Chinese manufacturer Qianjiang registered a new motorcycle design with China’s National Intellectual Property Administration, revealing a new naked bike called the QJ350. Why should you care about a small-displacement Chinese bike?
Well, Qianjiang, of course, is the parent company of Benelli, meaning the bike we see here will likely be rebadged as the Benelli 350S. The new design shares much with the Benelli TNT300 and its follow-up, the 302S, but with new wheels, a higher, shorter tail, a rear tire-hugging fender/plate holder, the headlight, and sharper bodywork.
Still don’t care? Then there’s also the fact that Qianjiang is Harley-Davidson‘s partner for producing a small-displacement model for Asian markets. Originally planned to be a 338cc model, it seems now that the displacement may be closer to 350. The HD350 (for lack of a better name at the moment) won’t look exactly like this bike, as it’s covered in Qianjiang’s QJ branding. But the engine? Take a look at the left side of the QJ350.
The motor looks similar to the 300cc Parallel-Twin currently powering the Benelli. Let’s move in a little closer. Notice the engraving? That’s right, it says “Harley-Davidson Motor Company,” confirming this is the engine intended for the new Asian-market Harley.
The design is actually a mishmash of the three brands. The engine says Harley-Davidson, the bodywork says QJ, and the rear fender is stamped with the Benelli logo.
Altogether, this comes across as a bit sloppy, but it’s also a reflection of how much the three bikes will share. The finished HD350 will probably look a little different from this, likely adopting a circular headlight and a more Harley-esque shaped fuel tank as in the initial sketches.
Qianjiang will likely release the QJ350 soon, with the Benelli version shortly after. The fate of the Harley-Davidson version is less clear. In its second quarter presentation earlier this week, where Harley-Davidson provided details about its Rewire and Hardwire business plans, the president and chief executive officer Jochen Zeitz remained vague on the progress of its partnership with Qianjiang.
“We would like to reveal our products much closer to actual launch, and whether and when we are going to launch specific products is not something I would like to elaborate on right now,” said Zeitz, when asked specifically about the project. “We will provide further detail in the fourth quarter. At this point, there’s really nothing new to say about that.”
That’s not exactly a vote of confidence for the partnership with Qianjiang, and it remains to be seen whether the project will move forward. If it does, we’re likely looking at early 2021 for a launch in Asia and potentially other markets.