Brand-new engine forHarley-Davidson’s SA range

2017-02-02 06:02
                                   PHOTO: www.wheels24.co.za American motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson just introduced a brand-new engine to power their range of touring bikes in South Africa. In the range is the three-wheeled Freewheeler, which is certainly not to be confused with the Harley-Davidson Trike.

PHOTO: www.wheels24.co.za American motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson just introduced a brand-new engine to power their range of touring bikes in South Africa. In the range is the three-wheeled Freewheeler, which is certainly not to be confused with the Harley-Davidson Trike.

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AMERICAN motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson just introduced a brand-new engine to power its range of touring bikes in South Africa.

The range consists of the Road King, the Street Glide, the Road Glide and the three-wheeled Freewheeler (not to be confused with the Harley-Davidson Trike).

The new engine is the ninth in a long line that Harley-Davidson refer to as their “big twins”. The first was the Atmospheric V-twin used between 1909 and 1911 and followed by power plants with colourful names such as the Knucklehead, Shovelhead and culminating in this — the Milwaukee-eight 107.

The Milwaukee-eight 107 replaces the Twin Cam 103 and offers a larger displacement, four valves per cylinder and a higher compression ratio.

Two-day road trip

To put these bikes through their paces we embarked on a two-day ride from Cape Town east along the coast to the whale-watching town of Hermanus.

From there we headed inland via the Tradouw Pass to Barrydale, where we stayed at the eclectic Karoo Art Hotel.

On the following morning we left for Worcester, over Bainskloof Pass and through verdant vineyards back to a comparatively bustling Cape Town.

Of the five motorcycle journalists present, four were each given a variant on the touring Milwaukee-eight, while the fifth rode an outgoing Twin Cam 103 Road King as a base for comparison.

We’d continuously swop bikes along the route until we could all come to grips with the characteristics of the four new bikes.

Riding the Freewheeler

Upon arrival at the Cape Town dealership, none of us volunteered to ride this three-wheeled oddity. A colleague was eventually bullied into taking one for the team and he promptly rode over his own foot — having forgotten that there were two car wheels right behind his heels.

Hatred for the Freewheeler seemed to ooze from his pores. I then had a go on this bike.

The trick in mastering the Freewheeler, it seemed to me, is to ride it almost like a racing quad. You have to sit right up to the tank and bend your elbows. Additionally, there is no counter steering so you have to push the front wheel in the direction you want to travel and lean into the turn so that you don’t get thrown off the opposite side.

Riding the Freewheeler aggressively is immense fun if you are willing to put in the extra effort. I had no trouble keeping up with the other Harley’s on Tradouw Pass and even managed to raise a few eyebrows — you just have to get used to the odd steering and the super light front wheel.

Obviously lane splitting in traffic is out of the question but at least you never have to worry about toppling over in front of your local watering hole. The reverse gear also helps a great deal getting the Freewheeler out of a parking space and the “boot” has space for two helmets.

New engine

The name Milwaukee-eight 107 is taken from the home town of Harley-Davidson, the number of valves and the displacement in cubic inches. The engine has a single chain-drive cam that requires less maintenance and produces less mechanical noise than before.

Harley-Davidson also redesigned the exhaust system to direct heat away from the rider and thus increase comfort levels.

The engine isn’t the only upgrade though. The front forks contain modernised innards and the pre-load on the rear suspension is now adjustable through a rotary knob.

The engine generates 50% more electricity than before, which means owners can power extra lights and other accessories without fear of depleting the battery.

All in all, Harley-Davidson produced a relatively modern bike while keeping true to their heritage.

— Wheels24.

Displacement: 1746cc

Torque: 150Nm @ 3250rpm

Fuel capacity: 22.7L

Dry weight: 492kg

Seat height: 700mm

Price: R369 000

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