Harley Talks New Entry Level Model Details

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“Nimble, lightweight, has a low seat height and supple throttle and braking,” described Harley COO Matt Levatich at the brand’s 110th birthday party this weekend. After we exclusively unveiled the existence of an in-development, small-capacity H-D three years ago, the company is finally readying its release.

Photo: Harley-Davidson Archives

“We want to get it out as soon as we can, but it’s got to be right,” continues Levatich. “New engines are complicated, and we’ve got to get everything right from a durability, reliability and confidence perspective.”

The model he’s speaking of is expected to be in the neighborhood of 500cc and will be built at Harley’s new plant in India. It’ll first target the massive Southeast Asia motorcycle market, but could be brought stateside. “The American qualities of a Harley are very important to people,” Levatich explains. “The literal ‘where does that shock absorber come from’ part of it is less significant, but it has to have the spirit and soul of America. We have Harley-Davidson factories in India and Brazil – can we leverage those facilities and expertise so it can get to the, for example, Indian consumer, faster? These are things we are becoming more open-minded to, but we understand the importance of ‘made in America’ – the American quality, spirit and integrity that matters to the customer.”

Speaking to us three years ago, Harley stated the bike was being developed for use in its Rider’s Edge training program. After the kibosh was put on Buell, Harley dealers were left with no motorcycles appropriate for new riders. “Harley-Davidson is developing a motorcycle for use in the company’s Rider’s Edge rider training program, as a replacement for the Buell Blast,” a company rep told us in 2010, going on to describe the bike as, “a Harley-Davidson motorcycle that Rider’s Edge graduates and other riders seeking a smaller displacement motorcycle will want to buy.”

“I’ve ridden it — it looks great, sounds great, it’s a Harley, and it’s priced right,” concludes Levatich.

It’s expected the new model could be unveiled as early as January.

  • Corey Cook

    Supple is a word one would use when describing a nice leather couch, definitely not throttle response or braking. Oh how ironically appropriate this is for HD, makers of fine two wheeled couches…

  • akaaccount

    Sounds like a real blast

  • John

    If they think it’s a Harley then it must be a useless, overpriced piece of crap.

  • Robert Horn

    I really wish Harley would put that bike pictured above in the showrooms right now, but like just totally trendificated with terminally dull paint, pipe wrap, dinky front fender, headlight bandaids, fork spring delete option, seat foam delete option, ironically unsuitable tires, idiot bait handlebars, and smokey exhaust halo to provide its own vignetting.

    Then the current (Post mid-2013) low effort, low performance, low talent, and low imagination internet custom fad would die immediately.

  • Brett Lewis

    Is that centerstand standard or an option?

    • Mark D

      Optional, but it’s chromed out and has tassels on the end. $500 MSRP. $400 deal labor install fee. Made in China. FEEL THE FREEDOM.

  • Andrew Karmy

    Dear Harley,

    Remember that time you and Ural put a BMW in a copy machine. If you still have those drawings, make us that with ~750cc of displacement.

    An American who wants a different type of american motorcycle.

  • A C

    Ironically, I think this might be the only thing with a H-D logo that H-D would refuse to sell to you. “You” meaning us Americans, anyway.

    • Davidabl2

      Brilliant comment..Except that they DID try to sell us the Buell Blast:-)

  • Brian

    I fully expect to see a Sportster type based version of Honda Rebel 500 machine.

  • Joel Leggett

    This bike isn’t for the American market at all. It is for the Indian market. Harley Davidson needs a motorcycle that can sell for 50% to 100% more than a Royal Enfield. A New Royal Enfield will sell for between 1.09 to 1.06 lakh. A Harley-Davidson 883 super low or Iron 883 is going for 5.71 to 7.71 lakh. This is due to the bikes being complete knock down kits. If it was sourced locally and assembled in India, with parts from there and Thiland (Free trade agreement like Nafta) then the price could really come down. Their large bikes are 12-25 lakh. For 12-16 lakh you can get the indian model Toyota Corolla.

    I think Harley Davidson is starting to make a play for the Indian and emerging markets. They have worldwide brand recognition and now have a dealer network in India and elsewhere. The right motorcycle that is only at say a 30% premium to a Royal Enfield Thunderbird or Classic could be a real seller in India.

    I ride a Royal Enfield Bullet EFI (also called the G5 Classic). Its a fun machine. Is it fast. No. Is it super sporty. No. Has it been reliable. So far with minor issues. But its a complete blast to ride and it gets tons of attention. I can certainly understand why Royal Enfield has a cult following in India, its an evocative ride. A Royal Enfield is not the first motorcycle for people in India and the developing world. They started out on 250cc bikes or scooters. They want something better for leisure riding.

    Yes indeed it is the “Hipster Harley”. Yet I think there is a growing market for mid size bikes.

    Honda has a bunch of new motorcycles, all are less than 1100cc with the notable exception of the CB100 which I think is stunning. The middle size market is heating up.
    I think Honda with the CTX series a 690cc bike with available ABS and Dual Clutch Transmission is going to sell. If Harley can grow the brand in India. They can eventually expand even more worldwide.

  • Johnny Nightrider

    When Harley had the Sporster 1200R that had triple disc brakes and a performance look.They could have taken that idea and put triple disc brakes on the street 750.Upside down thick forks.A stiff perimeter aluminum frame.Kept the Revolution engine that is water cooled and really made it Sporty with the tinted Fly screen.I don’t think this Street 750/500 will do well in America unless they kick it up to a 1200 with lots of performance features and make it tough.Until than I’ll ride the Street Glide and I’m thinking bout trading it in for a 2013 F6B deluxe.It looks like a street glide with a 6 Cylinder engine and it outperforms any Harley and its very K O O L !!!