Legendary manufacturer Harley-Davidson announced on Thursday the development of their first electric motorcycle and die-hard enthusiasts are shocked by this surprise move. For more than 110 years, the motor company has retained a loyal following with some of the most dedicated brand followers ever experienced by any company in any industry. While HD has evolved with the times with introductions such as the V-Rod, it's the classics like the Springer and Road King that hold firm and fast throughout the years.
So the team in Milwaukee is going to venture out along Route 66 this summer for a 30-city tour to gauge the interest of their market base first-hand and, most notably, the under-35 age bracket. The motor company is encouraging customer feedback by asking social media users to include #ProjectLiveWire.
The electric hand-built prototype motorcycle has been code named Project Live Wire and will be officially unveiled to the public on June 23 in New York City. First released photos show a sleek and more futuristic looking motorcycle closer to the V-Rod genre than the classics.
Historically, the first electric motorcycle was developed in the late 1800's; however, it has only been in recent years that the concept has gained momentum with the debut of Zero and Mission motorcycles.
For the speed enthusiasts, the Live Wire should be remarkably quick off the line with intial reports placing it at 0-60 mph in less than four seconds. One of the perks to this is that the full 100 per cent of its torque is being delivered immediately and with no gear shifting.
One of the drawbacks to electric motorcycles has been their disturbingly quiet motors. Most riders are familiar with the terminology "Loud pipes save lives" because frequently the need to roll on the pipes is the only thing that shakes a cager out of their stupor when they start to veer into different lanes while texting behind the wheel. Harley has addressed this by including heightened audible features.
“The sound is a distinct part of the thrill,” says Mark-Hans Richer, the company’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer. “Think fighter jet on an aircraft carrier. Project LiveWire’s unique sound was designed to differentiate it from internal combustion and other electric motorcycles on the market.”
Initially, the Live Wire will probably be best used for community or running around urban areas as the charge is expected to carry it about 130 miles and recharging time will take anywhere from a half-hour to a full hour.
Harley acknowledges that its older clientele will probably shy away from this new introduction to the family; however, the motor company does not intend to put a lot of energy into converting the faithful and are instead setting their sites on a younger market much as they did with the Hard Candy line.
It's also worth noting the strong following Harley has worldwide and how this bike may bridge the gap between economical electric scooters in Asia and the more robust mainstream models.
The concept is not set in stone just yet and Harley will be paying close attention to the consumers that experience the bike along the tour.