For better or worse, Harley-Davidson has been in need of a major makeover for years. Times change — as do aesthetics and technologies — and for a company to stay relevant, no matter how iconic, it must adapt.
So here's your makeover.
The monolithic maker of American two-wheelers just unveiled a whole gang of revamped bikes, adding up to the most substantial product development release in their storied history. The Milwaukee-based manufacturer quietly swept the Dyna line under the rug, while simultaneously revealing a seriously upgraded collection of “Softails.”
In total, we're talking about a whopping 17 new hogs. The 12 new Softails include eight standards (including the Big Twin Cruiser, Fat Boy, Low Rider and Softail Slim) along with four sub-models. There are also five new touring rides, including three CVOs (Custom Vehicel Operations). The entire line will be available in 2018.
And this is just the beginning of a larger-scale rebranding for Harley. Leading up to their 115th Anniversary year, this 17-piece throttle parade is just one part of the maker’s commitment to launch 100 high-impact motos by 2027. We knew the proverbial shiz was hitting the fan when we saw the Streed Rod, but this gang is another animal altogether.
So what, exactly, do these innovations entail — beyond new names and a few press releases? Let's review.
In the Softail department, where there was the most room for growth, expect better performance thanks to a lighter monoshock system that will replace the dual-shock of yore. In the power department, the Softails are packing an all-new (and undeniably enticing) Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine. It features two air-cooled V-twin mills and, boy, are they large. The design has also been slightly updated while staying true to Harley's unmistakable silhouettes.
As for those four new sub-models we mentioned? Those are the Fat Boy, Heritage Classic, Breakout and Fat Bob, and each comes with the option to upgrade to an even more heavy-metal Milwaukee-Eight 114. As told by the Harley team, “The new bold and fearless 2018 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob features aggressive, unapologetic styling, asphalt-eating traction, pothole-devouring suspension, premium finishes, and your choice of the powerful Milwaukee-Eight 107 or 114 Big Twin Engine.”
Next are the touring bikes: the Street Glide and the Road Glide, both of which will tone things down a bit. They'll pack a Milwaukee-Eight 107, and have transitioned from the aggressive chrome-and-black paintjob to subtler — and dare I say classier — tones. And to wrap things up, we have the final three CVOs (Custom Vehicle Operations) with the CVO Limited, the CVO Road Glide and the CVO Street Glide. So we’re getting not one, but three fully customizable touring rides. Right down to the last detail, they'll meet your most meticulous demands, straight from the factory to the owner.
The elephant in the room? They need to attract new riders. One hundred bikes in 10 years might be biting off more than can be chewed, even for Harley. But, hey, this drop of 17 is certainly going to get them some attention.