Motorcycles

Meet Project LiveWire: Harley Davidson's first-ever electric motorbike

Meet Project LiveWire: Harley ...
The Project LiveWire electric Harley Davidson
The Project LiveWire electric Harley Davidson
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The Project LiveWire electric Harley Davidson
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The Project LiveWire electric Harley Davidson
The Project LiveWire Experience will tour Harley dealerships allowing people to test-ride it
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The Project LiveWire Experience will tour Harley dealerships allowing people to test-ride it
The Project LiveWire bike will not be not available to buy, but will be used to generate feedback for a potential electric Harley in the future
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The Project LiveWire bike will not be not available to buy, but will be used to generate feedback for a potential electric Harley in the future
A front view of Project LiveWire
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A front view of Project LiveWire
A side view of Project LiveWire
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A side view of Project LiveWire
A rear view of Project LiveWire
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A rear view of Project LiveWire
A rear-side view of Project LiveWire
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A rear-side view of Project LiveWire
A close-up of the Project LiveWire LED headlight
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A close-up of the Project LiveWire LED headlight
A close-up of Project LiveWire's handlebar-mounted touchscreen display
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A close-up of Project LiveWire's handlebar-mounted touchscreen display
Project LiveWire will feature a longitudinally-mounted electric motor
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Project LiveWire will feature a longitudinally-mounted electric motor
A close-up of the Project LiveWire frame
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A close-up of the Project LiveWire frame
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Harley-Davidson is a brand so iconic as to be known worldwide, and by people with little or no interest in motorbikes. For H-D to break with tradition in any major way, therefore, would be to make waves. Today, it has done just that by unveiling Project LiveWire, its first ever-electric motorbike.

The idea of an electric Harley was publicly floated by the company's COO Matthew Levatich speaking at its 110-year anniversary celebration in Milwaukee last year. "I am sometimes asked … whether there will be an electric Harley," said Levatich. "People would say 'hell no.' But why not? Our engineers are quite intrigued with the idea of what an electric Harley would look like, sound like and feel like. And would it be visceral, would it be emotional, would it be luscious. And there's a way to do that I believe, and it would be very exciting."

And lo it has come to pass. From next week, the Project LiveWire Experience will tour Harley dealerships in the US, offering people the chance to test-ride the new LiveWire bike. The tour will be expanded to Canada and Europe in 2015. The bike itself will not be available to buy. Instead, the tour is aimed at gauging public response to and expectations of an electric Harley, before deciding if and when to bring an electric Hog to market.

The Project LiveWire bike will not be not available to buy, but will be used to generate feedback for a potential electric Harley in the future
The Project LiveWire bike will not be not available to buy, but will be used to generate feedback for a potential electric Harley in the future

Harley is keen to emphasize that consumer feedback will shape any such commercially available electric offering. "Project LiveWire is another exciting, customer-led moment in our history," says Levatich in a press release. "Because electric vehicle technology is evolving rapidly, we are excited to learn more from riders through the Project LiveWire Experience to fully understand the definition of success in this market as the technology continues to evolve."

Few technical details have been released about the LiveWire. Harley says that it will feature a longitudinally-mounted electric motor and will be shaped to allow the rider to "hug" the bike. According to the company, the Livewire "blends the company's styling heritage with the latest technology to deliver a new expression of the signature Harley-Davidson look, sound and feel." It promises quick acceleration and, intriguingly, "an unmistakable new sound."

Those keen to experience the LiveWire but who do not have a motorbike license will be able to try a simulated experience of it called JumpStart.

Update 20 June 2014: Harley-Davidson has now shared some of the bike's specs with us.

The LiveWire is powered by 3-phase AC electric induction motor, which produces 74 hp (55 kW) and 8000 rpm. Peak torque is 52 lb.ft (70.5 Nm). The bike maxes out at 92 mph (148 km/h) and accelerates from 0-60 mph (100 km/h) in 4 seconds. A full recharge takes around 3.5 hours and its average range so far has been 53 miles (85 km).

Source: Harley-Davidson

29 comments
Milton
Price? Range? Acceleration? Top Speed? I'd like to see: price - (sub $20K) Range - (100 real-world miles) Acceleration - (0-60 in sub 4 sec) Top Speed - (85+ mph)
Gyan Prakash
Quite Surprising! No comments yet?? Has this left people so speechless!? I think this is amazing.
Milton
oh, I'd also like to add: This thing looks BAD-ASS! Hope the bottom chrome section is a form-follows function thing though, because if that's just there as a throw-back to gasoline engines... arg!.
Bob Flint
Not your potato... potato....potato....potato Unearthly wail, as your eyes try to catch a glimpse of the electro-demon that just flashed past you... Clean, simple, twist it open and release the F5 tornado and disappear...
Daishi
The bottom chrome section is the electric motor. I assume everything above that is mostly battery. I kind of like it.
Matthew Bailey
Does it come with clothes-pins and playing cards to put in the spokes to make it loud? lol
Nairda
This would sell very well. Being wider and lower also means it can take a bigger battery. Re: Matthew Bailey There are ways to add fins to the motor/drive and change the air intake that would make this thing much louder and give it that helicopter turbine spooling up sound we all want. With little additional friction.
Martin Hone
Seems to have more akin to a Buell than a regular H-D, but nonetheless an interesting development and a sure sign of the future. Range is more of an issue than performance, but that will undoubtedly improve. Not sure If I like the idea of seeking out an electrician every time it needs a service, or a hop up......
Mike Sayle
Finally! A Harley I want to own! The cool whistle is light years (literally) ahead of the terrible racket that makes the engineer in me shudder in sympathy. The electric wave is building nicely.
Nigel Bolton
Ah Electric Glide.....is it available in blue?