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Wednesday 25 May 2022


Bronx Revival? By Ben Purvis

Is Harley-Davidson's theoretically canceled water-cooled streetfighter project about to get a new chance of making it to market?
The managerial machinations of Harley-Davidson over the last few years have seen the company’s plans zigzagging between bold ambitions to enter multiple new markets and a focus on traditional customers’ needs with a more limited (so far) entry into one new market - the ADV sector.
However, with LiveWire having hovered between being on life support and now being given a second chance under CEO Jochen Zeitz' management, another project that appeared to have been canceled - the Bronx streetfighter - may have just been given a new hope.
The Bronx was part of former H-D CEO Matt Levatich’s wide-ranging ‘More Roads to Harley-Davidson’ strategy, announced in 2018, which also saw the development of the Pan America adventure bike and the water-cooled, DOHC, VVT-equipped Revolution Max engine. Originally shown as a nameless streetfighter concept at the ‘More Roads’ presentation, a year later the bike was shown at EICMA in Milan with the Bronx name with plans for it to reach dealers in 2020 as an early 2021 model.

Those plans came to a screeching halt in early 2020, just weeks before the bike’s intended debut, when Levatich was ousted and Jochen Zeitz stepped into the Chairman and CEO role. Zeitz refocused the company’s plans with his ‘Rewire’ and subsequent ‘Hardwire’ strategies, slashing the ambition of proposed future model ranges in numeric terms at least, and zeroing in on Harley’s traditional cruiser market.
The Pan America went ahead - the booming ADV market was too tempting to ignore, and the bike’s development was already virtually complete - but the Bronx appeared to die.
The ‘High-Performance Custom’ concept, originally shown as part of the ‘More Roads’ presentation, was accelerated to production as the Sportster S. The Nightster followed with the smaller capacity 975 cc version of the Revolution Max engine - between them effectively replacing the old air-cooled Sportster range.
Speaking in an earnings conference call in late 2020, Zeitz said: “We did not hesitate to delay or cancel products like the streetfighter that do not provide the right timing or return profile or advance others that were slated for later market introduction.”
Now it appears the emphasis was on delay rather than cancel, as Harley-Davidson has just applied for a new US trademark on the Bronx name.
Although the company already had a US trademark on the title, the new application appears to be in reaction to a law change - the Trademark Modernization Act - which came into force in the United States in December 2021. 

The Act is intended to stop companies from sitting on unused trademarks, making it easier to cancel them if a product bearing the name doesn’t reach the market within three years of the application.
The new trademark application is filed under the ‘intent-to-use’ basis, defined by the US Patents and Trademark Office as “a bona fide intention to use your mark in commerce with your goods and/or services in the near future.”
Since the original version of the Bronx, as shown in 2019, was very close to production when Harley put the brakes on the project, it shouldn’t take much more development to bring it back.
The original specs, which include a 975 cc version of the Revolution Max engine making 115 hp and 70 lb-ft, as well as Brembo brakes, upside-down forks and monoshock rear suspension, are unlikely to change radically - although it’s worth noting that Levatich originally intended the ‘streetfighter’ range to encompass multiple models, so a higher-powered version using the 145 hp, 1,250 cc Revolution Max engine from the Pan America was always likely, originally, to follow the original Bronx.