Harley-Davidson 4XX Emerges in India

Harley-Davidson 4XX Emerges in India

First results of a 2020 partnership between Harley and Hero MotoCorp, the largest motorcycle manufacturer in India.

The appearance of a Chinese-made Harley-Davidson in the form of the Qianjiang-made X350 has already made waves this year and now another small-capacity, foreign-sourced machine is about to join it in the form of the H-D “4XX” project that’s being teased by its manufacturer, Indian company Hero MotoCorp.

Given the stars-and-stripes, all-American V-twin image that is associated with Harley, it is understandable that not all die-hard fans have welcomed the appearance of small-capacity machines made thousands of miles away. However, there is no doubt that H-D has a strong business case for partnering with major manufacturers in Asia and India to produce these bikes.

The Hero-built Harley has been planned for years, just like the Qianjiang X350. The Qianjiang project was announced back in 2019 as part of the firm’s “More Roads to Harley-Davidson” product plan, created under former boss Matt Levatich, and it took until this year for it to come to fruition. The deal with Hero MotoCorp was announced in October 2020, when Levatich had been ousted and his “More Roads” plan was being rethought in the firm’s “Rewire” strategy under his replacement, The Harley-Davidson announcement that it was leaving the Indian market, one of the biggest motorcycle markets in the world, after a decade-long effort to establish a presence there, came just a month before the Hero deal was made public.

As one of the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturers, Hero was given a distribution agreement by Harley to sell and service Harley-Davidsons as well as Harley’s parts and accessories in India. More notably it included a licensing agreement for Hero to develop and sell “a range of premium motorcycles under the Name brand: Harley-Davidson.”

In other words, aside from its branding and a few styling cues, the bike that is currently being teased in India has very little Harley DNA. Hero created the device, which aims to serve the Indian market in particular. Due to the fact that it was designed and manufactured in India, it won’t have to overcome any barriers to competition that an imported bike would have to. As a result, its main competitors will come from companies like Royal Enfield.

The likelihood of exports is minimal at best. While the Chinese-made X350 is being brought to the USA, albeit only for use in Harley-Davidson’s Riding Academies and not for general sale, the Hero-made Harley—dubbed “4XX” on its license plate to hint at a capacity between 400cc and 500cc—is likely to stay in India. All Harley’s recent investor-relations documents have said that the firm intends to “maintain a productive relationship with Hero MotoCorp as a distributor and licensee of the Harley-Davidson brand name in India” (emphasis ours).

The name of this bike indicates that it has a capacity of around 400cc, but it differs significantly from the 354cc motor used in the X350. The Hero-developed Harley uses an air-cooled single cylinder engine, while the Chinese-made bike has a parallel-twin engine with a liquid-cooled design that is shared with several Benelli models. It appears to be a new engine because, despite Hero’s lineup of air-cooled singles having a number of models, none of them are close to 400cc in size. Despite the fact that Hero will be releasing a 421cc single in its own lineup later this year, the engine in that model is liquid-cooled and doesn’t seem to be connected to the Harley-branded vehicle.

An air-cooled 400cc single engine doesn’t promise a lot of performance, as you might expect, but that’s not what this bike is going for. In the Indian market, where the RE Classic 350 is the most popular midsized motorcycle, the H-D 4XX is going head-to-head with Royal Enfield. That means the Harley only needs to outperform the Enfield’s meager 20 horsepower and 20 lb.-ft. of torque to have a performance edge.

Images published in India, which are styled as “spy” shots but have been provided to multiple publications by an unnamed photographer (almost certainly Hero’s PR agency; no real spy snapper uses grainy, black-and-white photography and no genuine testbike would sport “HD 4XX” on its license plate to give clues about its name), show several details of the new bike. These consist of the same headlight design as the X350, which features an LED strip dividing the conventional, circular lamp, and related styling cues throughout the rest of the bike. With relatively low, straight bars and a highish, fairly flat seat in back of an extremely contemporary-looking tank, it is more like a flat track than a cruiser.

A look that has previously been seen on various Harley models is created by black alloy wheels with polished metal spoke edges. The front has a single brake disc and is larger, measuring what appears to be 18 or 19 inches in diameter and equipped with a 100/90 tire, while the rear has a 17-inch wheel and a 140-section tire. A four-pot ByBre caliper is used to grab that disc, and the images clearly show an ABS sensor ring.

Another shot focuses on the instruments, revealing a single circular digital gauge that combines the rev counter, speedometer, fuel gauge, clock, and trip. The Harley will rev higher than the Enfield 350 it is aiming for in addition to having a capacity advantage, according to the tachometer, which reads to 8,000 rpm.

In the long term, the strategy to let Hero produce Harley-branded bikes and sell them alongside the “real” things in It makes sense to open Indian showrooms to attract customers who cannot afford a larger, imported H-D and to raise brand awareness in India. The likelihood of the Hero-Harleys being sold in the United States is incredibly slim.

Reference: www.cycleworld.com

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