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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. 

Bronx™

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.


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229 Comments

  1. Steve says:

    If I were an investor I’d say it’s time to dump HD stock. The money days are over!

    • Salvatori Fartzollotti says:

      Do you even have the stones to work and invest in anything? Another “NEVER HD!” chimpster.

      No wonder motorcycling in general is tanking. Those who claim to “love” to ride don’t buy.

      “The money days are over!”. Talk about chimping out. Snowflake.

    • Jeremy says:

      Well, good thing you’re not an investor. 🙂 You would have needed to dump the stock 5 years ago.

      I personally applaud their efforts to evolve, even if they are 20 years late. Still wouldn’t bet on the stock yet, though.

  2. ABQ says:

    I resolved the problem with aging boomers by buying a trike, a free wheeler. It looks like a classic, and rides down the road like a dream. The other issue with Harley owners is that they usually have a short inseam. The cruiser style is the only motorcycle that they can ride. Because of that, these taller bikes will not appeal to them. Put that motor on a cruiser or trike and it may sell.

    • Tank says:

      Read the article. These bikes are not meant for typical Harley riders. Did the word ‘demographic’ throw you off?

      • ABQ says:

        Read my post. Did the words “short inseam” throw you off?
        Short inseams is what throws many people off of adventure bikes.
        That is why there are cruisers, Like H-D..

      • OldBiker says:

        I think just the opposite is true. I’m a tall guy with a 36” inseam. Cruisers are the only bikes that give me adequate leg room for longer rides. On other bikes the seat to peg distance is just too close and my legs end up being extremely and uncomfortably folded up. Adventure bikes may be high off the ground but when I put my feet up on the pegs my legs are still folded up. The Vrod was uncomfortably small for a tall guy and so were the later Buels. You rarely see tall guys on sport bikes. We primarily ride cruisers because that’s all that fits us…

  3. cagefree says:

    HD is in trouble and these bikes are a sort of Hail Mary pass play to save the game. My local HD dealer in Temecula has recently taken on BMW as a way of staying in business. Outside are lots of new Harleys but when you go inside it looks like a BMW dealer with lots of bikes on display and all the HD clothing and such in the back, didn’t see any new HD’s inside.

  4. Mark R says:

    For a company with a long history of motorcycles, these new designs look like they come from a company thats never built a bike ever.
    Yeuuuchhhhh!

    Keep it up and you wont survive Harley.

    • todd says:

      Cut them some slack. They haven’t designed many bikes in the last century. Give them time to catch up with the rest of the industry.

      • Salvatori Fartzollotti says:

        FFS, the whiners here that hate Harley are legion in numbers save that of individual IQ. So who copied HD’s style because their own crappy “cruisers” were so freakin’ fugly that only “Never HD” types, those that couldn’t (yet) afford them and the terminally retarded whiners here would buy them?

        Answer: Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha.

        It’s been said before and I doubt the mod here has the stones to post this but buying and riding a fake Harley is like dating a drag queen.

        Harley will be fine. All brands are in the crapper here in America sales wise. You crybabies bitch and moan about every marque’s offerings usually prefacing your torrid tantrums with “I’d buy one tomorrow if only it had}… Or the ever popular “I LOVE it, but”…

        When someone makes a valid comment on fuel economy, range, maintenance or insurance costs, these same children go and chimp out with the now ubiquitous, “ok boomer”. 😉

        I see more Harleys on the road than even Goldwings, which come in second in that regard. Even the mighty Wing isn’t selling well now. Why? Because the latest generation to reach puberty and the age at which they can be issued a license to drive still hasn’t the balls to speak to a woman in person let alone do something as “risky” as riding a motorcycle.

        No one wants to change the diaper that is their mind. It’s full of themselves, in other words FOS.

        Text-Monkeys.

        And Dirck. My brother goes to Sturgis almost every year and he told me he sees plenty of 30 on up riders. GFG, talk about being disingenuous in order to appear “woke” or “hip”.

        Whatever.

        • Jeremy says:

          Wow. This rant demonstrates quite well the nature of Harley’s image problem and why it will be so difficult to fix.

        • beasty says:

          Well said Salvatori!

        • todd says:

          “riding a fake Harley is like dating a drag queen”

          I don’t know what a “fake Harley” is but, if that’s the case, then riding a real harley is like being a drag queen.

        • Max says:

          “You crybabies bitch and moan about every marque’s offerings usually prefacing your torrid tantrums with “I’d buy one tomorrow if only it had}… Or the ever popular “I LOVE it, but”…”

          That is the silly part. I just bought an HD. Never bought one in decades of riding because I liked bikes with more cornering clearance. HDs always seemed to have more problems than avg too.
          Anyway, now that we’re on the 3rd yr of M8 production, it seemed to me that they made the changes to fix their bugs. I’ve been pleasantly surprised. The bike is a magic carpet in every respect.
          It’s about the ride people. All that tech gadgetry will be soon be forgotten after the thrill of demoing it. What’s left is how you feel after a day in the saddle. My Road King leaves me feeling really dang good.
          You kids go ahead and wait for next year when maybe they’ll bring out a 16″ ipad strapped to the handlebars that you can play Crazy Birds on.

  5. Grover says:

    The 2-tone Pam-Am looks horrible in that color scheme. The mono-chromatic paint job is much better. I actually believe that these new bikes are a good start to (hopefully) a new future for HD.

  6. Bryan Kowalchuk says:

    So HD is reintroducing the Yamaha MT01 and calling it the Bronx?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yamaha_MT-01

    Of note in the Wiki article “But Yamaha Motor Corp. USA declined to import it to the United States, citing a small market for this style of bike.”

    Living in Canada, I rode of these. Interesting bike, unique and impressive styling, but was top heavy and reluctant to turn. Lots of low end torque, but it was basically, and quite obviously, a cruiser engine in a sport bike chassis. The result? A slow and awkward “sporty” bike. Do you think HD can build a better version of this? I doubt it.

  7. GP says:

    The issue is a little more complex than boomer aging. Without getting in to a political issue, there are studies by Ford and the motorcycle industry which point to the fact that the younger kids don’t have the money to buy toys do to low wages and or student loan debt. Let face it motorcycles are toys in this country for most people. Keep in mind when Henry Ford was asked why he was paying his workers above the industry average his response, so they can purchase the cars they are manufacturing (I paraphrase).

    The industry can redesign, bring new models, bring smaller beginner bikes, etc. but it isn’t dressing a bigger issue. Keep in mind the last couple of decades many of the boomers were buying the bigger more expensive models because they no longer had mortgages, kids in college, etc.

  8. XRRB says:

    Harley would have been best advised to enter the Adv market with a splash by emphasizing functionality over brand vamping with a HD equivalent of an old Honda Deauville. If they emulated a KTM Super Adventure then they might have been taken seriously, the currently proposed styling exercise is too bland and too strange at the same time. Fail

  9. JanJ says:

    Age is the issue, and effects All Makes & Models….

    I preferred Gold Wings for our 2 up riding. Cross Country multiple times on 1200 and 1500 Wings. Early 1800’s didn’t have knee room… Bought a 95 Ace for around town. By the time Indians were good enough to consider, my knees wern’t! I could afford whatever I wanted… But my Knees suggest it is simply not in the cards anymore….
    Sold my Wing and Ace 2 years ago…. I still look at bikes in parking lots and remember the good times… But after 54 years, I’m an observer, not a rider….

  10. HalfBaked says:

    You might want to consider changing the name of this site to simply – okay, boomer.

  11. OldRider says:

    I agree with those that say motorcycles in general don’t seem to interest the younger generations the way they interested us Boomers. I see riders on all brands of bikes and most of those riders could probably qualify for AARP cards. You certainly don’t see as many young guys zipping around on crotch rockets like you used too. To me it seems the issue is not that the young guys aren’t riding Harleys, it’s that they are not riding anything at all… Unfortunately I see the motorcycle market in the US shrinking across all brands.

    On a side note, one thing that I’ve always loved about Harley is their excellent service documentation. I’ve owned other brands and nobody else has service manuals that even come close to what you can get for your Harley. Makes it really easy for someone with a little mechanical aptitude and a few tools to do most if not all of the scheduled maintenance and whatever infrequent repairs may be needed.

    • todd says:

      It’s much easier to compile a repair manual for something that doesn’t ever change. Imagine having to write a manual every couple years for something that might not ever need to be repaired. My Duke owner’s manual does have all service details, procedures, and specifications so I don’t need to purchase a repair manual unless I want to overhaul the engine.

      • OldBiker says:

        That’s a valid point about something that doesn’t change much from year to year. I’ve never owned a KTM but if the owners manual is as complete as you say, that’s great.

  12. Randy says:

    Eric Buell where are you? Actually, he was a brilliant designer, not a great marketer. Harley was a great marketer, below average designers. I loved the simple, tourque rich, good handling bikes. My Ulysses is one of the best riding bikes in the garage. They missed their chance to expand their market when the current market aged out.
    The whole industry is heading towards a spot in history. I just took a tour of a few Colorado dealerships. People are staying away in droves. I’m a dinosaur and not looking forward to being in a country with no new riders. But such is life.

  13. Bubba Blue says:

    Harley Hipsters really are drying up and blowing away. It’s almost tearful sometimes to see what’s riding around. But all motorcycle sales are down, it isn’t just Harley. The in-crowd wants Teslas.

    The good news is that Harley motorcycles are so much more beautiful, involving and fun to ride than everything else, and high quality too for several years now, that all they really need to do is modernize with liquid cooling and lighter weight and they’ll probably do better than the industry generally.

    I’d suggest the 1250 Revolution engine in something like a BMW R12500RT, RS or R. I’d much rather have a Harley.

    • DaveA says:

      If Harleys were more beautiful, involving, and fun to ride than anything else they’d have some customers who weren’t blindly loyal 74 year-olds who don’t care about any aspect of performance. They don’t, which is why they are smartly trying to break free of the legacy/lifestyle shackles they’ve been happily wearing since 1983 or so.

      I sincerely hope that these new bikes are great, well-received, and sell reasonably well.I don’t want HD to die, but if this fails, they’re not going to have too many more chances I don’t think. Not _no_ more, but precious few.

  14. J Wilson says:

    H-D will ‘save itself’ IF it can morph from a company endlessly recycling the certain V-Twin ‘biker’ image to an expanded heritage American manufacturer that offers an American take on the various classes of motorcycles they can expand their business with. Not unexpected that these new models may seem a bit derivative (and they’d hardly be alone in the ‘me-too’ business), but as a departure to a new style and outlook, this could be the start of new, good things.

    Stick with the same old same old, and prepare to become another used-to-be like steam locomotive manufacturers, or at best, a much smaller niche builder. Believe me, this is the twilight of leather vests, no-finger gloves, chain wallets, and dog-bowl helmets.

  15. Brian says:

    Harley has had their own niche market for years and every attempt to break out of that has failed. I don’t know what they need to do to change that but these bikes are not it.

    • DaveA says:

      Why not? I think they’re exactly what is needed. Were you thinking they need to build some road racing/sport bikes? That market is dying a slow death, and has been for years. A 2019 GSXR600 is barely different from a 2008 model…not endogenous money in it to spend the big re-do dollars.

      To the contrary, sporty nakeds and ADVers are on the upswing, being the two fastest growing segments in the US and abroad. That being the case, why are these bikes ‘not it?’

      • Brian says:

        I would guess that they need to find another niche market and not try to compete with other brands. Not saying they don’t make a great product but they are too late to the party to compete with them.

  16. fred says:

    Not a Harley fan, but the first impression of the Bronx is terrific. Let’s give it a cheer! (Couldn’t resist) 17″ wheels with sporty rubber, radial brakes, decent horsepower, good torque. If the weight is reasonable, and the price in line with the market, this could be a winner. I loved my SV1000, and this looks to be cast in a similar mold. High hopes for the Bronx.

    I was going to make a comment on the looks of the Pan America, but then realized “It doesn’t have a beak!” All is forgiven. I suspect that there are a number of riders who love HD’s and want an adventure bike, or vice-versa. Again, depending on weight and price, this bike could do quite well.

    No idea whether these bikes will save H-D, but I applaud the effort. Unless they cost $30k like the LiveWire.

  17. DaveA says:

    I _so_ want the Pan America to be good, and reasonably priced. Can’t wait to see these in the flesh

  18. MrD says:

    Interesting pair. I gotta say, I like the pan America. lotsa power, unique lines, and best of all, no bloody beak.(yay!)
    Both these bikes are perhaps priced a little steep, but if they prove to be reliable, they could find a corner of the market. I look forward to some reviews good or bad.

  19. Steve W says:

    Just like the >ndia made 500cc and 750cc. And the electric blunder these will be to. Just lower the prices on there current models instead of raping people with outrageous prices they’d be surprized. The look like cheap 80’s Japanese models. Blunder number 3!!!!!

  20. Reginald Van Blunt says:

    Apparently, my comment yesterday did not pass moderation on this open forum. No problem, as everything I wrote has been covered already. Hope the Bronx is normal weight for class and not Michigan Miracle Metal per 100 years HD, when it is available in two model years.
    This comment is now approved by me.

  21. southbound says:

    I think HD has an unfixable problem. They have (1), loyalty brainwashed their demographic for 100 years, beyond any possibility of change, which leads to (2), no one will EVER think differently about HD’s, so (3), any money spent for future hail marys is just financially digging the hole deeper. Hey HARLEY! Here’s an idea worth investing in. Keep making your current models, but lighten each one by about 200 lbs, make them RELIABLE, and LOWER THE PRICES. Better to take a 20 year hit than to swing wildly at fences that you don’t even know the distance to. The internal combustion engine for bikes will be around a LOT longer than cars, so you have time to PLAN things long term. I think I have a viable thought.

    • austin zzr 1200 says:

      The sanest comment I have read on this website in years. Adding to the list 4) as a public company, HD is under pressure to announce vaporware like this to keep the stock price from entering a death-spiral…

      • DaveA says:

        It isn’t vaporware…these bikes are in the process of going into production right now.

        Also, Making the current bikes 200 pounds lighter is literally impossible, and would do absolutely nothing to draw in a new consumer demographic. I don’t have any idea if this will work or not with these new bikes, but it either will, or the company will be in serious trouble.

        Making the same bikes they already have somehow marginally more attractive because they perform better is a fools errand. People who want Harleys buy them. What they need is different people to want Harleys, and this is the way to do that.

        On a side note, the bikes are mostly fine reliability-wise. That hasn’t been a deal breaker for many years.

        • ‘target horsepower’ = vaporware. Not too many riders will want to alpha-test these things…the whiff of desperation is a buzz-kill on the showroom floor.

          Its comical to watch troops of bloated boomer-pirates rumble down the road. Buells were cool because they were radical (like Erik himself). These contrived, half-baked, hail-Mary duds will get clobbered.

  22. Dirty Bob says:

    This may keep some consumers from going elsewhere for an Adventure bike and Streetfighter. However it’s still McDonald marketing. MickyD sells pancakes and nuggets. When will they sell buffalo wings? My prediction is: HD will try anything to stay in business!

  23. Gary says:

    The Bronx is a good looking bike and could do well within its market segment. Unlike others here, I think a 975cc engine is a good place to be and 115hp/70 ft-lbs is a strong/competitive engine for that size. The bike has great lines. If the engine has (good) character and the weight isn’t a problem (if it’s over 500 pounds – there’s a problem) I think this bike will do well.

    The Pan America looks like a mistake.

    Here is my concern for Harley. When the Live Wire was announced HD had an amazing buzz. People were truly excited that HD was gonna lead the way with an electric bike. The press was giving them great coverage and it looked like with their investment in Alta Motors they were committed to defining and growing a new market segment. It appeared that they couldn’t screw it up. Competitive e-bikes were selling for $12,000 to $16,000. All they had to do was price it right and have a smooth roll-out. They did neither. At $30,000 they actually pissed people off. And then just months into production, production stopped for a technical reason. And beloved Alta…gone. They completely f’ed it up.

    They’re gonna do it again with the Bronx and Pan America. Let’s look at the Bronx. This class of bikes includes the Z900(~$8,500), FZ-09 (~$9,000), Street Triple (~$10-11,000), KTM Duke (now) 890 (my guess $12,000), Ducati Scrambler ($13,000), Suzuki Katana (~$13,500). Whether you agree or not this bike will compete with the FTR1200 (~$16,000).

    The Bronx will be priced around $20k. Why? Because in their current line-up the antiquated Softail line sells for $14,000 to $20,000. This bike has less technology and competes in a hot market segment.

    At $10,000 the Bronx is competitive with the market. At $12,000 they are at the mid to upper end – and the bike might be good enough to support this price. At $16,000 they are priced out of the market…and that’s why they’ll be at $20,000.

    At $16-20K the bikes will sell at low volumes and HD will not recover their investment. At $10-$12 they will be competitive a steal sales from Ducati, Triumph, KTM and Victory. I don’t see HD competing, or even wanting to compete with, the Asian brands.

    • Bart says:

      Well said! If only H/D could see that the single-track world is round and doesn’t revolve around Milwaukee anymore.

      Copy and paste your post to the wall over the urinal in the HaDa marketing department.

  24. jim says:

    In contrast, the Guzzi V85 TT Adventure just looks the part – very economical. This one looks like a a 70’s MZ ES250/2.

    https://www.scribd.com/article/393024306/Mz-Es250-2

    You gotta know what you are going for and when to put the paint brush down.

    There are a lot of Wisconsin jobs on the line. C’mon!

  25. Provologna says:

    Title Q: No. “Too little too late?” Yes. Starting in the 80s, San Francisco’s City Bike newspaper predicted HD’s demise loudly and repeatedly for years. They were a little early, but it looks like the writing is on the wall.

    Maybe if HD released these bikes 25-30 years ago, but it’s a little late now. IMO, in the period from the 80s-90s, HD was swimming in so much cash, re-releasing the same GD bikes over and over again, for ever inflated prices, that shareholders would have forbade HD from spending the cash (during that period) required to invent new bikes like those featured in this article. Investors would have just screamed, “Why shoot our golden goose?” And HD management (idiot MBAs) were too lazy to point out the fallacy of the investor lack of vision. The MBA managers just took the easy way out and chose to not upset the apple cart.

    I just noticed a strange, potential full circle: in the mid-50s, a hood like James Dean’s character in Rebel Without A Cause wanted and could afford an HD Knucklehead. Such bike helped the character project his “rebellious” nature.

    Later, HDs became so costly that the Hells Angel owner of an Oakland HD dealership said he hated the only people that could buy his bikes: lawyers and doctors (City Bike covered that pre-web story in depth). Now, as our intrepid reporter stated, those old codgers die off, with no replacements entering the fold. The strange thing is that used HD values likely plummet, as the brand swirls down the drain.

    Eventually, HD bikes might become so cheap that regular working people can buy them again, at least used models. But is there any price that makes them desirable to young people? Me doubts it.

    The fairing on the adventure version reminds me of a 50s Buick or Oldsmobile, not a good thing IMO (that’s 1950s, not 1850s). The Bronx looks OK, maybe better than OK, but mixed feelings about the name.

  26. JC says:

    I think a lot of people either forget or never knew that Buell (HD Buell) motorcycles were based on Sportster engines. As good as some Buells were, the engine was designed in 1986 and based on one from 1957. These new bikes are in no way even similar to a Sportster based Buell motorcycle.
    Yes, the dealers helped to screw up Buell as a brand, but that was at a time when Harleys were selling faster than they could make them. The dealers are now suffering with the company, so I’d bet on a completely different dealer attitude.

    • Provologna says:

      My Buell Ulysses was the most over rated POS I ever swung a leg over. The engine is the most useless pile of junk of any bike I owned (an embarrassingly large # I won’t admit and don’t exactly know anyway).

      • Tom Shields says:

        At one of my earliest track days, probably 2002 or so, a guy showed up on a Buell S3 Thunderbolt. It looked enormous and very primitive compared to the gaggle of sport bikes. Tech was not impressed but the bike checked all the boxes so they let him on track, at the beginner’s level.

        He made two (slow, instructional) laps before breaking down on-track. They had to shut down the track while they got it off the track, and the instructors were pissed that anyone would even show up on such a POS.

        It sounded interesting, though, that twin in the midst of all the inline 4’s, triples, and one or two Ducs.

        That is my Buell story.

        • Bart says:

          I used to run track days. The early Buells broke down before lunch for many years (belts, head gaskets, etc) prompting the riders to ask me for some credit forward to next event.

          I told them I would issue some credit IF you return on a different bike that does not shut down my program and piss my customers off before lunch! Started telling Buell riders don’t ask me for credit anymore if your bike breaks down before lunch.

          Finally, years later, the watercooled models showed up and they would finish a day without too many problems, but they were touchy/twitchy to setup, about equivalent to a good 600 performance-wise on the track.

          • Provologna says:

            My Ulysses: molded into the windshield were little arrow shaped male parts that simply plugged into a rubber grommet (in the cowl IIRC).

            The first time I took my Ulysses up to freeway speed, the phreaking plugs detach from the grommets, the windshield flies off and hits my helmet, then continues flying off to parts unknown. Took me 15 minutes to find it.

            If the Ulysses had lighter fork springs and damping there’d have been criminal charges.

            I’m surprised fasteners don’t fly off and blind people at idle.

            I upchuck a little in my mouth every time someone describes Erik Buell as a “brilliant engineer.”

      • zuki says:

        I disagree with you. I liked my two Buells, 2003 XB9S and 2006 XB12Ss Long. Out of the two I preferred the 9S’s 984cc engine character over the 1203cc. The 12Ss dog-ring transmission (2006+ Buells) was a big improvement over the 9S. The engines were far from useless and made the bikes pretty fun to ride. I’ve owned a lot of bikes as well. I believe you either had a lemon, or exaggerate. What drove me away from Buell was not a bad bike, but consistently negative dealer attitudes like others continue to tell.

    • Jeremy says:

      “I think a lot of people either forget or never knew that Buell (HD Buell) motorcycles were based on Sportster engines.”

      I think most everyone knows that. The engine seems to be the main reason the market ultimately rejected Buell.

      I agree most dealers will have a different attitude towards these new bikes. They can’t afford not to.

      • Kent says:

        It also failed because of a toxic dealer network, and the fact that HD shut it down. Think of where they could be now with a 10 year head start.

      • fred says:

        JC is quite correct. If you were to ask 100 people at random “What engine was the basis for Buell motorcycles?”, you’d probably get 10 correct answers or less.

        Hard-core motorcyclists knew/know, but we are a small segment of humanity.

        • Jeremy says:

          Having owned one I disagree. Most riders I encountered knew it was a Sportster-based engine, or at least an old-school Harley engine, and typically had something negative to say about that whether they had actually ever ridden a Buell or not. Was the knowledge base for that kind of info in my locale typical? I don’t know, but it was a huge metro area. So I’d think it was a pretty good sample size. In any case, readers of this site or of the motorcycle press in general are likely all very much aware.

          The “What’s that?” line of questions typically came from cruiser riders, which is understandable since Buells were outside of their genre.

          Why are we talking about Buells anyway?

  27. Kermit says:

    I don’t know what intrigues me more. These two bikes or the comments about them. Having owned a few Big Twins(8), this direction by Harley is both interesting and needed. No new ground broken here but that could be said about any company that isn’t the first one to the party. The styling for the Bronx is good for a modern bike. It looks right from a modern point of view. The Pan America on the other hand, I haven’t made up my mind yet. While the headlight is certainly different, it won’t be mistaken for another brand, and the rest of the bike has a cleaner design to it, unlike a lot of bikes that have a swayback/insect/origami/drawn by a drunk eight year old look. Hears looking beyond the stereotypes and wishing Harley well with this new direction.

  28. beasty says:

    Great looking bikes! I like them both.

  29. FreddyJ says:

    So basically, H-D has decided to revive the Buell model lineup. Oh, except they’re going to walk away from all of the paid-for engineering and market research and start from scratch. Sounds efficient. H-D has had their head buried in the sand for decades; I just hope that they’re not too late to save the future of the brand. This is what happens when you let the accounting department run a motorcycle manufacturer.

    • Provologna says:

      I have a sneaky feeling you never rode a Sportster-powered Buell.

      • Kent says:

        The Sportster Buells weren’t fantastic motorcycles, but they got a new demographic into the dealerships.

        The original Corvette had a low power 6 cylinder that was designed in the early 40’s, and a two speed automatic. They managed to build some excitement, update the car, bring people into the showroom, etc. It has a become one of the better perfoming cars in the world, at an extremely low price (compared to the other cars in its category).

        HD could have gone somewhere with Buell that didn’t end in a dumpster fire.

    • Jeremy says:

      Actually, I think this – HD branded and flavored products for other market segments – was the way to go all along.

    • FreddyJ says:

      Actually Provologna, I did own a 2000 Buell M2 Cyclone for several years. I thought it was a fun streetbike in its element, but the vibration, oil leakage, and awful transmission got old quickly. I thought that Buell did a pretty good job of making due with outdated technology, but when Buell tried to design a modern liquid-cooled powerplant, H-D hijacked the design to fit their V-Rod, making it unusable for a sporting platform in the process. Buell was just starting to make real progress when H-D pulled the plug, seemingly out of nowhere. I thought this was a huge mistake at the time, and it looks like H-D might be proving me (and many others) right.

  30. Dave says:

    I’m hoping the work Harley is doing will save the company, I really am.
    I like the Bronx styling a lot, but the weak engine is a no go for me. It should at the very least be competitive with other “street fighters”. Okay, maybe if it sells for around 8-10K it would be a winner but to anemic for my liking.
    The Pan America might be okay but the ugly styling, I don’t think I could get past that and I’m a KTM guy. KTM’s are hard on the eyes also but their performance sells me every time. I would love to ride an American bike but so far in my life time I haven’t seen anything that works for me. Buell was very close, but we all know what HD did to him.
    I’m thinking the ship is sinking. Maybe they’ll just become a boutique bike manufacturer.

  31. Brad B says:

    Kudos to HD for putting these out. I don’t know how well the Pan-Am will be received, but I have hopes for the Bronx. Ideally (for me), in a couple of years they’ll evolve the platform from the initial offering and stick the 1250 in an upscaled version of the Bronx, with fully adjustable suspension and other modern amenities. I had high hopes for the XR1200 when it was announced, and what was brought to market was a complete dud. I contemplated gray market importing a Yamaha MT-01, but it was just not reasonable to do in California. For years I’ve wanted an American motorcycle that wasn’t a cruiser, and this year Indian delivered. I love my FTR 1200 S, and wouldn’t hesitate to park a Big Bronx next to it.

  32. downgoesfraser says:

    Wow, has to be a comment record, but news flash………Not going to help Ha/Da. My age just hit Gronk’s favorite number and riding my last bike, a ’97 Monster, unless I find a used 999 for almost nothing. Mic says a record number of bikes registered, but my experience is that most are ridden less than 500 miles/year, garage jewelry. Expensive toys are not going to bring back the magic.

  33. Tom Shields says:

    The front end of the Pan America screams “AMF.”

  34. Rapier says:

    In the mid 90’s when the Harley thing exploded with the aging boomers and dealers were charging above list price sometimes I predicted that the top was in. I figured their slow steady increase of production would slake the thirst. OK, I was 20 years off.

    Harley will never sell non Harley’s in decent numbers. You know what I mean. A Harley is more than a motorcycle. It is a fetish, a religion, a way of life. Idolatry and worship could fit in descriptions of Harley people. Harley is an ideology. It’s far more than a motorcycle. Harley isn’t really selling motorcycle. They are selling entre into a culture. No Pan American will do.

    It’s an odd almost unique story of branding. Harley is among the most recognizable brands in the world. That has been it’s blessing and now it’s curse. Harley will never die. It might reorganize and be taken private someday. The brand is almost priceless. The stock, not so much. Actually it being a publicly held corporation has been bad for it.

    • RyYYZ says:

      Most importantly, a Harley is a cruiser/bagger. Harley has pretty much defined itself that way. And they’re pretty good at making those. Honestly, if you want a cruiser, until recently there was H-D, and a bunch of pretenders.

      But now H-D is moving into the role of pretender, trying to take business from companies who have well established reputations for producing high quality, high value, high performance bikes.

      Outside of cruisers, I don’t thin the H-D badge has much pull on the typical buyers of other types of bikes. Maybe some Americans will be attracted to a “made in America” option, but enough to make a difference? They’ll have to be competitive on value, and honestly I’m not convinced that H-D’s corporate culture really understands how to compete on value.

      • Tom K. says:

        I think the “Turn-about is fair play” rule applies here, remember when all the Japanese companies started producing cruiser variants when HD was dominating in the 90’s? If people quit eating chicken for some reason, you’d probably see “Kentucky Fried Hamburgers” signs start popping up.

    • Fred N says:

      HD and Coca-Cola are both seen by Americans as US as the US Flag.
      But Coke has done far better Worldwide as it has marketed itself as an International Company that co incidentally just happens to be US owned.
      That’s the big difference away from the USA.

      HD’s Ownership model is physically in the Old Folks Home, BUT Coke has 2 year old’s to whatever age as their market, and has been swiftly releasing new non sugar product to keep Customer base.
      Which US Company got it right ?

      As HD keeps choosing to wrap their Image (I am not referring to the 2 models here) around their past, I’ll buy more of those dearer Coke share’s.

  35. Salvatori Fartzollotti says:

    Motorcycles in general aren’t selling. There’s still new 2018 Japanese bikes on floors across the country. Same with European bikes. And Harleys.

    Some people hate just plain HATE Harley-Davidson. They’re not buying anything. The truth is few are buying motorcycles and while some companies can say their sales are up compared to a year or two ago, that’s kind of like when Victory would say something along the lines of “…sales are up 100% from last year” when the sad truth is if you only sold 100 bikes and then you sell 200 including units that have sat on floors or in warehouses, that’s just being disingenuous.

    These HD bashers are usually the same whiners that claim (when it comes to just about any model of any Japanese or European bike) “if only it…”

    Bikes are expensive to buy and maintain. People can sit here furiously typing about how the “love” the new Honda/Kawasaki/Ducati/Suzuki/Yamaha/KTM but they sure as shinola aren’t buying them. “Love”. Yeah, right.

    Because when it comes time to actually pay for something these folks ain’t puttin’ their money where their foot is. Which is a BIG reason why Buell keeps going under.

    • william casella says:

      Very well said and very accurate!
      Totally agree.

    • RyYYZ says:

      Lack of general interest in bikes is killing the resale market. For those who aren’t made of money, that makes it even harder to move on/up to a new bike. I’ve got a 5 year old Yamaha Fazer 8 at home that I tried to sell last year. The only offer I got was a lowball offer at $2500. For a bike that retailed for $11300 in 2013 (I bought leftover in 2014 for $8300). I’d almost sooner burn it than sell it for that little.

      • todd says:

        I don’t think it’s general disinterest, I think it’s a flooded market. There are literally many thousands of used bikes for sale in my area right now. If you want to compete with all these sellers for a relatively small number of buyers, how desperate are you?

  36. Wendy says:

    The Pan America adds nothing to the ADV touring market. It will be a first year problem child, and priced at the high end of the market, due to H-D tax. The dealers will have trouble with the concept of bth bikes, since they aren’t traditional Big Twins.the uybig public considers H-Ds to be “old guys” bikes, quite rightly.

    The Bronx has a nice look, but the Pan American is fugly. I have owned ADV bikes and my heart runs to BMWs so I am not immune to paying premiums and loving fugly bikes. But H-D had a chance to introduce something truly new in the language of design, and missed it.

  37. Matt says:

    The Bronx seems to be a little too much “me too” with styling that appears to be lifted straight from the design studios of the European makers. It’s nice, but a little too familiar. The Pan America on the other hand is polarizing to say the least. It reminds me of Street Hawk from the 80’s t.v. show, with a retro style toaster for a headlight housing. Some designs have grown on me, but this I guarantee won’t. If it doesn’t have some real performance cred, I doubt that it will succeed.

  38. Evan says:

    I think this an example of too little, too late. Power figures are a huge selling point in both of these categories, and both bikes are low in power compared to the market. This is no doubt to their adherence to the narrow V engine design. Pricing is a big ?, but I assume its going to be high. I consider myself an optimist, and get excited about new bikes pretty easily and I am not a fanboy of any particular brand. These bikes just don’t do it for me though.. The Bronx is “ok”, but the Indian FTR1200 seems like a better choice here in this style.

  39. Mark says:

    I think the Bronx looks great. My concerns are that it’ll be too heavy and too expensive. If it’s competitive with the Triumph Speed Twin, Yamaha XSR900, and Ducati Scrambler, and if the dealer don’t totally screw things up like they did with Buell, I think it could be a winner.

    I think the Pan America looks ugly and will have a really rough go of it with its existing competition.

  40. Wishing HD the best, but I have concerns about their ability to market these new entries in the US. In my experience, many HD owners and riders (and some dealers) are a unique breed, and some seem to believe that the brand has been annointed by God to reign supreme on Planet Earth. My attorney, in his 60s and never having straddled a bike, informed me last week that he was buying a Harley. I advised against it, but said if he was determined to take the plunge, to get the smallest, lightest offering in the showroom. Unfortunately, for me, looking at a Harley is like looking in a mirror; antique design, outdated technology, overweight, underpowered and lacking ground clearance. Hopefully the latest from Milwaukee will break that mold.

    • TimC says:

      It still amazes me how people just don’t get that riding needs to be learned and a large heavy bike for doing so is a really terrible idea – there’s no way this guy will get the smallest/lightest because a) Pose Factor nonexistent, and b) obvious build quality issues. They don’t sound like Harleys either (I saw one in the wild and was actually shocked when I figured out what it was). If H-D had the reputation for more than one basic bike, these forays into other territory would work better, but even if it’s not too little too late they’ve got a long steep hill to get up at this point.

  41. Buzzard says:

    I think the Streetfighter looks great. Depending on price will determine how well it sells. We’ll just have to see if HD can compete in other types of markets. They do have great “cruisers “ though. They’ll be at the show November 20-22. We’ll see then.

  42. bmbktmracer says:

    I think Harleys have to be cool. They don’t have to be fast, cheap, light, or anything else. They have to be cool like Jeep Rubicons are cool. Rubicons are dramatically over-priced and pretty much suck everywhere except crawling over boulders, but people love them because of what they represent. Are these bikes cool? Not to my eye. They look like they were designed by focus groups, not a guy who restomodded his own El Camino and has a dog that everyone thinks is ugly.

  43. helitack32f1 says:

    I am actually fairly excited by these two bikes. The ADV bike looks good in the dirt but if I bought one I would make it a point to NEVER walk around the front of the bike for fear of being caught off guard by the sheer hideousness. The Bronx is pretty good looking so far, from distance, in dark photos. Price and build quality will be everything. I’m just not sure Harley can build a quality bike and have an acceptable price while still making money.

  44. Tom R says:

    Goodness, the cynicism in many posts here is as thick as the middles of most still-existing H-D riders.

    Yes, the company’s short sightedness and perhaps arrogance kept them from developing these models 5-8 years ago as they should have. But, better late than never. I look forward to seeing them in all their non-chromed glory.

  45. EZMark says:

    I hope the build quality is better than the Street 500 & 750.
    Those things are junkpiles.

  46. Anonymous says:

    Harley Davidson Really needs to get back to customer Service skills. Whatever you but, be it new or used the customer shouldn’t have to be made to feel like they made a Bad Decision

  47. Skybullet says:

    First they blew it with token support of Buell. Harley under funded and dealers did not know how to sell a more modern not-a-Harley bike. These bikes will suffer the same fate with nothing to distinguish them but the Harley name. Agusta was another missed opportunity. Survival now will mean cutbacks/layoffs. Hopefully future products will appeal to their customer base. I would suggest a Trike (or Quad) with features that far surpass the aftermarket versions out there as a first step. Indian is doing what short sighted Harley management should have done years ago. Focus on the next quarter’s profit is not long term planning.

  48. JC says:

    I agree with Jim. Dealer support, competitive pricing and competitive products will sell some bikes. I don’t see the ripoff. I owned a MT-01 and don’t really see a comparison. It did have a single gauge, but many bikes have for many years. The big V-Twin was a Harley thing long before Yamaha ever built a motorcycle, so I’m not sure how it is a rip-off. Either way though, either people like it or they don’t.
    Now, cue all the traditional HD riders, and lifelong HD haters so they can tell us how they hate these bikes.

  49. Jim says:

    HD is entering two very competitive segments of the motorcycle market. If these bikes measure up to the competition, are priced competitively, and supported by the dealers I think they will sell. They don’t need to be the fastest or lightest, just competitive.

    HD has dealers everywhere. If the dealers show some enthusiasm about these bikes their network gives them somewhat of an advantage. I own a KTM and Triumph. The Triumph dealer near me went out of business years ago. There is a KTM dealership close by, but their support is a bit spotty. So far I have discovered they don’t stock spark plugs, oil filters, and tires for my bike. This is not unusual and are factors in HD’s favor if they play their cards right.

  50. Fred N says:

    Very obvious styling from behind the bars straight rip off from the Yamaha MT01 and the V4 motor look that bike inherited from the big 1700cc Warrior cruiser.
    Looks OK back from the bars (Yamaha), but ugly HD dual light set up is no go for me.
    Last gasp from HD, non appealing to both Brands of Rider in looks and corporate styling.

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