By Bikernet Private Eye, Ujjwal Dey
Harley-Davidson has applied for trademark rights on three new names that it intends to apply to ‘motorcycles and the structural parts thereof’ in the future. But what could the 48X, Pan America and Bronx models actually be?
Let’s start with the 48X. Harley already makes a bike with a similar name, the Forty-Eight. Note that the current machine spells the name out while the proposed new title uses numerals instead. The original Forty-Eight was inspired by the 1948 Harley S-125 ‘Hummer’ that first introduced the ‘peanut’ fuel tank that later became synonymous with the Sportster. There’s a pretty strong chance that the 48X will be a related model. It would certainly be confusing if the number 48 was applied to completely unrelated machine. The ‘X’ remains a mystery.
Under normal H-D practice the letter ‘X’, when used at the start of a model code (eg ‘XR750’ or ‘XL1200’), refers to a sports model. But all Sportsters, including the existing Forty-Eight, already have an ‘X’ designation like that. And even more confusingly, the existing Forty-Eight already has an additional ‘X’ in its code – it’s officially the XL1200X.
In more general use, an X can refer to ‘cross’ and is widely used for adventure-style bikes (Honda CB500X, for instance).
Finally, and the longest of all long shots, the 48X could be a leaning reverse-trike three-wheeler along the lines of the never-released ‘Penster’ prototypes designed more than a decade ago. These prototypes were eventually revealed at the H-D museum under the title ‘Collection X’ to reflect their ‘eXperimental’ nature.
There’s also a very strong chance that the 48X could merely be a celebratory derivative of the existing Forty-Eight. After all, 2018 is the 70th anniversary of the 1948 bike that inspired it.
Another thing that happened in 1948 was the introduction of the Panhead engine, replacing the earlier Knucklehead design on Harley’s V-twins. And the 70th anniversary of the Panhead could well be what’s behind the ‘Pan America’ trademark and its 2018 timing.
Equally, just as Honda has the ST1300 Pan European tourer, the Harley Pan America could be a long-distance touring model – although such machines are already well catered for in the existing range.
Finally there’s the Bronx. There’s really no indication of what sort of bike this might be, although the name has overtones that make us imagine a stripped-back Sportster rather than something at the gaudier end of the Harley line-up.
There’s normally around six months to a year between the filing of a Harley trademark application and the emergence of the bike carrying the name. The most recent was the Sport Glide; the trademark application was published in May 2017, the bike was revealed in November the same year. Trademark applications for all three of the new proposed new titles went in during December 2017, so we’re likely to see the bikes bearing the names during the second half of 2018.