The iconic Harley-Davidson Company and Hero MotoCorp are both in the two-wheeler manufacturing business, but they’re not all that different from each other. Sometimes the most unlikely individuals can make great collaborators, and that seems to be the case with these OEMs. The Harley-Davidson X440 is the first product of this collaboration and one of the most anticipated products of the year.
The Harley-Davidson X440 turns the iconic American manufacturer’s efforts toward new markets and new segments. It holds the title of “the most affordable Harley in the world,” but is it a good thing to have a brand as rich and premium as Harley? let’s see.
(Also read: Harley-Davidson X440 launched in India, priced at $229,000)
Harley-Davidson X440 – Design and Build
The design team decided to dig some inspiration from Harley’s storied past, and the result is a striking motorcycle that takes some cues from the XR1200. Unlike traditional Harley motorcycles, the XR is more modern and retro, and the X440 inherits that. The shape of the round headlights and teardrop-shaped fuel tank is very prominent, and there is no trace of chrome to break the overall effect of darkness.
ALSO WATCH: Harley-Davidson X440 first look
The HD X440 sports an 18-inch front and 17-inch rear wheel setup for serious road presence. Three variants are offered – Denim, Vivid and S, with the top variant featuring machined engine and alloys, while the base variant features spoked wheels with tube tyres. The front three-quarters are just right and look right, but the rear three-quarters just don’t feel right. The rear is boxy and feels like an afterthought, especially the gap between the fenders and the wheels. I’m also not a fan of the utility exhaust, which is gimmicky in a desirable motorcycle. However, Harley says the muffler is all about getting the motorcycle to sound right.
On the less healthy side, the X440’s build quality is inconsistent and disappointing. The soldering surfaces on the frame leave a lot to be desired, and the wires feel like a mess. Panel gaps are also uneven, and the chrome and matte finish on the headlight bezels and gauge pod feel low-quality at best, depriving the bike of the solid feel it needs to exude. Overall, the bike could have been better assembled, and we hope Hero will be able to do that in future batches.
Harley Davidson X440 – Ergonomics
The riding position of the HD X440 is just right. The center-set footpegs and wide handlebars are neither too aggressive nor too laid-back. You are sitting upright, in a condescending position. The 805mm seat height accommodates riders of all sizes, allowing you to easily place your feet flat on the ground. Seat cushioning feels just right, but we’d like to explore more on the open road before passing judgment.
Harley Davidson X440 – Features
A 3.5-inch TFT screen is standard on all three models of the X440. It’s easy to read and provides a lot of information at a glance. Bluetooth connectivity is standard, including turn-by-turn navigation, call and text alerts, and music controls. Top-spec S trim adds the Connect 2.0 connectivity package, which brings more than 25 notifications. This includes ignition alerts; panic alerts; collision alerts, remote immobilization, geofencing, vehicle diagnostics, rider telematics, breakdown alerts, and more. The app also allows you to search for the nearest service center, book a service appointment or call roadside assistance. The X440 also features USB slots, while LED projection headlights feature sensor-based auto headlights that turn on automatically when needed
Harley Davidson X440 – Performance
The Harley-Davidson X440 has a lattice frame and a newly developed 440 cc air-cooled and oil-cooled engine as a force member. Simple in construction, the long-stroke single cylinder engine develops 27 bhp at 6,000 rpm and 38 Nm of peak torque at 4,000 rpm. These are impressive figures, well ahead of the segment leader, the Royal Enfield Classic 350. The 6-speed gearbox also helps put the little Harley ahead of the RE.
We spent some time testing the X440 at the Hero performance test track in Jaipur, and found that the engine had a lot of free-revving oomph that we weren’t expecting. Most of the power is delivered in the low and mid range, with about 90 percent of the torque available from 2,000 rpm. The result is a bike that’s eager to push and never shy away from hitting the redline at 7,000 rpm. The top speed we saw on the straight was 134km/h, but the bike’s sweet spot is between 90-100km/h. The X440 hits 100km/h in sixth gear at 4,000rpm, and the exhaust rumbles beautifully.
Going a step further, speeds take some time to hit triple digits. Still, it rides comfortably between 110-115km/h, with slight vibrations around the pedals and fuel tank. But the mid-to-low range is plentiful, and those who spend more time using it in the city are sure to be happier. The engine is very easy to handle and lets you put it in fifth gear at 45km/h. Power flows smoothly through the rev range, and long journeys on this motorcycle won’t feel tiring.
Harley Davidson X440 – Handling and Braking
But the biggest revelation is the HD X440’s processing power. With a clear emphasis on form over function, plaid isn’t the most eye-pleasing, but it gets the job done. Despite its long overall length and wheelbase, the X440’s input reception is reasonably good, and its predictable nature makes cornering easy. Nimble, flickable and easy to lean, this bike will make even inexperienced riders feel like a pro. The 190.5kg curb weight is evenly distributed and we managed to scrape the footpegs on both sides in the same way. Maybe better corner clearance isn’t such a bad thing.
The 43mm fork and gas-filled dual shock setup in the rear made for a fun ride, and the ride quality felt great on the flat test track. We’ll have to ride the bike on public roads, though, to see how it actually performs on various surfaces. Initial impressions were that a solid yet supple ride awaited us. Braking performance is impressive, with strong progressive feedback from the front lever. The 320mm front and 240mm rear disc brakes along with the dual-channel ABS do a fairly good job of anchoring the bike in time.
(Also read: Harley-Davidson X440 pre-orders start in India)
Harley Davidson X440 – Price
Harley India’s base X440 Denim is reasonably priced at $2.29 Lakhs, while the X440 Vivid is priced at $249,000.The top-spec X440 S is priced at $269 thousand (ex-showroom India). That’s slightly more than the Royal Enfield Classic 350, Yezdi Roadster and Honda H’ness CB350. It’s an incredible value considering things like Bluetooth connectivity and turn-by-turn navigation are standard features, not to mention it offers a lovely canvas for personalization. At this price point, it’s easy to overlook some of its quality issues.
Harley Davidson X440 – Conclusion
The X440 is the least Harley-like bike we’ve ridden in a while, and that’s a good thing. It has more appeal to new riders and feels more manageable. Now, it all boils down to Hero’s sales and distribution expertise, which includes building over 100 premium dealerships. But the X440’s road to success has not been smooth. Aside from its own shortcomings, competitors aren’t making things easier for the brand. So the Harley hero baby has to be a little more assertive to really let things take hold in its favor. I do see a few things going on.
First published date: Jul 6, 2023 at 13:16 PM EST