WEL­COME TO THE FU­TURE, HAR­LEY-DAVID­SON

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IN THE PAST 10 YEARS, WE’VE SEEN SIG­NIF­I­CANT CHANGES FROM THE HAR­LEY-DAVID­SON MO­TOR COM­PANY, FROM THE RE­LEASE OF THE STREET GLIDE IN 2006 TO THE PROJECT RUSH­MORE MO­TOR­CY­CLES AND IN­TRO­DUC­TION OF THE STREET PLAT­FORM IN 2014 TO THE MOST RE­CENT RE­LEASE OF THE MIL­WAU­KEE-EIGHT EN­GINE PLAT­FORM IN 2017, AND THE SUB­SE­QUENT RE­LEASE OF THE NEW SOFTAIL MOD­ELS IN 2018. BUT DRAS­TIC CHANGE IS ON THE HORI­ZON FOR HAR­LEY-DAVID­SON IN 2019 AND 2020, AND THE MO­TOR COM­PANY HAS A FEW NEW TRICKS UP ITS PROVER­BIAL SLEEVE. FROM A PROD­UCT STAND­POINT, THERE IS A WHOLE LOTTA DIF­FER­ENT.

Re­mem­ber Project Livewire? That was Har­ley-david­son’s foray into ebike ter­ri­tory in 2014. And then it kind of went nowhere. Or did it? As it turns out, Har­ley-david­son has been qui­etly fine-tun­ing the elec­tric cruiser in its se­cret lab­o­ra­tory over the past few years. For 2019, the first no-clutch “twist-andgo” Livewire will be ready to hit the road for con­sumers. And other Livewire vari­a­tions will fol­low through 2022. I can def­i­nitely see a newer seg­ment of younger mo­tor­cy­cle en­thu­si­asts jump­ing on two wheels in the very near fu­ture.

I re­mem­ber rid­ing the Livewire. It was a neat lit­tle bike that had plenty of pep in its elec­tric step. But, as with ebike, there are the two other bits of cri­te­ria that are nec­es­sary for suc­cess: bat­tery life and recharge time. Sure, Project Livewire was a “con­cept” and didn’t go into pro­duc­tion un­til the Mo­tor Com­pany could process con­sumer feed­back. But the fact that it’s here in 2019 means what­ever is­sues that kept it from be­ing re­leased for so long have most likely been solved. But that’s not all. Har­ley also just an­nounced a com­pletely new mod­u­lar 500cc to 1,250cc mid­dleweight plat­form of mo­tor­cy­cles that spans three dis­tinct prod­uct spa­ces and four dis­place­ments: the Har­ley-david­son Pan Amer­ica 1,250cc, Har­ley’s first-ever ad­ven­ture tour­ing mo­tor­cy­cle; a 1,250cc cus­tom model; and a 975cc street­fighter model, all to be launched in 2020.

I am very ex­cited about the ad­ven­ture model. I know a cer­tain in­di­vid­ual who will be just as ex­cited too (page 56). I’m at a point where off-road rid­ing has be­come a huge part of my life, and an H-D ADV could po­ten­tially marry my street-rid­ing pas­sion with my love of off-road rid­ing. At least that’s the goal. If you look at the in­ter­est in the ADV bike world, it was just a mat­ter of time be­fore Har­ley jumped on board. But will it com­pete with the likes of the KTM 1290 Su­per Ad­ven­ture or Honda’s Africa Twin? Since I don’t cur­rently have all the par­tic­u­lars about the Pan Amer­ica, I’m in­ter­ested to see how that crowd wel­comes Har­ley’s ini­tial ADV ef­fort. But the ef­fort alone cer­tainly de­serves ku­dos.

As for the street­fighter and cus­tom mod­els, I’m jazzed about both. The street­fighter re­minds me of the XR1200 a tad. I haven’t been given all the per­ti­nent de­tails about the new bike, but my ed­u­cated guess is that this model—along with the other two new mod­els an­nounced—is equipped with a 60-de­gree V-twin with over­head cams and in­te­grated gear­box.

As for the cus­tom, I im­me­di­ately see touches of the Fat Bob in a tight lit­tle Forty-eight pack­age. I like it. And the 1,250cc en­gine stuffed into the tubu­lar chas­sis is def­i­nitely a de­par­ture from tra­di­tional Har­ley styling, which could be ap­peal­ing to younger, newer riders not want­ing a larger V-twin.

Over­all, this is huge news for H-D. I’m ex­cited to test the com­pleted ver­sions of these pro­to­types soon. HB

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