The newest Harley-Davidson motorcycles to hit the market — its Sport Glide model — are rolling out of the company’s Kansas City assembly plant.
Harley-Davidson spokesman Michael Pflughoeft said the addition of the Sport Glide in Kansas City did not change employment there, currently at 748. In July, layoffs claimed 97 jobs at the nearly 400,000-square-foot assembly plant, built in 1998, as the company pared nearly as many jobs at its Milwaukee plant.
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Sport Glides just arrived in dealerships, and Harley-Davidson expects them to attract riders who want a city cruiser with touring attributes.
“We wanted to offer people a touring motorcycle that isn’t intimidating,” said Dave Latz, Harley-Davidson’s senior product manager. “We wanted to offer something to the non-traditional touring rider that would allow them to get into the touring space, but also serve the need of touring riders who didn’t want to ride a full-sized touring bike anymore.”
The Milwaukee-based manufacturer, like most motorcycle makers, is struggling with declining sales and hopes to preserve market share by adding riders to its customer base.
In October, the company said worldwide sales dropped 6.9 percent below sales levels for the comparable period in 2016, while U.S. sales fell 8.1 percent.
“The continued weakness in the U.S. motorcycle industry only heightens our resolve and the intensity we are bringing to the quest to build the next generation of Harley-Davidson riders,” Matt Levatich, Harley president and chief executive, said at the time.
Harley says the new Sport Glide will be available from $18,599. It comes with Harley’s Milwaukee Eight engine, a 107-cubic-inch V-twin power plant that makes 108 pound feet of torque and is shared by most of the new Softail bikes announced by Harley in August.
Like other Harley cruisers, it features a 6-speed gearbox, electronic fuel injection and standard ABS. It has a seat height of 25.7 inches and weighs 698 pounds when fueled.
Sport Glide departs from its other Harleys in that it comes standard with a small, detachable fairing and a pair of small, detachable saddlebags. It also features inverted front forks and a slimmer side case, which increase the pared-down look.
The Los Angeles Times contributed to this report.