Otherwise yes, current Harleys do sit low to the ground for rider comfort, feature excellent fuelling at a wide range of throttle openings for increased ridability, and linear brake feel. Not all bikes are built for the same purpose.

  • JohnEE

    Water models this century, so we can expect an electric bike by the 22nd century?

  • TonyC

    A small displacement engine or even an electric version without the straight pipes? There would be no more reason to buy a Harley if a wimpy or a silent bike are all you get in the end.

  • irksome

    “An American-Indian legend”?

  • JoeD

    They already make a wimpy bike-the 1200 sportster. In a class all of their own at racetracks near you. A 1200 V twin should be on par with the 1000 fours. WSBK made that case.

  • dan

    well, at least an electric Harley couldn’t leak oil.

    maybe they will get a speaker to play the potato sound for the die hards…..

  • Emptybee

    Rumor is H-D is going to the landfill where all those crushed Buell Blasts are buried and will use Indian workers to uncrinkle them.

  • 2ndclass

    This will be most likely coming to Australia as a learner model: http://www.bikesales.com.au/news/2013/harley-davidson-to-launch-a-lams-bike-38506

  • paulus – Thailand

    What could be more American?
    “Cowboys and Indians”

  • ADG

    bamboo push-rods and coconut oil lubrication……..sounds sexy when you think about it.

  • ADG

    The only thing H-D ever got right was marketing their shit product and merchandise to the ignorant masses.

  • Cracker


  • The problem is,e even at Rs. 4 lakhs, it’s more than twice as much as the Thunderbird 500, Royal Enfield’s top spec model.

  • smiler

    500cc harley with canvas bags foil instead of chrome, bicycle tires.
    And electric as well. Local power station required.


    Harley seem to be loosing their way. Having nearly drowned MV and killed Buell they are now looking to make under powered bikes.

  • Rico Bustamente

    Again… I rest my case. The anti-Harley crowd can’t resist. I hope all you people went out & purchased new Suzuki’s, MV’s & EBR’s… you know…. cause those businesses operate so well & “deserve” (because they make bikes you like) your support… unlike Harley…. but NONE of you did support them, did you….. didn’t think so.

    But damn…..are you guys loud & obnoxious… just like the exhaust on an open piped Harley.

  • Damo

    I am not a huge Harley fan, but even I admit this is a step in the right direction.

    Brand expansion should be a nice shot in the arm for them, glad to see they are finally trying new things.

  • Jimbo

    I eagerly anticipate when the new Polaris owned Indian motorcycle company releases an Indian Indian!

  • emptybee

    “Rico Bustamente says:
    September 4, 2013 at 3:13 AM

    Again… I rest my case. The anti-Harley crowd can’t resist. I hope all you people went out & purchased new Suzuki’s, MV’s & EBR’s… you know…. cause those businesses operate so well & “deserve” (because they make bikes you like) your support… unlike Harley…. but NONE of you did support them, did you….. didn’t think so.”

    I wish all the best for H-D and want them to succeed. Lord knows there are plenty of Milwaukee’s thundering finest clogging up the highways where I live. However, they don’t make anything I want to buy. I was going to give the Buell Ulysses a try, but then The Motor Company went and killed Buell, so I bought another BMW GS.

  • Moped

    Don’t count China as a motorcycle market, watch this video below:

    China, How it is – Why Motorbikes are Banned in Cities