Harley-Davidson's all-new V-Twin: More power, more torque, less vibration, all American

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Harley-Davidson's new Milwaukee Eight engine will need to pass the test of the Harley faithful(Credit: Harley-Davidson)

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Harley-Davidson has announced its ninth generation American V-Twin engine. Featuring more power, more torque, less vibration, better heat dispersion and an enhanced exhaust note. Meet the Milwaukee Eight.

New Harley engines are a bit of a big deal. The Milwaukee company doesn't splash out on a totally new motor very often, and when it does, it's got a legion of incredibly picky fans to get past. And they're not shy when they decide they like your old stuff better than your new stuff.

Extra power, torque, efficiency and reduced vibration are all welcome developments for most manufacturers, but for Harley riders, feel and character trump the lot. If an engine doesn't deliver the right kind of Harley sound and feel, they're more than happy to just go buy an old one.

So it'll be very interesting to see how the market reacts to this new American V-Twin, the Milwaukee Eight.

On paper, it's well and truly superior to the Twin Cam engine before it. With two 4-valve heads (hence the name) and higher compression ratios, it puts out 10 percent more torque than the Twin Cam.

It deals with heat better, it's got a lighter clutch pull, 50 percent better gas flow through the intake and exhaust, and its rubber engine mounts and internal counterbalancer help reduce vibration as it idles.

Harley claims it's also managed to make the exhaust note richer by eliminating a bunch of other mechanical noise.

The Milwaukee Eight is pitched at touring bikes first and foremost. Harley engineers have therefore beefed up the charging systems on the engine to support lots of device charging, driving lights, heated grips, heated seats, audio systems and other accessories.

It'll come in three variants:

  • A 107 ci (1750cc) oil-cooled version in the Street Glide, Road Glide, Electra Glide, Road King and Freewheeler;
  • a 107 ci (1750cc) liquid-cooled version for the Ultra Limited, Road Glide Ultra and Tri Glide Ultra;
  • and a 114 ci (1870cc) liquid cooled version for the CVO Limited and CVO Street Glide.

Noticeably absent from Harley's press release is anything to do with emissions, especially given the recent EPA trouble the company has landed in by directly selling tools to customers that circumvent its own emissions control gear.

But the Milwaukee Eight will surely be designed to meet upcoming Euro IV emissions standards for sale in Europe, and quite probably Euro V and VI, given how long Harley waits between engine releases.

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