As Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Harley-Davidson, Mark-Hans Richer, has, as they say, a lot on his plate. A new platform in the shape of the two Street models, 750 and 500, the Project LiveWire Experience Tour currently underway, an updated model lineup for 2016 in the pipeline, and certainly goings-on that only the need-to-know know, is enough to keep ten people busy. Nonetheless, Mr. Richer kindly set a little time aside to speak with MO and confirm that everything for the Motor Company is going swimmingly.

If you’re curious about Harley’s polished, electric-bike skunkworks prototype, Project LiveWire you’re in luck. There remain three dates on the Project LiveWire Experience Tour where you can ride one yourself. According to Richer, these events have been well-attended by a diverse crowd of enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts.

Richer says the Live Wire’s reception has been outstanding, adding he’s seen a variety of customers, from core enthusiasts to even a few one-percenters attending the events. Richer says getting feedback to the nature of how an electric Harley-Davidson motorcycle intersects with the needs of the electric motorcycle market is important. He says there certainly is interest in an electric Harley-Davidson, but notes that electric motorcycle technology still has a long way to go in terms of range, weight and price.

Harley-Davidson LiveWire First Ride

If you’ve seen the Project LiveWire bike in person or in photos it’s obvious H-D engineers invested much effort into designing an electric bike style that’s complementary to the company’s internal combustion offerings. There’s also much to be said about the sound of the LiveWire bike.

Richer says Harley engineers worked hard to generate a sound that’s different from internal combustion but one that remains organic, not manufactured, and that customer reactions have been incredibly positive in regards to the sophistication of the bike’s styling.

Harley’s newest platform of motorcycles, the Street 500 and Street 750, seem to be accomplishing exactly what H-D’s master planners had in mind when they green-lighted the two price-leading models – global expansion.

2015 Harley-Davidson Street 750 Review – First Ride

There are lots of ways of getting people into Harley-Davidson, says Richer. With the Street models H-D is just trying to find more ways of reaching people and Richer says it’s working. He says Street models are selling well here in the US, but Bar & Shield’s reach outside US borders has more than doubled in the last couple years. He continues, saying the Street models have received great initial response in Asia and have helped Harley become the number one selling brand in Australia.

With those kinds of positive indicators it seems obvious that Harley-Davidson will want to build upon the success of the Street platform. In what way Harley chooses to configure new models of Street motorcycles, though, remains a mystery.

With any new platform it won’t be surprising to see an expansion of what’s available in the future, says Richer, but Harley-Davidson sees lots of trends around the world and how they go forward will be determined as much by global influences as well as domestic ones.

The 2017 Harley-Davidson Street 750 Rickshaw? We’re not betting on it, but it’s certainly exciting to see how Harley develops the Street as well as the Project LiveWire platforms. And who knows what else the Motor Company has in store. The motorcycle industry was blindsided by the announcement of Project LiveWire so it’s anyone’s guess what frankenbike projects are being developed in subterranean Milwaukee. Richer, of course, wasn’t commenting on any that.

  • Old MOron

    Ha ha ha! No wait, I’m still laughing. Ha ha ha!

    “there certainly is interest in an electric Harley-Davidson, but … electric motorcycle technology still has a long way to go in terms of range, weight and price.”

    Ha ha ha! The heaviest and most over-priced OEM, by far, is suddenly concerned with weight and price. Ha ha ha!

    Thanks, MO. You inadvertently brightened up my Monday.

    • Alexander Pityuk

      Oh, cmon. HD is indeed heavy and overpriced, but he is talking about an electric one. And they all are overpriced and heavy to be fair.

    • LS650

      I don’t see the joke. Harley tries to actually do something innovative – and they still get slammed. I’m no Harley fan-boi, but I don’t see Honda, Triumph, or Ducati giving demo rides on an electric prototype.

      Kudos to HD for trying. If they do win the struggle to make an electric bike that copes well with range, weight and price, I might even become one of their customers.

      • Jimmy Z

        I see a major American company in Spirit Lake, Iowa is actually building one for sale already instead of waiting, searching out focus groups and seeing how it fits in with their demographic. That same company was smart enough to buy Indian and re-create the brand as an American favorite with increasing sales.

    • El Apestoso

      So when it comes to the offerings of Polaris, whose bikes are just as heavy, and even more expensive, are you equally as negative?

      • Old MOron

        To be honest, I think I’m more negative when it comes to Harley.
        The Harley advertising just grates me more.

  • JMDGT

    I saw an HD on the road the other day and I liked it. Without thinking about any other contributing factors it was estheticly appealing. I am seeking desperately needed counseling.

    • El Apestoso

      I don’t think looks has ever really been a problem for Harley. It’s a lot of those other contributing factors where the problems are.

  • Ozzy Mick

    I’m still not too clear about the appeal of an electric bike, given the challenges with range, cost and weight. If the greenies are applauding, have I missed something? Where’s all the electricity coming from? Green sources or coal? And how much resource is chewed up to produce an ebike? I believe that batteries consume more than their fair share. Before anyone gets stuck into me, I currently ride a little step thru ebike while I’m teaching in China. Every time the pollution goes up, I refrain from charging my bike, or using the aircon, etc.

    • LS650

      I’ve seen a few studies break down the energy consumption of an electric car versus traditional gasoline. Try Googling it. Essentially, getting electricity from hydro or coal works out to be much more efficient and have less environment impact, even after factoring in manufacturing overhead. That, and you keep the smog production at one central location where it can be treated, rather than spreading it out city-wide over thousands of vehicles.

      • Campisi

        Even better, those studies usually compare the plant-to-pack emissions of the electric vehicle with the tailpipe emissions of the usual ICE fare- ignoring most of the environmental costs of oil exploration, production, and transmission.

        • Ozzy Mick

          I guess it’s the usual pros and cons argument. I don’t disagree with the need to reduce emissions/pollution but am still to be persuaded that electric motos are the way to go. Certainly in China, the step-thru ebikes have virtually replaced bicycles and they meet the short trip needs of the owners perfectly. But that’s it – short trips. When I return to Oz in January, I’m planning on riding the length of our east coast – maybe about 10,000km (6,000 miles). Will a LiveWire, if available, or any other electric bike, do the trip without the worry of range and recharging?

          • Ozzy Mick

            CORRECTION: “Will a LiveWire, if available, or any other electric bike, be able to do the trip without the worry of range and recharging?”

          • Kevin Duke

            E-bikes are very cool, but owners who want to tour on them will have to worry about range and recharging for many years.

      • Ozzy Mick

        See my reply to Campisi below…

        • LS650

          One vehicle can’t be all things to all people – obviously.
          I don’t see an electric motorcycle being a great touring bike for a very long time, perhaps never, but not everyone needs or wants to do touring.

          • El Apestoso

            It’s doable, there was one guy who did some big tour on a Zero that had a stock battery pack. He had some aftermarket charger, and it wasn’t all that easy, but he did it. Get compatability with those Tesla Superchargers, and the range to easily go from one to the next, and it’d be a cakewalk.

          • Ozzy Mick

            Yeah, sure, horses for courses. That’s why I’m happy with my little ebike for the run down to the shops, but I do miss going for longer rides. BTW, the ‘lil ebike cost the princely sum of USD400 brand new.

    • El Apestoso

      Nice thing about electric vehicles is that they don’t care where the energy comes from. There’s also the matter of electric motors being drastically more efficient than their ICE counterparts. Over 90% efficiency, compared with ICEs, which currently top out at around 50%. Consider that the best selling electric motorcycles carry around 10-12kwh of energy, and have ranges of over 70 miles. That’s less than half a gallon of gasoline.

      • Ozzy Mick

        I can see where you guys are coming from and you’ve highlighted to me the need to learn more about electric motors and bikes before I dismiss them as a realistic option for some riders. There was an article in an Aussie bike mag which was thought provoking. One suggestion made by the writer for overcoming the problem with range is to have battery exchanges at existing gas stations. We do that now for small gas cylinders that we use to fire up our portable barbecues. However, the problem with that is that there is no standard, uniform battery that can be easily swapped with another.
        Let’s see what the future holds. I’ll keep an open mind. Thanks for your comments.

      • waldopepper

        yes, and with a range of a whopping 100 m. ride 51 km and you have to walk the last kilometre back to your house. much better than the current tried and tested method that lets you ride anywhere for as long as you like as long as you fill er up with gas thats available everywhere. electric bikes are a greenie wet dreams frankly.

      • waldopepper

        actually, to be fair, they will probably serve a niche market if they can be got into production economically. commuter travel in the big cities as long as charging stations are everywhere. low emissions will reduce smog. but other than that a greenies wet dream. harley riders dont buy harleys for the fuel efficiency compared to a car. they buy them cause they like loud noisy motorbikes.

  • malcolm66

    HA Harley once again shows why they’re superior to any and all other motorcycle companies!