Harley-Davidson is setting out its strategy for the next two years with ambitious plans. It’s changing not only how it does business, but also the types of motorcycles it produces.
Harley-Davidson plans to open new types of dealerships and improve its online presence through new partnerships with other e-commerce companies. That all sounds fair enough, and the kind of thing we would expect from such a brand in 2018.
Electric LiveWire model
What made jaws drop, however, was the new models it intends to put into production. We’ve known Harley’s intention to create an electric model for some time, and it is now confirming that the LiveWire will go on sale in 2019, first in North America and some countries in Europe.
Harley is yet to release any technical details on the bike. The overall design does appear to remain true to the initial concept. Its large battery pack now appears to feature cooling fins, while a dual-disc brake setup on the front will help stop what we expect will be a heavy bike.
A surprise adventure bike
Causing even more of a surprise is the debut of a new adventure bike. Harley-Davidson is calling it the Pan America, and it will use a new 1,250cc v-twin engine. This engine will feature in several models as part of a new modular platform that will span models ranging in size from 500- to 1,250cc.
Little else is currently known about the Pan America, but the photographs of the prototype feature Brembo brakes and what is likely to be adjustable suspension. A reasonably sized fuel tank should give it good range too. We wouldn’t be surprised if Harley-Davidson follows this up with a beefier adventure model. Most of its rivals such as the BMW R 1200 GS and Honda Africa Twin, already do.
It has a face that even a mother would struggle to love. But similar things were said about the Terblanche-era Ducati Multistrada, and that wasn’t exactly a sales disaster. A rugged sump guard, engine bars and spoked wheels give it plenty of off-road style. Although Harley is showing this bike with trail tyres, we expect it to be more road-biased in its setup when it goes on sale.
Another exciting model as part of the 2020 plan is this 975cc Harley-Davidson Streetfighter. Its design looks similar to rival offerings from the Japanese brands but appears to feature some familiar Harley traits, such as a belt drive.
With upside-down forks, dual radial brakes up front and wide handlebars, the Streetfighter looks like it could be good fun to ride. Especially if that smaller engine can produce decent levels of performance.
Gorgeous Custom 1250
But Harley-Davidson isn’t turning its back on cruisers by any stretch, and its Custom 1250 concept looks stunning. It uses the same liquid-cooled 1,250cc v-twin that will feature in the Pan America. Plus it gets stacked exhausts and what will undoubtedly be a vast array of optional accessories.
The Custom 1250, as we currently know it, has hints of the Fatboy and a thick front tyre like the Forty Eight. This bike could even spin off smaller capacity variants much like Ducati has done with the Scrambler series. We already know Harley has clear plans to increase its footprint in the Asian markets, where smaller engines are king.