On the 110th year of Harley Davidson, around 500 proud owners of the motorcycle — including 40 from Chennai — will come together at Goa for a two-day national ride

The shimmer of a newly purchased Harley Davidson is invariably outshone by the glint of pride in its owner’s eyes. Ask Subash Tamalapakula, who bought an H-D Super Low over nine months ago. A low-slung model that is designed for Harley neophytes, the Super Low seems to have put Subash on an all-time high. And, quite predictably, he does not miss any opportunity for a joint ride with members of the Chennai chapter of Harley Owners Group (H.O.G), a 30-year-old worldwide body accounting for 1,400 chapters and over one million Harley owners.

For Subash, the bonhomie of these group rides — sometimes involving members of various H.O.G. chapters around India, as is the case on February 2, when around 500 Harley owners (including 40 from Chennai) will converge in Goa for a two-day National H.O.G Ride (for details, visit www.harley-davidson.in) — have enhanced the joy of possessing a Harley motorcycle.

Bonding among owners of a particular iconic motorcycle is not rare: but in the case of Harleys, this union is undergirded by support from the company, something that has made a huge difference. Playing a defining role in H.O.G is part of the company’s strategy to build a strong brand community. Among the results that show this move to be successful is the money raked in by the licensing of the bar-and-shield H-D logo and by the sale of H-D merchandise to members. Being a member of any H.O.G chapter entitles a Harley owner to discounts on this merchandise.

In 2013 — which marks the 110th year of Harley Davidson — the H-D is expected to go the extra mile and robustly build on the sense of community among its customers. The National H.O.G. Ride, which falls during the India Bike Week, figures in this packed calendar of events.

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SUPER HIGH ON A SUPER LOW

Subash Tamalapakula’s Harley experience confirms much of what we have known about Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.) outings. On the way to Hampi, as part of a big southern H.O.G. ride, Subash noticed how the trip was planned down to the last detail. First impressions last, and Subash has ever since put his name down for every joint ride — involving Mamallapuram and Puducherry — organised by the Chennai chapter.

“During these joint-rides, everyone goes by an unwritten code of road discipline,” says Subash. When asked if it has anything to do with age (the median age of Harley buyer now stands at 46.7), 35-year-old Subash replies, “It’s true that most riders in our chapter are above 40. But the two very young riders in the group — Balaji (20) and Vineeth (23) — also conduct themselves with great restraint and dignity.”

Subash believes joint outings provide the advantage of guidance from senior Harley riders. But he does not resist going out alone with his Harley. He has played the lone wolf with his Super Low many a time. He regularly takes it from Velachery to Siruseri, where he works.