Meet the first-ever motorcycle to come out of the Harley-Hero collab. It is not just a worthy effort, it is a motorcycle capable of giving the likes of Royal Enfield 350cc bikes - and the new Triumph Street 400 - a few restless nights. We say that because not only is the Harley-Davidson X440 well-priced, it is an impressive motorcycle on the road too. Here's our take on the bike after spending a couple of hours riding it at Hero’s R&D centre in Jaipur.
The X440 is a reasonably large motorcycle. It is longer, and it sits on a longer wheelbase, compared to its main rival - the Classic 350. In fact, Hero and Harley have so closely benchmarked the Classic that the X440 has the exact same seat height, ground clearance and front suspension travel. The X440 is however slightly lighter.
In terms of design, the X draws cues from Harley’s own XR 1200, somewhat. As a result, the Harley connection is more than obvious. And if it wasn't, there are over 12 logos all around the bike to remind you of that. The 440 is a good looking motorcycle; well-proportioned and easy on the eye. The attention to detail at places is well-executed, and unless you pick and prod, it comes across as a motorcycle that's been well put-together.
If you do pick and prod, however, some inconsistencies come to the fore. The matte plastic between the instrumentation and headlamp looks and feels flimsy. The finish around the frame in places is poor. And the shut lines between panels could be more consistent. I am also not a fan of the horizontal bar connecting the two downtubes of the trellis frame. It is needed to give the chassis higher stiffness, but the way it obstructs the view of the engine makes it seem like an after thought.
The Harley X440 is a mixed bag of modernity and old-school approach when it comes to mechanicals. The engine is an air- and oil-cooled, single-cylinder, long-stroke thumper. It displaces 440cc and puts out 27bhp and 38Nm of torque. Both these figures are significantly higher than the Royal Enfield Classic 350. It is a simple engine but it is mated to a six-speed gearbox to give it added flexibility.
The chassis is a trellis frame that uses the engine as a stressed member. It’s not the best-looking trellis frame we have been, but Harley and Hero's engineers say, the focus was on function more than form. This is a more modern take on a frame, nonetheless, which is good to see.
The suspension layout is a mixed bag again. The front uses 43mm KYB upside-down forks for lesser upsprung mass and keener responses. But, the rear doesn't use a monoshock. Instead it uses a conventional twin shock layout with gas-charged dampers.
The braking setup expectedly employs a 320mm single disc up front with a twin-pot calliper, while the rear uses a smaller 240mm disc with a single-piston calliper. What’s more, dual-channel ABS is offered as standard on the X440.
The 440 is available in three trims, and all three trims also get Bluetooth connectivity that helps you with music control, turn-by-turn navigation, and call alerts. The top-spec trim however gets a full suite of connectivity options via the Harley Davidson app. It uses an e-sim which allows for functionalities like locating a dealer, booking a service, or calling for road-side assistance. It gets geo-fencing, theft alert, SOS, and one can also immobilise the bike via the app.
Before we rode the X440, we thought its aggressive pricing would be its key differentiator. But, we were wrong. Because, the way the motorcycle rides and feels gives it a very distinct and likeable aura.
The engine is a long-stroke unit. Not surprisingly then, it packs in handsome amounts of low and mid-range torque. This makes the 440 feel alive and willing and easy to ride. But it’s not a lazy engine. So, it likes to rev and it doesn't mind hitting its limiter at 7,000rpm quickly and repeatedly.
The throttle response is crisp, the gear ratios are well spread, and it is picks up seamlessly - and potently - from as low as 2,000rpm making it properly tractable. It also sounds good when you open the throttle at low rpms with the exhaust note sounding brawny and sweet at the same time.
In terms of refinement, the new 440cc could be a bit quieter. It could also do with lesser vibes post 4,500rpm. Not that the vibes will leave you with buzzy hands within 30 minutes of riding, but given how smooth it feels under 4,000rpm, the same could have been translated in the mid-range too. Now if you choose to ride at 90kmph in sixth gear, the bike is at its sweet spot and makes for a fatigue-free riding experience. In fact, at 100kmph in sixth, even though there are some vibes that can be felt on the handlebar, seat and footpegs, these aren't pronounced enough to cause concern. So in that sense, the X440’s powertrain should help the bike’s touring abilities if you choose to stick to speed limits.
The X440’s highlight, however, is its dynamic ability. Now, we only rode the bike inside CIT, so we can't really comment on its ride quality. Handling wise, though, it did pleasantly surprise us. The function-over-form approach for the chassis, the USD forks upfront, and the tyres, make for a predictable, friendly, and exciting combo come a series of corners.
The X440 flows into corners, tracks true when leaned over, and even with the 18-inch front tyre, 190kg of wet weight, and the long wheelbase, it handles quick direction changes like a boss. It doesn't weave or squirm or slip or slide, it just stands up and drops onto the other side till you start scraping the footpegs.
The brakes are good too. These offer a strong bite, good progression, and have the ability to overwhelm the tyres quite easily. I do wish the travel for the front brake lever wasn’t as much to catch your gloved finger between the lever and the handlebar grip when you squeeze the lever fully.
Should you buy it?
The Harley Davidson X440 should certainly be on your wish list. And here’s why...
First, there’s the price. At Rs. 2.29 lakh, ex-showroom for the base version, the X440 is superb value. It has the ‘Harely-Davidson’ tag. It has good road presence. And it will come with a slew of lifestyle add-ons soon.
Even on the road, the X440 is an impressive motorcycle. It has comfy ergos. The controls - especially the clutch - are light to use. The engine might not be the most refined we have experienced, but it’s peppy, torquey and enjoyable. The handling is predictable and involving. The grip and bite offered by both the tyres and the brakes urges one to ride harder than needed! And it’s not short on features either.
Not everything is great, of course. It could do with some quality improvements in terms of look and feel. The vibrations, especially in the mid-range, could be lesser. But, here is the thing - neither is big or significant enough to affect the buying decision. Not at this price.
Photography by Kapil Angane
Harley-Davidson X440 Right Front Three Quarter