We all by now have heard about the new 500cc and 750cc water-cooled Harley-Davidsons, it seems everyone has an opinion from it is not a true Harley because it is water-cooled, to it is not American made. Well these are all arguments we have heard before, from the aluminum-cylinder Evolution Engine to the V-Rod we all screamed the sky is falling, that the Motor company was breaking from tradition.
I am sure that the same thing was screamed when Harley came out with the V-twin engine in 1909. Now we are heading into 2014 with a new platform coming out with smaller engines. They do away with the signature 90 degree V-Twin in favor of the V-Rods 60 degree overhead cam motor that is cooled not by air but by water. Lets put all of that to the side and look at some potential facts.
Lets compare the New 750cc to the 1200cc Sportster:
1.) Watercooled vs air-cooled both have advantages but the future of air-cooled bikes is limited as the EPA emission crap is causing heat problems on bigger Engines
2.) The Evolution Sportster motor is getting a little long in the tooth other than the rubber mounting (2004) we have not seen any real changes to the platform since 1986. Stock the HP of the 1200cc sportster is 68 HP on a good day and most that I have seen on a Dyno are averaging around 60. Damn anemic in today’s motorcycle market. We don’t have HP figures for the new 500 or 750 yet but I was able to dig up some numbers for the 650cc ATK which is a very similar motor to the 750cc H-D. The ATK is putting 79 HP to the ground and I am sure the new 750 H-D will put out comparable numbers.
3.) The Sportster is limited to 5 gears from the factory, the new 750 H-D is running a 6-speed transmission this should make it very easy to keep in the power band .
4.) The new 750cc H-D weighs 480lbs -vs- the Sportsters 562lbs. When you combine the low weight and the higher HP engine of the new 750cc bike you should have something that will embarrass almost every other offering by the Motor Company.
So what does all this tell us, I am not sure I haven’t ridden one yet but looking at the numbers and how much fun riding an ATK 650 is I think Harley- Davidson may have a winner with this one. If the aftermarket takes an interest in the new platform I can see the writing on the wall. The days of the bike most of us learned on, raced, carved canyons with, is numbered. This could be the bike to replace the aging Sportster and I believe this bike will be the future of the Motor-Company.
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Bikernet Tech Editor