Can A Harley Be A Harley Without All The Noise? Company Introduces Its First Electric Motorcycle

(Harley-Davidson)

(Harley-Davidson)

Growing up in the home of the Harley-Davidson, none other than Milwaukee, WI, I can conjure up the sound of a Harley’s engine just by closing my eyes. Such a skill could be handy for anyone longing to hear that distinctive rumble when faced with the company’s first electric motorcycle, just introduced today.

In a YouTube video introducing the bike, dubbed Project LiveWire by Harley, the motorcycle sounds like some kind of tiny jet plane, a kind of zippy, futuristic whirr, instead of that deep-in-your-gut rumble.

That’s just one aspect our colleagues at Consumer Reports feel is worth mentioning, along with the fact that without an extensive network of chargers to juice up the machines after about 130 miles (with a 30-60 minute charging process), the electric bikes will likely be a tough sell for now.

The motorcycles will be shown off with demo models next week at an event in New York, reports the Associated Press, after which Harley will take a bunch of riders on a 30-city tour to test drive the bikes and see how they’re received.

It’ll still likely be several more years before the hogs hit the market, however, in what will prove to be a big test for the company. Full-size electric motorcycles aren’t exactly a hot market right now, but Harley says it’s trying to think in the long-term instead of just focus on immediate demand.

“We think that the trends in both EV technology and customer openness to EV products, both automotive and motorcycles, is only going to increase, and when you think about sustainability and environmental trends, we just see that being an increasing part of the lifestyle and the requirements of riders,” Harley-Davidson President Matt Lavatich said. “So, nobody can predict right now how big that industry will be or how significant it will be.”

The bikes are shift-free, and can go from 0 to 60 mph in about four seconds. Again, without the accompanying rumble, so either get used to the idea or not.

“Some people may get on it thinking, ‘golf cart,'” lead engineer Jeff Richlen said. “And they get off thinking, ‘rocket ship.'”

Harley-Davidson unveils an electric motorcycle, and worlds collide [Consumer Reports]
Harley-Davidson introduces electric motorcycle [Associated Press]