MILAN, ITALY, NOV. 4–For reasons that have become apparent, Harley-Davidson selected Italy’s immense bicycle and motorcycle show called EICMA (short for—deep breath—Exposizione Internationale Ciclo Motociclo Accessori) as the cosmopolitan setting for what was inarguably the most dramatic and potentially far-reaching new model introduction in their recent history. “Young,” “urban,” and “global” were the buzzwords and talking points of the gala introduction, and while it was no longer in question that The Motor Company had had something of the like in the works, it did come as a shocker that both a 500cc and 750cc iteration of the new platform—designated the Harley alphabet soup prefix of XG (as in Global?)—were trotted out.
Also shocking was the fact that they both are powered by the new Revolution X motor, a liquid-cooled, overhead cam, four-valve per cylinder, 60-degree V-Twin motor with a 66mm stroke and a 69mm bore, in the case of the 500, and an 85mm bore for the 750.
And that was just the lead item in a long list of desirable attributes and components brought to the package. You also get L.E.D. taillights and bullet indicators, single-caliper disc brakes front and rear, locking gas cap, forks and ignition, steel teardrop tank and fenders, and low-riding tires—a 100/80-17 up front and a 140/75-15 in back.
The Dark Custom concept, which has languished somewhat of late and somehow come to include a lot less dark and a lot more metal-flake, comes roaring back with a dark vengeance on these models right down to the black 2-into-1 exhaust system and gaiters on the front forks borrowed from the company’s Iron 883.
Lane-splitting agility, curbside sex appeal, upright street ergonomics with mid-mount pegs and wide pull-back handlebar, somewhat minimalist two-up riding capacity (you’ll want to find yourself a skinny-assed pillion pal—we’re just saying) and pothole-absorbing suspension travel and bounce all serve the bikes’ urban agenda nicely. A steel tubular cradle frame the width of, well, a skinny ass, facilitates slithering past the congested mass of buses, pedicabs, deranged cabbies and horn-happy hotheads on your way to Starbucks. Oodles of customization potential (which is already a priority in product planning) should make it a simple matter to put your personal stamp on your ride and stand out from the crowd.
The initial production run will indeed take place in India and be distributed to selected markets that in addition to India will include Spain, Italy and Portugal (which are a puzzling choice for the initial European rollout, those nations being the cripples of the Euro zone where record-high unemployment rates currently persist).
The XGs will also be manufactured at Harley-Davidson’s Kansas City facility—alongside the V-Rods currently built there—and those units will be target-marketed in North America in the second quarter of 2014. The MSRP in the U.S. will be $6,700 for the XG500 and $7,500 for the XG750. Total production run for 2014 will be between 7,000 and 10,000 units.