taking the fight to indian
Meet Harley-Davidson’s Top-Secret Cafe Racer and Flat Tracker Motorcycles
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Harley-Davidson may be one of the best-known brands in the motorcycle world — hell, one of the best-known brands in the world, period — but that brand recognition hasn’t been translating to growing sales. 2019 saw the brand’s units moved drop for the fifth straight year in a row, a consequence of its difficulties in pulling in fresh customers as their current ones grow older.
Still, the company is at least taking a few good swings at innovation. The all-electric LiveWire may not have brought in customers in droves, but it still managed to help redefine what an EV motorcycle can be, and the upcoming Bronx and Pan American models show how Harley plans on pushing into other categories buyers certainly don’t associate with the brand today.
Continuing that trend: it seems the motorheads from Milwaukee are planning on releasing a cafe racer and a flat track-inspired bike onto the streets.
That’s the word discovered by Motorcycle.com, which dug up European patent drawings for such a pair of bikes powered by the same new liquid-cooled Revolution Max engine found in the Bronx and Pan American. Those drawings pair almost perfectly with a pair of concept bikes spotted in Harley-Davidson’s investor presentation from September of last year — the blue and black bikes seen above.
The flat tracker, it seems, is likely targeted at the Indian FTR 1200 — which makes sense, given how that bike has opened Indian up to a younger audience less interested in massive cruisers, and that’s exactly what Harley is looking to do. The patent illustrations reveal much of the apparent design: there’s a single oval headlight up front, foot pegs mounted back behind the pivot for the tubular swingarm, an inverted fork front suspension, and a three-slot flyscreen that brings to mind a Jeep grille turned on its side.
The cafe racer seems to share the flat tracker’s front suspension setup, but as the patent drawings reveal, it differs in quite a few other ways. The foot pegs sit higher and further back, the handlebars sit low, and there’s a traditional swingarm with dual shocks in back instead. A headlight fairing and small windshield complete the cafe racer look.
While the style of the concepts is a bit of a matter of taste — we can’t help but think they look like a Harley designer went to Radwood and got the wrong ideas about what people want — the idea of H-D pushing into new categories certainly seems exciting. Sadly, there’s no word on when we’ll see them, but given how far along they look, we wouldn’t be surprised to see them revealed sometime in 2020 and hit the streets in 2021.
And while Harley-Davidson’s new CEO has reportedly played around with the company’s forthcoming model launches in a bid to play things a bit more conservatively — the so-called “Rewire” strategy moved the debuts of the Bronx and Pan American back to 2021 — we’re still hopeful that these exciting bikes will make it to market sooner or later.
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