June 16 2004. Registrations of Harley-Davidson motorcycles in Japan achieved a new high in 2003 according to data released byThe Nikkei Marketing Journal. Five Harley-Davidson models, including the Heritage Softail Classic, Fat Boy and Dyna Low Rider, appeared in the publication's list of the 15 best selling motorcycles with engine capacities of more than 400cc.

However, it was the Motor Company's Sportster range that lead the charge last year with the special 100th Anniversary edition Sportster 1200S achieving fourth spot in The Nikkei Marketing Journal table.

Sportster registrations remain buoyant according to the report with the fully re-designed four strong Sportster range, which arrived in Harley-Davidson showrooms last October, proving to be particularly popular with Japanese motorcyclists.

Harley-Davidson's highly distinctive V-twin powered models are benefiting from an upsurge in interest in touring and cruising motorcycles in the Japanese marketplace which has traditionally been dominated by high performance sports bikes. Harley-Davidson Japan sold 11,802 units in 2003, an 8.3% increase on the previous year.

Katsuya Masuda, a spokesman for Harley-Davidson Japan, commented: "Many Japanese motorcyclists used to base their buying decisions purely on top speeds and horsepower. However, the market has changed significantly with more riders looking for motorcycles with useable power levels and there's also an increasing appreciation of features like styling and design, as well as the lifestyle associated with manufacturers like Harley-Davidson.

"Harley-Davidson has actually been importing motorcycles into Japan since 1913 and already had a well-established reputation as a prestigious brand so it has been well placed to meet these changes."

In April 2003 Tokyo hosted a spectacular party for tens of thousands of Japanese Harley-Davidson enthusiasts when the company celebrated its 100th Anniversary in the Japanese capital city.