It seems like everyone is rooting for Harley-Davidson to fail these days, but all it takes is a ride on any of their products to understand how far The Motor Company has come in recent years. Sure, you can joke that all of the big cruisers are too heavy, too expensive, and too old-fashioned, aimed at a dying market. But Harley is building not only the best Harleys in history, but some of the best bikes in history. And with the new watercooled dual-overhead cam VVT twin introduced in the Pan America adventure touring bike, Harley has a great modern engine on its hands, ready to drop into a number of new machines.
The next bike, based on the 1250 Custom prototype unveiled last December, is finally going to be shown in production spec on July 13th. While the Pan America uses this 1250cc Revolution Max engine to produce 150 horsepower and 94 lb-ft of torque, you can expect this 1250 Custom to cut power in deference to torque to fit the cruiser vibe of this sporty forward-controls machine. I’d expect horsepower to still be in the low triple digits, but torque will also be bumped above the 100 mark.
This new Revolution platform engine will be replacing Harley’s long-standing Evolution aircooled motor. That engine has powered the Sportster lineup since time immemorial, and after the old mill failed to meet Euro 5 standards last year, it was canned from the lineup. Harley, therefore, needs to fill its bread and butter lineup, and sharpish.
I really liked the character of this engine in the Pan America, finding it quite similar to Ducati’s old 1260S engine found in the Diavel and Multistrada. It was rev happy and smooth from idle to redline, and provided enough power to both get into and get out of trouble. I look forward to testing this new Sportster replacement in the near future, in fact I’ve signed up to test it in late July. It’s going to be a good time, by the looks of things.
The Pan America shows that Harley is serious about building competitive motorcycles with competitive prices in the future, and I hope that this 1250 Custom continues that trend. Obviously Harley will be aiming squarely at stuff like Indian’s Scout lineup with this new line, and as such, it will likely be priced a little cheaper than the old Sportsters. The Sportster started at just a smidge under ten grand, while Indian sells a stripped-back version of the Scout for just $8,999. Of course, with the number of special editions and ride types Harley can craft from just one platform, there will surely be high-dollar high-power versions of the bike as well. Don’t expect whatever the 1250 Custom becomes to be a cheap one.
The 1250 Custom looks much more compact and low to the ground than the old Sportsters did. If I wasn’t quite as pessimistic as I am, I’d be saying that this watercooled DOHC muscle/sport/cruiser is everything I had hoped the VRSC V-Rod would be.
All I know is that I’m looking forward to the specs dropping in a couple of weeks. It’s okay to get excited about new Harleys again.