Harley-Davidson’s new CEO, Jochen Zeitz has yet to reveal his re-engineered “Hardwire” business plan. However, Harley has already made sweeping changes. Zeitz is taking steps to reduce cost, eliminate a number of models, and rethink the MoCo’s overseas sales plan.
Will the 338R live on?
We’re still not sure whether Harley will continue its deal with Chinese manufacturer Qianjiang to manufacture small-displacement motorcycles. Numerous spy shots and photos from governmental filings show the bike that Harley may/would have marketed.
If produced, the Harley 338R really wouldn’t be an all-new bike. It looks to be a lift from Qianjiang’s own QJ 350 and Benelli 302S offerings. The Harley version would have different body panels and design cues but would essentially be a light makeover of the Qianjiang’s machines.
Street tracker replica
So if Harley does continue its deal with Qianjiang, we already have a good idea of what it would look like. It’s a nice looking little bike, but sort of average for the genre. But what if Harley had taken the 338R and built a street tracker replica?
Would it be a success? Could it be a “learner’s” bike? Perhaps Harley could sponsor a race series for the smaller displacement machines to lure younger riders to the fold? Unfortunately, all of the above is just wishful thinking.
Engines Engineering XR338 prototype
Or is it? One company, Engines Engineering (EE) sees the potential of a small, twin-cylinder street tracker and they’ve already built one. According to BikeEXIF, the Italian industrial design firm has built a fully functioning prototype that uses the $4,299 Benelli 302 as its base.
EE is based near Bologna, Italy, and was founded in 1979. The firm specializes in motorcycle design and development. They are not newcomers to the motorcycle design game. Past and present customers include OEM’s like Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Ducati, Benelli, and others.
The result of EE’s design work is a bike they have named the XR338. It’s aimed at young riders and particularly the US market. EE’s founder, Alberto Strazzari says that small motorcycles are the future of urban motorcycles.
“Small motorcycles are the future of urban motorcycling. With more than 40 years experience helping top brands in Europe and Asia, we know how to inject passion and desirability into small motorcycles.” – Alberto Strazzari to BikeEXIF
EE clearly demonstrates that it knows how to do just that with its XR338. And, it only took them 120 days to build the prototype which they believe is 70% ready for mass production.
Based on Benelli 302S
The EE machine is based on the Benelli 302S twin-cylinder naked bike that makes 37.5hp and about 19 lb-ft of torque. However, the EE XR338 does not just make cosmetic changes to the Benelli bike.
EE made changes to the bike’s frame. Gone is the Benelli’s trellis frame which has been swapped for one with a more “flowing” look. Other changes include a new ECU, muffler and a pair of 18″ wheels machined specially for the XR338.
In addition to the above changes, the XR338 has completely new bodywork. The bike’s yokes, handlebars, and risers are new, and the speedometer is a KOSO unit held in an aluminum bracket. Under the bike’s panels is a steel fuel tank. Rounding out the design changes is LED lighting at both ends.
What do you think?
So what do you think? Is a bike similar to the XR338 the street tracker that Harley should have or should build? Let us know in the comments below.
All photo credit: BikeEXIF except where noted.