Recently, all the chatter around the Harley-Davidson fandom campsite has been when will the X350 and X500 motorcycles being built in China by QJ Motor in collaboration with Harley Davidson arrive in western markets and certainly in the homelands of North America.
In a recent offering; Jochen Zeitz confirmed that the motorcycles are in production however they are not destined for the public US market…well not for now at least.
Instead they will be used in Harley Davidson Riding Academies around the US for learner riders to replace the Street 500s. This does leave the door still ajar for the X500 to reach the American shores but nothing has been hinted either way in this regards.
H-D have stated in the past that this motorcycle will be for the Chinese market only, however there are strong indicators now that this will be available for many other countries in that region and also indicating that it will reach India which has the largest national volume sales in the world, so it makes perfect sense to capitalise on that strong market.
Perhaps H-D feel the X350 would not suit the American culture or riding habits, hence the decision to use it in the learning schools only. However there could be a market in the US not fully appreciated by the company. One that attracts the urban rider, the young with limited funds and those that have already gone to the like of Royal Enfield or even to small powered electric bikes.
It would of no surprise if once learner riders start using the bike, therein becomes a greater demand to see this bike of the American streets and might even convince the company to fully release the X350 and bigger brother X500 for the greater American audience.
But for now the X350 is designated as X350RA for Riding Academy and potential specs as as follows.
The standard X350 produces 36hp, however the RA will produce 23hp from the 353cc parallel twin engine. Standard bike has 120/160 section front/rear tyres whilst the RA has 110/150 section tyres front and rear.
The X350 frame is a trellis type construction with USD front forks and side mounted rear monoshock suspension. It has 17inch wheels with dual disc brakes for the front. Dual channel ABS, LED lights and part digital instrument console.
Much of the design and features are similar to other Chinese offerings from QJ motor with notable similarities to the Benelli 302S.
The major rivals will be the Royal Enfield Meteor, Classic etc all utilising the 350cc engine whilst other modern bikes from collabs between Triumph & Bajaj, BMW and TVS and KTM and Bajaj all producing small displacement engine bikes will provide stiff competition. Perhaps the North American market may be snubbed this round, but the X350 and X500 may still be a better fit for the Europeans roads anyway, so wait for more news on this shortly.