At least 5 years that the rumor comes and go. But this time the rumor that Harley-Davidson would release very soon a liquid cooled line up, or at least a few models, is stronger than ever. Some even speculate that the 2012 models year could be Harley-Davidson historic switch from air to liquid cooled motorcycles.
All rumors have an origin and this one comes from the fact that years ago the entire motorcycle industry already knew that future emissions regulations would get more stringent and that air cooled motorcycle engines, sooner or later, would not be able to meet the new standards established by the government. Change in engine design to meet these standards while providing the extra horsepower that bikers want has already created a generation of air cooled bikes running hotter and hotter. And of course, all manufacturers are concerned by the risk of an overheating engine with the damage which could result.
Harley-Davidson, like all manufacturers, is always working on prototypes. From time to time I receive info about some of these projects with the author assuring me, of course, that his or her source(s) is the most reliable. During these last months I got several precise descriptions, not all in agreements, of what type engine Harley engineers are supposedly working on. An uncovered secret prototype warehouse, spy drawing or pictures, even documents filed by Harley-Davidson with CARB (California Air Resources Board) and EPA to request certification are never enough to be certain that a prototype will go in production.
So, why the rumor of a possible release of a complete liquid engine Harley-Davidson line up is stronger now than ever? Of course because we are close to the reveal of the 2012 models, but also because year 2013 is the new deadline for all manufacturers to abide by new much tougher EPA regulations. I need to mention that EPA doesn’t regulate engines and the way to make them, but emissions. It means that all motorcycle manufacturers have different options to meet all Federal regulations, with for Harley-Davidson an extra huge constraint: continuing to make any new engine sound … like a Harley…(to follow)