• Top Speed’s 2020 Harley-Davidson Buying Guide

Take a look at what Harley-Davidson has on tap for 2020

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Harley-Davidson stepped up its game a notch ahead of the 2020 model year with a beefed-up lineup, starting with the mid-year release of its new entry-level cruiser, the Softail Standard. The apparent lag in rider-controlled ride-quality electronics was thoroughly addressed by the Reflex Defensive Rider Systems bundle, and for the electric-bike fans out there, the much-discussed/rarely-seen LiveWire has finally landed on showroom floors. A special Fat Boy marks the 30th anniversary of the model line alongside three new CVO models and an expanded Road Glide family with an S-model Low Rider to round out the new MY20 models.

Harley-Davidson History

Why Is A Harley Called A Hog?
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Why Is A Harley Called A Hog?
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The Harley-Davidson Motor Company based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, may not be America’s oldest surviving motorcycle manufacturer – that distinction belongs to Indian Motorcycle – but it is the only one to have been in continuous operation since its inception in 1903 and has never lain fallow at any point. Commonly referred to as “The Dark Years,” the company was under the ownership and direction of sporting goods producer American Machine and Foundry (AMF) from 1969 to 1981, and as a result, slipped quality standards gave the brand a negative reputation that persists to this day in spite of improvements. The company has long since returned to “family” ownership, and Harley-Davidson is the oldest motorcycle company with direct blood-line descendants of the original founders at the helm.

H-D supported the war effort through two World Wars plus Korea and Vietnam, the last two as the sole major U.S. motorcycle manufacturer. Additionally, the factory has a relationship with law enforcement that have produced myriad models from the old flathead-powered Servi-Car up to modern patrol- and interceptor-type machines. Additionally, the factory puts together special packages for the members of the Joppa Shriners, fire departments, and other first responders to round out its civil-support offerings.

Increasing pressure from foreign competition drove the development of first the Evolution engine that landed in ’84, then the Twin Cam, and finally the new Milwaukee-Eight family that tops the displacement charts with 107, 114 and 117 cubic-inch variants (so far). Smaller in stature, the Revolution Max V-Twin range powers the new Bronx Streetfighter and Pan America from the lineup and adopted a renewed focus on the refurbished Softail line as its main cruiser platform. Sportsters, trikes and FLH/T families persist and are buttressed by the addition of the Street range and LiveWire models.

Harley-Davidson Terminology

2020 Harley-Davidson CVO Tri Glide
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Infotainment: Though its use is now widespread, H-D is among the earliest to adopt this word to describe its bundle of on-board electronics that includes a virtual jukebox, a Bluetooth connection for hands-free phonecalls, navigation, real-time weather/traffic information and a tire-pressure monitor.

Big Twin: The traditional name for the category of engines that run with a large displacement and whose transmission case is separate from the engine castings. This differentiates the big-bore Milwaukee-Eight from the smaller Sportster, Street, and Revolution X mills.

Drag-Torque: aka Backtorque. This is the force that acts on the engine during downshifts and the concurrent compression braking period immediately after. Said force can cause loss of traction at the rear wheel if left unchecked, though many models now come with a Drag-Torque Mitigation feature as part of the standard electronics suite to offset it before it becomes a safety issue.

CVO: Harley-Davidson’s Custom Vehicle Operations brings top-shelf performance and singular looks together to deliver a true showroom-custom product. Premium, hand-laid paint makes each one unique, but it’s the brute power of the Milwaukee-Eight 117 that really makes the CVO models stand out.

Screamin’ Eagle: H-D’s very own in-house aftermarket line delivers performance products that, unlike the “after” aftermarket brands, fit and work as advertised. This is the source from which the famous Stage 1, 2 and 3 components come, and should be the go-to brand for would-be H-D tuners.

2020 Harley-Davidson Models

Harley-Davidson Street

2016 - 2020 Harley-Davidson Street 500 / Street 750
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2017 - 2020 Harley-Davidson Street Rod
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2017 - 2020 Harley-Davidson Street Rod
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Harley set out to make an entry-level bike with a smaller engine and different personality than what you get from a Sportster model. After starting out with a broader range in previous year-models, the factory dropped the 500 from the lineup and focused its remaining Street development on the Street 750 and Street Rod.

Both of these models take their power from a liquid-cooled, 46 cubic-inch V-twin engine though the Street 750 runs the base, 43.5 pound-foot Revolution X and the Street Rod boasts a high-output variant that bumps the grunt up to 47 pound-feet of torque. The overall build is low to the ground and easily Fred Flintstoned in the parking lot due to the low seat height, and these bikes carry themselves with an aggressive personality and more flickable nature than you might expect from a Harley. Both of these are appropriate for entry-level riders.

Street 750 $7,599 753 cc
Street Rod $8,699 753 cc

Harley-Davidson Sportster

2018 - 2021 Harley-Davidson Iron 1200
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2016 - 2022 Harley-Davidson Iron 883
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2016 - 2022 Harley-Davidson Iron 883
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The Sportster family began life as the flathead-powered K-Model back in 1952 to provide a sporty alternative to the larger Big-Twin cruisers. A narrow frame and narrow front end defines the standing structure, and the drivetrain is typified by a single casting for both the engine and transmission rather than housing them in separate units. XL is the official model code for the Sportsters. The code sprang from the phrase “eXperimental modeL,” and these individual letters are not related to the same value as when they are used in “FX” or “FL” model codes.

Choose between models with an 883 cc engine or a 1,200 cc mill, both of which are based on the air-cooled Evolution engine that has powered Sportys since 1986. The former churns out 53.8 pound-feet of torque and the latter produces 73 pounds o’ grunt, and that can be immediately improved upon with a Stage 1 (or 2 or 3) kit. A five-speed transmission crunches the ratios and delivers the power to the rear wheel via a carbon-reinforced belt drive. All of these models are considered to be appropriate for entry-level riders.

Iron 883 $8,999 883 cc
Iron 1200 $9,999 1,202 cc
Forty-Eight $11,299 1,202 cc
Roadster $11,499 1,202 cc

Harley-Davidson Softail

2020 - 2021 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S
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2020 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy 30th Anniversary
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2020 - 2021 Harley-Davidson Softail Standard
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Originally coined for the ’84 FXST, the Softail line has grown from an aesthetic curiosity into the main platform for H-D’s cruiser line. This frame has seen the demise of both the FXR and the Dyna frame that succeeded it and is typified by its geometry that mimics the lines of the old, rigid, hard-tail bikes. The look is in full effect right down to the triangular swingarm that is articulated and supported by shocks under the seat for a modern ride to go with the antique looks.

This year saw the addition of the bare-bones, entry-cruiser Softail Standard, souped-up Low Rider S, and iconic Fat Boy 30th Anniversary models to the range. Ever a Big-Twin model, the Softail range relies on the Milwaukee-Eight 107 and 114 for power with 110 pound-feet and 119 pound-feet of torque, respectively. The ride-quality and safety electronics is limited to the standard ABS feature.

Low Rider $14,899 1,753 cc
Low Rider S $17,999 1,868 cc
Softail Slim $15,999 1,753 cc
Deluxe $18,399 1,753 cc
Sport Glide $18,599 1,753 cc
Fat Bob 114 $18,799 1,868 cc
FXDR 114 $18,999 1,868 cc
Breakout 114 $20,499 1,868 cc
Fat Boy 114 $20,599 1,868 cc
Fat Boy 30th Anniversary $21,949 1,868 cc
Softail Standard $13,599 1,753 cc
Street Bob $14,599 1,753 cc
Heritage Classic $18,999 1,753 cc
Heritage Classic 114 $20,449 1,868 cc

Harley-Davidson Touring

2019 - 2020 Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited / Ultra Limited Low
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2017 - 2022 Harley-Davidson Road Glide
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2020 - 2022 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Limited
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Harley-Davidson’s touring group crosses model lines with a few Softail models – the chromed-out Heritage Classic 107 and blackout Heritage Classic 114 – on top of the large-frame, large front end FLH/T offerings. The FLH/T models include full-on touring platforms that come complete with full upper and lower fairings, stock saddlebags, and a Tour-Pak. A robust line of baggers sans topcase can also be found in this category if you’re more interested in a Boulevard Bruiser than a tour-bike proper.

Both the Mil-8 107 and 114 make appearances in this range, but the real news here is the Reflex Defensive Rider System (RDRS) that bundles linked brakes, ABS, Drag-Torque Mitigation, and Corner-Enhanced Traction Control together. Some models also have as an available option the Corner-Enhanced versions of the above features. Not only does this improve rider safety, but it puts H-D on a more competitive footing on the world stage.

Electra Glide Standard $18,999 1,753 cc
Heritage Classic $18,999 1,753 cc
Heritage Classic 114 $20,449 1,868 cc
Road King $19,499 1,753 cc
Road King Special $22,999 1,868 cc
Road Glide $21,699 1,753 cc
Road Glide Special $27,299 1,868 cc
Road Glide Limited $28,299 1,868 cc
Street Glide $21,999 1,753 cc
Street Glide Special $27,699 1,868 cc
Ultra Glide Limited $28,699 1,868 cc

Harley-Davidson CVO

2019 - 2020 Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide
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Top Speed's 2020 Harley-Davidson Buying Guide
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2020 Harley-Davidson CVO Tri Glide
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H-D pulls from the top shelf for its CVO spread that is limited to four models this year. The bagger-tastic CVO Street Glide and CVO Road Glide join the full-dresser CVO Limited and full-dresser Tri-Glide trike. RDRS and the Boom! Box infotainment system comes with the standard equipment package across the board along with the powerful Twin-Cooled Milwaukee-Eight 117 that churns out 125 pound-feet of torque at a relatively-low 3,500 rpm mark. Exclusive paint choices wrap up the package to set the CVO bikes apart in a crowd.

CVO Street Glide $40,539 1,917 cc
CVO Road Glide $40,999 1,917 cc
CVO Limited $44,039 1,917 cc
CVO Tri Glide $48,999 1,917 cc

Harley-Davidson Electric

2020 Harley-Davidson LiveWire
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2020 Harley-Davidson LiveWire
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2020 Harley-Davidson LiveWire
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After years of teasing, Harley-Davidson finally released for this model-year their freshman effort in the electric motorcycle sector. The LiveWire carries itself with an urban-sportbike finish that is most definitely designed to appeal to a younger/sportier market than usual. RDRS comes standard along with adjustable Showa suspension to let you dial in your ride-quality and safety. Range-per-charge is claimed 146 miles (city) or 95 miles (combined) with full recharge times. Performance is brisk with 86 pound-feet of torque on tap as soon as you roll the right grip and 105 horsepower once it’s spooled up, and the cornering is aggressive with 45 degrees-of-lean to each side.

LiveWire $29,799 NA

Harley-Davidson Trike

2019 - 2020 Harley-Davidson Freewheeler
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2019 - 2020 Harley-Davidson TriGlide Ultra
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2019 - 2020 Harley-Davidson TriGlide Ultra
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Harley-Davidson draws on its antique Servi-Car experience for its modern trike line. The two-in-back configuration has a very classic look about it, and the RDRS package improves stability to address the relative inherent instability of the non-Delta footprint. Choose between a dressed-up tourbike with lots of protection and storage capacity, or go the stoplight-burner route with the stripped-down Freewheeler that wastes not an ounce on the non-essential. At the top of the range, the CVO Tri Glide delivers the best of everything the MoCo has to offer including that monstrous, 117 cubic-inch Mil-8 engine. Infotainment is a constant across the board.

Freewheeler $27,999 1,868 cc
Tri Glide Ultra $34,999 1,868 cc
CVO Tri Glide $48,999 1,917 cc

Further Reading


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Allyn Hinton
Allyn Hinton
Motorcycle Writer
Allyn started early on with an interest in mechanical things and making things go. She pursued careers in both the automotive and motorcycle industries as a mechanic. Having shared her love of motorcycles with her husband, biker TJ Hinton, Allyn brings that knowledge to TopSpeed. Allyn holds a degree in computer networking with certificates in A+ and Net+. Her other interests include raising chickens, homesteading, and textile arts.  Read full bio
About the author

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