Ruling the sales market in the US is nothing new for Harley-Davidson. I don’t think anyone’s ever batted an eyelash every time Harley announces impressive sales numbers in its home market. But suppose I tell you that Harley has been selling like hot pancakes in Australia with enough sales to supplant Honda as the best-selling, road-going motorcycle brand in the Land Down Under. How many eyelashes are batting now?

Don’t be shocked by this because it’s true. Harley-Davidson, about as All-American as baseball and apple pie, became the overall leader in market shares among motorcycle brands in Oz in the first half of 2015. From January to June 2015, Harley sold 4,566 units in Australia, a steady improvement from the 3,985 units it sold in the first half of 2015. But more importantly, that 1H 2015 total accounted for 21.1% of the overall road bike market, nipping Honda, which fell to second place with an 18.4% market share.

Two Harley models are largely credited for this huge upswing in sales: the Street 500 and the Softail. The Street 500 only became available this year and in the first six months of the year, 745 of them have already found new owners. That’s a huge number for a new model in a market that’s literally 15 timezones away from the US.

Meanwhile, the Softail continued to post impressive sales totals in Australia, accounting for 765 sold units in the first half of the year, making it the top-selling Harley in the country. That number is also huge increase from the 596 models that were sold in the same time period a year ago. It didn’t quite reach the sales numbers of the Honda CT110X, which sold 1,123 units and the Kawasaki Ninja 300’s 1,096 sold units, but make no mistake, the Softail is going to become more and more popular in Australia in the coming years.

Together with the Street 500, the Softail and the soon-to-arrive Street 750 will make sure that happens and prove that Harley-Davidson is quickly turning into a bonafide global brand.

Continue reading to read more about Harley-Davidson’s surprising sales success in Australia.

Why it matters

For a long time, Harley-Davidson was considered purely as an American brand that didn’t do enough to establish itself as a global force. But from the looks of things, it appears that it’s doing quite well in the Australian market, even though it’s a commonly held belief that Aussies prefer off-road bikes more than road bike counterparts.

In fact, overall sales in Australia in the first six months of the year are still tilted towards off-road motorcycles. In that segment, Honda still rules the roost, accounting for almost a quarter - 24.6% - of the entire market share. Harley doesn’t even factor into the equation, only coming in fifth with an 8.9% market share, lagging Yamaha, Kawasaki, and Suzuki.

That said, Harley’s concern remains in the road bike market where a majority of its models belong. Seeing the company become the market leader in Australia is an encouraging sign that the iconic American motorcycle brand is turning into the global force it was supposed to be a long time ago.

It’ll be interesting to see how Harley’s sales volume does in the second half of the year, but if it’s as healthy as the previous six months, I might be back here once again gushing over the company’s increasing popularity in other corners of this wild and crazy world.

Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert -
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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