Where are Harley-Davidson motorcycles made? A lot of people continue to ask us that question. Despite the common answer of “Milwaukee, WI”, the real answer isn’t that easy.
Harley-Davidson has four factories in the United States, none of which are in Milwaukee…
York, PA: Manufactures Touring, Softail, and CVO models
Tomahawk, WI: Manufactures sidecars, saddlebags, windshields, and other parts
Kansas City, MO: Manufactures Sportster, V-Rod, and Dyna models
Menomonee Falls, WI: Manufactures motors and transmissions
The original Milwaukee factory on Juneau Street is currently the company’s corporate offices as well as the Harley-Davidson museum.
Technically speaking, Harley-Davidson motorcycles sold in the United States are not actually made here, but assembled here. Harley contracts manufacturing of parts to plants located all over the world, including Germany, Italy, Taiwan, Japan, and Mexico. Those parts are then shipped to Harley factories here. And these are not just accessories, but components for engines, chassis, and wheels. Exactly what percentage of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle is American made, is not exactly known, as each model and model year is different.
Back in 1929, Harley-Davidson contracted with a manufacturing plant in Hiroshina, Japan. Rikuo Internal Combustion Company produced actual Harley-Davidson models that carried the Harley-Davidson label, for use by Japanese military and police. Rikuo continued under contract until 1958.
Harley-Davidson motorcycles are also made in Manaus, Brazil. The factory there opened in 1998 and continues to produce Harley models for the Brazilian market.
In 2011, the company announced plans to open a factory in India to produce the new Street 500 & 750 models.
Harley-Davidson has expressed interest in moving it’s US-based factories overseas due to expensive employee costs. The recession of 2008 caused the company’s value to drop by 43% in 2009. Harley’s American rival, Polaris Industries, manufactures Indian and Victory motorcycles using an outside staffing service.
Harley-Davidson is also seeing a shift in the overall motorcycle demographic. Riders are becoming younger. The baby-boomer market that Harley had relied on is going away. Younger riders tend to favor smaller motorcycles and place less importance on American-made products.
So, where are Harley-Davidson motorcycles made? All over the world, actually. But those sold in America, are assembled here in the United States, using a lot of foreign made parts.
At least for now, anyway.