Harley-Davidson is finally taking the wraps off their new “small-displacement” 500 and 750 motorcycles at the EICMA show in Milan. And, surprise, surprise – they’re powered by liquid-cooled V-twins.
Of course, Harley-Davidson’s had the V-Rod for years, and this summer they released a bunch of liquid-cooled touring machines as part of Project Rushmore. But even the Project Rushmore bikes had the rads very discretely hidden away, and on these new machines, the radiator is hanging out there in the open for all to see. And, judging by the comments we’re already seeing around the interwebs, opinions are already divided.
The bikes are powered by Harley-Davidson’s new Revolution X motor (as far as we know, this isn’t a tie-in to that arcade game featuring Aerosmith). It’s a 60-degree V-twin with four valves per head and is mated to a six-speed transmission and belt final drive.
That’s certainly a break with tradition, but the MoCo is going to great pains to keep the faithful happy and is offering a sound clip on their website that’s supposed to prove the new machines still offer the old potato-potato that so many H-D fans love. According to the site, that exhaust was “tuned to perfection” in their “state-of-the-art sound-testing facility in Milwaukee.” In a press release, company senior VP and marketing bigwig Mark-Hans Richer, said “These new bikes are leaner, yet still have a mean streak – they’re the real deal, made of real steel.” In other words, they’re trying to assure customers that Harley-Davidson has not abandoned their North American build ethic.
Details are still limited on the bike’s chassis, but we like some things we hear (mid-mount controls, new suspension, narrow chassis). Other details (low seat) are more worrisome, and make us wonder if the new machine will have sufficient suspension travel. On the 750, there’s a 17-inch front wheel and 15-inch rear with a wheelbase of 1511 mm. They’re claiming a 217 kg wet weight. Braking comes from a single caliper in front and back. We don’t know torque or horsepower numbers.
Aside from engine size (494 cc), the Street 500 seems to have the same specs as the 750. Both bikes feature blacked-out styling that’s popular with bike buyers and manufacturers. along with lines somewhat reminiscent of Harley-Davidson’s short-lived XLCR cafe racer.
The big question is, where will this bike be made? These machines seem to have been designed with the learner market in mind, and there’s a US MSRP ($6,700 for the 500, $7,500 for the 750) on their site; at that low price, we’re guessing much of this bike will be made in India, even if final assembly is in North America.
According to a press release from their Canadian importer, the bikes will be available in Canada in 2015.
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