Milwaukee: 8/24/16 At its dealer meeting in Boston this past Tuesday, Harley-Davidson officials released a new engine, the first completely redesigned power-plant in almost two decades.
That is if you don't count the water cooled Revolution engine which was released in 2002.
The Milwaukee Eight (we like M-Eight and will use it from now on) takes it's place on the HD Timeline right after the Twin Cam, but insiders are comparing the new engine to the iconic Knucklehead and Evolution engines as major shifts in V-Twin engine design and advancements.
The M-Eight comes in 3 slightly different configurations, two of which are water cooled and if company literature is to be believed, produces 10% more torque than the engine it succeeds, resulting in stronger acceleration at both city and highway speeds.
The M-8 107, which is 107 cubic inches or 1750cc in size, will power the Street Glide, Street Glide Special, Road Glide, Road Glide Special, Electra Glide Ultra Classic, Road King and Freewheeler models in an oil-cooled cylinder head version.
A liquid-cooled version of that engine will power the Ultra Limited, Ultra Limited Low, Road Glide Ultra and Tri Glide Ultra bikes. We dub that version, the M-Eight 107L.
And for the CVO crowd, the folks for who money is no object, a liquid-cooled M-Eight 114, measuring out at a hefty 114 cubic inches, or 1870cc, will power the new CVO Limited and CVO Street Glide models.
Harley will also offer “street legal” performance enhancement packages that kick the torque up a further 24%, the company said.
The caveat of "street legal" on these PEPs is important due to the company's recent run in with the pollution police over the sale and installation of off road, competition super tuners to consumers the company knew or should have known would be used on the highway. Harley was forced to pay $12 in fines in that case.
Harley-Davidson is claiming a host of improvements with the M-Eight. Mechanical noise is reduced, so the rider hears more of the exhaust note and less engine noise. There's less vibration and the exhaust has been reconfigured to move heat away from the rider, a common complaint among all big twin owners of almost every brand.
And while we're talking brands, this new motor comes at a crucial time in Harley-Davidson's history as its losing market share to a resurgent Indian Motorcycle Company.
Dealers we spoke to admit, off the record, they expected some defection to the Indian badge would occur but have been stunned by the numbers they've seen over the past 3 years.
Even with those losses, HD is still responsible for almost half of all U.S. sales of motorcycles over 600cc in engine size, and retains massive market big-bike market share worldwide.
The M-Eight has four-valve cylinder heads and other upgrades from current Harley engines. Dual spark plugs per cylinder contribute to more efficient combustion, according to the company, and a single, chain-driven camshaft is lighter, mechanically less complex and quieter.
The company also says the M-Eight comes with a new charging system that delivers 50 percent more output to the battery at idle to support the increased power consumption of Touring riders, including accessory lighting, performance audio, heated gear and other accessories.