Harley is running flat out with its 100 new bikes in 10 years goal. By my count with the new Sport Glide “Light Cruiser” touring bike, it has released 24 new bikes in under a year. I expect it to release six more totally new Sportsters this year in 2018. And then five or six new single shock Touring bikes when the York plant assembly moves to Kansas City. Perhaps as important is its aggressive senior management moves and goals that are being put into place.

Michelle Kumbier

In September 2017, Michelle Kumbier was appointed as Chief Operating Officer of the Motor Company. She is responsible for the global business operations in the US and International markets as well as leading Harley’s product design and development operations. Kumbier has 10 years experience as a Senior Vice President leading four different Harley divisions: Product and Operations, Operations, Product Development, and Materials Management and Quality. Put that in your pipe and smoke it you good ole boys! What she brings to the 100 models in 10 year party is experience, proven ability and most important she is not stuck in the past. Harley will continue to sell plenty of heavyweight cruisers to us old guys but the future sales growth will be with the new generations.

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Five Goals

I read in the mainline USA Today newspaper that Harley-Davidson has five goals to keep it financial well into its 125th year:

  1. Build around its huge range of models in the future.
  2. Heavily promote and advertise the new nine Softails, CVOs and a “new Sportster” in 2018.
  3. “Innovate while staying true to its heritage.” Keep the sound while cutting the weight on the new touring frames and balanced engines (Sportster and Street are the last of the full rubber mounts).
  4. Provide what Millennials want to get them into the Harley culture…an affordable LiveWire and or modern Sportster and Streets?
  5. Manage the international weakness in the heavyweight sales market. Hey, they are doing something right and are still returning dividends to the stock holders. Bottom line is, if they don’t’ make a profit we don’t have dealers or the Motor Company.

Mid-Weight Competition: The World vs America

The American Indian Motorcycle is not going to be the main rival of Harley-Davidson in the future with Millenniums; but rather, the Indian Royal Enfield Motors which has been around since 1901 as the oldest continuing motorcycle brand in the world. Now owned by Eicher Motors of India, in just ten years Royal Enfield has increased its sales from 32,000 to 800,000 in India alone. And now it has its sights firmly set on the US and Euro markets. Its new 650 models are going to be a direct competitor to the Harley Street 500/750s in the home market and an outreach model to the Millenniums around the world. Cost, quality, service and a legendary history will sell to the new buyers. 

The Winner & Still Champion

The winner and still champion of Cruiser sales is the Harley Twin Cam Softail Breakout. But now there is a real challenger, the new M8 Sport Glide. Let you the public and buyers prove who the new winner and champion is. My two cents worth is that the Glide can be optioned to look like a Breakout by taking the mini Batwing and panniers off in 30 seconds. Then too, the Glide has a five gallon tank, upside down front forks and plenty of single front brake. Flat Trackers have no front brake. Just down-shifting gears and a back brake. Have a look at the reviews and then schedule a test ride.

Sport Glide Review

Breakout Review 

American Flat Track Racing

But what about the competition within the USA for the midweight cruiser? The Sportster versus the Indian Scout. If you believe the hidden meaning of the results of the 2017 American Flat Track racing series, the Harley Street XG750R was dead on arrival having only one 3rd place finish in 18 races. Worse, the naming rights for eight of the races was “Harley-Davidson”. Double down on that, Yamaha FZ07 and Kawasaki Ninja 650s also placed ahead of the XG750Rs. The saving grace was the legendary Harley XR-750 with four podiums while the FZ07 got four, the Ninja 650 got seven and the Indian Scout FTR750s won hands down with 38 Podiums and 14 wins. All I can hope is that Harley saw the writing on the wall and is spending its money in 2018 with a new Sportster racing 750 engine and or frame. Meanwhile Indian is touting selling a street version of the FTR750 to the public as a street legal FTR1200 Custom.

Products I Like

A rear fender ‘trailer hitch’ eliminator for the 2018 Fat Bob & Breakout is made by Bikecraft. The Shoei Neotec II Modular Helmet is completely new with the built-in Sena Shoei Rider Link intercom system as well as new ventilation, redesigned noise isolating cheek pads and chin spoiler. If you have a 2018, 115th Anniversary Blue Harley, then there is a Neotec II colour for you.

2018 Bike Shows

We are finally into summer and the riding season is full on. Not just here in Australia but revving up all around the world. Motorcycle shows are extremely important to manufacturers as free publicity for new bikes and accessories. Harley waited for the EICMA show in Milan in November to release the new Sport Glide to the public. All of which highlights what we can expect and hope for at the five USA East Coast motorcycle shows starting in January and ending at Daytona Beach Bike Week in March.


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In the previous issue of HEAVY DUTY, you got the lowdown on the new Model Year 2018 Softail lineup. Harley is well on its way to providing the promised 100 new Harleys in 10 years, or 10 new bikes a year. In MY18 we have eight new “Softails” with Milwaukee-Eight engines. The old Twin Cams are gone. In addition, Harley now has three sort of new CVO Touring models with the 117 engine and two fairly new Street and Road Glide “Special” models with only the 107. Thus Australia will have both the Road and Street Glide models in two versions: the Special with CVO treatment and the Standard which is essentially a 2017 in new colours. Therefore in MY18, there are 13 new models. This is fantastic as it bodes well for the future because it means we can expect big changes coming in the Touring, Sportster and even the Street models. I can see from the past few years that Harley has set a new model renewal goal to not only build 100 new bikes in 10 years but, if you look closely, at reducing the cost of building bikes and optimising its labour costs. Especially telling, is the fact that the unions have terminated a 22 year collaboration agreement with the Motor Company!

The tip of the iceberg is the new assembly plant in Thailand but that is not the whole story. The unions saw the new Softails and jobs go to Kansas City from York. In 2010 there were 2000 union members at the York plant while today there are only 600. In April, Harley cut 118 jobs at York as part of the Softail move to Kansas City. Earlier, the V-Rod production stopped in Kansas City. The current union agreement for York and the Menomonee Falls engine plants runs out in on 15 Oct 2022. So, what I am guessing is that the Touring line will move to Kansas City at the end of MY22 or sooner, and secondly, the modernised, better and cheaper to make Touring frame with a mono shock will arrive in MY22 or 23. That is, unless the Motor Company buys out the unions sooner. Remember, the MY09 Touring frame lasted only five years until the MY14 Rushmores. Now the Rushmore frame will be five years old in MY19, next year.


What is exciting to me is the elephant in the room that no one is talking about. The rubber mounted Sportster engine came along in MY04. In MY07 it got fuel injection and in MY14 it got new electronics, brakes and a catalytic converter. By any measure, it is long in the tooth. Most importantly, Harley needs to fill the gap between the Street 750 and the M8 1745cc. That is the Millennium rider gap where Harley needs to attract completely new riders to the brand. Not mentioning the Indian Scout’s free run in the sector and its near complete dominance of flat track racing where only a legacy 1972 XR-750 has made it to the podium this year. Again, the real reason for a new Sportster frame and engine is economy of production, just like the new Softail with 50 per cent fewer parts and 22 per cent reduction in frame welds. I’ll probably lose my HOG Life Membership for suggesting that the best engine Harley ever made, the 1986 XL Evolution, needs to be replaced.


Do you wanna see the prototype MY19 Sportster? Have a look at the 2018 Street Bob compared to XL1200 Custom. The Street Bob has a lower seat height of 680mm vs 725mm and only weighs 31kg more while having a Milwaukee-Eight 1745cc. So maybe Harley can shave off some weight on the M8 engine giving the Millennium rider a lighter 900cc to 1300cc to directly compete with the Indian Scout 1133cc and Triumphs etc.


One more prediction for next year. Donald Trump will appoint the Harley-Davidson CEO as the White House security officer as he seems to be the only one that can keep a secret! Now for the fun part: there are a bunch of reviews and videos of all the new Softail and Touring bikes.

First Ride Reports of the all Eight Softail Models:


Fat Bob:


Fat Boy:




Heritage Classic:




Low Rider:


Softail Slim:


Street Bob:


115th Anniversary Models:


Street Glide Special:


CVO Road and Street Glides:


PDF 2018 Parts and Accessories Catalogue:


Touring 107 M8 Engine:

Issue 154

Last month before the Harley dealer meeting in Los Angeles, The Motor Company had only released two street legal of the 100 new bikes it had promised us in 10 years: the Road King Special and Street Rod 750. Two other new bikes are only race legal: the Street XG750R flat track racer and the so called “Harley Street Rod Drag Bike.” (Click here to read more)

Now after the dealer meeting, you can read all about the new MY2018 Harleys in HEAVY DUTY including the new M8 engined cruisers. Hopefully, Harley releases the 115th Anniversary models like they did in August of 2002 for the 100th Anniversary. Then the 100th production year was 15 months long and ended in September 2003 with 420,000 bikes being produced. That again is what Harley needs to do this year, get its 115th Anniversary models on the showroom floor to drive sales through the USA winter and into the spring riding season. If they don’t have a huge hit soon, look out for another slide in sales in 2018. (Click here to read more)

Speaking of the 115th Anniversary, have a look at the celebrations in Prague in July and Milwaukee in August 2018. There are several European/UK sites with full details while the USA/Australia ones are just the basics. (Click here to read more)

If you are going to Milwaukee in 2018, my advice is to get on board with HEAVY DUTY TOURS if you want a room.

Prague is expecting over 100,000 but still has rooms at See you there! (Click here to read more)

Just now the USA Rider Magazine awarded the Harley-Davidson Milwaukee-Eight Touring family the 2017 Motorcycle of the Year Award. That’s really significant considering Rider isn’t just a V-Twin or Harley magazine but takes on all comers. See all the bikes and article on Rider website (click here) and watch the interview (click here) in 2016 with Paul James, Director of Motorcycle Product Planning at Harley-Davidson.

Me, I’ve got my money on a MY2018 “Dyna Low Rider S” style bike with the M8 engine and plenty of brakes and shocks. Whether it be an Anniversary model or not, I’m sure it will carry on with the “Dark Custom” trend in the industry. (Click here to read more)

Lee Munro on the Spirit of Munro 50th anniversary 1350cc 2017 Indian Scout at 186 mph 2.jpg

There’s plenty of good news in the Indian Motorcycles business from increased sales to the race winning Indian Scout FTR750 flat tracker and the land speed record set by Lee Munro on the Spirit of Munro 50th anniversary 1350cc 2017 Indian Scout at 186 mph. He surpassed his uncle Burt Munro’s 1967 1000cc streamliner’s official record of 184 mph. Lee’s was done as a warmup for the Bonneville Salt Flats later this year. (Click here to read more)

Electric bikes are certainly all the rage as far as city bikes go. Bill Davidson left the door open for the LiveWire in MY2019 during his recent visit down under. That’s fine if they get the price right while it certainly has already won the “looks” sweepstakes… but now with the Polish built Avionics V1 electric city bike with its wall-of-death motordome board track racer look, things could change. It is all pure metal, wood and leather. (Click here to read more)

While you are lane splitting in the city, here is a neat idea if you can get away with it. A high-visibility vest that looks like a police jacket but is “Polite.” Even the cops in the UK are okay with them because of the added safety. (Click here to read more)

Ride on!

– Tex