Harley turns to EICMA for reveal
Street 500, 750 feature new Revolution X engine
The first all-new model from Harley-Davidson in 13 years got top billing at EICMA, the massive motorcycle exhibition for trade members and consumers in Milan, Italy.
The launch of the Street 500 and Street 750 — geared at the brand’s next generation of riders — wasn’t an everyday launch. Not much is pedestrian at EICMA. In fact, it was the first time the Motor Co. has ever unveiled a new model in Europe, and it follows the highly successful launch of Rushmore in the U.S. earlier this year.
Worldwide research alongside potential Street buyers eventually led to an international launch at the world’s largest motorcycle show, now in its 71st edition.
“We did 1,600 1-on-1 focus groups throughout the world, in London, here in Milan, Chicago, Tokyo,” Harley-Davidson senior vice president and chief marketing officer Mark-Hans Richer said. “They told us what they were looking for from us — something that would fit their lifestyle, and the urban nature of their riding; something that would evoke the cool and authenticity of their style and attitude. That’s what these bikes do.”
Richer referenced the social connectedness of those focus group members, “the most globally connected generation ever. A generation that wears their identity in ink on their skin, and we know a little bit about people who wear their identity and ink on their skin. This generation speaks to us, and we speak to them.”
Richer said designers looked deep into Harley-Davidson’s past to come up with an appealing model for future riders.
“We took the old school cool of the Harley-Davidson original café racer, the XLCR, and borrowed a trick or two from the liquid-cooled V-Rod, one of our most popular bikes here in Europe, and brought the attitude of Dark Custom forward,” Richer said. “What could we do if we smashed all that together and brought that to those customers, the next generation of young adults all over the world? That’s what we have with the Street 750 and the Street 500.”
The bikes check in at 480 pounds “dripping wet, full of gas and oil,” Richer said. The 500 brings a $6,700 pricetag, with the 700 at $7,500. Both will be available in the spring.
The bikes feature the all-new Revolution X engine, a 60-degree V-twin, single overhead cam, 4 valves per cylinder and fuel-injected plant mated to a 6-speed transmission through a belt drive.
“The belt drive is important, because these young adults may not have a garage, and they don’t want to mess around with chains,” Richer said.
Frank Savage, industrial design lead and project manager for Street 750 and Street 500, said the Revolution X “was designed with the same ethos that goes into every one of our powertrains. And that is, it’s the crown jewel, the heart and soul of every Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The Revolution X is pure Dark Custom attitude.”
Savage used the gas tank as an example of the precise and intense process his team traversed on its way to the final product.
“As we go through the design process, we look for visual cues. Our designers sift through our archives and try to take that history forward,” Savage said.
The gas tank, then, was influenced by the 1947 Knucklehead teardrop tank and the 1948 peanut tank. Seven-spoke cast aluminum wheels are directly from the 1977 café racer, Savage said, and the speed screen drew inspiration from the 1980s-era FXRs, “our visual fist in the wind,” he said.
Among EICMA’s highlights was the appearance of Italian deputy prime minister Angelino Alfano at the inauguration kickoff event. He later walked through several exhibits, with throngs of police officers and media members by his side.
Attendance at EICMA increased by 8 percent over 2012, with 551,404 passing through the gates at Fiera Milano-Rho. The six pavilions and outdoor arena hosted 1,408 exhibitors from 38 different countries.
EICMA reported 45,806 trade visitors, and the number of trade visitors from outside Italy was up 20 percent compared to 2012.
The 6,896 journalists, cameramen and photographers accounted for a 20.5 percent increase from a year ago. Of those, 70 percent were from Europe, 17 percent from Asia, 12 percent from the U.S., and the remainder from Africa and Oceania.
The 2014 version of EICMA will be held Nov. 4-9.