E-asy Rider: Check Out Harley's "LiveWire" Electric Motorcycle

Motorcycles have traditionally been associated with freedom and rebellion.  But not all rebellions are created the same.  Is it possible for Harley Davidson to convince their tough biker demographic that a new bike can buck the notion of conventional fossil fuel (for a power source similar your cellphone) and still stay cool?  They intend to find out, with their new "LiveWire Project" all-electric motorcycle.

Sharp AND sustainable!
(Image courtesy thedetroitbureau.com.)

According to arstechnica.com, developer Ben Lund explained that Harley wanted to present the LiveWire simply as a newer model that "happens to be electric."  The look, sound, and feel of the past Harleys all had to be taken into account, but so did a new technical element of composition.  Using CAD computer models to design the initial bike before production, other computer software such as Pro Engineer Wildfire and CAM (computer-aided machining) aided the process.

Harley's in-house 3D printers churned out 1:1 scale parts for testing, so that an authentic look and feel for every component could be assessed and duly approved.  While also used for the fabrication of model elements for Harley's internal combustion engine bikes, the 3D prototypes were important tools in deciding what fit best for the new LiveWire venture.

One of Harley's  3D-printed prototype parts.  It is unknown if the computer made motorcycle noises while printing it.
(Image courtesy javelin-tech.com.)


The LiveWire runs thanks to a longitudinally-mounted 74hp AC induction motor, which Lund and his team found superior for its availability, affordability, and high power-to-weight ratio. It's fueled by a 300V lithium-ion battery pack that can allow the bike to achieve speeds of nearly 100 m.p.h.  A "power" or "economy" mode switch lets you regulate your ride.

The pseudo-futuristic design may irk the aesthetic sensibilities of "classic" Harley enthusiasts, who would perhaps appreciate some more chrome or pipes.  As for a Harley's distinctive growl, the classic Harley revving-rumble isn't possible with an electric vehicle.  However, the sound was fine-tuned by the engineering team so that the gearbox emits a turbine-like noise as it roars down the road.  Yes, it's very different, but it's a rebellion you could grow to like.  The LiveWire is currently still a prototype, but it could spark a whole new revolution in riding.

You can care about the environment and still be a badass.
(Image courtesy autoblog.com.)


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