Writing about bikes for 20 years. Published in dozens of titles on five continents. Mildly obsessed with discovering how things work.
After a much-trumpeted unveiling last year Harley-Davidson has quietly dropped the Bronx streetfighter from its ‘future vehicles’ list to make it the first big-name casualty of the company’s range-slashing ‘Hardwire’ strategy.
Until just days ago, the Bronx was listed on the Harley-Davidson site as ‘coming in 2021’ (below). Now it’s gone, seemingly a victim of the firm’s plan to reduce its model range by as much as a third under the guidance of new CEO Jochen Zeitz.
While Harley-Davidson says it won’t release full details of the new ‘Hardwire’ plan until later this year, it’s confirmed that it involves moves to ‘enhance core strengths’, to ‘prioritise markets that matter’ and to ‘reset product launches and product line-up for simplicity and maximum impact’.
Zeitz said in July: “We are streamlining our motorcycle models by approximately 30%, with plans to further refine our product portfolio. This enables us to invest in the products and platforms that matter the most, while better balancing our investment in new high potential segments. In this context, we plan to expand our offering of iconic motorcycles, those which most embody the spirit of Harley-Davidson.”
Until recently, this was Harley-Davidson’s ‘future vehicles’ web page
The implications are that a future, simpler Harley range will return its focus to cruisers and customs, with Harley’s traditional air-cooled V-twins, rather than expanding to new markets, which was the strategy of former CEO Matt Levatich.
Under Levatich’s ambitious 2018 plan – dubbed ‘More Roads to Harley-Davidson’ – the firm announced the Pan America adventure bike and Bronx streetfighter, powered by the new water-cooled, DOHC Revolution Max engine in 1250cc and 975cc forms respectively. The plan also included a big push into the electric bike market and saw Harley’s designers working on a host of Revolution Max-powered machines including a cafe racer, a flat tracker and even a faired sports bike.
The Bronx was arguably the main stepping stone into these new markets. Designed as a clear rival to machines like Indian’s FTR1200 and other streetfighter-style machines, it featured a 975cc twin making 113hp and 70lbft of torque, although a 1250cc version with 143hp and 90lbft was also on the cards.
The latest iteration of Harley’s site makes no mention of the Bronx – but shows the yet-to-be-named ‘High Performance Custom’ is still coming.
A few days ago, the Bronx was still supposed to be coming next year. In fact, it was originally intended to be on sale in 2020, but was pushed back by a few months earlier this year courtesy of the change in Harley management and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Now, Harley’s ‘future vehicles’ web page makes no mention of the Bronx at all.
It does show that the Pan America adventure bike is still due in 2021, which is something that Zeitz has also confirmed, saying “We see strong potential in Adventure Touring and we launch Pan America globally next year.” The website also confirms that the more conventionally-styled ‘High Performance Custom Model’ that also uses the Pan America’s 1250cc Revolution Max engine is still coming, with a 2021 launch date.
Perhaps surprisingly, given the plan to revert to Harley’s comfort zone of cruisers, customs and tourers, the company’s electric concept bikes – including the ETD600R electric flat-tracker and an electric scooter – are still listed as future vehicles, as are Harley’s electrically-assisted pushbike designs, although there are no dates provided for the launch of production versions.
Planned Cafe Racer, above, seems unlikely to survive Harley’s rethink
At the moment, Harley plans to reveal more details of its ‘Hardwire’ model plan in the fourth quarter of this year. The company has also suggested that it wants to move away from the practice of showing bikes long before they’re actually available – with Zeitz saying “we would like to reveal our products much closer to actual launch”.
So far, the reaction to Zeitz’s ideas has been positive in terms of Harley’s share price. Since announcing the first details of the rethink in April, when Harley stocks hit their lowest value since the financial crisis of 2009, the firm’s share price has nearly doubled, although it remains a long way below the levels seen before the start of coronavirus lockdowns.