Still riding high: Harley-Davidson Singapore turns 25
Harley Davidson S'pore turns 25, sets sights on new generation of riders
Did you know that Harley-Davidson Singapore (HDS) started out as an apparel store at Ngee Ann City in November 1993?
The motorcycle showroom at 255 Alexandra Road opened its doors only in 1994, four long-time staff members told The New Paper.
They shared fond memories following HDS' 25th anniversary celebrations on Nov 11 at biker pub Handlebar.
Parts and accessories manager Gerald Soh said: "I still remember unloading our first shipment of brand new Harleys from the container. We sold the first 51 bikes in one hour."
Among them were the Sportster, Heritage Softail, Dyna Wide Glide and Softail Custom.
Hollywood action star Arnold Schwarzenegger, who starred in the 1991 sci-fi hit Terminator 2: Judgment Day, made the Harley Fat Boy model famous.
Mr Soh, 52 added: "It was the best product placement for Harley."
To date, HDS has sold more than 3,000 motorcycles. From 2007 to last year, 162 Harleys were registered yearly, based on Land Transport Authority statistics.
HDS general manager Dorothy Chan said there are as many as 20 Harley motorcycle clubs here today, with riders comprising professionals, police officers and taxi drivers.
HDS customers have grown with the company, treating staff like family members.
Ms Chan added: "There was one customer who invited the whole dealership to his baby's christening in 2010. He had proposed to his wife at our showroom on the day he collected his first Harley, a Sportster."
Since 1994, the showroom has moved three times - with the current one next door to the original site in Alexandra Road. Changes to the showroom make the place feel cosy and welcoming.
Coffee is on the house. So is the familiar sound of rumbling V-twin engines whizzing past as mechanics go for test runs.
Mr Gary Eng, brand and marketing spokesman for HDS, said: "It's a hangout - a home away from home. Some of our customers meet at the showroom before going to Orchard Road."
Over the years, HDS staff have facilitated wedding shoots there, along with fielding odd queries like renting a convoy of Harley riders for weddings.
HDS is associated with charitable causes, from toy runs to the recent Purple Parade, which strives for inclusivity for those with intellectual disabilities.
Not all Harley fans are riders. "You don't need to own a Harley-Davidson motorcycle to be cool," said Ms Maniseh Endut, retail executive for Harley MotorClothes and Merchandise at HDS.
Roughly 30 per cent of HDS revenue comes from the sale of merchandise like T-shirts, jackets, belts and shoes. Ms Chan said: "Young or old, there's always a rebel inside each Harley rider. What binds them together is 'the dream' of riding a Harley."