Harley-Davidson's Chinese-made XR 350 officially on March 10, 2023. The long-awaited model’s path to production was anything but straightforward, though. First announced as a 338cc rebadge of the Benelli 302S in June, 2019, the project went cold throughout most of the COVID-19 pandemic.
By January, 2023, the project re-emerged. Identified in United States National Highway Traffic Safety Association V.I.N. decoder data by Motorcycle’s Dennis Chung, the baby Harley earned a new lease on life and a displacement boost to 353cc. Now sporting the X 350 moniker, the model popped up in more filings just days later.
This time, California Air Resources Board (CARB) documents listed the project as the X 350, X 350RA, and X 350RA Derating Removed variants. Additional user manual imagery revealed that the RA nomenclature reserves such units for use by Harley-Davidson's Riding Academy. Still, with the X 350 nameplate in the mix, we held out hope that the model would hit the streets in the States.
Less than two months later, the beginner-friendly Hog debuted in China. No news on the imminent U.S. release followed, though. At least until now. Going right to the source, Jalopnik’s Bob Sorokanich reached out to Harley-Davidson representatives for comment on the brand’s plans for its home market.
In no uncertain terms, the contact confirmed that the Motor Company will indeed import the X 350RA trim as a training unit for its Riding Academy. On the other hand, the road-going X 350 won’t hit U.S. shores. Unfortunate as that may be, the sub-500cc model should prove a suitable training tool for aspiring riders.
Brand diehards may balk at a Chinese-made Harley, but if the X 350RA ushers a new generation of riders into the fray, we have a feeling the return will be worth the investment.
Sources: Jalopnik, Motorcycle (1), (2), Cycle World