Harley-Davidson's partnership with Chinese motorcycle manufacturer QJ Motor is by no means a secret. QJ, also known as Qianjiang, is the parent company of many up and coming names in the motorcycle industry. Brands like Benelli, Keeway, and QJ Motor are belong to the Qianjiang empire, and the company has partnerships with major manufacturers, too, such as MV Agusta and yes, Harley-Davidson.
One of the most eagerly awaited models to come out of the Harley x QJ partnership is the X 500, a departure from Harley-Davidson's traditional cruiser styling, and more of a rugged, urban roadster. The newest model was officially unveiled during the 2023 Shanghai Auto Show, and comes hot on the heels of Harley teasing the 4XX jointly developed with Indian motorcycle brand Hero MotoCorp.
As expected, the Harley-Davidson X500 shares a lot in common with an existing bike in the Qianjiang arsenal: the Benelli Leoncino 500. Indeed, the designers over at QJ seem to have done very little to conceal this fact, as the frame, wheels, and overall stance of the X500 look identical to that of the Leoncino 500. The result is one of the most un-Harley-looking Harleys out there, next only to the Pan America adventure bike.
In terms of performance, those of you familiar with Benelli's 500cc twins will need no introduction to the X500. It's sporting a 500cc, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, parallel-twin engine with an output of 47 horsepower and about 33 pound-feet of torque. The engine is supported by a steel tubular frame, and a rather beefy 50-millimeter inverted front fork and monoshock at the rear. The X500 rolls on 17-inch wheels front and back, and comes to a stop with dual, radially mounted disc brakes up front and a single disc brake at the rear.
Over on the cockpit, the X500 features a semi-digital instrument pod that keeps everything looking compact, if not a little on the cheap side. The bike also gets a single LED headlight and a tail light with integrated turn signals. As for electronic rider aids, the X500 has little to show for other than ABS. At present, the bike has only been showcased in China, so we'll have to wait and see where this new model heads to next.