Sometimes, you need to put something into the universe to see it happen, and it was just two days ago that we were speculating on rumors about Harley-Davidson’s plans for a small-displacement machine, likely headed for the Asian markets.
Today, we get confirmation of that news hearing that the Bar & Shield brand will collaborate with the Qianjiang Motorcycle Company to build small-displacement motorcycles targeted at China and the rest of the Asian continent.
The bike will be 338cc in displacement, and be released first in China, with the other Asian markets to follow.
Harley-Davidson was kind enough to release concept renders of the bike with this news, and the bike looks very similar to the XR250 concepts that were making the rounds earlier this week.
This “Designed by Harley-Davidson” motorcycle will be built in China by Qianjiang, which includes the engine production. If the Chinese brand’s name sounds familiar, it should.
They are the same company responsible for the Benelli Motorcycle brand, which has been making great strides in the past few years with its two-wheeled offerings. In looking for a Chinese partner, Harley-Davidson found a strong one with Qianjiang.
“Harley-Davidson has always been about inspiring riders around the world. Our More Roads plan is all about bringing our brand of freedom to more people, in more places, in more ways,” said Matt Levatich, President and CEO of Harley-Davidson.
“We’re excited about this opportunity to build more Harley riders in China, one of the world’s largest motorcycle markets, by creating new pathways to our brand.”
Unsurprisingly, Harley-Davidson hopes that China will be a major driving force in growing the company’s international sales.
The American company hopes to grow its overseas sales to 50% of the company’s total volume by the year 2027. Though, with the way sales are going in the United States, that figure might be easier to reach than one would think.
What is interesting in all this is the complete lack of mention of the United States and Europe markets for receiving this “XR388” machine.
Either Harley-Davidson’s focus is laser-sharp on Asia with this news, or plans to bring the bikes from China into the US have yet to mature. We would expect that tariffs, unions, and politics play a role in all that.
Still, China is a key market for any motorcycle brand right now, and to that end, Harley-Davidson just made a big move into the space.
They have an intriguing motorcycle to build for the Asian market, they have the right partner for the job, and they have the motivation to make big moves quickly. Keep an eye on this space, the folks in Milwaukee are making moves.