Cruisers, Touring and CVO models round out H-D’s focus on core motorcycles, with more to come
Words by Kali Kotoski Photos courtesy of Harley-Davidson
As Harley-Davidson sheds its all-things-to-all-people ‘Rewire’ strategy and embraces a 5-year strategic ‘Hardwire’ plan, it is becoming clear that Milwaukee hasn’t been standing still during the Covid-19 shutdown, with CEO Jochen Zeitz aiming to fulfill his promise of a renewed focus towards its core base of enthusiasts.
The company’s plan, partially released in late January with the announcement of its 2021 models, appears heavily focused on regaining what made people fall in love with the brand in the first place— heritage, performance, style, technology and, most importantly, freedom for the soul.
“Harley-Davidson enters 2021 focused on motorcycling as an emotional experience,” said VP of Marketing Theo Keetell in a statement. “The timeless pursuit of adventure and freedom on the open road is the foundation of our heritage and the vision of our future. As we enter this new year and a new riding season, fueling that desire is more important than ever.”
Despite all the uncertainty over the future of Harley-Davidson and its chronic struggle to capture new bike sales, the one thing that has remained steadfast is its commitment to designing and manufacturing some of the world’s most beautiful and powerful motorcycles. No matter what the naysayers say, Harley-Davidson has solid, class-leading products just begging for demand.
The 2021 lineup starts with its new Street Bob 114, a gritty and muscular bike that not only upgrades the powerplant from the M8 107ci mill, but also further digs into its stripped-down bobber styling while boosting performance.
With two-up seating, black steel-laced wheels and dark finishes, the Street Bob 114 comes with bold and classy color options. It is the lightest Softail model in Harley’s lineup, making it a powerful and sleek ride without clumsy appendages. It screams attitude, with a mini-ape handlebar and chopped rear fender. Packing all of Harley’s Milwaukee-Eight muscle into the Street Bob makes its price tag of $14,999 seem plenty justified.
The restyled and imposing 2021 Fat Boy brings chrome back into the spotlight and brightens up the powertrain and exhaust, along with the front end, rear fender struts and the console. Bringing chrome back to this historic model happened by popular demand, says Harley-Davidson, while extra finishes like the bullet-hole console and hefty headlamp nacelle only add to its appeal.
The 2021 Harley-Davidson Touring motorcycle line adds fresh swagger to its trio of baggers. The Road King Special, Road Glide Special and Street Glide Special models have even more of a commanding street presence and feature a new low-profile engine guard to emphasize that presence. The Street Glide Special and Road Glide Special models have new two-tone paint options, and a choice of a blacked-out or bright chrome styling treatment.
A big surprise unveiled during the launch is a new partnership between Harley-Davidson and Rockford Fosgate that produces an advanced audio system for specific models. The 2021 CVO Street Glide and CVO Road Glide are the first two models sporting the new specially designed speakers and amplifiers, and the system will be available for 2014 or later touring motorcycles equipped with Boom! Box infotainment hardware.
Each of the four 2021 CVO models – a group that includes the updated Tri Glide 3-wheeler – feature new paint options and styling features and are packed with the 117 V-Twin engines, the most-powerful engine offered as original equipment by Milwaukee. The CVOs feature the latest technology with their RDRS Safety Enhancements that include cornering enhanced electronic linked braking, enhanced traction control and drag-torque slip control system.
The long-anticipated – and potentially earth-shattering – Pan America 1250 adventure touring bike was previewed during the launch, but full details won’t be released until late February.
Until then, Harley-Davidson has provided plenty of incremental change to keep us hungry for more. It also gives us plenty to ponder, as rumors build concerning the fate of LiveWire and future electric vehicles. Harley fans will just have to continue to wait patiently as the company rolls out its next steps, beginning with the February announcement of the Pan America project. Stay tuned.