Harley-Davidson invites public to test electric motorbike

Harley-Davidson Project Livewire

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Iconic motorbike manufacturer Harley-Davidson has revealed its first electric motorcycle.

The bike will not go on general sale, instead the firm will select customers from the US to ride it and provide feedback

The bike - dubbed Project LiveWire - will travel down the US's Route 66 visiting more than 30 Harley-Davidson dealerships between now and the end of the year.

Fans had a mixed reaction to the bike.

"Project LiveWire is more like the first electric guitar - not an electric car," said Mark-Hans Richer, senior vice president at Harley-Davidson Motor Company.

"It's an expression of individuality and iconic style that just happens to be electric. Project LiveWire is a bold statement for us as a company and a brand."

The bike can go 130 miles before it needs charging and will offer riders a top speed of 92mph (148km/h). Recharges will take between 30 minutes to an hour.

Silent bike
Project Livewire

Initial feedback from the Harley-Davidson Riders Club of Great Britain suggested a degree of cynicism.

Dave Scott said: "It looks ok but I'd need a real engine in it."

While member Dazzlin asked how safe it would be: "For an electric bike it has a good look, but I can't help think a silent bike is a recipe for disaster on our ever increasingly busy roads".

In a teaser video released by the firm a motorcycle is seen driving down Route 66 almost without noise.

Purpose-built electric bicycles are becoming hugely popular. In China 25 million are sold each year, according to Prof Peter Wells, co-director of the automotive industry research group at Cardiff Business School.

The market for an electric Harley will be more "niche" he said but it is unsurprising that the firm is jumping on the bandwagon.

"We are moving toward zero emissions cities and motorbike manufacturers, like car manufacturers have to go that way," he said.

"In an ideal world I expect that they want it to go faster and further than it will."

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