By Fiona Hurrell, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The romantic roar of the Harley Davidson has steadily increased over the years and expanded the brand throughout the world. In Rio alone, the increasing popularity of this classic motorcycle has seen the emergence of a two-story superstore and showroom in Recreio, along with the latest edition, a store in upmarket Zona Sul shopping center, Shopping Leblon.
Located on the fourth floor, beside Land Rover and popular steakhouse restaurant Outback, Rio Harley Davidson Leblon celebrated its opening on April 4th and has since been drawing in a record number of customers and motorcycle enthusiasts.
Store sales consultant Gabriela Lapper explains the reasons behind Harley Davidson’s popularity surge in Rio. She reveals; “When People think of a Harley Davidson, often they picture the old soft-ail deluxe model which is very retro and glamorous. It’s not just a bike, it’s a lifestyle. It’s about old fashioned nostalgia.”
Certainly it would be hard to ignore a Harley Davidson, which is instantly recognizable and unmistakably loud. However, over the years, Harley Davidson has managed to reinvent its brand and now, not only attracts the hardcore bikers, but younger buyers who are drawn to the sleeker, more modern designs.
Lapper explains, “For some, owning a Harley Davidson is a sign of status, you usually find that older customers are looking for that classic vintage style but we have an increasing number of young men who are interested in the sporty models such as the XR1200X which are less flashy than the classics.”
Lapper goes on to add, “There is the belief that Harley Davidsons are out of price range for many and that puts some people off coming in but they’re not as expensive as people think.”
A comparison of the popular XR1200X sport model shows a predictably higher price in Brazil due largely to the IPI Tax. In Brazil, the bike costs R$35,100, against the U.S. price tag of US$11,799.
However, when measured against price variations of automobiles such as the Mini Cooper S which costs US$26,050 in the U.S. and a staggering US$75,000 in Brazil the escalation seems fairly reasonable.
Rio Harley Davidson group is part of the Grupo Catalão, a business which represents the brand in both Minas Gerais and the state of Rio de Janeiro. With Brazil proving to be Harley Davidson’s largest market in South America, and among the top ten in the world, a factory was recently opened in Manaus, producing nineteen of the twenty Harley models offered in Brazil.
For Lapper, the new Leblon store means greater accessibility for Harley customers in Rio who don’t always want to travel the distance to the showrooms in Recreio. She states “The Recreio showrooms are fantastic with a huge selection of Bikes on display, but for some people who live in Zona Sul it’s a long way to go and we are right here in the heart of it.”
Already proving to be a big success, Rio Harley Davidson Leblon continues to attract a variety of buyers, each in search of the Harley that represents their specific notion of this time honored brand. When asked about her Harley Davidson of choice, Lapper reveals, “For me, it’s the Iron 883 Sportster, but I need a license before I can own one!”