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Harley-Davidson & Michelin, the history of a partnership

Two hundred-year-old brands with the richest of histories

Rapid worldwide success

Harley-Davidson and Michelin, originally handicraft companies, quickly experienced astonishing expansion. Thanks to their success in competition, and the invention of the famous V-twin engine, Harley-Davidson became the most important motorcycle manufacturer in the world as early as 1920.

For its part, Michelin was met with international success in 1946, thanks to the invention of the revolutionary patented radial tyre.

 

The birth of a partnership

More than a century after their respective creations, the two companies set out on a partnership in 2008 with the goal of creating a line of tyres especially designed for Harley-Davidsons. Such a partnership was unprecedented for the Michelin Group.

In fact, the development of these tyres would be provided by the two companies jointly. The tyres would even be co-branded, a first for the Michelin Group. The Scorcher line was born, and marketed in 2010.

 

A collaboration rich in education for Michelin

Rarely present in the world of cruisers before the 2010s, Michelin benefit's from Harley-Davidson's century of experience as the biggest cruiser manufacturer in the world. The impact of Harley-Davidson is especially obvious in the United States, where every other motorcycle sold is a Harley-Davidson.

Michelin also benefits from Harley-Davidson’s high standards. Behind their eternally rebellious style, Harleys are packed with state-of-the-art technology and meet the most precise of specifications.

The scientific approach of the Harley-Davidson engineers was immediately an area in which the Michelin developers could feel at ease. The French manufacturer, which has product quality and innovation engraved in gold letters in their DNA, quickly adapted to these strict technical requirements, which enabled its engineers to unleash their full talent.

 

Michelin expertise at the service of Harley-Davidson

Harley-Davidson, for its part, benefits from Michelin’s capacity to innovate. The manufacturer from Clermont-Ferrand in France was the first to introduce radial technology to Harley-Davidson models. Including the manufacturer’s sportiest models such as the V-Rod and its Revolution engine, these now benefit from a tyre which maintains its maximum performance even at speeds approaching 150 mph.

But the Milwaukee company could also count on Michelin’s capacity to adapt. In order to satisfy and cater to the extremely specific features of Harley-Davidsons, and in particular in regard to their weight, Michelin rethought the design of bias-ply tyres, a technology the Group had neglected since the emergence of the radial.

 

A well-oiled work mechanism

The development of a Michelin tyre with Harley-Davidson takes about 20 months, from the beginnings of its design all the way to its marketing.

Communication takes place primarily by sending digital documents between Michelin’s R&D center in Ladoux to the north of Clermont-Ferrand, and the Harley-Davidson factory in Kansas City where the current Sportster, Dyna, and V-Rod lines are produced.

Despite their differences, the two brands share common values in their corporate cultures: exemplary products, respect for customers, and the preservation of company heritage. They are two century-old companies in which industrial pride is more than just a theory - it’s an everyday reality.