Fresh off the introduction of Harley-Davidson’s new Hardwire restructuring plan, we have a good look at an H-D patent for a supercharged engine! (Convenient timing, that …).
Production forced induction bikes had their heyday back in the 1980s, when all the Japanese OEMs built blown motorcycles. Now, they’re making a comeback; Kawasaki has the supercharged H2 lineup, and Suzuki has been teasing its own supercharged Recursion concept bike on and off since the mid-2010s. We’ve seen similar designs from other OEMs, too.
Now, we see this patent from Harley-Davidson, showing a supercharger installed on a Big Twin. The drawing shows the supercharger positioned behind the rear cylinder, probably not optimal for cooling, but also probably necessary for aesthetic purposes.
The supercharger runs off the crankshaft, and the patent wording seems to mostly be concerned with the engineering behind making that arrangement possible (see the whole patent here).
Will we see this make production? It wouldn’t be surprising. Harley-Davidson is often jeered at for a supposed lack of engineering. In reality, H-D actually has to go to much mechanical chicanery to build bikes with a traditional look and feel while still meeting emissions regulations and other power and handling improvements. Today’s Big Twins might not look very different from the bikes of 20 years ago, but they’re better in every way.
Forced induction could be the next big step in this process. Supercharging could clean up emissions and should definitely improve the power. Harley-Davidson is being pinched by the competition and tightening regulations. Not only would a supercharger possibly deal with this issues, it would also add a bit of swagger. It’s a rare Harley owner who’d turn down that possibility.