RE: Harley-Davidson Milwaukee-Eight: PH2

RE: Harley-Davidson Milwaukee-Eight: PH2

Thursday 17th August 2017

Harley-Davidson Milwaukee-Eight: PH2

A new motor breathes fresh life into Harley's model range



This year has marked something of a revolution for Harley-Davidson, not that you would really have spotted it unless you are a fan of the brand. So what is this revolution? Within its 2017 model range, Harley has released a brand new engine - the Milwaukee-Eight. So what's the big deal?

Power for the next generation
Amazingly (or not, depending on how cynical you are about Harleys), the Milwaukee-Eight is only the ninth big twin motor that Harley have built in its 114-year history and only its third all-new big twin in 80 years! And it marks something of a revolution for the firm in terms of its construction and technology.

So the big bike is a 1.7-litre...
So the big bike is a 1.7-litre...
Developed entirely in-house by HD, the Milwaukee-Eight ticks all the usual Harley boxes with pushrods activating the valves, a 45-degree V-twin layout and big air-cooling fins. But inside the head are not only four valves per cylinder (activated via a new single four-lobe cam), but also a new dual-cooling system. Well, sort of new: a very similar system was used in the XR1200 to help improve its performance as well as the more recent Twin Cam Rushmore series of bikes, but we will brush over that.

Surrounding the area housing the exhaust valves is what Harley is terming a 'strategic cooling' system. By using a four-valve head design instead of the two-valve one, and also adding this cooling system, Harley have managed to make the Milwaukee-Eight run cooler, not only boosting power but also making it pass new emissions laws as it is a cleaner motor. Add to this a totally redesigned gearbox and rest of the motor (which still runs a ride-by-wire system) and Harley are confident this engine will power generations of models for the foreseeable future. And the changes don't stop there.

Cleverly, Harley have designed the Milwaukee-Eight to be as versatile as possible and as well as a water-cooled version (Harley call this twin-cooled so as not to scare off purists), it also comes in a more traditional oil-cooled format, which is identical but flows oil and not water through the cooling system. Add to this a bigger capacity variant for the more exclusive models in the range and it all adds up to a substantial evolution for the brand. But can you actually spot the difference in the ride? PH2 tested a few Milwaukee-Eight machines to see.

... and the really big one is a 1.8!
... and the really big one is a 1.8!
A game of numbers
The base Milwaukee-Eight motor is the 107, which comes in both water and oil cooled guises. The more traditional Harley models (Street Glides, Road Glides and Road Kings) use the oil-cooled version while the touring models (Ultra and Road Glides) use the twin-cooled version. What's the difference? If you look really closely, the water-cooled models have an extra set of radiators covered by shrouds at the front of the bike, but otherwise both motors look physically identical. And they feel pretty much the same to ride as well.

With any Harley engine it is almost impossible to get a power figure from the firm; instead it quotes torque and the addition of twin-cooling only gives you an extra 2lb ft, producing 112lb ft compared to the air-cooled model's 110lb ft. So why do it? Reason is tourers tend to spend their time loaded up and being worked harder and another big benefit of the new motor is the fact it runs cooler than the old V-twins, reducing the chances of cooked (basted?) thighs. However while the two variants feel the same, the actual motor is certainly a major leap ahead in terms of the riding experience.

While still feeling, and more importantly sounding, like a proper Harley, the Milwaukee-Eight adds a massive amount more refinement to the ride quality. It is considerably smoother than the old Twin Cam engine and has far less annoying vibrations. In fact, Harley claims a 75 per cent reduction in vibes, with the 25 per cent left for a nice dose of character. Add to this a 10 per cent increase in grunt as well as a gearbox action that while still not smooth, is certainly less agricultural than before and it really is a significant step forwards for the company. Far from the clunky and old fashioned riding experience many assume a Harley will deliver, the new Milwaukee-Eight is refined, smooth and has a really wonderful throttle connection.

And to think this goes in a bike!
And to think this goes in a bike!
As someone who dips in and out of riding Harleys it was a certainly a surprise how far it had moved their performance on, and I am sure owners of the current Twin Cam range will be equally as impressed by the new motor. However, the best was yet to come...

Go big to go home
Where the standard Milwaukee-Eight 107 is 1,745cc (that's 107 cubic inches in American talk), if you opt for one of the firm's CVO (Custom Vehicle Operation) models you get a bigger capacity 114 engine boasting a whopping 1,868cc with 121lb ft of torque. You have to pay a pretty hefty premium for this with the CVO Street Glide £31,295 and the CVO Limited £33,245, but the ultimate always costs a premium and the CVO models really are something very special.

As someone who isn't really into the whole Harley scene it takes a lot to really impress me, but I don't mind admitting the CVO Street Glide knocked my socks off. It is an absolutely outstanding bit of kit and the 114 engine is a beauty. As well as being ultra smooth on a constant throttle, when you crack the throttle it changes character, thumping and pulsing as it drives forward with huge amounts of torque. It's a beautifully smooth and refined engine that really suits the luxurious nature of the CVO models perfectly and is noticeably more eager to accelerate than the 107 variant.

Power? Nobody really knows...
Power? Nobody really knows...
Is it worth the extra cost? In pure performance terms probably not, but can you put a monetary value on rolling up on a proper head-turner?

The heart of things to come
In some ways I wish Harley shouted a bit more when it developed new technology, but the firm is always stuck in an odd place trying to appease traditionalists while also looking to the future and adopting modern technology. The Milwaukee-Eight motor is a case in point. It is a radical change for the company and has evolved its model's performance, reliability and feel on another giant step, but Harley almost seems embarrassed to show off too much about it. Which is a shame as I reckon this new motor could well attract a few non-Harley riders into the brand, especially ones that are being tempted to try an unashamedly modern cruiser such as the latest breed of Indians. Come on Harley, be proud of what you have built - it's a great motor.

 

 

 

 

Author
Discussion

V8 FOU

Original Poster:

2,441 posts

75 months

Thursday 17th August 2017
quotequote all
Basic architecture of the engine is similar to the TC88.
Very, very deep finning which not only helps cooling, but can reduce mechanical noise.
Very interesting development.

HughiusMaximus

225 posts

54 months

Thursday 17th August 2017
quotequote all
Harley are in trouble in the US, their sales are dropping badly because their bikes just dont appeal to younger riders.

Thats probably why they were linked to the purchase of Ducati earlier in the summer...

Walter Sobchak

4,343 posts

152 months

Thursday 17th August 2017
quotequote all
1745cc?!, I wonder if they've touched the 100 BHP mark yet wink .

Bonefish Blues

10,957 posts

151 months

Thursday 17th August 2017
quotequote all
How much eek

Talksteer

3,021 posts

161 months

Thursday 17th August 2017
quotequote all
Bonefish Blues said:
How much eek
Both Harley's greatest strength and weakness

1: Going with the assumption that a bike is half a car it's not that outrageous to spend £20,000 on a bike, there is two seats and about as much storage as plenty of sports cars!

2: Harley only make 250,000 bike per year but their turnover is probably second only to Honda as they average over $20,000 per bike, Honda sells ~10 million at $1500 per bike!

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unsprung

1,658 posts

52 months

Thursday 17th August 2017
quotequote all
Walter Sobchak said:
1745cc?!, I wonder if they've touched the 100 BHP mark yet wink .
It's the meme that will never go away:

A devoutly traditional machine in Blighty is treated with reverence -- "Oooh, ain't she a beaut, keeping the pure experience alive don'tcha know, chin-chin, lovely Mate" -- while a similar thing from America is greeted with titter and tee-hee and comparisons to claptrap Soviet garbage.

rolleyestongue out

Bonefish Blues

10,957 posts

151 months

Thursday 17th August 2017
quotequote all
Talksteer said:
Bonefish Blues said:
How much eek
Both Harley's greatest strength and weakness

1: Going with the assumption that a bike is half a car it's not that outrageous to spend £20,000 on a bike, there is two seats and about as much storage as plenty of sports cars!

2: Harley only make 250,000 bike per year but their turnover is probably second only to Honda as they average over $20,000 per bike, Honda sells ~10 million at $1500 per bike!
30-odd K was what caused my sharp intake!

simonrockman

5,538 posts

183 months

Thursday 17th August 2017
quotequote all
Does it sound properly Harley? Part of the remit of the Milwaukee-Eight was to reduce vibration, I wouldn't want it to reduce the unique sound to do that.

Prof Prolapse

13,939 posts

118 months

Thursday 17th August 2017
quotequote all
Talksteer said:
Both Harley's greatest strength and weakness

1: Going with the assumption that a bike is half a car it's not that outrageous to spend £20,000 on a bike, there is two seats and about as much storage as plenty of sports cars!

2: Harley only make 250,000 bike per year but their turnover is probably second only to Honda as they average over $20,000 per bike, Honda sells ~10 million at $1500 per bike!
I'd prefer a lemonade analogy.

Honda sell lemonade which is fairly pleasant, if a little bland, and charge £1 a cup. It hits the spot.

Harley Davidson sell lemonade which rather than being made from lemons, uses feculent goats' piss, for no reason except because they have always done so. They charge you £10 a serving, and a further £5 if you want a cup that doesn't leak. Despite this they still make a killing, as most goat's piss enthusiasts don't actually want to drink it, they just want to own it so they can dress up in a "homeless-person-meets-Rock horror-picture-show" style outfit at the weekends.

[Insert caveat statement here about, only kidding/to each their own/better have any bike than none etc.]
















Edited by Prof Prolapse on Thursday 17th August 16:35

stuckmojo

1,795 posts

116 months

Thursday 17th August 2017
quotequote all
The M8 is a good engine, but so was the latest 103.

CVO aren't worth the money in my opinion.

Their issue in the US is that their market share is so big that it can only go one way unless they buy Ducati and a few other brands.

black-k1

8,322 posts

157 months

Thursday 17th August 2017
quotequote all
stuckmojo said:
The M8 is a good engine, but so was the latest 103.

CVO aren't worth the money in my opinion.

Their issue in the US is that their market share is so big that it can only go one way unless they buy Ducati and a few other brands.
I think your definition of a "good engine" differs greatly from my definition. Compared to other Harley engines it may stand up pretty well but I against engines from other manufacturers ... nono

SystemParanoia

14,341 posts

126 months

Thursday 17th August 2017
quotequote all
it looks exactly the same as almost every other harley out there confused

ZesPak

18,511 posts

124 months

Thursday 17th August 2017
quotequote all
Prof Prolapse said:
I'd prefer a lemonade analogy.

Honda sell lemonade which is fairly pleasant, if a little bland, and charge £1 a cup. It hits the spot.

Harley Davidson sell lemonade which rather than being made from lemons, uses feculent goats' piss, for no reason except because they have always done so. They charge you £10 a serving, and a further £5 if you want a cup that doesn't leak. Despite this they still make a killing, as most goat's piss enthusiasts don't actually want to drink it, they just want to own it so they can dress up in a "homeless-person-meets-Rock horror-picture-show" style outfit at the weekends.
rofl

Sounds about right.

bogie

13,091 posts

200 months

Thursday 17th August 2017
quotequote all
The Street Glide is the largest selling Harley model. In USA they sell more per year of that model alone than every other bike over 600cc of all other brands combined (unbelievable really). Why change the biggest selling bike in their home market ? its a bit like telling Porsche they should change the look of a 911 completely because its broken.....

Heres a fun article looking at the "sorry state" of Harley-Davidson....after 100 years in business, surviving 20 US recessions, the Great Depression and 2 World Wars, sales are now down a few percent this year and they need our advice on how to fix their hugely successful company wink

http://rideapart.com/articles/lets-tell-harley-dav...

So HD have nowhere to expand to, except go down market, hence the introduction of the Street 750 range, starting at £6k ish with a modern (ish) look to attract youngsters into the brand......

Regardless of whether you like their product you have to admire what they have achieved over the years.

ZesPak

18,511 posts

124 months

Thursday 17th August 2017
quotequote all
bogie said:
Heres a fun article looking at the "sorry state" of Harley-Davidson....after 100 years in business, surviving 20 US recessions, the Great Depression and 2 World Wars, sales are now down a few percent this year and they need our advice on how to fix their hugely successful company wink

...

Regardless of whether you like their product you have to admire what they have achieved over the years.
Donald Trump is a billionaire and the president of the United States of America.

bogie

13,091 posts

200 months

Thursday 17th August 2017
quotequote all
ZesPak said:
bogie said:
Heres a fun article looking at the "sorry state" of Harley-Davidson....after 100 years in business, surviving 20 US recessions, the Great Depression and 2 World Wars, sales are now down a few percent this year and they need our advice on how to fix their hugely successful company wink

...

Regardless of whether you like their product you have to admire what they have achieved over the years.
Donald Trump is a billionaire and the president of the United States of America.
Mmm...do you think Trump rides a Harley too ? wink

or could we perhaps draw a correlation between the 250,000 new US Harley buyers per year and Trump voters?

ZesPak

18,511 posts

124 months

Thursday 17th August 2017
quotequote all
bogie said:
Mmm...do you think Trump rides a Harley too ? wink

or could we perhaps draw a correlation between the 250,000 new US Harley buyers per year and Trump voters?
Nope, I'm just pointing out that just because something is successful doesn't mean it's any good.

"Don't change, you're doing fine" are famous last words of a lot of companies. Look at the American car market as an example.

bogie

13,091 posts

200 months

Thursday 17th August 2017
quotequote all
Yeah, whether HD are any good or not depends on the stick by which you are measuring wink

Now, at least the the Harley dominance in the US big twin market is being challenged by Indian. For the first time in many years there is a credible competitor in their market. Indian sales figures continue to rise year on year just as Harley are going down. Indian only need 5k out of 250k Harley buyers to change their mind each year and to Indian sales the growth is huge.

..... So Harley respond with revised models/engines, and launch products down market where Indian dont have an equivalent product in a bid to capture a new customer base .....its one of the few options they have left


ZesPak

18,511 posts

124 months

Thursday 17th August 2017
quotequote all
I think many people like the idea of a comfortable big cruiser with a lot of road presence. And imho a lot of the Japanese offerings don't offer the right style.
BUT I don't want to put up with second rate engines and low rent switch gear at a top shelf price.

I've been eyeballing Victory and Indian and having had a good look at them they actually do feel like they are building the best they can at that price point, something that is imho absent at Harley who've been riding on some lifestyle idea rather than actually making good products.
I'm thinking of "reliable German cars", "Alfa's are great to drive", "business people use a Blackberry" and the like. It's fun while it lasts and that can even be a number of decades but eventually the competition is going to catch up and the newer generation is going to forget why their grandparents want a BMW or Audi.

The Indian competition is the best thing that's happened to harley owners in 30 years.

Bonefish Blues

10,957 posts

151 months

Friday 18th August 2017
quotequote all
Thread prompted me to look at the Indian site - I knew a little about their history but didn't know they were still in existence. Were I in the market, one of theirs all day long over a Hog.