Harley-Davidson, Japanese Engine?

I took my father in law out to visit a motorcycle distributor where he was hoping to get a distributor for the high end wheels made by Dymag, a company he owns. While it’s always interesting to step into a new industry and learn a bit about it, one of the more juicy bits of gossip that I learned was the nasty rumor that the Harley-Davidson is not really as American-built as some would like to believe. Not only are the wheels on most models made by an overseas company called “Inky” but the buyer we met also assured us that if you look carefully on the engines, you’ll see that they’re made in Japan!

He couldn’t remember which Japanese company makes the Harley engines which is a shame. According to him, all the engines are shipped to the US where they are assembled along with all the other parts which are sourced overseas. Makes me wonder if it’s all done under cover of darkness by a secret guild of factory workers sworn to secrecy.

If this is indeed true, it would be quite a scandal for the company that, when faced with cheaper imports from Japan, unsuccessfully tried to trademark the unique sound of their V-Twin engine.





15 responses to “Harley-Davidson, Japanese Engine?”

  1. Tim McLean Avatar
    Tim McLean

    I know for a fact that the Harley-Davidson engines are put together right here in Wisconsin; Sportsters and Buells at Capitol Drive, and Vtwins at Pilgrim Rd. I have been to both plants, and have seen the parts and assembly lines

    1. Joebob wedid Avatar
      Joebob wedid

      Key words are put together. They aren’t manufactured here as in the actual parts are source overseas and assembled here

  2. iankennedy Avatar

    Thanks Tim. Good to hear – from someone on the inside too!

  3. alan Avatar

    The wheels are made by the company I work for it is "ENKEI" not inky. so there not all american but what really is.

  4. earl long Avatar
    earl long

    Thats right,Mitsu electronics,and a long list of secretive overseas suppliers

  5. jamie Avatar

    put together Yes but not made in USA

  6. iankennedy Avatar

    It's silly that Harley Davidson feels they have to be secretive so as not to offend their customers. They get to pick and chose which parts to use after all and if they are not up to snuff for their brand, they can chose another. Deciding to chose a supplier just because of nationality builds in an artificial advantage over quality and price. Holding their American suppliers to the higher standard met by their overseas competition is fine, the American supplier just needs to deliver.

  7. Russ Stearns72 Avatar
    Russ Stearns72

    All these coments are great but the one thing everyone seems to be forgetting is harley davidson built its reputation on being MADE IN THE U.S.A. They have a customer base that believes in that that they are decieving. I work with the president of a local chapter of american vets. A Harley only riding club. They are under the misconception that they are buying american not Japanese or Candian or wherever else. The most Americcan made motorcyle you can buy at this time is made by Victory and it still is only about 85% made here the second sadly enough is A honda goldwing at about 75 % and Harley is down to 43% on most models. They have cut wages in all their factories in the states by threating to take all jobs elsewhere all for the almighty dollar. Having said all that i do have a questio if they are making their bikes cheaper by sending jobs overseas then where is the cost savings to thier customers.

    1. iankennedy Avatar

      “if they are making their bikes cheaper by sending jobs overseas then where is the cost savings to their customers.”

      A very good question Russ, I would love to have someone from Harley Davidson give the definitive answer on this, including your question about cost savings.

    2. JR Muffley Avatar
      JR Muffley

      Very good point Russ. Well said .

  8. Walther Metzler Avatar
    Walther Metzler

    If a German company would do what HD does the would be floged by german customers !!!

  9. Mtinsley25 Avatar

    It is sad we have let politician and greedy big business give away the American dream to everyone but Americans and give away jobs we don’t own anything any   longer we need to start making American made product 

    1. Robert osborne Avatar
      Robert osborne

      Greedy businesses? How about parasitic government payroll taxes that double labor costs to employers?

  10. Kevin Russell Avatar

    As much as I hate to say it, and I only say it because I own a 2006 FXDBI Street Bob, everyone needs to just stop paying to dollar for sub-standard products. My bike has 38k miles and 4, count ’em, 4 major transmission repairs. Pretty much at the end of every riding season I get to spend $1500 to have the bike repaired. The Dunlop tires are the longest lasting thing on the bike. Out sourcing issues? All the government and big corps have is money, take away the market and they pretty much have nothing.

  11. john Avatar

    I know mercury marine was making the engine cases , I don’t know if they still do.

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