We’ve long been aware of Harley-Davidson’s partnership with Chinese motorcycle giant QJ Motor. Much to the outrage of a lot of die-hard Harley patrons, the poster child of American motorcycling, and the embodiment of freedom is in bed with the Chinese. Regardless of what you think or feel about the partnership, it is necessary for Harley-Davidson to gain more traction in the small to mid-displacement segment, as well as the Asian market.
For a really long time now, rumors have been floating around surrounding what could be the partnership’s first fruit—a small-displacement Harley-Davidson-branded bike supposedly called the 338R. While several publications, ourselves included, have used their imaginations as well as hints and clues from the brands to speculate what the bike could actually be, our esteemed colleague from Motorcycle.com, Dennis Chung, actually did some real leg work in uncovering the mystery of this bike.
In a lengthy, detailed story published on their website (you can read the whole thing through the link in the sources below), Dennis studied the bike’s VIN via decoder information Qianjiang submitted to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. According to the article, the VIN decoder contained information for QJ Motor models such as the new SRK400 RR sportbike, as well as Benelli-branded machines like the TNT 600 naked bike. Now, naturally, all manufacturers have their own formulas when it comes to writing up VIN numbers, with each character representing certain attributes about a certain motorcycle.
In this case, the first three characters always represent the WMI, or World Manufacturer Identifier. According to Motorcycle.com, the WMI is a “globally standardized ID code assigned for each manufacturer.” All that being said, Dennis was able to decipher that the upcoming bike would indeed be a middleweight model with an engine size between 351cc and 900cc. Specifically, a 353cc, fuel-injected, liquid-cooled, parallel-twin engine. What’s even more interesting is that the VIN structure of the new bike doesn’t follow Qianjiang’s typical structure, but rather, that of Harley-Davidson.
Given all these updates, it’s clear that Harley-Davidson is pushing the paperwork for the upcoming bike for approval. However, there are still a few hurdles that need to be overcome before the bike can actually hit the market. It will be interesting to see the 338R hit the U.S. market, as well as in Asia and Europe, as it’ll certainly open doors in the beginner-friendly cruiser segment. At least now, thanks to the legwork of Dennis Chung of Motorcycle.com, we now have a clearer picture of what the bike could actually be.