The headline news in Harley-Davidson's 2016 model year announcement is of updated Sportster 883 'Iron' and XL1200 'FortyEight' designs, two quasi-new limited edition cruiser models with the 'S-series' Softail Slim and FatBoy 110 inchers, the return of a model that should never have been retired in the first place (an updated specification Road Glide Ultra), power hop-ups and new paint jobs - especially black.
The updated Iron 883cc and 1200 cc Forty-Eight Sportster models "assert Harley-Davidson's Dark Custom leadership with motorcycles inspired by the rebellious spirit of the past, updated with modern design and new suspensions that put a little extra smooth in the Harley-Davidson soul."
The 'S-series' limited edition cruisers feature "big power and cutting-edge style." The Fat Boy S and Softail Slim S "combine rich finishes with the impressive Screamin' Eagle Twin Cam 110 engine to deliver head-turning style and performance."
All Softail and Dyna models (except Street Bob) are updated with the High Output Twin Cam 103 inch engine that had previously been only available as stock on Harley tourers.
The Road Glide Ultra brand, long associated with Harley's highest mileage customers, makes a come-back replete with the Project Rushmore tweaks it missed out on when premature retirement beckoned two years ago.
'Black is the new Chrome'
Harley-Davidson Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Mark-Hans Richer is quoted as saying "This is another historic year for Harley-Davidson. We're introducing the most powerful collection of cruisers in our history, including the brand-new 'S-series'. We're raising the bar on Dark Custom motorcycles with the new Iron 883 and Forty-Eight models, the purest expression of the design movement we started in 2008. And we're extending our lead in touring with the return of the Road Glide Ultra and redesign of the popular Heritage Softail Classic."
The updated 'Iron' XL 883 is "intentionally raw and rough around the edges, with a modern design inspired by garage-built bobbers past and present," according to Harley-Davidson.
"Retro styling cues and a perfect ratio of black, color and chrome" are said to give this bike a "bold visual presence," while riders navigating "rough and tumble urban streets" on the "lean and nimble" Harley-Davidson Street 750 and 500 models will appreciate the "improved confidence" from new front and rear braking systems.
The limited-edition 'S-series' Softails that will be built with the hitherto CVO-only 110 inch Screamin' Eagle Twin Cam are also said to feature "dark styling for menacing looks that match their muscle."
Putting the HO Twin Cam 103 engine into all the other Softails is an obvious move, but one likely to be regarded as overdue and "too little too late" by dealers who have been struggling to shift Softails in the past 12-months.
The return of the Road Glide Ultra is being widely appreciated, but of all the tourer models surprise is being voiced that if the Screamin' Eagle 110 inch Twin Cam can be made available on two Softails, why hasn't it also been used to underscore the return of this top-end highest-mileage model?