Harley-Davidson, an American icon and the preferred motorcycle of many across the world, has now launched their newest innovation, the electric motorcycle with Project LiveWire. Fans across the country will have the ability to take this hog for a ride during the Project LiveWire Experience Tour, which begins June 24 in New York City. The motorcycle will be available in New York City until June 25, after which it will be showcased in Milwaukee, Wisc., from June 26 until June 29 and in Boston, Mass., from June 27 until June 29. While riders may take the new electric Harley-Davidson on the road, the company is currently looking for customer feedback only and does not yet have the LiveWire available for sale.
For those with an appetite for trivia, the term ‘hog’ has been in existence since the 1920s, when the Harley racing team not only had a pig as a mascot but carried the animal around on a victory lap after each race they won, which, in 1922, was all eight of the National Championship races for the year.
Harley-Davidson has been in operation for more than 100 years, and had its start in 1901 with a completed blueprint by William S. Harley of an engine designed to fit a bicycle. The company has grown from the small 10 x 15 foot wooden shed in which the first Harley-Davidson motorcycle was built into the booming corporation it is today, and has been at the forefront of innovation and design since its inception, never taking an excess of time before completing the next stage in their development. It was in 1904, a mere three years after the original blueprint for a bicycle engine was completed, that the company opened the doors of its first dealer, C.H. Lang in Chicago, Ill., and soon sold one of the first three motorcycles made by the founders.
While current motorcycles are known not only for their agility but also for their speed, one of the first motorcycle races was won by a Harley on July 4, 1905, with a top speed of 48 mph. In comparison, the new electric Harley-Davidson LiveWire currently being road-tested and critiqued by consumers has a top speed of 92mph, but this may change before the projected production date of 2016. The LiveWire has the capability of going from 0-60 mph in less than four seconds, and its AC Induction motor produces 52 lb-ft of torque.
One of the most widely stated consumer concerns has been that electric motors are typically silent, while the engine noise associated with the brand is a deep rumble and is an integral part of the Harley experience. Engineers were cognizant of the fact that sound is one of the selling factors of their product and were determined to bring the Harley sound to this electric version. Jeff Richlen, the LiveWire’s chief engineer, states that the product is grounded not only in look and feel, but in sound as well. Additionally, the engineers for the electric hog did not want the sound faked, so they tweaked the gear box and motor arrangement until they created a sound with which they were satisfied. Reports indicate that the resultant noise sounds a bit like a jet on a flyby.
Spokespeople for the company indicate that their main objective was not improvement of sustainability. While the byproduct of an electric motorcycle may be more green than a standard motorcycle, Richlen explains that the main focus on the electric-powered hog is to look toward future possibilities.
For the past 111 years, the company created iconic motorcycles. The brand has a rich history that includes supplying the first motorcycle used in police duty in 1908 to obtaining a perfect score during the Federation of American Motorcyclists Endurance and Reliability Contest in the same year, and from setting a record 188.234 miles per gallon economy usage to becoming, in 1987, the first motorcycle to appear on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Its latest notable achievement, the electric LiveWire, will not be available to the public until the road test tour is complete, critiques of the motorcycle have been gathered, and any necessary changes to the design have been made. Harley-Davidson hopes to complete this process in 2016.
By Dee Mueller