An Indian owner of a Harley Davidson motorcycle takes part in a bike rally on the streets of Bangalore: AFP
An Indian owner of a Harley Davidson motorcycle takes part in a bike rally in Bangalore: AFP

US bike manufacturer Harley-Davidson, known for high-end motorcycles that enjoy cult status, is now planning to build small and mid-sized (250-500 cc) motorcycles to promote their brand to young buyers in emerging markets such as India and China.

To execute this plan the US bike maker wants to enter into a strategic alliance with a local manufacturer to develop and sell the new models, Mint reports.

Harley’s planned entry into the market for small and mid-capacity motorcycles is aimed at expanding its customer base and driving growth in India, one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing markets, as well as other Asian markets, the daily added.

Unlike in the US or Europe, the Indian motorcycle market is more commuter-driven, and less about performance or leisure. Motorcycles with engines between 100 and 125 cc account for the highest sales volume. Hero MotorCorp is the leading player in this segment.

Harley’s entry into the 250-500 cc segment in the Indian market would place it in direct competition with Royal Enfield, the current market leader. Royal Enfield’s Bullet models trace their ancestry back to the era of the British Raj, and have a legion of faithful followers.

The US bike maker may place its new models at a higher price point or may even offer an upgrade option to thousands of Royal Enfield owners, Economic Times reports. The company expects the 250-500cc motorcycle segment in India to grow at more than 25% annually through 2021, the daily added.

Other global motorcycle makers are also known to be eyeing the Indian market. Earlier this month, German auto giant BMW introduced two 313cc motorcycles, under a technology partnership with TVS Motor Co to develop sub-500cc bikes in India.

In 2017, British motorcycle maker Triumph Motorcycles and Indian two-wheeler company Bajaj Auto announced plans to work together in the manufacture of mid-capacity motorcycles.