The looks of a Chinese language-made Harley-Davidson within the type of the Qianjiang-made X350 has already made waves this yr and now one other small-capacity, foreign-sourced machine is about to affix it within the type of the H-D “4XX” undertaking that’s being teased by its producer, Hero MotoCorp in India.
Unsurprisingly, given the stars-and-stripes, all-American V-twin picture that’s related to Harley, the looks of small-capacity machines made hundreds of miles away hasn’t been greeted with common acceptance from die-hard followers, however there’s little doubt H-D has a strong enterprise case for tie-ins with main producers in Asia and India to create these bikes.
Just like the Qianjiang X350, the Hero-made Harley has been within the pipeline for years. The Qianjiang undertaking was introduced again in 2019 as a part of the agency’s “Extra Roads to Harley-Davidson” product plan, created below former boss Matt Levatich, and has taken till this yr to achieve fruition. The cope with Hero MotoCorp was introduced in October 2020, when Levatich had been ousted and his “Extra Roads” plan was being rethought within the agency’s “Rewire” technique below his alternative, Jochen Zeitz. The Hero deal was introduced only a month after Harley stated it was pulling out of the Indian market—one of many largest bike markets on the earth—after a decade-long try to get a foothold there.
Harley’s cope with Hero gave the Indian firm, which is likely one of the largest bike producers on the planet, a distribution settlement to promote and repair Harley-Davidsons and Harley’s elements and equipment in India. Extra notably it included a licensing settlement for Hero to develop and promote “a spread of premium bikes below the Harley-Davidson model title.”
In different phrases, the bike that’s now being teased in India has little Harley DNA past its branding and a few styling cues. It’s a machine Hero has developed, and one which particularly targets the Indian market. As such, its key rivals will likely be from corporations like Royal Enfield, and since it’s an Indian-designed and -manufactured product it faces not one of the hurdles to competitiveness that an imported bike must clear.
The probabilities of exports appear slim at finest. Whereas the Chinese language-made X350 is being delivered to the USA, albeit just for use in Harley-Davidson’s Using Academies and never for common sale, the Hero-made Harley—dubbed “4XX” on its license plate to trace at a capability between 400cc and 500cc—is more likely to keep in India. All Harley’s latest investor-relations paperwork have stated that the agency intends to “preserve a productive relationship with Hero MotoCorp as a distributor and licensee of the Harley-Davidson model title in India” (emphasis ours).
So what is that this bike? Properly, the title tells us its capability is someplace within the area of 400cc, but it surely’s fairly totally different to the 354cc motor used within the X350. The place the Chinese language-made bike has a liquid-cooled parallel-twin design, shared with a number of Benelli fashions, the Hero-developed Harley makes use of an air-cooled single-cylinder engine. It seems to be a brand new engine, as whereas Hero has a number of air-cooled singles in its lineup, none are near a 400cc capability. Though Hero is because of launch a 421cc single later this yr in its personal vary, that’s a liquid-cooled engine and seems to be unrelated to the one used within the Harley-branded machine.
As you may think, an air-cooled 400cc single doesn’t promise an enormous quantity of efficiency, however that’s not what this bike is aiming for. The H-D 4XX goes for the jugular of Royal Enfield within the Indian market, and the RE Basic 350 is the bestseller within the nation’s midsized class. Which means the Harley solely has to beat the Enfield’s modest 20 hp and 20 lb.-ft. of torque to have a efficiency edge.
Photographs printed in India, that are styled as “spy” pictures however have been offered to a number of publications by an unnamed photographer (nearly actually Hero’s PR company; no actual spy snapper makes use of grainy, black-and-white images and no real testbike would sport “HD 4XX” on its license plate to present clues about its title), present a number of particulars of the brand new bike. These embrace the identical headlight design we noticed on the X350, with an LED strip splitting the standard, round lamp, and comparable styling cues all through the remainder of the bike. It’s extra flat monitor than cruiser, with comparatively low, straight bars and a highish, pretty flat seat behind a fairly modern-looking tank.
Black, alloy wheels with polished metallic on the perimeters of the spokes give a glance that’s been seen on varied Harley fashions prior to now. The rear is a 17-incher, with a 140-section tire, whereas the entrance is bigger—18 or 19 inches in diameter from the look of it, with a 100/90 tire—carrying a single brake disc. That disc is grabbed by a four-pot ByBre caliper, and there’s an ABS sensor ring seen within the photos.
One other shot exhibits a close-up of the devices, with a single, round, digital gauge combining rev counter, speedo, gasoline gauge, clock, and journey. The tach reads to eight,000 rpm, hinting that in addition to a capability benefit, the Harley will rev larger than the Enfield 350 it’s concentrating on.
In the long run, the technique to let Hero produce Harley-branded bikes and promote them alongside the “actual” issues in Indian showrooms is a logical one, rising consciousness of the model in India and attractive clients who can’t afford a bigger, imported H-D. Nonetheless, the possibilities that the Hero-Harleys will likely be bought within the States are vanishingly small.