IT STARTED with tearing through the tunnels beneath the Allianz Stadium chasing a tall man riding a Harley-Davidson Livewire. The sound of the parallel twin I was riding reverberating off the concrete walls; shafts of sunlight piercing the dark tunnels as we sped past open gates where security guards nonchalantly watched on with crossed arms. Then out into a bright Sydney spring day to weave around cones and perform emergency stops on a fully set up learner’s course. When all that was finished there was a large plate of multicoloured macaroons. It may sound like some drug-addled dream but this was the launch of Harley-Davidson’s new LAMS approved X350 and X500 motorcycles.
Harley-Davidson has been without a LAMS approved motorcycle since the demise of the Street 500 three years ago. I would imagine dealers have been crying out for a new LAMS model as the Street 500 was a big seller. Harley-Davidson has listened, producing not one but two new LAMS models. Its launch for the new bikes was held in the tunnels and car park of Allianz Stadium as both the X350 and X500 have yet to be given Australian vehicle certification. This is expected to happen in November so that the bikes will be in the shops for Christmas.
Harley-Davidson says the X350s styling was inspired by the XR750 flat-tracker.
I am not really sure about that but in the flesh it is a pretty impressive machine. The riding position is upright with a slight forward lean to the flat bars. Footpegs are slightly rear-set. Seat height is only 777 mm. On the learners course and in the tunnels the X350 was really easy to control. The 353 cc parallel makes 36 hp at 9500 rpm and 31 Nm at 7000 rpm. Suspension-wise it runs 41 mm inverted forks and a mono shock on the rear. 17-inch wheels front and back; twin discs at the front and a single on the rear. All the lights are LED with an attractive semi-circular daytime running light. The X350 comes in four colours: dramatic black, dynamic orange, supersonic silver and pearl white. The ride-away-price in any of the four colours is $8495. That’s right, just under eight and a half for a brand new Harley-Davidson.
The X500 is a little bit more traditional Harley-Davidson roadster with mid-controls and higher bars.
It makes 47 hp at 8500 rpm and 46 Nm at 6000 rpm. It is slightly heavier and has a more open riding position. Seat height is 820 mm. To ride, it definitely feels punchier than the 350 and more planted on the road. Suspension and brakes are both upgraded over the smaller bike. The X500 is available in the same colours as the X350. Price on the road is $11,495.
Harley-Davidson has promised us both bikes for a proper road test once they have Australian certification. It will be interesting to see how they perform in Australian conditions. The Street 500 was a roaring success for Harley-Davidson becoming one of its biggest sellers. I am pretty sure the new X350 and X500 will prove just as popular. Small motorcycles always bring home to me the simple pleasure of riding. If I had to choose between the two bikes I would take the X350 in dynamic orange.
Article submitted by Paul Angus