Like most cult brands, Harley Davidson has its fair share of hard-core loyalists who have a pre-set list of what a Harley is and isn't. A person riding an Iron 883 or a V-Rod would know that there are many who label them as “sell out” models of the family and often face flak. The same goes for Royal Enfield. The UCE engine is better, more efficient, lighter and more reliable than the cast-iron, but lacks the one thing that RE was known for, the thump. Similarly with the Street 500 & 750, Harley Davidson is sure to see a remarkable rise in numbers, but has made the people who made the brand what it is feel less special. Cult brands have the same appeal as classic cars. If everyone has one, it’s hardly as valuable.
You might argue that they will still be great performers since they are Harleys. Though the official figures aren’t out yet, sources say that the Street 750 will have a maximum power output of 54 BHP and max torque at 44nm. The Street 500 will have understandably lower credentials. Keep in mind that the Continental GT puts out 29.1 BHP and 44nm of torque. Royal Enfield is far from popular for its engineering prowess and for a Harley-Davidson to not outperform it while being over twice as expensive is an embarrassment. In the process you may get a showroom that’s overbooked, but it’s the same deal as the management quota in Indian educational institutions. You got your money, but the quality of students degrades.
Now coming to the part about ownership. This is a part that several high end brand buyers fail to recognize and a problem that their service centres understand best. People have no problem in taking out a loan and coughing up over Rs. 30 lakh on one of the German big three. It is a big deal to say you drive a Mercedes or an Audi and that’s something that only money can buy. However, they have their pride sputter like tadka when their regular service cost comes up in five-figures. The labour costs involved make you wonder if you should take up the job of the guy fixing your car part-time. One thing every car/high end bike buyer needs to understand is that manufacturers make their big bucks after you’ve bought the car. Spare parts and consumable always have a heavy mark-up, because the manufacturer doesn’t make a huge margin on the car sold after the cost of production, dealer’s cut, tax etc.
So to sum up, the Street 500 and 750 will find a lot of buyers. They will be adequate performers and be the pride of many owners and will get a lot of heads to turn, but in the process of boosting sales Harley-Davidson runs the risk of making its own loyalists feel ridiculed. The biggest thing that any prospective buyer needs to know is that the 4-5 lakh price may be attractive, but the reason why Harley Davidsons are expensive is because the person who buys one can afford to look after it as well. I would personally love to own either one of these machines, but I know that the cost to buy them is one thing and the price to own one is another.