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Can These New Bikes Save Harley-Davidson?

One trip to the Sturgis Rally in the last 10 years was enough to convince just about anyone (besides Harley-Davidson, apparently) that the iconic American motorcycle brand was in trouble. Commonly, the Harley riders at the event were in their 70s, barely able to throw a leg over a bike, and rapidly losing any credibility whatsoever when it came to rebel role-playing. Bandannas be damned.

When your target demographic is literally dying off, what do you do to save your business?

EICMA was the scene for the unveiling of two new Revolution Max-powered models, including the 975cc Bronx naked and the 1250cc Pan America adventure tourer. Harley says both of these bikes will “launch in late 2020 extending the iconic brand into new market segment [sic].” Too little too late?

Although the claimed horsepower and torque figures for this new engine platform are impressive (see details in the press release below), Harley is sticking with a relatively narrow angle for the new v-twins (60 °), while embracing liquid cooling. The narrow angle poses significant challenges when it comes to controlling vibration at the higher rpm levels these horsepower claims will require. Quality components include Brembo brakes and Michelin tires.

Here are the details from Harley:

  • 2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America™ adventure touring and Bronx™ streetfighter models available in late 2020
  • New Harley-Davidson 975 cc and 1250cc Revolution® Max – the powerful all-new liquid-cooled V-Twin engines
  • Horsepower and torque range announced
  • New partnerships with Brembo® and Michelin® support middleweight development

Displayed for the first time publicly at EICMA in Milan, Harley-Davidson® is showcasing two all-new middleweight motorcycles, including the release of information surrounding the latest signature Harley-Davidson® V-Twin engine – the Revolution® Max. The powerful all-new 60-degree V-Twin has been designed for a new range of Harley-Davidson motorcycles in two different guises – 1250cc in the new Harley-Davidson Pan America™ and 975cc in the Harley-Davidson® Bronx™. Harley-Davidson® first announced expansion into new segments including new middleweight offerings in its More Roads to Harley-Davidson® accelerated plan for growth in July 2018.  These exhilarating new models will both launch in late 2020 extending the iconic brand into new market segment.

Pan America™

The Harley-Davidson Pan America is an all-new advanced adventure touring multi-purpose motorcycle equal parts campfire, wanderlust, and grit. The Pan America™ is a two-wheel multi-tool built to endure, designed to explore, and engineered for the unknown. 


The new Harley-Davidson® Revolution® Max powertrain is also at the heart of an all new Bronx™. This middleweight streetfighter model rolls with an unapologetic attitude and performance to match.

Powering both the new Pan America™ and Bronx models is the new liquid-cooled 975cc and 1,250cc Revolution® Max engine. Created to power a range of new Harley-Davidson® models, the Revolution® Max is designed to offer flexible performance with a broad powerband that builds to a surge of high-RPM power. Minimizing weight and maximizing performance, the Revolution® Max provides a narrow powertrain profile that is integrated into the motorcycle as a stressed member of the frame to enhance center of gravity and handling. The fully balanced powertrain has an internal counter balancer that mitigates primary engine vibration to enhance rider comfort and improve vehicle durability. Its design is bold and contoured, classic and contemporary, strong and svelte – a representation of Harley-Davidson® performance and style.

Revolution® Max 1250 Engine Performance Targets

  • Displacement 1250cc
  • More than 145 horsepower
  • More than 90 ft. lbs. peak torque

Revolution® Max 975 Engine Performance Targets

  • Displacement 975cc
  • More than 115 horsepower
  • More than 70 ft. lbs. peak torque

Revolution® Max Engine Technical Features

  • Liquid-Cooled V-Twin Architecture
  • Since 1909 the V-Twin engine has been the centerpiece for legendary Harley-Davidson® motorcycles. This lineage continues into the middleweight performance space with the Revolution® Max engine.
  • A 60-degree vee angle of the cylinders provides space for dual down draft throttle bodies that maximize air flow and increase performance.
  • Liquid cooling maintains a controlled engine temperature for consistent performance in changing environmental and riding situations.

High Performance Development Collaboration – Braking and Tire

To optimize performance of the new Pan America™ and Bronx™ models, Harley-Davidson® tapped into the expertise of world class component manufacturers to deliver bespoke solutions for braking and tire performance. For braking, Harley-Davidson® collaborated with Brembo® to create a new radial monoblock four-piston caliper that combines sharp edges with softer curves designed to create a style that complements the personality of the bike and delivers outstanding braking feel and capability. For tires, Michelin® and Harley-Davidson® have worked closely to develop co-branded tires for each motorcycle model that optimize performance, feel and grip in all conditions.

See more of MD’s great photography: Instagram


  1. motorhead says:

    I agree with the youth problems mentioned below. HD needs to test market many new bike designs with very young riders. Otherwise the older riders (me) would simply guide them to make old-style bikes that no young person will want. Harley, we wish you well, and keep hanging around the young riders. When you start offending us old bikers, you’re doing the right thing!

  2. Ben says:

    My current ride is a 17 model 1290 super Adventure R. Honestly, the more i look at the Pan America, the more I like it. There are a good number of “better” pictures of the thing floating around out there, and I will say that the side view that everyone has panned is the least flattering of them all. I would much rather have an ugly, but interesting and distinctive bike than a bland boring one. The Pan American is growing on me! do I expect it to be in the same league as my KTM? no. But I can say that this bike is far ad away the most interesting Harley ever built, to me, and I could see myself buying one. Ugly is in!! for me , anyway

    • todder says:

      I’m curious about the Pan Adventure as well…however, there is the Norden concept and existing MotoGuzzi V85TT and 1200 Scrambler which are gorgeous adventure bikes which look old school. Still like to give the Harely a test ride, but initially I was also naysayer on the looks. Puzzling since Harley really needs to make a good first impression on younger riders who don’t shop for cruisers/bobbers. Just saying it would have been cool to give it some round headlights with a Buell tribute nood or something that looked like a 60’s scrambler put together with modern tech & suspension. Really hope Harely can sell these and they are priced somewhat affordable. Otherwise, I’ve been eyeing leftover KTM 1290 Adventure R’s…

  3. Salvatore Fartzollotti says:

    Went to the Long Belch show yesterday and I saw people whose ages ranged from teens to 70s. I saw these people at every manufacturer’s display including Harley and Piaggio. Guess what I saw? Enthusiasts. Motorcyclists. People that ride all kinds of bikes, scooters, trikes and even those 4wheeler off road toys.

    I also heard them talk and more than a few times I heard their concerns about how much the hobby, this passion of theirs is getting too expensive, especially for the younger folk including those that looked to be 30 to 40 years of so of age.

    So Dirck? You’re not entirely wrong but you’re sure as he’ll aren’t near to being right. The whole industry should be concerned. Older folk like me have the money but not always the ability to ride as much as we’d like. Young to middle age people have young families that have needs and bikes are really just “wants”.

    Kids need to get off their phones.

    Ok blowflakes. Scribble away. 😀

  4. Bart says:

    Looking at the right side of the motor, it appears that to remove the clutch/primary drive cover one would have to remove at least the rear exhaust header (maybe both), as it appears to block access to the cover screws. Maybe could get at them behind the pipe, just can’t tell from the pics available. Styling over serviceability?

  5. Reginald Van Blunt says:

    One of the lads awhile back mentioned HD had an ‘unfixable problem’, which got my brain skull a thumping. What would tickle my fancy to invest in HD ? Two items, and only two, are image/style related using HD semi past. Their flat track history style is theirs alone and worth emulating in a new road design IF it could be kept light and with a similar looking new engine. The other design should be an American Vincent looking road burner. Big, but light and quick like a bunny, in the open plains and mountain passes. Smile if you can imagine.
    This comment has been pre approved by me.

  6. Sean says:

    The Bronx has a lot of potential. The Pan Am has zero potential. That bike is going to land like a lead balloon with riders.

  7. Chris says:

    I like the Bronx design, I loved the cant-get one-here Yamaha bulldog, the Bronx looks related, i’d love to see one in the flesh and the h2o cooled twin is the only way to go for Harleys future. Build it!!

  8. Mark says:

    With the Bronx at least, I hope HD realizes the game has moved forward. Not only more horsepower but lighter weight and a reasonable price.
    There are many bikes in this category that I’m sure will put Harley in their place.
    As usual.

  9. peter D says:

    As a new design, H-D needed a home run or, at least a standing triple, to move the needle. Didn’t happen.

  10. motorhead says:

    Could HD enter something like the PanAm into a Paris-Dakar race to gain a little street cred? Or in this case, dirt-cred?

    • wjb says:

      They don’t make anything in the 400cc max displacement category for motorcycles, so no they could not enter Dakar unless they built a 400cc enduro type bike. Even then it would not directly reflect on these bikes.

  11. modsquad says:

    I assumed Harley to be a dead company when they screwed up the styling on the XR1200. If ever there was a chance for a bike to turn heads, perform like a Buell while paying homage to their heritage, that was it. And they styled it like a dog’s breakfast. All they had to do was lift the looks of the Mert Lawwill street tracker and they were home free.

    I would have bought XLs that looked like either of these:

    The word “beautiful” doesn’t exist in their design department, and their mechanicals are nowhere near good enough to make up for the shortfall.

    • Bob S. says:

      You don’t need to rely on Harley to build those bikes in your links. A low mileage used Sportster, a catalog, a few hand tools, your perception of “beautiful” and you’ve got what you want. It’s been done that way for decades. Keep the tradition and enjoy the experience

  12. tuskerdu says:

    Hell no rebel.

  13. FNFAL says:

    Not a bad first stab (again). I like the Bronx more than the PanAm. You can see they’re trying. I would like to see a little more “trick” mechanically. And as long as they’re not abandoning the true Harley rider by always giving them what they want, I think giving a new audience some high-tech would be a good way to go about it.

    I say give HD the doubt not because they’re HD, but because they’re the most “American” big volume producer out there. Too bad they don’t fit into Wallstreet’s global vision of unification, control and automation. Then they would get tons of free money to waste away like all the other Silicon Valley ventures.

    Gen Y is looking for “hacks” in everything. There was always a cheaper and easier way to do things popping up in their perspective. Motorcycling is satisfying, frees the soul and is exhilarating. Motorcycles are not easy or comfortable.

    For now, I think HD will need to focus on gaining market share – this is a good start. Don’t know what generation Z will do. Hopefully the pendulum will swing back. As a life of no work and all comfort can lead to a lack of purpose, which leads to apathy and depression. Which is why pop culture is always trying to build self-esteem in certain segments of our population.

  14. dan c says:

    One word answer…. No
    I don’t see anything that stands out beside the HD symbol. Seems like they are fishing for a path forward but the creativity just isn’t there. Seems to me it would be better for them to downsize and stick with what got them strong which is a strong v-twin cruiser. I love the v-rod. That was a path forward but that cant carry the conglomerate that is HD. They need to model themselves after Ducati. Downsize and build on their strengths.

    • Scottie says:

      Hardly a conglomerate. One company. One brand.

      • austin zzr 1200 says:

        chaps are a separate division

        • Tom K. says:

          Only the “assless” ones, the ones that commemorated Elton’s 100th Anniversary performance. Seriously, I have to wonder if Seger was busy that week, or if E.J. was really their first choice?

    • Neal says:

      Ducati has done anything but downsize. They are in about as many product categories as Yamaha at this point, with multiple cruiser options even.

      • He is talking about its history… what Ducati needed to do to save themselves from extinction like all the other great Italian and British brands (save MV Agusta and Triumph). By the 90’s, Ducati was a specialty motorcycle maker that almost died. It downsized, created the Monster and started making a profit. The company’s IPO was in 1999. It took them 20 years before they could branch out in many different product categories. Dan is suggesting HD do the same.

  15. Grupy Farmer says:

    I won’t comment on Harleys history and heritage because I’ve never been a part of it. With the Pan Am however, they are playing in my sand box now. Their cache has no currency what so ever in this segment. This bike, for me at least has to competitively priced, no HD premium because it hasn’t earned it, be stone ax reliable and just be a good travel partner. It for me doesn’t have to be the best at anything but it must not fail me or let me down, for when I get the opportunityI ride many a mile and my bike has to be bullet proof.