Motorcycle: Hardware - V2 Evolution, 1984 - Present
Date: Sunday, October 31 @ 14:10:46 UTC
Topic: Motorcycle, Motorcycles, Motor Cycle
V2 Evolution, 1984 - Present
Perhaps the biggest fault of the next in Milwaukee's noble line of big twins is the lack of an attractive nickname. Its official title is "V2 Evolution" which, in common with most Milwaukee monikers, is a registered trademark. It is also profoundly fitting, since like the Shovel and Panhead before, it evolved from its predecessor rather than representing an all-new design.
Appropriate as the name might be, it is not evocative at all. After decades of Flatheads, Knuckles, Pans and Shovels, it has to be said that "Evo" lacks the same gritty authentic ring. Happily for its creators, an unkind early suggestion of "Blockhead" failed to stick.
It's a curious Milwaukee fact that all major Harley-Davidson ohv engines have been born in the midst of strife. The Knuckle was a child of the Depression, the Pan arrived surrounded by strikes and post-war rebuilding, and the Shovel heralded years of decline. As the long-awaited replacement for the Shovel arrived in 1984, Harley-Davidson was effectively broke. The story of how the company got out of perhaps the biggest crisis in its history is related elsewhere, but never was Milwaukee in greater need of an engine that would deliver the goods for them.
Fortunately for Harley-Davidson fans everywhere, the Evo was — and remains — everything they and Milwaukee had hoped for. Compared to the venerable Shovel which began life 18 years before, the Evo is 20lbs (9 kgs) lighter and generates 10 per cent more horsepower and 15 per cent more torque. Its cylinders retain the "classic" dimensions of 3 7/16 x 4 1/4 in (88.8 x 108 mm), giving an actual displacement of 81.8cu in or 1,340cc (not 80in as it is nominally called). As with the evolution of Pan to Shovel, the Evo uses a bottom-end derived from its (alternator-type) predecessor but with improved con-rods and a new all-alloy top end. Efforts were made to improve oil-tightness and reliability, and decrease maintenance chores, with great success.
The extra power (around 70bhp at 5,000rpm) comes mainly from steeper, straighter ports feeding into redesigned combustion chambers, a new ignition, revised valve timing and higher compression ratios. During the seven years of the new engine's development, much effort also went into redesigning the lubrication system to prevent the Shovel's notoriously leaky nature. All but a handful of Evos sport five-speed transmission and, from later 1984, a much-improved diaprhagm clutch. By 1986, the 1340 Evo had been joined by V2 Sportster cousins offering 883 cc and 1100 cc, the latter growing to become the first 1200 cc Sportster two years later. Unlike the 1340s, Sportster Evos are of unit construction in which the crankcases and gearbox form a single unit.
So much for metal. As far as the vibrant, imaginative maangement team running the newly-independent company was concerned, the Evo had one other priceless asset the much-derided Shovelhead lacked. Milwaukee now seemed to have its finger on the pulse of motorcycle culture, and most importantly, seemed to understand its market.
Those at the helm now reached out to their customers in a way that the remote, faceless AMF never could, in stark contrast to the Shovelhead era. They sold their new product as if Harley's life depended on it - which, make no mistake, it did.
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