Cuban Harley Fans Must Overcome Massive Obstacles

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No matter where your political affiliations might lie, you can’t help but admire the dedication of Cuban Harley enthusiasts.

Here in the U.S., home of Harley, it’s hard to imagine a world where enjoying our favorite hobby might be difficult. After all, the biggest obstacles we face in owning a motorcycle are money, spousal approval, and maybe other drivers. But in countries like Cuba, owning a Harley comes with its own special sort of problems. And yet, one group of enthusiastic riders refuse to let anything get in the way of their favorite hobby.


The Cuba-based Harley club known as “Harlistas Cubanos” recently enjoyed their seventh annual meeting, in fact. Roughly 90 miles from Havana, 80+ members showed up this year to show off their old school Harley bikes. We say old school, because as you may or may not already know, Fidel Castro banned foreign vehicle and parts imports way back in 1959. The result is a country that looks and feels like a trip into the distant past.

We might be able to head online and order up whatever parts we want or need. But Cubans don’t enjoy the same luxury. They’re forced to work with what they have, which might be enough to scare off (or frustrate) most potential owners. And yet, the allure of Harley is far too strong. “We live for the motorcycle,” club member Raul Brito explained to Xinhua Net. “Everything we can do to make it beautiful, we do it. There are even times we have sacrificed personal comforts to buy something.”


In spite of this, the club estimates there to be roughly 170 Harley bikes on the island. But only 120 are in running condition. Despite the dicey political divide between the communist country and America, the members of Harlistas Cubanos see their annual meeting as a way to bridge that gap.

“I think this is another way to relax political relations between Cuba and the United States and generate a climate of friendship and fraternity with American Harley-Davidson fans,” said event organizer Abel Pez. For us, it’s also a sure indicator of the lengths enthusiasts are willing to go for the love of Harley!

Photos: Facebook

Brett Foote is a longtime contributor to Internet Brands’ Auto sites, including Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts.

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