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Harley-Davidson X440 2500km – Touring Review

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Pratik Bhanushali

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Introduction

Harley-Davidson X440 Right Front Three Quarter

‘Touring’ is a word we all love. And then, touring on a motorcycle is irresistible for me and a lot of people I know. Now, I have done multiple rides on my own KTM 390 Duke and a few other bikes, but those had mostly been to Goa. Since it was time for a change, when an opportunity came around to travel to Rann of Kutch, I jumped on it. Well, the one thing that was yet to be figured out was the bike I would be using. Luckily, we had just received the Harley-Davidson X440 around the same time, which ended up being my choice for this ride.

Now, the route for my entire ride was already set, Mumbai – Ahmedabad – Kutch – Ahmedabad – Mumbai. All this cumulated to about 2,500km of riding at various hours of the day, pretty much from dawn to dusk!

And throughout the journey, I realised a lot of things about the Harley X440 that have now helped build strong opinions in my mind about whether you should put your hard-earned money on this motorcycle.

So should you? Let’s find out.

Engine Performance

Harley-Davidson X440 Left Front Three Quarter

There are boxes that the X440 had to check for it to be a good tourer. First, was the engine performance. And regarding this, one question that was doing circles in my head was – Does the smallest Harley have the appetite to munch such long saddle hours? And the straight answer to that is, yes, it does.

The ride started early in the morning, but thanks to city traffic, there was already a delay. With this, the new ETA to Ahmedabad had increased by a couple of hours at least. However, once the roads were empty, I started to gun the X440 and it was easily able to be ridden at speeds of around 110-115kmph for a long time. And even then, the vibrations from this 440cc, single-cylinder engine weren’t as prominent as I had expected it to be. The only areas where I did feel the vibes were on the handlebar and footpegs, which, too, were minimal.

Harley-Davidson X440 Clutch Lever

The Harley X440 can cruise at 100kmph effortlessly in the sixth gear with the rev-counter at just 4,000rpm. You don’t need to downshift even when slowing down to as low as 60-70kmph. The bike just needs gradual acceleration, and as the revs build up, it is back to cruising speeds. But what you need to remember is that this isn’t a short-stroke motor. So, the speeds don’t climb as quickly as you would expect. The progression is rather gradual and quite suitable for touring. This lovely engine character is complemented by a nice and meaty exhaust note.

There even came some long stretches with bumper-to-bumper traffic. Even in such situations, the X440’s engine was a strong link. You can easily stay in first or even second gear and just keep modulating the clutch. The heating is managed well enough and the bike is capable of crawling at slow speeds without shuddering. It is almost intuitive to the X440 for how its engine responds at walking speeds too. One thing that the X440 could do better is have the gear and brake lever of slightly shorter lengths. The current ones are longer than you would expect and take a bit of getting used to.

Features

Harley-Davidson X440 Instrument Cluster

After day one, it was time to head to Rann of Kutch, which was another 500km from Ahmedabad. Of that, the last 200+ had to be ridden in the dark, which I was a little sceptical about, for obvious reasons.

Contrastingly, it was easier than expected because, to my surprise, the X440’s LED headlight is bright enough and illuminates the road ahead very well. Even the throw for the high beam is adequate, which means the path ahead is lit up nicely. Another feature that deserves praise is the instrument console. Although small, the X440’s screen is very informative. The speedometer, gear indicator, rev counter, and even the fuel cage are all laid out neatly.

Ergonomics

Harley-Davidson X440 Right Side View

Apart from having good power, other aspects that one would ideally look for when doing a long ride are ergonomics and comfort. Since you end up spending most of your day on the bike, it is important to have a comfortable rider triangle, dense cushioned seat, and a pliant suspension setup. In the Harley-Davidson X440’s case, it has a mix of a comfortable and commanding rider posture.

Harley-Davidson X440 Left Front Three Quarter

The handlebar is wide enough and the footpegs are pretty much neutrally set. Even the seat cushioning is dense enough and you can move around if needed. But standing up on the pegs is uncomfortable and it is also difficult to grab the tank while at it.

Luggage Mounting

Harley-Davidson X440 luggage mounting

I mounted the Rynox Navigator tail bag on the rear seat. But since the bike has no backrest or vertical grill, you might have to take the seat off and slide the strap inside for a proper and firm setup. That said, this could vary as per the characteristics of your saddlebags or tail bags. Moreover, with all the luggage strapped in, the usable seat area seemed pretty tight.

Harley-Davidson X440 Left Side View

We also used the Carbonado magnetic tank bag for easy access to documents, and snacks. However, the magnets of the bag ended up scratching the fuel tank surface slightly, so we recommend you use a different setup to not chip off the paint.

Handling and Ride Quality

Harley-Davidson X440 Left Rear Three Quarter

The Harley Davidson X440 weighs 190kg, which isn’t light by any standards. A lot of its weight is concentrated at the front and the bike feels slightly top-heavy too. The X440’s heft is quite evident when you have to move the bike around manually in a parking lot or tight space.

However, once you start riding it in the city or on the highway and clock triple-digit speeds, the X440 rides with quite a vigour. It takes the inputs from the handlebar and responds spiritedly. Even when you need to switch lanes to dodge the truck traffic, the X440 stands up to the task. But if you are hoping the X440 to be extremely nimble then you are slightly over expecting.

Harley-Davidson X440 Right Rear Three Quarter

Its handle is wide enough, which makes it convenient to manoeuvre the bike in dense traffic and also helps to tackle the top-heavy nature. But we think the handlebar could be slightly thicker. The current one feels a little off-proportion compared to the overall bodywork.

Throughout the 2,500km, on the highway and in the city, the X440’s ride quality didn’t let us down one bit. Its USD front forks and the twin rear springs were left in the stock setting and they absorbed every bump that came by. We encountered some extremely bad patches on the internal roads of Bhuj, but the Harley-Davidson X440 left us impressed even then as it rode over those broken roads. This is further complemented by the X440’s ability to hold its composure on bad roads and even on smooth-flowing highways. The rear may wobble slightly if there are undulations on the highway but the bike still holds its line predictably.

Fuel Efficiency

Harley-Davidson X440 Right Front Three Quarter

Overall, we managed to get an average of 27kmpl from the Harley-Davidson X440. This included cruising on the NH48 for hours as well as dodging the infamous traffic in Ahmedabad and on our way back to Mumbai. Not bad, we say, considering the bike saw 100kmph and higher speeds for hours.

What we didn't like

Braking

Harley-Davidson X440 Right Front Three Quarter

One of the weak links of the Harley Davidson X440’s package is the brakes. The front lever’s progression is nice and natural and it is easy to get a hold of, but the braking bite isn’t as substantial and reliable as needed. I ended up squeezing the lever all in and the X440 still took some time to stop. So, naturally, the next best option to pair with it is engine braking. But that may not be ideal so it would be better if Harley could provide better brake pads on the 440. This would add to the rider’s peace of mind.

Finishing

The finishing levels on this bike have left us with mixed feelings. Some areas are likeable, but then you see the wiring near the handlebar and the switch cubes, which don’t match the overall premium feel of owning a Harley-Davidson.

Seat Width

Harley-Davidson X440 Bike Seat

The X440’s seat has dense foam but the rider’s portion isn’t wide enough. This was one of the major pain points for me throughout this ride and resulted in multiple stops to give my bottom some rest.

Should you buy it?

Harley-Davidson X440 Left Side View

Before we tell you whether to put in your hard-earned Rs. 2.80 lakh, let’s evaluate a few things.

If you do purchase the X440, then you essentially get an impressive engine with loads of torque that makes highway and city riding very easy. You won’t have to run through the entire gearbox over and over. Then, it can also hold relatively high speeds without hesitation, which makes cruising a tad more fun.

Harley-Davidson X440 Fuel Tank

Apart from wearing the Harley badge, the X440 also benefits from a good road presence. It looks like a big bike and feels like one too. The suspension setup is good enough for you to ride the X440 for days. And that’s literally what we did. Be it the bad roads in the city or the smooth highways, the consistency in the X440’s handling and ride quality is impressive. When riding at high speeds for long hours, it’s good to have a bike that can hold its composure and the X440 checks that box too. While we didn’t need to use the connectivity features, it is nice to have that as a backup.

But what you will need to remember is that the X440 also needs better brakes, wider seat for the rider, and consistency in the build quality. If this is what fits your bill, then the Harley Davidson X440 gets a big yes from us.

Photography by Kaustubh Gandhi

Gallery

Harley-Davidson X440 Rear View
Harley-Davidson X440 Instrument Cluster
Harley-Davidson X440 Right Front Three Quarter
Harley-Davidson X440 Left Front Three Quarter
Harley-Davidson X440 Left Front Three Quarter
Harley-Davidson X440 Left Rear Three Quarter
Harley-Davidson X440 Right Front Three Quarter
Harley-Davidson X440 Left Side View
Harley-Davidson X440 Bike Seat
Harley-Davidson X440 Right Side View

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