Harley-Davidson Launches a Line of ... E-Bikes (!)

molly hurford­­
·2 min read
Photo credit: Harley-Davidson
Photo credit: Harley-Davidson

From Bicycling

The name Harley-Davidson conjures images of middle-aged men astride hulking motorcycles. But on Tuesday, October 27, the company announced a new project: an electric bicycle brand called the Serial 1 Cycle Company.

With the global pandemic leading to a cycling boom this summer, on top of growing environmental concerns around gas-powered vehicles, this could be the move that saves the brand.

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In recent years, think pieces have claimed that the Millennial and Gen-Z generations are “killing” Harley-Davidson; sales have been in decline for the last four years. This new foray into the e-bike market might be the brand’s best chance at reaching younger consumers, who are arguably less likely to wear leather riding chaps and more likely to hit the streets in cycling spandex.

“With the pandemic, people were looking for a safe way to exercise and get out of the house, and people in cities were looking for a way to safely commute that didn’t involve a subway or a bus,” Serial 1 brand director Aaron Frank said in the press release announcing the launch.

The new brand’s name is based on the nickname for Harley-Davidson’s first motorcycle, the “Serial Number One,” which was released back in 1903.

The e-bike’s exact specs haven’t been released yet, but pictures of the prototype suggest that the bike will echo the traditional Harley-Davidson style, with a laidback cruiser frame, a glossy black paint job, and classic brown leather on the seat and handlebar grips. (Flames painted along the sides are not included.) The bike also is shown with retro white tires.

A singlespeed carbon belt drive is another nod to the brand’s motorcycle roots. This won’t be the first bike to utilize a belt drive versus a chain, but bikes using this tech are still few and far between in the U.S. This e-bike will reportedly be in the Class 1 category, meaning it will be able to reach speeds of up to 20mph thanks to pedal-assist technology, though no specifics about the motor or battery have been released.

Harley-Davidson isn’t the first gas-guzzling brand to try to go green with an electric bike: BMW offers e-bikes starting at $2250, Porsche’s offerings begin at around $7,000, and GM briefly joined the e-bike market before shutting down that operation earlier this year.

Serial 1 e-bikes are expected to be released in early 2021 and will be available direct-to-consumer online and at certain Harley-Davidson dealerships.

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