SCOOP: Electric Harley-Davidson Livewire Nearing Production

Potential Game-Changing News From Harley-Davidson

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In a bombshell that would seem to be an April Fools joke, we believe Harley-Davidson will be building a production motorcycle powered by electric power, named “Livewire.” Harley filed a trademark application for the name on Nov. 1, 2012 with the USPTO, then also filed for a trademark in the EU on Nov. 2, 2012 which was approved March 13, 2013. This is potentially game-changing news, and if this indeed turns out to be true, it will give a whole new meaning to “The Motor Company.”

UPDATE: Harley-Davidson released a new teaser video that supports our theory:

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Motorcycle.com has acquired images of this new motorcycle, which was first published by British tabloid the Daily Mail from the set of the next Avengers movie, currently filming in Seoul, South Korea. While this initially appears to be a far cry from anything H-D has built in the past, these photos clearly show a lack of an exhaust pipe on either side, a big, square shape resembling a battery where an engine would be, no clutch or shift lever, and most telling of all – the Harley-Davidson logo across the faux gas tank.

061814-harley-davidson-livewire-electric-avengers-sipausa_13362379

The Harley-Davidson badging, and the lack of anything resembling an internal combustion engine, lead us to believe this is the Harley-Davidson Livewire. Photo by Lee Young-ho/Sipa USA

While we don’t know details about the bike, it’s not uncommon for one-off vehicles to be used in Hollywood. However, the fit, finish, and near production-level quality of this bike lend itself towards mass production rather than a life only on the big screen.

Discuss this at our Harley-Davidson LiveWire Forum.

Remember too that the Harley-Davidson Street was featured in a motorcycle chase scene in Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier movie, appearing in the film’s trailer a week and a half before Harley-Davidson announced the motorcycle existed. While the Street was hiding in plain sight, there is no hiding the Livewire.

It’s unlikely Harley has produced its own battery and motor system and has likely instead chosen to source those bits to more established players in this field. Zero, Brammo, or Mission Motors are the ones that come to mind. Judging by how substantial the battery is from these shots, we’re guessing its capacity to be anywhere from 9kWh to 15kWh. The guts of the Livewire are hidden in bodywork, so it’s difficult to determine which motor it is using, but we suspect it is liquid-cooled based on the pipe and fitting near the leading-edge of the bodywork.

061814-harley-davidson-livewire-electric-sipausa_13362382-close-up

Livewire badging on the right side of what is presumably the battery pack lends further evidence towards liquid-cooled electric propulsion… that might be a coolant pipe and fitting leading to a cooler located under the steering head. Photo by Lee Young-ho/Sipa USA

Upon closer inspection, you can see the bar and shield logo on the brake calipers, plus a fork and brake rotor which appear very similar to that used on the Night Rod Special. Judging from the right profile photo, the Livewire has a very steep rake and a fairly modest wheelbase, which should provide relatively sharp handling for what could turn out to be a heavy motorcycle. Styling cues are unlike most other Harley models, but do perhaps pay some homage to the V-Rod and former Buell lines with the short tail, sculpted swingarm, and all-encompassing rear fender. We can also see a linkage-less single shock, right-side belt drive and ten-spoke wheels.

This close-up view of the faux gas tank clearly shows the Harley-Davidson logo. Note also the underslung mirrors and what appears to be a digital dash display. Photo by: Lee Young-ho/Sipa USA

This close-up view of the faux gas tank clearly shows the Harley-Davidson logo. Note also the underslung mirrors and what appears to be a digital dash display. Photo by: Lee Young-ho/Sipa USA

Motorcycle.com’s Editorial Director, Sean Alexander chimes-in with the following mini-analysis: “If these new Livewire rumors are valid, it signals an intelligent move that will allow Harley to dip their toe into the eVehicle pond, stake a claim so to speak and then take their time with an actual saleable product roll-out as they continue to evaluate the long-term sales potential of the segment. If the electric market continues to strengthen and they do indeed launch a full-fledged street legal electric motorcycle, Harley could use this early Livewire project to help them lay claim to being the first major motorcycle manufacturer to go beyond the scooter level with an electric.  It’s also a pretty smart move to complement their existing efforts to appeal to Millennials.”

That’s all we know for now. Keep it here as we expect to hear something official soon. This is potentially major news from America’s motorcycle company.

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  • Mark D

    Who would have guessed Harley, of all the manufacturers, would be the first major to dip their toes into electrics! I love it! First truly exciting news from them in…decades, really.

    • ultrawiz

      Maybe you should pay more attention…..

      • Mark D

        Even the most die-hard Harley support has to admit their adoption of “modern” technology has been…somewhat limited in most of their model line. An electric naked with USD forks, aggressive geometry, radial brakes likely with ABS, and an aluminium beam frame is about 50 years ahead of the average Harley.

        • ultrawiz

          Just because they still look the same doesn’t mean what’s under the skin isn’t as modern as anything else out there. Look at the Project Rushmore bikes, more technologically advanced than most of it’s competition. The radio alone on my Ultra makes the radio on a Goldwing sound like a cheap transistor radio.

          • Bruce Steever

            You do realize how funny you sound, right? You’re playing up the radio on a motorcycle? This isn’t about how a bike looks, it’s about how a bike works.

            Having tested the Rushmore machines, i can agree that Harley did some major updating to the Touring line, particularly on the engine and the brakes. I agree that it’s nothing short of amazing that Harley has managed to keep updating their powertrains without losing the signature look and feel. But the same machines still handle like drunk Jersey Shore cast members, particularly the FLHTK. And the BoomBox stereo you are so proud of is still years behind the usability and GUI of modern smartphone.

            Objectively, you can look at a range of other cruisers and see more technology, being used for better performance, at a lower cost. And if you step outside the cruiser segment, it’s end of discussion.

      • Bruce Steever

        To what? What did we miss?

        • ultrawiz

          Obviously the 30+ years since the AMF years….

          • Bruce Steever

            What happened in those years that was anywhere near this level of technical leap?

            Rushmore? The V-Rod? Counterbalanced engines? Where’s the technological leadership and innovation that a major OEM should be proud of?

            LiveWire is a major step forward compared to the industry as a whole, and that is real news for the brand.

    • frankfan42

      Agreed. I would never have bet that Harley would beat out ANY of the Japanese to market with an electric. Could be a game changer.

  • CaptainPlatypus

    This is awesome news, and does a lot to improve my opinion of HD, but VisorDown beat y’all to it. There was even a glorious comment saying that electric bikes are perfect for Harley riders – instead of stopping every 50 miles to tighten every nut on the bike, you stop every 50 miles to charge.

    • denchung

      But they didn’t have the name Livewire, did they?

      • CaptainPlatypus

        That I’ll give you. :)

    • ultrawiz

      Funny, got 68,000 miles on my Ultra and have never had to tighten any nuts. Now when I had my GL1800 it was in the shop all the time for something. Harley, the most reliable bike I’ve owned in 50 years of riding.

      • CaptainPlatypus

        I don’t even begin to have the experience to comment myself, I just thought it was funny. :)

      • Tinwoods

        Where’s that Kool-Aid you’re drinking? Either that, or you’re a rare exception to the HD norm.

        • ultrawiz

          And you’re a typical example of the clueless parroting BS about things you know nothing about…

      • Steve

        I also had no problem at all in the years I had my 883 Sportster. In comparison, my BMW R1100 was in the shop all the time and the factory service people were rude and arrogant.

  • ADB

    So, for years and years, we’ve asked for this seating position on a mainstream H-D, only to be denied. Now they give it to us, but we have to go green. This chassis should have held the new water cooled 750 engine. Oh well, my Thruxton gets better by the day.

    • Kenneth

      “…for years and years, we’ve asked for this seating position on a mainstream H-D” — Why? Why would you ask a company that sells more bikes than anybody else, to people who crave their products, just as they are, to alter their formula and jump into categories where they’ll be just another fish in the pond? There is something to be said for a brand knowing its identity and carefully maintaining it. This electric bike would be a completely different market.

      • ADB

        True.

  • allworld

    Enough to make HOG’s go wild.

  • Robert Buckholz

    6 hour charge 100 mile range @ 45 miles per hour just short trips 50 there and 50 back woope.

    • frankfan42

      Except of course that it would allow the majority of commuters to use these bikes as primary transportation to and from work. I think it is a big deal to those who can use it. The economics are starting to line up to make good sense and will only get better as fuel gets more expensive, particularly with some bikes that get WORSE mileage than typical cars.

  • Hef Weiz

    If it comes with the red head I’ll take 2… if not then I pass!

  • Ser Samsquamsh

    If actually true, this is cool if a little perplexing. HD is a prisoner of their own success so attempting to a sea change like this is probably going to be an uphill struggle.

    Rather than confuse a world renowned brand, wouldn’t make more sense to make an associated brand? A smart mover would be to form a partnership with a storied brand, famous for cutting edge design but is a little currently down on their luck? Maybe MV Augusta! Or they could hire a renowned race bike builder and jump start a brand up from the ground up. I hear that Eric Buell guy is pretty smart!

    • allworld

      “Maybe MV Augusta! Or they could hire a renowned race bike builder and
      jump start a brand up from the ground up. I hear that Eric Buell guy is
      pretty smart!”

      LOL

    • ultrawiz

      Why? To be just another ‘me too!’ company? And if Harley’s designs are that bad why do other manufacturers have at least one bike that copies the iconic V-twin? I think it’s hilarious that HD has come out with the Street750 & 500, a copy of their copies and entering the other wannabe’s markets. Going to be even more so when the LiveWire is unleashed.

      • Ser Samsquamsh

        You have convinced me. HD should sit on their laurels and slowly let their enormously profitable business decline with the demographic. A hundred years is enough for any company anyway.

  • Razedbywolvs

    In CA we are paying 54 cents a gal tax on gas. So im looking forward to electric motorcycles…..and moving out of state.

    • Tinwoods

      Move out of a state with perfect, year-round riding weather and the only state that allows lane-splitting? Bye-bye.

  • Jason Jensen

    want! especially if it has a 150 mile range and 100ft lbs. it reminds me a lot of the Buell’s with out the rape at the fuel pump. not a current Harley owner but after seeing this they might have a day one buyer. bravo hd

    • Bruce Steever

      You can buy a Zero right now with those performance specs.

      Thought you’d like to know.

  • drkennethnoisewater

    Will it come with a tank of oil so it can still leak?

    ;)

    • ultrawiz

      Leaks less than the drivel you spew….

      • Ser Samsquamsh

        Unpleasant troll be gone. To quote some examples esprit d’scalier chez ‘ultrawiz’:

        “And the dumbing down of America continues.
        Are you really this clueless? Obviously….
        And you’re an idiot and seem to own it proudly
        Wow! You are even more brain-dead than that poor
        fetus.
        Just out of curiosity, what color is the sky in
        your little world?
        You, like your comment, are probably totally
        clueless too.
        And you’re a typical example of the clueless
        parroting BS about things you know nothing about…”

        Mal y soit qui mal y pense.

        • Bruce Steever

          Why can’t we vote to ban Disqus users, at the IP address level? That’d be a great feature…

          • Ser Samsquamsh

            Many generations of brave men and women have fought and died to preserve the right to speak freely. It is everybody’s right to make themselves look like a jackanapes. Far be it from us to take that away from Mr.Ultrawiz.

          • DickRuble

            Not that I think he should be banned, but the free speech is not guaranteed in these settings. The magazine could exercise its right to block anyone on any grounds.

        • DickRuble

          Honni soit qui mal y pense — maybe… and I don’t think ill of your posting.

      • drkennethnoisewater

        Lighten up, Francis.

    • frankfan42

      LOL, all bikes have issues if we are honest with ourselves.

      • drkennethnoisewater

        Indeed.. And at the end of the day, we should all remember who the REAL enemy is.. Cagers that clog up the roads and don’t pay any attention.

  • Mike Simmons

    The street 500 and 750 were a risk by the MoCo. One they had to take of course, but a risk nonetheless. The electric bike IMHO is a mistake. A big, expensive mistake.

    • ultrawiz

      Why is introducing a next-generation water cooled V-twin a risk? The only risk I see is to other brands losing business after being one-upped by HD. And the electric bike is the future. Once battery technology catches up they will become mainstream vehicles. Look for HD to dominate that market too just like they do the gas powered m/c market.

      • frankfan42

        Competition is good for the breed. I can’t wait to see how the Japanese respond, or even he Chinese. Aren’t a lot of Harley parts sourced from China these days?

      • Mike Simmons

        The typical Harley customer favors tradition over modernity thus they are inclined to the air cooled twins that Harley currently offers. Water cooled bikes are only ridden by heretics. Add in the fact that Street’s 500 & 750 were designed for the Asian market and that most parts are manufactured in India won’t be a big plus to the current crop of HD owner’s. HD’s back is to the wall however and they were forced by the market into taking these risks. The demographics of HD owners shows an aging crop of riders. Once the pirates get too old to ride, who will buy the HD products? That is why they are trying to update their designs and compete more with the other manufacturers. I wish them well.

  • pdad13

    It’s not a production model. It’s a concept bike that’s going on tour to gauge reaction. They’ll be offering test rides but they’ll be pretty short. The expected range is only about 50 miles of mixed use riding.

  • michael franklin

    How come I have to see the first video of this bike in the L A times?

    • Bruce Steever

      Because Harley only let one endemic media outlet test the LiveWire…for reasons.

      Everyone else was a newspaper or tech publication (OC Register, LA Times, Wired, etc).

  • Steve

    “Red hair and black leather… my favorite color scheme.”

    This is an amazing looking bike, IMHO. I like electric propulsion a lot and think it makes sense for a daily driver/commuting context. I wonder how big the population is of people in the U.S. for whom this pattern of use makes sense for a motorcycle?

    Other than in a few California cities, it seems these are typically used as weekend toys where the range and charging issues would severely limit their usability and audience. I would love to be proven wrong… and if I had room for multiple bikes in my life an electric would be one if the price were reasonable. I just don’t know how often I would find a use for one, though.

  • Paul Currie

    Where is the speaker for that born in America potato potato sound?

  • Craig Hoffman

    I have a “Modest Proposal” for the leaders of Harley’s electric bike project.

    Since it is Harley, it has to have the ride “feel”. To get this, the new Live Wire must have an reverse counter balancer incorporated to destabilize the inherently smooth electric motor and induce severe vibration while it is running. The motor will be rubber mounted in an elaborate tuned system to isolate the chassis from its vibration.

    As for the all important sound aspect of the e-bike experience, owners are encouraged to eat lots of beans and other gas inducing foods while having their beer at the local biker’s watering hole. Said combo of beer and beans, when introduced to the typical middle aged owner’s digestive system, should provide plenty of low frequency sound effects.

    A properly positioned, seat embedded microphone, recording device, amplifier and speaker system will record and project the resulting sounds for all to hear. Each rider will have the benefit of their own similar and yet completely unique self generated and ever growing personal sound track.

    The owner’s sound track will be intelligently controlled by an ECU and advanced fly by wire throttle based on frequency and tenor of the self generated sounds. The sound track ECU will be addressable, and owners will sell their particularly rambunctious soundtracks on the Internet, downloadable as MP3 files and easily added to the ECU via a smart phone, tablet or laptop computer.

    Perhaps some will link various soundtracks to their forum signatures and freely share them with the e-bike community. This will be of great benefit for those who are not inclined to self induce excessive flatulence for the recording process, or those who suffer from incontinence. The bike will come with a prerecorded soundtrack that is not very flatulent, but at least it is a place to start.

    Loud asses save lives!

    • denchung

      If the unconfirmed scuttlebutt about the specs hold true, it looks like Mission might be behind the LiveWire’s powertrain.

    • ultrawiz

      The ignorant comments from the clueless is pretty funny. Save up your nickels and dimes and you won’t have to be so jealous of the largest selling brand in the country….

      • Bruce Steever

        Die hard H-D lovers… Harley fanatics always jump to sales figures as “proof” that their preferred marque is better than others, ignoring the fact that sales figures don’t necessarily mean that something is a better product.

        Example: Mac vs PC debate.

      • frankfan42

        Lighten up. Laughter is good medicine. You do realize that in medical circles your moniker, Ultrawiz, could be a sign of diabetes?

    • frankfan42

      Beano Glide?

  • vladtepesblog

    What a relief. Maybe for once in my lifetime I can enjoy a summer day on a patio somewhere with a friend and not have it ruined by a bunch of Harley riders with unnecessarily loud bikes just trying to show what big units they have to an uncaring world. A quiet Harley. I guess now these guys will have to put playing cards in the spokes to bother people.

    • ultrawiz

      Noise to some is music to others. Personally I can’t stand the buzzy whine from rice burners.

      • vladtepesblog

        This isnt about what is noise and what is music. This is about the stunning degree of inconsideration Harley riders have for everyone else in the world trying to enjoy music, a conversation, a quiet moment on a patio or a field. Harley riders often and typically increase the volume of their rides specifically for that purpose. If a car was that loud, a cop wouldn’t let it get 200 yards without slapping a ticket on the owner for it. I don’t care if you lock yuorself in your basement and run your harley next to your bed all night. I do care that bands have to stop, people have to wait sometimes minutes to finish a thought and all activity that requires speaking or listening is interrupted by people who think they have a right to impose their unnecessary motorcycle noise on the rest of the world.

        I would be just as annoyed if people where driving by playing Beethoven’s 9th at that volume in groups of 6 people forcing everyone to have to stop and wait for them to leave.

        • Bruce Steever

          It’s always worth noting, to be fair, that while Harleys are usually the more common noise offenders, squids on sport bikes can be just as bad, if not worse.

          • frankfan42

            This is very true, at least where I live. One can see the agenda “Hey look at me.” One short step away from “Ya’ll watch this.” lol

        • frankfan42

          Although if it were really Beethoven, or perhaps Bach, it would at least be something joyful instead of a supposedly grown man saying “Look at me.” I spanked my kids for that.

          • vladtepesblog

            True that. South Park did an excellent episode on this behaviour. I was delighted to see someone take this issue on. It is selfish, juvenile and even somewhat thuggish to force people to lose enjoyment of their own activity until a bunch of Harley riders decide to push on.

            As for other kinds of bikes, the issue is with anyone who deliberately makes their vehicle illegally loud. These tend to be Harley riders.

            Check out season 13 E 12 of Southpark sometime.

          • frankfan42

            Thanks for your reply. I will have to check this episode out. In groups in my area Harley guys tend to be the loudest, but when riding alone the squids seem to want to make their “Mark” upon my eardrums.

          • 12er

            At least if a squid tachs out a sportbike its in the next county by the time it hits another gear (you know what I mean…). Harley’s in my hood have to shift 4 times to hit 35mph it seems. I really only hear sport bikes wailing on the freeway a couple miles away when the wind is blowing right. Cruisers on the other-hand make mucho noise in the hood. Personally I run stock exhaust, though my new Duc is louder than my old BMW. I’m not a fan of ticking off my neighbors, so I shortshift and keep it as quiet as I can. Too bad I changed my work hours, the Harley commuter in my hood was always a good wake up call if I slept through my alarm at 6:30 am. Now he’s just a wake up at 6:30am for no reason.

  • Henry Tate

    The first electric vehicle to cross America, was a Zero motorcycle. The first motor vehicle to cross America, was also a motorcycle, 1903 California. If you want to travel across America, use a motorcycle. H

  • frankfan42

    Harley has been on a roll the last year and the live wive should be the next Harley in the lineup. Personally I have never been a huge Harley guy, but always respect them for what they are. Now I find myself actually wanting a Harley. Well done

    • Bruce Steever

      I think a lot of people around the world are saying exactly this. They don’t want a Harley, but they’ll buy a modern-styled, modern-powertrain motorcycle from the brand if they have the best option in town.

      • frankfan42

        I agree Bruce. The old guys that are the traditional Harley men are a dying breed, just like Cadillac and Lincoln found out. The smart thing Harley is doing is evolving, not chopping the branch off the tree.

  • Martin

    Dead Upon Arrival! Any bike with rear footpegs, like in sport bikes, will not sell at HD dealers. Look at Buells and lastly XR1200X. These bikes came and went. HD dealers have even a hard time selling V-Rods because it’s too ‘sportish’. HD core customer is a hardcore cruiser. Sport bike riders want nothing to do with HD core customers. For that these bikes will not sell. Put this electric motor in a forward pegs cruiser bike, like sportster type, and HD will sell them like hotcakes. With cruiser type bike, customer can
    still have things in common with a core customer base. Good Luck HD!

  • Craig Hoffman

    This about made me spit my morning coffee all over my monitor!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdaEX5jh5Lk

  • http://www.fleetavenue.com.au Andre Villalba

    I don’t know about an electric motorcycle. But the Toyota Prius Hybrid is still fantastic to me.

  • OdenWolf

    Really hate it; Ok, I’m not against the electric motors and I think is the wise step, but make a copy of a Ducati Diavel and stamped it “Harley Davidson” only to appear in the sissy market of the urban japanese motorcycle and their swag drivers?

    I’ll have a hope to offer a product like the stealth electric bobber but refinated, but in this time, H-D got the syndrome of The Fast and The Furious movie saga for Fags and I think, that the cherry of this shit cake is that be presented to the media with the shitty reagettonian “musician” Pitbull and him F*cking: “Daleeee…” warcry…

    http://stealthbobber.blogspot.mx/