First impressions: Harley’s BIG new Milwaukee-Eight-engined 2017 motorcycles tested!

By Marc Potter
marcpotter Tested every new bike since 1994, loves anything on two wheels, Bike Social boss, Potski to his mates. Recently discovered elbow-down riding - likely to end in tears.
Harley-Davidson

2017 is a BIG year for Harley-Davidson.

The American firm has just unveiled its all new Milwaukee-Eight engine for its touring range of Harleys – the biggest, most powerful Harley production engine ever produced.

We’re currently in the USA with a fleet of the 2017 touring models riding from Seattle, to Port Angeles and back on some incredible mountain roads.

Available in an oil/air-cooled Milwaukee-Eight 107ci (1745cc) version, and a liquid-cooled Milwaukee-Eight 107ci (1745cc) version, plus a special 114ci-spec 1870cc engine in the limited-edition Custom Vehicle Operations (CVO) bikes. The new engines make 11% more torque than the previous engines, and feature new four-valve cylinder heads which are claimed to offer 50% more intake and exhaust flow capacity.

Announcing the bikes, Harley’s Chief Powertrain Engineer for the H-D Big Twins, Alex Bozmoski said: “The Milwaukee-Eight engine carries the legacy of Harley-Davidson Big Twins into the future. While respecting the essential Big Twin character, we’ve created an all-new motor. Every aspect of performance, durability and styling has been improved as a direct response to the voice of Harley-Davidson customers around the world.”

The Touring range of bikes, including the Road King and Road King Classic, Street Glide Special, Road Glide Special, Road Glide Ultra, and Ultra Limited also feature new emulsion technology rear shocks with 15-30% more pre-load adjustment than previous standard bikes, and a single knob to adjust pre-load. They also get new Showa forks all round. Japanese suspension on a Harley-Davidson? Who’d have thought it.

Bike Social’s Marc Potter just gave his first impressions after riding some of the new bikes this morning and experiencing the new engine. He said: “So far I’ve ridden 50 miles on one of the new Harleys  and although it’s a new engine you get the same feeling at tick over as the outgoing Twin-Cam motor – an engine I’m really familiar with as I rode one last year while doing Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles. Then I did some 3000 miles on a Harley Ultra so chose the Ultra Limited as the first of many bikes I will ride today. We're riding through countryside straight out of Twin Peaks and it's a great test for the bikes.

"With 10% more power and a few extra ccs on the liquid-cooled bike I'm riding at the moment, you can feel that it's more refined generally, and from 2000rpm it definitely has more roll-on from 55mph in top gear at those revs. It's not a revelation, but definitely improved. The suspension too means the bike is better damped and doesn't crash as much over bumps, the ride quality is definitely improved.

"As a package the Ultra Limited is one of the best touring bikes you can buy, this just improves that even more.

"The bikes are also claimed to accelerate faster than the outgoing model. Harley claims the Milwaukee-Eight 107 accelerates 11% quicker from 0-60mph compared to the Twin Cam High Output 103 motor, with a three-bike length improvement with the new motor. We’d have to check that accurately, but after our initial ride it’s easy to believe."

We’ll be back with more insight on the new bikes later.

WHICH MOTOR GOES IN WHICH BIKE?

Milwaukee-Eight 107 (107ci, 1745cc):  Featuring precision oil-cooled cylinder heads for the Street Glide Special, Road Glide Special and Road King/Road King Classic

Twin-Cooled Milwaukee-Eight 107 (107ci, 1745cc): Featuring liquid-cooled cylinder heads for the Ultra Limited/Ultra Limited Low and Road Glide Ultra.

Twin-Cooled Milwaukee-Eight 114 (114ci,1870cc): Featuring liquid-cooled cylinder heads for the CVO Limited and CVO Street Glide models.

MILWAUKEE-EIGHT UK PRICE LIST:

Road King – UK price starts at £18.695

Road Glide Special – UK price starts at: £20,995

Road Glide Ultra – UK price starts at: £23,195

Ultra Limited – UK price starts at: £23,245

CVO Street Glide - £30,545

CVO Limited: £32,395

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