Shock! Harley-Davidson unveils ‘LiveWire’ – its first electric bike

Date 20.6.2014

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  • Motorcycle Trader

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Harley-Davidson Project LiveWire electric motorcycle

Harley-Davidson has shocked the two-wheeled world by unveiling its first electric motorcycle it calls ‘Project LiveWire’. But fear not yet, purists, because it remains a concept bike at this stage to gauge public reaction.

Should it get the production green light, the comparatively silent-running LiveWire will represent a watershed moment in the iconic Milwaukee brand’s 111-year history that’s been conservatively built on old-school, grunty V-twin engines and heavyweight cruisers.

“Project LiveWire is more like the first electric guitar – not an electric car,” Harley-Davidson senior vice president and chief marketing officer Mark-Hans Richer said.

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

Harley claims the offers “a visceral riding experience with tyre-shredding acceleration and an unmistakable new sound.”

“The sound is a distinct part of the thrill,” Richer said. “Think fighter jet on an aircraft carrier. Project LiveWire’s unique sound was designed to differentiate it from internal combustion [engines] and other electric motorcycles on the market.” By that Richer means the likes of compatriot rival Zero, which currently offers five electrically powered models in Australia, priced between $19,490 for the FX enduro model and $25,490 for the SR naked flagship.

While technical details such as battery range remain few, the LiveWire ‘demonstrator’ is understood to be powered by a three-phase induction motor delivering 55kW (74hp) and 70Nm of torque, which – if correct – is actually significantly less than the Zero SR (50kW/144Nm claimed). These figures may not reflect a production version, however.

The bike features a lithium-ion battery that’s tipped to have a maximum capacity of 14kWh and a recharge time of about 3.5 hours in the US (220-volt input port), according to H-D.

With an instant hit of torque from an electric motor, however, the LiveWire will still be blindingly quick with a 0-100km/h sprint time of around four seconds.

Select customers across the US will from next week be able to ride and provide feedback on the bike similar to its recent Project Rushmore touring range. In doing so, the company will visit more than 30 Harley-Davidson dealerships throughout its domestic market until the end of the year, kicking off with a journey down the famous Route 66. The water-testing road show will next year expand into Canada and Europe.

With production-ready looks, the LiveWire features futuristic styling including sharp, aggressive cues as seen from the polarising V-Rod, Buell Lightning and the bike from the sci-fi film, Tron.

Longer-term plans for retail availability of Project LiveWire will be influenced by feedback from riders along the Project Livewire Experience tour, Harley says.

“Because electric vehicle technology is evolving rapidly, we are excited to learn more from riders through the Project LiveWire Experience,” Richer said.

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