A mass-market Harley-Davidson has been in the making. Over the last three years to be precise. And both the motorcycle companies that partnered to create this new bike have been wanting to reinvent themselves from opposite ends of the spectrum. Harley wants to be a more global brand and enter markets like India where the numbers can only be raked in if it is present in the entry premium segment.

And Hero MotoCorp, which has been the brand of choice for Indian commuters, wants to go premium. So, the new Hero Harley-Davidson X440, born of this ‘mixed race’ marriage (pun intended), is the result of multiple ambitions. The much-awaited motorcycle bearing the iconic American cruiser brand, was just unveiled, and officially launched earlier this week. With the starting price set at just ₹2.3 lakh, this does look like an affordable entry into the world of Harley. 

Am sure it’ll set the hearts of many Indian riders aflutter, but is it a true-blue Harley? Here are my first impressions after riding the motorcycle at Hero MotoCorp’s test tracks at their CIT in Jaipur. 

Design & Build

The H-D X440 has been built ground up and engineers from both Hero and Harley have worked together with much of the engineering being done by Hero and much of the design and validation being done by Harley. The attempt has been to create a motorcycle that is meant to deliver the visual, aural and sensorial impact that is the trademark of the American brand. So, the wide forward set handlebar, the tubular perimeter frame, and the choice of the suspension were all scripted early to ensure that the character of the brand is borne by the new baby Harley.

After seeing the big Harleys heavy with chromed parts and twin cylinder engines, the X440 does come across as being quite the baby. It is about 2.2 metres long, with the wheelbase being 1.4 metres long and the saddle set at 805mm. The ground clearance is a decent 170mm, but with its slightly forward set footpegs, the clearance wasn’t enough to avoid scrapping pegs on tarmac around corners at Hero CIT’s handling track.

More on that later. 

Much like the tight packaging in other big Harleys both the sport and cruiser categories, the X440’s single cylinder engine is also nicely packaged into the middle of the trellis cradle frame. There are no unseemly gaps or bits and pieces of equipment sticking out. Folks at Harley and Hero have also focused on finer details giving the engine fins a clean, meticulously machined finish.

The X440’s front volume is higher, and it is meant to be a sportster style bike, even though the design and stance of the rear has a hint of cruiser. For better rideability, the front wheel is an 18-incher, while the rear sports 17-inch rims. Depending on the variant you get either spoked chrome steel rims or two different alloys. A lot of the design of the X440 has followed Harley design language.

A signature wide fuel tank with sharp edges (Harley calls it the Turtle tank), 3D Harley badging and logo (in top trim variant) with dual shade paint job and hand-drawn stripe finish. The headlamp sports a retro-classic design with its round chrome ringed housing, a LED DRL light bar in the centre and a trio of main LED lamps below. The finer detail there is the brand name in caps that has been cut into the light bar. 

A wide, horizontal handlebar has been set forward off the neck and offers the perfect Harley sportster inspired riding position. The X440 also gets a contoured single seat with a pair of cast grab handles at the rear. The silencer section of the exhaust is a simple unit, but much effort has gone into packing the entire exhaust pipe, and catalytic converter within the space available and with the intent of recreating the classic Harley thump. Of course, other factors at play would have been Indian regulations regarding exhaust noise and emissions. But it was good to hear the thump, even though it is not as deep-throated or loud compared to some of Harley’s bigger bikes. 


The X440’s electricals are all LED. All three variants also get an ambient light sensor built into the instrument pod to activate auto headlamps. The switches and controls are neatly finished and work well, but they don’t feel special. The motorcycle’s paint job though is very good, especially the matt black panels that my top trim test mule sported. The light bronze detailing on the engine and crankcase is also a nice touch.

The X440 gets a single pod digital instrument display. This 3.5-inch circular TFT LCD display offers a crisp, clear screen that is unaffected by the afternoon sun. The screen offers a range of ride related info which in addition to the usuals, also includes riding range, ABS alert, speed, rpm progression etc. Bluetooth connectivity is also standard across all variants, and this allows the rider to take calls, play music and use turn-by-turn navigation. In addition to this, the top trim ‘S’ variant also gets a set of connected features using an embedded SIM and the connected app. This will allow users to get access to remote features like geo-fencing, remote engine cut-off, vehicle diagnostics etc.

The base denim variant gets chrome spoked rims and is a good looker by itself. The mid-spec Vivid variant gets a pair of alloys, and tubeless tyres. The top-spec ‘S’ is fully loaded and gets the special set of alloys. 


The X440’s engine is a single cylinder air and oil-cooled unit that puts out 27hp of peak power and 38Nm of torque. This baby Harley is unique in it being one of the only single cylinder mills from the brand currently and is also only the second model to have a chain drive. The 440 cubic capacity comes from a fairly large cylinder with a 79.6mm bore and 88.4mm stroke. The engine revs freely over 6,000rpm and into the test ride it become quickly clear that much of the peak torque is available from low rpm levels. Hero and Harley engineers claim that about 90 per cent of the torque is generated by the time the needle crosses 2,000rpm.

In my opinion, the two best features going for the X440 are its frame and this engine. While it is not at the top of the segment, the output will be enough for spirited riding. On the track I throttle up quickly with the trademark Harley thump rising behind me and the gearshifts using the 6-speed gearbox and the light clutch are precise. Accelerating all the way past 6,000rpm is quick and getting to 3-digit speeds is easy. Company officials didn’t specify the X440’s top speed, but I clocked a marginally wind assisted 138kmph on the long oval.

The best part of this powertrain is its low-speed performance, which is likely to boost its everyday useability. Excellent low-end torque availability means that I could stay on 4th or 5th gear and slow down to about 30kmph or 40kmph respectively without any knocking setting in, and I could pull away effortlessly. But the engine’s single cylinder character comes through at high rpms with vibration being felt at the footpegs and the handlebar once the speed crosses about 118kmph.

The motorcycle’s straight-line performance is good, but its cornering and ability to handle leans past the rated 36-degrees is even more impressive. Hero officials say that for even more spirited riding you can choose higher-set pegs. The X440 weighs in at about 191kgs; so, it is not exactly a light motorcycle. But thanks to is balanced frame, it is extremely agile and flicking it through double chicanes on the track made for a fun riding experience. The KYB 43mm dual cartridge upside down forks at the front and the gas-filled twin shocks at the rear make up a good combo ensuring stability and the right amount of damping. Of course, only after an on-road ride can a full opinion about the ride quality be offered. Braking performance is good with 320mm and 240mm discs for the front and rear wheels respectively, with dual channel ABS being offered as standard. Good grip is offered by the tyres which have been co-developed by Hero-Harley and MRF. Both the compound and tread pattern have apparently been specially created for the bike.


The one benefit that the H-D X440 gets from the partnership with Hero MotoCorp is pricing power. Made entirely in India by Hero, and the prospect of this platform and powertrain being used for more motorcycles from both brands, gives even more context to the price. The three variants of the X440 have been priced with a differential of Rs 20,000. Prices start from Rs 2.3 lakh for the Denim variant. 

Without ‘any’ badge on it, the X440 would still be a good motorcycle well worth its price tag. With the Harley logo on it, this doesn’t become an instant icon, but it does glow in the reflected glory of the brand. It misses a few more tech bits and a few finer premium parts. But, the X440 isn’t muddled in its positioning, if Harley is willing to see the future of its brand with motorcycles of this class and caliber. Then you would be buying a Harley-Davidson. For fans of the brand, questions will remain about the ownership experience of the X440 with Hero also expected to retail the bike through its premium dealerships. We will have to find out how that buying and servicing experience would be like.