Harley Davidson X 440 first ride review: A new breed of AI (American-Indian)
Harley-Davidson has just turned the page onto another chapter in its 120-old history book with the all-new X 440 roadster. It's the first motorcycle to have emerged from the collaboration between India's two-wheeler manufacturing giant Hero MotoCorp and the American bike maker Harley-Davidson. Yes, it's a single-cylinder motorcycle and new from the ground up. Also, it's been almost 50 years we're seeing a new single cylinder motorcycle launched bearing some official H-D badging. In essence it's a Harley that's built in India, for India, and with its starting cost price of Rs 2.29 lakh it's becomes the most affordable motorcycle from this stable which the country has ever seen. But is it any good? We soon find out.
Beginning with X 440s design. Now first up, this bike is designed to be your entry-level everyday roadster, a slightly above average one at that. And although the 'roadster' segment is one that Harley knows well, in this displacement category, at this pricing, it's a definitely stepping into a new arena altogether. Now I know looks are subjective, and the front of the motorcycle does look beefy with the LED lights, yes at both ends, the chunky wheels, a wide handlebar that gives it these brawny shoulders. Nice big 13.5-litre tank, all a visual delight. More so the base model, according to me, with its spoke wheels and tubeless treads. I quite fancy the look of that one compared to the mid-spec 'Vivid' and top-spec 'S' trim variants because I'm not a taker for the design of the alloys on the more expensive variants. Like their tanks, all three trim variants get metal body panels and fenders too.
But on all three there's no shying away from that rear section which has the potential to make more than a few babies cry at the mere sight of its design style. And then there's that colossal exhaust can which is a sight. It has hints of Hero commuter written all over it. But Harley say that that last exhaust bit was a bit of a compromise in order to attain the H-D-esque thump.
Which honestly doesn't sound anywhere close to the unmistakable thump of any of the company's twins in the modern past, but it's definitely a more resounding note than that which emanates from the Royal Enfield Classic 350. Overall levels of fit and finish are commendable by Hero standards, because there currently isn't a motorcycle of this quality to roll off a Hero production line, but it still manages to fall short compared to the competition in the form of the RE Classic 350.
Features-wise you get a pretty decent amount of standard kit on all three X 440 variants - like auto headlamp illumination and the all-LED lighting. Then there's that nicely laid out 3.5-inch TFT screen, dual channel ABS and the conveniently located USB port is standard too. What separates the top-end model from the other two are its Bluetooth/app connectivity features and a couple more screen options like turn-by-turn navigation, the 3D tank badging, the alloy wheels and the bronzed engine finish. Mechanically all three variants of the X 440 are identical and that's the best part.
Now after taking a couple of laps at Hero Motocorp's CIT the first thing I was impressed by right off the bat was its 440cc, single-cylinder air/oil-cooled engine. It's 27PS of max power and 38Nm of peak torque is spread out very generously all along the six cogs that you have to work with. Everything seems to fall in place really well. If you're riding slowly, the bike is comfortable and it'll allow you to shortshift, no problem. If you want to give it the go, get on the gas quite hard, the motorcycle will manage it really well.
There's a good amount of torque lowdown the band which is great for city riding because you won't be shifting gears ever so often, and out at highway speeds what got to me was this motorcycle's level of refinement and composure. Around 100kmph in sixth at 4,000 rpm felt flawless and unstressed, and vibes slowly began to creep in north of that mark, but it never for overly intrusive matter-of-factly, and the sheer willingness of this motorcycle not only to push to the 6,500rpm redline, but also to execute any manoeuver you have in mind while carrying a good amount of speed is simply commendable as well.
Ride and Handling:
Out here, I got to test the new Harley out on Hero's high speed and technical circuits out at the company's Centre of Innovation and Technology in Rajasthan and the X 440 surprisingly proved highly impressive on both tracks. The Harley-Davidson X 440 features a new tubular steel perimeter frame, a chunky 43mm USD fork up front with preload adjustable dual shocks at the rear, and Hero has done a fantastic job of not only keeping the bikes balance in check but its kerb weight to 190.5kg when you consider all the metal bits all over, because the bike manages to hide the bulk of its weight as soon as you set off. From low-speed tractability and high-speed refinement and stability to some brake stabbing, peg-scraping, corner carving action, not only was this motorcycle was a real hoot to ride but it was almost instantly confidence instilling as well. Handling is neutral and quite easy to get used to, but the way the suspension digs in, the brakes bite down and the MRF Zapper Hyke rubber claws through corners... let's just say that fun and excitement definitely awaits you as soon as you swing a leg over and are ready to test some limits astride this one.
But of course we'll have to check out this motorcycle out in the real world to get a proper understanding of its behavior in the city over bumps, speedbreakers and whatnot, we didn't experience anything of that sort out here right now because this is a controlled test facility we're testing at. But overall, a highly impressive motorcycle not only by Harley standards, but in its general class of motorcycles as well. Surely a motorcycle you could ride on a daily basis.
All in all the Harley X 440 came across as more than just a pleasant surprise. Yes, it's a motorcycle that some old-school Harley fan-boys will cringe at it, but it's also one that some of the modern motorcycling crowd will appreciate, if not by the pictures, once they actually take a test ride. But there's one undeniable fact that stands true with this motorcycle. If you hide away the Harley-Davidson badges and Hero's part in its production process, what remains is still an impressive and fun motorcycle to ride. The proverbial cherry on top the pricing which basically tells you that if you have the money to buy a KTM 250 Adventure, you can now afford a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Which would have sounded absurd a couple of years ago, but is now truth. And the X 440 is the first exciting product of many from Harley's collab with Hero, so it's just the beginning so to speak. And all of this can only be good news.
To sum things out here with the Harley-Davidson X440, starting off at a price of 2.29lakh (ex-showroom) for the base model and going up to Rs 2.69lakh for the top spec variant, for all the features that it houses, all that it packs in terms of that nice engine, the dynamics of it all with the chassis and the suspension, but then again we still have to take it out on the road, out in the real world to get a better understanding of things. In terms of its packaging, there are some fir and finish levels that will leave you wanting a little more and its looks are subjective. But it is a very surprising package because it isn't like any other Harley-Davidson motorcycle once you get astride it. Whether you like riding fast or slowly, you will have a good time riding this motorcycle, and given its price, it is a very promising package.
Starts Rs 2,48,000
Starts Rs 1,84,374