[dropcap]L[/dropcap]ike a July 4th fireworks display that builds to a crescendo, it seems as if the OEMs have saved the biggest booms for the end of the year. The 2017 model year had already seen some real sparklers ranging from Kawasaki’s nifty little Z125 Pro all the way up to Ducati’s monstrous Diavel, but the biggest bang just came from Harley-Davidson.
Harley-Davidson intentionally waited until after the hype of the annual Sturgis Rally to take the wraps off its all-new Milwaukee-Eight engine and brand new suspension for the Model Year 2017 Touring bikes.
“These are the most powerful, most responsive and most comfortable Touring motorcycles ever offered by Harley-Davidson,” said Scott Miller, VP of Styling and Product Development Strategy. “You truly have to ride one to feel the difference – so we’re inviting all riders to visit a Harley-Davidson dealer and take a test ride.”
“The engineering team in Milwaukee recognized that there was only so much it could do with the existing Twin Cam platform to move it forward, especially with incredibly restrictive Euro 4 emissions regs on the horizon,” wrote Motorcyclist Editor-in-Chief Marc Cook after an exclusive first look.
“No amount of fine tuning would get a big-inch, two-valve-per-cylinder engine where it needed to go, even with the liquid cooling that debuted on some of the touring models. The bikes are getting more sophisticated, and heavier, so the need for more power is ever present. A fundamental shift was needed.”
That shift came in the form of an all new power plant. The ninth Big Twin in Harley’s history, the Milwaukee-Eight 107 and Milwaukee-Eight 114 engines retain the classic 45-degree V-Twin cylinder angle, while producing 10% more torque. The two four-valve cylinder heads (hence the “Milwaukee-Eight” moniker) provide 50% more intake and exhaust flow capacity than last year’s Big Twins, according to The Motor Company.
Even with the performance boost, the Milwaukee-Eight is said to be smoother than the last model year. The new engines are counter-balanced to cancel 75% of primary vibration at idle while being very smooth at highway speeds, according to Miller. A new heat management strategy also improves rider and passenger comfort.
“With an all-new design, the new Milwaukee-Eight engine offers quicker throttle response, more passing power, purer sound, a smoother ride and more of the feeling riders want from a Harley-Davidson Touring motorcycle,” he adds.
For those looking for even more, a full selection of street-legal Screamin’ Eagle Performance products delivering up to a 24% increase in torque are on the way.
Not to be overshadowed by the engine unveiling, Harley has also announced some groundbreaking suspension news for all 2017 Touring models. New dual-bending, valve-front suspension technology provides the performance of a racing-style cartridge fork with linear damping characteristics and reduced weight. New emulsion-technology rear shocks offer 15%-30% more pre-load adjustment compared to previous shocks, with a single, hand-adjustable knob to hydraulically dial in pre-load.
For even more fireworks Harley’s Custom Vehicle Operations group is offering three limited-edition factory-custom motorcycles for 2017. The CVO Limited and CVO Street Glide models feature the refined performance of the Twin-Cooled Milwaukee-Eight 114 engine, while the CVO Pro Street Breakout gets the Screamin’ Eagle Twin Cam 110B air-cooled V-Twin engine.
On the cruiser side, the High Output Twin Cam 103 is standard for all 2017 Softail and Dynas (except the Street Bob model and the S Series cruisers with the Screamin’ Eagle Twin Cam 110 engine). Meanwhile the Street 500/750 motorcycles are now available with ABS and Harley’s Smart Security System with a hands-free, proximity-based security fob.
Forget the little sparklers that were released earlier this year. Harley has lit the fuse for some big bore fireworks in the coming year. Hopefully consumers will go for the big bang theory and sales will light up for the Milwaukee-Eight.