Harley-Davidson Announces Future Models and Strategies

Harley-Davidson Pan America
Harley-Davidson’s future plans include motorcycles in new segments, like the Pan America, a prototype adventure bike planned for 2020.

In an unexpected move by a company that’s normally conservative in terms of product development and tight-lipped in terms of future models and strategies, Harley-Davidson has announced a sweeping “More Roads to Harley-Davidson” growth plan for the next several years.

“The bold actions we are announcing today leverage Harley-Davidson’s vast capabilities and competitive firepower–our excellence in product development and manufacturing, the global appeal of the brand and of course, our great dealer network,” said Matt Levatich, president and chief executive officer, Harley-Davidson, Inc. “Alongside our existing loyal riders, we will lead the next revolution of two-wheeled freedom to inspire future riders who have yet to even think about the thrill of riding.”

Harley-Davidson Streetfighter
This prototype Streetfighter shows that Harley-Davidson has its eye on the competitive naked sportbike market.

The More Roads to Harley-Davidson plan focuses on three areas:

New Products
While Harley-Davidson will continue to develop and improve upon its lineup of cruisers and tourers, it will also expand into “a broad spectrum of price points, power sources, displacements, riding styles and global markets.”

  • There will be a new modular 500cc to 1250cc middleweight platform that will cover three model segments and include four displacements, starting with the Pan America 1250 adventure tourer, a 1,250cc Custom model and a 975cc Streetfighter, all of which will launch starting in 2020. More models will follow through 2022.
  • An affordable, small-displacement (250cc to 500cc) motorcycle will be developed for emerging markets in Asia—particularly in India—through a strategic alliance with an as yet unnamed Asian manufacturer.
  • For 2019, Harley-Davidson will launch its LiveWire electric motorcycle, with lighter, smaller, more accessible (that is, less expensive) models to roll out through 2022.
Harley-Davidson 1250 Custom
The 1250 Custom, shown here in prototype form, is one of several models that Harley says will be built around a new modular engine platform.

Read our 2018 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob 114 road test review

Broader Access
Harley-Davidson plans to “advance its market delivery approach and meet today’s customer needs” by expanding its website to facilitate a more enhanced retail experience at dealerships, by establishing strategic alliances with global leading e-commerce providers and developing new retail formats.

Stronger Dealers
Harley-Davidson plans to implement a “performance framework to significantly enhance the strength of the dealer network and the customer experience” that supports not only its traditional motorcycles and customers but an increasingly diverse product portfolio and customer base.

Harley-Davidson electric vehicles
These electric vehicle sketches suggest that Harley-Davidson may also enter nontraditional markets like e-bicycles.

“Harley-Davidson is iconic because we’ve never been static,” said Levatich. “In moving forward, we are tapping into the spirit that drove our founders back in 1903 and every one of the employees and dealers who rose to the challenges faced along the way. Our plan will redefine existing boundaries of our brand–reaching more customers in a way that reinforces all we stand for as a brand and as a company and we can’t wait to kick it into gear.”

Harley-Davidson LiveWire
Harley-Davidson’s LiveWire electric motorcycle will enter production for the 2019 model year.

Because this unexpected announcement comes at a time when Harley-Davidson’s sales and stock price are in a slump, the company may be trying to reassure customers and shareholders with a forward-thinking strategy to carry the 115-year-old brand into the future. For now, most of the motorcycles announced are still prototypes, and there will likely be revisions based on how well they are received by core customers and the general public. Since the LiveWire electric motorcycle, which was shown in prototype form back in 2014, is slated for launch for the 2019 model year, it is the one model that will enter production soon and is therefore closest to what we’ll actually see in dealerships.

Read our Harley-Davidson Project LiveWire first ride review

Although Harley-Davidson’s new plan may seem radical for a company that has been focused on cruisers and heavyweight tourers for decades, it’s actually a return to its past. In the freewheeling Sixties, Harley’s lineup included golf carts, a scooter called the Topper, single-cylinder two-strokes with names like Pacer, Scat and Bobcat, and, through a partnership with Italian manufacturer Aermacchi, 250cc-350cc four-stroke single-cylinder motorcycles called the Sprint, the Scrambler and the SS. In the Seventies, Harley launched the MRS-100, better known as the Baja 100, a lightweight, two-stroke dirt bike, as well as a 65cc, two-stroke, Aermacchi-built minibike called the Shortster.

If Harley-Davidson is ready to commit a no-clutch, twist-and-go electric motorcycle to production, then anything is possible.

17 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve owned 4 HDs currently ride a Yamaha. I told a friend last year that if Harley didn’t awaken from their slumber, they’d die in their sleep. I like this direction. ‘might even get back on an HD!

  2. Cut the market BSm Harley needs to build motorcycles people want to buy. This will be hard given it’s aging demographic

  3. A Harley adventure bike??? Really??? Too big, too heavy, will be priced too high compared to Suzuki or Yamaha, or Kawasaki, and will never break into that market. It is also REALLY UGLY! Now we can break down in the bush with no help for miles and miles. No thank you.

    • Well none of the brands you mentioned are truly competitive in the ADV market. BMW owns that market.

      Also how can you tell it will be too big , too heavy and to expensive when all we have seen is a picture?

      • Happy to see HD get into the ADV segment. However, going head to head against the BMW GS1200 or GSA is a tough row to hoe. ADV bikes will not appeal to the classic HD buyer so I seriously doubt the buy American plea will make a difference. Instead of going heavy and up against BMW, Yamaha, Ducati and KTM I’d love to see HD build a sub 500lb ADV bike with their 500cc engine. That would fill a void in the market and have a lot better chance of selling well against tough competition.

    • So tired of the “breaking down” BS. I have been riding Harley’s since ’84 and have never broken down. From daily rides to 7800 miles in 10 days.
      Our Shovelheads may have leaked oil, and we have one we are rebuilding. Hope it too, “marks it spot.”

  4. Glad to see H-D stepping out into new territory (for them). We boomers can’t keep buying new bikes to keep them in business and younger riders appear to have little interest in the touring bikes and cruisers. I’ve been riding since ’77 and I like the prototypes shown. I’m especially interested in the LiveWire project. The handwriting is on the wall for internal combustion engines…it’s just a matter of time. The electric bikes will keep getting better…just not sure if they’ll have the performance I’ll want before I get too old to swing a leg over the seat!

  5. As for the adventure bike 30-40 years to late for me but I would have liked to had one. I will still go test ride one. Who knows maybe my 60th birthday present to myself.

  6. I might be interested in something along the lines of a street legal XR. Maybe Harley could contract Morini to make a 500?
    Sorry, I already have one too-heavy bike, and it’s a BMW which will cruise at the ton all day.

  7. For an aging (68 y.o.) who’s been riding 53 years (mostly HD) the ADV bikes have their appeal although they will never totally replace the the thrill of touring. The largest problem with all ADV manufacturers (BMW and KTM included) is the fact that there is a large segment of the population that do not have 36 inch inseams (mine is 30 inches) and unless you have a 36 inch inseam they are worthless. You can not have a foot on a peg and one on the ground at the same time so how can you ride them, put them on a center stand, rock them off and hope you never have to stop? I’ve tried them all and continue to check and see if there are any changes in that respect all to no avail. There would be more off-road riders (that’s where the real ADV in adventure comes in) if that problem were addressed……maybe HD might take note of that problem into consideration, at which point I could be interested.

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