By Koz Mraz
You’ve heard the saying, “When my ship comes in” referring to when your dreams come true; well, it just happened. You now have every reason to make that dream a reality … no excuses. If you own a Harley, it might be time to upgrade, if you don’t, well maybe it’s time you did. The new 2017 Harley-Davidson touring line is definitely not just factory upgrades and bold new graphics; it’s a paradigm shift that will inspire your personal, epic journey.
First and foremost, powering your new dream machine are the all-new 107 and 114 ci. engines. You’ve probably already heard the praise and accolades about what Harley formally calls the ”Milwaukee Eight”. In moto-journo circles the slang term “Musclehead” has been bantered about; I like that.
Turns out Harley-Davidson Director of Styling Brad Richards on the aesthetics inspired the Musclehead moniker. “The Milwaukee-Eight engine is styled to project power. I compare it to the back of a swimmer; lean in the waist but broad and muscular in the shoulders. The rocker covers look like skin stretched taut over muscle, like the rocker arms are about to burst out of the engine. For the first time since the Knucklehead, the rocker covers reflect the action going on below, and they are massive.”
This all new Milwaukee-Eight retains the classic 45-degree V-twin architecture and powers all 2017 Touring and Trike models, in two displacements and three variations:
- Milwaukee-Eight 107 (107 cubic inches, 1,750cc) with precision oil-cooled cylinder heads for the Street Glide, Street Glide Special, Road Glide, Road Glide Special, Electric Glide Ultra Classic, Road King and Freewheeler models
- Twin-Cooled Milwaukee-Eight 107 with liquidcooled cylinder heads for the Ultra Limited, Ultra Limited Low, Road Glide Ultra and Tri Glide Ultra models
- Twin-Cooled Milwaukee-Eight 114 (114 cubic inches, 1,870cc) with liquid-cooled cylinder heads for the CVO Limited and CVO Street Glide models
Compared to the Twin Cam 103 and 110, the Milwaukee-Eight’s increased displacement, higher compression ratio and four-valve cylinder heads provide 50 percent more intake and exhaust flow capacity resulting in 10 percent more torque across the board. Bikes equipped with the new engine are claimed to accelerate much faster off the line (8-11 percent quicker at 0-60 mph) and in top gear rollons (11-12 percent quicker at 60-80 mph).
The Screamin’ Eagle line of street-legal performance parts is always there too, if you feel the need for even more power. Stage I, II and III kits can deliver up to a 24 percent increase in torque over the stock engine.
Back to the Milwaukee-Eight; Better air flow and combustion, including the use of dual spark plugs for each cylinder, are said to improve fuel economy. Precision oil or liquid cooling of the cylinder heads as well as repositioning the rear exhaust pipe and relocating the catalytic converter improves heat management, providing a more enjoyable riding experience for the rider and passenger.
As with the Twin Cam engine, the Milwaukee-Eight’s rocker arm-actuated valves never need adjustment. But instead of the Twin Cam’s dual camshafts there’s a single, chain-driven camshaft that’s lighter, quieter, less complex and reduces friction. The rubber-mounted Milwaukee-Eight uses an internal counter balancer to cancel 75 percent of primary vibration at idle, for a less eyeball-shaking experience at stops. Harley says the new engine’s reduced mechanical noise allows the exhaust note to take on richer tone.
That said I can attest fully to the Motor Company’s claims. I spent several days riding the Pacific Northwest and without a doubt this is the Harley of my dreams. Playing musical chairs on the entire touring line and riding a variety of terrain, these new Musclehead’s kick ass. Truthfully I cannot wait to get on my first long term test ride and run her through her paces. More power is instantly apparent and the mix of reduced mechanical noise and vibration is sublime.
Other improvements include a 50 percent increase in charging output for powering accessories, slimmer primary and air cleaner covers for more legroom, and—always important on Motor Company machines—enhanced curb appeal. Also, all bikes with the Milwaukee-Eight are equipped with a low-effort Assist and Slip Clutch.
All of the 2017 touring models are making use of the commendable Showa Dual Bending Valve forks featuring 4.6 inches of travel. In the rear, emulsion shocks with adjustable spring-preload is available—no tools necessary. The rear shocks are easily hand adjustable when the bags are removed and feature plenty of spring-preload adjustment. Harley found that customers just weren’t properly attending to their air-suspension resulting in stiffer rides. Problem solved.
CVO owners demand performance, and neither the Street Glide nor the CVO Limited disappoint. Again, Harley says torque is up 10 percent over the 110ci engine from 2016, which would be about 127 pound-feet. Personally I found the Twin Cam 110 a bit twitchy and the Milwaukee-Eight 114ci Musclehead is much smoother at idle, has better throttle response, a much lighter clutch, and kicks off noticeably less heat. As with the 107ci version, it pulls power well up the rev band.
Lastly, the infamous V-Rod line has come to an end; this is the last year of production. A visionary motor design 15 years ago that never really found the right niche.
So just who are there motorcycles targeted for? Harley -Davidson core riders. Ultimately, the 2017 touring line is the embodiment of a long list of significant improvements over the years. Everything from a new frame design, aerodynamics, saddlebag functionality to the all new power plant. All this adds up to only one thing, a more comfortable, enjoyable and exciting journey in the saddle for us and our passengers. We are the riders who’ve spent decades riding and know exactly what we want in a touring motorcycle and the new Harley-Davidson’s deliver. And for the new group if touring enthusiasts they’re timing impeccable because their ship just came in.
– 2017 Harley-Davidson Road King – New model
– 2017 Harley-Davidson Street Glide – New model (USA, Canada)
– 2017 Harley-Davidson Road Glide – New model (USA, Canada)
– 2017 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Special – New model
– 2017 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Ultra – New model
– 2017 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special – New model
– 2017 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic – New model (USA, Canada)
– 2017 Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited – New model
– 2017 Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited Low – New model