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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. René says:

    I was riding a Yamaha V-Star 950 Tourer. I was looking for more comfort , more storage capacity, an intercom system, ABS breaks and day maker lights, this would take care of all my concerns and better passenger comfort would be a bonus. I did my homework over the summer, I even visited the Milwaukee and York H-D factories. Everything the motorcycle guide 2013 identified as issues was fixed in 2014, I was impressed by all the HOG member I met everywhere this summer. I did look at the Goldwing but it is not for a 5-7 person. I was surprise to read an article last week by the Author of the motorcycle guide that didn’t start with all my prayers have been answered. Instead it was all about how the H-D purist would not like the changes and how it was challenging to improve with a large base of purists. Personally I am glad I didn’t buy a 2013 this summer and I spent most of my life improving technology. I ordered my new FLHTK which is actually scheduled to be built today, it comes with everything the 2013 needed as options, I think it’s a great bike and I am very happy with the changes. I think Harley made the right choice, having a radio like it had last year make a novice wonder why it still had a 1970 radio. Hope everyone gets to appreciate the good work done by the rushmore project

  2. john hunn says:

    sorry guys but i wont be buying one this year ,breaking system taking my control ,stereo and junk i cant use ,water cooled ,cant remove fairings ,and it really looks like a hondkawayamsuz if you know what i mean ,i generally buy a new harley every year but its becouse its a DISTINCTIVE HARLEY DAVIDSON all these changes is just like the others ,goodby harley ,we hate to see you go.

  3. tom adams says:

    CHECKED OUT new water-cooled bike (the orange and black) $28, 500. Just another gimmick by HD !
    You can’t change your plugs without the Dealers wanting to Dyno your bike ! Whats next Screaming Eagle
    Anti freeze. Harley’s are over priced and forcing people to look else where.

  4. Craig Hiler says:

    As an owner of a 2012 Road Glide, adding coolant circulation is overdue. Since required to include a catalytic converter, these bikes ping and run like crap in hot weather conditions. 6th gear, with a passenger on the freeway is useless when it’s hot. The heat from the 400 degree catalytic converter coupled with the back pressure from it and the stock exhaust system is unbearable and hard on the bike in heat with stop and go traffic conditions. I felt forced to remove the exhaust for a header. Now it’s louder (which is only a problem to my wife) and I’m technically breaking the law. I think they should recall them all and retrofit them with these coolers.

  5. Frank says:

    Complain all you want but Harley far outsells anyone else in the heavyweight market in the US for many reasons. Most importantly, it’s made by American workers. If that’s not important to you, you should be rethinking your priorities. Secondly, there are over 600 dealers nationwide. I believe there are 4 BMW dealers in the state of Florida. I compared a GW with a FLHTK and was disappointed in that the fenders and side panels on the GW could be crushed between thumb and fore finger. The operation of the luggage, both saddle bags and tour pack, were inferior to the Harley and the GPS/radios on the Harley are superior to the Honda product. I agree that the GW flat six is superb and superior to any V-Twin but the finished product is more akin to a one liter soda bottle than a motorcycle. I am not a slave to Harley, have owned many bikes in my 40+ years of riding. I really wanted the GW to be better than what I saw. And I have not seen a Honda dealer that sells Honda exclusively. They all seem to sell other brands as well, along with emergency generators. In conclusion I chose the FLHTK for the fit and finish, dealer network and exemplary service the network offers. As far as the heat issue, I have been riding in 90+ degree high humidity Florida and can attest that this bike is much cooler than other Harley’s I have owned.

  6. Joe Lewis says:

    I like to see HD making evolutionary improvements to their bikes. They OWN the 1200cc motorcycle business in the US. Their fit and finish are tops in the market and have proven very reliable. The Street/Road Glides are huge sellers. As far as reliability goes they are better than many brands, all brands have their problems.
    I think the Internet allows people to continually bash what ever brand they have issues with. Go read a BMW forum and people hating on the new 6 cylinder tourer, it is brutal. I think we live on a society of complainers with ZERO mechanical skills.
    Water cooling is the way to go. The EPA makes it harder and harder on every manufacturer. I recently saw where a small,niche, HD clone bike company, 50-60 bikes a year, were sued by the Nazi CARB. The bikes didn’t meet California EPA regs. They had to pay a $250,000 fine. Nothing was done to the bikes to improve emissions. Enviro, whack jobs, have destroyed American motorcycle business.
    The reason the HD’s need water cooling us emission related, that simple.

  7. Brian D says:

    I’ve owned Harley’s since the early Ninetys and have never considered anything else until now. I test rode two of the new Indian bikes at Sturges this year and was very impressed. Lots of power, smooth engine, lots of options, for a very reasonable price. I think they will make a small dent in H D sales this year, but that dent will continue to grow unless H D does better than what they have on the table right now. Looking forward to a little American competition in the motorcycle business as H D really hasn’t had any for quite some time.

  8. James says:

    Love the bashing
    but face it, Harley is experimenting with liquid cooling
    it is a shame they have to hide it

    and oh yes, Harley is #1 in HEAVY WEIGHT bike sales and their share is growing……….
    probably because they offer a luxury, leather, steel not plastic, top dollar paint jobs. Stuff people want if they are willing to pay for it. Also in the last few years they have proven to be dependable, offer newer technology and are listening to others but the faithful. Read the Rushmore articles, it is not just the engine they are redesigning.

    Now about water cooling, I rushed down to the local dealer to see it yesterday, I actually was going to buy a new Fat Bob. Well guess what, no water cooling if it is not a cruiser with a place to hide the radiators. Guess I will have to buy a Jap cruiser.

    Yes I would love a HArley, but no one running 1930s technology.
    Harley needs to prove they are a leader, offer 2 lines, one with the big twin air cooled, one with it water cooled. Let the people with money to spend speak.

    • Chuck says:

      Well It finally happens! HD gets the memo…..Technology move forward and gets better! Other newer motorcycle companies have introduced bikes that have more power and better handling be cause of incorporating new technology in their bikes. The other bikes from the USA (Victory and Indian) have taken the challenge to meet the gov. requirements and they have style and dependability. HD problem is that they need to teach the old dog new tricks!

  9. Aaron says:

    I am just at a loss as to why HD felt the need to add more parts and one more liquid (besides engine oil, primary drive oil, and transmission oil) that needs to be changed. My simply solution would have been to add an oil cooler and upsize the oil pump by about 4x. Use the engine oil for cylinder head cooling by spilling massive amounts of oil through the head covers and just pump it through a thermostat-controlled oil cooler to dump the heat that way.

    • joe b says:

      Suzuki experimented with oil cooling and as many found out, it just doesn’t have the cooling capacity of water.

      • James says:

        Victory is oil cooled works very well they had to reduce capacity they ran too cool on short trips.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Water is just a much better option for its properties and especially since the flow can be controlled by a thermostat: flows when it’s needed, slow when it’s not. Your comment really surprises me, though. I can’t believe HD doesn’t use oil coolers. Do HD’s really have a tendency to overheat, or is that just an urban legend amongst the haters?

  10. Carl says:

    I think they should take the vrod engine and find a way to put it in the tourer line. Great engine and more power. Seems like a no brainer. If you called it the Super Dark Tourmaster Elite and painted it in Flat black it would sell like crazy. Add black bars, wheels, bags, pipes etc and call it the Blackster. Oh, and make sure it has orange bulbs in the signals and pin striping.

    Not necessarily a Harley person, but I would rent one 🙂


  11. Bill says:

    Honda Goldwing Comfort/XM/Satnav/ABS 27k-28k
    1. no floor boards for driver.
    2. no heal toe shift.
    3. not as comfortable for a taller rider.
    4. Very poor gas mileage at 34 mpg (rated). My experience was 38 to 40.
    5. no voice control of phone and entertainment.
    6. no 6th gear
    7. CB radio not included
    7. headsets for intercom not included
    These issues can be resolved for about $800 to a $1000 in aftermarket.
    1. Best factor financing.
    2. Reverse (backing up a big bike is nice with reverse)
    3. Water cooling (old Harley is way hotter on a Fla summer day)
    4. Flat 6 engine placement also gets engine away from driver thus is cooler.
    5. Adjustable windscreen (manual)

    2014 Harley Electra Glide Ultra head cooling/satnav/abs 27k-28k
    1. not as cool as the GW but much cooler than before.
    2. no reverse
    3. no adjustable windscreen
    1. voice controlled entertainment and phone.
    2. intercom headsets included
    3. larger gps screen
    4. floor boards and heal toe shifting for greater comfort
    5. better seating position.
    6. way better mpg rated 42. my average is 48 to 50 mpg easy.
    7. Maintenance cost is way cheaper (price an oil change)

    Both bikes are real nice when it comes down to it. Harley provides an alternative to GW and BMW k1600GTL. They have a much better owners group that is supported by the dealership. Harley Rentals are much easier to get as a result of many dealerships having rental programs as a sales tool.

    End result Harley has retained their design and made it better. Honda has done the same. Hopefully all who read do their homework when they buy.

    • Chuck says:

      Victory Vision
      Power windshield
      Long Floorboards
      all the whistle and bells of the HD and Wing
      Better ride
      Better seat
      better handling
      Great cold weather and rain protection
      optional wind vent keep heat away in summer and allow adjustment to keep you warm in winter.

      Most complaints: small saddlebags and styling.. ride one and you will buy one!
      Victory the new American Motorycyle.

  12. Jay says:

    How do they get “more power” in the Rushmore models? If it is mostly just from increased flow through the mufflers and air box, it won’t matter, because no one keeps those stock anyway. If it’s anything that makes the bike run hotter – on the non “cooled” models – they already run pretty hot.

  13. Stocaz says:

    Man that Honda F6B is looking good about now . . .

    • paul says:

      Agreed, I love the locomotive look of that machine, plus it has the handling capability to match its awesome linear power delivery. Incredible bike.

  14. Slim Chance says:

    I bought my last “new” Harley in 1996. Have had no desire to own a newer one. Dropping cylinders to cool the engine was the “last” final straw with respect to technological ass-backwards thinking. Talk about HOT! A friend ferried one back from the West Coast and said it was the hottest motorcycle he had ever been on and the only saving grace was that he travelled a bit at night when the warmth was welcome.

    The V-Rod engine would be just fine in a touring rig.
    As for touring a Honda Goldwing has Harley covered. I’ve never ridden a better mileage eater than the ’93 I owned.

    Porsche finally went water cooled in ’99. They’ve had their share of issues with the 1st generation of those engines but there really was no other choice. You cannot make horsepower without making heat. Porsche realized a “more powerful” air cooled engine could not pass emissions.

    I think the CBS interview was flawed. You shouldn’t talk out of both side of your mouth. Anybody with even a modest knowledge of the Harley engines and the EPA knew this was coming. I’m just surprised it took this long.


  15. cjm says:

    I saw the President/CEO of Harley Davidson on CBS news this morning
    While introducing the new 2014 models, he mentioned the “Rushmore” engine.
    And you know what, he REFUSED to say WATER COOLED.
    He said it like this…
    This is our new precision twin cammed “COOLED” engine.
    At about 1:15
    He refused to say Water cooled…
    I about bust a gut laughing
    Take a look

  16. richard says:

    Holy Harley Bashing…..not to mention its the worlds top selling motorcycle brand…owners love them even with they’re quirks…been selling motorcycles for 33 years…all brands…been selling Harley for 2 years…clearly the easiest brand ive ever sold and reliable…saw more service nightmares at Yamaha…and Ducatis..$$$$

    • Mike Simmons says:

      Worlds top selling brand? Methinks you had best check your “facts” before posting. The CEO said Harley is poised to ship 264K bikes worldwide this year. This is a mere drop in the bucket in world-wide sales. Harley may be the big dog (no pun intended) here in the US, but it’s over all numbers pale in comparison to some other brands.

      • richard says:

        in the cruiser category…thats what Harley sells…Honda sells alot more variety of product….check your #s in cruiser category.

    • mickey says:

      Globally, Honda sold 17.9 million motorcycles in 2010, compared to 15 million in 2009.

  17. Pablo says:

    On top of all that, it puts less heat on the rider and passenger on scorching days and in stop and go traffic.” For me, it’s strictly economics. Much better bikes, more technology and dependability, for less money. But, I do find it interresting that Harley now tacitly admits (see their own statement above), that they have known that they have been roasting their clientelle all along, but have done nothing about it, and now use this fact as a selling point. You can buy any bike you like, it is, after all your money. But I do not appreciate this blantant disregard for my comfort all in the name of more sales. Of course, I knew this while riding with Harley owners. They all seemed to want to stop and rest when in a traffic jam on 100 plus days. Me, I just kept on riding having had the presence of mind to look after my own comfort and not be a slave to someone elses idea of cool. Padon the pun. But then, I grew up fast and early, and learned that status neither feeds me or keeps me warm.

  18. ajax says:

    The new cooling configuration for the 2014 touring rigs are a tepid and non controversial attempt at going the middle of the road. Attempting to place a water cooled system into the design and not make it look too obvious.

  19. jr says:

    people love & buy Harley, but not because of engineering prowess.. huge mistake..

  20. Sam says:

    I like it and think it’s not only beautiful but I welcome improvements and innovation. A cooler engine is cool! I’ve had 3 Harleys and they were fun and had the best dealer support imaginable in the motorcycle world. I ride a 2012 Goldwing now and a 2010 Honda NT700 sport tourer. Sam:)

  21. DenMan838 says:

    It was only a matter of time. Aside from the US EPA, remember that Harley is a “World Bike” and as such, have to deal with environmental government agencies around the globe and meet their ever tightening emissions standards. The air cooled engine is unfortunately, on the way out. As another example, look at Ducati and it’s Monster line of bikes. There are spy shots all over the web showing the new liquid cooled Monsters. No telling when they’ll be rolled out, but they’re coming. (Which kind of makes my Streetfighter soon-to-be-redundant.) Sooner or later (probably sooner) the air-cooled engine will breathe its last gasp. Hold on to the ones you have!

  22. Ed Chambers says:

    I would have much rather seen a real liquid cooled motor it’s not like they don’t know how to build one.They could easily beef up a Vrod (already been done)to create a modern liquid cooled touring bike and keep the old air cooled FLs for the traditionalists who don’t want liquid cooling.To me as a current Ultra Limited owner the liquid cooling is the least desirable of the improvements to the touring line.I’m more interested in the blue tooth,voice activation and GPS features and the new vented fairing and one hand opening saddle bags.

  23. BJ. Fischbach says:

    Until Harley Fixes the Dealer service problems, IE: Smart ass service writers ” The customer is always wrong” attitude. Extended warranty is worthless !!! Bearings and other parts from CHINA, charge alot and put cheap crap into the bike. I’m 61 and retired Army and Navy and try to buy American but this has gotten out of hand. Over 40 yrs. of Harleys for me and I’m thinking of going elsewhere. I just have to dump my 2007 Softail and 2009 Road Glide.

    • James says:

      BJ check out Victory I’ve rode only H-D for 38 years and am now riding my 1st Victory much better than any H-D I ever owned won’t be going back to a H-D

  24. jake says:

    Oil cooling probably will be tolerated but the HD faithful will react negatively to anything to do with water.

    All people want to associate with winners, not losers. If HD goes any further with water cooling, then they open themselves up to fighting on a level which they can’t win. Like Triumph trying to challenge the Japanese in the inline-4 segment. Triumph had to find their own niche to avoid an unfavorable comparison. Focusing their buyers on function rather than lifestyle or making a statement is the last thing Harley wants to do. On the level of function, Harley’s are lacking and laughably overpriced, and they always will be – it’s their business model.

    The heart of the HD movement are blue collar folks who enjoy throwing their thumbs at modernization, globalization, progress, and anal retentive search for the best bargain (the white collar weekend wannabes are just fad followers). Remember, these folks have witnessed first hand the decline of the US manufacturing base, mainly due to competition from more efficient, less individualized, and more function focused, no nonsense parts of the world. Them harboring a great deal of resentment to those parts of world and their values is understandable. In part, HD, the values it represents, serves as an outlet for these people to express themselves and their anger in a non-offensive, subtle manner.

    HD has always been able to get away with deficiency in the function department by acting nonchalant and pretending as if it is not trying, as if it simply does not care (all cool people do the same; this type of attitude goes hand in hand with being cool). With this swagger, it still remains a winner in the eyes of the faithful. Being too obvious that they really do care about function risks them being viewed as losers, as not cool. Not keeping up cause you don’t care is one thing, cause you can’t or due to a lack ability is another thing entirely.

    The white collar buyers are just followers. They are fad followers and will be the first to jump off the bandwagon when HD are no longer considered cool.

  25. KZWillie says:

    Massey-Davidson – Congrats for your leap into the 1970’s.

  26. jake says:

    “No matter how much some of us don’t like this, we have to realize that progress is going to take place”

    Not for Harley. Liquid cooling is a line in the sand for much of the HD faithful. Unless HD can somehow manage to hide all aspects of water cooling, which is virtually impossible, HD will be shooting itself in the foot if it associates itself with this kind of progress anymore than this tepid advance.

    Star, Indian, and Victory all have superior engine performance out of air cool v-twins. Harley does not have to resort to liquid cooling to improve the performance shortcomings of their engines.

    • Paul says:

      I would disagree. As a previous owner of two Harley’s I was compelled to buy the brand due to its heritage, extensive dealer network, image, and reliability (both my bikes were incredibly reliable). I sold my last one for a BMW after coming to the conclusion the bikes were hopelessly under engineered for the times, particularly with regard to cooling. In St. Louis my bike would routinely engage the cylinder deactivation feature, even on cooler days. I would have stayed with the brand given the positive attributes above, if they modernized the design. I think others feel the same based on my interactions. Now, they cannot raise the cost for improved cooling though as the bikes already sell at too steep a premium given the lackluster content and lack of technology.

      I agree with your comment on Victory, having owned two, but do not know firsthand if the new Indian’s run cooler or are any more reliable than an equivalent oil cooled Harley. They key is the Harley needs to incorporate oil cooling into all their bikes from the design phase, not just the tourers. My guess is that Victory and Indian have much higher flow volumes on their oil coolers.

      • Scooter says:

        Test rode an Indian Chieftan this weekend. Thats one HOT running bike. Felt like a Lobster at a barbque. No Thanks I’ll stick with the Harley