Harley X440: An initial lot customer’s overall unpleasant experience
The motorcycle seems good but it appears that the company is experimenting with the first few people who showed faith in the brand and its product.
BHPian rustyg recently shared this with other enthusiasts.
I booked an X440 S during the first few mins on the 4th July and took the delivery yesterday – 5th Nov. And here it is, Freshly Baked.
So, now as I have your attention, let me go through the initial experience. I will break it into 3 parts.
Part 1 – Booking and waiting
Me- I used to own a RE 2003 (the older one before all adjustments got made) till 2009. Coming back to two-wheelers which is most likely a midlife crisis-induced buy.
I booked the bike within a few mins of opening and was told I was 7th in the queue (in the dealership or the area from where the phone came- not sure).
As we know there was a delay from the earlier publicized date and then another delay over that.
- All this while there was no communication from the company. The only source of information were public forums.
- I dropped a mail to the only mail ID I had of Hero MotoCorp and Harley eshop India on 29th Aug on the status and wrong vehicle model mentioned on the receipt. No response.
- Checking on this thread, I booked a test drive after downloading the app HD Connect. It took a long time but got the slot for 2nd Oct. Rushed back to Bengaluru and drove directly to the dealership Tusker Harley on Lavelle Road. Guess what? Showroom was closed. Public Holiday.
- Now the app didn’t give me the option to book another slot and kept mocking me “You have missed your appointment.” I said sorry to the app so many times but it didn’t budge.
- Around 10th Oct, got a call from the dealership, randomly selected by Hero/Harley. RT Krishna Hero Motors, Hosur Road for deliveries starting 15th -20th Oct. (Could they have selected a farther store?). Anyway, replied to pick it up between the 28th and 30th. And as usual, when I called up, I was asked to come to the Hero Showroom as the Primea Showroom was not yet ready.
- Took the test drive on 30th Oct, understood the payment structure etc and came back without confirmation.
- Had multiple queries on RTO charges, full amount being considered for Registration etc. All were answered with reason – sooner or later. With all the details, made payment and booked it on my birthday rather than on the showroom opening day for picking it up.
Part 2 – Dealership, Payment & Delivery Experience
All doubts were clarified via messages and calls.
Cost, reg cost and payment
Below is a breakdown of payment done finally as per discount on launch booking, RSA and Bangalore registration costs.
- HOG – I declined the HOG (Harley Owners Group) membership as I am not sure of the utility of the same in my case. It is mostly leisure riding and I don’t see myself going in group meets or ride plans. As I mentioned- more of a mid-life crisis buy.
- RSA – I am told that RSA is mandatory – which I didn’t object to as it’s a new model and I am not sure of widespread servicing / fixing capability just yet. Also, peace of mind which I noticed in the case of my Vento. However, I think people who have good hands-on with bike maintenance may discuss this further with the dealership.
- Road Tax and Registration – The registration will happen at the new price as the older price is being shown as the discounted price in RTO books/system. It’s 18% Road Tax + 10% of Road Tax as Cess + 10% of Cess as Infra Cess + Flat Road Safety Cess of 500 + Smart Card etc etc + They charged registration of 8840 for which I don’t have a breakup of and seems little extra.
- They have opened a Primea showroom (think Nexa for Maruti) for Hero 2-wheelers nearby the older showroom but on the other side of the road.
- Only 3 accessories available yet – Side Stand (1400), Bash Plate (450), Crash Guard (880)
- There are just too many teething problems right from the beginning- whatever the question, it is attributed to It’s new, we are launching, We still don’t have information on that etc. See some e.g below.
- I was confirmed on the availability of Helmets for sale (going back to biking after 13 years) which had an affirmative answer. Unfortunately while reaching the showroom to take delivery, I was told inventory was not available and I needed to make arrangements. I mean, I am right at the showroom now. Had to borrow my driver’s helmet to take the bike back home.
- All other accessories and other merchandise are to be available only after a month or so. I mean the bike delivery was delayed 2 times, there was a good amount of time in between but seems like one of our software projects keeps stretching and missing timelines or features.
- Most of their actions on delivery day were focused on Photo-ops while delivering the vehicle. That seemed the primary motive- Like when nothing was moving there and I was waiting, I went for a coffee next door. I was called back from there without letting me wait for the coffee to come to get delivery with my photo clicked (with that large photo session key). That was without explanation of anything on the bike, no walk-through, no feature demo- Nothing.
- The papers were being given to me without any seal of dealership or signature, just a printout. On enquiring, I was told to take delivery and then go to the older Hero MotoCorp showroom and get it done. Seriously!. When I declined, I was told that we would arrange – You take the delivery etc, but someone will have to go to our other showroom where the seals are kept. Wow, and we say things for Govt offices in India.
- It goes further – After 10 mins, I was again told to wait as the team from Harley was stopping by and RM wanted another Photo op. This is where I mentioned nothing to do. I need details on the vehicle and am not going to work for your picture snapping.
All in all, the Hero Attitude of decades keeps coming out from under the outer clothes of Harley. It’s just not the fancy showroom which transforms the service to Primea- It takes more Ps (Marketing Mgmt 101 thing).
Part 3 – Post Delivery: Vehicle Observations, Yays & Nays
So with the vehicle in hand, let me share my observations, hits and misses and downright irritations, Value offered vis-a-vis Value delivered.
But first, a family photo
Hello, I am HD 440S and I am with my Big Uncle
Hits / Pros
- Stability – Have just driven it for 35 KM + Test Drive of 3-4 KMs – In both vehicles I found the handling and stability to be amazing. Be at low or high speeds, going over the road bumps, pretty grounded bike. I just got back to bike riding after 14 years (and also crossing over from young to a middle-aged guy), never for a second I felt any balancing, handling issues after the left foot click. It’s really a well-balanced bike which is easy to ride and manoeuvre for anyone new to bikes or returning to riding. Target segment for bikes in India is generally not the mid-aged folks but the youth, but the bike caters to a wide segment here.
- The sound – I contemplated cancelling during the Test Drive as I felt it was not that distinguishable sound and thump under (drove RE 2003 earlier). Even gave this feedback to Harley folks who were visiting the showroom and spoke to me when I was taking delivery. But, how I was wrong! Really loved it when riding back home and after a few KMs. Once you go to 3rd or 4th gear you get that stable sound and thump which is pretty distinctive – more so in Parking where it echoes. It grows on you and I love it within 35 KM of riding.
- Gives a stable, monotonous cruising-like feel just at 4th gear around 45-50 KMPH and quickly picks up if you accelerate. So mix of cruise feel with power burst as needed (I don’t mean this power is sports bike power). Really loved that- it’s a more personal feeling thing but yay!
- The sitting/riding stance and the comfort for the height of Avg Indians. You don’t need to be tall to be comfortable when stopping at red lights. For reference- I am 5ft 6.5 inch (right around avg as per multiple studies -5’5″ – 5′ 8″)- and providing my pics below (face redacted to not steal the beauty of the bike) from the front and side when balancing on 1 feet. No stretch of arms or legs. Also, I have knee issues owing to running in past and I didn’t feel any pressure when balancing on that leg for long.
Things That Could Have Been Better / Nuances
- Size of indicators- I find them smaller with the logo in the middle.
- The reminder of indicators being on is easy to miss- no sound and somehow it doesn’t stand out on display during the daytime drive. You keep missing that it’s on.
- Rear view mirrors are round and small – mostly for aesthetics – but rectangular or trapezium shape would be of more utility. The visibility in mirrors is less. One needs to turn to be assured nothing is there while changing lanes or turning.
Problems / Issues / Cons / Irritants
These are real problems that made my experience go sour with the bike and how the company – both Hero and Harley have handled things. Seems rushed to deliver and sell without proper engineering and quality checks. Seems like there are a lot of operational issues in the supply chain, vendor & order management.
Variant – Value for Money
With 3 variants at 20K diff each and a total 4 colors. There are limited options. I chose the top variant mainly for the black color. The only difference between mid (Vivid) and Top (S) variants are:
- The Display system and HD Connect – Electronics
- The silver notches on Rim – Aesthetics mainly
- A chrome/Copper polish on top of the engine – Pure Aesthetics
I paid 20K for this- I don’t think it’s worth it at all, especially with the issues below.
The Connected features and HD Connect app and all shebang on the display unit in the bike just don’t work if you are an iPhone user. I repeat- one reasonably sized segment in Urban centers can’t use the only differentiating feature in Top End for which they pay 20K extra (+ extra on Road tax, insurance as it is all %). You install the app, it connects, you move away, it disconnects and you are done. You can’t do anything unless you reinstall the app- do connection again for using it just 1 time. There are multiple such instances reported in App store reviews.
This was not told to me when purchasing the vehicle on what phone I use. What is worse- it is a known problem for Harley as accepted by Harley folks who were there during delivery. But it is not a known issue to dealership folks explaining or trying to demo or deliver the vehicle. The Harley execs casually mentioned it’s because of an iOS issue- Seriously – you want Apple to fix it for your inability to create and handle security features when connecting with iOS. He stopped giving security reasons on coming to know I have spent 20+ years in the cybersecurity domain and have little understanding.
I was surprised when Hero Delivery Exec showed connecting with Android and – Voila, see, It works. The showroom manager was least interested and concerned about the issue.
Heating problem – It might be only my vehicle but it has a huge heating issue on the right side. To the extent that my ankles and shin are almost burning despite wearing denim and shoes. The exec mentions it is 440cc sir, that is expected. I don’t think it is expected to this level. I seriously don’t know what would be the experience for people who go on long rides. Again it might be with my vehicle but you can’t just brush it off with a wave of the hand.
No additional accessory available for another 1 month- Again this is for a premium segment bike in your showroom and moving delivery 2-3 times. They are still not able to sort things out. No merchandise available. This means you can’t get the central stand, Mud flaps, guards for big gap-throwing water. Again no commitment and just brushing things aside.
By design and tyres used – The bike kind of picks up every tiny amount of water on the road and throws it on you. Despite no rain for a day when I picked the bike, and nothing on road, the lowers were drenched with mud. And then no accessory is available or being committed for. See pic of the mudslinger after 35 kms drive without rain.
Display issues- Fuel gauge shows half or 3/4th or full as it pleases and can switch to any state at will. This is one thing which never failed with mechanical meters at least. Now if you are on the side stand it goes down, when straight and you give it 1-2 mins or turn on the ignition again – it might show the correct level. When running – it may show the correct level or may show full for 15-20 mins at its will. On contacting the Delivery Exec – “Sir, it may show empty or half when on the side stand”. Seriously, this is the kind of sensor and display implemented and claimed to be a Connected bike? See the 3 pics with different levels below – All taken within 5 kms and 1 in the evening and 2 in the morning. Problem is what if this glitch starts showing full for some duration while on the road trip when actually it needs attention? This is a digital glitch, telling us the value of our older fuel meters.
Tank Half at 38 km next morning
Correct reading of 3/4th at 38 km next morning
Finally, the ride feel is good, but it seems the company is experimenting with the first few people who showed faith in its brand and product and mostly for the tie-up and information asymmetry they have. It seems someone was given a target of taking out the bike and they went with it despite issues and channels and supply chain not set.
Advice for Hero and Harley- While the bike is becoming more digital in features, the attitude and dealing of Dealer and Harley Execs are becoming more mechanical. For god’s sake train your execs to understand problems beforehand, invest some effort in software testing, make disclosures for known problems. DO NOT take customers and especially early adopters – for granted. Service and quality matter when positioning a product in a segment which you want to crack. Harley bringing the cheapest bike doesn’t mean this is a cheaper segment- It still is a premium segment for the Indian market.
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