Harley-Davidson HD350 gets nearer to completion

Signs from within the Asian motorcycle industry point to the latest small capacity bike from Harley-Davidson landing in 2021

Harley-Davidson HD350 gets nearer to competition

WHILE the latest small capacity naked from Harley-Davidson is no secret, the firm itself teased a rendering of the bike back in 2019, its timeline of development through has been somewhat shrouded in mystery.

Now it seems the new naked from H-D is getting one step closer to production, with details emerging from the Asian motorcycle industry that point to the bike's arrival in 2021.

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Had former Harley CEO Matt Levatich had his way the baby naked from Milwaukee would have been landing this year, although with COVID-19’s grip on pretty much all motorcycle launches, the chances are it would have been canned until 2021 anyway. Now, some subtle changes in the bike’s spec seem to point to it landing at some point in 2021, and as the model is such a large departure for the brand, you can bet your bottom dollar they’ll want to make a big fuss about the machine, COVID crisis or not.

The Benelli TNT 300 is widely reported to be the same specification as the new Harley-Davidson HD 350 - frame, swingarm, engine and chassis components all bear more than a striking resemblance

The main thing pointing to a 2021 launch date is a small change in the bike’s engine specification, with it being initially planned as a 338cc engine. The bike let's remember, is being built by the Qianjiang Motorcycle Co. (QJ), the same company that makes the Benelli range of bikes. QJ has just announced its TNT 300, codenamed the QJ350-13. That bike, (seen above), is visually identical to the rendering of the Harley-Davidson, with the frame, swingarm, suspension, brakes, and engine all looking identical. The one thing that is different is that the TNT 300 uses a 353cc unit and not the 338cc parallel-twin the H-D was originally slated to have.

While a small change in capacity from the outside looks like a minor change, it’s highly unlikely that QJ will develop a 338cc and a 353cc and combine the two units on the same production line for two different brands. More likely is that the larger displacement is to help the little Harley to get past not just the latest batch of emissions regulations, but enough of an increase to get through what the future may hold.

It’s true that manufacturers don’t know exactly what the power-brokers have in store when it comes to vehicle emissions regulations, although they do have a pretty good idea of what is incoming. Increasing the engine size even just this small amount now may help the HD 350 live on for a number of years to come. And let’s not forget, if the previous engine had that kind of longevity and scope for development, they wouldn’t have changed it at this late stage.