Harley-Davidson developing new air-cooled V-twin

    Patent drawings suggest the engine will get variable valve timing.

    Published On Jul 27, 2020 01:25:00 PM


    • New engine may be used on next-gen Sportster family

    • Will keep pushrod design, but with variable valve timing

    • Harley has applied for a patent for a new balancer shaft design

    Newly discovered patent images show that Harley-Davidson is developing a new air-cooled V-twin engine that will have variable valve timing. The patent application is for a new crankshaft balancer technology inside this engine. Nevertheless, the big news for customers is that Harley still believes that there is a space in its future line up for an air-cooled V-twin, even while it invests in electric vehicles and upcoming liquid-cooled v-twin models

    The patent drawings show the engine housed in a Fat Bob frame, but that bike already has the relatively new Milwaukee Eight engine, which is Euro 5/BS6-compliant in most models. Therefore, it makes sense for this new motor to debut in the heavily overdue next-generation Sportster family. Harley’s Touring and Softail families all feel much more modern to ride with their Milwaukee Eight motors and the current Sportsters feel nearly agricultural in comparison. 

    While this motor promises to keep to its air-cooled roots, it will have a big upgrade in the form of variable valve timing. Variable valve timing is a technology that more and more manufacturers are adopting in the face of tightening emissions norms and this will be the first production Harley to do so. Unsurprisingly, the company that loves keeping with tradition will continue to use a pushrod set up for this motor. However, unlike the usual two pushrods on the right, the diagrams reveal that there will be four pushrods in total, with one on either side of each cylinder. The VVT system works in a similar way to other systems, where an actuator is controlled via oil pressure. 

    As with most patent drawings, there is no way to tell if and when they will become a reality. In the case of this engine, it makes sense for Harley to bring something like this to production as a successor to the motor in the Sportsters – it’ll be an engine whose roots can be traced back by over three decades. It's now been three years since Harley came out with the all-new Softail family and 2020 was supposed to be when the company launched its mould-breaking Bronx streetfighter and Pan America adventure models. While the Bronx and Pan America have been pushed to next year thanks to the pandemic, there has been no indication from Harley-Davidson so far on when we can expect first sight of the next generation Sportsters.


    Also see:

    Harley-Davidson to “Rewire” its business strategy

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