Can American motorcycle manufacturers hold their ground after shifting production overseas?

From Ducati to BMW, foreign motorcycles have given the classic American manufacturers a run for their money. But for motorcyclists who place great value on the patriotic roots of their bike, U.S.-built models have always been the way to go.

Unfortunately, tense foreign relations between America and the European Union have recently forced makers like Harley-Davidson and Indian Motorcycles to consider some tough decisions.

Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson announced earlier this month it would begin producing a portion of its motorcycles overseas to avoid reciprocal regulatory tariffs, which increased from 6 percent to 31 percent. The shift to international facilities will take place over the next nine to 18 months.

The manufacturer claims the tariffs tack on more than $2,000 to each model exported to European countries. To avoid passing the additional expense on to consumers, Harley-Davidson determined producing the bikes abroad was “the only sustainable option to make its motorcycles accessible to customers in the EU and maintain a viable business in Europe.”

According to Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson (R), “they really don’t have a choice.” Johnson has been vocal about the ways America’s heavy steel and aluminum tariffs on imports from the EU and other countries have hit H-D’s home state.

It’s important to note that the motorcycles produced abroad would only be sold in other countries. None of the bikes manufactured overseas will be brought back to the states, and all Harley-Davidson motorcycles sold in the U.S. will still be produced here.

However, for those diehard fans who feel a strong connection to H-D’s American roots, the move could compromise the brand’s image and values.

Indian Motorcycle – America’s First Motorcycle Company® – is also considering moving a portion of its production operations to Poland to help offset the tariffs.

Do you think these manufacturers are making the right move by shifting production overseas, or would they be better off keeping all production stateside? Tell us how you feel in the comments.

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