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Posts Tagged ‘Project RUSHMORE’

"M-8" top view showing tubular rockers

“M-8” top view showing tubular rockers

It happens every year and often it’s big news.

This year the launch of the Harley-Davidson 2017 motorcycle line-up is anchored by the new Milwaukee-Eight™107 and Milwaukee-Eight™114 power plants.

A couple weeks ago I posted about a new eight-valve Big Twin and now we know the rumors are true.  The displacement of the standard version is 107ci (1,750cc) or in the CVO version it’s 114ci (1,870cc). The 2017 touring models get these engines first and may waterfall down to other models later in the year.  The 107 uses precision oil-cooled cylinder heads and will be in the Street Glides, Road Glides, the Electra Glide Ultra Classic, and Freewheeler trikes.  A Twin-Cooled version with liquid-cooled cylinder heads and radiators will be in the Ultra Limited models, the Road Glide Ultra, and Tri Glide models.  The CVO Limited and CVO Street Glide models will have the Twin-Cooled Milwaukee-Eight 114.

M-8: Four-valve combustion chamber and the dual spark plugs

M-8: Four-valve combustion chamber and the dual spark plugs

You might recall that the last major design evolution of the Twin Cam — and a significant part of the Project RUSHMORE and marketing campaign — was anchored on improving power plant cooling.  This took the form of circulating liquid coolant in tubes around each cylinder head’s hot exhaust valve seat and then to external radiators.  Many riders neglected to notice much in the way of decreased heat from this method of trying to get more power out of the 103.

So let’s talk details of the new eight-valve “M-8”.
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M-8:  Cutaway shows cooling areas of circulating liquid (Blue)

The 107 (3.937 x 4.375-inch bore and stroke) is cooled by pumping oil through it and then through a “chin radiator” ahead of the crankcase. In the 107 and 114 Twin-Cooled models (the 114 has 4.016 x 4.500-inch cylinder dimen­sions), water/antifreeze coolant is circulated through a cored heart-shaped passage that encircles the exhaust valves and then through radiators mounted forward to either side of the engine, as we’ve seen.  The new engine uses a nearly flat chamber of minimum surface area with four valves and abandons the large surface area of the traditional deep, modified hemi two-valve combustion chamber found in the old design.  The new engine operates at high compression ratios (as high as 10.5:1).  As a result, the 2017 Touring motorcycles will provide 10 percent more torque.  Harley states that will translate into two to three bike lengths faster from 0–60 mph, and one to two lengths quicker in top-gear 60–80-mph roll-ons along with improved fuel economy.

Overall airflow capacity of the “M-8” is 50 percent greater versus previous Big Twin engines, and the throttle body now has a 55mm bore.  Each cylinder has an acceleration-type knock sensor along with ECM control which protects the engine from detonation.  The new system is an improvement over the previous ion-sensing knock detection.  The exhaust components, including the catalyst, have been relocated to help move engine heat away from rider and the new engines have a single four-lobe camshaft with automatic hydraulic tensioner in place of the Twin Cam’s pair which will help reduced mechanical noise.

And in a first for the rubber-mounted Big Twin is a single counter-rotating internal balancer.  It’s meant to eliminate 75 percent of the engine’s primary shaking force.  In addition, idle rpm has been cut from 1,000 to 850 rpm all in a effort to give riders improved engine smoothness.  Other engine items of note is a new higher capacity alternator along with a new 1.6 kW (2.14 hp) starter that replaces the previous 1.2 kW (1.6 hp) units.  There is a self-torque-boosting clutch with Brembo hydraulic actuation for a lighter lever pull and the engine ECM has been changed from a mapped system to torque-based which will be interpreted as a call for a specific torque level, not a specific throttle angle.

On the motorcycle side, the front and rear suspension is new.  The new 49mm fork contains “dual bending valve fork technology” and uses cartridge-style variable-orifice damping valves, which Harley claims will deliver improved control at low speed without harshness over sharper bumps.  This wasn’t achievable with the old system of fixed damping.  Touring fork travel is 4.6 inches on standard models and 3.9 inches on low models.

After doing a quick H-D web site scan on the CVO Street Glide and CVO Limited models — it looks like the MSRP price went up $1K from 2016 ($36,799) to 2017 ($37,799).  The same $1K increase is also shown for the CVO Limited ($39,999 to $40,999).

Only you can decide if the new 117 engine, the new suspension along with the radio power adjustment warrants the price increase.

Photos courtesy of H-D.  Engine detail/stats courtesy of Cycle World.

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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Sturgis Rally 2016 -- 76th

Sturgis Rally 2016 — 76th Year

Life is about choices. What to wear, what to eat, where to ride… And if you pondered each one in advance, trying to get it exactly right, you’d be left far behind and barely make it out of your house.

There’s something unique about touring by motorcycle whether it be spontaneous or calculated.  Some riders want a state-by-state listing of the best motorcycle roads with in-depth descriptions of each highway and ratings for the road’s scenery, surface quality, and a description of the best greasy food stops.  They obtain motorcycle maps, get motorcycle trip tips, reviews, suggestions, and more.  Others are just fine to point the front wheel in a direction with back roads, freeways and cornfields without ever looking at a map.

I’m having some personal restlessness and feeling a bit starved for rides this year. I was aiming for Laughlin, Sharkweek/Sturgis and Reno, but circumstances eliminated the first two.  I don’t need to worry about Reno, yet. Although, when I last looked, I see all the local hotels have already raised their rates for those dates.  Then I remind myself that the best rides I take are never the trips to any of the big rallies anyway.

And speaking of the heightened motorcycle adventure called Sturgis (August 6-13th) — prep is in full swing for the 76th Rally celebration which starts in a couple weeks.

Last year Harley-Davidson announced that the motor company is now the “official motorcycle” of the annual Black Hills Rally in Sturgis, South Dakota (through the year 2090!). And until November 2015, nobody had ever successfully trademarked the name of a city, but Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Inc. is the official sponsor of the Sturgis Rally and it has trademarked “Sturgis,” “Sturgis Motorcycle Rally,” “Sturgis Rally & Races,” “Take The Ride To Sturgis” and “Sturgis Bike Week.” The corporation has also trademarked the official Sturgis rally logotype or picture mark. The oldest of these trademarks dates to 1997 and the most recent was registered in 2011, just before their suit was filed.  The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Inc., won that trademark infringement case against Walmart.

But, I’ve moved off topic where every American should try at least once the Legendary Steak Tip Dinner at the Loud American Roadhouse (no colors policy strictly enforced).

Harley-Davidson dropped a press release to outline all their plans at the 76th Sturgis Rally (HERE).  A quick re-cap is:
  • The Harley-Davidson Rally Point is a their permanent year-round space in Sturgis that will feature events and live music daily from the stage.
  • Kick-off Party for the 76th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Friday, Aug. 5, at 3 p.m.
  • Rides:
    • Mayor’s Ride featuring Grand Marshal Ben Bostrom, Monday, Aug. 8.
    • Harley-Davidson Editor’s Choice Bike Show, Tuesday, Aug. 9- Registration 8 a.m./Awards 4 p.m.
    • First Ever Angel’s Ride, Friday, Aug. 12 – The number of women riders is on the rise.
    • Free Motorcycle Demo Rides on the 2016 line-up.  Staging for demo rides takes place in the parking lot behind the Community Center
  • The Project RUSHMORE Experience is a behind-the-scenes and hands-on look at H-D’s latest touring motorcycle technology
  • H-D Fit Shop and Genuine Motor Parts & Accessories area is new this year will have a “Quick Install” area for 30-minute or less installations of selected accessories for your motorcycle.
  • Better than a selfie stick!  Pro Bike photos taken of you/your bike to post on social media and an option to purchase the photo as a keepsake.
  • Hollywood Harley Bikes from the movies Captain America and Avengers will be on display including Steve Rogers and the hero bike from FX’s Sons of Anarchy TV show will be located on a red carpet area

In addition, there are many, many other “not-to-be-missed” activities around town, in the camp grounds and at various music venues.

Whether you are spontaneously twisting throttles to South Dakota or making a road trip that is highly calculated — Enjoy!

@HarleyDavidson social media is providing wall-to-wall coverage at #LiveYourLegend.  The official H-D Sturgis App, is at:  www.h-d.com/sturgis.

Photo courtesy of H-D.
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Project RUSHMORE on the prototype table.

Project RUSHMORE on the prototype table.

Pop quiz time.

What does Project RUSHMORE mean?  Can you explain the concept in the amount of time that it takes to pour your favorite refreshment?

Insert  — 30 second timer with Jeopardy “Thinking” music…

Give up?  Well according to Harley-Davidson’s U.S. Media Relations Manager, Jen Hoyer: “The term Project RUSHMORE has a dual meaning. First, it’s rooted in the image of Mount Rushmore and its significance to many motorcycle riders around the world as the iconic destination of a dream ride – along with the relationship to Sturgis and the South Dakota’s Black Hills. It’s that kind of motorcycle journey that brings Harley-Davidson products to life.

Early drawing of Project RUSHMORE

Early concept drawing of Project RUSHMORE

“Second, RUSHMORE is also about the combined ideas of ‘rush’ and ‘more,’ representing the performance and features Harley-Davidson has designed into new motorcycles. Working with our customers, we’ve created motorcycles that allow us all to see more, feel more, hear more and of course rush more. We wanted this era of Touring bikes to be distinguishable in terms of all the changes that we made.”

From my vantage Project RUSHMORE was simple.  The factory talked to thousand of riders, asking what kind of improvements, gadgets and updates they would like to see. Then, they took the unusual step of actually engineering and incorporating the best of these ideas into production bikes.  Imagine that.  A business culture where you ask the customer what they want and then provide it!

Initially eight models were retooled and enhanced under Project RUSHMORE, making it the largest new model launch in Harley’s history.  Innovative marketing mixed with a proactive approach to customer satisfaction.

Photo taken by author at the H-D Museum.
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Sunset in Sturgis, SD

Sunset in Sturgis, SD

The city of Sturgis, S.D. inked a deal with Harley-Davidson which is timed for this year’s 75th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and made Harley-Davidson the official motorcycle of the rally and for the next 75 years!

I don’t know if that is one of the longest-term sponsorship agreements ever written, but it might be.

Many, but not all people who go to Sturgis ride Harley-Davidsons, and Harley has had a big presence in Sturgis for years. Mt. Rushmore was also the inspiration for Harley’s Project Rushmore line of motorcycles.

During a news conference at the company’s headquarters, they removed a brick from the historic front entrance using a 2015 Harley-Davidson Street® 750 motorcycle. That brick, alongside one from the Harley-Davidson Museum and 73 bricks from the headquarters’ famous motorcycle-only parking area will be delivered to Sturgis on Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

The deal with the city makes the Harley-Davidson’s footprint in Sturgis fairly permanent: there will be a Harley-Davidson-branded plaza on Main Street built with some of the bricks from the company’s century-old headquarters in Milwaukee. The venue will have a stage for concerts, and events year round.

It will all be completed in time for this year’s 75th Rally.

Photo taken by author in 2012.

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2015 Road Glide

2015 Road Glide

Ideas are a dime a dozen.  Execution is everything.

We know that behind the success is a lot of unseen work by the employees and dealers, but is Harley-Davidson ever executing!

Success is hard work and very few want to do the heavy lifting.  Because it’s boring, because its challenging, because no one is paying attention and it might not pay off in the long run.

However, passion and excitement are contagious and leading the Q3’14 financial news announcement is how the new 2015 Road Glide models were the best-selling 2015 Harleys!  The Road Glide was the highest selling model from the new line-up, yet only constituted 4% of the net retail sales this quarter, down from 8% in Q3 2013. This was because the model was only available since the latter part of the quarter, and is now expected to spur domestic sales in Q4.

2015 CVO Street Glide

2015 CVO Street Glide

Sure there was continued strong demand for Street Glides and Ultras, which contributed to the strong sales and the new Rushmore models including the CVO Street Glide, the Electra Glide Ultra, Classic Low and Ultra Limited Low and the Freewheeler, a trike all contributed.

Retail sales at dealers in the US, which account for two-thirds of Harley-Davidson’s business, jumped 3.4 percent in the third quarter as domestic dealers rolled out 50,167 new motorcycles onto the highways.  Keep in mind that motorcycle sales rose this quarter despite a tough comparison with last year’s huge launch of Project Rushmore touring bikes, which had fueled a U.S. sales surge of more than 20 percent.

The stiffer competition from Indian didn’t seem to materialize, but there was a profit hit from an unprecedented number of motorcycle recalls, which cost the company $14 million in the quarter or approximately $0.04 on EPS.

Here are some of the financial stats for Q3’14:

  • There are now more than 1,450 H-D dealers in 90 countries
  • U.S. market segment share (MSS) was flat at 56.3%
  • Harley reported that net income for Q3’14 was $150.1 Million, or 69 cents per share, a decrease of about 8 percent compared with $162.7 Million, or 73 cents per share, in the same period a year ago.  The company cut shipments to dealers who had been saddled with inventory after a slow Q2.
  • Revenue for Q3’14 was $1.3 Billion, down from $1.34 Billion. Supply chain problems with the Street, its newest motorcycle platform, caused the company to delay shipping the motorcycles.
  • Harley dealers worldwide sold 73,217 new motorcycles, up from the 70,517 sold in the third quarter of last year.
  • Harley expects shipments in the fourth quarter of 2014 to increase by3.5 to 5.5 percent from 2013, which had been a record year for sales.
  • 30-day delinquency rate for motorcycle loans was 3.0% vs. 3.11% in 2013.

Congrats to everyone at H-D on the great execution in the quarter!

Photo courtesy of H-D.  Full disclosure:  The author does not own HOG stock or have a financial vested interest in the company.

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The 2015 Road Glide

The 2015 Road Glide

Harley-Davidson officially “revealed” the 2015 Road Glide this morning along with an updated web site with some additional details.

The “reveal” is a peculiar twist given that we’re a few weeks away from the typical new model launch window.  Here is the corporate press release announcing the 2015 Road Glide.  I’m sure it’s just the first stage of a lot of hype and media buzz planned for the traditional post-Sturgis announcements.

Or being a bit skeptical of marketing motives… maybe this H-D reveal is simply a tactic to take away some of the headlines from the 2015 PolarisIndian and Victory news?

2015 Road Glide Inner Fairing

2015 Road Glide Inner Fairing

Back to the Road Glide.

There are two models.  The Road Glide and Road Glide Special.  Both models include the same specifications from Project RUSHMORE that is currently available on 2014 touring models.  There is the air-cooled, high output Twin Cam 103™ with integrated oil cooler mated to a 6-speed cruise drive transmission, the new Reflex anti-lock braking system (ABS) with dynamically, electronically linked brakes for optimum braking in all conditions.  Both Road Glide models include the redesigned saddlebags for a sleeker look and added new latches that you can operate with one hand.

The 2015 Road Glide Fairing

The 2015 Road Glide Fairing

The 2015 Road Glide Special is basically an elevated experience of riding that includes the new Boom Box 6.5 infotainment system which features a 6.5″ full color touch screen display and it can be operated by convenient new hand controls or by voice command.  It also includes display color options: Orange (default), Blue, Brown, Green, Gray, Purple, Red.

There’s a new handlebar on the Road Glide motorcycle for 2015 that makes the riding position more comfortable for a wider range of riders and the hand grips are now 5 1/2″ closer to the rider.  There is also new gauges which has a 10% larger speedometer and tachometer with 68% wider numbers; 28% larger fuel and volt gauges with 30% wider numbers.

Most distinctive is the new triple-vented fairing that opens and closes to equalize pressure in front and behind the windscreen.  Lastly there is the new dual Daymaker LED headlamps providing better nighttime riding visibility.

I’ll be interested to experience how easy it is to reach and adjust the infotainment system.  Previously anyone under 6 feet tall could have an issue reaching up to the radio system.

I’m looking forward to seeing the new 2015 Road Glide at the local dealer.

Note:  If you’re tracking or curious how accurate any of the previous blog posts were:  Road Glide spy photos HERE.  Early 2014 Road Glide speculation HERE and HERE.

Photos courtesy of H-D.

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H-D LiveWire

H-D LiveWire

Charged up, amped out and delivers a jolt…

Just a few of the colorful words used to describe the Harley-Davidson LiveWire which has received so much free and fawning press coverage about the prototype electric motorcycle that you’d think they invented electricity.

I get it.  The motor company builds good products, but does it really deserve wave after wave of gushing prose in every news article?  I blogged previously about the announcement HERE.

Let’s keep it real.  Is LiveWire any better than the other electric motorcycles on the market?  What are the rider advantages of LiveWire vs. other electric rides?  Are there drawbacks of an increasing reliance on electricity for transportation?  No one is reporting on anything other than regurgitating the marketing talking points.

Has the press failed to notice that there are many electric bikes already in use by riders and a growing number of police departments across the country?  From New York to Oregon, and around the world, including in Bogota, Colombia and Hong Kong.  The police versions of the “Empulse LE” by Brammo, Inc., based in Ashland, Ore., and the “DS” by Zero Motorcycles immediately come to mind.

But it gets worse.  The Harley-Davidson president, Matt Levatich tells the world during the LiveWire press tour that Harley’s are longer just for old guys…  Huh?

He must have been basking in a special Milwaukee sun-imitating light that failed to fend off seasonal affective disorder with that alluringly sales quote.

It happened at the Lower Manhattan Harley dealer during the recent LiveWire electric motorcycle test rides.  Mr. Levatich tells the press that Harley would not be forgetting its core customers who want old-fashioned motorcycles.  “We’re absolutely not abandoning any of that,” he stated.  “We’re going to continue to invest in the great traditional Harley-Davidson motorcycles…

As a current core customer, I guess I’m one of the riders only interested in “old-fashioned” motorcycles?  Hey Harley, hashtag this…  #YoureDoingItWrong.

Wow, nothing like slighting the mature motorcycle rider base, the base that has been paying the company bills with a back-handed comment that is clearly all about reaching out to Gen-X’ers and Millennials.  There’s a thin line between appealing to Millennials and pandering.

Yeah, I get wanting to open new doors to people that are outside of the motorcycle sport and only know the brand for its t-shirts.  But, that “old-fashioned” reference is as if Harley has come to terms with an electric future, which excludes their current customers, so let’s spit out aging and old-fashioned insults at them.

If Harley-Davidson LiveWire is “only looking at rider feedback at the moment” then why all the publicity?  You might recall that prior to Project RUSHMORE rolling out on the touring bikes there wasn’t a peep until it launched.  The motor company has by design crafted a publicity stunt and worked at driving social media outreach.  It’s a marketing campaign pure and simple.  And thanks to Harley, Zero had their biggest single day of Internet traffic in the history of the company on the day Harley made its announcement, according to Scott Harden, VP of global marketing for Zero Motorcycles.

Shouldn’t Harley-Davidson be talking to the “right” riders?  And H.O.G. grey-beards aren’t exactly the wrong people to be getting input from, but relying on this user base for feedback on this new GenX or “Millennial” motorcycle is unlikely the most salient feedback from the “right” people.  Shouldn’t they look for those Portlandia-esque grown men on BMX bikes who are ‘riding’ to weekend pubcrawls and who make their living in a variety of ways — some legally and others by any means within their particular skill set?

The fact is that future customers could be from newly wealthy Chinese looking for style, city-dwelling Millennials who need utility and affordability or retirees who want a trike that doesn’t embarrass them.

Whether electrics take off is anyone’s guess and your welcome to label me a gas station-centric oldster.

Photo courtesy of H-D.

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