An Animated Evolution of Harley-Davidson From 1904 to Present

Harley Engine Animated GIF

With Harley-Davidson’s recent introduction of its new Milwaukee-Eight engine, we thought it’d be fun to share this animated GIF with you showing the evolution of Harley-Davidson by generation from 1904 to the present. The GIF was pieced together by the staff over at GearHeads.

We figured we’d add a pictorial history of Harley-Davidson’s Big Twins over the years for good measure. Be sure to check out our “Harley-Davidson Launches 107” & 114” Milwaukee-Eight Engines” and “Our First Ride Impressions of Harley’s New Milwaukee-Eight” articles to learn more about Harley’s latest V-Twin or grab Issue 341 of American Iron Magazine that’s just hitting the newsstands for the full, in-depth overview. (Photos Courtesy of Harley-Davidson Archives)

Harley F-Head (JD) 1914-1929

Harley F-Head (JD) 1914-1929

Harley Flathead 1930-1948

Harley Flathead 1930-1948

Harley Knucklehead 1936-1947

Harley Knucklehead 1936-1947

Harley Panhead 1948-1965

Harley Panhead 1948-1965

Harley Shovelhead 1966-1984

Harley Shovelhead 1966-1984

Harley Evolution 1984-1998

Harley Evolution 1984-1998

Harley Twin Cam 1999-Present

Harley Twin Cam 1999-Present

2017 Motorcycle News From Harley-Davidson

2017 Low Rider S

2017 Low Rider S

More Power. More Comfort. More Control. Today, Harley-Davidson unveils the all-new Milwaukee-Eight engine, the ninth Big Twin in its history, plus all-new front and rear suspension for its Model Year 2017 Touring motorcycle lineup.

“These are the most powerful, most responsive and most comfortable Touring motorcycles ever offered by Harley-Davidson,” said Scott Miller, Harley-Davidson Vice President of Styling and Product Development Strategy. “You truly have to ride one to feel the difference – so we’re inviting all riders to visit a Harley-Davidson dealer and take a test ride.”

To launch the Milwaukee-Eight 107 and Milwaukee-Eight 114 engines, Harley-Davidson – in a brand first – took fans where they’ve never gone before: The floor of a Harley-Davidson factory in a virtual tour on Facebook Live to watch the making of its newest Big Twin engine.

“We’re excited to open our doors to allow the world to see our newest Big Twin engine come to life in our state-of-the-art factory,” said Randy Christianson, General Manager of Harley-Davidson Powertrain Operations in Menomonee Falls, Wis. “With an all-new design, the new Milwaukee-Eight engine offers quicker throttle response, more passing power, purer sound, a smoother ride and more of the feeling riders want from a Harley-Davidson Touring motorcycle.”

2017 Softail Slim

2017 Softail Slim

Power. Comfort. Control.

The new Milwaukee-Eight engine is a ground-up design that combines the classic look, sound and feel of Harley-Davidson Big Twin engines with improvements in performance, comfort and control.

Retaining the classic 45-degree V-Twin cylinder angle, the Milwaukee-Eight engine produces 10 percent more torque and features four-valve cylinder heads that offer 50 percent more intake and exhaust flow capacity than previous year models.

The Milwaukee-Eight engine is counter-balanced to cancel 75 percent of primary vibration at idle, retaining the classic feel of a Harley V-Twin engine while being very smooth at highway speeds. A new heat management strategy improves rider and passenger comfort.

2017 Heritage Softail Classic

2017 Heritage Softail Classic

New Engine and Much More for Model Year 2017

Along with the Milwaukee-Eight engine unveiling, Harley-Davidson also announced:

  • New Touring Suspension: All-new front and rear suspension components enhance the comfort, control and performance of all 2017 Harley-Davidson Touring models. New dual bending valve front suspension technology provides the performance of a racing-style cartridge fork with linear damping characteristics and reduced weight. New emulsion-technology rear shocks offer 15 to 30 percent more pre-load adjustment than previous standard Touring shocks, with a single, hand-adjustable knob to hydraulically dial in pre-load.
  • Screamin’ Eagle Performance: Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle Performance will offer a full selection of street-legal performance components for the Milwaukee-Eight engines, including Screamin’ Eagle Milwaukee-Eight engine Stage kits that deliver up to a 24-percent increase in torque over the stock engine (availability varies by market).
  • Harley-Davidson Custom Vehicle Operations: Harley-Davidson Custom Vehicle Operations (CVO) models combine prestige and performance in three limited-edition factory-custom motorcycles for 2017. The CVO Limited and CVO Street Glide models feature the refined performance of the new Twin-Cooled Milwaukee-Eight 114 engine, while the CVO Pro Street Breakout motorcycle is powered by the Screamin’ Eagle Twin Cam 110B air-cooled V-Twin engine.
2017 Harley CVO Pro Street Breakout

2017 Harley CVO Pro Street Breakout

  • 2017 Harley-Davidson Street 500/750 Motorcycles 2017 Harley-Davidson Street motorcycles are now available with ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System) and the Harley-Davidson Smart Security System with hands-free, proximity-based security fob, each as a factory-installed option.
  • Powerful Cruiser Lineup: With the High Output Twin Cam 103 standard for all 2017 Softail models and Dyna models (U.S. models only) except the Street Bob model and the S Series cruisers with the Screamin’ Eagle Twin Cam 110 engine, Harley-Davidson continues to offer its most powerful cruisers ever.

“We want all riders to save the date of Sept. 23,” said Dino Bernacchi, Director of U.S. Marketing at Harley-Davidson. “That weekend, Harley-Davidson dealers across the country will host open house events so riders can throw a leg over our Model Year 2017 touring motorcycles and feel the difference of the all-new Milwaukee-Eight engine for themselves.”

To experience the transformation of the 2017 Harley-Davidson models now, visit to schedule a test ride.

2017 Electra Glide Ultra Classic

2017 Electra Glide Ultra Classic

* All comparisons in this communication are drawn between Harley-Davidson 2017 Touring models and 2016 Touring models.

** Not all models are available in all countries. Please contact your local Harley-Davidson dealer for more information.

Harley-Davidson Launches 107” & 114” Milwaukee-Eight Engines

The 2017 Milwaukee-Eight V-Twin will be offered in a 107″ version for Harley Tourers and Trikes and a 114″ variation for its premium CVO models. (Photos by Brian J. Nelson, and Harley-Davidson)

Stop the press! The rumors are true. Harley-Davidson has indeed developed a new engine called the Milwaukee-Eight. The eight valve V-Twin comes in both a 107” version for Harley-Davidson Touring motorcycles and Trikes and a 114” variation for The Motor Company’s top-shelf CVO line. The new valvetrain design comes with an impressive list of proposed improvements – more power, better efficiency, lower idle, less heat, and less noise.

American Iron brass Buzz Kanter and Steve Lita got a chance to speak with Harley’s Product Planning Director Paul James and Chief Engineer, New Products Alex (Boz) Bozmoski about the Milwaukee-Eight for an exclusive American Iron Magazine first look article in Issue #341 that hits newsstands Sept. 13. Additionally, American Iron Editor Lita has already gotten a chance to sample 2017 Harleys with both the 107” and 114” versions of the Milwaukee-Eight, and his first ride review will run in American Iron Magazine Issue #342. Click here for some of editor Steve’s first ride impressions.

More power, better efficiency, lower idle, less heat, and less noise – what’s not to like about Harley’s new Milwaukee-Eight 107! Find out how many of these claims are true in American Iron Magazine Editor Steve Lita’s first ride review in Issue #342.

Until then, here’s a few of the Milwaukee-Eight’s key features gleaned from the American Iron Magazine article along with the engines’ specs. If you’d like to hear the new Milwaukee-Eight, be sure to check out American Iron’s YouTube channel.

• Because these are touring machines, design emphasis was placed on rider and passenger comfort (vibration), heat control (from engine and exhaust), and functionality (improved electrics and electronics). From what we were told, Harley met these goals.

• While the engine weighs just about the same as the Twin Cam it is replacing in 2017—at least on the touring and trike models—we were told the Milwaukee-Eight is a clean sheet design, going back to a single cam configuration, with pushrod-actuated four valves per head, hydraulic lifters, and dual sparkplugs per head.

The Milwaukee-Eight 107″ heads look different for good reason. In addition to increasing from two to four valves per cylinder, the heads have been treated for advanced combustion design and flow work, said to generate almost a 50% increase in flow.


Visible in blue is the precision oil cooling passage.

The Milwaukee-Eight 107 heads look different for good reason. In addition to increasing from two to four valves per cylinder, the heads have been treated for advanced combustion design and flow work, said to generate almost a 50% increase in flow.

Pushrod-activated rocker arms control the two intake and two exhaust valves per head. Once set, valve adjustments are done for life.











• Harley said there are two versions in relation to engine cooling as well, as bikes without lowers will feature Precision Oil-Cooled engines, while bikes with lowers will employ the Precision Water Cooling system, with the radiators housed in the lowers a la RUSHMORE style. Before you get any bright ideas about retro-fitting a Milwaukee-Eight into an older bike, be aware that the engine mounting points have changed.

• The flywheel weight is the same as on the Twin Cam, but Harley has achieved 20% more rotational inertia with this engine. This aids in smoothing the driveline and producing a broad torque curve that pulls all the time. Redline is 5,500 rpm, slightly higher than a Twin Cam. A single internal engine counter-balancer is tuned at 75%, and the engine is rubber-mounted for less overall vibration to the rider and passenger.

• The heads have been treated to advanced combustion design and flow work, generating almost a 50% increase in flow. The intake and exhaust valve diameters are 40mm and 32mm respectively. Add the dual sparkplug (two per cylinder) design for a more complete burn, and you can see that this is not just a warmed-over Twin Cam design. There’s a new four-post-coil ignition with torque-based ECM with active knock sensors. There is independent control of the front and rear cylinder firing, with the front two coil outputs firing together and rear two firing together. Sequential Port Fuel injection is retained with a single throat inlet throttle body made of plastic. A bump up in compression ratio to 10:1 (107″) or 10.5:1 (114″) from the Twin Cam’s 9.7:1 means premium-grade fuel will be required.

• The single camshaft is utilized for its lower friction qualities, and it is chain driven. Thanks to a hydraulic lifter to pushrod connection from cam to rocker arm, you will never have to adjust the valvetrain from left to right, as they are now factory-set for life!

• It’s larger, more powerful, offers quicker acceleration, and produces 10% more torque. It should prove to be two to three bike lengths faster from 0-60 mph and one to two bike lengths faster from 60-80 mph in top gear.

The more powerful Milwaukee-Eight 107″ should make Harley’s tourers “two to three bike lengths faster from 0-60 mph and one to two bike lengths faster from 60-80 mph in top gear.”

2017 Milwaukee-Eight Engine Specs:
Engine:                 107″                  114″            TC 103 rubber mount
Cylinder angle:    45 degree      45 degree              45 degree
Bore:                      3.937″               4.01″                      3.875″
Stroke:                  4.375″               4.5″                        4.374″
Compression:    10:1                  10.5:1                       9.7:1
Valvetrain:      Four valves per cylinder      Two valve per cylinder
Ignition:            Four plug four coil               Two plug one coil
Torque: 114 ft-lb. @ 3250 /  124 ft-lb. @ 3250 / 104.7 ft-lb. @ 3250
Starter:                 1.6 kw               1.6 kw                  1.2 kw
Charging system: 24-25 amps / 24-25 amps / 17 amps
Fuel system:      ESPFI             ESPFI                     ESPFI
Oil capacity: 4.5 quarts      /   4.5 quarts    /          4 quarts
Idle speed:      850 rpm      /     850 rpm    /          1050 rpm

The new Harley Milwaukee-Eight will power The Motor Company’s 2017 touring motorcycles and baggers.

Harley-Davidson’s Big Twins over the Years
F-Head (JD) 1914-1929
Flathead 1930-1948
Knucklehead 1936-1947
Panhead 1948-1965
Shovelhead 1966-1984
Evolution 1984-1998
Twin Cam 1999-present
Milwaukee-Eight 2017-

Our First Ride Impressions of Harley’s New Milwaukee-Eight

Cornering on the 2017 Milwaukee-Eight-equipped Road King felt more agile than ever.

Cornering on the 2017 Milwaukee-Eight-equipped Road King felt more agile than ever.

American Iron Magazine editor Steve Lita was fortunate enough to get in a day of riding on the new 2017 Harley-Davidson Touring models featuring both versions of the new Milwaukee-Eight engine; standard 107″ and CVO models equipped with the 114″ version.

The first thing you notice when you start up the new Milwaukee-Eight is, well, the precise and consistent starting. Thanks to a new automatic compression release and a more powerful starter motor, the engine comes to life every time without a hitch or a hiccup, which can’t be said for Twin Cam models. Once the engine settles to life at a calm 850 idle rpm, you’ll recognize the traditional Harley rumble, albeit a little smoother. Don’t get me wrong, this engine is not sewing machine-boring, it still has that chugging cadence to it.

The 107" Milwaukee-Eight, staying true to Harley's Big Twin tradition while leaping forward.

The 107″ Milwaukee-Eight, staying true to Harley’s Big Twin tradition while leaping forward.

Click the bike into first gear and release the clutch, and you’ll be pleased with the easier feeling on your left hand. Roll on the throttle easy, the Milwaukee-Eight smoothly pulls this heavyweight up to speed. But gun the throttle, and get ready for an aggressive bark from the stock exhaust. Thanks to less drivetrain noise and the added cubic-inches, the exhaust emanates an aggressive tone. After my first ride I commented to Harley engineers how much I liked the sound of the bike.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have access to a timed acceleration course, but suffice it to say the seat-of-the-pants-feeling under hard acceleration was that the new bikes pull away from a stop or roll on at speed harder than before. This Milwaukee-Eight pulls hard all the way to the 5500 redline, and I found the rev limiter many times when not judiciously watching the tach. I felt consistent thrust all the way up the tach range without the power petering off. It just pulls, pulls, pulls, and then smack! You’re on the limiter. Step up to the larger 114″ Milwaukee-Eight, which is available only in the CVO models, and get ready for a kick in the butt over the 107″ version; you will definitely feel the difference in power output.

And the 114" Milwaukee-Eight, a CVO-only option that will blow your socks off.

And the 114″ Milwaukee-Eight, a CVO-only option that will blow your socks off.

All of that is great for straight-line riding, but what happens when you throw the new Touring models into a curve? Much improvement has been made to this line of bikes, and the new 2017 models can handle some twisties better than ever before. New front fork updates feature SHOWA Dual Bending valve (SDBV) technology, which is similar to current cartridge fork inserts, but more adept for mass production use. Out back is a hand-adjustable SHOWA emulsion shock. Turn the adjustment knob 23 times to allow for 25mm of total adjustment. No more worrying about blowing out air shocks. Confidence in riding through corners at high speed is greatly increased.

The 114" CVO Touring Model handles better than you could imagine for a Big Twin.

The 114″ CVO Touring Model handles better than you could imagine for a Big Twin.

My overall riding impression of these new Milwaukee-Eight-powered models is that Harley has taken all the right feelings and emotions of the previous engine and refined them, doing so with new high-tech components. The looks of the engine are right. It’s not some foreign, radical departure. Yet under the skin, the internal components work in better harmony than before. I think of this engine as a well-sorted Big Twin. It’s better than you ever thought the Big Twin family could perform.

For the full first ride review of the all-new Milwaukee-Eight Touring models, pick up a copy of Issue #342. In Issue #341, on sale 9/13, we give you everything you need to know about the new engine platforms.

Top 5 Harley Road Glide Ultra Features on the Ride to Sturgis

2016 Harley Road Glide Ultra in Zion

You can learn a lot about a motorcycle over the course of a 3400 mile road trip. For ten days straight we called the saddle of Harley’s 2016 Road Glide Ultra home. Our ride started at Harley’s fleet center in Carson, California, and ended in Grants Pass, Oregon. In between, we blazed a path across the Mojave Desert on an overcast day, got stuck huffing car exhaust fumes while stuck in Vegas traffic on a sweltering evening, then were rewarded with a chance to explore the splendors of Zion National Park. We kept revs up and rode hard, the only sane way to approach the desolate 110-mile stretch between Salina and Green River, Utah. It’s so long between services signs warn against fatigued driving and roadside pull-outs are provided. Stretches with 80 mph speed limits suited us just fine. Montana’s I-90 means go 90, right? On the final day we just missed going iron butt with a 900 mile run, the Road Glide Ultra never missing a beat.

That said, long, lonely stretches gave us plenty of time to think about the features of the 2016 Road Glide Ultra that were the most useful during our trip. Let’s start with No. 5. (Just click on the page links below).

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6

2016 Sportster Showdown at the Sturgis CrossRoads

Sportster Showdown Sturgis Buffalo Chip 2016

The first annual Sportster Showdown at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip demonstrated the diversity of the platform as a custom bike.

The humor expressed in emcee Dumptruck’s “It’s a Girls Bike” t-shirt was not lost on the crowd at the Sportster Showdown. Being a “Girl’s Bike” was once the Sportster’s stigma.

These days though, Sporty’s are gettting their due respect. It’s the weapon of choice for crews like Rusty Butcher and Suicide Machine Co., wheelie demons who love to rip up berms, launch off jumps, and sling ‘em sideways on dirt tracks. It’s the platform of choice for reputable builders like Pat Patterson of LedSledCustoms and Nash Motorcycle Co. Sportsters are a hot commodity now because there’s few limitations with what you can do with it.

This was evident at the first-ever Sportster Showdown held at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip. Forty motorcycles came out to compete for one of the cool trophies LedSled’s Patterson created out of bottles of PBR. Sportsters came choppered, scrambled, cafed, trackered, and choloed. Some had even been converted to tourers. And that’s the beauty of the platform. The only limit is imagination.

Sportster Showdown PBR Trophies 2016

How many trophies have you seen before that are actually filled with PBR? Only the one’s made by LedSled’s Pat for the Sportster Showdown.

Riding off with the 40 oz. “Best of Show” trophy was Chop-Machine Motorcycle’s Mike Schrickel for “White Chocolate,” an ultra-clean chopper that started out as a 1997 Sportster Custom.

“I’m a big fan of flow on a motorcycle,” said Schrickel.

“White Chocolate” features a custom frame he designed that was built by his buds at LedSled. Set at 6” up and 3” out, the fork with the ribbed lowers sports a 38-degree rake. The frame is made from 1” tubing because Schrickel likes that “old school look.” LedSled’s influence extends elsewhere as well, from the wheels to oil bag, which Schickel modified. With a rigid rear and drop seat, the chop does indeed have a sweet flow, from its raked-out front to its sissy bar.

Sportster Showdown Sturgis 2016

Forty Sportsters showed up at the Buffalo Chip for the first-ever Sportster Showdown hosted by LedSled and Biltwell.

Other winners include Andy Casey of Watertown, South Dakota, who won “Best Dirtster” for his 2002 883R he turned into a fire road ripper. Casey gave his Sporster some off-road chops because “there’s more enduros where he lives than street bikes.”

Mike Blank of Hysham, Montana, earned “Best Café” for his 1978 AMF Ironhead. Blank worked hard to get it “as close to showroom as you can possibly get,” his Sportster featuring matching numbers and case halves.

Top 5 Sporster Showdown Sturgis Buffalo Chip

The Top 5 Sportsters in the showdown.

Ryan Doll from Austin, Texas, rode away with the trophy for “Best Tracker.” With a Supertrapp exhaust, piggyback rear shocks, raised-up mid-controls and handguards, Doll’s 1996 Custom is primed for flat track action.

The fifth and final award for “Best Chopper,” well, remains anonymous. The owner couldn’t be found, leaving his tidy little T-barred Ironhead with the purple argyle peanut tank to fend for itself. Would have liked to have seen the owner’s face when they came back and found a trophy sitting next to it.

Sportsters. They’ve come a long ways. Nowadays it’s cool to ride a “Girl’s Bike.”

Harley-Davidson Editor’s Choice Bike Show Sturgis 2016

Willie G and Bill Davidson Sturgis 2016

Willie G and Bill Davidson helped host the Harley-Davidson Editor’s Choice Custom Bike Show in Sturgis.

The biggest, most diverse collection of custom motorcycles seen so far at this year’s Sturgis Rally turned out for the Editor’s Choice Bike Show held for the first time at the Harley-Davidson Rally Point.

Nearly 100 stunning customs turned out for the event with hopes of not only scoring a trophy, but a magazine feature story as well. In addition to the hot new location on Main St. in downtown Sturgis, several of the industry’s biggest names were on hand to look at bikes and give out their own awards for which one they’d most like to ride home. Taber Nash, Dave Perewitz, Bobby Seeger, John Shope, and Eddie Trotta added serious celebrity power to the event, surely helping to coax even more bikes to the show. Willie G. and Bill Davidson also attended the event to talk to rally goers and hand out several awards.

One of the most talked-about bikes at the show was a full-blown XG750 custom built by Custom Works Zon, a Japanese builder. Big-wheel baggers, hardtail Ironheads, FXRs, choppers, and just about every imaginable style of custom showed up, including a couple Volkswagen-powered trikes.

Custom Works Zon Harley Street 750 Sturgis 2016

We love this take on a Street 750 by the crew from Custom Works Zon out of Japan.

One motorcycle stood out to me, however, as one of the most original takes on the FXR platform I’ve ever seen. It’s a 1982 FXR built by Matt Anderson, manager of Gilby’s Street Dept. based out of River Falls, Wisconsin. It rocks a raked and extended front end, gorgeous paint, and a two-rear-cylinder Shovelhead engine where the exhaust pipes both go straight back like an XR-750. Stay tuned for a full feature in an upcoming issue of American Iron Magazine.

Harley-Davidson Lowers 2016 Outlook After Second Quarter Report

Harley-Davidson logo

Harley-Davidson, Inc. (NYSE:HOG) second quarter 2016 diluted earnings per share increased 7.6 percent to $1.55 compared to diluted EPS of $1.44 in the same period in 2015. Net income was $280.4 million on consolidated revenue of $1.86 billion compared to net income of $299.8 million on consolidated revenue of $1.82 billion in last year’s second quarter.

Harley-Davidson worldwide retail motorcycle sales in the second quarter were down 1.9 percent on weak U.S. industry results. Harley-Davidson retail motorcycle sales in the U.S. were down 5.2 percent compared to the year-ago quarter, with the overall U.S. industry down 8.6 percent for the same period. Harley-Davidson U.S. market share for the quarter was 49.5 percent, an increase of 2.0 points over the same period in 2015. International retail sales increased by 4.3 percent over the prior year quarter.

“We are pleased with our ability to gain market share in the U.S.,” said Matt Levatich, President and Chief Executive Officer, Harley-Davidson, Inc. “Competitiveness in the U.S. remains intense, and our demand-driving investments are showing traction.”

Through six months, Harley-Davidson’s 2016 net income was $530.9 million on consolidated revenue of $3.61 billion compared to six-month 2015 net income of $569.7 million on consolidated revenue of $3.50 billion. Six-month 2016 diluted EPS was $2.91, up 7.4 percent from $2.71 in the year-ago period.  Worldwide retail motorcycle sales were down 0.6 percent from the same period in 2015. International sales were up 4.4 percent, offset by a 3.4 percent decline in U.S. retail sales.

Given market softness in the U.S., the continued competitive environment and global economic uncertainty, the company is taking the precautionary step of lowering its full-year shipment guidance. The company now expects to ship 264,000 to 269,000 motorcycles to dealers worldwide in 2016. This action is consistent with the company’s long-standing commitment to manage supply in line with demand.

“While our investments to grow product awareness and ridership globally are beginning to take hold in a number of markets, current conditions in the U.S. and economic headwinds in other parts of the world  combine to raise caution for us as we continue to focus our strategy to drive demand and deliver strong returns to shareholders,” said Levatich.

Retail Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Sales

2nd Quarter Six Months
2016 2015 Change 2016 2015 Change
Americas Region
   U.S. 54,786 57,790 (5.2)% 90,112 93,278 (3.4)%
   Canada 3,813 3,737 2.0% 6,283 5,860 7.2%
   Latin America 2,573 2,708 (5.0)% 4,459 5,273 (15.4)%
Europe, Middle East, Africa (EMEA) Region 17,513 16,179 8.2% 27,723 25,567 8.4%
Asia Pacific Region 8,581 8,517 0.8% 16,147 15,614 3.4%
Worldwide Total 87,266 88,931 (1.9)% 144,724 145,592 (0.6)%

Retail sales in EMEA were up 8.2 percent in the second quarter and 8.4 percent for the first six months behind a strong reception to the new 2016 motorcycle models and increased demand driving investments. Asia Pacific retail sales were up 0.8 percent in the quarter and up 3.4 percent for the first six months compared to 2015. Canada retail sales grew 2.0 percent in the quarter and 7.2 percent for the first six months versus a year ago as the market continued to respond favorably to the company’s transition to direct distribution.

Motorcycles and Related Products Segment Results

$ in thousands 2nd Quarter Six Months
2016 2015 Change 2016 2015 Change
Motorcycle Shipments (vehicles) 88,160 85,172 3.5% 171,196 164,761 3.9%
   Motorcycles $1,330,632 $1,308,837 1.7% $2,648,210 $2,563,958 3.3%
   Parts & Accessories $258,208 $256,840 0.5% $441,913 $440,712 0.3%
   General Merchandise $75,757 $77,518 (2.3)% $146,375 $143,946 1.7%
Gross Margin Percent 36.4% 39.2% (2.8) pts 36.9% 39.1% (2.2) pts
Operating Income $322,749 $380,603 (15.2)% $655,206 $726,057 (9.8)%
Operating Margin Percent 19.3% 23.1% (3.8)pts 20.2% 23.0% (2.8)pts

Revenue from motorcycles and related products was up versus the prior quarter behind increased motorcycle shipments. Operating margin as a percent of revenue decreased versus the prior year primarily as a result of lower than expected gross margin driven by unfavorable mix, currency and manufacturing expenses.

Financial Services Segment Results

$ in thousands 2nd Quarter Six Months
2016 2015 Change 2016 2015 Change
Revenue $190,964 $173,609 10.0% $364,322 $335,984 8.4%
Operating Income $89,573 $81,913 9.4% $145,944 $146,577 (0.4)%

Financial services operating income was higher in the second quarter compared to the year ago period driven by a $9.3 million gain generated from a full securitization.


Harley-Davidson is revising its full-year guidance for motorcycle shipments and now expects to ship 264,000 to 269,000 motorcycles to dealers worldwide in 2016, which is approximately down 1 percent to up 1 percent from 2015. The company had previously provided full-year shipment guidance of 269,000 to 274,000 motorcycles.  In the third quarter, the company expects to ship 48,500 to 53,500 motorcycles compared to 53,472 motorcycles shipped in the year-ago period. The company now expects full-year 2016 operating margin of approximately 15 to 16 percent for the Motorcycles segment, compared to prior guidance of 16 to 17 percent. The company continues to expect 2016 capital expenditures for Harley-Davidson, Inc. of $255 million to $275 million. 

Income Tax Rate

For the first half of 2016, Harley-Davidson’s effective tax rate was 32.7 percent compared to 34.9 percent in 2015. The lower rate is due to the successful closure of various tax audits. The company now expects its full-year 2016 effective tax rate will be approximately 33 percent.

Cash Flow

Cash and marketable securities totaled $869.7 million at the end of the second quarter, compared to $1.30 billion in the year-ago quarter. During the first six months of 2016, Harley-Davidson generated $456.3 million of cash from operating activities compared to $613.9 million for the same period in 2015.

Shareholder Returns

The company paid a cash dividend of $0.35 per share for the second quarter for a total of $0.70 for the first six months of 2016. On a discretionary basis, the company repurchased 2.6 million shares of Harley-Davidson common stock for $118.9 million.  In the second quarter of 2016, there were approximately 181.3 million weighted-average diluted shares outstanding, compared to approximately 208.6 million shares in the year-ago quarter. At the end of the second quarter, 23.0 million shares remained on board-approved share repurchase authorizations.

2016 Harley Low Rider S First Ride Review

2016 Low Rider S Review

NEW BIKE REVIEW by Tyler Greenblatt  Photos by Riles & Nelson

There’s fast, and then there’s 110” Screamin’ Eagle Dyna fast

You know you’re in for a fun ride when fleet center manager Alan has to replace all the ground-down footpegs on the test bikes from the previous day’s grouping of motojournalists. I promised to take care of the fresh pegs on the new 2016 Low Rider S when my day came to ride it, unlike the local Los Angeles hooligans who had been riding that day. After about 30 seconds of riding the FXDL-S, I realized I wasn’t going to be able to keep my promise.

Walking up to the S for the first time, it takes a second to recognize it as actually being a Low Rider as so much is physically different between the two machines that share a name. Gone is the chrome and metallic look from the original Shovelhead Low Riders. The back half of the rear fender is noticeably missing, and the handlebars are entirely different. At first glance it looks more like something coming out of a Southern California custom shop than a factory Harley. That defining look is the first complete bike to be headed up by H-D Director of Styling Brad Richards, who started at Harley just over a year ago and whose name you’ll be seeing a lot.

2016 Harley Low Rider S

The Low Rider S is equipped with “Premium Ride nitrogen gas-charged emulsion shocks and a Premium Ride cartridge fork.”

The split, five-spoke Magnum Gold cast aluminum wheels look as though they were pulled from the 1982 FXSB, while the gold tank badge was pulled directly from the 1977 XLCR. The drag bars, speed screen, side-mount license plate, bobbed rear fender, and deep-scoop solo seat are all modern takes on the traditional high-performance Harley.

It’s impossible to discuss high-performance Harleys without making mention of the legendary FXR motorcycles of the 1980s and ‘90s, which mixed a stiff, triangulated frame and sporty suspension with a rubber-mounted Big Twin. FXRs have grown in popularity in the past few years, and with that resurgence came a subsequent rise in Dyna interest. But today’s twin-shock enthusiast isn’t looking for the same chopper-esque feel of Willie G’s Shovelhead FX creations. The name of the game today is speed, around corners as much as in a straight line, and the ability to stop. The 2016 Low Rider S delivers on all fronts.

2016 Harley Low Rider S Screamin' Eagle Twin Cam 110 engine

The latest addition to Harley’s Dyna range is equipped with the Screamin’ Eagle Twin Cam 110 engine, a forward-facing Screamin’ Eagle Heavy Breather performance intake and Fat Bob-style 2-into-2 exhaust.

The Low Rider S sports a set of premium adjustable emulsion-type shock absorbers at the rear and a premium ride cartridge fork suspension at the front, good for 2.13″ and 5.1″ of travel respectively. Although rear travel seems short, the premium adjustable shocks held their own while carving California’s canyons for over 100 miles. Unlike typical stock shocks, these didn’t bottom out once on me, and they kept the rear of the Dyna tracking through turns as if it were on rails. The improvement in the front isn’t as obvious, but undoubtedly aids in the bike’s road manners.

The Low Rider S sports 28-1/2-degree left- and 27-1/2-degree right-lean angles, which leaves some lean room to be desired, although as I found out you can go right up to and past the pegs around turns. In fact, after about an hour of spirited riding, your pegs should be worn down enough to increase those angles. Any new buyer should just consider footpegs a regularly replaceable maintenance item thanks to the 4.1″ of ground clearance. That low center of gravity and 27″ unladen seat height also make the S easy to control and predictable even when sparks are flying. The sticky Michelin Scorcher tires still have some tread left once you run out of bike, which further improves confidence.

2016 Harley Low Rider S first ride

Tyler cracks the throttle on the 2016 Low Rider S and said he likes the Twin Cam 110 platform in this Dyna. 

Wait, there’s more! For the full ride review, custom bike features, tech stories and more,
CLICK HERE American Iron Issue 338

Also available in digital format CLICK HERE American Iron Digital

Harley Low Rider S Dyna

“Riders have been asking when Harley-Davidson would build another aggressive, performance-based bike like the legendary FXR models,” said Harley-Davidson Director of Styling Brad Richards.

Win Feature in American Iron at Harley-Davidson / Editor’s Choice Show Sturgis 2016

We want you! Or at least your motorcycle. In Sturgis. In the pages of American Iron Magazine.

We’re excited about being one of the publications represented in the Harley-Davidson Editor’s Choice Custom Bike Show in Sturgis. Join us and The Motor Company Tuesday, August 9, at the Harley-Davidson Rally Point on Main Street Sturgis. Registration is from 8 a.m. to noon while awards start at 4 p.m.

Harley-Davidson Editor's Choice Custom Bike Show 2016

Harley-Davidson / Editor’s Choice Custom Bike Show 2016 (Courtesy of Harley-Davidson)

Tyler Greenblatt, Editor of American Iron Garage, will be looking for a bike that has something special for a future print spread. Think your Harley’s got what it takes? Bring it on out, we’d love to see it.

Classes range from the always ultra-competitive bagger class to FXRs, the hot ticket these days. Harley’s added Street, Mild and Radical classes to the mix for Sturgis as well. Tuesday, August 9. Be there!