The Bar and Shield Brand reveals its new small-displacement model for the Asian markets born out of a joint effort with established Chinese make, Qianjiang.
A few weeks ago we caught word that Harley-Davidson was working on a new, sub-500cc model slated for the Asian market by the end of 2020. Today the MoCo officially announced the forthcoming model will have a 338cc displacement, and it revealed concept renderings of what the bike will supposedly look like. This announcement is the latest in what the iconic American marque is calling its “More Roads To Harley-Davidson” initiative, which aims to expand and diversify its product lineup in an effort to tap into a new rider base over the coming decade.
Back in the ‘60s small-displacement motorcycle sales were on the rise — a far cry from the heavy, big-bore V-Twins being made by Harley. In order to nab a piece of this lucrative emerging segment, Harley-Davidson purchased a 50% stake in Aermacchi, an Italian firm that produced small-displacement motorcycles and scooters (though Harley later purchased the rest of the company in the ‘70s before it was sold to Cagiva in ’78).
This move enabled Harley to start selling small-displacement Aermacchi models rebadged as Harley-Davidson’s, without having to develop a new model from scratch. Fast-forward more-than-half-a-century to today, and Harley is finding itself in a similar dilemma, that it aims to solve in more or less the same way.
This time around the MoCo is joining forces with Qianjiang Motorcycle Company Limited, a powerhouse of a Chinese motorcycle manufacturer, and the force behind the Benelli, Keeway, and KSR two-wheeler brands. Qianjiang itself is majority-controlled by the Geely Technology Group, which also owns (or has major stakes in) big-name auto outfits like Volvo and Lotus.
As one of the three largest motorcycle/scooter manufacturers in all of China, Qianjiang already has a well-established dealer and marketing network in its native Asia (not to mention some very deep pockets) making the Chinese operation an ideal fit for a foreign company hoping to tap into the Asian market.
A Smaller Piece Of A Bigger Market
The Asian motorcycle market is currently the largest in the world, and with the vast majority of units sold being small (sub-500cc) offerings, Harley’s hopes its new collaborative project with Qianjiang will allow it to tap into that market. Harley has announced it’s aiming for a model release in the Chinese market by the end of 2020. While thus far there’s been no mention as to whether or not Harley plans on releasing the small-bore model in Europe or North America, it’s hard to imagine the company wouldn’t want to capitalize on the research and development already poured into the new model by eventually releasing it to the Western markets.
The 20.6ci displacement also suggests that us North Americans can expect to eventually see the new modern-retro in US and Canadian dealerships. While 300-400cc offerings may be the standard entry-level size in the Western world, that doesn’t mean it’s viewed the same way in Asia, where 400’s aren’t seen as small. The 338cc bore certainly appears to be a compromise of sorts, the result of finding a balance between being small enough to generate satisfactory sales in Asia, while being large enough to compete with the Rebel 300’s, Duke 390’s, and Ninja 400’s.