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Harley Davidson Evo vs Twin Cam: What’s Best for You?

Harley Davidson Evo vs Twin Cam
Written by Nick Steiner

Harley Davidson has made superb bikes for years. When choosing a Harley Davidson, the discussion of Evo vs Twin Cam is bound to come up. While these bikes share many Harley Davidson qualities, their differences make them stand out.

Here we will compare multiple aspects of each motorcycle to help you make an informed buying decision.

A brief look at Harley Davidson Evo

Harley’s Evo has been in production since 1999. Its design comes in multiple motorcycles that offer a reduction in NVH (harshness, noise, and vibration.) Equipped with an Evo crankshaft that offers high efficiency with the lightweight crankshaft, the Evo engine is hand-built overseas and assembled in the US.

A brief look at Harley Davidson Twin Cam

In 1998, Harley Davidson decided to address some drawbacks the Evo bike had. It introduced the Twin Cam engine that met EPA standards, eliminated the oil leakage issue, and paved the way for Harley’s future.

The usage of a chain-driven system vs a single gear-driven Camshaft was introduced. The chain-driven system was soon known as the Twin Cam engine. By 1999 the use of big Twins on rubber mounts had arrived.

Evo vs Twin Cam: How Do They Differ?

1. Engine power variant

Evo

The Evo has 4 options in cylinder volume (displacement). The 883 cc, 1100 cc, 1200 cc, and the 1337 cc option.

Twin Cam

The Twin Cam also offers 4 options in displacement (cylinder volume.) The 1450cc (88 cubic), 1584 cc (96 cubic), 1690 cc (103 cubic), and the 1801 cc (110 cubic).

Winner

Despite its larger gas consumption, the Twin Cam wins due to its increased power and acceleration.

2. Cams

Evo

The Evo has a unique single gear-driven Cam with four lobes, a Cam drive that offers power, and a quiet, smooth-running engine.

Twin Cam

The Twin Cam has four lobes, one in each cylinder with two lobes and dual chain-driven Cams, which are silent and increase the engine’s performance.

Winner

The Twin Cam engine is the winner with its silence and increased power.

3. Vibration/Transmission

Evo

The Evo offers strong vibrations that are more powerful and aggressive. The location of the gearbox is separate from the engine. The Evo comes with a standard 6-speed transmission.

Twin Cam

The Twin Cam gearbox crankcase is attached to the bike on direct rubber mounts, which softens the vibration creating a less robust vibration. The Twin Cam has an automatic gearbox as opposed to a manual transmission.

Winner

There is no clear winner. If you love strong and aggressive vibration and manual transmission, the Evo is the one you want. Those who like a softer vibration and the automatic gearbox will go with the Twin Cam engine.

4. Engine performance

Evo

The Evo’s improved efficiency comes from its lighter crankshaft. Its displacement ratio is 80ci (1340cc).

Twin Cam

The Twin Cam engine has a higher torque and displacement ratio of 88ci (1450cc), making it highly reliable and durable.

Winner

The Twin Cam takes this one with its higher torque and displacement ratio.

5. Gas consumption

Evo

The Evo technology is older than the Twin Cam. Its engineers were not concerned with the environment or fuel economy. Its fuel consumption is less than some cars today at 29 mpg.

Twin Cam

The Twin Cam’s engineering met ecological standards. While it gets better gas mileage than the Evo, at 38 mpg, its fuel consumption is not stellar.

Winner

The Twin Cam wins with its higher gas mileage.

6. Oil system and combustion chamber

Evo

The location of the gas tank on an Evo is close to the battery, under the saddle. The gears and filters adjust its external engine pump and stroke (the distance the piston has to travel from top to bottom).

Twin Cam

The Twin Cam oil reservoir runs along the gearbox. Its higher compression ratio comes from the tub-like shape of the combustion chamber. The oil pump supplies oil to the Camshaft in the Twin Cam engine, which sits on the pinion shaft.

Winner

The Twin Cam’s higher compression ratio makes it the winner.

7. Pushrod angle

Evo

The Evo has rocker arms with an adjustable pushrod, so riders can regulate the valve lash and keep the Cams.

Twin Cam

The pushrod clearance is auto-regulated in the Twin Cam by the self-adjusting hydraulic lifters as you ride the bike.

Winner

The self-adjusting pushrods and hydraulic lifters make the Twin Cam the winner.

8. Engine’s build

Evo

Because aluminum cools quickly, Evo’s air cooling is superb. The Evos engine is known to be lightweight in part because the cylinders and heads are aluminum. The engine is easily repairable and easy to rebuild. The Evo gets 80,000 to 100,000 miles and remains very reliable.

Twin Cam

The Twin Cam engine is air-cooled, with some models having heads with liquid cooling circles. The oil pump has an internal construction that offers higher pressure and more efficient pumps. The combustion chamber provides better fuel efficiency and compression ratio than the Evo.

Winner

With its better compression ratio and fuel efficiency, the Twin Cam is the clear winner.

9. Mechanical reliability

Evo

The Evo is the perfect engine for anyone with mechanical skills who aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves. Of the two engines, it is the least complicated.

Twin Cam

While the Twin Cam’s dual coil ignition doesn’t waste a spark, If you lack mechanical skills and don’t want to work on the bike, the Twin Cam’s complex engine is not for you.

Winner

This race is a tie due to user preference, mechanical vs non-mechanical owners.

10. System to cool the engine

Evo

Despite the oil squirters in the Evo, the engine cools less efficiently than a Twin Cam. Engine heat isn’t a problem on short rides but may be more problematic on longer rides where you stop less often.

Twin Cam

The Twin Cam engine is larger and offers a spray system for cool down that is great for longer rides, especially in the summer heat.

Winner

The longer ride with less engine heat makes the Twin Cam the winner.

11. Transmission speed

Evo

The Evo engineering offers a standard six-speed transmission, so the rider manually shifts gears. The Evo is known for its high-speed limits.

Twin Cam

The automatic gearbox in the Twin Cam uses hydraulic power to shift gears which is great for a rider who doesn’t know how to shift gears.

Winner

Once again, we have a tie. It is the rider’s preference for a standard 6-speed transmission vs an automatic gearbox despite Evo’s high-speed limit.

12. Torque Power

The Evo and Twin Cam torque power are pretty much the same, so there is a tie for torque power.

13. Durability

Evo

The Evo provides durability and longevity in the most simplistic engine Harley designed.

Twin Cam

The Twin Cam engine has had multiple issues over the years, including faulty Cam tensioner chains, flywheel problems, oil leaks, and electrical and oil pump issues.

Winner

The Evo is known and trusted for its durability.

14. Maintenance/Ability to rebuild

Evo

All Evo engines are easy to maintain and rebuild.

Twin Cam

Twin Cam engines are much harder to repair and maintain.

Winner

The Evo, with its easy maintenance and buildability, is the winner.

15. Maintenance cost

Evo

As long as you do the scheduled maintenance, the Evo engine is not really expensive to keep up.

Twin Cam

The Twin Cam’s more extensive and sophisticated engine can be costly to maintain, especially the older models and bikes with high mileage.

Winner

The Evo’s simple engine with its easier maintenance is the winner.

16. Parts availability

Evo

While parts are widely available for some models on both bikes, the Evo engine is older, and parts may be harder to find for the older models, but parts for newer models are widely.

Twin Cam

Harley Davidson no longer makes the Twin Cam. The availability of parts depends on the make and model. Some Twin Cams had more issues than others, and parts for these models can be scarce. The Twin Cam engine is no longer in production.

Winner

The Evo wins as more parts are available for this engine in older and newer models.

17. Price

Evo

The 2016 price for a brand-new Harley Davidson Evo was around $18,900. The MSRP on a 2022 Evo Sportster is close to $11,300.

Twin Cam

The 2016 price for a Harley Davidson Twin Cam was around $17,900. The last Twin Cam made was in 2017. The Twin Cam engine was replaced by the Milwaukee-Eight the same year.

Winner

The Evo is still in production and is the winner, despite the lower price by $1000 on the Twin Cam in 2016.

Evo vs Twin Cam: Who’s riding?

The Twin Cam’s automatic gearbox is ideal for beginners and those that can’t shift manually. Some riders are less mechanical, and this is a good bike for someone who is not a grease monkey.

On the other hand, Evo is perfect for seasoned riders and bikers who love to tinker with the engine. Its higher speeds are great for covering long distances.

About the author

Nick Steiner

Nick has been a car nut for his whole life as far as he can remember. His father was a car dealer who used to change and repair his cars himself. As a result, Nick had the opportunity to get around all sorts of cars and learned to get his hands dirty repairing vehicles from an early age.

Nick is a great fan of Japanese quality and German preciosity. His deep passion lies in older models that he believes have a flair that takes him back to his childhood. He also loves their durability and reliability when compared to the modern models.

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