Harley Davidson’s Royal Enfield Classic 350 challenger is here
It’s no secret Hero MotoCorp have been working on a single-cylinder Harley Davidson to rival the Royal Enfield Classic 350. It’s a segment filled with rivals including the Honda Hness 350, Jawa, Yezdi, TVS Ronin, BMW G 310 R and even the upcoming entry-level Triumph being developed by Bajaj Auto. And now here’s proof that final sign off has happened. Images have just landed on our desk of the India-specific Harley-Davidson being tested at Hero MotoCorp’s CIT R&D facility outside of Jaipur. These grainy images do reveal crucial elements of the motorcycle and we also have information that editor Sirish Chandran gleaned from his insider sources. Here’s what we know.
Styling of the Harley-Davidson developed by Hero MotoCorp
This upcoming bike definitely has Harley-Davidson design DNA. We are not sure but we assume the styling was done by Harley-Davidson at their headquarters in Milwaukee. The rest of the engineering, testing, development and validation has all been done in India by Hero MotoCorp to ensure it is both affordable and well-suited to the Indian market and its demands.
Sources tell us that this is not a retro motorcycle in its design and a lot of the styling elements confirm that. It has the quintessential circular headlamp which is an all-LED unit with attention to detail like the Harley-Davidson lettering in the DRL. This is a cue already adopted by TVS on the Ronin. The bar and shield logo can be seen on the LED turn signals as well.
Instrumentation is handled by a colour TFT screen and there are some interesting bits there. The redline shows 8000rpm. It could be a little higher as well and it could be that we just can’t make out from the angle of the photograph. The instrument cluster will also have connectivity features allowing the user to pair their smartphone and get updates, and even control their media.
Wheels and tyres of the new Harley-Davidson
Alloy wheels with what looks like a 10 or 11 spoke design are shod with CEAT tyres (probably the Xoom Cruz) which we see on quite a few Royal Enfields. Talking about tyre and wheel sizes, you have a 140/70 section tyre on a 17-inch rim at the rear and what seems like a 100/90 section tyre fitted on an 18-inch/19-inch rim at the front.
The high revving tacho and the relatively sharp looking rake angle upfront suggest that this would also be quite a sporty Harley-Davidson. The 18-inch front should help the bike handle India’s tough and rough terrain better and it should result in reduced maintenance due to constant impacts from the road. Considering that these are alloys, these tyres will most definitely be tubeless as well.
The tyre size though means the bike doesn’t have the typical Harley-Davidson stance from the rear. All Harleys have a big fat rear tyre which delivers a characteristic look and that is which this does not have. For obvious reasons we have to add. You don’t need fat tyres with 30bhp.
Harley-Davidson India bike ergonomics
Our sources reveal that the bike is easy to flat-foot even for shorter riders. Crucially though the bike also feels substantial and muscular. There are some six-footers looking at the bike in these pictures and they aren’t towering over the bike.
The seat height should be around the 790mm-810mm mark which should make it comfortable for riders of most sizes to sit comfortably on the bike. The ergonomics look to be a blend of sporty and relaxed with what seem like relatively upright and rather wide ’bars and mid-mounted foot controls. This should ensure that the bike will be comfortable for commuting in the city and cruising down the highways as well.
New Hero MotoCorp-developed engine to debut in the Harley-Davidson
We can confirm the engine is an air-cooled single-cylinder unit with an oil cooler. This is not a liquid cooled engine, most likely done for cost reasons and also to deliver a unique Harley exhaust note. In fact engineers have worked extra-hard to get the exhaust to sound like a Harley with one of the comments reaching the editor being, “You might not need a Screamin Eagle exhaust”.
The exhaust displacement of the engine remains a mystery, somewhere between 420 to 450cc. It could be a 442cc engine, half of the Iron 883, the smallest engine in the H-D line up right now. The Motor Company has always been very specific with their suffixes when it comes to engine displacement so what this will be remains to be seen.
Hero MotoCorp stays faithful to the classic American saying, ‘There’s no replacement to displacement’, and attacks the Royal Enfield Classic 350 with nearly a 100 more cee-cees. We expect the power to be in the region of 30bhp and insiders who have ridden the bike say there’s definitely a much stronger mid-range punch. In a drag race, they claim, the new Harley will smoke all its rivals and will also clock a higher top speed. Refinement has also been given top marks. That said we will have to reserve comments until we ride the bike, for now all this is conjecture and information gleaned from our sources.
The engine is likely to be mated to a six-speed gearbox and whether or not it will have a slip-and-assist clutch remains to be seen. In terms of electronics you might see a Rain mode and a Sport mode, the effort being to limit complexity and thus hold the pricing.
This is the first application of the new Hero engine that will then find its way into the larger Hero Xpulse. In fact this engine has already been tested in the rally-spec Xpulse with a displacement of 421cc. For sportier applications Hero MotoCorp could even employ liquid cooling.
Harley-Davidson India bike chassis
It is a little hard to pinpoint exactly what it is but it certainly is some sort of tubular frame. Up front are USD forks at the front and the rear gets a gas charged twin shock setup. Hero MotoCorp have opted for a twin-shock setup instead of a monoshock to keep costs in check.
Brakes are discs at both ends with what looks like a twin-piston ByBre calliper at the front and a single piston calliper at the rear. And to meet regulations the bike will come with dual-channel ABS as standard equipment.
Harley-Davidson India bike pricing and availability
The single-cylinder Harley-Davidson is almost ready for production. Sources indicate the wraps will come off in July-August of this year and the bike will go on sale before Diwali. And pricing? It will be slotted between the Royal Enfield Classic 350 and the BMW G 310 R, skewing more towards the Classic. The Indian partner, currently the official distributor for Harley-Davidson in India, is also fully committed to growing volumes. This is evident by the fact that Hero MotoCorp Chairman and CEO Pawan Kant Munjal was also present at the preview of this new motorcycle to the dealers.
If this machine is priced in the Rs 2.5 lakh ball-park it will shake up the segment a fair bit. Following the template employed by Royal Enfield, we also expect this platform to be the start of a whole range of models. Expect a laid-back cruiser, a flat-track bike, a Scrambler, maybe even a cafe racer. You could even see a baby Pan America that could share a lot with the bigger Hero Xpulse 421. Apart from that we also expect Harley-Davidson and Hero MotoCorp to export this motorcycle to various international markets, riding down the trail blazed by Royal Enfield. This is yet another motorcycle, and platform, that will put India on the global motorcycling map.