Milwaukee Eight. Two words that will be hugely important to fans of Harley-Davidson’s touring motorycles this year.
For 2017, the venerable American motorcycle company has unleashed its newest and most powerful engine, available in 107 and 114-cublc inch sizes. Yes, inches, which is what enthusiasts would expect from the home of American muscle.
Unveiled to southern Albertans at the recent Calgary Motorcycle Show, the Milwaukee Eight is, says the company, “the most powerful, coolest-running motors we’ve ever built. Smoother, stronger and more durable. With crisper throttle response and truler, cleaner sound,” says press information.
Heat management has sometimes been an issue with riders of certain touring rigs over the years. Initial reviews from various motorcycle publications all laud the the new engine for its power, response and less heat, the highly popular Street Glide model which has recieved particular praise for the engine improvement.
The new Milwaukee 107 — mated to a six-speed Cruise Drive transmission — is now standard on 11 Harley-Davidson models including the Road Glide, Road Glide Special, Road Glide Ultra, Street Glide, Street Glide Special, Electra Glide Ultra Classic, Ultra Limited Low, Ultra Limited and Road King. It’s also the powerplant that propels both Harley trikes, the Freeewheeler and Tri Glide Ultra.
The 114 is nestled in the CVO Street Glide and Limited models.
At the Calgary show, most Harley models attracted swarms of tire kickers with the company offering a huge range of motorcycles to fit virtually any style or rider size. The Street Glide, with its bat-wing fairing, hard locking saddlebags and huge street appeal, is justifiably a top seller. It’s got looks, attitude and like its touring stablemates, is loaded with modern technology including touchscreen infotainment systems and electronic cruise control.
While the Electra Glide has long been the standard bearer for Harley touring rigs, more miles are actually racked up on the Road Glide Special, recognizable by its sharknose fairing. The distinctive fairing with its dual Daymaker Reflector LED headlamps stands out in a crowd and with its low seat height and centre of gravity, the Road Glide is a motorcycle even smaller and lighter riders will have little issue getting off its sidestand.
With capacious saddlebag and trunk storage space, touring riders who like to bring a passenger along will naturally be gravitated to the Road Glide Special or its more traditional long-range touring machines, the Ultra Limited and Electra Glide Classic.
The company has just introduced a new version of the Road King called the Special which has mini-ape handlebars, a blacked-out headlight nacelle and new wheels among its differentiating features.
For boulevard cruising, and wind-in-the-hair highway riding however, nothing speaks out to riders perhaps as well as the Dyna Wide Glide with its long raked-out appearance and forward-set footpegs. This is a motorcycling classic. Riders who like a heritage feel have to look no longer than the aptly named Heritage Softail Classic with its mini ape handlebars and leather covered softbags or the Softail Deluxe which brings the past to life with its spoked whitewall tires.
Motorcycles such as the Superlow 1200T, with its air-cooled Evolution 73.4-cubic inch (1200 cc) engine and compact dimensions, or any other Sportster model, will appeal to riders who perhaps are newer to motorcycling or who prefer a bike that’s lighter and more manageable than the heavyweights.
The Lowrider, with its adjustable seat and handlebars, is a bike that can fit a wide range of body styles and leg lengths. And like all Harleys, it’s supremely customizable, which is part of the fun of motorcycling — hitting the road and showing the world a person’s individuality.
And that’s what Harley is all about — celebrating the freedom of the road in any style a person chooses.