Arc Vector Electric Motorcycle

The Arc Vector electric motorcycle made its first public appearance at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

The Arc Vector will make its first public run at the Goodwood Festival of Speed

Highlights

  • The Arc Vector has a top speed of over 200 kmph
  • 0-100 acceleration in under 3 seconds, and range of 270 km
  • The Arc Vector will be available commercially from 2020

The Arc Vector electric motorcycle, capable of hitting a top speed of over 200 kmph, will make its first public appearance at the Goodwood Festival of Speed from July 4-7 alongside other superbikes and performance motorcycles. Arc founder and CEO Mark Truman will be the person who will ride the Vector on the famed hill climb. The final production model Vector will be powered by a 399V electric motor that churns out close to 140 bhp and 85 Nm of peak torque. It will be a limited edition model and only 355 units will be made for sale.

hpovod24

The Arc Vector has a top speed of over 200 kmph

“Goodwood is the ideal place for us to show the Vector to the people for the first time. We’ve been testing behind the scenes and now the bike is emerging from the shadows. It is the most amazing thing both to ride and behold. Up to 1,50,000 are expected at the Festival of Speed, and I hope they all get a chance to see what we’ve been working on; a unique, all-electric neo cafe racer with all sorts of kit never before seen.” Said Mark Truman.

rtbg7794

Only 355 units of the Arc Vector will be made and will be available on sale from 2020

Designed and built in England the Arc Vector is described as one of the world’s most advanced electric motorcycle. It’s built around a carbon fibre monocoque, and 0 to 100 kmph acceleration is estimated at 2.7 seconds. Range is claimed at over 270 km on a single charge within the city, and 190 km range for highway riding. The Vector comes with a carbon fibre swingarm, Ohlins suspension and Brembo brakes.

The Vector also comes with a Zenith helmet with built-in head-up display, and the helmet works in conjunction with an Origin riding jacket that features haptic feedback. The haptic alerts can warn the rider of a car approaching from either side, while the helmet displays all necessary infotainment information, and even provides a view from behind the rider. The Arc Vector will be available commercially from the summer of 2020, but the limited edition model won’t be affordable. Each bike is expected to be priced at around ₹ 80 lakh, under current exchange rates.

Peaky Blinders Customised Lambretta Li125

Sex, drugs and ragtime music – Paul Douglas’ tribute to the hit TV series shows this unlikely combination translates into metal just as well as it does to the small screen.

You can change what you do, but you can’t change what you want

The man behind Peaky Blinders is Paul Douglas, who’s lucky enough to earn his living as the manager of a motorcycle dealership. With a lifelong love of scooters and access to some of the most powerful motorcycles on sale to the general public, it was only natural that he’d want to combine the two at some point.

‘Just enough’ spatter.

“The original plan was to build a Guy Martin themed custom,” explained Paul. “At the advance planning stage I realised it had already been done and to a very high standard. There was no point repeating that so I needed to rethink.

Blood will cause confusion if Paul ever takes a tumble!

“Although I’ve owned and built several customs over the years they’ve been mainly street racers and I was determined that this build would be a full blown muralled machine. Once I’d made that decision, to go with a Peaky Blinders theme, which is one of my favourite TV shows, was the obvious choice.

 

Set in Birmingham during the aftermath of the First World War, Peaky Blinders tells the story of the Shelby family and is multi-layered. On the surface it’s a straightforward and often violent gangland drama but look a little deeper and there are many sub plots including the damage inflicted to those who fought in the conflict, the breakdown of the British class system, women’s rights and political intrigue.

Although it received critical acclaim from the outset I must admit that before the photoshoot for this article it had bypassed me completely. If you’ve missed the TV show, starring Cillian Murphy, I’d strongly recommend it but be warned — it’s addictive and I’m not certain my wife was convinced that I needed to watch all three series back to back as research for this article…

 

When you plan something well, there’s no need to rush

For decades, Series 1 and 2 Lambrettas were regarded as the ugly cousins of the slimstyle model. More recently their ample curves and distinctive road presence have found a keen following, meaning that good examples are increasingly hard to find at a reasonable price. Paul said the basis for Peaky Blinders was particularly uninspiring: “One of the sales reps mentioned that he’d acquired a Series 2 frame and after a lot of nagging on my part he agreed to part with it. Then I gathered together the panel work and other components.

With the engine contracted out to tuning supremo Darrell Taylor and after the base coat had been applied by Paul Firth, it was to a local contact that Paul turned to for murals. “One of the best artists at the moment is Kev Thomas and he was my only choice for Peaky Blinders.”

 

Get yourself a decent haircut man, we’re going to the races

Having worked in the motor trade for most of his life Kev, based in Doncaster, has huge experience of vehicle refinishing but has only recently turned to airbrush work: “I was clearing out the garage a couple of years ago and found an airbrush that my son had got bored with. I tried my hand with it and was pleased with the results. My first commission was a helmet and things have grown from there. Paul’s shop took in a Judge Dredd themed Suzuki that I’d sprayed and he was impressed enough to get in touch and commission his Guy Martin theme.

Splash plate and rear mudguard by K2 before fitting

“I’d got to the stage of producing advanced mock-ups for the design when Paul got in touch to say that he wanted a Peaky Blinders scheme. I couldn’t have been happier as it’s my favourite show and I knew exactly how it should look.” Unfortunately there was a slight difference of opinion when he outlined his plans to Paul in greater detail.

“We both agreed that it should be in monochrome but Paul only wanted to feature the brothers whereas I was convinced that it should tell the whole story and that other characters should be included.” Fortunately the pair came to an agreement and in Paul’s own words, “Kev’s done a fantastic job, the best I’ve seen.” Show judges seem to agree with Peaky Blinders taking ‘Punters Choice’ and four second places at its debut in Bridlington last year.

 

You’ve got to get what you want in your own way

With engine and paint under way Paul turned his attention to the fine details. “I’ve used Keith Newman’s K2 Custom Classics on several projects,” said Paul. “The quality and standard of service are second to none.” With Peaky Blinders as the theme there’s an obvious motif to use – the classic razor blade. Sewn into their cap peaks the humble razor blade gave the gang both their name and principle weapon of offence. From the rear mudguard to horncast badge via tap and choke levers K2’s accessories bring a sense of menace to the design with the polished stainless steel complementing the predominantly monochrome paintwork perfectly. Spattered across the design are splashes of red, blood red. Red seat covers lift the design perfectly. “Originally I’d planned for black seats,” said Paul. “They just didn’t look right though. I wasn’t convinced that red would work either but I’m very pleased with the result.”

Central image is so lifelike I wouldn’t be surprised if it looked up.

Bringing the whole project together was Chris Swift. A ‘hobby’ scooter mechanic, Swifty is the only man Paul trusts to bring his scooter dreams to life – high praise indeed from a motorcycle industry professional. Although he’s the owner and builder of several custom scooters Paul is a reluctant showman and at Bridlington he actually denied being Peaky Blinders’ owner to avoid too many questions! “Although the scooters are based on my ideas I can’t take all the credit as they’re a team effort,” he says.

On thing’s for certain Peaky Blinders is a stunning tribute to the shown – even Thomas Shelby would struggle to take offence.

 

 

MAN & MACHINE

Name: Paul Douglas

Job: Motorcycle sales manager

Scooter club & town: Rotherham SC

How and when did you first become interested in scooters: I think all 14-year-olds in 1979 were influenced by Quadrophenia – following the older lads who had scooters, trying to fit in with parkas and suede boots – good days.

First scooter: GP150.

Favourite scooter model: SX200.

Favourite style of custom scooter: Anything that just says time spent on it.

Any stories: Riding behind my mate Hodgy we took a corner too fast and came across a humpback bridge with no time to slow down. The scooters were all over the place before we both came off. Hodgy couldn’t stop laughing.

Favourite and worst rally/event: Favourite is Bridlington, worst is Mablethorpe.

Superb detailing courtesy of K2 Custom Classics.

What’s the furthest you’ve ever ridden a scooter: Whitby, very cold.

What do you like about rallies/events: Seeing all the custom scooters and I enjoy the night life but get sent home early – I’m not good at drinking!

What do you dislike about rallies/events: Moaners.

Still to add at the time of our photoshoot were panel handles made by K2 in the form of cut-throat razors.

Your favourite custom/featured scooter of all time: Top Gun.

If you had to recommend one scooter part or item of riding kit what would it be: Best helmet you can afford.

What’s the most useless part you’ve ever bought for one of your scooters: Stainless steel runner board protectors.

Paul was fortunate to secure straight, rot-free panelwork.

Name of scooter: Peaky Blinders

Scooter model: Lambretta Li125

Date purchased & cost: £1400 for spares.

Time to build & by who: Once we got all the bits together it took Chris Swift about three months but it was started 18 months ago just gathering parts.

Engine spec: Kit: Monza, Crank: 60mm, Carb: Dellorto, Exhaust: TT, Porting & Dyno by: Darrell Taylor.

Paintwork & murals done by: Base coat by Paul Firth and murals by Kev Thomas – fantastic job.

Is there any powdercoating: By Keith Newman at K2.

Is there any chrome: Quality Chrome Hull.

What was the hardest part of the project: Getting all the bits to fit!

Do you have any advice for anyone starting a project: Always dry build first!

Is there anyone you wish to thank: Chris Swift for putting up with all the crap I bought while he was doing the build. Kev Thomas for the best paint job I’ve seen. Paul Firth, Keith Newman, Stuart Gulliver, Ernie Richardson, and, of course, my wife.

PAINTING A BLINDER

If you’ve never heard of Kev Thomas don’t worry, such is his reputation that he’s not needed to advertise for many years. Although full resprays still pay the bills, Key is devoting an increasing amount of his time to custom work. A self-taught airbrush artist, his preferred technique is a mixture of freehand work and careful masking.

Facebook: Keys Custom Paints. Email: kevscustompaints@gmail.com

A ‘flat’ produced by Kev of the Shelby Brothers. “Although there’s a lot of space on a scooter for murals there are very few flat surfaces. Every image needs to be distorted in order to look convincing.”
“I draw the main components on water based masking tape by hand and then peel away layer by layer until it’s time to add fine details freehand.”
“I start by printing off the images I’m going to use and positioning them on the scooter. Once th design is finalised I use them as reference, first to produce a pencil drawing and then to fill in detail.”
“Each of the images is painted individually and then masked off, enabling me to build up the effect piece by piece.”
“Once all the murals are in place I apply around seven coats of lacquer, producing an exceptionally smooth finish.”

Words: Stan

Photos: Gary Chapman

Words of wisdom: Thomas Shelby

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Electric Vespa Reimagines Classic Italian With a Futuristic Twist

Vespa Industrial Design by Giulio IacchettiOver the years, the Vespa has become increasingly bulky, but Iacchetti’s proposed electric motor allows him to remove lateral side panels for a slimmed down version. This brings his concept back to the days when the Vespa graced the screen during the Golden Age of Italian Neorealist cinema. Yet, while cultivating this nostalgia, Iacchetti doesn’t lose sight of new technology.

A built-in smartphone holder recharges your phone while keeping it protected from the rain. And the speedometer, fuel gauge, and lights are accessed through a wireless app. At the same time, the designer maintains classic elements like the front circular headlight and cleverly integrates turn signals into the rear-view mirrors. Overall, Iacchetti has put an interesting twist on the Vespa, a classically Italian scooter born from the necessity for affordable transportation in post-World War II Italy.

Italian industrial designer Giulio Iacchetti has created a Vespa concept called Vespampère, which features an electric motor.

Electric Vespa Design by Giulio Iacchetti

Vespa Concept by Giulio IacchettiElectric Vespa Design by Giulio Iacchetti

The cantilevered seat is a nod back to early Vespa designs, while the model has integrated smartphone technology.

Vespa Concept by Giulio Iacchetti

Vespa Concept by Giulio IacchettiVespa Concept by Giulio Iacchetti

Vespa Concept by Giulio Iacchetti

The Vespa 98, which debuted in 1946, was a source of inspiration for Iacchetti’s revamped scooter.

Electric Vespa Design by Giulio IacchettiElectric Vespa Design by Giulio IacchettiIndustrial Design by Giulio Iacchetti

Porsche eBike X+: A bike that could change your way of life

Are you the competitive type? Are success, status and prestige important to you regardless of whether it’s work or play? And are you ready to fight for it? Then we’ve got some disappointing news for you: some fights can’t be won. But you don’t always have to always win anyway…

Porsche eBike X+ | € 9,911 | 140/140 mm (f/r) | 22 kg

Which Porsche do I buy if I’ve already bought over 200 of them? This is a question only a handful of people on this planet have the luxury of asking themselves. One of them is our good friend Erik Bötzle. Erik is the Managing Director of ESG EuropService, an international company specialising in the long-term rental of premium cars. Since Erik can remember he’s dreamt of Porsches – he calls himself “Porschista”.That quickly becomes apparent when you enter the premises of his company in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen – incidentally also the hometown of Porsche. Unobtrusive yet somehow ubiquitous: whether in the wardrobe, the picture frames on the wall, the display case, the magazine rack or in the fridge, everywhere you look, you will find Porsche memorabilia in the form of model cars, René Staud portraits, Christophorus magazines, t-shirts, baseball caps or jubilee champagne. But it doesn’t end there – you’ll find plenty of actual cars in the company’s various garages.

For Erik, Porsche is no longer just a car brand but a lifestyle. Intangible values such as the company’s history, service and countless experiences made driving previous Porsches are just as important as their raw performance, design and exclusivity.

 As this isn’t meant to be an advertisement for Porsche, let it be clear at this point: Erik isn’t always completely loyal. Occasionally he drives a Bentley or a Range Rover, and he’s also got a model BMW 3.0 CSL and Lamborghini sitting on his desk.

The answer to the question posed at the beginning, “Which Porsche do I buy when I’ve already bought 200 of them?” is a particularly tough one, because the singular original has been replaced by a much larger range. Of course, the purest of all Porsches, the 911, represents the core of the brand and is probably the car most people have dreamt of at one time or another. It’s a desire as unreasonable as it is emotional, but maybe one day it’ll simply be the reward for your success.* However, we have to warn you that there’s a new Porsche model to add to your wishlist.

In case you’re thinking Erik is a billionaire, that’s not the case (at least we don’t think it is). Most of the cars belong to the company for its high-end car rental business.

The new Porsche eBike X+ is an exclusive limited-edition eMTB with just 250 units available. It’s based on the Rotwild RX+, featuring a unique design and specced with only the best components that money can buy. It’s hard to believe, but it’s exactly this “Porsche” that fundamentally changed Erik’s life, as his wife Gabi tells us. Whether she sounds annoyed or happy is hard to tell. Both, perhaps. Since getting the eMTB, Erik has spent a lot of his evenings and lunch breaks in the saddle and it’s made him a more balanced and relaxed person. He has embraced this new world of ebikes full of enthusiasm and a childlike sense of wonder and curiosity, fiddling with the componentry and even buying himself a torque wrench for his workshop, his most proud acquisition. Yes, the stereotype that Porsche drivers are perfectionists, fascinated with mechanics and technology, is true. But Erik’s day to day life has changed in many more ways than that.

 His Porsche eBike X+ beats a GT2 RS in a drag race – at least from 0 to 2 km/h. After that the GT2 RS pulls away! But his grin is the same, whether he’s in the GT2 RS going from 0-100 in 2.8 seconds or on his ebike going from 0-15 km/h in 2 seconds.

The new ebike has also allowed him to explore completely new terrain and travel in a different way. Peak traffic? No problem. Finding a parking spot in the city centre? No problem. A little cardio during the lunch break? Go ahead. Need to get out of the office for a bit? With pleasure. A quick ride after a long day at work? Yes, please. Take in the sunset? Of course. Enjoy the feeling of freedom. Absolutely. Play in the woods like a child? Yes… A change in approach can help you solve a long list of problems, stress factors and obstacles when choosing the right tool for the job – and often an ebike is the best tool!

“There is nothing the busy man is less busied with than living.” Seneca knew how easy it is to forget how beautiful the little things and experiences in life can be when you’re too busy being in search of recognition, status and success. Quality of life has very little to do with your bank account balance. The true value of something is not measured by its price tag but by how much you’re able to enjoy and appreciate it.

Full-on Porschista: Erik’s bike equipment is stowed away in a premium Weekender bag made by Porsche Design.

Of course, sometimes Erik loads his bike into the back of his Panamera E-Hybrid and drives off to the Alps for a weekend of biking, but you don’t always have to travel far for worthwhile experiences. A short after-work ride on his home trails, a cold beer at the Bärenschlössle, the chirping of birds and the sunset on the horizon – it’s the little things that make life worth living!

But there’s more to it than that. An eMTB makes for a perfect practical SUV for the concrete jungle – safe, fast and sexy, attracting attention wherever you go.

Seeing and being seen: anyone who rides into the pedestrian zone with the Porsche eBike X+ will get envious stares thanks to its sustainable, sporty and prestigious image. That’s not (yet) something you’ll see every day.

The Porsche eBike X+ in detail

Erik is increasingly enjoying the things money can’t buy and appreciating what he’s already got. Sure, prestige is still important, but status isn’t everything to him any more. Erik has realised that the things he does and experiences in the moment are much more important than owning things or impressing other people. On his ebike, Erik is invisible and inconspicuous, yet somehow he also stands out amongst the crowds. People regularly look on with fascination, approaching him with interested eyes: “Is that a real Porsche?” “What does an ebike like that cost?” “Where can I buy one?” Yes. € 9,911. At the Porsche dealership and in select bike shops. You can tell he gets these questions a lot. During the time we spent with him in the city around the exclusive Breuninger shopping mall in Stuttgart, he was approached three times. Maybe Erik should change jobs and get into the ebike business too? From insiders at Porsche, he knows that Porsche plans to grow their ebike segment in the future.

The Porsche eBike X+ features sophisticated DT Swiss suspension, a Shimano XTR drivetrain and brakes, as well as the powerful Brose Drive S motor and a 648 Wh, removable battery. The four support levels can be customised using a smartphone app.

Forks DT Swiss F535 ONE 140 mm
Shock DT Swiss R535 ONE 140 mm
Drivetrain Shimano XTR 12-speed
Brakes Shimano XTR 203/180 mm
Handlebar Crankbrothers Cobalt 2 760 mm
Stem Crankbrothers Iodine 65 mm
Seatpost Crankbrothers Highline 125 mm
Tires Continental Mountain King Protection 29×2.3”
Wheels DT Swiss 29 HX1501 SPLINE ONE
Motor Brose Drive S
Battery IPU.R.660 CARBON 648 Wh
Sizes S/M/L/XL
Weight 22 kg

Keep cool!
The Air-Cooler motor cover’s vents help manage the Brose Drive S motor’s temperature.
Battery to go!
To charge the battery, the IPU unit can be removed from the downtube by loosening just one screw. If the bike needs to stay in the basement or the garage (next to the other Porsche), this is a really helpful feature for charging the battery off the bike!4
Comfort and safety
The Porsche eBike X+ offers 140 mm travel on the front and rear
Smooth
The Shimano XTR 12-speed drivetrain offers a large gear range and super-precise shifting!

 I couldn’t have imagined that eMTBing could be so much fun and have such an impact on my quality of life. Ebiking is awesome – of course, driving a GT2 RS is too! said Erik, and quietly sped away…

The great thing is that ebikes are so accessible – you’re out in the open and fresh air, you’re more flexible, it’s a healthier way to travel and it’s much easier to get into conversations with people. And is that not what it’s all about anyway? It is an illusion to think that we must always have our guard up and project a certain image. True winners don’t need to prove themselves but find fulfilment in what they do. This is what projects authenticity and authority. If you understand that, you’ll always be a winner – no matter if you’re driving a Polo, a GT2 or riding your eMTB**.

** we have to admit: it’s particularly easy with an eMTB.

If you’re interested in purchasing a Porsche eBike X +, you will have to be quick as the limited run of 250 bikes is nearly sold out. You won’t find them at your regular bike shop, only through Porsche Centers in Germany as well as some exclusive bike shops. If you’re interested, you can send us an email at porsche@ebike-mtb.com, and we will forward you directly to Porsche.


This article is from E-MOUNTAINBIKE issue #018

 

The Classic Italian Scooter With a Futuristic Twist

giulio-iacchetti-vespa-reimagined-1-1

Italian industrial designer Giulio Iacchetti gives a nod to the original 1946 Vespa with his concept for a sleek, minimalist electric bike. The beloved Italian scooter is reimagined as the Vespampère, with Iacchetti linking past and present for a forward-thinking vehicle designed for better riding in urban environments.

Over the years, the Vespa has become increasingly bulky, but Iacchetti’s proposed electric motor allows him to remove lateral side panels for a slimmed down version. This brings his concept back to the days when the Vespa graced the screen during the Golden Age of Italian Neorealist cinema. Yet, while cultivating this nostalgia, Iacchetti doesn’t lose sight of new technology.

A built-in smartphone holder recharges your phone while keeping it protected from the rain. And the speedometer, fuel gauge, and lights are accessed through a wireless app. At the same time, the designer maintains classic elements like the front circular headlight and cleverly integrates turn signals into the rear-view mirrors. Overall, Iacchetti has put an interesting twist on the Vespa, a classically Italian scooter born from the necessity for affordable transportation in post-World War II Italy.

Italian industrial designer Giulio Iacchetti has created a Vespa concept called Vespampère, which features an electric motor.

Electric Vespa Design by Giulio Iacchetti

Vespa Concept by Giulio IacchettiElectric Vespa Design by Giulio Iacchetti

The cantilevered seat is a nod back to early Vespa designs, while the model has integrated smartphone technology.

Vespa Concept by Giulio IacchettiVespa Concept by Giulio IacchettiVespa Concept by Giulio IacchettiVespa Concept by Giulio Iacchetti

The Vespa 98, which debuted in 1946, was a source of inspiration for Iacchetti’s revamped scooter.

Electric Vespa Design by Giulio IacchettiElectric Vespa Design by Giulio IacchettiIndustrial Design by Giulio IacchettiGiulio Iacchetti: Website | Instagram
h/t: [designboom]

Harley-Davidson unveils new range of electric Bikes


Harley-Davidson has a special place in the hearts of motor-bike enthusiasts around the world.

The United States-founded company has been creating bikes for well over 100 years and its latest refocus on innovative technology has pushed the company to create an impressive series of bikes.

Harley-Davidsons  has unveiled its first ever electric motorcycles and an electric bicycle, in what is being seen as the most radical shakeup of the struggling company in its 115-year-history.

Matt Levatich, CEO of the Milwaukee-based company, said the new products were designed in response to changing times.

“We are not running away from our core,” he said.

The electric motorcycle range will include several of what Mr Levatich called “lightweight, urban” transportation products that are designed specifically to appeal to “young adults, globally, living in dense urban spaces.”

In 2014 the company signalled its interest in electric motorbikes with the LiveWire electric prototype, which will go on sale next summer. Earlier this year the company announced an investment in electric motorcycle company Alta Motors.

On Monday they presented as many as five more electric models – including lightweight, urban bikes – which will be on sale by 2022.

They also unveiled their electric bicycle.

LiveWire
Harley-Davidson’s LiveWire electric bike 

The company revealed plans to promote its motorbikes in emerging markets, with a small motorcycle model introduced in India in the next two years; a series of middleweight bikes in 2020 in Europe; and an expansion of ranges and distribution in China.

At the same time, the company will attempt to retain market dominance with the classic Harleys – full-size touring and cruiser motorcycles – that are the backbone of its international sales.

The all-electric bike is supposed to boast an approximate range of 110 miles or 177 km of mixed city/highway riding. Relatively quick in its electric bike class, the LiveWire has an acceleration of 0-60 mph with a time of 3.5 seconds.

Another major take away from the LiveWire unveiling centers around the bike’s connectivity. Harley-Davidson created a suite of connected services enabled by an LTE-connected Telematics Control Unit hidden under the bike’s seat.

This allows riders to stay fully connected to their bike and surrounding area to provide a better riding experience.

Two Prototypes

Harley- Davidson Unveils Its New Electric Bikes
Source: Harley-Davidson

Harley-Davidson also showed off their dirt bike and moped prototypes to the CES audience. Though there is very little known about the new electric bikes these bikes embody a radical a new beginning for the company; embracing a new design language and tech for the company.

Harley- Davidson Unveils Its New Electric Bikes
Source: Harley-Davidson

Jennifer Hoyer from Harley-Davidson’s Media relations described the products stating, “Both electric concepts provide enhanced attainability for customers around the world. These premium entry-level concepts widen accessibility both for new audiences, and the traditional Harley-Davidson customer.”

Harley- Davidson Unveils Its New Electric Bikes
Source: Harley-Davidson

“Our goal for these concepts is to not require a motorcycle license to operate and feature clutch-free operation, lowering the learning curve and increasing access to attract new riders in the process.”

 

Harley-Davidson’s LiveWire plugs back in with some help from Silicon Valley

FOUR YEARS LATER, LIVE AT LAST?


It’s been four years since we last heard any news on the Harley-Davidson LiveWire, but that’s all about to change by 2019.

It was a typically beautiful day in the beachside town of Santa Monica. The sun was shining, the temperature mild and the popular Third Street Promenade was packed with shoppers. It was the quintessential SoCal postcard day, and it seems like it was just yesterday—only it was four years ago.

That was the day that EBA was invited to ride the new Harley-Davidson LiveWire at the Milwaukee brand’s roll-out tour of their very talked-about, new motorcycle. Only it wasn’t. Well, the motorcycle was all new, but there wasn’t much talking about it. Other than enjoying the mad rush of a very torquey, less-than-quiet motor, the biggest takeaway from the experience was that Harley had no intention of actually discussing much about the bike. In fact, in persistently avoiding any tech questions, the Harley rep would only insist that the purpose of the ride day was merely to facilitate a “listening tour.”

In short, Harley’s LiveWire project sauntered up to the pool, made a big splash after a quick dive, then quietly receded back to its private cabana never to be heard or seen from again. Until now.


Although no one knows what guise the planned 2019 LiveWire will have, the 2014 version cut a stylish line on the city streets.

THE RE-RELEASE

Although the basis for the e-moto world’s newfound basis of anticipation over the LiveWire actually going live was based solely on words spoken from company CEO Matthew Levatich in a conference call to investors, it was at least the first time we’ve heard anything definitive about the stylish bike from the historical house of the V-twin.

“You’ve heard us talk about Project LiveWire,” said Levatich. “LiveWire is an exhilarating, no-excuse electric Harley-Davidson. Over 12,000 riders told us so through the demo rides we provided around the world, and it’s an active project we’re preparing to bring to market within 18 months.”

“Other than enjoying the mad rush of a very torquey, less-than-quiet motor, the biggest takeaway from the experience was that Harley had no intention of actually discussing much about the bike.”

And that, my friends, is the most that we know about Harley-Davidson’s planned re-entry into the modern world of battery-powered transportation. Still, if they really mean it, this could be a very bold step by the Motor Company to leap free from the sales doldrums it has endured of late as the classic Harley customer ages out, leaving a consumer base of kids who are not the least bit enamored with 600-pound, chromed-out touring bikes.


Four years ago the streets of Santa Monica were as crowded with shoppers as they were with a parade of pre-production Harley-Davidson LiveWires.

Around the same time that Harley went live with the LiveWire news, word also leaked that they have also filed a trademark application for the naming of the LiveWire powerplant, “HD Revelation,” which is a take on the Evolution motors used on their big bikes.

THE TECH WE KNEW

For a bike that, as we later found, had no real production timeline, the 2014 LiveWire we rode was impressive with a definite ready for primetime finish. Although the bike was modeled with a dedicated seat cowl that prohibited passenger seating, the café bike styling was immediately appealing.


Unlike the popular look of traditional Harleys with their exposed V-twin motors, the LiveWire’s powerplant was masked by plastic shrouds.

Having owned two Harley Sportsters in my day, I had firsthand experience with traditional Harley traits of poor braking performance and saggy suspension, so I was heartened not only by the LiveWire’s braking performance, but the adjustable Showa suspension with an inverted fork was a welcome upgrade.

At the time, the LiveWire prototype ran on a lithium-ion battery motor that produced 75 horsepower and 52 pound-feet of torque at its peak.  The shrouded motor was mounted longitudinally in a cast perimeter frame and used a final belt drive.

AND THEN CAME ALTA

Just a few weeks after Levatich announced the revival of the LiveWire came the surprising news that Harley had also made an equity investment in Alta Motors, who, like fellow NorCal e-moto-maker Zero Motorcycles, has been attempting to catch some lasting interest in battery-powered motorcycles. Harley’s partnership with Alta mirrors the acquisition of Oregon e-moto-maker Brammo by big-brand Polaris who are also behind the successful relaunch of the Indian marque.


Counter to the modern display module, the prototype bikes were still outfitted with the age-old switchgear and lever assemblies from an old Harley Sportster parts bin.

Once again, the breaking news was left to Levatich to release: “Earlier this year, as part of our 10-year strategy, we reiterated our commitment to build the next generation of Harley-Davidson riders in part by aggressively investing in electric vehicle (EV) technology. Alta has demonstrated innovation and expertise in EV, and their objectives align closely with ours. We each have strengths and capabilities that will be mutually beneficial as we work together to develop cutting-edge electric motorcycles.”

Levatich continued, “We intend to be the world leader in the electrification of motorcycles and, at the same time, remain true to our gas and oil roots by continuing to produce a broad portfolio of motorcycles that appeal to all types of riders around the world.”

Alta was no doubt more than pleased to be on the receiving end of Harley cash, as, like Harley, their evolution in the e-moto market has been defined by a somewhat fits-and-starts history.

“Riders are just beginning to understand the combined benefits of EV today, and our technology continues to progress,” said Alta Motors Chief Product Officer and Co-Founder Marc Fenigstein. “We believe electric motorcycles are the future, and that American companies have an opportunity to lead that future. It’s incredibly exciting that Harley-Davidson, synonymous with motorcycle leadership, shares that vision, and we’re thrilled to collaborate with them.”

DIRT-BOUND HARLEYS?

Although little is known just what the Harley/Alta partnership might produce in terms of shared product, old-time dirt bike stalwarts will recall that over four decades ago, in addition to their flat-track racing success, the Milwaukee factory won desert racing acclaim with their 100cc Baja two-stroke dirt bike. In 1975 early Harley factory rider Bruce Ogilvie made big news when he rode a prototype 250cc Harley-Davidson to win the Baja 500.

“Harley’s partnership with Alta mirrors the acquisition of Oregon e-moto-maker Brammo by big-brand Polaris who are also behind the successful relaunch of the Indian marque.”

A few years later, Harley would return to the same Italian-sourced engine builder (Aermacchi) to build the engines for some 250 and 370cc motocross bikes. These bikes enjoyed a very limited factory-backed racing effort and production run before Milwaukee abandoned the off-road world in 1979 once and for all.

THE RED SAND

Based out of San Jose, California, Alta has been on track to release a production bike to the public for some time. Although they have gone through a variety of iterations, their current model, the Red Shift MXR, is said to feature a 50-horsepower powerplant with 42 pound-feet of torque with a rolling weight of 259 pounds. This bike, they claim, is now capable of running with a 350cc four-stroke motor, whereas the previous MX model was always compared to a 250cc powerplant. Alta adds that the recharge time has been reduced to just 1.5 hours on a 220-volt system.


With KTM never making any serious inroads with the Freeride e-moto, Alta has been the forefront of pushing battery-powered off-road bikes. The $12,000 MXR is their latest edition

In addition to the motocross bike, Alta also produces Supermoto and off-road/enduro versions. The MX bike made a famously splashy debut in 2016 when former pro rider Josh Hill competed aboard a prototype at the 2016 Red Bull Straight Rhythm race. Notably, the company has refused our sister zine Motocross Action to test a bike in a non-Alta-controlled environment.

The aluminum-framed, California-made bike is spec’d with high-end WP suspension and Brembo brakes, and the MXR should have a retail price of $11,995. www.harley-davidson.com

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