Harley-Davidson goes electric

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Before laughing off an electric Harley, read on. BELLEVUE, WASHINGTON—On June 18, 2014, Harley-Davidson shocked the motorcycle community by announcing an electric motorcycle prototype called Project LiveWire. The Project LiveWire teaser video showed a bike screaming down route 66, emitting a sound that vaguely resembled a turbine. I could barely believe what I saw, so I immediately spent time reading comments about LiveWire—naturally, the reaction was mixed. Some gave props to Harley-Davidson for thinking outside the box; others complained “this is no Harley.” The current trend for all-electric and hybrid vehicles is to assume a “quasi-futuristic,” sci-fi-infused look that pretty much leaves convention and tradition at the curb (think Nissan Leaf). Many automotive enthusiasts don’t see a lot of “soul” or “character” in these appliance vehicles. But enter Harley-Davidson, the company known for its shaking, rumbling, chrome-clad motorcycles that go beyond machinery and extend to a lifestyle. These bikes radiate tradition, heritage, and style. A Harley-Davidson is a Harley because it has a thumping, 45-degree, v-twin, air-cooled power plant breathing through pipes that emit a signature sound. Harley power must be transmitted to the rear wheel via a rubber belt, so now the company may also offer an electric bike. Really ? The motorcycle community may need a little time to adjust. And as for my own curiosity about what it would be like to ride LiveWire, I had no idea I would find out just a few weeks later. Next-generation design The Project LiveWire engineering team uses all of the latest design, prototyping, and manufacturing expertise that Harley-Davidson developed over the last century of building v-twin motorcycles. I learned about how the LiveWire team engineered and built their ground-breaking electric bike when I talked with lead project engineer Ben Lund. Lund studied Mechanical Engineering and—as you’d expect—loves riding. He’s got multiple motorcycles spanning dirt to street. Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Harley-Davidson goes electric

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