The end of days must be close at hand. Harley-Davidson has introduced two new models for 2014 that have water-cooled engines. I’m not talking about the VRods with the Porsche engines either. I’m referring to a new 103 engine design. So don’t bother replying and tell me” coolcycledude the VRods have water-cooled engines, you dummy!” Yep, I know that already. Already wrote about the VRod . Checkout my past blog post. Already rode the VRod a few times. I’m in the loop don’t you worry.
Water cooled engine is a little miss leading. HD is not running water through the cylinder jackets. Only the exhaust area on the cylinder heads has water removing that horse power robbing heat energy from the engine. This isn’t a new idea either. Moto Guzzi does a similar thing using engine oil instead of water. But generally the Moto Guzzi engine holds considerably more oil than the HD’s engine.
But either way this is paradigm shift for Harley Davidson. Harley-Davidson is probably under a lot of pressure from the EPA to meet elevated emission requirements here in the United States. Harley-Davidson also wants to sell their motorcycles in the European countries. The EU in some cases has stricter standards and is not interested in any compromises.
Without a doubt this is a very risky move for HD. This adjustment is almost like tampering with the filling material inside of Twinkies. Lucky for Twinkies somethings don’t have to be changed. But sometime you have to change to remain competitive. Really, Harley Davidson doesn’t have choice! Without change there’s no opportunity for growth or expansion. I’m going to guess that non-Harley riders / owners will start to take look at these new models with renewed interest because of this modification.
I got a chance to ride a 2014 Ultra Limited a few days ago. The ambiance of motorcycle seemed the same as the previous year. Also, you had to look pretty damn hard to determine if the engine was water-cooled or not. I’m sure HD designed it that way. The new GPS / radio / iPhone control unit is way beyond cool. It’s a milestone for technology incorporated into motorcycle. I think I’m going have to buy one of these motorcycles! Of course, that’s if it’s okay with the wife.
Also,the brakes have a advanced linking system. The reason I use the term advanced, is because under a certain speed the brakes operate independent of each other. From what the salesman told me at the Harley dealer above 25 mph the brakes are linked.I’m a big fan of link brakes I know a lot of people complain about it they say that it’s dangerous on roads that have gravel or other loose materials on them. I’ve been able to manage my link breaks on all surfaces without sliding my Honda Goldwing across the pavement for years now.Harley is also decided to beef up the front forks to increase ride stability.
The only thing that I’m worried about is that Harley Davidson is starting to “Hondaize” their motorcycle’s engines. I own a 2012 Softail Deluxe with the 103 B engine. I love the characteristics of air-cooled V-twin with two valves per cylinder. For me it’s not about power or speed. It’s about the journey. But with that said, I can’t be afraid of change. So if HD is going to start water cooling their future engines to stay competitive, I’m on that bus baby!
I’m sure the Harley-Davidson purists are already mounting a campaign to rectify this tampering with their sacred V twin engines. I know they’re still pissed off about removal of the carburetor. I’m pretty sure some cars are going to be turned over and set on fire in front of Harley-Davidson’s corporate office.
So hopefully next year I’ll be saying “more Harley-Davidson antifreeze please” to the parts person at my local HD dealer.