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Harley-Davidson Thinks Beyond 2 Wheels, Rolls Out 3-Wheeled Motorcycle In Japan

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There are certain American products that seem to do well overseas no matter what, and Harley-Davidson (NYSE: HOG) is certainly on that list.

The iconic motorcycles seem to occupy a certain place in the global consumer's imagination. For example, Pope Francis’ Harley, a 1,585cc Dyna Super Glide, recently sold sold for $328,169 at a charity auction in Paris.

Along with strong sales at home, Harley's latest earnings report noted worldwide retail sales of new Harley-Davidson motorcycles grew 5.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013 and 4.4 percent for the full year, compared to the same time periods a year earlier.

The company's sales in Japan reportedly rose one percent in 2013, its third yearly increase there. And while that may appear to be a modest rise, overall sales of two-wheeled motorcycles in Japan have been on a steady decline since 1986.

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With those figures in mind, Harley is going after a new potential Japanese customer with its three-wheel Tri Glide model.

According to Bloomberg, Milwaukee-based Harley has begun selling the “trikes” in Japan starting at $39,000.

Bloomberg notes that, in Japan, three-wheeled motorcycles come under the same classification as a normal car. They're also allowed to travel on highways and do not require a helmet, which opens up the market for the Tri Glide to anyone in Japan with a standard driver's license.

And so far, the Harley Tri Glide seems to be gaining some traction with Japanese consumers.

“It's grabbing lots of attention, from people who have never been on a motorbike before and don’t own a license to ride motorbikes,” Yuji Kurihara, operator of a Harley dealership in Tokyo, told Bloomberg. “They’re people who have known and yearned for the Harley experience from a long time.”

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