Harley-Davidson’s move into China is making big waves, and for obvious reasons. The Bar & Shield brand is on a mission to turnaround its business fortunes, and the American motorcycle maker is looking for green pastures in the Asian market, starting with China.
To make this move though, Harley-Davidson has teamed up with the Qianjiang Motorcycle Company, which known better in the Western world as the owner of Benelli Motorcycles.
That link might be an important one, as Ben Purvis from BikeSocial has pointed out. This is because the peculiar 338cc displacement that Harley-Davidson’s plans to use surely points to a Benelli lineage, and tips us to how Harley-Davidson could enter into China faster than expected.
The first indication that Harley-Davidson plans to use a rebadge Benelli comes from the company’s concept sketch, which lines up quite well with the lines found on the Benelli 302 S. See above
The second tip-off is Harley-Davidson’s plan to use a 338cc engine, which to many was a strange number to pull out of the air. That number isn’t too strange though if you are borrowing from the Benelli parts bin.
This is because it would seem that the Chinese-built Harley-Davidson will use an amalgamation of Benelli’s twin-cylinder platform to create its new small-displacement machine. To get there though, you have to do a little math.
If you take the bore size from the Benelli TRK 502 and its ilk, which clock in at 69mm, and then use the crankshaft from the Benelli Tornado 302 and its progeny, which have a stroke of 45.2mm, you come up with a total cylinder displacement of 338cc.
This gives Harley-Davidson a unique motorcycle from Qianjiang’s factory, without doing a complete rebadge job. It also gives Harley-Davidson a quick entry into the Chinese market, which it desperately needs.
With this go-to-market strategy, it is not crazy to think that Harley-Davidson could have its “XR338” ready for the 2021 model year, if not sooner. Boom goes the dynamite.
The Bar & Shield brand is rapidly ramping up its international business, and if nothing else, this revelation shows us how quickly the folks in Milwaukee are moving to change things around from their current trajectory.
As the ancient Chinese proverb states, may you live in interesting times.