In this week's show, Ray talked us through his insurance win, we have
We've been wondering for a while if Harley-Davidson's new small-capacity motorcycles built in partnership with Chinese giant Qianjiang Motor (QJ) would find their way to New Zealand, and finally, we have an answer. Harley-Davidson will return to the LAMS class with the new X350 and X500 officially being sold in New Zealand dealerships from December 2023.
“The Harley-Davidson X350 and Harley-Davidson X500 join the existing lineup as brand-new instruments of exploration designed to navigate the urban grid with agility,” said Nigel Keough, Managing Director for Harley-Davidson Australia and New Zealand. “Both motorcycle models are tailored for adventurous riders – new and existing – whoare focused on style, performance, and accessibility to the brand.”
Harley-Davidson has been in a pickle in the New Zealand market since the Street 500 was discontinued, which removed the brand from the popular LAMS market. Ever since then the Street 500 has become a great investment for learner motorcyclists who have generally been able to do their licencing and sell the bike for essentially what they paid for it when they are ready to move on.
However, Harley-Davidson clearly knew that the entry class outside of its home market was an important one, and teamed up with Chinese firm QJ to produce a pair of new entry-level Harleys – the X350 and X500. Both bikes appear to be based heavily around the existing Benelli TNT300 and Leoncino 500, with distinct Harley-Davidson styling touches. That should mean reliability is a given as both Benellis have been well received globally. That also means the new bikes sport parallel-twin engines rather than the expected V-twin engines we normally associate with the Bar and Shield. Considering the low point of entry ($9,495 for the X350) we'll let that slide as engineering a new V-twin to compete in the cutthroat small-capacity world (and meet new emissions targets) would have increased the price point significantly.
H-D looks to have worked pretty hard at injecting some of their DNA into these new models, with distinctive styling and extra performance for the new X350 and X500 compared to the Benellis.
The X350 gets a larger engine capacity than its Benelli cousin with a 353cc DOHC 4-valve liquid-cooled parallel twin, tuned to produce strong mid-range torque and mated to a six-speed transmission. The X500 sports a 500cc DOHC 4-valve parallel-twin engine which has likewise been tuned for mid-range performance. Unlike traditional H-D products, the X series falls squarely into the naked segment with upright ergonomics, 17-inch wheels and 777mm/820mm seat heights.
Both feature steel frames with the X350 scoring a stylish trellis unit that really stands out next to its larger more subdued sibling. In fact, the X350 looks to have the most Harley-Davidson design input while the X500 does disappointingly appear to look a lot like a badge engineer job.
It isn't a clone of the Leoncino, however, with the X500 getting a classic Sportster-style bobbed rear fender that recalls the Iron 883, Forty-Eight, and the new Nightster models. The two-up saddle has a wide, thick cushion for comfort, and is styled with contrasting stitching and a textured section on the seating surface for a premium look and feel.
The X350 on the other hand clearly looks like it was designed in Milwaukee, with the X350’s design being unmistakably Harley-Davidson with hints of modern Sportster S and flat trackers along with its trellis frame.
The Harley-Davidson X350 will be available at authorised Harley-Davidson dealerships from December with a Ride Away Price of $9,495 NZD in Dramatic Black, Dynamic Orange, Supersonic Silver, and Pearl White, while the Harley-Davidson X500 will be available with a Ride Away Price of $12,750 NZD in Dramatic Black, Dynamic Orange, Supersonic Silver, and Pearl White.