The five million people in Japan who hold motorcycle licenses have made that country Harley-Davidson's second-largest market after North America. But there are 80 million people in Japan with a driver's license, and the company's Tri Glide trike has made the Harley experience available to that "rich trove of untapped demand" this month for a base price of four million yen ($39,000 US).
Japan categorizes three-wheeled motorcycles as cars and riders don't need to wear helmets, nor do they face any highway restrictions. That makes it a nearly painless way to try out a motorcycle and for those with Easy Rider dreams, "It's a relatively easy way into Harley-Davidson" according to the man in charge of the Japanese outpost.
Two-wheeler sales numbers there have dropped in Japan every year for the past 26 years, whereas Harley posted a one-percent increase in 2013. The Tri Glide should also help Harley continue to fight the decline - as will its India-built Street motorcycle arriving later - and reduce the balance-sheet reliance on North American sales.