They won’t sound like “rolling thunder” and they likely won’t look like the concept electric bike the Milwaukee company showed around the country in 2014, but electric Harleys are on the way. And now there’s a promised time frame. In an interview with the Milwaukee Business Journal, Harley-Davidson Senior Vice President of Global Demand Sean Cummings said the company’s first electric motorcycle is now “actively under development” and will be available within the next five years, according to Milwaukee Fox 6 News.
In 2014 Harley toured dealerships in the U.S. and Europe with Project LiveWire. The purpose of the tour was to get feedback from Harley enthusiasts and others on a concept design called the LiveWire. The company built 40 LiveWire bikes and got generally positive feedback, especially about the racer-inspired look and the speed. Harley compiled the comments and feedback for forward development.
The LiveWire concept bike was also featured in the 2015 Marvel film Avengers: Age of Ultron, ridden by Scarlett Johansson’s character Black Widow (actually it was ridden by a stunt motorcycle rider who talks about the bike in a video clip on the Project LiveWire website).
Riding range was one issue with the concept bike. The LiveWire had a range of only 50-60 miles on a charge. The final electric bike design will at least double the range. With motorcycles epitomizing freedom, the last thing a rider wants is range anxiety. The answer to a greater riding range is a larger battery and that will significantly effect design. A larger, heavier battery will need to be in the center near the bottom of the bike. For greatest efficiency the motor should be near the drive wheel. How Harley-Davidson translates those component changes will be key to the final design.
So now we know that, come 2021, new electric Harleys will be on the roads. We likely won’t hear them coming, however, or at least not in the same way, as the sound LiveWire made was described as more like a jet engine or a small turbine than a rolling explosion.