There’s a rumor going around that Harley-Davidson is working on a water-cooled, four cylinder, v-twin motor with a displacement somewhere between 1,300cc and 1,600cc. The good, the bad, and the ugly after the jump.
Supposedly, the heads of the motor are set at 72º, which is halfway between the bulkier but smoother running 90º setup, and the more traditional 45º setup used on the current Harley Twin Cam and Evo engines. What is especially interesting about this rumor is that each crankshaft throw is to be split 18oº either side of the throw centerline, so that the resulting piston configuration emulates a 90º engine. This arrangement could be in an effort to retain the “Harley” sound of the bike, which the company once tried to trademark.
It seems hard to imagine how this rumor could be true if the final application of the motor is to be on a Harley-Davidson cruiser. A complete departure from an air-cooled, v-twin motor is sure to sour the taste with many die hard Harley riders. However, we can perhaps see this application in a “sportier” cruiser model, similar to the V-Rod, that is aimed to extend Harley’s product line beyond its current loyal fan base. This notion is something the company should seriously consider doing, but so far has had a less than stellar time achieving with the VRSC model line. The brand extension is more palatable, but would still be a big step for the Milwaukee based manufacturer, who had an up-hill battle when simply proposing the Porsche design V-Rod motor.
What we’re more inclined to believe is that the motor could be destined for a different mark under Harley’s control, either Buell or a new brand of motorcycle not yet disclosed. Time will tell both if this rumor should pane out to be truth, and what the final details are.