Last week, Motorcycle.com was first to break the news of trademark filings for “Harley-Davidson Bronx.” Today, we can report on two more trademarks we believe were also filed for Harley-Davidson: “48X” and “Pan America.” UPDATE: further filings with the UK’s trademark office confirm these names were filed by Harley-Davidson.
Unlike the filings for the “Bronx” and “Harley-Davidson Bronx,” the two new trademarks were not filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office but rather with its European Union equivalent, the EU Intellectual Property Office. The 48X and Pan America trademarks were both filed today with the EUIPO for use with “motorcycles and structural parts therefor.”
Officially, the new EUIPO is withholding the name of the company that made the applications, so unlike the Bronx filings, we can’t definitively confirm they are for Harley-Davidson. There is, however, enough evidence for us to connect them to the Motor Company.
The most obvious clue is the name 48X and it’s similarity to an existing Sportster model, the Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight. That alone, however, isn’t enough connect the two names with Harley-Davidson.
A bigger indicator is the law firm that filed the new trademarks: Mathys & Squire LLP. The U.K.-based firm specializes in intellectual property law and has been handling Harley’s European trademarks going back to April of 1996. Since then, Harley-Davidson (and its subsidiary H-D Michigan) have 193 trademarks in Europe, with Mathys & Squire LLP representing all but one of them. That lone exception was for the phrase “Step into a Legend” which was originally filed by a different company and only acquired in 2016. All of the European trademark filings Harley initiated on its own were handled by the folks at Mathys & Squire.
Mathys & Squire represent other clients besides Harley-Davidson, but the only other company the firm has represented in this decade that has made filings involving anything motorcycle-related is tire manufacturer Hankook, and only Harley’s filings specify usage for “motorcycles and structural parts therefor.” So, while we can’t completely rule out the possibility of another company’s involvement, we are reasonably confident the names 48X and Pan America were filed by Harley-Davidson.
And with that, let’s begin the fun part: speculation.
As we noted, the name 48X is very similar to an existing model, the Forty-Eight. With Harley-Davidson’s recent updates to its touring, trike, and Softail lineups (RIP Dyna…) plus the addition of the small-displacement Street models, the Sportster line is the only family that’s due for a change. A Harley-Davidson 48X might be the spearhead for a full Sportster line refresh.
On the other hand, the 48X may simply be a variant of the Forty-Eight, say, with higher-spec suspension or dual front disc brakes. There is precedent for such a change; in 1999, Harley-Davidson gave the FXD Super Glide a second front brake disc and upgraded suspension, calling it the FXDX Super Glide Sport.
We can’t rule out more substantial changes, however, like what Harley-Davidson has accomplished in recent years with the new Softail platform, Milwaukee-Eight engine and Project Rushmore updates. Given how much Harley-Davidson is pushing its plan of introducing dozens of new models in the next few years, we have to consider the possibility of a more significant difference between the Forty-Eight and the 48X.
One intriguing possibility comes to mind from the use of the letter X. As Kevin Duke notes, the Street 750 and Street 500 models make use of what Harley-Davidson calls the Revolution X engine. What if the 48X represents a melding of the Street and Sportster families, like a Forty-Eight with the Revolution X liquid-cooled engine perhaps?
That the 48X name was first filed in Europe may suggest Harley-Davidson is keeping the continent market in mind, and that means its emissions regulations, and not just with the stringent Euro 4 standards. With 2017 coming to an end, we’re getting to the point where manufacturers are looking ahead to the even tougher Euro 5 standards that kick in for 2020. While trademark filings don’t provide an accurate timeline, we’re likely looking at the 2019 model year at the earliest for both the 48X and the Pan America. The Sportster with its air-cooled 1200cc V-Twin might be hard-pressed to comply with the new standards, but a liquid-cooled 48X may stand a better chance.
Less dramatic, but a possibility, is giving the Sportsters four-valve heads like the Milwaukee-Eight engines on the larger models. A Sportster engine with four-valve heads might be enough to make an air-cooled 1200cc V-Twin Euro 5-compliant.
The name “Pan America” suggests a new touring model, one capable of traveling across a continent in comfort. Harley-Davidson already has several models that would be up to the task, but it shouldn’t be too difficult to assemble yet another touring cruiser. For 2018, Harley-Davidson already gave us the new Softail-based Sport Glide, and a similar model for 2019 with a taller windscreen or larger bags would certainly be welcome.
A Sport Glide variant, however, would likely have a similar-sounding name and not get a brand new moniker like “Pan America.” Despite having “America” in it, the new name actually sounds like something you’d expect from a European manufacturer. Triumph, for example, has its America cruiser, and a Moto Guzzi Pan America would sound like a natural fit next to the California 1400.
Even the “Pan” part of the name brings to mind the Honda ST1300 which was marketed as the ST1300 Pan European in – you guessed it – Europe. The “old continent” might be the key here, as Harley-Davidson has previously made clear its intentions to increase its market share outside the U.S. and the Sport Glide was the first Harley in quite some time to have its world debut timed with EICMA. The Pan America may be the kind of name that would connect with European consumers.
Given the company’s recent track history, the Harley-Davidson Pan America will likely be another light-tourer using the new Softail platform. But if you really want to unfetter your imagination, you could hope for a sport-tourer in the veins of a KTM 1290 Super Duke GT or Motus MST. Even wilder, how about a full-fledged American-made ADV?
All we can do is speculate until Harley-Davidson gives us some concrete information. Keep checking with us here on MO for more information as we get it on the Harley-Davidson 48X, Pan America or Bronx.