Harley-Davidson Announces Production Of Adventure, Sport, And Electric Motorcycles

Four new models bring Harley-Davidson into all-new segments of motorcycling

Harley-Davidson is preparing to go somewhere totally new for the H-D brand—into the sport and adventure motorcycle segments. Announced just this morning for production in 2020, The Motor Company is launching what it described as a "modular 500cc–1,250cc middleweight platform," that includes the 1,250cc Pan America adventure bike, the 975cc Streetfighter, and the 1,250cc Custom cruiser model. It also announced that a production version of the LiveWire electric bike will be joining the 2019 model year lineup, and more new models based on all four of these platforms by 2022. After the new Milwaukee-Eight engine in 2017 and the all-new Softail lineup for 2018, we didn't think we would get an even more prodigious announcement from Harley-Davidson, but we're more than happy to be surprised.

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Livewire electric motorcycle will be released with Harley-Davidson's 2019 lineup.Courtesy of Harley-Davidson

We don’t have any details on this new engine or the three new bikes that it powers, but we can speculate a bit based off of the pictures. It’s water-cooled. It doesn’t have visible pushrods so it’s safe to assume it has overhead cams. The new engine has an integrated transmission, which hints it may be replacing the Sportster’s Evo motor. And that’s pretty much it, aside from the fact that H-D said the platform will range from 500–1,250cc, but each of the three bikes shown has a unique chassis.

harley-davidson pan america
The adventure touring bike looks like no Harley we have ever seen.Courtesy of Harley-Davidson

The Pan America is Harley-Davidson's first-ever adventure bike, fitted 1,250cc engine, inverted forks, tall seat height, cast and tubular chassis, mid foot controls, hand guards on tall handlebars—it's a full-blown adventure motorcycle! At least it looks to be, we'll see once we get to ride it. The wide, angled front fairing and tall windshield may take a little while to grow on us, but we'll give it time.

The Streetfighter is fit with the 975cc engine and really, this is the one we didn’t see coming. It’s hard to see much of the frame in the picture, but it’s safe to say the engine is load-bearing based off of the mount on the front head and well…lack of frame. There is a single left-side-mounted rear shock. The bars mount to risers and look to be tapered. Dual front disc brakes with Brembo calipers are a pleasant surprise, as is the cast swingarm. It’s hard to tell too much about what’s going on from the picture, but it sure is easy to get excited.

Harley-Davidson Sportster
While this looks a little more like the H-D we're used to seeing, there's still a lot of new stuff to get excited about here.Courtesy of Harley-Davidson

The 1,250cc Custom looks more like the Harley-Davidson we’re used to, hosting cruiser DNA but with a little bit of a lighter, sleeker feel. Honestly, it sort of looks like the 2018 Fat Bob’s little brother with that similar headlight, paint job, fork, and pipe—but we’re not mad at it. The little piece of tubular frame you see extending from the neck and long swingarm look amazing, not to mention the low-profile seat and tailsection. Of course, the MoCo had to go with the super-high-profile tires, which look good but don’t handle very well at high speeds. While this isn’t as much of a departure, I am just as excited for this as I am for the Streetfighter and the Pan America because it’s still totally new, but a little closer to the H-D we know and love.

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The naked streetfighter harkens back to the Buell days, but with newer components and more H-D driven styling.Courtesy of Harley-Davidson

LiveWire is the one motorcycle in this announcement that we have somewhat seen before, and it’s also the only one that will debut with the 2019 lineup. This will be the first in a “broad lineup” of clutchless electric two-wheelers that Harley is developing, aiming to set itself at the top of the electric bike market. While LiveWire is a full-sized motorcycle, Harley will also “broaden the portfolio with lighter, smaller, and even more accessible new product options to inspire new riders,” which makes me think eBikes and things like that, which would be exciting to see as well.

While these four bikes will no doubt be getting all the attention this week, there is more to H-D’s announcement than the new segments. It is now developing a line of 250–500cc motorcycles for emerging Asian and Indian markets. H-D has also committed to broader access for customers, saying it will expand the online retail experience to work more directly with the dealership experience. More and smaller “retail touchpoints” will also be popping up in cities around the world to help sell apparel and bring the brand places that a dealership can’t go.