Harley-Davidson is expanding its range and appeal with a duo of sporty roadsters that are, somewhat surprisingly, learner-friendly. The new Harley-Davidson X350 and X500 form the ‘X’ category of motorcycles that aim to provide fans with a more user-friendly bike with all the usual Harley-Davidson attributes. Sleeker, smaller and decidedly different from what we’ve come to expect from the American stalwart, just how do the new X350 and X500 bikes measure up?
Straight off the bat, you can see the framework has been totally reworked from the traditional Harley set-up. The design of these motorcycles clearly harks back to the flat track classic bikes with an aggressive roadster-like demeanour, while significant attention has been put on rider ergonomics, most evident in the upright riding position. Harley-Davidson also says that the suspension is tuned for comfort, with the rear featuring an adjustable function that allows you to customise your ride as you see fit.
Under the hood, the new bikes offer a lot, but it’s a stark departure from the big and bold Fat Boys that traditionalists often steer towards. The X350 has a 353cc DOHC 4-valve liquid-cooled parallel twin which is mated to a six-speed transmission while the suspension comprises 41mm upside down forks with 17-inch (432mm) front and rear wheels along with being wrapped around Maxxis SuperMaxx tyres sized 120/70 ZR17 in front and 160/60-ZR17 in the rear. The X350 has a 777mm unladen seat height.
The more powerful X500 on the other hand has a 500cc DOHC 4-valve liquid-cooled parallel twin and a Cable-actuated wet-plate clutch with chain final drive. Tyres offered on this motorcycle are Maxxis Supermaxx ST tyres sized 120/70-ZR17 in front and 160/60-ZR17 in the rear. While the seat height at unladen comes in at 820mm, the X500 has a 50mm inverted fork front suspension with adjustable rebound damping. The rear suspension is a mono-shock with coil spring along with pre-load and rebound damping.
“The Harley-Davidson XTM350 and Harley-Davidson XTM500 join the existing lineup as brand-new instruments of exploration designed to navigate the urban grid with agility,” Nigel Keough, managing director for Harley-Davidson Australia and New Zealand said. “Both motorcycle models are tailored for adventurous riders – new and existing – who are focused on style, performance, and accessibility to the brand.”
Like all Harleys, there is also a line-up of X apparel matching the bikes. If you look at the pricing, both the motorcycles come across as quite competitive with the Harley-Davidson X350 having a ride-away price of AUD$8,495 with colour options being Dramatic Black, Dynamic Orange, Supersonic Silver, and Pearl White. On the other hand, the Harley-Davidson X500 will be available with a ride-away price of AUD$11,495, also with the same colour options. You will be able to see these new bikes at the Harley-Davidson showrooms by December of this year.
Make no mistake about it, the new X350 and X500 motorcycles are never going to satisfy the cruiser fanatics to which Harley-Davidson already caters. With this new lineup, the brand is stepping further into the world of accessibility, opening the door for new riders to step up and over the Harley hurdle for the first time. They might not be for everyone, but for those who have traditionally struggled to find their footing with the iconic brand, the X350 and X500 Roadsters could be the perfect launching point. And that’s exactly what Harley-Davidson is banking on.