Motorcycles

Harley-Davidson releases Livewire specs and two wacky e-bike concepts

Harley-Davidson releases Livew...
Pricing is in for the Harley Livewire electric motorcycle, and you'd better sit down before you read it
Pricing is in for the Harley Livewire electric motorcycle, and you'd better sit down before you read it
View 14 Images
Pricing is in for the Harley Livewire electric motorcycle, and you'd better sit down before you read it
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Pricing is in for the Harley Livewire electric motorcycle, and you'd better sit down before you read it
US$29,799 is a very premium price for what looks like a very nice bike
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US$29,799 is a very premium price for what looks like a very nice bike
An urban range around 110 miles will make it a more than competent commuter, but highway cruising might drain that battery fast
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An urban range around 110 miles will make it a more than competent commuter, but highway cruising might drain that battery fast
The Livewire will come with a year's free subscription to H-D connect, a service that lets you track your bike remotely and keep an eye on its state of charge when it's plugged in
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The Livewire will come with a year's free subscription to H-D connect, a service that lets you track your bike remotely and keep an eye on its state of charge when it's plugged in
The Livewire's sky-high price tag is likely to move the needle in the wrong direction with younger riders, a market Harley is desperately hoping to get back on board
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The Livewire's sky-high price tag is likely to move the needle in the wrong direction with younger riders, a market Harley is desperately hoping to get back on board
The Livewire will roll into dealerships in the US and Europe through 2019, and other markets will have to wait until 2020
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The Livewire will roll into dealerships in the US and Europe through 2019, and other markets will have to wait until 2020
Where LEvel 3 DC fast charging is available, the Livewire is capable of charging fully within around half an hour
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Where LEvel 3 DC fast charging is available, the Livewire is capable of charging fully within around half an hour
Harley's CES concepts include a lightweight electric off-roader
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Harley's CES concepts include a lightweight electric off-roader
It's hard not to compare this off-road ebike to the Sur-Ron Light Bee, an exciting 6-kilowatt trail machine out of China
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It's hard not to compare this off-road ebike to the Sur-Ron Light Bee, an exciting 6-kilowatt trail machine out of China
Dual suspension frame, belt drive and a compact electric powertrain with razor-thin flat track styling on top
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Dual suspension frame, belt drive and a compact electric powertrain with razor-thin flat track styling on top
Harley's other CES concept: a mini electric moped for urban riding
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Harley's other CES concept: a mini electric moped for urban riding
This electric monkey bike has a cool-looking set of skateboard-style footboards for two
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This electric monkey bike has a cool-looking set of skateboard-style footboards for two
Hollow ring headlight is an interesting design
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Hollow ring headlight is an interesting design
Low-slung electric powertrain, bench seat and thin tires polish off the look
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Low-slung electric powertrain, bench seat and thin tires polish off the look
View gallery - 14 images

Harley-Davidson has fronted up at CES in Las Vegas with partial specifications and a horrific pricetag to stick on its Livewire electric motorcycle. But that's not all. The company has also floated a couple of weird, funky two wheelers that live somewhere between the motorcycle and e-bike worlds.

The specs are in for the bike Harley hopes will open up a new market among millennials. The first electric Harley will go 0-60 mph (0-98 km/h) in less than 3.5 seconds and have a range around 110 miles (177 km) of urban riding. It'll have cornering ABS and lean angle-sensitive traction control, as well as fully-adjustable Showa suspension and a 4.3-inch color touchscreen with built-in navigation. And it'll cost a blistering US$29,799.

We expect high prices on electrics at the moment with batteries still a brutal up-front cost. And we're used to high prices from Harley, too, but 30 grand is a heck of an ask for any motorcycle – it's more than Ducati wants for its Panigale V4 S, for example. And while there's little to pay for fuel or servicing once you own it, the Livewire will continue dipping into your pocket with a yearly subscription fee to its H-D Connect service.

The Livewire's sky-high price tag is likely to move the needle in the wrong direction with younger riders, a market Harley is desperately hoping to get back on board
The Livewire's sky-high price tag is likely to move the needle in the wrong direction with younger riders, a market Harley is desperately hoping to get back on board

H-D Connect is a cloud-based service that hooks your bike up to the net via cellular data services. It lets you check what the charge status is like (the bike should charge within about 35 minutes on a Level 3 DC fast charge through CCS Combo/J1772 charging), plus locate it via GPS if it's stolen, and gives you service warnings. The first year is free, after that you need to pay an unspecified annual subscription.

This ain't millennial-friendly pricing, folks. This is Harley trying to be the Tesla of motorcycles, offering a good-looking, premium, high-performance electric early in the game. Unfortunately, though, while the Livewire rocks a very tasty digital dash and what seems to be a fairly torquey powertrain (no power or torque figures are forthcoming), there's little here that pushes the game forward the way Tesla has. People seem willing to throw down to drive around in something truly game-changing, and Tesla has arguably made the most exciting and forward-thinking vehicles of the last decade.

Whether the Livewire will carry such a halo remains to be seen. It's certainly a great looking bike. But if you want your all-American electric motorcycle to wear a real trailblazer's badge, you're probably already rocking a much cheaper, quicker and longer-range Zero SR or Lighting LS-218 – these two companies have been fighting the zero-emissions fight for many years now out on the West Coast.

Harley's other CES concept: a mini electric moped for urban riding
Harley's other CES concept: a mini electric moped for urban riding

Harley also used CES to launch a couple of concepts that point toward lighter, smaller, cheaper urban and off-road bikes. The first is a mini-moped monkey bike with a flat bench seat, high bars and a hollow LED ring headlight. It's got skateboard-style footboards, and a low-slung battery/motor box with a belt drive back to the slim rear tire, and sports that sleek, retro-futuristic look that's so rampant these days. It's the kind of ultra-simple, friendly, twist-and-go machine that new riders and non-riders might just find hard to resist at the right price.

It's hard not to compare this off-road ebike to the Sur-Ron Light Bee, an exciting 6-kilowatt trail machine out of China
It's hard not to compare this off-road ebike to the Sur-Ron Light Bee, an exciting 6-kilowatt trail machine out of China

The other is a sharp looking electric offroader that looks like a premium version of something like the Sur-Ron Light Bee. Its chunky dirtbike tires are no bigger than something you'd see on a fat bike, it runs a compact mid drive motor with a belt to the rear wheel, a small battery pack, a lightweight dual suspension frame and a razor-thin seat unit that riffs on flat track style. The Light Bee gives a fun trail riding experience with just 6 kW (8 hp) of power and around 2 kWh of battery, and the Harley concept looks around the same physical size so we'd expect similar performance figures. We certainly wouldn't expect the Harley to launch for less than US$3 grand though, which is the kind of price you can get the Light Bee for if you go direct from China.

Source: Harley-Davidson

View gallery - 14 images
9 comments
nick101
$30,000! Good luck with that! The other two will sell well unless you price them stupidly, then they won't. Harley has always capitalized on the 'tough guy' image, and sold their bikes at a premium, these things? Not-so-much.
MikeRyanc95317ae2315443b
Looking at the new HD, I'm saddened by the fact that long range cruising is being relegated to the past. Add to this an automatic transmission and what do you get? A very expensive (US$29,799 plus shipping, PDI, license, insurance and tax), sort range scooter with an HD logo. I think I'll pass...
VincentWolf
Epic fail. Twice as expensive as the Zero with nearly identical specs. HD is on the path to bankruptcy just like Detroit.
Mzungu_Mkubwa
The difficulty here is that they've got a product aimed at "old school" Harley guys (size, styling, price) while needing to sell to the younger generation. The lack of long-range cruise (still just a dream for electrics, sadly) will knock it off most old-schooler's lists. The youth demographic will reject due to price, primarily, but also because it misses the mark in the design & intended-use factors as well. The other two concepts hit much closer on these, assuming they're affordable. This demographic simply doesn't value the H-D brand enough to tip the scales, IMHO.
PAV
That last one could benefit from peddles and gears. When I'm out in about on an electric I want to be able to use bike lanes and I want to have backup power if I need it to get home after I've tackled some hills and killed the battery
chidrbmt
The 2nd concept does indeed looks like a Sur-Ron. Having two,they are quality made,fun lightweight (110 lb.) toys with a reasonable price of $4,000. H.D. will triple that price and then wonder why it's a sales dud. Until there's a battery break thru in cost & length of use,electric vehicles will always be the "future." Not sure any motorcycle company will survive the lack of interest with risk adverse younger generations? Of course,the same can be said about our specie's future.
Ottoknut
About the same money Harley wants for one of their nicely equipped touring models. The price effectively makes the Livewire a toy for rich kids. I understand that this has a lot to do with the cost of batteries for electric vehicles, but holy crap! The future of vehicle motivation may be electric, but, with a price like that, not likely in my future. Price is probably for Denim Black. The Electric Orange option is likely around $3500 :) Long live internal combustion!
Donn Taylor
Once again, Harley takes a perfect opportunity and throws it away. Not surprised at all. This is why the Japanese bikes will always have such a large share of the US market. Willing to bet that everyone of the Japanese companies have a electric motorcycle in the pipes that will travel longer, cost a lot less and be more appealing than this. Keep shooting yourself in the foot Harley. Soon you'll be seen only in museums and history books.
Jason Catterall
With battery prices dropping below $150 per KWh there is simply no excuse for ridiculous pricing like this.