A couple of days ago, we were tipped off by Harley-Davidson blogger Dr. Dan Morel about photos of an alleged new CVO Road Glide and CVO Street Glide taken from the factory floor. Morel has since sent us another photo, offering a clear look at the CVO Road Glide’s right side, including evidence that the new 121ci engine uses variable valve timing.
A drag racer crossed with a fighter jet. That’s the claim. That’s some pretty serious marketing-speak coming from our friends in Milwaukee. The FXDR 114 is something like a mashup between the Motor Co.’s dearly departed Dyna and V-Rod model lines. A brutish power cruiser that can still thrill when the going gets twisty. How does it hold up to those claims? Well, we went to Harley-Davidson’s hometown to find out.
Change comes slowly in the world of Harley-Davidson. The faithful will say that is a feature, not a bug. Still, change does come, and when any manufacturer introduces a new engine line, it’s a big deal. When Harley introduces a new engine and summarily whisks away the old engine in an entire category of its motorcycle models, it’s a sea change. You can almost feel the earth shifting on its axis. While we’d like to think that the performance of the new engine – which is impressive – could be the cause, the gravitational adjustment is most likely from the sheer number of motojournalists the Motor Company flew from locations around the globe to northwestern Washington state for the Milwaukee-Eight’s riding introduction.
Every year Harley-Davidson releases special models from its Custom Vehicle Operations skunkworks. These limited-edition factory customs are chosen to represent the best that Harley has to offer, which is usually based on the most popular models the manufacturer sells. This year, for our test of a 2017 CVO model, we chose the CVO Street Glide. We did this for two reasons. First, we’d get to do a true apples-to-apples comparison since we were also testing the standard Street Glide. This perspective would give us the opportunity to see what similarities and differences the Milwaukee-Eight 107 had with the Milwaukee-Eight 114 bruiser. Second, we last tested the CVO Street Glide in model year 2015, which would give us a good impression of how far the model has come in two model years.
Touring riders want it all: comfort, handling, big power, weather protection, and storage space. For years Harley-Davidson’s touring line of motorcycles, particularly the Electra Glides, have provided those requirements. The Ultra Limited carries the same batwing fairing of the ’Glides, but as the Limited designation implies, riders can expect more. Thanks to the Project Rushmore upgrades first seen in the 2014 model year, the Ultra Limited delivers first-class accommodations and the technological features touring riders expect. Just take a look at the infotainment system and the LED Daymaker headlight, if you’re unsure. The 2017 model year brings some big changes to the Ultra in the form of an all-new engine and upgraded suspension which combine to make the Ultra’s riding experience even more pleasurable.
Since Harley-Davidson has updated the engines of its entire touring model line, we thought we should check in with an example of each of the three variations of the Milwaukee-Eight. For years, the Street Glide has been Harley’s best-selling model – and a favorite here at MO – making it a natural choice for sampling the base-model Eight’s 107ci engine. Still, the engine isn’t the only news involving pistons on the 2017 touring models. In a normal year, the upgraded suspension components on the Street Glide would be big news, but with motorcyclists being power freaks, the new engines are stealing the suspension’s thunder.
The first Harley-Davidson V-Twin engine was released in 1909 in the form of the Atmospheric V-Twin. Since that time the Motor Company has sold a total eight V-Twin engine designs – Atmospheric V-Twin, F-Head, Flathead, Knucklehead, Panhead, Shovelhead, Evolution, and Twin Cam – most of these names are instantly recognizable to almost any motorcyclist. So, when considering the relative rarity of Harley engine redesigns and the importance of the engine to one of the world’s biggest motorcycle manufacturers, you can bet that any major changes are well thought out and refined to a degree that lesser OEMs might have a tough time matching. With all that’s literally riding on a new engine, Harley’s project planners turned to the tools that have worked the best in recent years.
Well, we’ve joked about Harley-Davidson’s upcoming Milwaukee-Eight engine. We’ve prognosticated from EPA documents about what the Milwaukee-Eight would be. However, until now, we haven’t had the straight scoop about the ninth generation of the Motor Company’s Big Twin engines. After submitting ourselves to a variety of invasive tests, signing our lives away to gain entry into the Harley Media Department’s “circle of trust,” and waiting for the appointed hour to arrive, we can now tell you exactly what H-D has up its cylinder sleeves. However, the biggest news isn’t the part hidden in the sleeves at all.
Last year, we published an April Fools post about a new Harley-Davidson engine called the “Milwaukee-Eight.” The post was total BS, of course, except for the name; Harley-Davidson does, in fact, own the trademark for that Milwaukee-Eight. (UPDATE: Harley-Davidson has now officially announced the Milwaukee-Eight engine.)
Harley-Davidson’s recent trademark filing for “Milwaukee-Eight” set off all the alarm bells here at MO HQ, and our crew hypothesized about what this new name might mean for Harley. This morning Chief MO Investigative Reporter Dennis Chung has uncovered Top Secret engineering drawings that reveal interesting new technology.