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Old 24th February 2013, 12:23   #1
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Default A Guide to Owning a Harley-Davidson in India

Harley-Davison is on a roll in India.

The Motor Company would never have imagined such a quick ramp up of their innings in India, one which could end up as their biggest market outside the US! They have swelling order books, have a fairly well-oiled CKD operation and some pretty cool bikes to sell.

This also means the exclusivity associated with "owning" a Harley wont be a bonus for long. So why should one choose a Harley? Is it the bike or the lifestyle? Lets analyse...


There are two important reasons why one would buy a Harley; the bike and the community.

The bikes...well they are unique - well built, has descent thump; and the noise they make is pure heavy metal. And there's one for everyone; all of them have character - in spades.

Let's start with the typical customer, he probably just realized that he was a biker before a family grew around him and finds himself lusting for a big motorcycle. What are his options? Jap pocket rockets? Maybe not! They are way too powerful and scary for his age. Kawasaki Ninja 650? Hyuosung? or a Harley? Here comes the difference, HD has jumped head first into the India market, invested in an assembling operation - their first outside the US, have a nice line up of dealerships and service crew. Just the kind of set-up a bike hungry country like India was dying for.

A vist to the HD dealership revales the real choices this "born again" biker has:

There is a fairly long SPORTSTER line up that range from INR 6 to 10 L OTR and can be summarised thus:

1. Superlow : Newest of the sportsters. Low-pro Radial tyres ( only the Nightrod has them in the rest of the range), comfy suspension, loads of chrome.
2. Iron : Harley's cheapest "Dark Custom". Completely backed out bad boy. Better GC, but harsher ride. Old school narrow bias-ply tyres
3. Roadster : CBU, Lovely HD racing colours, good GC. Best of the 883 models.
4. 48 : The best looking harley period. Sledgehammer of a 1200cc Vtwin. Agressive riding position, fat front tyre and wide forks. Its a custom bobber right from the factory.

Then there are the Dyna models, INR 12 to 16L OTR that start the "Big Twin" range. All of them have the 1584cc big twin engine and ABS. There are 3 flavors sold here:

1. Streetbob - A bobber with apes, blacked out, wire wheels
2. Superglide - Chrome, twin seat, wirewheels
3. Fatbob - Powercruiser looks, dragbars, fat wheels and tyres.

Then comes the Softails. Mighty 103 cu.in engine, classic chopper looks ( read hardtail). Comes in 2 variants from 23L OTR.

1. Heritage classic - Santa Claus bike ( windshield, acres of chrome, whitewalls and wire wheels, leather bags, the works..)
2. The Fat boy - The one the world lusts after. It's not just the looks, its is so well balanced, you will be truly astonished after your first ride. You can really pull off some crazy maneuvers with this one. Highly recommended. Handles so well, brakes well, sits really low.

They also have the V-rod and touring families. Nightrod is the only liquid cooled bike in HD V-Rod range, its almost a full-on drag bike ans costs 25 L OTR. The touring bikes are another story, very comfy continent cruisers. Models stretch from 28L to 42 L OTR and the versions available are RoadKing, StreetGlide and Electra Glide - each has a distinct feel, the King has a mother of headlight, hard saddle bags and acres of chrome. The Street glide has the very cool batwing fairing and stereo too. The Electraglide is the full monty - think car like seats, heating, stereo - the works; its the QE of the road.

Well....All of the above applies only to the bikes that are less that a few weeks old. Think of this : Harley has sold close to 3000 bikes in India - You would be hard pressed to find a pair of identical bikes on the road. Now Think of this - You would be hard pressed to find an identical pair among the millions of Harleys in the whole wide planet! Thats the true identity of a Harley - each one is Unique! You may ask why?

Well...there are several reasons why the motor company got it right!

1. Millions of aftermarket accessories - from the Company and thousands of others!

2. Many distinct schools of thought in customising Harleys - Choppers, Bobbers, Cafes, street, Bagger, trails, ratrods etc.

3. Stock bikes lend themselves well to customisation. For eg, the read fenders have all of the clamping bits towards the front of it, so the rear can be bobbed anyway u like! Lifting any Harley tank is as easy as inserting a riser to the stock mount points! No cuts or creases in the body work - mostly smoothed out bodywork comprising of basic shapes, the basic form is so right! Even the engine can be customised quite easily, there are derby and timing covers that can make ur engine look custom in 5 minutes!

4. The HOG community - Its a whole long story!

Before we move on to the wonder community called HOG, let me tell you about my ride!

Its been 15 months since, has done some 21000 kms and is barely recognisable as a SuperLow. The ownership experience has been very good so far.

Harley bikes come with a warranty for 2 years. Harley periodic service schedule is @ 1600 kms, 8000 kms and every 8000 afterwards. The general cost of a service is around 4.5K including all oils and service charges. Harley service charges are standard @ INR 1000 per hour. I'm quite lucky in that the local dealer has one of the best Harley technicians in the country and the dealer is also quite friendly and helpful.


The only problem that i have had is a leaky oil tank, which will be fixed in warranty - but has been due for more than 3 months now. Reason - part arrival from US takes time. Other than this one niggle, things are really worry free. Every Harley owner has an incentive to drive safe - a crash can mean your bike is out of action for months at a time!


What are the common mods done in India?

Lets start with the necessary mod - it's called paying the Harley Tax! Every Harley needs uncorking to make it sound and feel right, you could just change the exhaust slip-ons or do the full stage-1. Stage 1 is essentially free-flow intake and exhaust and an ECU tweak- either a remap of the existing ECU or addition of a piggy back ECU. The options for the latter are fuelpaks & power commanders at the lower end or auto tune systems at the high end. Stage1 or a part of it will make the bike roar, have a more distinct idle rumble and give some more top-end power. Mileage is generally not reduced, but you tend to wriggle at the throttle to hear the lovely roar, which may reduce the kmpl figure.

You could then choose from a variety of handle bars, sissy bars, header covers, belt covers, twist grips, foot pegs, forward controls,seats, head & tail lamps etc; a zillion options from the HD dealer to get a custom look. Mind you there are a zillion other aftermarket options also available.

Then you can go for matching paint, detailed airbrusing, scallops, flames, skulls. Skys' the limit!

Engine upgrade is also not difficult! High-lift cams, better heads, or Bolt-on kits for 883/1200 to 1250 cc is available, can be done in under a day.
Then you could go radical, Wide rear tyre conversion (with or without chain drive conversion) , springer front ends, hard tails, engine upgrade, right upto a full custom like in the pic below!

A Guide to Owning a Harley-Davidson in India-1img_7416.jpg

These are the pics of a sportser based custom, it has 110 Cu.in carbureted motor with twin plugs, and complete custom parts crammed into a sportster chassis. This is an example of the extreme level of customisation a Harley can go through!

A Guide to Owning a Harley-Davidson in India-1img_7402.jpg

Now what did I do to my bike? What i had in mind was a budget chopper. Ape Hangers, custom paint, raked looks and some shiny bits - thats as far as looks go! In terms of function, I wanted better GC, improved performance and a louud note. Below is the status update!

1. Stage 1 Performance mod : Screamin Eagle Heavy Breather intake, Vance & Hines twin-slash slip-on exhausts ( open baffles) & Fuelpak Fuel management system.
2. Custom airbrushed fuel tank, Custom painted fenders
3. 19" front wheels with a dirt style front tyre & 160 rear tyre.
4. 12' narrow ape-hangers, highway pegs, Chopper headlight & chopper sissy bar
5.Side-mount license plates, screw in fuel tank cap & Smoked indicators

These mods have changed the character of the bike completely. The apes are a dream, i have done some really long rides with them, rounds trips from Hyderbad to Cochin, Puri and Goa and have never been more comfortable on the bike. My riding mates tell me they look quintessential chopper, i wouldn't disagree. The combination of heavy breather, open Vance&Hines pipes and fuelpak is pure magic. The fueling is perfect, the noise is amazing and is very torquey. I guess its as good as an 883 can get. The 19" front wheels from an Iron 883 have given the superlow a whole new chopperesque look and raised the GC by 20 or so mm. This along with a 10mm fatter, same profile tyre has converted to the hump-fearing superlow to a street bike. Unless the humps are truly sharp and mean, this once can jump over with ease.

Pics below show the various stages of mods - Pity! I don't have the latest ones.

A Guide to Owning a Harley-Davidson in India-1img_3768001.jpg
A Guide to Owning a Harley-Davidson in India-1img_7296002.jpg

Can you spot the 1 Rupee mod?

A Guide to Owning a Harley-Davidson in India-1img_7297002.jpg
A Guide to Owning a Harley-Davidson in India-523399_4806142951263_1426105285_n.jpg
A Guide to Owning a Harley-Davidson in India-1img_7168003.jpg

The pic blow has the latest avatar, with the 19 inch wheels and chopper headlight! As always long rides ( this one was the one to Goa for the National HOG ride) require safety gear like full face helmets, armoured jackets, knee pads and riding boots!

A Guide to Owning a Harley-Davidson in India-404422_599373353413540_704397083_n001.jpg



Now about the all important HOG community. This is what makes owning a Harley really special. Without the community called HOG, Harley would be just another bike.

For those who just landed from Mars, HOG is the largest motorcycle club on this planet, boasting of million plus active members and a 30 year heritage. HOG is a story of passion for the bikes and love of the road. After a group of die-hard Harley employees led by WillieG bought the brand back from 12 years of lousy AMF ownership, they were at their wit's end to understand what a Harley truly meant to its owner. Willie G and others soon started riding with the local groups on weekends, hearing it all from the horse's mouth. They soon realised that the owner's community is where the action is and soon created the mother of all motorcycle clubs - Harley Owner's Group a.k.a HOG. Every HOG Chapter is under the authority of a sponsoring dealer, membership being free for the 1st year of ownership and a small fee every year after. Every Chapter has a few HOG officers from among the members, who organise rides, events, corporate deals and charity initiatives.

HOG has been a huge success in India so far, there are 10 chapters with more than 3000 members. Our local chapter organises rides every sunday, which is usually a breakfast ride and can be around 200 kms in total. Safety is the top note of any HOG ride, riders are encouraged to wear safety gear and ride in formation and within speed limits.



Then there are the jackets and the patches. The Harley experience is never complete wthout your jacket that says what you've been upto.

Every HOG wears a jacket/vest that shows his club colours, the kilometers covered and the mega events attended. My Jacket below has all types of the said patches!

A Guide to Owning a Harley-Davidson in India-1img_9062001.jpg

A Guide to Owning a Harley-Davidson in India-1img_9064001.jpg

This exclusive jacket shown below is a one-off piece created by HD to commemorate its 110th anniversary celebrations. I was lucky enough to be one of only eight HOGs in India to wear the jacket - just by the virtue of the highest odo reading in our chapter!

A Guide to Owning a Harley-Davidson in India-freedomjacket.jpg

Every Major event conducted by HOG is commemorated by a patch that can adorn a participant's jacket.

The bare minimum big-bang events in the yearly calendar can be summed thus:

1. National HOG Ride - Once a year. The mega event of the year, will be in conjunction with a bigger bike event. This year it was held in Goa in Jan along with the first India Bike Week. Some 600 Harleys turned up in Goa for 4 days of mayhem.
2. Zonal Rides - 4 a year in each of the zones, Northern, Western, Eastern and Southern. Riders from the respective zones turn up in hunderds for this yearly event, guests from other zones also particpate. This is generally a 2 day event and is lots of fun.
3. Signature rides - One per chapter. Each chapter hosts a signature ride for chapter members, generally an overnight-er. Lots of fun!
4. Biker Nights - Twice a year event - An evening ride to the local watering hole.

In addition, each hog chapter organises rides on weekends. HOG members also catch up for evening rides on weekdays. So, what HOG actually gives you is an opportunity to use your machine all year round - See various parts of the country by participating in Zonal rides, grow your network of friends across the country and be a part of the great brotherhood of Bikers. There really is no excuse for keeping your Harley in the shed! Please don't buy a Harley to brag - That's passe!

Live 2 Ride, Ride 2 Live.

A Guide to Owning a Harley-Davidson in India-551608_10151399854893688_25469065_n.jpg

Last edited by josepeter : 24th February 2013 at 13:44.
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Old 24th February 2013, 15:04   #2
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Default Re: The Guide to Harley Ownership - India

Thread moved to the Motorbikes section. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 24th February 2013, 16:21   #3
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Default Re: The Guide to Harley Ownership - India

Lovely write up and loads of interesting information. The HOGs at one time were considered notorious in the US if I am not wrong. Any idea of what brought that up and has it changed?
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Old 24th February 2013, 19:57   #4
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Awesome stuff, Josepeter.

21k kms in about 15 months is jaw-dropping stat. Why, my car hasn't done that in an year.

Ps: Loved the last pic.
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Old 24th February 2013, 20:38   #5
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Damn right Neel!

Motorcyclists were considered notorious at one point in time; and still is a reality with MCs like the Hells Angels, Pagans, Outlaws and such. And TV shows like Sons of Anarchy keep the pot boiling. Motorcycles have a certain tinge of danger that never fails to fascinate the mind! Of course, the only similarity these clubs have with HOG are the motorcycles.

It all started with a picture published in a magazine in 1947 in a report about outlaw bikers at the Hollister rally that year, which ironically was a staged one. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollister_riot ) After Hollywood released a few movies on the same dangerous biker theme, things snowballed into a public resentment against bikers. An extract from Willie G's book goes thus " The Hollister event and the rising visibility of outlaw riders were either horrendous or magnetically attractive, depending on your point of view. I'm convinced that there is a little outlaw in all of us. And back then, as now, a lot of people wanted to break away from the norm from time to time. Well, for those people riding a Harley-Davidson was (and still is) a means to do that".

There is no such thing as bad publicity....

But HOG groups always were enthusiast' clubs where the order of the day is riding, harmless fun with a bit of social work thrown in. Many of our riders come with their better halfs and juniors, giving the whole experience an air of social acceptance. HOG is a large family united in the passion for the bikes and the love of the road.
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Old 24th February 2013, 20:39   #6
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Awesome stuff, I have been a BULLET Owner for years and can relate to some of the stuff you say, but then HARLEY DAVIDSON, that's the holy grail of motorcycling. If you ask me, the migration from BULLET to HARLEY has already started happening, so many in my group are dropping off and plonking themselves on HARLEYS

Guess we were born at the right time, sell the BULLET off while it is commanding a premium and put that down as down-payment for a HARLEY, no I'm not doing that just yet a few more years on the BULLET and then who knows!
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Old 25th February 2013, 11:15   #7
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Default re: A Guide to Owning a Harley-Davidson in India

Awesome writeup jose.
India i believe is just gettin started with harleys. Do not be surprised if we get close to total harley sale in US in coming decade .
I am quite sure , my own indian brothers will outnumber outlaws in US aswell.
In india people start getting into that Outlaw/bad*** sort of mood, even on a bullet and apache/pulsar(Including me). Chain snatching/drugs,road rage. I can see it coming.
Do i want it that way??
Good question.
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Old 25th February 2013, 11:24   #8
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Default re: A Guide to Owning a Harley-Davidson in India

Thanks for such a informative article. HD have a different status of their own.
What is that dial looking thing in the fifth pic? Is the speedometer located at that position?
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Old 25th February 2013, 20:22   #9
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Brillaint Write up Jose Peter!

I have been a bike lover since childhood! The first bike that i rode was my Dad's Bullet. My First Bike was a RD350( which I still have) gifted to me by my Mom. First Bike I bought from my salary was a Bullet Thunderbird. So I can see the 'Cult' that these Bikes have.
I've been longing to own the beast myself for quite some time now! The problem is that I have my eyes on the Fat Boy, which as of now is little bit out of budget! Just hoping that HD starts selling the Fat Boys also as CKD's in India. Maybe that will bring the prices down by 4-5 lacs, I guess!

As some on said " You cant buy happiness, but you can buy a Harley Davidson. And that's kind of the same thing"....

Snap1: Me on my Uncle's(Delhi Chapter) Road King
Snap2: Road King and MY RD350

PS:Let me know if some one form your chapter wants to sell his Fat Boy!
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Old 26th February 2013, 00:54   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by augustus23 View Post
Brillaint Write up Jose Peter!

The problem is that I have my eyes on the Fat Boy, which as of now is little bit out of budget! Just hoping that HD starts selling the Fat Boys also as CKD's in India. Maybe that will bring the prices down by 4-5 lacs, I guess!

As some on said " You cant buy happiness, but you can buy a Harley Davidson. And that's kind of the same thing"....


PS:Let me know if some one form your chapter wants to sell his Fat Boy!
Thanks Mate!

About the Fatboy! We are all in the same boat mate! Yet to see a biker not lusting after one...and don't really know why anyone would sell one; unless they are leaving the country or similar!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dodge_Viper View Post
Thanks for such a informative article. HD have a different status of their own.
What is that dial looking thing in the fifth pic? Is the speedometer located at that position?
Thats a speedo relocation mod!

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheARUN View Post
Awesome stuff, I have been a BULLET Owner for years and can relate to some of the stuff you say, but then HARLEY DAVIDSON, that's the holy grail of motorcycling. If you ask me, the migration from BULLET to HARLEY has already started happening, so many in my group are dropping off and plonking themselves on HARLEYS

Guess we were born at the right time, sell the BULLET off while it is commanding a premium and put that down as down-payment for a HARLEY, no I'm not doing that just yet a few more years on the BULLET and then who knows!
Same boat again...I used to have a lovely Bullet cafe racer with EGLI stickers on it ( not the real deal ).

Quote:
Originally Posted by dustom_99 View Post
Awesome writeup jose.
India i believe is just gettin started with harleys. Do not be surprised if we get close to total harley sale in US in coming decade .
I am quite sure , my own indian brothers will outnumber outlaws in US aswell.
In india people start getting into that Outlaw/bad*** sort of mood, even on a bullet and apache/pulsar(Including me). Chain snatching/drugs,road rage. I can see it coming.
Do i want it that way??
Good question.
I don't see that outlaw thing ever happening in India, atleast never with Harleys! The outlaw would be better off on the Pulsars and FZs, not an eye-popping hunk of metal screaming its guts out!
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Old 26th February 2013, 01:39   #11
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I love my super glide..one correction to the post though, the Fat Bob has a 103 CI engine and not the 96. I missed buying this by a few weeks!
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Old 26th February 2013, 08:40   #12
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Default Re: A Guide to Owning a Harley-Davidson in India

May be good news for people looking to buy a higher end Harley Davidson!

Harley Davidson Slashes Price of Softail Range in India by 5.5 Lakhs; Eyes Market Expansion

http://www.ibtimes.co.in/articles/43...cles-india.htm

Last edited by Viju : 26th February 2013 at 08:42.
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Old 26th February 2013, 14:47   #13
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Default Re: A Guide to Owning a Harley-Davidson in India

A very good write up on the perceived ownership values that you get along with the HOG. You have put across all the positives in very good light.

Did not understand the One Rupee Mod, can you please explain what it is.
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Old 26th February 2013, 15:37   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ku69rd View Post
A very good write up on the perceived ownership values that you get along with the HOG. You have put across all the positives in very good light.

Did not understand the One Rupee Mod, can you please explain what it is.
Hahaha. That indeed is very clever. Check out the bar ends in this pic.

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/attach...mg_7296002.jpg
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Old 27th February 2013, 00:12   #15
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Default Re: A Guide to Owning a Harley-Davidson in India

Love this thread. Thank you josepeter.
As with your Safari & Bolero mods, you have shown really good taste.
I really liked the pictures here.

It would be nice to see more pictures detailing the mods. If they have already been put up on a different thread, please send me the link.
It's been a dream to own & mod a Harley some day..

The info on the HOG chapters in India, with the growing HD sales here was well put.
Look forward to more

Cheers & ride safe,
Sam
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