Last decade, Harley-Davidson was one of the first major motorcycle manufacturers to offer electric motorcycles to its inventory. It’s no wonder, however, that the company’s CEO, Jochen Zeitz, has already stated that the brand’s future will be entirely electric.
In a recent interview with Dezeen, Zeitz summarized the transformation in this way.
At some point in the future, Harley-Davidson will be all-electric, he said. However, that is a long-term transformation that must occur. It is not something that can be accomplished overnight.
The Future of Harley Davidson: Electric Motorcycles and Their Impact
Harley-Davidson is best known for their noisy, huge displacement internal combustion engine (ICE)-powered bikes, with a design pedigree spanning well over a century. But, as Zeitz said, the company’s history was also distinguished by perpetual change.
Looking back over the last 120 years, the company has always evolved, never stood stagnant, he said. Now, much like the founders did at the time by attempting to reinvent or invent something new, we as a corporate brand must do the same. What we’re doing is honouring our history while also developing the brand. It was a necessary evolutionary process.
Zeitz isn’t afraid to make huge changes, especially for a brand as storied as Harley-Davidson.
Harley-Davidson LIVEWIRE Highway Review!
I believe in major transformational change for legendary brands, which is what I’ve always done, he explained.
After making its premiere at the 2018 EICMA, the first Harley-Davidson electric motorbike, known as the LiveWire, arrived in customers’ garages in 2019.
The company subsequently chose to separate its electric motorcycle operations into a new sub-brand called LiveWire. The LiveWire One was inherited from Harley-Davidson’s first electric motorcycle and fully rebadged under the new sub-brand.
Now, LiveWire is working on its second model, the LiveWire S2 Del Mar, which is meant to be a more mass market electric motorbike aimed at younger, more urban users.
Electric motorcycles will almost certainly have a substantial impact on the company and the motorcycle industry as a whole. Electric motorcycles have various advantages over regular gas-powered motorcycles, including lower maintenance costs, more efficiency, and better performance. Furthermore, as battery technology advances, electric motorcycles become more accessible to a larger spectrum of users, with greater range and charging capabilities.
The shift to electric motorcycles represents a big opportunity for Harley-Davidson to innovate and remain relevant in an ever-changing industry. It does, however, provide hurdles, as the company must move from gas-powered motorcycles to electric while keeping its unique aesthetic and brand identity.
Electric motorcycles emit much fewer emissions than typical gas-powered motorcycles, making them a more environmentally friendly mode of transportation. The widespread adoption of electric motorcycles could also help to reduce the transportation industry’s overall carbon footprint and help to solve the concerns of climate change.
Overall, Harley-Davidson and electric motorcycles have a bright future as the corporation continues to invest in this technology and develop new and innovative models. With the growing demand for environmentally friendly transportation, electric motorcycles are expected to play an increasingly important role in the motorcycle industry in the next years.
Riding into the future: A look at Harley Davidson’s Electric Line up
Harley-Davidson has been striving to establish itself in the electric motorbike market, and their inventory includes a number of electric models. Among the present and upcoming electric vehicles in their lineup are:
The Harley-Davidson LiveWire is the company’s first electric motorbike, offering a high-performance ride with quick torque and a top speed of 110 mph.
Harley-Davidson Serial 1 Cycle Manufacturing Company: This is a Harley-Davidson sub-brand dedicated to the development of high-performance electric bicycles.
Harley-Davidson Project LiveWire 2: This is the company’s next-generation electric motorcycle, which promises to be more compact and lighter while also having a longer range and better performance.
Electric scooters from Harley-Davidson: The business has also revealed plans to produce a range of electric scooters to provide metropolitan commuters with a more sustainable and efficient form of transportation.
Each of these models exemplifies the company’s dedication to the future of electric mobility as well as its efforts to remain relevant and competitive in a continuously changing market.
While Harley-Davidson’s electric lineup is still in its early stages, the firm has gotten encouraging response from both riders and industry professionals. When compared to standard gas-powered motorcycles, the company’s electric motorcycles provide a distinct riding experience with quick torque, smooth and quiet operation, and a more ecologically friendly option.
Overall, Harley-Davidson’s electric range appears to have a bright future, and it will be interesting to see how the firm continues to innovate and develop new and exciting items in the coming years.
Why Harley Davidson’s Electric Bikes Are A Game Changer For The Industry
The arrival of Harley-Davidson into the electric motorcycle market is a huge development for the industry and has the potential to be game-changing in multiple ways:
Harley-Davidson is known for its iconic appearance and style, and the company’s electric motorcycles carry on that history while adding cutting-edge technology and innovation. This can promote further developments in the electric motorcycle market and motivate other manufacturers to invest in electric motorcycle development.
Harley-Davidson is a well-established and recognized brand, and its introduction into the electric motorbike market gives electric motorcycles more visibility and awareness. This can assist raise customer awareness and interest in electric motorcycles, resulting in greater adoption.
Harley-Davidson’s electric motorcycles are intended to appeal to a broader spectrum of consumers, including individuals who might not have considered a typical gas-powered motorcycle in the past. This has the potential to broaden the market for electric motorcycles and raise demand for environmentally friendly transportation options.
Compared to regular gas-powered motorcycles, electric motorcycles emit much fewer emissions, making them a more ecologically friendly mode of transportation. The widespread use of electric motorcycles can assist to reduce the transportation industry’s overall carbon footprint and have a positive influence on the environment.
The electric motorcycles from Harley-Davidson provide a one-of-a-kind riding experience, with quick torque and smooth, quiet running. This has the potential to attract a new generation of riders looking for a high-performance, environmentally friendly means of transportation.
Overall, Harley-Davidson’s entry into the electric motorcycle market is an important industry milestone that has the potential to spur greater acceptance of electric motorcycles and help define the future of sustainable mobility.
Harley-Davidson LiveWire (2020) range recharge and road-test
THE Harley-Davidson LiveWire is one of the most talked-about new models from the Milwaukee factory in recent years. It not only marks the biggest departure for a brand that has deep roots in the cruiser segment, but also a move to creating an electric motorcycle for the modern age.
This test wasn’t the first time I’d ridden a LiveWire though, I’d already been to a press test in Barcelona at the tail end of last year. Press tests are good, you get to sample the bike on some great roads and with back up from pro photographers, but you don’t get the same ownership experience that a punter gets when they buy one.
Harley-Davidson LiveWire video review
To fix that, we got hold of one for an early autumn review to see if what we’d found out on the press test was accurate. And more importantly, to find out what the bike is like to live with as a daily bike.
Firstly, my impressions of the speed and handling of the Harley-Davidson remain unchanged. It is still the best handling Harley-Davidson I’ve ever swung a leg over. It’s quick to turn, feeling nimbler and more dynamic than it 210kg weight would have you believe.
It may not be the most powerful or torquey electric motorcycles on the market, but that doesn’t hold it back. It feels super quick, with the most direct and focussed throttle connection of the lot. Pin the right-hand twist-grip to the stop and the LiveWire will hurl you up to 85mph quicker than pretty much anything else with two wheels and a battery.
It’s also blessed with some of the best brakes of any of the electric motorcycles I’ve had the pleasure of riding. The Brembo Monoblock grab onto 300mm discs and provide you with unbelievable amounts of stopping power. The feel at the level is good too, and the rear brake is just as eye-opening.
Harley-Davidson LiveWire range and recharging test
The Harley is equipped with a 15.5kWh Rechargeable Energy Storage System (RESS) which is a collection of batteries held in the finned box within the frame. Plugging it into your three-pin plug at home will give you a full charge overnight. Find yourself a roadside fast charger though and you’ll be able to pour enough electrons in to get to 100% in the time it takes to grab a coffee and a spot of lunch.
While filming the video you can see above, I had the bike plugged in for around 45 minutes and it charged from 20 to 85 percent during that time. That provided me with just over 100 miles of charge and enough to get me back to Gloucester to return to the bike to Harley-Davidson. Though the BP Chargemaster app I can see it cost me exactly £2 to buy those miles.
Helmet on and off we go, down the A46 and then along the A429 towards the Cotswolds. It’s not the most direct route but it does include the most opportunity to recover some energy through the bike’s engine braking regeneration system. After a spirited but sensible ride, I’d covered nearly 70 miles and rolled into my destination with just over 15 miles range left in the bike and an indicated 12 percent left in the battery.
After spending some more time with the LiveWire in a real-world scenario, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is the only electric motorcycle I’ve ridden that I genuinely believe in. When it tells you that based on current riding conditions you have a certain number of miles left, it’s pretty close to the mark. I also found that the bike accurately predicts the amount of time a given recharge will take. It’s also the electric bike that you can get on and actually ride like a petrol bike and not be worried about range. A spirited ride along mixed roads should mean between 80 and 100 miles is on the cards, with more urgent adventures topping out at between 60 and 70 miles.
It might not be the most comfortable, cheapest, or easiest to ride electric motorcycle on the market, but in my mind, it is the class leader. Although at nearly £30k, you really wouldn’t expect anything else.
Harley-Davidson Livewire Electric Motorcyle: 110-Mile Range For 29,799
Harley-Davidson has been teasing its first electric motorcycle, the Livewire, since dinosaurs roamed the earth. We first rode it way back in 2014. It featured prominently in Avengers: Age of Ultron, but seemed as much a part of Marvel’s fantasy world as the superheroes themselves. Harley has been teasing us about the Livewire for at least five years now, showing it off from time to time but never giving us any more significant information about it, even at the 115th-anniversary opportunity. That ends today, however.
Today’s news came not at a motorcycle show, but at CES 2019, which focuses more on electronics and technology. Vehicles have become a much bigger part of the show in recent years, though, as the line between them and high-tech gadgetry becomes more and more blurred. Not only was the Livewire there in all its glory, but Harley also showed off prototypes of an electric dirt bike and scooter, as well as a concept drawing for four potential models. We’ll write about these in another article.
Finally, we get some official specifications of the Livewire’s performance. It’ll do 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds. The range will be about 110 miles. It will charge off any standard household outlet at Level 1, as well as support Level 3 fast charging. H-D did not provide any charge times. But it did provide a price: 29,799. You can now look up a dealer that will be able to sell you the Livewire on H-D’s website.
There’s still a great deal that we don’t know—the size of the battery or the power of the electric motor, for example. Harley’s always a little bit cagey about ratings like this anyway. The Zero SR is known to have a similar 120 mile mixed city/highway range with a 14.4-kilowatt-hour battery. The Livewire is probably a bit heavier than the SR, so we could be looking at a low to mid-teens kilowatt-hour battery. The range is not out of line with other comparable electric bikes, but certainly short of a typical Harley touring bike. You’ll be hard-pressed to finish your poker or toy runs on the Livewire.
While performance specs are scarce, we do have lots of information about the H-D Connect Service, an LTE-enabled Telematics Control Unit coupled with connectivity and Cloud services using the latest version of the Harley-Davidson App. The bike will be connected to the Cloud. Owners can check the battery charge and expected range remotely, know where it is and if it’s been tampered with or moved, and automatically receive service reminders. Perhaps this is why the Livewire was revealed at an electronics show rather than a motorcycle show.
Finally, since a giant part of the Harley experience is the sound, the Livewire promises a new signature Harley-Davidson sound as it accelerates and gains speed. This new futuristic sound represents the smooth, electric power of the LiveWire motorcycle. We don’t know if this will be the turbine whoosh of KITT from Knight Rider or a modernized version of the classic potato-potato sound. What we do know is that unlike other Harleys, adding loud pipes to the Livewire won’t help amplify the sound.
The LiveWire is propelled by a 105-horsepower electric motor and fueled by a lithium-ion battery pack Harley-Davidson calls a “Renewable Energy Storage System.” The bike is claimed to have a 146-mile range or combined city/highway range of 95 miles. After riding the LiveWire in Sport Mode on a 65-mile test ride through the outlying hills of Portland, I returned the bike with nearly 40 percent charge. This was nice, from a technology perspective, as range seems to be the biggest gripe with EV motorcycles.
For standard procedure, LiveWire comes with a Level 1 charging cable that plugs into any standard 120V outlet for overnight charging. But out in the urban landscape, the LiveWire is compatible with Level 3 DC Fast Charge (DCFC) stations that will replenish a fully depleted battery in an hour. And charging stations are readily available and easy to find by using the Harley-Davidson or other off-brand Apps (like PlugShare) that can quickly navigate you to nearby to top off on some Edison.
The LiveWire also comes equipped with the latest and greatest ride-enhanced technologies including cellular connectivity and electric rider assist features. The former allows for a LiveWire owner to link with their motorcycle through their smartphone providing owners with important information like security and tampering alerts, motorcycle status (including battery charge) and service reminders.
LiveWire is also equipped with H-D’s Reflex Defensive Rider Systems (RDRS) — “nerd talk” to describe a collection of technology designed to match motorcycle performance to available traction during acceleration, deceleration and braking. The RDRS system is comprised of four components: Cornering Enhanced Anti-lock Braking System, Cornering Enhanced Traction Control System, Front-Wheel Lift Mitigation and Drag-Torque Slip Control. Ultimately, these are systems likely to be helpful when riding in adverse road conditions and in urgent situations (hopefully keeping your ass alive when it’s your turn to kiss the highway).
The LiveWire’s Heartbeat
Harley-Davidson literally gave the LiveWire a heartbeat. H-D’s chief engineer for EV technology, Sean Stanley, explains it as “a haptic pulse sensation” designed to let the rider know when the bike has “come to life” and is ready to ride — also to alert the rider when the bike is stopped, but in propulsion mode. This initially sounded silly and my first thought was there better be a way to turn this off. But after spending a day zipping around on the future-styled machine (and seeing another journalist send the bike into a hedge), I actually liked the bike letting me know she was ready to fly at a moment’s notice.
Through Oregon’s rural roads and curvy ess-turns, where the ambient noise and wind were the only conflicting noise, I realized that there is an intentionally engineered sound — a signature whine emanating from the LiveWire’s primary drive. To provide an accurate reference, the LiveWire sounds like an Imperial TIE fighter (Awesome, I know). And while the bike isn’t propelled by Twin Ion Engines, its jump to light speed (okay fine, from 0 to 60 mph) is 3 seconds. This rate of acceleration may not come with the same bragging rights as making the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs, but it is super-car fast for planet earth. Zipping beneath canopies of Douglas fir, red alder, hemlock and bigleaf maple, the engineered sound of the LiveWire brought to mind sounds of a Sith Lord propelling through the jungles of Naboo or Kashyyyk — needless to say, the bike sounds really fucking cool.
The Riding Experience
Simply put, the LiveWire is extremely fun — a motorcycle that can speed off instantly with a twist of the throttle while emanating a feeling of space-age nobility. That instant acceleration, characteristic of electric vehicles, can also be felt even at high speeds when making the jump from 60-80 or 90-110 miles per hour (I tested the latter several times specifically for research purposes). At low, medium and high speeds, the steering feels extremely stable and the bike feels both nimble and intuitive in the curvy roads, where both attributes might be needed to keep you alive.
electric Harley-Davidson LiveWire sound [RAW Onboard]
And as we rode through the Pacific Northwest’s forested and curvaceous roads, the throttle mapping on the bike proved to be as well-tuned and responsive as I’d hoped. I did spent most of the day in Sport Mode, accessed via the LiveWire’s color touchscreen, a setting that delivers full performance of the bike and quickest throttle response. The LiveWire comes with four pre-programmed modes — Sport, Road, Range and Rain — and three modes customizable by the rider.
The biggest two biggest complaints with the 2020 LiveWire will be price and range. With a price tag just below 30,000, the LiveWire isn’t for everyone. In fact, as Levatich explains it, the LiveWire is a “halo” EV product and the first of a broad portfolio of EV motorcycles that Harley-Davidson intends to release. (A philosophy not different than when Tesla released its first Roadster in 2006 with base models starting at 109,000). “aim to lead in the electrification of this sport just like this company aimed to do in 1903 with traditional motorcycles,” says Levatich. “EV is part of the future of Harley-Davidson and we are investing heavily to lead in the technology”
Fully charged, the LiveWire is claimed to cover an estimated 146 miles of maximum range in the city. But with modes like Road and Sport, and most riders’ proclivity for speed and torque, the LiveWire is likely to get much less. This is an issue that will likely be developed in the coming years and as Stanley says, “We will be offering upgrades when better technology is available.”
To sweeten the deal for potential LiveWire buyers, H-D is throwing in 500 kilowatt-hours of free charging at Electrify America DCFC stations and free charging at authorized Harley-Davidson LiveWire dealers for two years.
Time will tell, but the Harley-Davidson LiveWire could quickly become the eponymous product of the EV motorcycle phenomenon. It’s not likely you’ll see traditional motorcycle clubs rolling out of their clubhouses on their fashionable EV bikes anytime soon (I guess anything is possible these days), but going electric does feel altruistic, albeit the destructive environmental impact caused by mining of the world’s supply lithium carbonate. But at the end of the day, most mechanical technologies come with a price, a tax on the environment — hopefully EV technology will prove to be less-caustic than the more primitive combustible motors.
Eric Hendrikx’s gear:
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