Harley China Plan Stalled?
Letter from China by Ben Purvis
QJMotor is set to become a better-known brand outside its Chinese homeland during 2022 with a Moto3 race effort under its name and a growing ambition to offer its ever-growing range of bikes in Europe.
The Moto3 effort will be with the well known Avintia team, using KTM race bikes rebranded to sport the QJMotor branding, with European sales intentions heavily suggested by QJMotor's presence at EICMA last year. Given that the company's own brand is effectively a Benelli sister brand, owned by the same Qianjiang parent company, there is no surprise that it shares many of the same frames, engines and suspension components with Benelli models, and there's already a dealer and distributor network in place - should it decide to enter the European market.
Indeed, QJMotor's latest new models, revealed in Chinese approval documents, look increasingly convincing from a European perspective.
It is Qianjiang, QJMotor's parent company, that has the deal to design and manufacture future Harley-Davidson models for sale in the Chinese market, including the long-expected H-D 338R project.
That model used a Benelli chassis and a parallel twin, effectively a smaller version of the one seen in QJMotor's new SRV500, but seems to have been put on hold, failing to be officially revealed and yet to be namechecked by Harley CEO Jochen Zeitz in his quarterly financial reports or analyst remarks, even though near-finished prototypes were spied more than a year ago.
If the Harley deal does result in a production bike, it might not be a million miles from the SRV500 seen here.
Just as Qianjiang has a deal with Harley-Davidson, it also has an arrangement to manufacture smaller models with MV Agusta. The first will be the newly launched MV Lucky Explorer 5.5, which shares many of its parts with QJMotor's 500 cc adventure bike and the near-identical Benelli TRK502.