In an announcement that should please lovers of peace and serenity everywhere, Harley-Davidson is introducing its first electric - and nearly silent - motorcycle.
The LiveWire promises to be the first full-size electric motorcycle with a real chance to crack the mainstream U.S. market. So far, consumers have shown a profound disinterest in electric motorcycles other than scooters and low-powered commuter bikes, although there are a few exceptions.
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Powered by a lithium-ion battery, the LiveWire generates 75 horsepower and can go from zero to 60 m.p.h. in four seconds. Speed tops out at about 90 m.p.h. The futuristic, angular design rests on an aluminum exoskeleton with with a short wheelbase and 18-inch tires.
Then there is the matter of the LiveWire's engine sound. The traditional Harley-Davidson rumbling idle and ear-splitting throttle roar are gone, replaced by a sound that's described as a quiet but high-pitched whine similar to a jet engine.
"Project LiveWire is more like the first electric guitar - not an electric car," said Mark-Hans Richer, senior vice president at Harley-Davidson. "It's an expression of individuality and iconic style that just happens to be electric. Project LiveWire is a bold statement for us as a company and a brand."
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Other high-tech innovations include LED turn signals and headlight, and a torque system that responds instantly to any turn of the throttle.
The downside - and it would seem to be a fairly significant one - is that the LiveWire has a maximum range of 100 to 130 miles before the battery needs recharging. Since recharging takes upwards of three hours, the design suggests LiveWire is more of a city bike, and would put the kibosh on those marathon road trips that long-distance riders love.
Harley-Davidson intends to introduce the new model by way of a rolling 30-city tour (along Route 66, naturally). About two dozen bikes will be available for riders to test drive. No word yet on pricing, but the company said it expects the LiveWire to officially go on sale sometime next year.