2013 hosted some pretty exciting news in the motorcycle industry. Let's take a look back in the year at some of the top stories:
This past year marked the triumphant return of the storied Indian Motorcycle Manufacturing Company, with an all-new lineup of motorcycles built around the Thunder Stroke 111 49-degree V-Twin engine. Now under the auspices of Polaris Industries, the Indian Motorcycle brand has secured its stablest footing in decades with the financial clout to grow beyond being a niche brand.
The 2014 Indian lineup, consisting of the Chief Classic, Chief Vintage and Chieftain, maintain the brand’s signature features including valanced fenders and the “war bonnet” front fender lamp, while offering modern engineering. Polaris could have taken a shortcut by employing a Victory Freedom V-Twin engine, but the company deserves credit for designing a brand new powerplant claiming 119 ft-lb. at 3000 rpm.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of brand’s revival is that it took just 27 months for Polaris to produce the new Indian motorcycles.
Liquid Cooled Harley?
Traditionalists might not like it, but the fact is it was only a matter of time before Harley-Davidson made the transition to liquid-cooled engines. Yes, the VRSC has been around since 2001, but the Harley faithful never truly embraced the liquid-cooled V-Rod. But with worldwide emission standards getting tighter and tighter, it was inevitable that Harley-Davidson would begin embracing the technology.
We figured something was up when the California Air-Resources Board released an executive order on some new 2014 Harley-Davidson models with significantly lower emissions figures than previous models.
Harley-Davidson proved our suspicions correct a few days later revealing its new Twin-Cooled engine technology which combines air-cooling with a precision cooling system that routs liquid coolant around the exhaust valves. The new Twin-Cooled High Output Twin Cam 103 debuted on the 2014 Ultra Limited and the Tri-Glide Ultra trike while the CVO Ultra Limited received the larger Screamin’ Eagle Twin-Cooled Twin Cam 110 engine.
Harley-Davidson unveils all-new Street 500 and Street 750 motorcycles
MILAN, ITALY, Nov. 4—Harley-Davidson (NYSE: HOG) has revealed two new Dark Custom motorcycles designed for young urban riders around the world, the Street 750 and Street 500.
The Street 500 and 750 is the first all-new platform from Harley-Davidson in 13 years, and are built for urban environments with all-new liquid-cooled Revolution X powertrains, nimble agility and the sound and look that lets everyone know they are genuine Harley-Davidson.
“These are the newest motorcycles to join our Dark Custom lineup, which helped make us the number-one selling brand to young adults in the U.S. for the past five years,” said Matt Levatich, president and chief operating officer for Harley-Davidson Motor Company. “Both the Street 750 and Street 500 were designed with thousands of hours of input from young adults in cities around the world. This input guided both the attitude and capabilities of these motorcycles. They are proof that being customer-led continues to be a core driver of our product development process.”
Urban, Authentic Harley-Davidson
The Street 750 and Street 500 each feature the new Revolution X engine, designed to match the demands of stop-and-go traffic with nimble agility while delivering instant throttle response to escape city gridlock.
The Revolution X engine will be housed in a new, narrow and lean chassis built for agility, with a super-low seat height, new suspension and broad handlebar sweep that provides confidence and maneuverability when managing tight turns and fast moves. Both signature Dark Custom motorcycles feature a premium, minimalist style that serves as a blank canvas for riders to customize.
“These new bikes are leaner, yet still have a mean streak – they’re the real deal, made of real steel,” said Mark-Hans Richer, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Harley-Davidson Motor Company. “They’re designed to handle the abuses of urban environments and provide authentic opportunities to customize.”
The Harley-Davidson Street 750 and Street 500 will be rolling into dealerships in select markets starting in 2014. More information is available at www.h-d.com/street.
Redesigned Harley Batwing Fairing
New Harley-Davidson vented Batwing fairing battles buffeting
MILWAUKEE (August 18, 2013) - Science and experience come together in the Project RUSHMORE effort to improve rider and passenger comfort of many Harley-Davidson® Touring and Trike motorcycle models. The Project RUSHMORE team analyzed computer models, logged thousands of wind tunnel sessions and racked up countless miles of real-world road testing. More valuable feedback was gathered from thousands of experienced touring riders and passengers. The result is a reshaped Batwing fairing equipped with a splitstream vent that significantly reduces wind buffeting to the rider, and a new shotgun seating area that will have passengers measuring rides in smiles per gallon.
Project RUSHMORE Batwing Fairing
The challenge was daunting: reduce head buffeting for riders of Harley-Davidson Touring and Trike models while maintaining the iconic visage of the Batwing fairing, perhaps the most recognizable face in motorcycling. The result is brilliant. Though subtly reshaped and restyled, the new Batwing fairing maintains the look that launched a million road trips.
Development of the new Batwing fairing required the collaboration of Harley-Davidson engineers and stylists. The effort started with initial development aided by the virtual science of CFD (computational fluid dynamics). The aim was to reduce buffeting while not completely isolating the rider in a pocket of dead air, and also while maintaining the airflow necessary to cool powertrain components. Prototypes were produced, tested, refined, and sometimes discarded. Those that showed the most promise made it to the wind tunnel at Wichita State University, where the Project RUSHMORE team logged more than 3,000 test sessions, gathering both objective data and subjective input from a variety of riders who experienced the fairing designs while seated on a motorcycle in the wind tunnel. Finally, the fairing met the real-world test of the road.
The key design element of the new fairing is its splitstream vent located below the windshield which alters the air pressure behind the fairing and contributes to a significant reduction in buffeting. The vent is not adjustable and is intended to be open in almost any riding condition, but a door controlled by a One-Touch push-button will close the vent to keep rain water out. The standard windshield on Electra Glide® Ultra Classic®, Ultra Limited and Tri-Glide® Ultra models is 3.25 inches lower than that of previous models, a change that is a component of the fairing design.
No More RoadGlide..For Now
A leaked memo sent out to Harley-Davidson dealers reveals plans to drop several models from the company’s 2014 lineup. Slated to disappear are the XR1200X Sportster, the FXS Softail Blackline, and the FLHTC Electra Glide Classic. Also being discontinued, at least for 2014, is the FLTRX Road Glide Custom and FLTRU Road Glide Ultra, as the tourer models undergo a design refresh. The memo also indicatesHarley-Davidson will drop the FLHRC Road King Classic in North America while discontinuing the FLHR Road King in other markets.
According to the memo, the changes were made to optimize the number of choices available, reduce product overlap, reflect marketplace dynamics and reduce model complexity in showrooms.
The most interesting news is the decision to redesign the Road Glide models. According to the memo, the company needed to update the manufacturing processes for the Road Glide, including replacing the fairing tooling. Since Harley-Davidson needs to retool, it made sense to give the Road King a design refresh at the same time.