The internet is exploding with posts and and comments about the release of Harley Davidson’s new Milwaukee Eight 107″ V-Twin engine. Most people are forming their opinions on specs and media content. I’m not one to judge on appearance, so I decided to find out for myself if it lives up to the hype.
Today I had the chance to test ride the 2017 Street Glide with the all new Milwaukee Eight engine. Let me begin by saying that I went in expecting to be unimpressed. Just like the old guys were when the Evolution engine came out, I was unimpressed when I read about the new offering from HD. It sounded like older Japanese technology coupled with the four valve conversion that Feuling manufactured for the EVO back in the 80’s. I thought all this effort in redesign to only bump up four cubic inches seemed weak compared to previous displacement increases.
That being said, HOLY S#*T, this thing is great. At first start up, I noticed an almost silent valve train. People have knocked the fact that HD went with a cam chain, but it works along with the other changes to keep engine noise down. This in turn allows the manufacturer to let the bikes leave the assembly line with a bit more exhaust growl, all while keeping the feds happy. The engine was amazingly quiet, which made the fact that the exhaust was a little more aggressive than the ’16 model, show even more. I pulled out on the road and noticed that the bike was way more fluid than any other Harley I had ever ridden. The clutch and transmission felt great; both were super smooth. But, that’s not what you want to hear about.
I’m sure you want to know how the 107” performed. Well, it rocks. I didn’t thrash it like it was mine, because it’s not. This wasn’t corporate giving me a bike to beat down. This was a dealership letting me test ride one of their bikes, so I didn’t want to abuse it with only 11 miles on the clock. I was easy on it, but the power delivery felt great. The bike pulled hard and didn’t make me feel like I would instantly have to do engine upgrades to be happy. It pretty much felt like a 103” with cams, exhaust, high flow air cleaner, and a tune, but it was stone cold stock. I did run it once through the gears at a healthy rate and was impressed. Performance is great, but most people’s biggest complaint from the past few years has been excessive heat. Well, I think they did their homework on this and figured it out. It was 93 degrees with heat index making it feel 100, and I wasn’t hot sitting on the bike in traffic. I rode around town noticing that my legs actually felt cool. The new style catalytic converter appears to sit a few inches further back, and whatever the redesign of it entailed, it worked. I moved my feet to different positions and never felt hot spots. It seems that changes were made to rectify the problem everywhere the 2016 failed. I guess I’m getting old, because I really was against this new engine, but after this ride, I’m sold.
Only time will tell how well it holds up, or what issue will be the weakness of the Milwaukee Eight, but my out of the box impression is positive. The last time a guy was writing about the all new Harley engine was around this time in 1998, so it feels good to be the guy writing on this one. I’ve lived through Shovelhead, EVO, and Twin Cam years; I wonder if I will make it to see the next big thing???
Until next time, ride safe, but enjoy it all.