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Harley-Davidson X440 Review: A Worthy RE Competitor?

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Harley-Davidson X440 Review: A Worthy RE Competitor?

The Hero MotoCorp Harley-Davidson X440, developed entirely in India by Hero at its Centre for Innovation and Technology with inputs from Harley in Milwaukee, marks Hero’s foray into building a premium motorcycle. From an engineering perspective, the X440 leaves a strong initial impression. Unlike the typical Harley-style cruiser, Hero aimed to create a versatile roadster, which is evident in its design language. Drawing inspiration from the old Harley XR1200, the X440 features broad shoulders, wide handlebars, and robust lines. While the fuel tank and side panels are visually appealing, the tail section appears slightly awkward, making the motorcycle more attractive from certain angles.

Harley-Davidson X440 design, features

Harley-Davidson X440 design, features

The instrument cluster consists of a single pod TFT console, a standard feature across the range. However, the top model offers additional connectivity options. The powerful full LED headlamp stands out, equipped with a light sensor that automatically activates the main beam in low light conditions. This feature sets it apart from other motorcycles in its price range.

In terms of fit and finish, the X440 showcases Hero’s best quality and finish levels to date. However, there is still room for improvement, especially considering how Royal Enfield has raised the bar in this aspect. Nevertheless, the overall attention to detail is satisfactory, with well-executed LED tail lamps, indicators, and mirrors. Considering its price, the minor shortcomings can be overlooked.

Harley-Davidson X440 fit and finish

While the Harley-Davidson X440 carries the distinctive Harley identity, it may not stand out among the visually appealing motorcycles dominating the segment, such as those from Royal Enfield, Jawa, and Honda. However, the motorcycle possesses character, size, and presence, and its design tends to grow on the viewer. Nevertheless, the X440’s visual appeal might not be the primary reason for purchase. Fortunately, design preferences are subjective, and the Harley excels in more objective areas like the engine and chassis.

The X440 debuts a new 440cc air- and oil-cooled engine, impressing with its performance. It generates a peak power of 27hp, but the real star is its torque, peaking at 38Nm at just 4,000rpm. This torque output surpasses that of any current Indian single-cylinder motorcycle, with around 90 percent of it available from as low as 2,000rpm. As a result, the Harley-Davidson X440 delivers effortless acceleration between 2,000-4,500rpm, surpassing any 350cc air-cooled competition. The engine can rev up to its redline of just over 6,000rpm, exhibiting controlled vibrations at higher speeds. Its low-speed tractability is impressive, allowing the bike to pull smoothly in 3rd gear from speeds as low as 20kph. Although the X440’s bottom-end torque may not match the Classic 350, it far exceeds the performance of bikes like the Honda CB350, which require frequent gear shifts. Unlike its air-cooled rivals, the Harley features a 6-speed gearbox with smooth and precise shifts, accompanied by a reasonably light slip/assist type clutch. The well-tuned throttle response and overall performance make the X440 an enjoyable city commuter.

Harley-Davidson X440 engine, performance

The Harley-Davidson X440 demonstrates superior cruising capability compared to 350cc motorcycles, effortlessly maintaining a smooth 100kph cruise. It can even reach a steady 120kph without straining the engine. However, some mild vibrations can be felt in the seat, handlebars, and footpegs at higher speeds. During tests, the top speed recorded was 139kph, and lighter riders achieved speeds of up to 146kph on Hero’s CIT test track. Despite its enjoyable performance, Hero deserves credit for giving the engine a distinct character. At lower speeds, riders can experience a satisfying thump and beat. Although it may not possess the gentle and slow-rev

ving nature of the Royal Enfield 350 engine, the X440’s engine exhibits a playful nature that complements the chassis behavior. Hero has also made efforts to ensure the bike produces an appealing sound for a single-cylinder motorcycle. While it may not replicate the deep rumble of a large Harley twin, the X440 delivers a pleasing, deep exhaust note louder than Royal Enfield motorcycles without artificial sound synthesis like Honda’s models.

The Harley-Davidson X440 features a new tubular steel perimeter frame, designed to withstand the harshest conditions in India. It incorporates a sturdy 43mm USD fork (a first in its segment) and preload adjustable dual rear shocks. Most panels, including the fenders, are made of metal, keeping the curb weight at 190.5kg (slightly heavier for the base spoked wheel variant). This weight feels negligible once the motorcycle is in motion.

Harley-Davidson X440 ride and handling

Harley-Davidson X440 ride and handling

The Harley-Davidson X440 offers delightful and effortless maneuverability at low speeds, making it an easy bike to ride. Despite its agility, the bike maintains stability and never behaves unpredictably. Its agile yet planted feel makes it enjoyable even when cornering, inspiring riders to lean and explore its limits. The footpegs scrape relatively early compared to the Classic 350, but the X440 remains stable at those lean angles.

Equipped with a 320mm front disc and standard dual-channel ABS, the Harley-Davidson X440 delivers low-effort braking performance suitable for the motorcycle. It rides on specially developed MRF Zapper Hyke tires, which exhibit a retro appearance while performing admirably. However, the bike’s performance on rough roads requires further evaluation, as our limited experience only allowed testing on perfect surfaces within CIT. Nonetheless, the suspension setup feels plush and adept at absorbing bumps.

The seating position on the Harley-Davidson X440 is well-designed, providing comfortable and commanding ergonomics. Riders who are six feet tall will find a comfortable fit, while even 5’6″ riders like Ardeshir (the photographer) managed the 805mm seat height quite well, albeit with some tiptoeing.

Hero’s Centre for Innovation and Technology (CIT) boasts an exceptional ensemble of engineers and specialists, including renowned figures like David Lopez Cordoba, head of Vehicle Engineering, whose impressive CV includes contributions to models like the Triumph Daytona. Considering the X440’s remarkable engineering, it is no surprise that Hero has successfully established itself among premium motorcycle manufacturers. However, areas for improvement include enhancing quality, finish, and the aftersales experience, which have been weak points for Hero in the past. Nonetheless, the X440 marks just the beginning of Hero’s upcoming line of premium products from the world’s largest two-wheeler manufacturer. Exciting prospects lie ahead.

Harley-Davidson X440 verdict

Impressively, the Harley-Davidson X440 aims to compete with the Royal Enfield Classic 350, despite its distinct nature. Hero has incorporated various aggressive strategies, including an attractively competitive price. Priced at Rs 2.29 lakh for the base model, the X440 costs only Rs 8,000 more than the range-topping Classic Chrome. Surprisingly, even the base model is well-equipped, featuring a TFT display, a powerful automatic LED headlamp with light-sensing capabilities, and Bluetooth connectivity for call, music, and navigation control through Hero’s app. The base model includes spoked wheels, while the mid-spec variant, available at an additional Rs 20,000, offers the convenience of tubeless tires. Spending another Rs 20,000 on the top S variant grants an attractive machined finish on the alloy wheels and engine fins. The S variant also features a built-in e-sim that unlocks additional functionality such as vehicle diagnostics, location sharing, geo-fencing, and a tip-over alert. The first year’s

subscription for this service is free, although the subsequent cost remains undisclosed. During our limited time with the bike, we noticed some minor glitches with the Bluetooth features, but we hope Hero will address these through software updates.

Considering the impressive features across the range, the mid-spec variant or even the base version would suffice for most riders, except those who prefer tubeless tires. Additionally, a more vibrant color palette for the Harley-Davidson X440 would enhance its overall appeal.

Although our experience with the X440 was limited to riding within the confines of CIT for an hour, it left a profound impression. The Harley-Davidson X440 outperforms current 350cc motorcycles, expanding their capabilities while retaining the charm and torque-focused experience expected from a motorcycle in this class. If you are in the sub-Rs 3 lakh market and seek an easy-to-ride motorcycle with character and enjoyment, capable of handling any task, the surprisingly convincing Harley-Davidson X440 is worth considering.

After a considerable wait, Hero can finally claim a seat among premium motorcycle manufacturers. The next challenge lies in further improving the overall quality, finish, and aftersales experience. However, with the X440 as a starting point, Hero’s forthcoming premium products hold great promise. There is much to anticipate.

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