Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Harley-Davidson, Project Livewire: First electric motorbike revealed

There are plenty of small and innovative startups working on producing the perfect electric motorcycle, but now one of the biggest companies in the world has got involved in the technology.

Harley-Davidson this week unveiled Project Livewire, in which the firm's first electric-powered bike will be touring the States along the historic Route 66.

The idea behind the tour is to give bikers a chance to test out Livewire and give feedback on its development.

The prototypes that Harley-Davidson has worked on will be modified and refined based on suggestions from the public, if there's enough interest in the vehicle, then a production model may not be too far away.

While Harley-Davidson is better known for rumbling engines and bulky designs, the new creation is surprisingly light and slim.

It can reach 60mph in less than four seconds, has a top speed of 92mph and boasts 74 horsepower and 52 foot-pounds of torque.

Harley-Davidson executives are reluctant to talk specifications right now, though, and would prefer riders to give Livewire a test drive rather than compare it against existing bikes.

The tour, which involves around a dozen prototypes, starts in New York and will also hit Europe sometime during 2015.

'Any business has always got to look ahead to see where customers are interested in going, and see where society might be going,' chief marketing officer Mark-Hans Richer told reporters.

At the moment we don't know much about the internal components of the Livewire, but Harley-Davidson is claiming the bike has a range of 53 miles and a battery that charges in 3.5 hours.

That would put the power pack somewhere in the 113kg (or 250lbs) range, so the bike's designers will have had to work hard to cut down on the size and the weight of other sections.

If you check out the teaser trailer released by Harley-Davidson you'll notice there's not quite the same trademark roar from the engines, the Livewire has been built to work very quietly and efficiently, even if it's not quite as powerful as the rest of the company's current line-up.

The full promotional video provides a look at a Livewire being taken through its paces by a test driver on a closed circuit.

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