Harley-Davidson Commits To Electric Motorcycle – Production Within Next 5 Years

JUN 14 2016 BY MARK KANE 55

According to Milwaukee Business Journal (via Asphalt & Rubber), Harley-Davidson will introduce electric motorcycle…within 5 years.

The news comes from Sean Cummings, Harley-Davidson’s Senior Vice President of Global Demand.

Two years ago Harley-Davidson launched its pilot project LiveWire to understand the consumer response, and gauge potential demand.

Now it seems that Harley-Davidson has gathered all the needed data and has decided to begin development of new, production electric motorcycle; but apparently at its own speed – which isn’t very fast.

Project LiveWire was built with help from Mission Motors.

Project LiveWire specs (see more details here):

  • 3-phase AC electric induction motor
  • 74 hp (55 kW) and 8000 rpm. Peak torque is 52 lb.ft (70.5 Nm)
  • 92 mph (148 km/h) top speed
  • 0-60 mph (100 km/h) in 4 seconds
  • a full recharge takes around 3.5 hours
  • average range about 53 miles (85 km)

Source: Asphalt & Rubber

Categories: Bikes

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55 Comments on "Harley-Davidson Commits To Electric Motorcycle – Production Within Next 5 Years"

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Hopefully, in 5 years time they can iron out the bugs, increase acceleration, top speed, and range.

I’m in!

I’m OK w/the acceleration & top speed, just need more range.

(and the lowest price possible 🙂 )

It’s Harley, you can forget the low price. But maybe they will make an electric motorcycle worthy of the name.

What is Harley missing here?

* NO Supercharging. How about enabling it as a $3K option? (Its one of Tesla’s top features).
* NO performance bike for $50K that can match a P90D (0-60 in 2.8 sec).
* NO advance reservations for the loaded signature model first. Haven’t they learned anything from Tesla?

Harley, are you listening? if you did all of the above, you could get at least 100K advance reservations worldwide, repeating the Model 3 lineup circus!

A prototype and a validated design would lead to production less than a year away.

I’m betting the spur gears, needed to make the “trademark sound,” are probably eating themselves. Noise means wear.

Noise also means inefficiency, which is probably one of the reasons the range is so bad. All the noise you hear coming from a hot rod, that’s just wasted energy. Noise and power are not the same thing.

Spur gears are *more efficient* than the quieter helical gears used in passenger vehicles. They are also stronger for a given size gear, which requires helical gears to be somewhat larger. Spur gears also do not have the side loads that can cause bearing wear if the bearings are not chosen correctly [see early Tesla Model S for an example].

I think spur gears are a great choice for the “Harley image.” They need a suitable replacement for their signature IC engine sound.

Too bad that Harley is on a slow boat to the 21st century. GO ZERO!


5 years is a long time to wait. In 5 years they will not be any sort of leader. They need a CEO that has some balls.

They said within 5 years, so it could be sooner. I can understand a company not known for electric vehicles to be cautious with their timeline.

“leading”? With the exception of their paint facility (*), H-D has never led in any area of motorcycle or other automotive design, ever.

They actually had a chance to make a real impact when they owned Buell, but they closed it down because the profit margins on Buells were a bit low below those on the useless “lifestyle” toys they sell.

It isn’t going to be different w.r.t. electric motorcycles.

(*) Their paint facility is world-class.

It is way too late for any new company to enter the electric motorcycle market as the leader, that’s already been written into the history books. That was Zero and Brammo (now bought by Polaris). They lead the way already.

Harley can’t turn back the clock half a decade, so they might as well shoot for ironing out the bugs and produce an epic electric motorcycle worthy of mainstream praise. Nail down the range issues and make it 100% reliable and fun with the latest battery technology.

Zero is awesome.

It will be interesting to see how this pans out. Harley Davidson has a very strong following, but the owners expect a certain experience. I sure hope they can pull off a compelling electric cruiser!

Tesla can probably beat them to market if they get on it soon.

I will bet money against Tesla selling an electric motorcycle in 5 years from now. In 5 years, Tesla will have gotten the Model III’s bugs worked out and will be just introducing the Model Y (crossover version of Model III).

I don’t think they could beat Harley to it, either, if they both started at the same time.

Model Y is closer than you think.

the owners expect a certain experience

Said experience being as loud as possible.

Only an idiot or someone driving an emergency vehicle would want a vehicle as loud as possible. If someone wants noise they should put a siren on the vehicle, not some stupid noise maker that intentionally robs power.

I’m not disagreeing with you, but these are the people who say “loud pipes save lives” (i.e. by making drivers aware of their presence, since they’re harder to see than cars).

Those loud pipes also keep me awake at night.

Loud pipes make HORRIBLE neighbors.

Loud pipes ignore physics (most of the sound is behind the bike afterall) and piss off the rest of humanity against the motorcycle community.
HD is a ‘poser’ company making apparel and underpowered/overpriced two wheel “lookitme” machines.

*IF* they produce an EV bike it will be the best thing they’ve done ever (excepting Buell).

Are they going to put a speaker on it or something and purposely try and make it as loud as can be?

I bet they would, because this is their main (only) point.
And an overpromised torque delivery.
And they stink, literally from all the unburned carbon this agricultural twin cylinder does.

Instead, they chose a noisy gear train. Leading to diminished power and premature wear.

And no catalytic converter.

It’ll have a slightly ovalized rear wheel, so you get the feel of those ‘pistons’.


It will come with a complimentary playing card for the spokes.

Only 53 miles of range on the first try? They’ll have to do much better than that if they hope to get any market share in the next five years.

The whole venture seems really slow and lacking in vision to me.

Those specs are for their Livewire concept bike, there was no indication that those are targets for their eventual production bike.

I agree 100% that five years is ridiculously slow, and they will need to do a lot better then their current concept bike to have any chance of success.

I bet Zero will be there first!

Zero’s already there… they’ve been there for 10 years!

You know what I mean – the kind of motorcycles HD makes: cruisers and choppers.

But the Livewire wasn’t a cruiser, and we have no reason expect the final version to be one either.

Underwhelming performance from the leader in old-timey motocycle fashion.

And use the Telsa supercharging network?

Or better yet, Tesla’s…..

Such negative comments.

“Underwhelming performance”
You do realize these specs are from the concept bike from two years ago, right? Harley has released zero information on the specs for their upcoming bike.

“Too Slow to market”
It will take 5 years to develop a vehicle until it is production ready. Does this really surprise anyone? It reads to me like they have committed today to put a team of engineers on the project after a successful concept bike tour. Yet people seem to want to hear that they have been working on this silently for years.

“They are not leaders”
Really? Who else is even working on a bike like this? Zero is the only game in town AFAIK, and they make sport bikes, not cruisers. Even if they do produce a cruiser before Harley, does that mean that Harley shouldn’t bother trying?

HD has one ready to go. The key limitation is battery energy density, as they’ve acknowledged. If HD is going to have a desirable E Motorcycle, it will need much longer range and DCFC capability. So they’re waiting for the batteries to catch up.

“Such negative comments.”

That’s because zero has been selling EBs for 10 years, and currently sells a fast sporty-looking general-purpose bike with 197 mile city range (120 hiway). That’s plenty for a cruiser, and putting that in a cruiser-frame would be easy. HD is clearly not serious yet.

1. The stats were very underwhelming when you think about how much more capital HD has to spend compared to Zero and Brammo.

2. Harley started talking about an electric model in 2010, and the Livewire was revealed in 2014 so they were literally silently working on it for years.

3. The Livewire was no more a cruiser than the Zeros really. Look at the footpegs, handlebars and seat position.

Zero does not make sportbikes. They make dirtbikes and standards.

The more the merrier.



Not sure if all these are still available but they already have similar performance ?

I would imagine in 5 years time things may have improved a little ?

Unfortunately, none of those have made it to production. Mission is officially dead. Lightning is still in the preorder stage. And Energica’s website directs you to the same webpage regardless of whether you click on sales, service, or anything else. All look to be vaporware.

I’m still haunted by pictures of Charles Pickett, in front of his Harley. Not to miss-characterize Harley riders. This was the guy who mowed down 9 cyclists, in Kalamazoo, MI, killing 5. I still don’t get how an ordinary motorcyclist’s fear of being hit didn’t translate in this guy’s head.

This is the mass-murder I think about. Not Orlando, and not the 4 people in Israel that day.

I needs a quiet drive like direct or belt.

I’ve actually ridden all 3 electric motorcycles currently available/prototype that are not a million dollars. Ive owned a 2013 Zero S before and just ordered a 2016 Zero SR. I also rode the Brammo (victory) Empulse R when it came out. The Brammo was complicated, only needed 2 of the 6 gears, had a noisy chain drive, and was heavy. It handled great but didn’t have the range that my Zero had and it was more expensive. The Livewire (H-D) was heavy, only had one seat, not as fast as the Zero or the Brammo, much shorter range, and felt like it was cobbled together from leftover sportster and buell parts. It didn’t even have an onboard charger. And im pretty sure Mission Motorcycles built most of the bike for HD. And i hate to disappoint those wishing for a cruiser, but the livewire was a sporty bike just like the Brammo and the Zero. Only cruiser im aware of is the Brutus. HD has a long way to go with their electric motorcycle program and so does Victory. People are not gonna buy an electric motorcycle with a brand name for $20k that doesnt go as far as a… Read more »

Yeah not only that but Zero has Luke Workman working for them. Pun not intended. And their Z-force motor is pretty neat. I love how it sounds, too.

I definitely don’t have Ken’s background, but from back-to-back test rides of the 2014 Zero and Brammo, I felt the same way about them.

I ended up deciding to hold off on buying any electric motorcycle until the technology matured and dropped in price. I think HD made a similar decision.

The range on that thing is embarrassing. Today a Zero blows it away. 5 years from now, a Zero will blow it away twice as hard.

Whenever a non EV company says “we’ll have an electric ready in 5 years”… never believe them.

Why no torque? 70 Nm?!? Pathetic!

They could buy Brutus Electric Motorcycles..

One of their models could fit in the H-D stable now.