Coming Soon: A New Global Harley-Davidson Motorcycle

It may have launched an electric sub-brand and its first adventure bike, but Harley-Davidson isn’t done releasing new motorcycles quite yet. For one, Harley-Davidson recently unveiled a limited-edition Revival of the classic Electra Glide. And soon, it’s going to show off something that’s been teased and rumored for quite some time. Whether it’ll be named Nightster, Sportster, Custom 1250, or something else, it’s going to be Harley-Davidson’s new global motorcycle.

This new Harley-Davidson motorcycle is likely a production-ready version of the Custom 1250 concept

The white-gold-and-black 2018 Harley-Davidson Custom 1250 concept
2018 Harley-Davidson Custom 1250 concept | Harley-Davidson

A few years ago, Harley-Davidson showed off several concept motorcycles that it eventually planned to put into production. Subsequent fiscal and corporate issues meant these bikes’ futures were in jeopardy. However, after the turmoil settled, it turned out that Harley would build some of these motorcycles after all. One of those bikes was the Pan America. And the other was the Custom 1250.

Since then, there haven’t been many concrete details released about the production version of the Harley-Davidson Custom 1250 motorcycle. And technically, Harley hasn’t officially confirmed that such a bike is coming. However, the company did recently release a rather telling teaser image, shown below.

A close-up of the upcoming black-and-gold Harley-Davidson motorcycle's fuel tank, engine, and exhaust pipes
A close-up of the upcoming Harley-Davidson motorcycle | Harley-Davidson

This teaser image shows a close-up of a bike’s engine, exhaust pipes, and fuel tank. And although the color scheme is slightly different, the motorcycle looks similar to the Harley-Davidson Custom 1250, Cycle World notes. Also, the engine cover says ‘1250 Revolution Max,’ which is the name of the Pan America’s liquid-cooled V-twin engine. And when it was first revealed, Harley intended for the Custom 1250 to use the same engine as the Pan America.

Hence, it appears this motorcycle will be a production version of the 2018 Harley-Davidson Custom 1250 concept. But there’s still the question of its name.

Will this new motorcycle replace the Harley-Davidson Sportster?

A white-helmeted, black-clad rider on a black 2021 Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 1200 riding down the road
2021 Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 1200 side | Harley-Davidson

Back in March 2021, trademark applications suggested that Harley-Davidson was bringing back the Nightster. That name originally appeared on a blacked-out version of the Harley-Davidson Sportster that ran from 2007-2012. And the applications’ timing suggested that the upcoming Custom 1250 would use the Nightster name.

But while that might still be the case, it’s also possible that this new global Harley-Davidson motorcycle could replace the current Sportster. Perhaps not initially, RevZilla muses, but maybe somewhere down the line. Or Harley could sell it alongside the current Sportster models at the very least.

These notions aren’t necessarily idle speculation, though. As Motorcycle News points out, all Harley-Davidson Sportsters use the air-cooled Evolution V-twin. And in its press release, Harley refers to this new bike’s reveal event as “From Evolution to Revolution.” Combine that with the teaser image, and it suggests that the Sportster is ditching the Evolution engine for the Revolution V-twin.

The side view of a maroon-and-black 2021 Indian Scout Bobber parked on the street
2021 Indian Scout Bobber side | Matthew Skwarczek, MotorBiscuit

Plus, Harley-Davidson has strong financial reasons to give the Sportster that liquid-cooled V-twin. Although the Harley stills the Sportster in the US, it’s dead overseas because the Evolution engine couldn’t meet Euro5 emissions regulations. Those same regulations also claimed the Street 750 and 500, Harley-Davidson’s cheapest motorcycles. That leaves Harley with no entry-level models outside of the US, which is an untenable position.

Also, the Harley-Davidson Sportster has a notable American rival: the liquid-cooled Indian Scout. Giving the Sportster a liquid-cooled engine would truly level the playing field between the two bikes. Or, seeing as the Pan America’s 1250cc Revolution Max V-twin makes 150 hp, could let the Harley pull ahead.  

We won’t have to wait long to find out

While there aren’t many specific details about this new Harley-Davidson motorcycle available right now, there will be soon. Harley plans on revealing this new bike online on July 13, 2021, at 10 am CDT. Interested parties can sign up on the company’s website.

There’s a lot that’s still unknown about this upcoming bike. But Harley’s livestream will undoubtedly have more than a few eyes on it.

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