Will Electric Bikes Save Harley?

Go ahead. Picture a Harley on the street in your head. Who’s riding it?

And then there’s the problem of the motorcycles themselves…

Most Harleys are big. The smallest traditional bike is the Sportster 883, which displaces 883 cubic centimeters (cc’s) and weighs 564 lbs.

The newer Harley lineup of Street bikes includes the modest Street 500, which displaces 500 cc’s and weighs a mere 492 pounds. Remember, these are the smallest, and the Street series has been plagued by maintenance issues.

You can get a new Honda CB300, which displaces 281 cc’s and weighs 313 pounds, for a couple of thousand dollars less than the Street 500. For the Millennial crowd that’s carrying student loan debt and isn’t interested in channeling Marlon Brando, James Dean, or their dad, that’s a pretty good option.

Now, about those electric bikes…

I’m a fan of the LiveWire. I followed the press releases when Harley took the prototype on a national tour a few years ago. Apparently, the company added a sound that makes the bike approximate a jet engine turbine.

Since Harleys are known for their roaring exhaust, it makes sense that they would ensure the electric bike had a song of its own. I’m not sure if the engine noise made it to the production bike, but for the price tag, the motorcycle should come with a live band.

Harley set the price at $30,000.

For a motorcycle.

With few moving parts.

The thing is fueled by a souped-up version of your cell phone battery. It has a “range” of 100 miles or so in urban driving. Highway miles sap the battery faster.

The thing looks cool, but it’s hard to say it’s worth it.

I can see Millennials thinking the LiveWire is nifty, but then surfing the net for less than five seconds and finding Zero Motorcycles, which has been making electric bikes with zero emission for more than a decade.

Zero offers a range of bikes, including the decked out ZF 14.4 with an additional power tank, which has a range of 200 miles in the city and costs $16,900, or just over half of the new Harley.

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Dan Richards 1 year ago Member's comment

Smart of #Harley to diversify and find a new sales outlet. But I agree that their pricing seems way off. I also think they'd have been better off using a new brand name. The target markets are completely different. $HOG

Danny Straus 1 year ago Member's comment

How can Harley justify charging so much for its electric bikes?