Harley-Davidson Livewire

When you think of Harley-Davidson, your initial thoughts aren’t towards a progressive and forward-thinking manufacturer but a company stuck with loud, shiny 1950s technology. So when the American firm decides to go electric, it’s a big deal.

A Harley-Davidson electric motorcycle prototype made headlines earlier this week when pictures of a production-ready looking electric bike with Harley badges surfaced on the set of the new Avengers: Age of Ultron film. Since then it was unearthed that Harley had trademarked the appropriately name of ‘Livewire’ for their foray into electric propulsion.

Now more images and details have come forward giving us a better look at this arguably revolutionary turn for H-D. First off the bike has a similar poise to the sporty XR1200 but with a more futuristic appearance, which is continued with the LED headlights, a first for Harley and the digital dash.

Engine-wise, the Livewire features a three-phase induction electric motor with 55kw of power, just under 74bhp and 52lb/ft of torque. Speed is expected to be limited to 92mph with a 0-60 time in around 4 seconds. Range for the Livewire looks to be an area that Harley will need to focus on as the current mileage being reported is 50 miles, from city and open road riding, estimated from the 7kw charge time.

Harley have said that whilst the engine might not have the typical thumping v-twin of their lore, the silent engine does hum like a jet fighter taking off as the gears spin. Lead engineer on the project Jeff Richlen told the Associated Press: “Some people may get on it thinking, ‘golf cart’ and they get off thinking, ‘rocket ship.'”

Harley will gauge the idea of making the Livewire a production machine based on the response customer test rides and feedback – which have so far been very positive. If Harley can keep the price relatively affordable and improve on the range then they are on to a winner.

More importantly, for Harley-Davidson, the Livewire shows a much needed change to the company’s mythos bringing their old motorcycle lifestyle driven business model focussed on their history and clichéd motorcycle ideals. Further to this it would put Harley-Davidson behind the likes of the Japanese and Europeans in terms of technology as they would become the first of the big manufacturers to fully commit to the electric motorcycle.

Details and pics from Asphalt and Rubber

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