Has it ever happened that you’re driving, and you wonder where are Harley-Davidsons made? Of course, you have. Most Harley-Davidson owners want to know where their bikes came from. This isn’t just for your own curiosity, but it is also important for the quality of your bike.
Harley-Davidson bikes are made and assembled in the USA. The V-Twin engines are manufactured in Milwaukee, while the fiberglass and plastic components are made in Tomahawk, Wisconsin. The bikes are assembled in cities like Kansas City in Missouri and York in Pennsylvania. However, Harley-Davidson also has factories in Brazil, India, and Thailand.
In this article, you’ll get to know all about where are Harley-Davidsons made, are they made internationally, is it better to use a U.S. Harley-Davidson or an international model, and more.
Where are Harley-Davidsons made in the United States?
Harley-Davidson has four manufacturing plants in the U.S. with each one being responsible for different models/accessories/parts. The different factories in the United States are located in Tomahawk in Wisconsin, York in Pennsylvania, Menomonee Falls in Wisconsin, and Kansas City in Missouri.
All Harley-Davidson bikes for the U.S. market are manufactured in the United States itself. More specifically, some of the parts are manufactured in a specific location, while the other parts are manufactured in another location and assembled in the U.S. itself. Sometimes, Harley-Davidson parts are manufactured in factories around the world in places like Japan, Germany, Mexico, Taiwan, and Italy. These parts get imported to U.S. factories and are assembled in the country. Once the bikes are assembled, they’re shipped out to U.S.-based Harley-Davidson dealers.
The percentage of Harley-Davidson bikes that are manufactured in the United States isn’t known. However, the figures vary from model to model and year to year. It isn’t just the accessories like windshields, seats, and more that are contracted overseas but key engine components as well.
Where are Harley-Davidson factories located internationally?
Harley-Davidson opened a Brazilian factory in Manaus in 1998 and the factory produced bikes for the Brazilian market. This step was taken by the brand to combat trade restraints and reduce export taxes from the U.S. to Brazil. Harley-Davidson began communications in the Indian market in 2009. In 2011, the brand started producing and partly assembling the Sportster and Dyna range at the Bawal Indian factory. Initially, the United States sent component kits to India to assemble, but it was scrapped. The Indian factory eventually started producing their own Harley-Davidson bikes.
The manufacturing of the Harley-Davidson Street range with the Street 500 and Street 750 started to be manufactured in India. With Harley-Davidson’s new entry-level models, it made total sense to keep costs as little as possible. The brand was hoping that the new Street models would attract Asian and European riders. The appeal was that these bikes came with smaller capacity engines and affordable prices while still carrying the Harley-Davidson name.
Until 2019, Harley-Davidson had four factories in the United States. However, the Kansas City manufacturing plant got shut down after a controversy. The year is significant as it was the same year the brand opened a factory in Thailand. There was no direct correlation between the Kansas City factory closing and the Thailand factory opening. Instead, Harley-Davidson officials insisted that Thailand was a necessary step for investment in the overseas market. This decision was made after an increased import tax on steel and aluminum to the United States.
Further, there were increased tariffs to export bikes from the USA to the UK. This meant that manufacturing bikes for the European markets weren’t a viable option directly from the United States. Harley-Davidson made a decision to absorb the increased costs. This was done instead of increasing the costs of the motorcycles. Opening a plant in Thailand helps Harley-Davidson allows them to bypass some of the increased taxes while maintaining costs.
Since 2019, there are rumors going around that Harley-Davidson is planning to open a manufacturing plant in China. This was planned to manufacture new, lightweight bikes predominantly for the Asian market. The brand partnered up with the Qianjiang Motorcycle Co, with a 338cc bike paving the way.
Almost 43% of new Harley-Davidson bikes are sold outside the United States. The brand is aiming to increase this figure to more than 50%. Harley is doing this through fast-growing foreign markets, where the brand is associated with self-expressionism and American culture. Harley-Davidson’s plan is to source out all sales outside of the United States by 2027. Affordability has always been the primary issue for Harley-Davidson in the international market. Offering smaller capacity bikes, like in India and China, brings the cost of the bikes down and increases sales internationally.
Are Harley-Davidson bikes manufactured in the U.S. better than international ones?
In theory, there is no difference in the build quality whether your Harley-Davidson bike is manufactured in the U.S. or outside the U.S. Harley-Davidson manufactures parts for its bikes from factories in different parts of the world and assembles them in the US. However, the quality is always the same. This means whether you buy a Harley-Davidson bike in Brazil or if you buy the same bike in the United States, you’ll be getting the same quality and build.
The different components are generally built using the same material. The brand has factories in Asia, Europe, North America, and South America. Harley-Davidson doesn’t disclose exactly where the components of your bike are sourced from. However, it is believed that the brand sources different parts from the U.S., Italy, Japan, Mexico, Australia, China, and more. For years, the Milwaukee-based manufacturing plant was using Japan’s Showa brand suspension components. Meanwhile, the brakes came from Italy, the wheels came from Australia, and the electronics came from different parts of Asia.
With globalization, brands like Harley-Davidson have been looking for the best deals possible for shipping parts to factories. Different parts are sources from different countries and assembled in another country. In some cases, shipping globally can be a way of circumventing import duties that increase the cost. Sourcing decisions are largely based on quality supplier reliability, component availability, and cost.
The Harley-Davidson bikes assembled and sold in the United States are assembled in one of the four factories located in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Missouri. However, the brakes and clutch come imported from Italy while the engine pistons come from Austria. Meanwhile, the suspension comes from Japan and electronic components come from China.
With such a vast catalog of countries that contribute to a Harley-Davidson bike, is it even possible to say if the bike was created in the United States? A Harley-Davidson bike is simply assembled in the U.S. with parts that come from other countries. Whether it is assembled in the United States or abroad, the components and quality are still the same.
How to check where a specific Harley-Davidson bike was assembled?
If your motorcycle was purchased in the U.S., then it would have been assembled at one of the US-based facilities. You can easily use the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) and know where your bike was assembled and at which facility. The unique 17-digit code is normally stamped on the plate of your frame and the engine casing. The first 3 digits of the VIN will tell you the country in which your bike was manufactured for sale –
- 1HD – This means that the bike was manufactured for sale in the United States
- 5HD – This means that the bike was manufactured for sale outside the United States
- 932 – This means that the bike was manufactured and can be sold only in Brazil
- MEG – This means that the bike was manufactured and can be sold only in India
The 11th digit will let you know at which facility your motorcycle was manufactured. These are the different digits used –
- Y, B – York, Pennsylvania
- J – Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- T – Tomahawk, Wisconsin
- K – Kansas City, Missouri
- E – Buell, East Troy, Wisconsin
- D – Manaus, Brazil
- N – Haryana, India (in Bawal District Rewari)
The digit that will correspond with the manufacturing plant in Thailand isn’t available to find online. In case your Harley-Davidson bike was built in late 2019, and you purchased it in Europe and the 11th digit in the VIN doesn’t match any option on the list, then it’ll likely be manufactured in the Thailand plant. If you’re having trouble finding the details, you can contact your bike dealer, and they’ll confirm it for you.
Thank you for reading. Hopefully, now you have a better idea of where are Harley-Davidsons made. This will help you know more about your bike and where it came from, not that you need any more assurance. Harley-Davidson has been one of the oldest and most premium manufacturing brands in the world, established back in 1903. Harley-Davidson has factories all over the world, with multiple plants in the U.S., Brazil, India, and Thailand. This is where their bikes are assembled while some of the parts are manufactured.
The brand also contracts factories worldwide for manufacturing different parts and then shipping to one of their plants. The bikes are assembled and sold in the USA in one of the four factories in Wisconsin, Missouri, and Pennsylvania. However, whether the bike is manufactured in the United States or it’s manufactured internationally, the quality will be the same. The bikes, regardless of where they are manufactured, will make use of the same components and same materials. This will result in the same high-quality.