Are you a Harley-Davidson biker who is curious about Harley-Davidson engines and where they’re made? If yes, then you are certainly in the right place at the right time.
Where are Harley-Davidson engines made is a common question for bikers who are enthusiastic about this brand. The engines of Harley-Davidson bikes are made in the United States. Known for its distinct engine sound, Harley-Davidson is among the most iconic motorcycle brands in the market. Harley-Davidson has three factories in the United States but also in India, Brazil, and most recently Thailand. These are the factories where Harley-Davidson motorcycles are manufactured and assembled in.
Meanwhile, the parts are also produced in factories in Japan, Germany, Taiwan, Italy, and Mexico. The three factories in the United States, with each one responsible for different models and accessories – Tomahawk, Wisconsin, York, Pennsylvania, and Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.
In this article, you will get to learn all about the Harley-Davidson engines, where are Harley-Davidson engines made, how to tell where the Harley-Davidson bike was manufactured, and more. Stick around to get all the answers that you are looking for.
What is a Harley-Davidson Engine?
You could get all sorts of motorcycles in the market, from Japanese manufacturers like Honda and Yamaha to European powerhouses like BMW and Ducati. However, most people can argue that none of those brands have the tradition, aura, recognition, name, or mystique of the bikes from Harley-Davidson. You would have probably wondered what it is about Harley-Davidson that makes it so unique. One of the biggest reasons is the engine. Here are some of the distinguishing characteristics of the Harley-Davidson engine –
- These engines are air-cooled
- Until 2001, Harley-Davidson had been using the two-cylinder V-twin design that had a 45° angle between the cylinders
- Oil comes from the dry sump lubrication system
- These engines have overhead valves activated by camshafts in the crankcase
- Harley-Davidson engines have a long stroke, which means that the engines are low-revving and come with a lot of torque
- Harley-Davidson engines feature a single-pin crankshaft, which gives the engines a unique sound
In 2001, Harley-Davidson took what was seen as a radical move for the company. A new engine known as the Revolution engine was introduced, and it got used in the 2002 VSRC. The Revolution is a V-twin, but it has a 60-degree V, is high-revving (9,000 RPM redline), and has 4 overhead camshafts.
Aside from the engine, Harley-Davidson bikes themselves have their own feel and look. Due to the big engines, Harley-Davidson bikes tend to be rather big bikes. The biggest Harleys weigh closer to a thousand pounds and incorporate retro styling.
The Distinctive Sound of Harley-Davidson Engines
There is simply no denying that a Harley-Davidson bike has a unique sound. It becomes even better if the mufflers are removed. The sound is a big part of the Harley-Davidson mystique. The reason for this sound has to do with the way the Harley-Davidson engine is designed.
To know more about the sound, you should first know how the basic four-stroke gasoline engine operates. A piston goes through the compression, intake, combustion, and exhaust strokes with every 2 revolutions of the crankshaft. When a lawn mower is idling, you’ll want to hear the pop-pop-pop-pop sound of individual strokes. What you’re hearing is actually the sound of the compressed gases in the cylinder escaping once the exhaust valve opens. Each pop is essentially the sound of the exhaust valve opening once, and it happens every second revolution of the crankshaft.
In a 2-cylinder, horizontally opposed engine, the pistons are timed in a way that it fires on one revolution of the crankshaft while the other files on the next revolution. One of the two pistons will fire on every revolution of the crankshaft. This seems logical, and it will give the engine a balanced feel. For creating this type of engine, the crankshaft features two separate pins for the connecting rods from the pistons. These pins will be 180° apart from one another.
A Harley-Davidson engine features two pistons. The difference in the Harley-Davidson engine is that the crankshaft only has one pin, with both piston rods connecting to it. This design, when combined with the cylinder’s V arrangement, means that the pistons cannot fire at even intervals. Instead of a piston firing every 360 degrees, a Harley-Davidson engine will go something like this –
- The first piston fires
- The next piston fires at 315°
- There’s a 405° gap
- The first piston fires
- The next piston fires at 315°
- There’s a 405° gap
- And the cycle continues
At idle, you will be able to hear the pop-pop sound followed by the pause. Ultimately, the sound of a Harley will be pop-pop… pop-pop… pop-pop. This is what makes a unique sound of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
History of Harley-Davidson Engines
In recent times, this is a world where computer technology constantly changes daily. Japanese motorcycle companies have been creating new engine designs each year. Further, car lines get revamped every 3–4 years. And then there is the tried and tested Harley-Davidson Motor Company.
Harley-Davidson is a company that seems to work on an entirely different clock, with new designs appearing once every 15 years or so. Between 1936 and 2003, the engine designs released by Harley-Davidson represented a constant tweaking of the basic V-Twin, 45°, air-cooled engine design. In 2001, the company released its first truly new design in a commercial bike yet it was still a V-Twin. In case you ignored the first few years of the company’s history as a period of experimentation, there have only been 7 major engine revisions during the motorcycle company’s 100-year existence. Here are the different engines that have been released by Harley-Davidson over the years –
1. Flathead engines
Manufactured between 1929 and 1974, the Flathead engines didn’t have overhead valves. Instead, they ran alongside the engine and opened upwards and into the chamber beside the combustion chamber. The advantage of having a flathead engine was its simplicity, as there were no pushrods or rocker arms. Meanwhile, the head was a simple casting with a hole for the spark plug. A typical flathead engine featured a displacement of 45 cubic inches (742cc) and was able to produce around 22 HP.
2. Knucklehead engines
Knucklehead engines were manufactured between 1936 and 1947. This type of engine came in 60 cubic inches (990cc) and 74 cubic inches (1,200cc) variations and had the capacity to produce 40 and 45 horsepower respectively.
3. Panhead engines
This type of engine was manufactured between 1948 and 1965. The Panhead engines came in 60 cubic inches (990cc) and 74 cubic inches (1200cc) variations and were capable of producing 50 and 55 horsepower respectively. The big differences between the knucklehead and Panhead engines included aluminum heads on the Panhead and internal oil lines compared to the extreme lines on the knucklehead.
4. Shovelhead engines
Manufactured between 1966 and 1985, Shovelhead engines displaced 74 cubic inches (1200cc) while producing 60 horsepower.
5. Evolution engines
Evolution engines were manufactured between 1984 and 1999. The displacement with these engines is 81.8 cubic inches (1340cc) while it is capable of producing 70 horsepower. Even though the Evolution 1340cc is no longer in production, the Sportster model line of bikes receives Evolution engines with 883cc and 1200cc displacements.
6. Twin Cam 88 engines
The Twin Cam 88 engines were manufactured starting in 1999. The Twin Cam got its name from the fact that it has two cams in the crankcase for activating the valves. At 88 cubic inches (1450cc) of displacement, it is the largest production Harley-Davidson motorcycle engine while being capable of producing 80 horsepower. The engine remains air-cooled and makes use of overhead valves activated by pushrods. The 88B version of the engine, which came out in 2000 featured counterbalancing shafts to reduce engine vibration.
7. Revolution engines
The Revolution engines started production in 2001. The Revolution engine is currently used for only one Harley-Davidson production model – the VSRC. While all the engines mentioned previously are the same and represent incremental improvements, the Revolution engine is very different.
The engine is water-cooled instead of air-cooled, while the V angle is 60° instead of 45°. It has four overhead cams instead of the two cams in the crankcase, while also being fuel injected. The engine is comparatively smaller – only 69 cubic inches (1130cc). It also has a shorter stroke, which allows you to rev up to 9,000 RPM while also producing 115 horsepower.
Where are Harley-Davidson Engines Made?
Known for its distinct signature engine sound, Harley-Davidson is among the most iconic motorcycle brands in the world. Established in 1903, it is one of the oldest motorcycle manufacturers in the world. Year after year, the company sells over a hundred thousand bikes worldwide. If you’re looking to purchase a new Harley-Davidson bike, you might be wondering where the bike and its components are made.
Harley-Davidson has three factors in the United States, but there are also manufacturing plants in India, Brazil, and more recently, Thailand. These are the factories where Harley-Davidson bikes are manufactured and assembled in. Further, Harley-Davidson parts are also manufactured in factories in Japan, Germany, Taiwan, Italy, and Mexico. The three factors in the United States are responsible for different parts/models/accessories –
- York, Pennsylvania – Vehicle operations
- Tomahawk, Wisconsin – Tomahawk operations
- Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin – Powertrain operations
All Harley-Davidson bikes for the US market are produced in the United States itself. More specifically, they are assembled in these three factories.
TP Engineering is the premier manufacturer of performance V-twin engines, engine components, and transmissions for the Harley aftermarket and custom motorcycle industry. The company manufactures and assembles the products in the United States using the finest American materials available from US companies.
The company manufactures the finest V-twin engines that fit the bikes based on the EVO platform. Further, it also manufactures the Pro-Series line of engine components including the Pro-Vent Rocker Boxes, Classic Oil Pumps, Smart Oil Pumps, Forged Roller Rocket Arms, and the Scramjet Air Cleaner for Twin Cam and EVO engines.
Are Harley-Davidson Engines Assembled in the United States?
All Harley-Davidson bikes for the United States market are assembled in the United States itself. The company contracts the components to be manufactured by different factories from around the world in places like Taiwan, Germany, Mexico, Japan, and Italy. These parts then get imported to the relevant US factories and the bikes are assembled before being sent out to US-based Harley-Davidson dealers.
It isn’t known yet how much of the Harley-Davidson bike is manufactured in the United States. It is widely understood that it varies from model to model and year to year. Moreover, it isn’t just accessories like windshields and seats that are produced outside of the United States, but also other crucial components of the engine.
How To Check Where a Specific Harley-Davidson Bike Was Manufactured
If your Harley-Davidson bike was purchased on US soil, then it would have been manufactured at one of the US-based facilities. You can easily use the Virtual Identification Number and find out where your bike was produced and at which facility.
There is a unique 17-digit code that you’ll see stamped on a plate on the frame and the engine casing. The first three digits will tell you the country in which your bike was manufactured for sale –
- 1HD – The bike was manufactured for sale within the United States
- 5HD – The bike was manufactured for sale outside of the United States
- 932 – The bike was manufactured and sold exclusively in Brazil
- MEG – The bike was manufactured and sold exclusively in India
The 11th digit of the VIN will tell you the plant where your bike was manufactured –
- Y, B – York, Pennsylvania
- J – Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- T – Tomahawk, Wisconsin
- K – Kansas City, Missouri
- E – Buell, East Troy, Wisconsin
- D – Manaus, Brazil
- N – Haryana, India
If your bike is a model built in late 2019 onwards that you purchased in Europe and if the 11th digit on the VIN doesn’t match those on the list, then it will likely be from the Thailand plant. Your Harley-Davidson dealer will be able to confirm this for you.
Where are Harley-Davidson Bikes Designed?
Harley-Davidson has four product development facilities, and they’re all over the United States –
- Naples, Florida – Florida Evaluation Center
- Wauwatosa, Wisconsin – Product Development Center
- Mountain View, California – Livewire Labs
- Yucca, Arizona – Arizona Proving Ground
The design work for Harley-Davidson bikes takes place across these four facilities.
Where are Harley-Davidson Bikes for Different Markets Made?
For the Australian market
Up until 2019, Harley-Davidson had an assembly plant located in Adelaide, Australia. For Harley-Davidson bikers down under, this is where the hogs would have been built.
However, it has since been closed down, so Harley-Davidson bikes for the Australian market now get imported from one of the other factories depending on the Harley model. It is possible for the bikes to come from Thailand, India, or the United States.
The Harley-Davidson Street 500 and Harley-Davidson Street 750 were produced specifically in the Bawal, India factory, so they would have been imported to Australian dealers directly from there.
For the Canadian market
Harley-Davidson bikes for the Canadian markets will likely have been produced in the United States assembly plants. As with many Australian-certain models might also be produced in Thailand or India.
For the European market
Harley-Davidson produces the majority of its bikes for the UK and European markets at its assembly plant in Thailand. The decision to move production outside of the United States was made due to a significant increase in taxes. It was imposed by the EU for importing bikes from the United States.
Shifting the production and investing in facilities overseas was the only sustainable way that the company could circumvent the costs, as Harley-Davidson bikes imported from Thailand would get subjected to a lower tariff.
Is Harley-Davidson Planning to Move Its Production Overseas?
Harley-Davidson has suggested multiple times that it will continue investing in production overseas. However, it is committed to maintaining production in the United States and there’s no indication of any further changes being made to the US facilities at this time.
There have been reports about manufacturing taking place in China. Although there have been talks that Harley-Davidson could be building smaller bikes in China, nothing official has been released yet.
The Kansas City plant got closed down in 2019, which caused many controversies. The workers claimed that this was due to the opening of a new manufacturing plant in Thailand. Harley-Davidson denied this and claimed that the new facility in Thailand was opened for boosting sales overseas.
Is Harley-Davidson an American brand?
Harley-Davidson is an iconic American motorcycle brand founded back in 1903 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The corporate headquarters of the company remains in Milwaukee, on the side of its first factory.
Are Harley-Davidson bikes built in the US or outside the US better?
In theory, there shouldn’t be any difference in the build quality between Harley-Davidson bikes built outside of the United States compared to the ones built in the United States. Harley-Davidson manufactures different parts of its bikes from factories around the world and has them sent to different factories for assemblies.
Who makes the engines for Harley-Davidson bikes?
TP Engineering is the manufacturer responsible for the performance of V-Twin engines, transmissions, and engine components for the Harley-Davidson bikes. The brand manufactures and assembles the products in the United States using the finest American materials available from US companies.
Where are Harley-Davidson motors made?
Harley-Davidson bikes sold in the United States are assembled in one of the four plants based in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Missouri. The brakes and clutch are imported from Italy, the suspension is manufactured in Japan, the engine pistons come from Austria, and the electronic components are made in China and Mexico.