How foreign are Harley-Davidson motorcycles?

How many foreign-made parts are there on Harley-Davidson motorcycles? I’ve heard that they use Keihin carburettors and Showa shocks from Japan, Brembo brakes from Italy, wheels from somewhere-or-other, and wiring from Mexico.

Is there a list?

I don’t have a list.

I believe chrome parts are made in China or elsewhere in Asia to avoid EPA regulations. Most of the lights are also made in China.

I have heard conflicting information about where engine parts are made. Some say Mexico and others say China. For all I know it might be both. Final assembly of these parts is done in the U.S.

Something else I’ve heard: Harley-Davidsons contain enough foreign-made parts that they have to say ‘Assembled in America’ instead of ‘Made in America’. Is this true?

From browsing this you can’t label something “Made in America” unless the foreign parts are a negligible part of the final product. So that wouldn’t be surprising: Complying with the Made in USA Standard | Federal Trade Commission


they’re run like any other automotive company. The electronics are usually Delphi and Continental, I think Delphi and or Lear for the wiring harnesses. Powertrain operations in Wisconsin builds the engines/transmissions. where each individual part comes from is going to be difficult to determine w/o knowledge from the inside.

But maybe not for long. They announced plans to move production of bikes for the European market out of the U.S. in response to the current trade war.

Just to be clear, I’m asking about motorcycles sold in the U.S.

Back in the dark days when Harley almost went t*ts up, they made a decision to start sourcing parts with the best suppliers in the world. That meant Japanese suspension components, brakes, instruments and carburetors. The result was they turned their crappy rep for reliability around completely.
Their decision to close the KC, Mo. plant and move production was made prior to the Idiot in Chiefs trade war. It was a result of the Republican tax bill and the ensuing profitability boon to the company. Piling on, as it were.

Moderator Note

Keep the political pot-shots out of GQ, please.

This article from 2014 says it’s ‘commonly said’ 60-70% of HD components of bikes sold in US are domestic, but that nobody really knows.

I’ve never bought a new motorcycle, but I assume the sticker doesn’t have to give the % of US parts content like on a car sticker or else there’d be a lot more info around about it.

Also as was alluded to it’s not necessarily cut and dried to say whether a part is US or not. There’s just some set of rules at the supplier level for them to report that to the auto maker. It doesn’t mean every screw in a sub-assembly of a ‘US’ part was made in the US, or the rough casting that became a finish machined part came from a US foundry, obviously not that the raw ingot melted for the casting came from a US mill, etc.

The decision to close the KC plant was in order to move most of that work to York, Pennsylvania. The rationale given for it in January was because the KC plant’s capacity was exceeding US demand for motorcycles so they were consolidating in York:

Note the production from KC was moving to York, not Thailand.

What’s happening now is that H-D can’t make bikes in the US and reasonably sell them in the European Union so they have even less need for US manufacturing capacity and will likely be closing more plants to move that capacity out of the trade war battleground. People are pointing at the KC plant closing as proof that H-D always intended to move overseas but they leave out the “and most of those KC jobs are going to York” part.

Sorry mate!

Engine crankcases, cylinder heads and wheel hubs are made in the USA at foundries located in Minnesota and Iowa

And of note; HD has been making motorcycles in India for 10 years and in Brazil for the past 20 years.

It’s not even trivial to say a percentage. Is that percentage by number of parts, by weight, or by value? And if by number of parts, how finely do you divide the parts? A carburetor, for instance, could be called a “part”, but it’s also made up of a bunch of other parts.

Under the American Automobile Labeling Act the parts content given is by value. The rules for determining a part’s original are more complicated, but also based on value, have rules for rounding up to 100% for stuff that’s either more than 1/2 or 70% from a country or the US/Canada respectively (the act doesn’t distinguish between US and Canada), also depending if it’s made by outside (to the OEM) supplier or in house, it doesn’t include various small items used in final assembly (eg. fasteners) and so on.

IOW while calculating it by value only makes sense, the issue of breaking it down within parts has to be subject to specific rules. And since motorcycles aren’t included under that act, even the manufacturers probably don’t bother to calculate such a %. So back to, it’s said to be in the 2/3’s range domestic parts in HD’s sold in the US, but probably nobody could give you a figure exactly comparable to what’s on car stickers for cars.