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Common Tread

Harley gives a first glimpse at new Revolution Max engine

Nov 05, 2019

Today at the Milan motorcycle show, Harley announced two iterations of their newest engine, the Revolution Max.

There’s not a ton of information available, but I’ll give you what they gave me in the press release, a brief analysis of what’s not in the press release, and as a tidbit for our regular readers, a “Toldja so!” that probably speaks more about what Harley is doing than anything having to do with the engines.

Engine pic
No pushrods. No fins. And that sure as hell looks like cylinder offset, which means no knife-and-fork con rods. That's... different. Harley-Davidson photo.

The facts

These engines are both 60-degree V-twin engines, and to my eye, they appear to be unitized. (Looks like Harley and Indian are moving in the same direction, eh?) They’ll be rolled out in two new bikes, now officially announced as the Pan America and the Bronx. The Pan America, a bike Harley describes as being in the adventure-touring segment, will receive the new engine in a 1,250 cc displacement, and the Bronx, what H-D is calling a “streetfighter,” will sport a 975 cc version of the mill with the same name.

These models, a significant departure for the Motor Company, have come with precious few specifications. The 1250 engine is said to produce more than 145 horsepower and more than 90 foot-pounds of peak torque. The 975 is no slouch, delivering over 115 horsepower and 70 torques. Both engines are liquid-cooled, as expected, and dual downdraft throttle bodies are tucked into the vee. (And my Lord, are the radiators huge. I guess factory units off a Wrangler were cheap or something.)

2021 Harley Davidson Pan America
2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America. Harley-Davidson photo.

Harley does give a little peek into what to expect performance-wise. The Revolution Max “is designed to offer flexible performance with a broad powerband that builds to a surge of high-RPM power. Minimizing weight and maximizing performance, the Revolution Max provides a narrow powertrain profile that is integrated into the motorcycle as a stressed member of the frame to enhance center of gravity and handling. The fully balanced powertrain has an internal counter balancer that mitigates primary engine vibration to enhance rider comfort and improve vehicle durability.”

The peanut gallery analysis

OK, so it’s got a balancer, and both motorcycles are going to be of stressed-member construction, and the engines will actually make some power, not shake the shit out of you, and probably offer a reminder of the products Harley used to make without actually being those products. Cool. I also see offset cylinders, which leads me to believe we have offset crankpins, as well. Hell, maybe this thing even uses plain automotive bearings! We are living in the future

2021 Harley Davidson Pan America
2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America. Harley-Davidson photo.

It’s worth mentioning here that Harley is A) listing power specs, which is a departure for them and B) mentioning high-rpm power. They could have thrown any fluff into that press release but they made sure to mention revs. Couple this with H-D’s recent strategy of (what I feel has been) underpromising and overdelivering, and that leads me to surmise that these may be competitive motorcycles.

2021 Harley Davidson Pan America
2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America. Harley-Davidson photo.

We also have photos. I spotted some fun stuff there. I spied with my little eye radial-mount Brembo brakes on the Pan America, grabbing what appear to be fixed rotors, which is a bit of a curiosity. The bike’s wearing Anakee Wild tires, too… pretty aggressive, and those are wrapped around an edge-spoked wheel, a very nice touch. Side and top cases pictured are surely optional, and make me think Givi is building them for H-D, as they do for many other manufacturers. Spurg will be happy, too, that the passenger peg mounts are not welded to the subframe; I know that bugs him.

2021 Harley Davidson Bronx
2021 Harley-Davidson Bronx. Harley-Davidson photo.

The Bronx is no less interesting. I see Michelin Scorcher tires (looks like the 11 tread pattern to me) and the rotors on that bike also appear to be fixed, rather than floating. There's a ton of photos in the gallery; go look and see if you find any interesting clues I missed. (I'm sure you will!)

The toldja so

See that handlebar? Look at the left clamshell. That’s a “normal” turn signal switch, not the usual-for-Harley arrangement. You know, with the right signal on the right clamshell that The Faithful have all become accustomed to over the past thousand years?

Exciting? No. But this is photo evidence of a shift in thinking. Harley-Davidson photo.

They’ve made turn signals for… not their customers. For others. New customers. (The Unfaithful? The Infidels? The Heretics? Those Yet To See The Light?)

New segments, a new engine, and a new way to make a right turn. By and large, these are not the changes their existing customers wanted them to make.

That’s exactly the point.