A new engine from Harley-Davidson is big news. Last week, the Motor Company revealed its new Big Twin engine, the Milwaukee-Eight. Initially, this new engine will appear in the touring lineup, including the Road King, Electra Glide, Road Glide and trike variants – thirteen models in all. Some will get liquid cooling in addition to the air/oil-cooled versions, and there will be two new displacements: 107 cubic inches (1,750 cc) and 114 cubic inches (1,870 cc). Harley promises 10 percent more power and 8 – 12 percent faster acceleration, along with better heat management, lower vibration and a richer exhaust note. The Touring bikes will also get new front and rear suspensions, with easier tool-free pre-load adjustment for the rear. I can’t wait to ride these new bikes.
The engine defines generations in Harley-Davidson motorcycles, as styling evolves slowly.
Over the years, there have been numerous Big Twin engines fitted in Harley touring bikes.
- 1909 – 1911: V-Twin
- 1911 – 1929: F-Head
- 1929 – 1935: Flathead
- 1936 – 1947: Knucklehead
- 1948 – 1965: Panhead
- 1966 – 1983: Shovelhead
- 1984 – 1999: Evolution
- 1999 – 2016: Twin Cam
The first 6 engines got their names from H-D customers, nicknames that stuck as buyers bonded with their bikes. Starting with Evolution, the Motor Company’s marketing department took charge of the nomenclature.
The Milwaukee-Eight probably gets its name from Harley-Davidson’s hometown, hyphenated with a reference to its four valve per cylinder (eight valves total) design.
I can’t wait to ride a new Harley-Davidson Touring bike. Stay tuned for a full review.
You can read my report on the Milwaukee-Eight at Forbes.com.