The automotive circle is abuzz with the news of Harley-Davidson collaborating with Benelli to develop a new 350cc motorcycle for growing markets like China and India. Sometime back, we reported that the HD350 is going to be based on the upcoming Benelli TNT 300 and now, the updated version of the same has been unveiled in China. Benelli has unveiled the new 352S but this could be rebadged to TNT 350 when it goes on sale in other markets. There are some interesting developments regarding Harley’s partnership with Benelli but we will get to that later.
The new TNT 350 borrows the same design cues from its elder sibling, the TNT 600i which was also recently updated in China. Both the motorcycles have fair chances of coming to India.
The new TNT 350 marks the departure from the more rounded styling of the TNT 300 and comes off as a rather sharp-looking motorcycle. The front end looks particularly menacing and sharp, courtesy the Kawasaki Z1000-inspired styling. It worked in the favour of TNT 600i and it works in this smaller form as well. Other design highlights include sharp tank extensions and a muscular fuel tank. The rear end is designed well too and gels well with the rest of the motorcycle. The tail section is quite sharp and looks a lot better than the outgoing model. Another major change is the inclusion of an all-digital TFT screen and even the turn indicators are LED units.
The engine department consists of a 353cc liquid-cooled, parallel-twin motor that is rated at 36PS. The Benelli TNT 300’s motor produced 38PS and 26.5Nm. The engine comes mated to a 6-speed transmission. Even though the engine has grown in size by almost 50cc, it is interesting to note that the power has gone down slightly. How it all translates in real-life performance, that we will have to wait to find out. Other cycle parts include USD fork and a monoshock. Braking hardware consists of a twin-disc at the front and a single disc at the back with what looks like dual-channel ABS. Benelli claims the new bike weighs 176kg (kerb weight), which makes it 20kg lighter than the TNT 300.
The recent international tension between China and the rest of the world is going to have an impact on the automotive world as well. Harley-Davidson was going to utilize the same platform of the Benelli TNT 350 but according to the recent statements made by the company, it looks like the plan could be put on hold for a while or shelved altogether. Harley-Davidson is experiencing some financial problems and had an upper-level management change sometime back where Matt Levatich was replaced by Zeitz. In an official statement, he said: “We are not willing to sacrifice the strength of our legacy in a quest for pure volume growth going forward.” It is also unclear whether Benelli will bring the TNT 350 or other motorcycles to our market or not because the current diplomatic relations between the two countries are far from good.