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Harley bends to woo Indian women

They might be known for selling toys for boys, but iconic premium American bike maker Harley-Davidson (HD) also has women on its radar in India.

autos Updated: Mar 29, 2012 22:10 IST

They might be known for selling toys for boys, but iconic premium American bike maker Harley-Davidson (HD) also has women on its radar in India.

Ask Maral Yazarloo of Pune or Smita Pawah and Ruchi Makwana of Delhi, three among a growing breed of women HD owners and riders who are smitten by this masculinity-exuding brand.

“No other bike will give me the experience that a Harley does,” said Yazarloo, who owns an HD Forty Eight — from the Sportser series — having graduated from Royal Enfield. “The handling of the bike is amazing. HD for me is about freedom, and happiness.”

The Sportser seems to have found a fan-following among women as Pawah and Makwana too have cut their teeth on it — on the Iron 883 — riding with their husbands on pillion from Delhi to Pushkar. “My husband and I read about the Harley history and got drawn to it,” said Pawah. “We were proud once we bought it.”

The company, too, wants to cash in on this trend by targetting women, who have a particular fancy for HD’s low-ground clearance models, which give the bike a low height. These include the Superlow, Iron 883, 883 Roadster, Forty-Eight, Nightster, XR1200X — all part of the Sportster series.

“Globally women are very important part of our ridership,” said Anoop Prakash, MD, Harley-Davidson India.

“In the US we are the market leaders when it comes to selling motorcycles to women,” said Prakash. “Harley is still small in India but there is a growth of woman riders. Right now our focus is on men and with scale we’ll target women too.”

The company will look at tweaking its communication and product strategy to lure women riders, said Prakash.

The women though would like a few tweaks to ease their riding experience — chief among them being the bike’s unladen weight, which is upwards of 250 kgs, and a dedicated women riders’ helpline service in case of breakdowns.

And it seems the company’s heard them. “Urbanisation is a huge trend not just in India but all over the world,” said Prakash. “The future of motorcycles is they will be much more friendlier to the urban environment; much more compact, better manoeuverability and potentially more lighter.”

As for the colour pink, the women emphatically put their put down. “Certainly not — we are quite happy with the colour black,” asserts Makwana.