Cubans Host First Harley-Davidson Rally

Share this Article

Relations between the U.S. and Cuba have been strained for decades but that hasn’t stopped some Cubans from enjoying a piece of Americana.

About 70 Cuban Harley-Davidson riders (or “Harlistas” as they call themselves) gathered in the resort town of Varadero for the country’s first-ever Harley-Davidson rally. They represented some of the 270-300 Harley-Davidson motorcycles registered in Cuba, all built before 1960 when the United States initiated its embargo on the communist nation.

The April 14-16 rally was organized by Max Cucchi, a proud owner of a 1958 Harley-Davidson.

“Normally all the motorcycles you see would be in a museum elsewhere in the world,” Cucchi told the Associated Press. “Here people use them to live.”

Though the motorcycles at the rally remain Harleys at heart, many contain a hodgepodge of parts from other vehicles as Cuban mechanics had to improvise to keep their motorcycles running without access to authentic Harley-Davidson components.

One rider for example, mechanic Jorge Fonseca, rides a 1954 Harley-Davidson Panhead, but the alternator is from a Ural.

Organizers hope to make the rally an annual event.

[Source: BBC, AP (Washington Post), Harlista Cubanos (Facebook)]

Get Motorcycle.com in your Inbox
  • Alex Kovnat

    The sooner the Cuban communist regime collapses, the better. When it does (and hopefully its only a matter of when not if), you are going to see a celebration in the streets of Havana like you’ve never seen before.