Back in 2020 and 2021, Harley-Davidson and Hero MotoCorp were busy hammering out all the particulars of their partnership. Talk of Hero officially distributing Harley’s bikes in India was on the table, of course. Since India was then and is currently the world’s largest motorcycle market, though, discussions also turned to a collaboration on smaller-displacement, Hero-produced Harleys for the Indian market
In 2021, information emerged regarding Harley and Hero’s imminent collaboration on some low- and mid-displacement bikes, confirming that the partnership was now in place. Fast-forward to April, 2023, and we’re starting to get a glimpse of the first fruits of that labor, via ‘spy shots’ obtained by Indian automotive publication Evo India. (These ‘spy shots’ look a little too nicely composed to simply have been snapped off-the-cuff, but we’ll accept the wink and nod and go with it.)
The license plate bracket on the back calls this bike the HD-4XX, and the engine is an air- and oil-cooled single-cylinder unit in the 400 to 450cc range, developed entirely by Hero MotoCorp. Likewise, the tubular steel frame it’s mounted inside was developed by Hero, as well. Detailed specs aren’t available yet, but the expectation is that it should make around 30 horsepower.
Although Hero’s current two-wheeler range tops out at 200cc, it’s been testing a larger single-cylinder engine in the 400cc range in its rally machine. Since the Harley-Davidson 4XX machine is expected to debut sometime in July or August of2023, it seems likely that while this would be the first bike released with this powerplant, it won’t be the last.
While we don’t know the specifics of the Harley/Hero partnership, other similar partnerships have seen both brands in the partnership make use of the same powerplant in their own bikes—see KTM and CFMOTO’s middleweight adventure ranges for a great example. Since OEMs are keen to put newly developed engines into as many bikes as possible, it also seems likely that this engine will appear in further Hero and Harley bikes down the line. (Evo India even suggested the possibilities of a baby Pan America, which tracks given the coming upgrade to the Hero XPulse, but we must stress that it’s all speculation at this point.)
Styling is where Harley seems to have brought its greatest input to this collaboration. Details to note on the Harley-Davidson 4XX include LED lighting up front and in the rear, a single round digital gauge up front that will likely feature smartphone connectivity, fairly upright ergonomics and mid-controls, upside-down forks and twin rear shocks, ByBre brakes, Ceat tires wrapped around alloy wheels (17-inch in front and 18-inch in the rear), and an exhaust canister that kind of looks like an afterthought. (Obviously, opinions may vary, as they always do.)
Full specifications should be available after the official unveiling, which is expected sometime in July or August of 2023. The actual arrival in showrooms is expected sometime on or around the Diwali holiday on November 12, 2023. Price expectations put it around ₹2.5 lakh, which works out to about $3,052 as of April 6, 2023.
While smaller-displacement machines are certainly popular, a more approachable ‘mass-premium’ segment has emerged in the Indian market in recent years. Think of bikes like the Royal Enfield Classic 350 and Meteor 350, the Jawa lineup, or the Honda H’Ness CB350 range, for example. They’re nicer than ultra-budget machines, but not so premium that only the ultra-rich can afford them.