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Harley-Davidson IndYEAH!!!

Insider Exclusive Report from Bikernet India Correspondent

Text and Photos by Ujjwal Dey

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Harley-Davidson fans in India include people across the demography of this vibrant diverse country. Erstwhile, these big bad-boys of Motorcycle Kingdom were exclusive to the elite and rich who could pay the ridiculously exorbitant import duty to get the Harleys into India, mostly through Asian dealerships in Dubai (UAE), Hong-Kong, Thailand, Indonesia and Japan. Now, this symbol of freedom and liberty is here to stay – in the land of the largest democracy – INDIA!

This was not easy for the Harley-Davidson, USA to do. The Japanese bikes came into India more easily through local partnerships with Indian companies and since they were ready to start manufacturing the bikes in Indian factories to make various low-end models and superbikes accessible to the common man. But the ultra USP of a Harley-Davidson, the passion for all things American, the incredible attention to detail – that comes only from the promised, guaranteed and timeless quality tag of “Made In America."

So the main obstacle was to make these high-end bikes accessible to more people in India at affordable rates. Enter – Mangoes! Yes, Indian mangoes, the King of fruits helped bring in the King of Motorcycles. The US and Indian Governments cut a unique deal. India gets to export its unique tropical delicacy, the mango, to USA and the Americans get to send in Harley-Davidsons to Indian market. I say, well done to both parties. Mangoes are made perfectly ripe in Indian climate and soil, hence unique to India – and Harley-Davidsons are exclusively made in USA and thus a prized unique product for export.

Harley-Davidson India started operations in India in the second half of 2010. They brought in their best known, successful bikes, and made sure the pricing and marketing was just right for making their presence felt in the market. This was a limited lineup, tailor-made for Indian market. So, though you cannot get the choice of the entire range in Harley-Davidson USA lineup, you get the best ones at a competitive price.

Motorcycles in India:
To understand why Harley-Davidson entry is a giant leap in Indian two-wheeler market, you need to understand the market here for two-wheelers. Almost every adult who learns to drive, starts by learning to ride a two-wheeler, i.e. a motorcycle or a scooter. Among teenagers and college students, the popularity of motorcycles is unmatched comparing it to the West. Every boy wants a motorcycle, and of course it is more intimate to have a gal hanging on to you in the pillion seat than driving a car which a college-dude here can’t afford anyways. Scooters and gearless scooterettes are popular among females, both young and the adult employed ones.

Public transport such as local trains and buses and taxis are the most common mode of travel for a majority of people in India. But those who wish to have a transport of their own for convenience and flexibility, they buy a two-wheeler. So, it is very common to see motorcycles on the streets of cities, villages and every highway in India. After all, it is an all-terrain vehicle and with the roads like those we have in India (tar, dirt, rubble, gravel, potholes, strange speedbumps, etc.) you would choose a motorcycle willingly for daily transportation needs.

But these two-wheelers are nothing like the ones you see in the West. They are 50cc to 100cc engine bikes mostly. In cities the boys will go in for 150cc or 180c or 220cc motorcycles. So, of course, these are cheap and affordable with prices starting from Indian Rupees (INR) 30,000($606.30) to INR 80,000 ($1,619.74).

In this market Royal Enfield established itself as a premium segment motorcycle with prices for their 350cc and 500cc engine motorcycles starting at INR 110,000 ($2,227.95) to INR 165,000 ($3,342.19).

Now imagine the entry of Harley-Davidson at a base model of 883cc with base model price of INR 649,000 ($13,121.23).

Stealing the crown:
So the main competitor for Harley-Davidson India is not the big superbikes from Japan, but the homegrown behemoth – Royal Enfield motorcycles. Both have a rich history and both have die-hard fans with burning passion for their favorite brand. Royal Enfield dates its first motorcycle to 1901 in England. Now the company exists only in India and is successful at exporting unique models to Europe, USA, and Australia. Their new engines and upgrades have raised the prices of these premium bikes but their best bikes still cost a fraction of the Harley-Davidson base model. Tough going in a developing nation, if you want to go by sheer numbers.

So how will Harley-Davidson position itself in such a market? I will tell you how – BY DOING NOTHING! They don’t need to. The brand sells itself. It is that big worldwide. No need for expensive TV campaigns or movie-tie-ins. Ask anyone what a Harley-Davidson is and they know what you are talking about. Such is the penetration of this American brand even in Asia.

In India, Harley-Davidson is lead by the able leadership of Mr. Anoop Prakash (Managing Director, India) reporting to Matt Levatich (President and COO, USA). Anoop Prakash previously served as Senior Executive Service appointee in the administration of former President George W. Bush. He served as Deputy Chief of Staff at the US Department of Housing & Urban Development. He has worked as Associate Administrator for Entrepreneurial Development at the US Small Business Administration. Anoop Prakash has actively participated in US-India trade promotion as a vehicle for US and India economic development and growth.

Previously he held senior private sector roles in strategy, marketing and business development including Vice-President of Strategy & Business Development at LexisNexis, Director of Business Development at Siebel Systems (acquired by Oracle Corp.) and Consultant at McKinsey & Co.

Anoop Prakash is a former U.S. Marine Corps Officer with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Economics and Public Policy from Stanford University. He has an MBA from Harvard Business School. He has served on several non-profit boards in Washington D.C. including the Indian-American Leadership Initiative and Brainfood.

Seven Islands Harley-Davidson, Mumbai, India:
Launching operations in August 2010, Seven Islands Harley Davidson is the only authorized dealership in Mumbai catering to the Western region (States of Maharashtra, Goa, Madhya Pradesh and other bordering States). It was named after the Seven Islands that formed the ancient city of Bombay (now known as Mumbai). As in any business, location is everything. Mumbai city is the financial capital of India. Its residents pay the highest amount of taxes annually. The wealth and real estate is comparable to Manhattan, New York.

Situated bang opposite the Company Showroom of Royal Enfield, the Showroom of Seven Islands Harley-Davidson stands taller and wider with a vast regal personality. By this location alone they have announced their arrival loud and clear. This is in the prime and hip area of Mumbai known as Bandra. Here the wealthiest and most popular drive around in their Jaguars, BMWs, Mercedes and Ferraris. This area is the crest of the upper-class. If you want to spot a celebrity, any of the pubs and hotels here will give you a direct glimpse into the world of glamour and stardom.

Here stands the majestic Seven Islands Harley- Davidson showroom with a spacious ground floor full of their India range of motorcycles. The first floor is even more popular as it hosts a wide range of merchandise which is craved by tiny tot,s to the youth, to those seniors who can afford the top range motorcycle models.

Mumbai’s Seven Islands Harley-Davidson is lead by self-confessed ‘petro-head’, Mr. Arjun Bafna. A keen motor enthusiast, Arjun’s definition of unwinding after a long day is riding his Ultra Classic Electra Glide. Having a passion for automobiles since his younger days, Arjun further indulged in cars and bikes when he moved to Boston where he completed his B.Sc in Marketing and Management from Bentley University. The rigorous and demanding studies could not stop Arjun from traveling to Canada to take part in two F2000 (2007 and 2008) racing series, where he had two top-three finishes.

Arjun belongs to the gen-next club of young entrepreneurs whose zeal for driving and craving for speed are not at the expense of safe driving. He is now looking to ride with Harley-Davidson owners in Mumbai, and take them on his favorite ride towards Ambi Valley – a route with a blend of flat and winding roads that demand the motorcycle and rider to perform at their best. To give his Ultra Classic Electra Glide company, Arjun is now looking forward to adding the Harley-Davidson Street Bob and the Harley-Davidson Night Rod Special to his garage.

Shop Manager Manan Patel, our host.
Shop Manager Manan Patel, our host.

January 2012:
So, I ride my Enfield and politely park it outside the Royal Enfield showroom. Most big establishments are closed today – it’s a National Holiday celebrating the formation of Republic of India (26th January 1950, not to be confused with Independence Day 15th August 1947). So this Republic Day, I walk across the road to the Seven Islands showroom and see all gates and shutters down. But the watchman welcomes me. He shows me the back entrance to the world of Harley-Davidson. Inside, Mr. Manan Patel, Sales Manager at Seven Islands is waiting for me along with his colleague, a girl named Heta Gala who is riding a Harley-Davidson Dyna Super Glide.

As I open the door and walk in, Manan smiles and greets me. I had introduced myself over the phone the day before and I tell him again about the popular Bikernet.com magazine whom I was representing at the moment. The lights are on inside and it is all quiet. The motorcycles, all polished chrome and metal, shine like constellations in a whole new galaxy I am about to discover.

Ujjwal Dey (Dey): Thanks for seeing me at short notice Manan and being here on your day off.

Manan Patel (Manan): Most Welcome!

Dey: When was this showroom launched?

Manan: All the showrooms of Harley-Davidson in India started operations around the same time in August 2010. We are known as Seven Islands Harley-Davidson and similarly the other dealerships have names highlighting their host city’s uniqueness.

Dey: Tell me more about the models you have on sale at Seven Islands.

Manan: In India, we have a select range of models available. All the motorcycles launched in India by Harley-Davidson can be found at our dealership as well as in other dealerships in India. Each of them have the full India range for sale.

Sportster family: XL 883L Super Low, XL 883N Iron, XL 1200X Forty-Eight.
Dyna family: Street Bob, Super Glide Custom.
Softail family: Fat Boy, Fat Boy Special, Heritage Softail Special.
VRSCDX family: Night Rod Special.
Touring family: Road King, Street Glide.
CVO: Ultra Classic Electra Glide.

Dey: What is the starting range and the top-end model for H-D in India?

Manan: The Base Model is the Sportster XL 883L Super Low costing INR 573,276 ex-showroom price, at INR 648,695 on-road price (includes taxes, octroi, motor vehicle registration, service charges, insurance, etc.).

The Top-End Model is the CVO Ultra Classic Electra Glide costing INR 3,584, 498 ex-showroom price and at INR 3,937,689 on-road price.

Dey: So tell me Manan, what is the most popular Harley in Mumbai? Which one gets picked the most?

Manan: Because of the pricing, the entry level base models of the Sportster family namely, Super Low 883 and Iron 883 are the most popular. But the most famous model is the Fat Boy. That’s the most popular model in the whole world.

Dey: Any particular reason why Fat Boy is so popular among Harley fans?

Manan: Its looks, shape, the big twin engine, more chrome parts, and of course it was prominently featured in the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Terminator 2.

Dey: Yes, yes, that’s the most popular way in which a person outside USA gets introduced to the Harley – the Fat Boy in Terminator 2.

Manan: Its suspension is also good for Indian roads. The ground clearance is good.

Dey: Yup! Ground clearance. Now most Harley Davidsons have low ground clearance compared to the other motorcycle brands here. How does that impact the riding and the choice of the customer? What has been the feedback on riding on Indian roads?

Manan: In a few models the ground clearance is an issue. They are at 100 millimeters. But we have a solution for that. Front and rear suspension, inner dampers can be modified to raise the ground clearance. So it enables to increase the clearance by 2.5 centimeters. That is more than enough for the Indian roads including potholes and weird speedbumps.

Dey: Any experience of customers you can share on ghats and uphill or bad roads outside city limits?

Manan: One of our customer has been to Ladakh. He reached Khardung-La which is the highest motorable road in the world, smack in the lap of the Himalaya mountain range. He went there from Mumbai and rode back from Ladakh on a Fat Boy, no issues. This was in July (2011) when the roads to Ladakh are opened by the military stationed there.

Dey: That’s a difficult trek on any vehicle. Any specific problems he faced there?

Manan: None at all! No roads there, mud, rocks, gravel, snow, icy brooks. But no problems, he enjoyed the whole way on his Fat Boy.

Dey: These are beautifully coloured bikes you have on display here. What are the colour options offered by H-D in India?

Manan: There are 2 to 3 colors available for all the bikes. For example Black is popular & common with every model here. Other popular ones are Scarlet Red on the base models and Amber Red on the Toruing ones. For the base models, Black and Scarlet Red are the stock colours available. But every bike’s paint job is customizable. We order the parts from USA. They are painted in USA and imported here; then we simply replace the parts as per the customer’s choice in colours. The whole colour scheme changes.

Dey: So not even any painting is done over here. Good! The quality of the paint job speaks for itself. So then what is the kind of service offered here by the Authorised Workshop of Seven Islands Harley Davidson?

Manan: The warranty of the bike is two years or unlimited kilometers. That is what Harley-Davidson offers in USA and elsewhere also. The service center for Mumbai showroom is in Andheri (East). It is a full-fledged service centre. The mechanics are trained for three months. All of them undergo this three month training. They are highly trained and can service any of the bikes offered in the Indian market. The Mumbai workshop is the best workshop in India. They can resolve issues that go unresolved in other service centres in India.

Dey: When a customer or rather a prospective customer walks into this beautiful showroom – what do they look for in a Harley? I mean what do they look for in a motorcycle that starts its range with a price of INR 650,000

Manan: Number one is the cost. It needs to be affordable. Number two concern is the ground clearance. Number three is the fuel mileage.

Dey: Yes, in India no matter what vehicle you buy, whether it is a 2-wheeler ot 4-wheeler or 18-wheeler, people will certainly want to know fuel efficiency. Petrol at INR 73 per litre with high octane fuel starting at INR 82 per litre, it is indeed a cause for concern.

Manan: We match these requirements. Everything you need is there in these bikes. If I compare a 1500cc Harley engine with a 1500cc Japanese engine, this Harley engine can give you better torque and better mileage.

Dey: Yes, so no horsepower (Indian market concept), its torque, how much is it for the base model?

Manan: 20 Newton Meters of Torque for the base model 883cc engine and 3500 RPM.

Dey: What about the petrol usage?

Manan: We recommend 93 Octane which is commonly found in cities as Bharat Petroleum “Speed” or Hindustan Petroleum “Power” or Indian Oil “eXtra Premium” brands.

Dey: That’s good for the cities, but in the highways in India you will never find high octane fuel. The vast majority of motorists in the country use ordinary unleaded petrol.

Manan: Yes, if you have a Japanese superbike, you have to use a high octane fuel, no choice. But in a Harley it is no problem at all. So you can use the regular petrol.

Dey: Yes, tourers will never find a high octane petrol pump outside metro cities plus there is even contamination. Like the Fat Boy rider who went to Ladakh will definitely find poor quality fuel on the roads there.

Manan: No issues. The ordinary petrol sold here is good enough for a Harley.

Dey: So talking about fuel, what kind of mileage is promised by Harley-Davidson on city roads and on the highway?

Manan: In an 883cc engine you will get 18 kmpl in the city and 22 kmpl on the highway.

Dey: Which engine oil you guys recommend?

Manan: We only use synthetic oil. It consumes almost 4 litres of oil.

Dey: What do you guys promote here as your best model – the Fat Boy or the Sportsters?

Manan: Because of the pricing the base models Super Low 883 and Iron 883 are bestsellers.

Dey: But if a person walks in and says to you that he knows a Harley is the best bike there is, and he is willing to shell out any amount for the perfect ride – what would you recommend?

Manan: We just speak with them. Share their experiences, past rides. Then we come to know what kind of a rider he is. We see his body structure, size, weight, finances. Accordingly we suggest him the model that suits his personality. We give him two to three options in that. So soon enough we finalize the product right for him/her.

Dey: Perfect! Also, these bikes look so heavy. I ride an Enfield and that was the heaviest bike on Indian roads till these bad boys showed up. Compared to an average Indian bike these are 3 times their dry weight.

Manan: A Royal Enfield motorcycle is around 180 kg. The lightest Harley-Davidson we have is 251 kg, the base model.

Dey: That’s yet another plus point for the low-end bikes of Harley.

Manan: Yes, that one is just 70 kg more than an Enfield Bullet motorcycle. The heaviest bike we have is 430 kg – the top-end bike – Ultra Classic Electra Glide.

Manan with 5-times world champ V-rod racer.
Manan with 5-times world champ V-rod racer.

Dey: Wow, hahaha! So how many Ultra Glides have you sold in India?

Manan: From this showroom we have sold two Ultra Glides in one year. It is a limited edition bike and only 99 were ever made. It costs INR 4,000,000 ($81,059.27) on road.

Dey: And how would you mark Fat Boy sales?

Manan: Fat Boy is growing now actually. We used to sell 20 units in one year and now in last 3 months we have sold 20 Fat Boys from Mumbai showroom alone. Its on-road price starts at INR 2,173,444 and goes up to INR 2,285,460 ($46,298.26) excluding any customizations.

Dey: So the low-end must be selling.......

Manan: ........One booking everyday!

Dey: Everyday!?!

Manan: One delivery everyday! All Western region sales from Mumbai showroom. It’s a hotcake.

Dey: What is the waiting period for a Harley-Davidson compared to a Enfield Bullet for any model?

Manan: Bullet is 9 to 10 months. For a Harley its 4 to 5 months. That’s the maximum anyone has had to wait.

Dey: That’s still quite a wait for such a high price tag!

Manan: The base models, i.e. the Sportster family, waiting is around 4 to 5 months. Top-end bikes are available readily – within 2 days we can deliver it. Sportsters are CKD – Completely Knocked Down units assembled in Haryana State, India. Others are CBU – Completely Built Units are imported fully built units from USA.

Dey: Road King is my favourite model and why is it not so popular in India? To me it’s simply majestic.

Manan: It looks very heavy, lot of traffic on Indian roads so not easily maneuvered by the average rider. People have a fear of riding that large a bike. It is my favourite as well. It is very easy to ride.

Dey: So what is so special about these large bikes in the Touring family – the Road King and the Street Glide?

Manan: They are pure tourers. Also known as baggers. Pure highway riders prefer these bikes in India and across the world. Businessmen, actors, celebrities prefer these big bikes as well.

The Boss with a Indian Movie Superstar.
The Boss with a Indian Movie Superstar.

Dey: So many people were waiting for Harley-Davidson to come to India and now it is here. But the big sales liability is you cannot manufacture it here. And to compete with the pricing of Japanese big bikes you need to manufacture in India. The very USP is “Made in America” tag and the American culture that it represents. How do you foresee the competition?

Manan: Right now many models come directly from USA known as CBUs. Some are assembled in India, called CKDs. So CKDs are cheaper. The Sportster family bikes and the Dyna family bikes are CKDs. Rest all are CBUs.

In 4 years Ducati has sold around 50 to 60 bikes in India. Seven Islands Harley-Davidson Mumbai showroom alone sells 30 bikes per month.

If you combine Suzuki, Honda, Yamaha and Kawasaki fans and owners all together is one-third of the fans and owners of the Harley-Davidson motorcycles in India at least.

Even if you see the popular Discovery Channel show on Choppers, you will only see Harley engines. No custom superbikes get promoted.

Dey: Talking of customization, what are the accessories available in India?

Manan: You can change the whole bike. Everything! You can change performance parts, the paint job, the seat, the handle, tyres, rim, taillights, headlights, mufflers, everything. No two Harleys are the same. That is another USP. There are themes, skull, eagle, etc.

Dey: These in the showroom I am photographing are all stock bikes, right?

Manan: Yes all the showrooms in India display only the stock bikes.

Dey: Royal Enfield faced a problem in India with noise and emission controls. They met the pollution norms by discontinuing the iron engines and introducing the modern aluminum engines. Any problems for Harleys in India?

Manan: No, no, these are all meeting Euro 3 norms.

Dey: Which is the most popular custom with riders in India?

Manan: The Harley riders change the mufflers and raise the sound. The warranty of the bike doesn’t change with that and it is street legal. Almost 80% of the customers change the mufflers. They put in the Screaming Eagle mufflers. Other changes are air filters and the spark plugs which improves the performance of the bike.

Dey: Anyone asks for seating customizations? Two reason s why I ask this – one is that most will use it for touring. Second is that the height of the bike gets changed while raising the ground clearance.

Manan: For each model we have around 10 options. 10 seat options, 10 handle options, 3 to 4 headlight & taillight options, 10 to 15 paint options. The customizations, each are in INR thousands but as soon as you buy and start customizing your bike your customization cost will reach at least INR 100,000.

Dey: Another problem in the Indian market is that the average height of an Asian is much lower than the average height of an American. So the regular Harley with the 100 millimeters ground clearance is perfect, but it won’t clear the roads in India. So you raise the ground clearance and then an average rider may find himself short and unable to handle these big bikes.

Manan: Now, Fat Boy is a big bike. The customer who has been to Ladakh and Khardung-La is only 5 feet 4 inches tall. We have different seat options for short people. We have different seat options for tall people. He put a seat called “reduced reach seat”. His ground clearance was stock at 130 millimeters. No problem at all for a 5’4” guy. Even for a 6’4” guy we have a different seat. So the seat and suspension can be changed to increase or decrease the height. All this before delivery itself which no other brand in India is offering at the moment.

Dey: True! Customization itself is a unique concept introduced by Harley-Davidson in the Indian market. So what are the aspects which absolutely cannot be changed in India?

Manan: In India you cannot change or replace the engine. The cubic capacity cannot be changed. The chasis number and the engine number has to match always as per Indian laws; unlike USA. This law is common for all vehicles in India and not just for Harleys.

Dey: For a person who walks in here with the intention to buy, how many buy it outright and how many go for an EMI option?

Manan: 90% of the customers go for a loan. Customisation is not covered under loans; that they have to spend from their own pocket just like the down-payment.

Dey: Wait a sec, even for the ground clearance, a genuine Indian road problem, the customer has to shell out?

Manan: Yeah, yeah, that’s customization!

Dey: Now a naughty question for you! You have a beautiful ground floor with really premium bikes. You have a spacious first floor as well with a full range of merchandise. Jackets, helmets, shades, boots, tee-shirts, keychains, wallets, gloves, wall-clocks, belts, etc. What sells more, the bikes or the merchandise, LOL?

Manan: (Grins) Both! Both! As soon as a guy buys a bike he starts buying all the range of merchandise. That’s the kind of brand image that Harley-Davidson projects in customer’s minds. And if anyone is planning to buy a Harley they always start with a tee-shirt or sunglasses, etc. Tee-shirts and helmets are the highest selling merchandise.

Dey: Tell me, how many people are employed here in Seven Islands Mumbai?

Manan: Combining accounts, merchandise, marketing, sales, workshop personnel, it is around 30 people working full-time here.

Dey: At the workshop, how many mechanics are there for the servicing?

Manan: There are 6 mechanics and the workshop manager and one advisor.

Dey: If a person wants to bring his ride in for servicing, what is the waiting period for him?

Manan: He has to take an appointment. Entire Western region gets serviced by us, so a lot of bikes come in. The waiting period is 2 to 3 days. Not more than a week. You give the bike in the morning by 10 am, you get the bike by 4 pm for a full servicing.

Dey: You guys ran a very good campaign of EMI at INR 399 per day this month to own a Harley. How has the response been to that?

Manan: Superb response. Many phone calls, many bookings. We got a 10% jump in sales in Mumbai alone. Very good response after that full page advertisement.

Dey: So that is for all models right?

Manan: The rate INR 399 per day EMI was for base models. It changes with the higher end models. For an Ultra Classic Electra Glide the EMI is INR 2,131 per day for 5 years. Fat Boy is INR 1,732 per day.

Dey: Still not so bad! Tell me more about these rallies – Independence Day and Republic Day rallies.

Manan: We are doing this regularly since this showroom has opened. All HOG members gather at the showroom and we decide on a venue beforehand. We ride, then enjoy and share our experiences. This time it was within Mumbai city, last time it was in neighbouring Pune city.

Dey: Tell us also about the trips organized by HOG.

Manan: We organize trips once every month. As soon as you buy a Harley-Davidson motorcycle you are a HOG member, no fees, no dues. We send our service vehicle along for these rides – one technician and one driver. We have around 50 to 60 bikes participating for each ride. For the Republic Day ride today we had 65+ HOG members who showed up. HOG is the largest motorcycle group easily in the world.

Dey: What is the average age of a Harley-Davidson owner in India?

Manan: Around 35 years would be the current average. Individual owners are above 25 years for sure.

Dey: Tell me who is the youngest and the eldest HOG member from Seven Islands.

Manan: The eldest has a Road King, Mr. Chaturvedi, he must be around 65 years old. And the youngest is 18 years old, Mr. Sahil, riding a Sportster 1200X Forty-Eight.

Dey: So now that I am here, tell me about test rides. I definitely can’t afford to buy one right now, but I don’t mind test rides.

Manan: Hahaha, as soon as our clients ride the bike, they always like it. They start planning how to buy one. A few of them have problems handling these bikes since they are lot bigger than your average Indian bikes that are 100cc to 150 cc. College students for example who want the experience without the price tag. But we have never had any accidents in such trial rides. We take the clients to Carter Road, we have to give a 5 km test ride to a person. We prefer it in the morning till 4 pm to avoid traffic.

Dey: Talking of traffic, people think an Enfield is heavy and difficult to ride in traffic, what do people say about riding a Harley in Mumbai bumper-to-bumper traffic?

Manan: We have here Ms. Heta Gala, the only female sales consultant for a Harley in India. She rides a Harley. It is very easy, you need to be confident to ride any bike, not just a Harley.

Dey: Doesn’t the engine heat up in this incredibly hot climate with bottleneck traffic?

Manan: These are air-cooled engines. You will feel the heat on your thighs but you will get used to it in some time. You should wear denims always, riding shoes, helmets.

Dey: So it is manageable. Since I ride an Enfield in this heat and traffic, I can ride a Harley?

Manan: Yes, this is cast aluminum with 4 to 5 alloys in it. Perfectly safe!

Dey: What are the kind of safety features offered in a Harley? You know, keeping the promise of international standards in India.

Manan: All these bikes have front and rear disc brakes since this is a heavy bike and it needs it (In India drum brakes are popular). Few of the models have ABS – Anti-lock Braking System in it. We can put crash guards (leg guards).

Dey: How many people go in for these safety features?

Manan: We always suggest our customers to go for a crash guard. It protects the bike as well as the rider. People put a fuel cap with lock. In India all bikes have a lock and key for fuel caps but in a Harley-Davidson you need to change the fuel cap to add a lock to it. Base models are single seaters so all of them add another seat for the pillion rider. You can keep the front seat as it is and add another one or you can put a one-piece double-seater.

Dey: What else is offered on safety – any anti-theft mechanism – these bikes are too expensive to not be without such a feature.

Manan: Yeah, we also have auto-cop in it. Known as the FOB. Few of the bikes are keyless ignition (like ones in cars). You just have to keep the key in your pocket, the range of the sensors is around 2 meters from the bike. If the key is not near the bike it won’t start. If someone tries to play with the bike, the alarm will go on.

It has a handle lock and an ignition lock, for all bikes (base model to top-end models).

Dey: Are all safety/ security features available for all the bikes?

Manan: For entry/ base models – the additional security features are optional (FOB, fuel lock, crash guard, pillion seat). The anti-theft device costs around INR 20,000 to INR 30,000, depending on the type of kit. Keyless option is not available for entry level bikes. Keyless option is available from Fat Boy models to the higher end models only.

Dey: Last question Manan, the working hours – for this showroom.

Manan: From 9:30 am to 07:30 pm on all seven days except public holidays....

Dey: ....such as today, LOL. Thanks so much Manan and Heta for your precious time and effort. I look forward to having Seven Islands Harley- Davidson prominently featured on Bikernet.com on a regular basis. Thanks also for the ride photos. :-)

The lovely Heta from Seven Islands H-D.
The lovely Heta from Seven Islands H-D.

So there you have it folks. Your America is our America. We love these rides. They are beautiful and treasured by every Harley-Davidson owner in India. I would be lying if I said I never dreamed of owning one. The urge only gets stronger seeing these wonderful photos and meeting these delightful HOG members. Someday....I will get there and I will let the world know through Bikernet.com, hope you enjoyed this Harley-Davidson ride into the unique land of India. You can read more about the India business of Harley-Davidson at www.harley-davidson.in online.

Special Thanks to Manan Patel (Sales Manager H-D India)

Copyright Ujjwal Dey 2012

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Reader Comments

Good interview - real eye opener and well handled. Surely looking forward to my first Harley soon.

Viren Joshi
Bhubaneswar, Orissa, India
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Editor Response Keep the faith. You're time will come.
Mr Dey ...nice article ..all what I want to know about H-D

kuala lumpur, selgnor, Malaysia
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Editor Response You'll make the author's day.

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