According to Motorcyclist Magazine, one of their readers stumbled onto a new Harley Davidson Sportster being tested in the Arizona desert. When he got up close, what he saw was a water cooled pushrod V-Twin with the word "Sportster" embossed into the engine cases. He was quickly hustled away before he could see much more but after calling the boys at the magazine, their calls to HD resulted in a lot of "no comment" and "we don't comment on future products" statements. Of course, if you say you don't comment on future products, what you've just said is that what he saw might actually be a future product.
With the ever tightening noose of emissions regulations putting the squeeze on air cooled V-Twins, this development, if true, seems like a logical move. With water cooling, you control engine operation to a much narrower range of temperatures, so you can build to tighter tolerances allowing the sort of design that yields power and low emissions. Plus, adding to Harley's fast growing experience with the water cooled V-Rod and seeing as the Sportster is turning 50 years old, it seems like a nice time to begin a new platform for their entry level ride.
Of course, there's one other really neat feature that many of us around The Kneeslider would welcome and that's the possibility of placing this water cooler into Erik Buell's sport bikes. You have to figure, this engine would have considerably more power than current Sportsters from the start and would probably have a lot of potential for tuning, giving us a high power and torque V-Twin sport bike, something we've mentioned so many times you're probably tired of hearing it. Just think, too, of a Street Tracker with the new engine or maybe a Storz conversion, putting performance in there to match the looks. ... Nice.
Is this engine going to happen soon? I hope so and I bet Erik Buell hopes so, too.