Harley-Davidson X440 First Ride Review: New Introduction To Heavy Metal

  • Jul 4, 2023
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We spend a few minutes astride the newest baby Harley that the American brand has built alongside Hero MotoCorp

There’s a new sound of the sandman, entering on a Harley-Davidson. You see, this H-D X440 is aimed to hardwire your brain as much as it is part of the new company strategy. And it is turning the page away from potato potato. But does it do that successfully in a manner, is it worth your money to ride on and on until everything around you fades to black?

The Call Of Ktulu

These 440 cubes make an honest 27.4PS and a hearty 38Nm, which is commendable as it is a rather simple air-cooled 2-valve engine architecture, with a supplementary oil-cooling system. You’ve got six cogs at your disposal with light clutch action. Is it good enough to answer the call of the Ktulu, though?

It certainly does. On the high-speed track section of the Hero CIT, the motor got up to 120-125kmph in a jiffy. It just feels at ease at 100-110kmph, Harley engineers doing oh-so-well to seek and destroy any sort of harsh vibes. Yes, the sad but true fact is that there’s no escaping engine vibrations when it comes to a big lumpy single. So, when you give it fuel, give it fire, give it what you desire, you will face mild buzziness above 5000rpm at the bars and pegs.

Slow down the pace and you can easily trundle along at 50kmph in sixth. It won’t make any quick overtakes in sixth, you might even have to come down to fourth to get the motor singing sweetly. Think of sixth as a highway aid, where you just want the motor to run a little relaxed, purring along at 120kmph, and nothing else matters at that moment.

Wherever I May Roam

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The X440 is far from being a steamroller. It is lively, agile and sporty as retro roadsters go. Thank the chassis and suspension engineers who have managed to back up the motor with great handling dynamics. Heading into the tight and twisty handling course of the Hero CIT, this Harley was dancing graciously to the tune of your liking. If you wish to play some relaxed old school rock, it will tap its feet gently, smoothly flowing from corner to corner.

Start upping the beats, and this X440 can hold its own in a mosh pit. It feels rock solid. Neither does the front end waver from its path nor does the rear squiggle under hard acceleration. It has this sense of composure that I don’t quite recollect any other retro roadster of its segment possesses. 

Credit the MRF Hyke tyres. These specially designed pair of shoes might have their tread pattern inspired from Pirelli’s Phantom Sportscomp, but unlike their Italian (*cough* Brazilian *cough*) counterparts, these do not seem to lack traction whatsoever.

Master Of Puppets

Thanks to the neutral and approachable riding posture, the rider is able to unlock this level of ability quite easily. For my 5ft 9in frame, becoming the master of this puppet was pretty simple. The controls are within reach, swinging your leg over the seat is no fuss for riders of all heights and the pegs aren’t in a weird, compromising position; they are just where you would like to find them on a roadster.

They do scrape pretty easily though, our test units had gone through the peg feelers within no time, and were coming up to grind the edge of the upper rubber sole. Perhaps, the next bike from this platform turns out to be a bit more sporty and we get to enjoy the incredible handling potential this setup has. 

I would like to throw a word of caution here, the seat foam was a bit on the softer side. Since this was a very short ride, barely 15 minutes, fatigue and back pains didn’t set in. However, it might just turn out to be a bit irritating on those 1000-kilometre days.

The Unforgiven

Harley and Hero have done brilliantly to price this bike at an attractive Rs 2.29 lakh - Rs 2.69 lakh (ex-showroom), and that shows. Even though we rode the top-spec S trim, our pick of the lot would be the mid-spec Vivid version, and you can know why in this story. However, it doesn’t have an air of superiority or classiness, things that you usually associate with Harleys, especially the big and burly ones. To their credit, it isn’t as disappointing as the old Street 750. 

One

The Harley-Davidson X440 is certainly not ‘King Nothing,’ and I am genuinely surprised at just how lovable this bike is. This brief interaction isn’t quite the justice for all that you would expect from us and we certainly hope that the next time we meet up with the X440, it isn’t after 72 seasons. So, this H-D X440, for whom the bell tolls? You know, a certain Indian-owned British marque that is currently the ‘Oh! Darling’ of retro. And maybe even a potentially ‘Killer Queen’ coming from the Hinckley-Chakan chemical romance. So, until we host this mega rock concert like no other before, we are damn sure that the Indian buyer is bound to be swayed to each one’s groovy tunes. And so far, this piece of American metal is something that I like a lot!

PS: Did you manage to catch all the Metallica references? Ping us on Insta if you found them all.

Harley Davidson X440 Video Review

Harley Davidson X440
Harley Davidson X440
Rs. 2.39 Lakh
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