Harley-Davidson Milwaukee Eight: First Impression

First thoughts on the new eight valve V-twin engine from H-D

2017 Harley-Davidson Milwaukee-Eight
2017 Harley-Davidson Milwaukee-Eight in a Road Glide touring modelHarley-Davidson

We had heard whispers in the shadows. We had heard a rumble in the dark. That there was something big coming from the motor company. we had been chomping at the bit to find out what it is and ride it. They showed us, we rode it, and we were not disappointed.

Smooth, extremely useable power, classic yet also modern sound; all describe the new Harley-Davidson Milwaukee-Eight engine. New to the 2017 Harley-Davidson Touring models, the single cam, eight-valve (four valves per head) Milwaukee-Eight engine is the ninth Big Twin motor to come off the line from Harley-Davidson.

We tested the new Harley-Davidson Milwaukee-Eight in Tacoma Washington during the 2017 Harley-Davidson Press Launch. We heard testimonies from “The Boz,” the Chief Engineer on the Milwaukee-Eight project, who was also a part of the Evolution engine project way back when!

2017 Harley-Davidson Milwaukee-Eight
2017 Harley-Davidson Milwaukee-Eight comes stock in all 2017 touring modelsHarley-Davidson

So getting down to brass tax, the first thing I noticed was how damn smooth this motor is. Harley added a counter balancer on top of the rubber-mounted system. If you have ever ridden a Softail and really gotten into the feel of Harley-Davidson's Twin Cam B Motor, then you have felt the lag it has when you first snap the throttle back. Well that is because of the counter-balanced weights in the engine. But, the new system is nothing like the Softail counter balanced system. This counter balance is a single weight and it is in the front of the engine case. You cannot feel any lag with this weight and having it paired with the rubber-mounted powertrain makes for one smooth ass ride.

Milwaukee-Eight
2017 Harley-Davidson Milwaukee-EightHarley-Davidson

The new Milwaukee-Eight is back to a four-lobed single cam design, instead of the one mechanically-driven and one chain-driven design of the Twin-Cam. Paired with the single cam is a set of heads with 4-valves per head and two spark plugs per head. This makes for a more efficient burn and combustion and it translates to one hell of a smooth and powerful ride.

On the old Twin Cam (still weird to say the old Twin-Cam), when you got close to reaching the rev limiter you would keep climbing revs but not really go anywhere. Well this new Milwaukee-Eight engine is a torque monster and it pulls hard, all the way to red line. The need to stay at the top of second or third while in the turns is also smoothed out, with more even power throughout the entire range of RPMs.

2017 Harley-Davidson Milwaukee-Eight
2017 Harley-Davidson Milwaukee-EightHarley-Davidson

The power delivery on the new Milwaukee-Eight is so damn smooth, and that’s coming from a guy who was already happy with the Twin Cam. It is almost effortless, you twist- you go, simple as that. This thing is a legitimate torque monster, it doesn’t matter what gear you are in or what rpm you are at; when you twist the throttle you are booking! When you are shredding through the canyons, where you would be down shifting on the “Old Twin-Cam,” now you just roll off slow down and roll back on with no lug or chug, just immediate power.

So that is our first impression of the new Milwaukee-Eight motor. More in depth review coming soon, stay tuned!