Motorcycle.com's Most Read News of 2020
There are just a few days left in 2020, which means there’s enough time for yet another year-end list. We’ve already gone through our most read reviews and shootout comparisons of 2020, and now we continue with the most read motorcycle news from the past 12 months.
Here, at MO, we take pride in breaking news, and frequently being the first ones, anywhere, to write about something. When the same news starts popping up on other sites around the internet, we can tell if they got that information from us, first (whether they credit us or not).
Our metrics also show how important our breaking news coverage is, as several of these scoops are also our most read posts of any kind, topping even our most popular reviews. We’ve listed our top five most read news posts below,
5. The Chinese Harley-Davidson
Looking at our top five most read news of 2020, a pattern quickly emerges: Harley-Davidson news attracts readers. That’s generally true in our industry, but especially this year, with Harley-Davidson making sweeping changes to it business strategy with the Rewire plan, and its eventual follow-up, the Hardwire.
In all its talk about its new business plans, Harley-Davidson was less forthcoming about its deal with Qianjiang Motor to produce a small-displacement model for the Chinese market. The deal was barely discussed in Harley’s Rewire plan, leading many to wonder if it was still in the works.
In late July, we found proof that the arrangement with Qianjiang was progressing, when the company registered designs for a new naked Twin with China’s intellectual property office. The design was based on the 350S from Benelli (which the Chinese manufacturer owns), but with Qianjiang badging.
Examining the motorcycle a little closer, we noticed the engine was engraved with the words “Harley-Davidson Motor Company”.
A few months later, we uncovered designs for the Harley version of the bike, which will be called the 338R, further proving that the Harley-Davidson/Qianjiang deal was still moving forward.
4. A New Engine for the Yamaha MT-09
We uncovered evidence that the Yamaha MT-09 was getting a bigger engine in mid-September, but despite publishing the story so late in the year, it was MO‘s fourth most read story. As Ryan detailed in his Most Read Reviews post, the KTM 200 Duke review was our most read review if you average out the number of views per month since it was published. Going by that same metric, our MT-09 scoop averaged almost 2.3 times as many readers per month.
The story came about after we discovered a listing for a Yamaha model code MTN890D in a German emissions document. The 847cc MT-09 used the model code MTN850, so the new model code suggested that the three-cylinder engine was getting a displacement increase.
Our hypothesis proved to be correct, as Yamaha officially announced an 890cc MT-09 in late October, with an SP version announced a few weeks later. Reader reactions to the MT-09’s new look were… less than positive, but our numbers suggest people were anticipating an update to Yamaha’s “Master of Torque” Triple.
3. Indian Scout Bobber Sixty Announcement
Okay, we admit it, this one’s got us stumped. Unlike the other items in our top five, the Indian Bobber Sixty announcement was a press release sent out to multiple publications ahead of time. We published this story at the same time that everyone else did, the moment the embargo lifted, and it contained the exact same information.
The Bobber Sixty wasn’t exactly a game changer; you pretty much knew everything about it just from the name. Indian already had the Scout and the smaller-displacement Scout Sixty. After the Scout Bobber was added to the mix, it didn’t take much to figure out what a Bobber Sixty would entail.
We even broke the news of the Bobber Sixty’s existence a month earlier when we spotted the name in filings with the California Air Resources Board and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
So, why did our official first look at the Bobber Sixty attract so many readers?
For one thing, the article did benefit from being published in early March, giving it three quarters of a year to accumulate clicks. Out of the top five post on this list, the Bobber Sixty announcement was published first by at least several months. Still, it wasn’t the only thing we wrote about early in the year, and the Indian Bobber Sixty was the only one that ranked this high.
It may have helped that the Bobber Sixty was one of the last new model announcements to come before the world shut down due to the pandemic. As people around the world entered various forms of a lockdown, perhaps they suddenly gained a lot more time to read, and the Bobber Sixty was relatively novel at the time.
Whatever the reason, the Indian Bobber Sixty made the list as one of the most read articles on Motorcycle.com in 2020.
2. The Disappearing Harley-Davidson Bronx
Our second most read news post of the year came about after we noticed that the Bronx 975 streetfighter was no longer listed on Harley-Davidson’s website as one of its future vehicles. The Bronx was supposed to follow the Pan America in heralding a whole new liquid-cooled modular platform from the Motor Company, but its disappearance from both Harley’s consumer facing public site as well as its media site for motojournalists suggested that it was no longer in the company’s plans.
Officially, Harley-Davidson says the Bronx would “not be launched next year,” as the company was focusing its resources on launching the Pan America. Many interpreted this to mean the Bronx was merely delayed, if that were true, it would have been simpler to just change the expected launch date. Scrubbing the Bronx completely from its website suggests that the streetfighter was at worst, cancelled, or at best, it would be completely redone to the point that an eventual product would look entirely different, or even go by a new name (“Bareknuckle” was one name in particular that Harley-Davidson has trademarked).
Whatever the case, it’s probably best to say that the Harley-Davidson Bronx, as we know it, has been delayed indefinitely.
1. Harley-Davidson Files Patent for a New Engine
Remember how we mentioned that Harley-Davidson news attracts reader? Well, the numbers bear that out as the most read article on Motorcycle.com for 2020 was our scoop about a Harley-Davidson patent for a new V-Twin engine with a variable-valve timing system.
We published this story in mid July, just past the midpoint of the year, and it was far and away our most read post. The V-Twin patent story was read nearly 2.5 times as much as the Bronx story, which was our second-most read post overall. In fact, if you add the total page views for number two and three on this list together, you would still be nearly 30,000 clicks short of #1. Even if you average out the number of pageviews per month, the Harley-Davidson engine patent story would still be first by a significant margin.
And it’s pretty obvious why. A new engine from Harley-Davidson IS a big deal. Especially if the engine turns out, as we expect, to be the eventual successor to the Evolution engine that has been powering Sportsters since 1986.
The patent describes a balancer module for an air-cooled overhead valve V-Twin with a mechanism that can adjust the timing of the intake and exhaust valves. The valvetrain had a completely different configuration than Harley’s existing engines, positioning a single pushrod on either side of each cylinder instead of having all four on the same side.
Harley-Davidson hasn’t said anything publicly about this new engine. The closest we have is a report from France with a Harley spokesperson confirming that a replacement lineup for the Sportster is in the works.
How soon can we see this new engine? It likely won’t be ready next year, but as we recently reported in yet another scoop, the current Harley-Davidson Sportster lineup may not continue past the 2021 model year.
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Dennis has been a part of the Motorcycle.com team since 2008, and through his tenure, has developed a firm grasp of industry trends, and a solid sense of what's to come. A bloodhound when it comes to tracking information on new motorcycles, if there's a new model on the horizon, you'll probably hear about it from him first.
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