Harley-Davidson 350

A small displacement Harley-Davidson model developed with Chinese manufacturer Qianjiang may finally be nearing production. The prospective 350cc model has been in the works since 2019, and despite design filings of the bike and a look at the Harley-branded engine, we haven’t heard any official statement on when it will go into production.

Harley-Davidson first showed renderings of its small-displacement model in 2019.

We now have evidence that the small displacement model (rumored to be called the Harley-Davidson 338R) may be getting closer to launch, thanks to vehicle identification number (VIN) decoder information Qianjiang submitted to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The VIN decoder listed information for models branded as QJ Motor bikes like the SRK 400 RR sprotbike and Qianjiang-owned Benelli models like the TNT 600 naked bike.

All manufacturers have their own formulas for determining VINs, with each of the 17 letters and numbers representing characteristics of each model. The first three characters are always reserved for the World Manufacturer Identifier, a globally standardized ID code assigned for each manufacturer. Ducati, for example, is assigned “ZDM” for models produced in Italy and “ML0” for models produced in Thailand. Qianjiang is assigned the code “LBB”, so the VIN codes for all QJ Motor and Benelli models begin with those three letters.

The rest of the VIN code is determined by manufacturers themselves. For Qianjiang, the fourth character signifies whether the model is a motorcycle (“P”) or a scooter (“T”). The fifth character describes the engine configuration, and the sixth denotes the engine displacement and claimed horsepower output. Characters seven and eight define the specific model (misspelled “MODLE” in the VIN decoder shown below).

Character nine is a check digit, 10 represents the model year, 11 represents the production location, and the final six digits are sequentially assigned to each individual vehicle. What’s unusual about Qianjiang’s most recent decoder is that it includes a second set of VIN definitions that follow a different pattern.

The VIN decoder for a pair of 353cc models follows a different structure. Note the example VIN at the top with a WMI of “1HD”.

In this set of codes, the first three characters are again “LBB” for Qianjiang. The fourth character is “4”, representing middleweight models displacing 351cc to 900cc. Characters five and six denote the model designation, in this case, model codes LWZX350 and LWZX350RA. The seventh spot is filled with “C”, denoting a 353cc fuel-injected liquid-cooled Parallel-Twin engine. Character 8 denotes whether the model is 49- or 50-state compliant. The rest follows the a typical pattern of check digit, model year, assembly location and six sequential digits. This VIN decoder pattern does not match Qianjiang’s typical VIN structure. It does, however, match Harley-Davidson’s.

Harley-Davidson’s typical VIN decoder follows a specific structure.

The VIN structure is exactly the same as Harley-Davidson’s, including the fourth character’s use of “4” to represent a “Middleweight motorcycle (351 cm3 to 900 cm3)”. Further adding to the intrigue is the sample VIN at the top of the Qianjiang decoder. The example VIN code of “1HD1GPM13EC300000” begins with “1HD”, which happens to be the WMI for Harley-Davidson.

What this all tells us is that Harley-Davidson dictated to Qianjiang how to structure the VIN codes for the LWZX350 and LWZX350RA models. The logical conclusion is that these models are for the Qianjiang-manufactured Harley-Davidson models we’ve been waiting for since 2019. The two models (likely a base model and an ABS-equipped version) will be produced in China and powered by a 50-state legal 353cc Parallel-Twin.

The last official statement Harley-Davidson about its Qianjiang partnership came in its recent Q4 filings submitted in February to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Regarding the collaboration, Harley-Davidson stated the market launch as uncertain, saying “to date, the Company has not yet launched a premium low displacement motorcycle through this collaboration due to regulatory requirements, among other factors.”

The Qianjiang VIN decoder filing is one of those regulatory requirements, but likely not the only one. The decoder covers multiple model years starting with 2021, further suggesting that the models were ready for production but are affected by further issues.

We still don’t have a firm timeline on when Harley-Davidson and Qianjiang will release their 353cc model, but the VIN decoder tells us that we are at least one step closer to a product launch.


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