2007 Harley-Davidsons First Rides

August 17, 2006
Kevin Duke
Contributing Editor|Articles|Articles RSS

A legend in the motorcycle industry, Duke Danger is known for his wheelie riding antics, excellent writing skills, appetite for press intro dinners and a propensity to wake up late. Once a fearless member of the MotoUSA team, the Canadian kid is often missed but never forgotten.

Harley s big news for 2007 is the Twin Cam 96 engine that offers a noticeable increase in power along with greater durability and a six-speed transmission.
Harley’s big news for 2007 is the Twin Cam 96 engine that offers a noticeable increase in power along with greater durability and a six-speed transmission.

If this article looks familar, you haven’t lost your mind. We originally posted it last month in our effort to get you fresh information as soon as possible. Since then, we’ve received our action photography (including Duke Danger’s first wheelie on a Harley), so now we’ve updated the article with more details and riding impressions. Enjoy!

For a manufacturer known as The Motor Company, 2007 is a big year for Harley-Davidson. An impressive new 96 cubic-inch motor replaces the outgoing Twin Cam 88 in the Softail, Dyna and Touring models, plus the 6-speed Cruise Drive tranny is now fitted to all Big Twin families.

“The Twin Cam 96 has been the biggest new-engine program in the history of Harley-Davidson,” said Skip Metz, Program Manager-Big Twin Powertrain. “There are more than 700 new part numbers associated with TC96. The only areas that didn’t change are the cylinders, rocker arms, rocker boxes, and items in the top part of the engine. Crankshafts, connecting rods, crankcases, transmission cases, and all the transmission parts are new. We think this next-generation Twin Cam will set the standard for the industry.”

This fresh mill gets its displacement increase to 1584cc via a stroke job from 4.00 inches to 4.38 inches. The engine also receives a bump in compression and revised cam timing, as well as numerous other internal detail changes designed to make the mill quieter and more reliable. These changes to the now-retired 1450cc TC88 results in a notable 17% boost in peak torque. Lighter con-rods and pistons result in less reciprocating weight despite the added displacement.

All Big Twins are now fed by H-D’s Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI) that has been upgraded with new 25-degree fuel-injector nozzles (instead of 8-degree squirters) that are said to offer better fuel atomization. The addition of oxygen sensors lets the Big Twin get away without catalytic converters in the U.S. market, and new exhaust systems with redesigned mufflers emit a burlier but still EPA-friendly bark.

The TC96B is the counterbalanced version fitted to the Softail family. Depending on the platform, the TC96 produces between 90 and 93 lb-ft of torque at the crankshaft compared to the 78-82 lb-ft of the TC88. The additional punch these engines have is something that is readily apparent to the rider, transforming an adequate powerplant into an eager one.

Also new to the TC96 is the six-speed Cruise Drive transmission first seen last year in the totally revamped Dyna family. Although sixth gear isn’t a true overdrive, its 1:1 ratio reduces highway revs by 11% over the previous tranny’s fifth gear. In addition, the Cruise Drive also includes helical-cut gears that cut down on the whine inherent in straight-cut gears. Internal changes to a dog-ring design makes for lighter and shorter-throw gear changes, and it is claimed to be 28% stronger.

The addition of 8 extra cubes in Harley s 2007 Big Twin models transforms an adequate powerplant into an impressive one.
The addition of 8 extra cubes in Harley’s 2007 Big Twin models transforms an adequate powerplant into an impressive one.

A new primary-drive system features an auto-adjust hydraulic chain tensioner system, a redesigned starter operation and better sealing. (H-D says this component is retrofittable to the TC88). A new carbon-fiber final-drive belt is narrower but 30% stronger.

An interesting new option available on all Harleys is the slick Smart Security System which operates based off a proximity sensor in the key fob. Simply shutting off the bike and walking away arms it so that it can’t started. When the rider returns to the bike, the sensor automatically disarms the system to allow the bike to be switched on and ridden away. The ability to not have to fumble with a key will cost you $325.

Other minor changes to the Big Twin Harleys include new gauges that contain a digital clock and a sixth-gear indicator lamp. Clutch effort has been reduced by 7% on the Softail and Touring models. The latter family soldiers on with the uprated powertrain but otherwise unchanged from 2006 spec.

As for new models, the FXSTC Softail Custom makes its return since its 1999 dislodgment by the popular Deuce (which for 2007 is slammed 1.0 inch to a seat height of 25.0 inches). The Custom looks ’70s retro with its king-and-queen seat, mini ape-hanger bars and a bobbed rear fender. A fairly wide 200mm rear tire mounted on a polished disc wheel made from forged aluminum is a contemporary touch. The 21-inch front wheel is an aluminum spoked hoop slathered in chrome. The Fat Boy gets revised with a 200mm rear tire and a chopped rear fender to match, along with a 17-inch cast aluminum front wheel with a 140mm tire. Softails start at $14,995 and go up to the range-topping Heritage Softail Classic’s $18,455 MSRP.

Entry into the twin-shock Dyna family (entirely revamped last year with a stiffer chassis front to rear) begins at $12,395 for the Super Glide and rises to $16,430 for a loaded Low Rider. The new Dyna for ’07 is the Super Glide Custom that gets additional chrome, a stretched Fat Bob tank (larger at 5.1-gallons), laced wheels and a two-up seat. Like the Softail and Touring models, the Dyna’s exhaust note is deeper and richer than in the past.

The VRSC family of liquid-cooled power-cruisers gets revamped and has two new iterations. The blacked out VRSCDX Night Rod Special boasts a 240mm rear tire (instead of the standard bike’s 180) and a bitchin’ new exhaust system. It features slotted disc wheels, forward controls and a shorter drag-style handlebar.

Harley’s big news for 2007 is the Twin Cam 96 engine that offers a noticeable increase in power along with greater durability and hidden oil lines  except on the Softail series .
The six-speed Cruise Drive transmission makes its way into all TC96 V-Twins for 2007. In addition to the extra cog, it’s quieter, requires less maintenance and should be more durable than the old five-speed. Note the absence of oil lines, now internally routed on all models except for the Softails.

Then there’s the limited-edition (1400 units) VRSCX that gets the same fat tire in addition to the big-bore 1250cc version of Harley’s Revolution V-Twin first seen on last year’s CVO V-Rod. Its rated power of 123 ponies and 86 lb-ft of torque is up 7 horsepower and 6 units of torque over the VRSCAW. It features a laced front wheel, drag handlebar, flyscreen and graphics that mimic those of the Screamin’ Eagle/Vance & Hines Pro Stock racing team that has won two consecutive NHRA PRo Stock dragracing titles. Its 36-degree fork is at the same angle as the Night Rod and V-Rod, which is 2 degrees sharper than previous and results in a more nimble feel.

The original model of the VRSC line, the V-Rod, now receives the VRSCAW designation and the wide 240mm tire. The Street Rod’s 5.0-gallon fuel tank is now fitted to the others in the VRSC family by way of wider subframe rails of the hydro-formed chassis, a useful improvement over the puny 3.7-gallon tank in previous models.

The Street Rod is tweaked with a wider and higher handlebar, restyled mirrors and a host of new colors and finishes. The standard Night Rod is the least expensive VRSC at $14,995, but the Night Rod Special and the V-Rod will rid your wallet of nearly $17K. The new VRSCX, with its attention-getting styling and big-bore motor, rings in a fiver short of $20,000.

At the other end of the cost equation is the Sportster family that was revamped in 2004. All Sportsters now benefit from the introduction of ESPFI that offers cleaner burning and improved throttle response. To incorporate the injection system, Harley had to redesign the rear fender, seat, fuel tank, coil, stator, exhaust pipes, wiring and induction system, while also revising the frame. Longer switchgear wiring makes it easier to swap handlebars

In addition, all Sportsters are easier to squeeze: clutch lever effort has been reduced by 8%; brake lever effort has been cut more than 10%. New gauges are an aesthetic improvement and now provide a clock, twin tripmeters and a low fuel light. These are all worthwhile improvements to the 82% of Sportster buyers who are new to the H-D club.

The entry-level 883 is the model most improved for 2007, as the addition of the fuel-injection system and a healthier cam results in an impressive 15% gain in torque at 2500 rpm. According to H-D’s specs, this makes the 883 nearly 20% quicker in roll-on acceleration for its domestic models. In Europe, the roll-on improvement is huge at about 35%! Equally impressive is the injected motor’s cold-start behavior, now able to motor away immediately instead of the carbureted model’s balky response. The 883s start at just $6595.

The Softail line  with rear shocks hidden under the engine  is beefed up with the addition of the new Twin Cam 96 motor and 6-speed Cruise Drive transmission.
The new Softail Custom takes a step back a decade or two with its chopperesque styling. As with all Softails, it is powered by the new Twin Cam 96.

The new addition to the Sportster family commemorates the first Sportster built in 1957. There will be just 2000 units built of the 50th Anniversary Sportster, featuring special badges, a serialized number plate, a 3.3-gallon peanut-type gas tank and “1957” embroidered in the seat with gold thread. Both the Vivid Black and Mirage Orange models have gold accents and pinstripes.

The fuel-injected 1200cc motor responds with more precision than the previous carbed models, even if claimed peak power is unchanged, aiding in the hooligan antics seen in the accompanying picture. The golden-anniversary edition lists for $9795, but the simpler 1200 Roadster seen here can be had for just $8695.

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