G. David Felt
Alternative Fuels & Propulsion writer
Harley Davidson E Bike!
~PROJECT LIVEWIRE ~
The Experience Tour!
The week of June 23rd Harley Davidson will introduce its first electric bike. A company known for its big loud touring bikes and iconic brand plans to become a leader worldwide in developing technology and standards for electric vehicles.
At an invitation only event in New York, Harley will show off its handmade demonstration models. The company will then take the bikes on a 30-city tour to allow people to test drive the bikes and provide feedback. This tour will allow Harley to refine the bike so its engineers can plan to bring it to market over the next few years.
Risky is an understatement since no market exists for full size electric bikes. The market is almost exclusively driven by scooters and low powered bikes in Asian countries like China. Yet these investments by a well-know icon could very well create demand. Regardless of immediate demand, the long term potential for Harley should be a win no matter what.
The LiveWire bike is expected to sell on performance more than environmental awareness or what is called the green factor. The sporty bike can go from 0 to 60 in approximately 4 seconds with no need to shift gears. Like a jet airplane taking off, the engine is silent except for the meshing of gears which emits a hum.
The lead engineer Jeff Richlen states, “People get on thinking Golf Cart and get off thinking Rocket Ship.”
Hurdles for the company are the current battery pack lasts about 130 miles and takes up to 1hr to recharge. Hitting the highway will likely frustrate riders for road trips due to the short range and long recharge time.
Harley does see this as an outstanding suburban and city commuter bike. With sales of more than 260,000 motorcycles last year, the potential for EV bikes cannot be ignored.