Harley-Davidson confirms electric motorcycle – with video, photos

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Photos: Asphalt and Rubber

Like we told you yesterday, Harley-Davidson has confirmed they are working on an electric motorcycle, called the LiveWire.

From what we understand, the new battery bike is not production-ready, but the plan is to get it to that stage soon. For now, here’s what we know:

Cycle World rode the machine, and said acceleration feels quicker than a Zero SR. They also say fit and finish are excellent, in contrast to Harley-Davidson’s recently launched 750 – most testers said the opposite about that bike. There’s no Brammo-style gearbox, and the designers incorporated high-end suspension, with a fully adjustable Showa Big Piston fork and cantilever shock. There’s only a single-disc brake up front with two-piston caliper and no ABS, but tester Blake Conner said it slowed the bike down just fine. He was unable to give any solid figures on battery life or size, but Harley-Davidson told him it would take 3.5 hours to juice up with a 220V Level 2 charger.

Asphalt and Rubber didn’t ride the bike, but managed to get their hands on some specs. According to them, the LiveWire puts out the equivalent of 74 hp, more than competitors Brammo Empulse R and Zero SR, but battery life is more limited. Author Jensen Beeler says H-D is claiming 80 kms of mixed city and highway riding, which means the LiveWire likely has regenerative braking to recoup energy lost while slowing down. He reckons a 0-60 mph time under four seconds.

As stated earlier, this machine isn’t ready for market yet. Supposedly, Harley-Davidson plans to take the prototype on tour to 30 dealerships across the US, getting customer feedback. We don’t know if you’ll see one at a Canadian dealership, but US customers will get to check it out and tell the MoCo what they want and don’t want. It’ll be an interesting experiment, as there’s going to be a lot of die-hard fans who want to throw stones, but the bike could also draw in customers who would otherwise never darken the door of a Harley-Davidson dealership.

While fans of the potato-potato sound pumped out by Harley-Davidson’s classic V-twins might be disappointed in the sound of the new electric motor, the company is still trying to bank on their audio appeal.

“”The sound is a distinct part of the thrill,” said H-D marketing bigwig Mark-Hans Richer. “Think fighter jet on an aircraft carrier. Project LiveWire’s unique sound was designed to differentiate it from internal combustion and other electric motorcycles on the market.”

They’re also trying to keep the brand’s tie-in to retro Americana.

“”Project LiveWire is more like the first electric guitar — not an electric car,” Richer said. In other words, think Fender Stratocaster, not Nissan Leaf.

“It’s an expression of individuality and iconic style that just happens to be electric,” he said. “Project LiveWire is a bold statement for us as a company and a brand.”


GALLERY

Check out all the pics that go with this story! Click on the main sized pic to transition to the next or just press play to show in a slideshow.

11 COMMENTS

  1. All I want to say is this is exciting news. I’m going to be eagerly looking for more developments on this model. Yes, I also do enjoy, Harleys…….., Hondas, Yamahas, Kawasakis, Moto Guzzi, Suzuki, KTMs, Triumphs…….. let’s just say motorcycles. Bring it on!

  2. At the risk of being a broken record, it all comes down to Price, Range, Recharge Time and Recycleability.
    If HD can get that stuff figured out, they’ve got a winner.

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