When it comes to rumors about Harley-Davidson, everything is up for grabs. The Bar & Shield brand has done a complete about-face on its business paradigm, which means that no idea is too crazy for those in Milwaukee.
So, when we hear talk about a 250cc model from Harley-Davidson (supposedly an XR250 street tracker bike), we have to give it some credit, whereas before we might have dismissed it out hand for being crazy talk.
We know that Harley-Davidson is looking at electric models; we know that Harley-Davidson is looking at mainstream segments outside of the cruiser spectrum; and we know that Harley-Davidson will be looking at markets abroad for future growth.
What does this all mean? A 250cc model is almost the worst kept secret in Milwaukee.
Now, the real question will be the details. When will we see this bike? Will it be gas or electric (or a model of each)? Where will it be built? And, where will it be sold? That is harder to say.
Harley-Davidson has already shown off electric motorcycle concepts that could be made to be 250cc equivalent models, but it also makes sense for Harley-Davidson to look at competing with the other brands in the new rider space, with something that slots up well against the budget-focused 250cc and 300cc models that are already out there.
With an eye on price-points, such a machine would surely have to be made abroad, likely in India or Southeast Asia, of which Harley-Davidson already has a presence and business operations.
This makes it also very likely that a small-displacement bike would end up as a world model, with the Asian continent likely being its primary focus. While this is normal in the motorcycle industry, it is of note that it would be a first for Harley-Davidson – just one of many occurring at the American brand right now.
When could we see such a bike? The 2020 model year seems too early, we would guess 2021 at the soonest, though maybe later than that even. Harley-Davidson has been quick to telegraph its moves, mostly to ease the fears of investors, as the company’s sales continue to spin, drop, and sink into oblivion.
Harley-Davidson has to bridge the gap from its current business model to its next, and that means tough roads ahead for the brand. It is going to get worse for Harley-Davidson, before it gets better.
As for this rumor, well…we expect many more like it in the coming few years. Get ready for it, and a lot of them are likely to come true.