This week, Harley-Davidson introduced the all-new X350 and its bigger sibling, the X500 to dealers and media in a secret "underground" reveal.
Rowdy from motorweb.ws was invited to the clandestine rendezvous beneath the Allianz Stadium in Sydney.
It was one of the more unusual automotive launches, deep in the bowels under the bleachers and turf of Sydney's iconic sports venue. No, we weren't embarking on donuts and somersaults on that hallowed surface, rather we were scooting around the concrete tunnels and access ramps in a scene not unlike a remake of Mission Impossible X.
You can read the intimate tech details on the model page here, but in short, the powerplant is an 8-valve, DOHC, liquid-cooled parallel twin in 353 and 500cc variants.
Now, to clear up some confusion and answer some FAQs, the bike is not Indian-built. The Street 500 and 750s were, but they were discontinued in 2020 because - so we are told - the production process was uneconomical for the numbers produced, even though they were a best seller here in Australia. There is an Indian-built replacement, the single-cylinder X440, but at the time of writing at least, it is expressly for the Indian market, manufactured by Hero MotorCorp and shares no common componentry.
|X500 in Dynamic Orange (H-D photo)|
The new X-series specifications are impressive. Both the X350 and X500s boast Maxxis Supermaxx ST tires, mid-mount foot controls, six-speed transmissions, cable-actuated wet plate clutches with chain drive, dual front disc brakes and a single rear with ABS plus front and rear adjustable suspension.
Anyway, with the loss of the Street 500 (XG500), Harley-Davidson needed something to fill the LAMS void and - to make a long story short - the X350 and X500 were devised.
"The X series declares Harley's back in the new rider market," Keith Waddell, H-D Marketing Manager told us, "with a design that is distinctly Harley-Davidson that will build brand desirability for the new generation of riders. We want to dominate this segment and also create a pipeline to the larger Harley-Davidson range."
These two LAMS-approved motorcycles are the result of a cooperative venture between The Motor Company and Zhejiang QJmotor Co., Ltd, located in Wenling City, China. While QJmotor may not have Milwaukee's heritage, the company has been making two-wheeled machines since 1985 and produces millions annually and export worldwide. Since 2005, QJmotor have owned the Benelli brand.
Despite the shared mechanicals with other QJmotor brands, the bodywork and styling are uniquely Harley-Davidson. It's not a stretch to imagine the X350 as an homage to the earlier XR flat trackers, while the X500 does have a certain 'Sportsteresque' stance about it. While there are no-extra-cost colour options - Dramatic Black, Dynamic Orange, Supersonic Silver and Pearl White - I'll wager it's the orange that flies off the showroom floor.
Now, we're not going to get a full experience hurtling around the tunnels of Allianz Stadium, but from what I could gather, I found both machines nimble and easy to ride with crisp transmission and excellent ABS brakes. Predictably enough, the X500 felt more like a full-size machine ready to take on the back roads and some modest touring while the 350 was spritely enough for urban and suburban work.
The Harley-Davidson XTM350 will be available at Harley-Davidson dealerships with an Australian Ride Away Price of $8,495 AUD, while the Harley-Davidson XTM500 will be available with an Australian Ride Away Price of $11,495 AUD.
Harley is planning a nationwide synchronised model launch at all dealers prior to Christmas 2023, so be alert for that by registering your interest at your Harley-Davidson dealer.