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Milwaukee’s “Other” Motorcycle Company

Published on November 6, 2018 under Born To Ride
Milwaukee’s “Other” Motorcycle Company

Milwaukee’s “Other” Motorcycle Company

 

Harley-Davidson has a neighbor in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and it’s older than the iconic American brand. Royal Enfield established their U.S. headquarters there about three years ago and has been rapidly growing their dealer network across North America. With dealerships now in 34 states and Puerto Rico, the brand has come a long way (literally) since first arriving stateside in 2015, from zero to nearly 90 dealerships in America and Canada, and more opening and/or joining the brand monthly.

Celebrating their 115th anniversary this year as a motorcycle company, Royal Enfield established itself in England in 1901, making the brand two years older than Harley-Davidson. Headquartered now in India, a former British Commonwealth nation, Royal Enfield is one of the largest motorcycle manufacturers in the world, churning out about 950,000 motorcycles per year. That is more than three times the bike production of Harley-Davidson. Yet 95% of RE’s sales are in centered in India, one of the largest moto markets in the world.

That’s why Royal Enfield hired Rob Copes, former H-D senior vice president who helped establish Harley’s presence in India some years ago, to build the brand in North America. Says Copes, “We spent about three years setting up the business, getting the systems, processes in place. Now we are running the business, which is a lot more fun. We’ve got the momentum going.”

 

Copes says he doesn’t see Royal Enfield competing head-to-head with Harley-Davidson, since they are focused on middleweight motorcycles, whereas H-D owns the heavyweight tourer and cruiser segments. Royal Enfield’s bikes range from 500cc to 650cc, and include the Classic 500, the legendary Bullet 500, the Himalayan ADV that debuted earlier this year, and two soon-to-arrive 650cc Twins, the California roadster-inspired INT650 and cafe racer-inspired Continental GT. With bikes all under $6000 MSRP, Royal Enfield cycles are both approachable and affordable, and are selling well stateside. Their bikes attract the curious and nostalgic wherever they are parked, and Copes believes that’s a good thing. “We have a very small marketing budget. Our best advertising is more of our motorcycles on the road.”

An interesting sidebar- Harley-Davidson is talking with an Asian motorcycle brand about partnering to build small displacement motorcycles for eastern markets. Speculation here, but might that partnership be Royal Enfield? That could be quite a team.

To see more of this legendary brand, click here- www.royalenfield.com/USA/motorcycles

 

Rob Brooks

 

*material sourced from Royal Enfield website and USA Today.