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Harley-Davidson Eases the Faithful Into Liquid Cooling for 2014


I can’t remember the last time I debated whether to use “blasphemy” or “sacrilege” in the first sentence of an article, but Harley-Davidson’s 2014 model announcement has me making that debate. Is it ironic that in the year Indian comes out swinging with a very traditional line of Chief motorcycles, Harley-Davidson announces that some of its 2014 Touring models will feature “Twin-Cooled” engines that circulate coolant through the cylinder heads and, in combination with more traditional air cooling allow for higher compression ratios and more stable engine output?

Harley has, of course, had its liquid-cooled V-Rod, but this is the first time Harley has introduced liquid cooling to its more traditional engines.  A discrete radiator is located in each fairing lower on these new models.  Three models will receive the “Twin-Cooled” engine, including the 103 cubic inch Electra Glide Ultra Limited motorcycle (pictured above) and the Tri Glide Ultra motorcycle. A 110 cubic inch version of the “Twin-Cooled” engine will also be found in the 2014 CVO Limited.

The other big news  for Harley is “Project Rushmore”, which incorporates special features into eight 2014 models, including the Road King, Street Glide, Street Glide Special, Electra Glide Ultra Classic, Ultra Limited, Tri Glide Ultra, CVO Ultra Limited and CVO Road King. What is “Project Rushmore” entail?

The bikes featuring Project Rushmore enhancements offer more power (from either Twin-Cooled High Output Twin Cam 103, or air-cooled High Output Twin Cam 103 motors), a sophisticated, linked ABS brake system, an advanced Boom! Box infotainment system that incorporates voice control, for music, phone and GPS, as well as intercom and CD functions (including a 6-1/2 touch screen control feature), reduced head buffeting from a redesigned Batwing fairing, as well as various styling changes and other features.

Here is what Harley has to say on its web site about the new “Twin-Cooled” engines:

“If you started in 1909 with the very first Harley-Davidson V-Twin engine and worked your way up through every engine, every innovation, every improvement, every ride, every durability test in all those years and countless miles since, you arrive at the Twin Cooled High Output Twin Cam 103™ engine. This is the top of the line. 103 cubic inches of air and precision cooled Harley-Davidson®V-twin power. Twin cooling cools the heads around the exhaust ports to deliver at or near peak performance under all operating conditions and temperatures. Higher compression ratio increases efficiency and horsepower. There’s a new airbox for increased airflow and a new cam to optimize low-end torque. It’s got the fastest 60 to 80 mph 5th gear roll on in the history of Harley-Davidson. Which means it’s got the most passing power in the history of Harley-Davidson. On top of all that, it puts less heat on the rider and passenger on scorching days and in stop and go traffic.”

For more information and details regarding the new 2014 Harley-Davidson motorcycles, visit the Harley-Davidson web site.


  1. Randy says:

    In 2006 I rode down Baja (and back) with some aging hippies (Doug’s Nortons!). It was a motely collection of old Nortons and modern whatever. I was on a Multistrada and there was a Wee, R1150, Thruxton, Guzzi, CB400F, GB500, couple of Shadow somethings. And Bob, on a enormous brown Road King. Bob had our back for 2,200 miles, always a couple minutes back majestically visible against the landscape. He carried a 2 gallon gas can on the pillion and recused a few of us (including me) when we mis-calculated the next gas stop. Bob, a trim and cleancut charter yacht owner/captain, probably could have ridden any bike available, but picked the Road King for practical reasons. He never looked wind blown or fatigued at the end of a long day, and that RK railed those mountain roads like a Mexican semi.

  2. mickey says:

    I am so torn here. I can sort of understand how the faithful feel. I sold a liquid cooled Yam inline 4 and bought my new Honda CB 1100 because I like air cooled motorcycles, even if they dont make as much horsepower as their liquid cooled brothers. I also have a liquid cooled ST 1300 Honda and I and many others have had to replace thermostats and had coolant leaks that needed fixing. Air cooled is just less things to go wrong and less things to worry about. I don’t like fuel pumps either. Talk about old school. Lol

    I don’t know, necessary I guess if emissions keep getting more stringent.

    Then I think about the Motor Company. I’ve owned six of them. I kept thinking each new one would be better than the last one, but they never got any better. Poor acceleration, lousy handling, poor brakes, weighed a ton. Then I think of HD owners, a bigger flock of sheep would be hard to find. I have a good buddy that rides a Harley. He wears a full face helmet, and a High Viz jacket and the brotherhood won’t even wave at HIM even though he is riding one! Hardly matters how many colors Harley paints them in because they all buy black ones. We call them ” rare black Harleys” as a joke, as in there goes a flock of 6 rare black Harleys.

    I don’t think liquid cooling will hurt touring bike sales much, but if they start putting it on the stripped models there will be some backlash from the faithful.

  3. John Hruban says:

    Why is it necessary for Behemoth Rolling flatulence Hardly riders need to make so much , in most cases, illegal noise? Obviously they have an inferiority complex and too much money to spend on something that is far too large and heavy and doesn’t do really anything in the way of performance. Must they need “Look at me, I’m rich and stupid” attitude and need attention. Most of which is negative. They don’t have an inferiority complex, they simply are inferior in intelligence among other things.

  4. Switchback EOD says:

    While I’m a “traditionalist” when it comes to motorcycles, and the idea of a water/liquid cooled H-D upset me at first,…(not to mention the touch-screen, I ride to escape technology)… I think it may be a little premature to make judgment. Let’s remember, these are the Touring class and only a select few at that, let’s give it time and see how this plays out. No matter how much some of us don’t like this, we have to realize that progress is going to take place, if not, all of us Harley riders would be on Panheads. If H-D plays this right and diversifies the Touring models between some liquid cooled and some air cooled models I think they can pull this off. H-D has been producing two different motors since the V-Rod came out, there is no reason why they couldn’t pull off three at the same time. Like I said, let’s see this play out. As far as all the bashing each other’s preferred manufacturer, let’s all; grow up, realize we all have different tastes, jump on the bikes of our choice, hit the road, and throw each other a kind “biker wave” as we pass each other out on the open road regardless of what the other guy or gal is riding… and be thankful that we’re not in a cage.

    • bikerrandy says:

      “and throw each other a kind of ‘biker wave’…..good luck on that becoming common when you pass most HD riders. I don’t wave to them until they wave to me first.

  5. jake says:

    Harley’s, more than any other bikes, are rolling works of art.

  6. Tom K. says:

    In other news today, numerous reports of gunshots at Polaris marketing headquarters turned out to be unfounded. When police arrived at the scene, they determined the supposed shots were in actuality champagne corks popping like Orville Reddenbocker’s finest.

    A couple of weeks after Indian fires a shot cleanly across Harley’s bow, Harley shoots The Faithful right in the HooHoo. After Dirck’s part II on the Chiefs, one question I wanted to ask, was “How can Indian afford to create a clean-sheet air-cooled engine when emissions rules will force them into liquid cooling in the near future?” But then I remembered that rumors of Harley getting “Precision” or “Twin” cooling have been circulating for years with no substantiation. Houston, we have substance. Thunderstroke,1; Twin Cam, uh, oh. Maybe they can rename it the GreatHead to keep their HOG members aroused.

  7. TimC says:

    You know, there’s the usual Harley-disparaging comments here. And I certainly concur that there are many on Harleys that should brush up (if not learn) riding skills on smaller bikes first.

    But I’m getting tired of elitist non-Harley riders disparaging them (or Gold Wings). It’s still a bike! I wish loser non-riders would learn to ride, but to say anyone interested in such a bike is automatically a loser non-rider is not fair.

    Turns out my landlord, when his wife died, got back into riding – a Harley of course. But this guy a) has commented on how well this particular one – I’m not familiar enough to report which model – handles and b) he used to race dirt-track.

    So I have to adjust a bit…if only a bit. But still, people. 2 types – rider or non-rider – you really care if someone’s taste is that different in this context?

    • Gary says:

      Brand snobbishness is not limited to Harley. Some of the world’s biggest snobs ride BMWs. It pains me to say it because I own the brand myself, and have witnessed it first-hand.

      Same with Gold Wing riders, to an extent.

      And Ducati riders.

      And GSXR/CBR/ZX riders. The list goes on.

      • MGNorge says:

        Which is to say people are very snobbish about their chosen brand(s). “Mine’s just fine, yours isn’t” type of stance. Nothing new there and it’s been part of motorsports, electronics, heck, just plain old consumerism as long as anyone knows.

        Maybe because there are so many HD riders, especially here in the US, is why they stand out more? They’re in our faces more. BMW riders? How about BMW drivers? Seems the brand can’t shake that image no matter what product they sell. Anyone who can’t accept other brands, choices, styles is just blowing steam. I’d say they need to grow up some but a number of them don’t look to have too many years left anyway!

  8. richard says:

    Orange and black are Harley colors …where have you been for the last 110 years…V

  9. richard says:

    Its a Harley…they are desirable….nothing rides like a Harley…they have a character that is different to any other mc….that is the mystique and attraction to the brand…more technology…bring it on…it only gets better…Indian…no competition unless you want a Victory that is…the name changes nothing..go for the real deal !dont like it..jump on your Marauder and pretend you have something of value

    • Blackcayman says:

      snobbery….way to feed the monster

    • Jim says:

      “Mystique”, isn’t that a villain from the X-men movies or did HD try to trademark the word?

    • Tom K. says:

      Last time I was downtown, a partially toothless hooker who had been on the streets for twenty years too long propositioned a passerby, the quoted price was $500.00. The propsective customer said, “Why in the world would I want to pay that much for an overweight, obvoxiously loud, ill-handling old douchebag who will probably give me a dose of the clap?” Her reply? “All that may be true, Baby, but I’ve still got mystique”.

    • Dave says:

      The thing about the guy on other bikes; they’re usually not pretending to be anything, they just ride.

      Harley snobbery is such an ironic humor to me. Proud of being grossly over charged for a branding privilege.

  10. Motogrin says:

    The orange/black color scheme on the pictured bike is nearly the same as my ’12 DL650 Vstrom. It’s like seeing an overweight sweaty redneck wearing a XXXL version of your favorite shirt. I’m annoyed.

  11. Gronde says:

    Water cooling adds weight, complexity, coolant, thermostats, radiators, hoses, cooling fans, switches and more parts to fail. I like the simplicity of air-cooling on a motorcycle for its simplicity lack of maintenance.

    • foster says:

      “Lack of maintenance” . . . hmmmm . . that must be why I always see Harleys broken down on the side of the road much more often than any other brand.

    • Dave says:

      That is the expectation of American cars and bikes (esp. HD) have had historically.

      Japanese and German vehicles that are far more complex have been running those technologies with boring reliability for decades.

      • Gronde says:

        I prefer air-cooled bikes and will probably never own a water-cooler unless there is no other choice. The secondary market will always be full of used air-cooled bikes for me to choose from so there’s no worry there.

  12. StarFkR says:

    Did Harley really believe no-one would notice? Did they really think they could get away with sending out a bulk of press releases without the word liquid, water or whatever in it? Do they really think their buyers are that stupid? It’s not the liquid cooling that bothers me, it’s the incredible way of presenting a landmark like this one like it didn’t happen.

    • EZ Mark says:

      “Do they really think their buyers are that stupid?”
      YES! Their very existence depends on it.

    • Hot Dog says:

      You guys are spot on! They’ve obviously got inadequacies that they’re compensating for, don’t you think?

    • Smokey says:

      To all those who bash others for no good reason:
      You know, I’m 60 years old and have been riding motorcycles since I was 12 or 13 and after all those years, I still don’t understand why someone has to be labeled as stupid, sheep, or sub-human or any number of other insulting terms simply because of the brand of motorcycle they ride…or that they ride motorcycles. I’ve owned Honda’s, Suzuki’s, Yamaha’s and others. The worst was a p.o.s. BMW that never ran right, and I’ve owned Harley-Davidsons, too. My latest is a 2014 HD Ultra Limited (yes…with water cooled heads and a ton of other nice features), preceded by a 2011 version of the same model. I enjoyed the 2011 Limited and I’m loving the 2014 model. You see, what I do with my money is MY business and no one else’s…nor do I concern myself with how you spend your money. When I ride, I wave at every rider I meet, if I can to so safely. When I see a motorcycle(s) stopped on the shoulder of the road, I stop and check to see if I can be of assistance. The only times I don’t do that is when I see a group of 1%-er’s and they bring that on themselves. So, my point is that if I see YOU on your bike, I’m going to wave at YOU, not at your bike. Whether you return the courtesy or not is up to YOU, and I respect that. Just don’t call me names because of the brand I own. Maybe we all should find something more important to gripe about than what someone else is riding.

  13. Gary says:

    I love the way Harleys look and sound. Iconic. Soulful. Then I went on a multi-day tour with a chum on his ultra, who had his wife on the back. That bike could not haul him and his missus (plus gear) up the Sierra Mountains at 60 mph. It did not have enough beans. Kept losing speed, which forced me and my missus to stop and wait for him with our aging Beemer. I decided then and there that the Harley mystique will only get you so far. Hopefully the new water-hog has mo powuh.

  14. IowaH-BR says:

    You have to admit that they did a pretty good job of backing into the water cooling and just offering it on the highest end touring bikes in their line. Watch as next year it will migrate down the touring bike side and in 5 years to the naked bike side with a middle of the bike radiator.

  15. chris says:

    Wow another new model year for hardly ableson …Ooops I mean Harley Davidson, the same old unreliable underpowered ill handling overweight junk ,bragging about NEW technology that others have had for years, Yes I unfortunately have owned many of them in the past but I will never buy one again I am not into the hey look at me helmetless foot dragging wonders, I have moved onto bikes you can actually ride and ride hard. Even wonder boy Keith Wandell Harley,s CEO said we don,t sell motorcycles we sell a life style,another quote is when talking about Buell and MV Agusta, why would any company want to race? we don,t cant compete with the Japanese or Europeans we don,t want to be in the adrenalin market one more comment, they talk about their satisfying their core market ,well if the would broaden their horizons it would probably get bigger .but I don,t think they are capable.of producing anything competitive.

    • Al T says:

      You ever heard of the XR750?

      • Hot Dog says:

        AMA made XR750 completive by penalizing Honda’s RS750 for kicking it’s butt. First they made it add weight and then they made it use a restrictor plate. Eliminate the competition, now there’s some progressive thinking.

      • soi cowboy says:

        When KR won a race on an ‘uncompetitive’ 2 stroke tz750, the AMA banned it the next day. There was recently a proposal for a road race series based on converted 450 mx bikes. Makes sense: lightweight singles purpose built for racing with good parts and build resources. But no, the AMA went with a pushrod bike weighing 600 pounds.

        • Dave says:

          HD paid in, the 450 moto class would not have. Same reason Ducati continues got it’s way in WSBK.

          What I don’t get is why? Does HD sell more of the bikes above because they race dirt-trackers that bear no resemblance to all but one model they sell?

        • FAST2WIN says:

          No kidding they banned it. A liquid cooled 2 stoke vs. an air cooled pushrod motor. Motorsport racing has always had different engine sizes and limitations.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        And when was the last time anyone was able to buy an XR750 for the street? (Now, that would be a HD worth a look, IMHO.) In any case, I think the XR750’s competitive advantage comes from the rule book.

  16. Dave says:

    I just do not get what the attraction is

      • Daytona James says:

        I’ve been a bike nut my whole life and I’ve owned, ridden and sold just about everything out there given that I chose the industry to eek a living out of as well.
        I can safely say I will go to my grave NOT owning a Harley and it is strictly because they are the least functional bikes out there. The fact that they maintain the largest market share is proof that most riders don’t need or want lots of power, handling or light weight. I get the Harley lifestyle… it’s likely the most attractive part of the brand. It’s the culture. The funny thing is that being a Harley rider in the 50’s and 60’s was about rebellion and being an individual… having something everyone else didn’t have. The current reality is that every Harley rider aspires to the same look, more or less. So… where did individualism go? Where did going your own way go?
        I’m not that fussy about my bikes any more. Give me something comfortable, light, relatively fast, great brakes and handling – read c-o-r-n-e-r-I-n-g c-l-e-a-r-a-n-c-e and I’m all good. Sorry Harley. Still gonna’ pass.

    • foster says:

      Here’s the thing. There are MOTORcyclists, those that get off on creating as much noise as possible to draw attention to themselves and who outfit their bodies to look the badass part. Then there are motorCYCLISTS, who ride for the thrill and challenge of handling a fine piece of machinery and don’t want to attract disparaging stares with a loud bike while doing it, but are sensible enough to wear gear that will protect them if the worst happens.

  17. Ricardo says:

    HD should have offered the Revolution engine from the V-Rod in the Buell sportbikes (with some modifications for higher output) and on the touring models as an optional engine, let the customer chose, I think it would have been a success 12 years ago. Now they are just trying to catch up and beng very cautious about the introduction of water cooling, they need bold thinking people…

    • Michael H says:

      The V-Rod engine was turned down by Erik Buell. It is far to heavy and long to fit in a sportbike frame. It won’t fit into a FLH frame, either, although many thousands of riders have made it known to the MoCo that they’d buy a V-Rod engine touring bike.

  18. BOSCOE says:

    Them pinhed pensil pooshers at Harley are makin a Big Deel about Mount Rushmore, but hear is the real storey behind it:

    It started a few yeers back when me and sum ov the fellers was thunkin’ bout how the Moter Cumpuny neads to shake things up – that evun per-fecshun can be maid better .
    So we saddled up our Hogs and road out to Mt. St. Helena’s, witch wuz the sight of an epoch-o-lips a few years back.
    Now fer those of yew who don’t no big wurds, an epoch-o-lips is somethin’ that changes life as yew no it. Kinda like wen the Baltmore Kolts lost that Sooper Bol back in the 1960s. Or they let wumen in the Army.
    Anywho, me the the bros, Walris, a Patched Member of the Banjos, Jake and fancy pants Lux got to the top of the mountain and started kickin’ back the Tall Boys, seerchin’ for an Ideer.
    Now ol Walris don’t say much at tha best o tymes. But he nose his enjines. He is a Master Mekcanik and makes purty much any thing perrr like a petted pussy. Cushmans, Injuns, the Eye-talyan jobs and ov koarse the Moter Cumpuny’s finest.
    But bein’ the rebl he is, Walris suggesteded inkreasin the size of the injines and maybe evun addin’ fuel ingestion or a cupple more valves. None of uz laughed cause as a Patched Banjo he is won ov the ruffest doods ever two swing a leg over a syckle. Wee just gave him more beer until he passed out.
    That’s wen the really rad shite started two flo. Jake rekomended BRITER HEDLITES and butter breaks. And maybe evun strappin a BOOM BOX to the back seet. And maybe we kud evun git sum kandy korn kolrs!
    Whoa! Sum hevvy shite rite thar. But it got evun badder.

    Lux had gone awl Hollyweird on our azz. Riding them fancy freakin Brit bikes and hangin’ wif them movie starz and awl. So he sug-gested WATER kooled in-jines. If you kan believe it!
    Jake and eye woke up Walris over that wun.
    Eye won’t say whot happened next – but poor ol Lux never did make it back down that thar hill.
    Me and the fellers will NEVER ride wif wun of them auto-erotika water-kooled queers! Sum thangs gots two stay the weigh God intended!

  19. I am not a motorcycle snob, but I haven’t ridden anything I like as well as a Harley Davidson Street Glide. You can feel it in the seat of your pants. Everybody else can take pot shots at the technology, but the fact still remains. Harley Davidson is number one.

  20. Bob says:

    All those who make the anti Harley comments kinda make me laugh. If motorcycles were all about spec sheet number well then we all would have…..wait even then it would be different bikes for different people. Imagine that. I also find it ironic that the H-D bashers are bashing a company with, let’s see now, 110 years of production. Hmmm

  21. DorsoDoug says:

    That’s it. Period. Ironically, this is also the root woord for imagination. And at least from a marketing standpoint, HDs imagination is limited to paint, chrome or lightly warmed over aesthetics like fat tires of ride height. Coincidentally, that is exactly what their “me too” followers want. I don’t think many (especially “newbies) will care want they do to their throwback machines so long as the IMAGE is there. A fellow motor company brother will still bend a knee at the local pub and point to some piece of bling in awe and aspire to buy it from the next “big book” cataog. l
    Hey! I’d like to have my old muscle cars, motorcycles or early Toyota 4WDs. But progress (in part through imagination) keeps me moving forward.
    I have some old stuff too. But that’s exactly what it is: old

  22. KayFlyte says:

    Harley’s baby steps are so obvious they are the worst thing about tipping to liquid cooling. My first choice would have been to design a true and full water jacket – cylinders and heads – and a traditional water pump, thermostat, electric fan. Cover them with fins for the appearance, it’s important. Fit the radiator in the traditional location at the front and black it out.

    They wouldn’t have gotten any more flack from the traditional faithful than they are getting with this half-a**ed little 1 liter system, hidden radiators in the fairing lowers, and only the exhaust valve pocket getting the benefit. And running the coolant through the frame? Has Eric sneaked back into the building?

  23. shmitty says:

    I find it interesting that the liquid medium is not identified as water. Oil head maybe?

  24. Auphliam says:

    Just for the record, there wasn’t a problem with HD engines “overheating” as many here have stated. The engines ran fine.

    There was a problem with HD riders overheating…thus the half assed solution of cutting out the rear cylinder when at idle. This limited application of liquid cooling to just the exhaust side of the heads is to alleviate that problem.

    How the marketing team is bending that news is by saying essentially “now we can offer cams and not worry about the heat issue”…which in marketing lingo translates to “This liquid cooled motor is more powerful”.

  25. Dave G says:

    Harley has had a over heating issue with their bikes since the beginning. Their attempt to solve a part of the issue is to shut down the rear cylinder at idle. The engineers at Harley love this water cooling. They can get the temps down and blame the water cooling on the EPA. There won’t be any noticible power increase to these motors. Harley will never be able to use power numbers for advertising purposes. They will continue to keep those out of the public eye.

  26. John Cameron says:

    The water cooling makes the new Harley more efficient, a term, along with better handling, that simply isn’t in the traditional Harley owner’s list of wants. There is another problem for Harley as well. If Harleys start having water cooling, many present Harley owners might just start looking at the much lower priced, similar looking, already water cooled Japanese equivalents.

    Chevrolet is facing the same problem with their new C7 Corvette: how not to alienate traditional Corvette buyers while at the same time appealing to potential new and much younger affluent purchasers. Corvette hasn’t been able to do this so far it despite years of blundering efforts and despite being the best all out bargain among top level sport cars. Harley probably won’t be able to do it either.

    Both Harley’s and Corvette’s stereotypical purchasers still seem to be affluent, 55 year old, Red state farmers. These buyers come from areas where handling isn’t all that important since there aren’t any curves and smooth European styling is considered “too strange” and European/Japanese technology “too complicated.”

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Harley owners might just start looking at the much lower priced, similar looking, already water cooled Japanese equivalents.”

      that ain’t gonna happen. at least not to any measurable degree. Harley owners aren’t infected with the “disease of consumerism”. brand loyalty makes for ONE HELL OF VACCINE…!!!

      from the free dictionary…

      in·oc·u·la·tion (-nky-lshn) n.

      1. The act or an instance of inoculating, especially the introduction of an antigenic substance or vaccine into the body to produce immunity to a specific disease.

      • Rick says:

        Any Harley rider that goes down to the local VICTORY dealer and test rides a new VICTORY will never buy another Harley again. Harleys are new bikes running an antique motor plain and simple

        • Boris says:

          Sonny Barger has been riding a Victory for some time now.

        • Gronde says:

          I test rode a Victory and found it to be similar to the Japanese offerings. It had a very dead feel and weird handling. Also, Harleys are more reliable than Victories and have way better resale. Perhaps the Indian will catch the eye of the traditional Harley customer. It didn’t happen with the current line of Victory/Ness bikes.

      • Michael H says:

        I bought a Victory. Terrific value for the price I paid. The dealer had 15 traded-in Harley’s on the floor, including 3 CVOs.

        Not everyone is inoculated.

    • tmaxgixxerblur says:

      “Traditional” buyers. Basically riders who are too Conservative that they doesn’t like to evolve into something better, efficient, and faster. The future is coming and the younger buyers want something better. Harley knows this. If they keep catering to the “old boys” good old Harley is going to go BANKRUPT again! Harley is being smart and will try to keep up with the mainstream. If these old guys want to ride motorcycles that always break down, just buy it used! There’s millions of us that would like a Harley, but why buy something that gets 60hp from a 1800cc engine and always in the shop??

    • Chaz says:

      Many auto companies have similar problems. Mercedes and BMW are identified with front-engine, rear drive cars. Porsche has a hard core of 911 series fanatics who don’t want the superior Boxter and Cayman mid-engined cars to be the top of the line, although that may be changing.

    • Boris says:

      I am Harley’s target audience. I, in general, like Harleys. I like the traditional styling that H-D offers, especially on the Softails and Sportsters. I do not like the styling of modern sportbikes. I don’t want to see all that exposed exoskeletal framework and I don’t like angular plastic jutting out all over a bike. As I’ve said before, most modern-style bikes remind me of cockroaches, and I don’t like the head-down, butt-up ergonomics of many modern bikes either.

      But, that noted, I see a dire need to update technology in the H-D line and Harley again has fallen short for 2014. As others have pointed out, the liquid-cooled heads are merely a band-aid. The old V-Twin needs a major redesign if not a clean-sheet approach (whether or not it would be liquid-cooled, which shouldn’t be a deal-breaker). And handling on Harleys (especially ground clearance) could be so much better; it’s not rocket science.

      H-D must have a few smart engineers that would allow the MoCo to come out with a new line of bikes designed from scratch. I’m sure that there’s a way to disguise a water-cooled motor to make it look more traditional and hide a radiator if need be. Frames can be redesigned to allow for better handling and ground clearance.

      I know that H-D shareholders are raking in the money right now, but stagnation is sure to come back and haunt them eventually.

  27. RobbieAG says:

    This was inevitable and long overdue. The recent Indian revival may be partially responsible. Competition will do that, and there probably will be more changes coming (though the faithful will be kicking and screaming).

  28. BlackCayman says:

    I thought they might be releasing the new 112 CVO motor…

  29. Michael H says:

    Adding liquid cooling to an HD big twin in the manner HD has done is a minimalist solution to overheating and emissions issues. What is being liquid cooled is just the exhaust side of the cylinder heads. A better solution would be to cool the entire engine, but the resulting size of the radiator would make it much more difficult to conceal. HD is tip-toeing into liquid cooling very timidly.

    Waterheads are available only on the Trike, the CVO and the Ultra Limited. Everything else remains airhead. The Ultra CVO goes out the door for the same price as a Lexus. The Limited for the price of a Toyota, although it now pretty much matches the price of a GL1800. Think of the Ultra Limited as model Number HDGLDWNG, or Wing Glide for short. The Waterhead Ultra Limited is aimed at aspirational buyers and possible GL1800 converts. Think of this group of buyers of expensive bikes as “Employers.”

    The other group of buyers, think of them as “Employees” still has a broad line of airhead Harleys from which to choose, so everybody is happy. The Sportster, Dyna and Softtail lines do not easily lend themselves to hiding radiators. The hotheads on some HD forums who swear the end of the world is nigh upon them will cool off in a few months and the HD body of loyalists may not shrink very much because of the sacrilege of liquid cooling.

    HD faces other issues, especially the issue of value. Victory is capturing a goodly part of the market based on offering well-equipped bikes at prices below what HD charges for the same kind of bike. Indian will do the same. A visit to my local Victory dealer yesterday and I saw a long line of HDs that were traded in Victorys. The sales manager explained that most of his buyers are HD converts who think they have been overcharged for their bikes, and for service at the local HD palaces. And I live in the Milwaukee area, where HD loyalty is very high.

    The “Rushmore” techie stuff is a bit of a puzzle. Are touch screens and voice-activated electronics cool? Sure they are. But do they belong on a motorcycle, where the slightest distraction from operating the vehicle can have bad consequences? I don’t think so. Besides, how can voice-activation work without the rider wearing a helmet? HD riders are notorious for wearing no helmets, or shorties perhaps.

    Anyhow, congratulations HD on another new model year roll-out. And is it a coincidence that Willie G. is now officially and fully retired?

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “But do they belong on a motorcycle, where the slightest distraction from operating the vehicle can have bad consequences? I don’t think so.”

      I was driving north on Meridian sunday evening in indy and I literally saw a guy riding a scooter (in traffic) south bound holding a cell phone (a smart phone) with his left hand, across his body, up to his right ear…!!! LOL where there’s a will there’s a way. 🙂

  30. Rene says:

    I find it interesting the quote from the H-D website never actually mentions liquid cooling or radiator. It appears H-D is trying to “hide” some details from their customer base.

  31. vitesse says:

    Don’t forget that the ‘straight pipe’ crowd (95% Harley owners) has rejected water cooling for years for the simple reason that it changes the aural sensation particular to the HD twin. Hence the demise of the V-Rod. To them, it IS sacrilege to make any changes to the exhaust note despite what would be astonishing Improvement to engine performance.

    These folks would do themselves a favor if they moved on from the claptrap, obnoxious racket that is so much now in fashion.

  32. Tom R says:

    A smart and timely update. Just as folks are getting ready to check out them new Indians, H-D announces this, effectively stealing some of Polaris’ thunder!

    I don’t like riding any of their motorcycles, but I certainly admire Harley’s marketing to those that do.

  33. Glen says:

    Notice how HD’s add-speak does not use the word “water” anywhere in the marketing of this WATER cooled engine. LOL
    They have neatly replaced the word “water” with the word “Twin”.
    I guess I have a “Twin cooled” aprilia RSV Tuono.

  34. Starmag says:

    I assume Indian, who just spent a fortune developing their new thunderstroke engine, intends it to be their base engine for the foreseeable future. Why does Harley need liqiud cooling for emissions, but Indian doesn’t? Especially since the Indian motors are larger in displacement, and I believe, more powerful, hence harder to cool.

  35. Motormac says:

    The problem with today’s Harley is they have over-produced. The bikes no longer hold their re-sale value. It took me forever to sell my 100th Ann. Electra glide, and I had to take a bath to get rid of it. I’ve given up on Harley. Too expensive and too friggen heavy. Riding Ducati now. Much lighter and more fun!

  36. ApriliaRST says:

    But is the windshield electrically adjustable? Now, THAT would be revolutionary… if every other manufacturer didn’t already have it! 😉

    Seriously, H-D makes a good product and does a better job of hiding certain elements (in this case the radiator) than just about any other manufacturer. Their paints are flawless and come in enough colors that your bike isn’t likely to be sitting next another just like it. And that’s a good thing since around here, more than likely the next five bikes sitting in line anywhere will be the same brand: H-D.

    I still like the looks of the Indian engine better, though, and believe Indian is a viable option to H-D. Just the same, good work, Harley-Davidson.

  37. Al T says:

    It was inevitable, they had to water cool them eventually. I know all the benefits, but it’s one more thing to maintain. It was surprising that only a handful of the dressers were affected and not all of them. I was also half assed expecting a Road Glide V-Rod, not to have them drop the Road Glide. Now my own personal peeve, what in Gods name did they do to the Fat Bob? It’s bad enough they have the ugliest paint colors and stripes, but that fiasco rear fender/taillight nightmare is too much. Hopefully lasts years version will be available as a optional replacement or as a kit to change it over. Harley, I was looking to this years bikes to maybe trade my “09 Road King for a new one, but I’d better look for a new 2013. I love my King so maybe I’ll keep her and just buy a 2013 Fat Bob.

  38. Chuck Chrome says:

    Radiator or not that is a gorgeous bike. I think it was a smart move rolling this out on the tourers. That crowd might be a bit more practical than some Sonny Barger wannabe trying to “keep it real”.

  39. endoman38 says:

    The biggest single improvement in motocross bikes was when they introduced water-cooling. Instead of frequent top-end jobs, the motors would easily last a full season. Heat is your engine’s enemy. So, shut up and deal with it.

  40. allworld says:

    “It’s got the fastest 60 to 80 mph 5th gear roll on in the history of Harley-Davidson. Which means it’s got the most passing power in the history of Harley-Davidson.”

    The only thing HD is good at passing is opportunity. Eric and MV are alive an well.

    What they need is more dragging power to pull their customer base into the 21st century.
    What’s next …….. suspension upgrades ???

    • Gentleman Rook says:

      Suspension upgrades? Easy goes there, Thunder. It’s already bad enough they’re gonna spook off 80% of the clients with this new-fangled radiator. New suspension would lose Harley Fergusson every one of them tried and true good ole boys.

    • Dave says:

      Faster than the V-Rod, which is a genuinely fast bike by any standard? Really? That is very difficult to swallow.

  41. Ed Chambers says:

    Nice maybe they’ll have all the bugs worked out of it by the time I pay off my 13 “Limited”

  42. bmidd says:

    What’s next…Water cooled lawn mowers? Ahh never mind, they’ve been around for decades. Maybe they will get BNG and headlights that actually illuminate the road.

  43. mechanicus says:

    Its still too heavy.

  44. Wendy says:

    Nice that they let BMW ( another brand with famously conservative riders) take the lead on liquid cooled heads on their engines. Like BMW, they offer it on a very select few bikes to allow the beta testers, I mean customers, field test it. Welcome to the 1970’s H-D and BMW.

    • motowarrior says:

      I guess you haven’t noticed that BMW has been making liquid cooled bikes since the early 1980s, and that they pioneered important features like ABS brakes. To lump BMW in with Harley in terms of engineering only demonstrates that you haven’t been paying much attention as to who the motorcycle innovators really are.

      • Louis says:

        I think Wendy is talking about BMW’s opposed twin engines and their fanatical fans who refused to accept the demise of the traditional BMW bike. Anyway, that’s how I read her(?) comment.

    • Tom R says:

      This is a pretty absurd comparison.

  45. Mike Simmons says:

    A liquid cooled engine is long overdue IMHO. More power, more reliability, better engine longevity… what’s not to like?

    • denny says:

      And may I add, less of rattling noises. Actually, some faux fins can be added for traditional looks. I am quite happy with look of my naked Honda engine.

  46. Diondixon says:

    H-D is very smart. They have successfully waited for an extremely long time for some company to challenge them in the air-cooled/twin game. Yamaha couldn’t do it, much less any other of the big sport-bike companies… Although I’m sure every one of those companies would count their perspective forays into the market as a success… But Polaris may have finally brought enough game with the addition of the Indian name and its attendant fit and finish to get H-D to finally change to some liquid-cooling (not talking about oil-cooling). It wouldn’t surprise me if H-D has had this design for a while, just waiting until they perceived the possible, incoming market share hit to unveil it.

    H-D has certainly always been very successful at responding to market data. Now that they are being hounded by Polaris, they are about to address a frequent argument against buying a H-D motorcycle. Very, very smart…

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      This would have been in the works for years to be coming to market now. This is a response to government regulations, not Indian. Plus Harley has had decades to “address a frequent argument against buying an HD” if that were indeed what was going on here, though I’s bet my house that it isn’t. Everything I’ve ever read would suggest that Harley saw liquid cooling as an abomination to their traditional line of bikes and that their customers felt likewise. This has nothing to do with intelligence and everything to do with necessity. It IS smartly executed in that they have cleverly disguised most of the WC hardware.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “It wouldn’t surprise me if H-D has had this design for a while, just waiting until they perceived the possible, incoming market share hit to unveil it.”

      dion sees the game.

      re: “H-D has certainly always been very successful at responding to market data. Now that they are being hounded by Polaris, they are about to address a frequent argument against buying a H-D motorcycle. Very, very smart”

      dion sees the players.

  47. TimZ says:

    Gentlemen and pillion riders: look carefully at the pic. Here is a 19th century pedal-cycle with various additions tacked onto a rudimentary chassis. Is it aerodynamic? No. Is it easy to clean? No. Is that “need to clean” something you admit you really want? No. Does it represent the best way to take you from point A to B?

    Oh, you just like it. Right. That reply is going to advance motorcycling? Your personal preference for olde style nuts ‘n guts on two wheels is wonderful, but only for the shareholders and stockists of this HD dinosaur and all its brothers.

    In the important areas of mechanical efficiency, 21st century design, dollar value for thermodynamic efficiency and substantially developing the breed, this machine improves only slightly on a long-outmoded HD parentage.

    Rational responses will be respected: hate mail will be deleted.

    Over to you.

    • TimC says:

      Elitist AND sexist. Nice.

    • ad says:

      TimZ – sound like you’ve lost a few of your gals to a guy pulling away on a HD… Sorry to hear that…
      BTW, your comment “gentlemen and pillion riders is dated” Many Women riders….

    • Al T says:

      May I suggest you go ride a Harley big twin from the last 2 or 3 years. They truly are a nice ride.

    • dragontailjunkie says:

      The wife and I, both retired, just finished a 2 month 15,000 mile trip on a 2012 Ultra and never had a bit of trouble. I don’t see anything wrong with the aerodynamics and cleaning-who cleans a motorcycle while on the road with different weather systems hounding you daily. Oh, not to mention miles and miles of gravel roads!

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      1) “Is it aerodynamic?” – It is a motorcycle, not a Prius. Save for streamliners, none of them are aerodynamic.

      2) “Is it easy to clean?” – I’ve got a guy for that. What do I care? Seriously though, who cares. Most bikes are difficult to clean. I don’t think “ease of cleaning” is high on the list of engineering priorities at any manufacturer.

      3) “Oh, you just like it.” – Why else would anybody buy something like this? You propose people should buy something they don’t like just because it is modern, aerodynamic and easy to clean?

      4) “That reply is going to advance motorcycling?” – It will certainly advance motorcycling to add new riders to the fold regardless what type of bike they ride. There are plenty of other manufacturers advancing motorcycle technology for those customers that desire the cutting edge.

      5) “…only for the shareholders and stockists…” – And for the people who enjoy riding these kinds of bikes and the community they become a part of as a result. There wouldn’t be stockholders otherwise.

      6) “…this machine improves only slightly on a long-outmoded HD parentage.” – And that, my friend, is the whole point. They introduced the VRod a while back to offer a quantum leap in cruiser technology. We all know how that turned out. People like you or me may not “get it”, but HD is giving customers what they want better than just about anyone else – so say the sales figures.

    • HalfBaked says:

      Don’t hate the Troll hate the Trolling rational enough for ya Slick.

  48. jimmihaffa says:

    More than just easing the faithful into modern engine tech, I think this is a paradigm shift in Harley’s approach to appeal to a new audience of riders. The market they appear to be after is that which identifies with traditional Harley design but without the gaudy, overwrought excesses characteristic of past Harley offerings. At the same time Harley appears to be addressing functional performance improvements through a better engineered product. I think this is a bold and important step in the right direction for Harley Davidson.

    • Tim says:

      In reality, it’s just a reflection of tougher emissions standards. Don’t expect the over the top styling to change in an attempt to lure younger riders. They basically gave up on that when the sold MV and closed down Buell. They had no choice but move this direction. You can bet they did it reluctantly.

      However, I do agree their quality has much improved. Fit and finish on new Harley’s is among the best. I read where consumer reports rated Harley the fourth most reliable brand with Yamaha number 1, Kawasaki 2, Honda 3 and BMW number 5.

      This motor is a step in the right direction for them, even if it was essentially emissions mandated. The Harley fans won’t like having to look at the radiator though.

      • Louis says:

        Tim, I read from Consumer Reports that 1 in 4 H-D’s have problems vs. 1 in 3 for BMW’s, and 1 in 10 Yamaha’s. Sounds about right to me.

        • Tim says:

          I’m not surprised at all to hear Yamaha had that kind of reliability. I’ve always believed they and Honda are the two most reliable brands. I was surprised to hear Kawasaki had jumped in front of Honda.

          I have a Yamaha, two Kawasaki’s and a BMW…so far no major complaints with any of them, but the BMW is new so I hope it isn’t the one in three.

          One of my Kawasaki’s is a 1972 90cc bike, and it’s always been reliable. It went probably 20 years without being started, and it fired up on the second kick with some fresh gas bypassing the tank (not smoothly mind you, but it did fire up.0

          As for Harley, I suspect 1 in 4 is a big improvement over what you would have found even 10 years ago. It’s all relative I guess.

      • casatomasa says:

        I’ll second that, the power of the EPA should not be underestimated. Runor has it that the reason KTM dirt bikes have a 6th gear is to be able to pass EPA sound and emmition standards. Welcomen to ze new worlk order.

  49. Montana says:

    So long as the “Classic Look” is retained, the radiator won’t affect sales adversely,
    particularly if there are some compensations for the extra complexity.