Harley-Davidson unveils 8 new models for 2014

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

Harley-Davidson Inc. has unveiled 2014 touring and trike motorcycles, developed under the name Project Rushmore, that have liquid-cooled engines and touch-screen electronics more akin to luxury automobiles.

Eight models were retooled and enhanced under Project Rushmore, making it the largest new model launch in Harley’s history, the company says. The unveiling comes as Harley plans to celebrate its 110th anniversary in Milwaukee over Labor Day weekend.

“This is beyond anything we’ve ever done,” Harley spokesman Matt King said.

The Rushmore cycles are the first to come under a new product development initiative, announced four years ago, that aims to bring new bikes and features to the marketplace faster.

Eight new motorcycles will have Project Rushmore features: the Road King, Street Glide, Street Glide Special, Electra Glide Ultra Classic, Ultra Limited, Tri Glide Ultra, CVO Ultra Limited and CVO Road King.

“Project Rushmore is the overarching name we are using for this family of bikes,” King said.

New features include the first liquid-cooled engine for a Harley-Davidson touring bike; integrated front and rear anti-lock brakes; integrated audio, communications, navigation and vehicle information in a single electronic touch screen; five-way joy sticks on the left and right motorcycle hand controls for most of the system’s functions; and a more comfortable passenger seat.

Linked braking, where braking with the front and rear wheels is synchronized, is activated at speeds above about 20 miles per hour. At highway speeds, the system will automatically calculate the amount of braking that’s necessary under the existing conditions.

The company’s styling team influenced every aspect of the makeover, with considerable input from customers.

“When we got this assignment, we knew that we were messing with the Holy Grail of motorcycles,” said Brian Nelson, lead stylist on Project Rushmore.

“We don’t do trend bikes or fashion-statement motorcycles. We try to make something that will last forever. But we also have an obligation to move the brand forward, to make it look and function better,” Nelson added.

The bikes, and other changes in Harley-Davidson’s motorcycle lineup, were unveiled at the company’s dealership meeting in Denver.

The bikes’ hand controls were redesigned, and the number of dash gauges has been reduced from six to four — with temperature and oil pressure readouts moved to the electronic screen and the gauges made larger for better visibility.

The new bikes are priced comparably with 2013 models, according to Harley, such as a $26,939 base price for an Ultra Limited with two-tone paint.

Designing a motorcycle involves art, science and emotional appeal. Harley’s Willie G. Davidson Product Development Center, in Wauwatosa, Wis., has a large conference room called the “bunker” where motorcycle designs and prototypes are reviewed. Its tall glass windows have motorized shades to keep prying eyes from getting even a glimpse of bikes that might not be released to the public for several years, if ever.

Under CEO Keith Wandell’s leadership, Harley has cut product development time by about 30 percent, and it has a new way of gathering ideas for motorcycle designs.

“We gather input and ideas at formal focus groups, but also at all the events we attend and at our demo rides, sometimes just talking to that rider or passenger sitting on the next stool at a diner,” said Scott Habegger, director of motorcycle styling.

“We take our ideas and solutions back to customers as prototypes and get more feedback before settling on a final design,” he added.

Other changes in the 2014 lineup include anti-lock brakes on all five Sportster models, a new CVO Softail Deluxe that comes with a detachable windshield with GPS navigation, Daymaker LED lighting and detachable saddlebags.

Also, the Twin Cam 103 engine is now standard equipment on the Street Bob and Super Glide Custom models.


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