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Wednesday, 27 June 2018 23:55

Why Do Harley Engines Earn Their Owners’ Lifetime Loyalty?

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hd art 1The deep growl of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle engine makes Harley lovers’ hearts skip a beat.



What makes the Harley engine so unique that inspires such loyalty?

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Photo: Pixabay

The V-Twin Engines Syncopation

If you listen closely to the sound of a Harley and compare it with others, you’ll hear a distinct syncopation in its roar, says Cycle World’s Kevin Cameron. Like the virtuoso it is, it mixes up the beat a little as it does its job.

That’s the Harley’s trademark V-Twin engine at work. With the Harley Sportster, Cameron points out, its V-Twin engine varies between two firing intervals. One at 405 degrees, the other at 315 degrees. Though they add up to the 720 degrees needed for a four-stroke cycle, they give the engine its characteristic, jazzy beat.

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The Sportster’s V-Twin engine produces a syncopated growl dear to enthusiasts’ hearts.

Photo: Pixabay

A British twin on the other hand, has a flat rhythm, having only one firing interval at 360 degrees. Combining the two for a 720-degree complete cycle. Proper, mannerly, regular.

When you compare a Harley V-Twin to the Ducati’s, differences in their engines create a different kind of balance. The Harley over balances its heavy crank counterweights, creating its distinctive “forwards and back” front-wheel shaking, according to Cameron.

The Ducati’s twins, conversely, have twice the angle of Harley’s 45 degrees. Their 90-degree placement allows the cycle to counterbalance 100 percent of a piston’s shaking force with heavy counterweights, eliminating the shaking from front to rear during idle.  

That narrow-angle allows the Harley engineers to locate the engine closer to the front wheel. This keeps the tire on the ground, even while you steer it at high acceleration—a classic Harley distinction.

The Engine That Saved the Day

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Low Brow Customs correctly points out, Harley nearly went belly-up because it refused to give up its outdated engine designs. With a buyout and reorganization, the new rebranded Harley could give its engineers the green light to design an engine that would compete with the ever-evolving Japanese models.

Thus, the Evolution engine was born. Aptly named, this V-twin singlehandedly brought Harley back from the brink. The Evo, as Harley fans call the engine, uses aluminum cylinders and heads, compared to Harley’s previous iron-and-aluminum-crafted engine.

Not only was the engine lighter in weight, the material’s excellence as a thermal conductor kept the engine in better shape, with less wear on its head gasket seals. Furthermore, because the previous engine used two metals in its head gaskets, the materials’ differing expansion rates and other properties caused older models excessive stress.

Practically speaking, a more durable engine was a more profitable one, as Harley-Davidson soon discovered. Warranty costs went down; revenue went up. The company thrives today.

With the Sportsters incorporation of the new engine, using four independent camshafts, thanks to its innovative design of one cam per overhead valve, the bike could produce more power. Since its 1986 debut, Harley has only had to modify its design slightly over the years, earning it even more enthusiasts.

Larger Engine for the Long Haul

The hefty Harley engine gives the bike a huge advantage on long road trips. Where lighter bikes fall victim to winds or the stresses of long trips, say the staff at Biggs Harley, the heavier weight—and stability of the Harley powerplant, pushes through the trip to emerge victoriously.

The engine’s low torque, Biggs Harley says, more than makes up for the bike’s lack of agility. The low torque provides dependable, durable performance that makes even cross-country rides a pleasure.

Not only that, but the bike’s long history as a dependable vehicle makes it a great buy. Easy to repair, with parts readily available, the engine should last as long as you need it.

Because the bike is so popular with serious riders, there are plenty of riders who can help each other out, or, at least, find other riders a dealership with well-trained mechanics for more serious issues.

Innovation in Engineering, Innovative Engines

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The latest Milwaukee Eight engine powers this Fat Bob Harley-Davidson model

Image: Gumtree

As the staff at Battlefield Harley point out, innovation is what keeps the Harley-Davidson ahead of the competition. As the V-Twin design has evolved, the company’s engineers produce even more improvements, tweaking the design to fit each bike.

The company helps owners custom-modify their engines to get even better performance with factory-approved upgraded parts.

Consistency, Simplicity in Engine Design Produces Lasting Value

Whether you own a classic twin-cam design or the large single-cam Harley, every model incorporates the efficient two-cylinder V-shaped design, says Cycle World staff reviewer Kevin Cameron. The reason? It’s a simpler design. As Cameron points out, in a Harley engine, the crankshaft itself becomes the flywheel rather than having a flywheel outside the crankcase, as do many of its competitors.

Enclosed in a crankcase, the crankshaft doesn’t sustain damage due to dust. Lubricant stays inside so the engine requires less maintenance and shows less wear. Harley engines, too, use liquid cooling as opposed to air cooling, keeping the valve seal intact.

Topnotch Engineering Continues

Unlike many motorcycle manufacturers, Harley-Davidson won’t cut costs by hiring inferior engineers. Only engineers who commit to designing engines that last, with precision-made world-class parts, make the grade at Harley-Davidson, points out Harley enthusiast Gary Hale. Every component, insist the Harley top brass, must meet the company’s exacting standards.

This insistence, Hale concludes, is what has produced the tradition of quality these legendary engines have earned.

The company’s long history of superior engines has created a legion of Harley loyalists, every one of them as committed as the next.

Harley enthusiasts the world over are a breed apart with their dedication to excellence in engineering and performance. Discover your ticket to engineering excellence with a Harley of your own.

Last modified on Monday, 02 July 2018 21:28
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