Things getting hot for Harley-Davidson's air cooled engines There is an ever-increasing movement of folks who feel Harley-Davidson has taken the air-cooled engine about as far as it can go. It seems like, without fail, anticipation rises among industry insiders and consumers alike that H-D is finally going to deliver upon rumors of making the move to liquid cooling. Of course back in 2001 when the V-Rod was first announced, it almost appeared as though the air-cooled days were numbered, but in the decade that’s followed, H-D has silenced its skeptics by proving the air-cooled Evolution engine and liquid-cooled Revolution design can share a product line in harmony. Well, believe it or not, there are more than just technology hounds taking a stand against H-D’s reluctance to adopt modern liquid cooling. A federal judge ruled that a class action lawsuit against Harley-Davidson, claiming Harley engines run so hot that they pose a constant danger of burning their operators/passengers, is going forward. The sympathetic arbitrator sided with four bikers claiming their Harley-Davidson motorcycles were defective in design. The complaint goes on to state that since 1999, Twin Cam engines between 88 and 110 cubic inches are capable of producing excess heat – enough in fact to cause clothing to catch fire in normal operating conditions. The suit also alleges that the motors burn hot enough to pose a danger of burn injury to both riders and passengers. As if all of these concerns for personal safety aren’t valid enough, the suit even contains evidence that such high operating temperatures causes premature engine wear and transmission failures in certain models. “The Motor Company” was hoping the Eastern District of California court would dismiss the suit under state law, but this latest word that the U.S. District Judge sided with the biker complainants is big news indeed. Of course, the allegations of a few riders will unlikely sway the entire manufacturing process of Harley-Davidson, but there is legitimate concern that as the suit passes into higher courts, other sympathetic judges may determine that such high operating temperatures are in fact design defects and hence affect not only future engine production, but retroactively demand updates to existing H-Ds via mandatory recalls. Further complicating matters, the plaintiffs are relying upon undisputed evidence of Harley marketing larger engines, which are unable to meet emission standards in many states (one of those being California). On the flip side, those opposed to the idea of H-D facing legal action for simply doing what they’ve always done claim that higher operating temperatures on air-cooled motors are to be expected and fall under the jurisdiction of common sense.