Writing about bikes for 20 years. Published in dozens of titles on five continents. Mildly obsessed with discovering how things work.
Harley-Davidson has been collaborating with China’s Qianjiang – Benelli’s parent firm – on a new small-capacity model for more than a year and now pictures have emerged that show the final machine’s chassis and engine.
They come via styling patents for Qianjiang’s forthcoming QJMotor QJ350-13, which is the QJMotor-branded version of the bike. The idea is that there will also be Benelli and Harley-Davidson derivatives, each with the same mechanical parts but their own styling twist.
If you’re looking at this and thinking it seems familiar, that’s because the basic chassis and motor design are developments of the existing Benelli 302S. However, there are technical changes.
When Harley-Davidson announced its plans, along with styling sketches of its own version of the machine, last summer, it said the engine would be 338cc. We worked out that such a capacity could be reached by combining the 45.2mm stroke of the Benelli 302S with the 69mm bore used on Benelli’s larger 500cc version of the same engine.
Since then, though, the project has been referred to as the HD350, and now we’ve got specs that confirm the final capacity is actually 353cc. That’s a clear indication that the firm has put more work into the engine, bringing it to Euro 5-compliant emissions levels and creating bespoke internals rather than using off-the-shelf bits from its existing bikes.
While the machine in these pictures is the QJMotor version, set to be sold in the Chinese market, there’s a big giveaway that it shares most of its parts with the Harley. Just look at the left side of the engine, where the words ‘Harley-Davidson Motor Company’ are cast into the cover.
Harley’s derivative is intended to get more traditional styling, as depicted in the original drawings, but spec-wise it’s expected to be pretty much identical to the QJ350-13.
Although the bike hasn’t been officially revealed, homologation documents confirm the 353cc capacity, giving a peak power of 36hp (27kW). That’s actually a couple of hp less than the 300cc Benelli 302S is claimed to make, but presumably the extra cubes give a torque advantage and allow the engine to be cleaner.
While it’s a lot smaller than any current Harley, the bike’s peak power isn’t the lowest in the firm’s range. The existing Street 500 makes just 33.5hp (25kW).
While the bike seen here is sure to appear soon in the Chinese market, turmoil at Harley-Davidson since the HD350 project’s announcement last year means the H-D branded version may never see the light of day.
This week Harley revealed plans to slash 30% of its model range in a rationalisation plan that sees it refocus on core models and markets. Since the new 350 is aimed at getting a foothold in the Asian market and is a clear departure from the firm’s comfort zone, it’s a clear target for elimination. Small print at the end of the firm’s Q2 financial results, which led to the reshuffle, still mentions the Qianjiang partnership, though, listing Harley’s ability to “develop and maintain a productive relationship with Zhejiang Qianjiang Motorcycle Co., Ltd. and launch related products in a timely manner” as an important factor that could influence the firm’s future financial performance.