Today, Harley-Davidson (yes, that Harley-Davidson, the maker of big, snarling, dinosaur-burning, all-American touring bikes) said it is building its first e-motorcycle.
The concept is called LiveWire, and it’s just that—a concept. Starting this month, Harley will take 22 of these bikes on a road trip starting in New York, hoping to get feedback from the riders to help them improve the machine. If riders respond to a no-gas Harley with a fist-pump rather than a thumbs-down, then the Milwaukee-based company could begin to build a real production model as early as 2016.
All we know about the bike specs so far is that its motor will make 74 hp and 52 lb-ft of torque. Because the LiveWire is so light, that’s still good enough to accelerate to 60 mph in less than 4 seconds, according to Harley. It’s less than some other e-motorcycles can produce, though Harley engineers could pump up the power before building the real motorcycle, especially if its fleet of test riders complain about performance.
More troubling is the range. Right now it’s just 53 miles, and that’s a major problem for Harley-Davidson, whose entire brand image is built upon the idea of freedom of the road—riding hundreds of miles in a day, AC/DC blaring from the speakers.