Harley Pins Hopes to Electric Bike


The last couple of years have not been easy for Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s Harley Davidson. The iconic bike maker has dealt with recalls, plant closings, and layoffs in the face of lagging sales. And at the heart of all these issues is the changing face of the Harley rider. No longer interested in the baby-boomer era trademarks of heavy frames, large engines, and crackling exhaust pipes, the new generation of riders wants comfort and economy.

Since 2014, Harley has been working on the LiveWire electric motorcycle – the production version of which was recently unveiled. Some features of the bike include seven riding modes that can be adjusted via the Showa suspension and electric drivetrain to account for power, range, and regenerative braking preferences. The LiveWire will also feature 11.8” anti-lock disc brakes and a traction control system as standard features.

It will also rely on a permanent magnet electric motor with instant torque. The motor will sit low on the frame to help improve handling and control.

The battery pack is comprised of lithium-ion cells inside a cast aluminum housing for the main motor, and a smaller 12-volt lithium-ion battery for the light and instruments. An onboard level 1 charger is standard for connecting to a household outlet, but the bike also supports Level 2 and 3 DC fast charging via an SAE J1772 connector.

An adjustable color touchscreen above the handlebars will also provide navigation, music, and Bluetooth connectivity. In lieu of the typical sounds generated by a gas-fed motor, the bike will produce a manufactured sound that will change pitch and volume based on fluctuations in speed.

The Livewire prototype was listed as having a 53-mile range between charges, but with some competitors capable of doubling that distance, it’s thought that the initial production version will exceed the prototype. The bike is scheduled to arrive next year, with pricing and pre-ordering details to be made available in January 2019. Specifics on range, acceleration, and other key specs are expected to be made available at that time as well.

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