Quite a few years ago, we wrote about Project Overlord, a secret effort by Harley Davidson to develop a whole family of motorcycles designed around a brand new V4 engine. From the look of the 3D model of one of the planned bikes it would have been a radical departure from anything the Motor Company had produced up to that point. The project was killed under Keith Wandell’s restructuring that included selling off MV Agusta and shutting down Buell. Harley was in survival mode and introducing a new line of motorcycles was simply not in the cards. What’s interesting, though, is what the proposed lineup was going to be, a sport-tourer, a big and heavy adventure bike and a street fighter. Hmm, …
Project Overlord finally arrives
Now, what did Harley Davidson just introduce? The Pan America, a big adventure bike, and what is waiting in the wings, the Bronx, a street fighter. What are the odds that a sport touring model is somewhere behind the scenes, waiting to be announced? The common element to all of these is the all new Revolution Max V-Twin engine, as the V4 was to be the common element in the earlier plan. Based on the weight reduction of using this new engine instead of a V4 along with the respectable power of the modern design, performance is quite likely on the same level as we might have expected from the last attempt, perhaps even more.
It’s a smart use of resources
Design and development work on Project Overlord was in an advanced stage when they pulled the plug, or so it appears, so why not make use of it now? Swapping the new engine design for the V4 and adapting the previous model lineup speeds development, though the initial work was about ten or more years ago so maybe “speed” isn’t the proper term here, but if someone in the Motor Company wanted to get things moving, taking advantage of earlier work might have been a great internal selling point and when the go ahead was given, you’re already part way there.
Will it work this time?
I have no information that confirms any of this, but it certainly seems logical and my only concerns are how these new models will fare in the current motorcycle market, which may determine whether a sport touring version appears at all. Technology is changing so fast it’s hard to be in any established manufacturing business and motorcycles might be more challenging than most. Early photos of the Bronx look really good to me and I think a younger buyer would agree, I just wish Milwaukee had done this sooner, but better late than never. So, Project Overlord rises from the ashes, maybe we should call it Project Phoenix? What do you think?