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Harley-Davidson X440 : Our observations after a day of riding

The bike seemed to enjoy getting off from a standstill and had a lot of juice right into triple digits.

Riding the Harley-Davidson X440

The X440 is powered by a 440cc single-cylinder, oil-cooled engine that puts out 27 BHP at 6,000 rpm and 38 Nm torque at 4,000 rpm:

Much is said about a Harley, along the lines of - You hear it before you see it. And for a single cylinder, the exhaust note does a fair bit of justice to the Harley nameplate. It isn't the typical Harley's roaring thump, but a thump nonetheless and distinct enough to let people know this is different.

The likely customers of this bike would be those looking for a fun motorcycle on their daily commutes or those that like to ride on the open highway on the weekends for breakfast rides. It's going to keep this bunch quite satisfied. The bike is eager off the block and has quite a linear power delivery, not slacking or tapering off as you build momentum.

Harley Davidson claims that 90% of the torque is available from 2,000 rpm. The bike offers a handsome amount of low-end torque, a fairly decent mid-band, and predictably, the top end isn't as enthusiastic. There's a sufficient pull even on higher gears when riding at lower speeds, with the engine doing its best to keep you moving. As you inch closer to the 100 Km/h mark, the engine doesn't feel stressed and seems at ease to cruise all day long. While the journey from 110 to 130 km/h can take a bit longer, the bike seems to enjoy cruising at 90-110 km/h comfortably.

We reviewed this bike on Hero's test track and although the X440 is not designed for the track, it did not disappoint. The bike seemed to enjoy getting off from a standstill and had a lot of juice right into triple digits. On several occasions, I was surprised by how quickly we'd touched 100 km/h, and still have some grunt left.

Gear up-shifts are very smooth and quick, but down-shifts aren't so. When attempting quick downshifts, I couldn't go multiple gears down at once. I then specifically tested this and observed this to be common behaviour. This can be slightly unsettling, especially during emergency braking, or say when you head into a tight corner. Downshifting a gear, releasing the clutch even so slightly to feel the gear change, and then downshifting another gear seemed to work flawlessly.

Suspension and Handling

The X440 gets KYB USD 43 mm dual cartridge forks on the front and gas-filled twin shocks on the rear that are 7-step preload adjustable. The bike feels extremely nimble and chuckable. Even at 190 kgs, you can flick it around easily when you want to get past those narrow gaps. Although not exactly intended for the track, the bike did feel at home while cornering, allowing for a generous amount of lean.

The X440 gets MRF Zapper tyres - 100/90/R18 on the front and 140/70/R17 on the rear. The choice of tyres is surprising, and will not please the more seasoned rider.

Braking

The X440 gets disc brakes by ByBRE (i.e. By Brembo) on both front (320 mm) and rear (240 mm). Braking is fairly confident, and the bike doesn’t move around town under hard braking, even at 100 km/h. Riding this bike on the track allowed for some consistent high speeds and cornering. It also gave the opportunity to test the brake's ability to the fullest so that you could maintain your line. The brakes did not disappoint one bit.

Harley-Davidson has had some braking issues in the past, but it does seem that they might not be a problem on this bike.

NVH and Refinement

NVH is very good even at 100-110 km/h. The engine note makes its presence felt, and clearly, deliberately slow, but otherwise, the single cylinder doesn’t loosen your bones with vibrations. You don't feel the speed, and if you don't look at the centre console, there is very little feedback to let you know you've crossed over to triple digits. It is only above 110-115 km/hr that the single-cylinder engine lets you know you've crossed legal speeds.

Ergonomics

The retro-roadster styling with wide, flat handle-bars and mid-set footpegs makes for a very relaxed riding position; it seems to allow riding long distances fairly comfortably. With an unladen seat height set at 805 mm, most riders will be able to have their feet firmly planted when standstill. At 5'10", I found the riding position to be very comfortable, without having to slouch or have my knees pushed up. The round mirrors, though, aren't that great, offering very limited view.

At my riding position, I found all the controls well-placed without having to struggle to find them or having to move my wrist to say, use the indicators or flash the headlights. The only place you're going to want to pay attention is the ignition button. With the SOS button placed right where you typically have the ignition, you may end up wondering why the engine isn't firing up. But once muscle memory develops, it should be a breeze.

The rider seat is sufficiently wide and quite comfortable, with a generous amount of cushioning. The same goes for the pillion: the rear seat is not an afterthought or compromise. With long grab rails to hold onto, the pillion will enjoy the ride just the same.

Riding modes / User customization

What you see, is what you get. You don't get any options to customize the bike, be it Riding Modes, Traction Control settings, or any other parameters. For a bike in this segment, the incremental difference to the riding experience through the customization may not be huge, but the versatility would be welcome.

 
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