Harley-Davidson’s new electric bikes look incredible — but they won’t be cheap

Serial 1 Cycle, the e-bike brand recently launched by Harley-Davidson, revealed new details about its forthcoming lineup of battery-powered two-wheelers. The first four models, which will go on sale in the US and Germany starting spring 2021, are all pedal-assist city bikes with mid-drive motors, integrated batteries, and a design that is unmistakably Harley-Davidson.

The Milwaukee-based company got our hearts palpitating last October when it unveiled its first prototype: a stunning, black-framed mid-step with all-white tires and leather accents. But that bike was meant as just a “styling exercise,” and unfortunately won’t be going into production — at least not right away, the company says. The bikes that are going into production are being announced today.

There will be four bikes to start out, ranging in price from $3,399 to $4,999. The brand names are Mosh/Cty and Rush/Cty, with the latter coming in three variants (Step-Thru, Speed, and regular). Each comes with a motor capable of generating 250W of continuous power and hitting top speeds of 20mph — except for the Rush/Cty Speed, which can go faster. If that’s still not fast enough, check out Harley-Davidson’s electric motorcycle LiveWire (top speed 95mph).

Are those good prices? It’s hard to say without any time in the saddle, but when combined with the specs and part listing for each bike, it seems to indicate that these will be well-crafted machines that definitely deserve a much closer look. They are certainly more expensive than popular brands like VanMoof, Rad Power Bikes, Sondors, and others. But they will be competitive with major bike makers like Specialized, Giant, and Trek. And the Harley-Davidson badge has an inherent value among some customers on its own.

At first glance, the new lineup looks nearly identical to the three prototypes that Harley-Davidson showed off at the 2019 EICMA Motorcycle Show in Milan. That’s a relief and answers the main question I had when the brand was unveiled last month, which was, “Whatever happened to those prototypes from 2019?”

The mid-drive motors are by Brose, a 110-year-old Dutch company that makes e-bike components. When engaged, the motor will put out 90 Newton-meters and 60 foot-pounds of torque, which is more than enough to climb most hills and fly along any straightaways. Much like Bosch and other major e-bike suppliers, the Brose motor enables four power levels: eco, tour, sport, and boost. And the Enviolo Automatiq automatic gear-shifting transmission is sure to make for an extra smooth ride.

There will be an app, because of course there’s always an app. You pair it via Bluetooth to the bike to get rider data and other undisclosed features. The app will debut in the spring.

The production version of these bikes include all features and technology found on the Serial 1 Tribute prototype, with more contemporary styling and finish. Harley-Davidson may end up making a few Tribute bikes for giveaways or special sales, a spokesperson said.

Three of them are Class 1 e-bikes in the US, meaning pedal-assist only with no throttle and a top speed of 20mph. Each model will come with integrated lighting in the front and rear, a frame-integrated lithium-ion battery, and a maintenance-free Gates carbon belt drive. 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 US.

Overall, these appear to be expertly crafted e-bikes with a nearly 120-year-old brand name etched on the chain stay and an iconic shield logo on the head unit. Harley-Davidson is not messing around here.

Here are some of the top-line specs for each bike.

MOSH/CTY

Harley-Davidson describes the single-speed Mosh/Cty as the “ultimate urban play bike.” This model will have a 529Wh battery, which should power the bike for an estimated 35-105 miles of range, depending on your power level. (Because these bikes are pedal assist, the available range will vary widely depending on what ride mode you choose and how much pedal assistance you provide.) The Mosh/Cty will be the lightest model in the lineup, weighing just 48.3lbs, and it will be packing a Brose S Mag brushless internal motor between the pedal cranks.

The frame, which comes in matte black and either glossy blue or black accents, is hydroformed aluminum with internal wiring. The brakes are Tektro hydraulic, two-piston caliper disc brakes on the front and rear wheel. There are no fenders or racks, and the tires are 27.5 x 2.8-inch Schwalbe Super Moto-X. The Mosh/Cty is the barebones model, lacking both a gear shifter and a digital display.

“It’s quick, nimble, and an absolute ripper,” the company says.

Price: $3,399

RUSH/CTY

Rush/Cty is the “sophisticated commuter,” Harley-Davidson says. It has a bigger battery (706Wh) than the Mosh/Cty but a similar range of 35-115 miles. The bike, which comes in black and gray frames, will clock in at 59lbs, which isn’t that bad by typical e-bike standards.

The motor is a 250W Brose S Mag mid-drive and the drivetrain is Enviolo Automatiq, shifting automatically based on speed, cadence, and terrain. Front and rear racks offer ample storage space.

Price: $4,449

RUSH/CTY STEP-THRU

Rush/Cty Step-Thru is described as “an all-access ride to wherever you want to go.” It’s a lower-power version of the Rush/Cty with a generous low-step frame for those with knee sensitivities or other mobility issues. It weighs 59.5lbs, and it comes with a 529Wh battery, which should power the bike for 30-90 miles of range, depending on the level of assist.

The tires are Schwalbe Super Moto-X 27.5 x 2.4-inch. But the Step-Thru’s best feature is a built-in 620 cubic-centimeter storage space at the base of the downtube, which should be enough room to store a lock. Think of it as your bike’s glove compartment.

Price: $4,399

RUSH/CTY SPEED

The Rush/Cty Speed is the US-only speed pedelec, meaning it can hit a top speed of 28mph. It has a 706Wh battery, which should power the bike for 25-115 miles, depending on the assist level. The bike will weigh 59lbs and also features a storage compartment in the middle. The Rush/Cty Speed comes in gray-and-black or white-and-black paint schemes.

Harley-Davidson says it’s “the quickest way to navigate any city.”

Price: $4,999

It’s no wonder that Harley-Davidson chose now to jump into the e-bike market. Electric bike sales around the world have been exploding since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, the US imported about 270,000 e-bikes. This year, the total is expected to end up somewhere between 500,000 and 600,000, according to Bloomberg citing data from the Light Electric Vehicle Association.

But the motorcycle giant is about to enter a very crowded market where even huge bike manufacturers like Specialized, Trek, and Giant are competing with fast growing e-bike companies like Rad Power Bikes, Pedego, and VanMoof. It also won’t be the first motorcycle brand to make this shift: UK-based Triumph unveiled its own prototype, the Trekker GT, earlier this year. And Ducati launched its first e-bike last year.

Automotive brands are also getting in on the action: BMW is making electric bikes and motorcycles, Audi is manufacturing electric mountain bikes, Mercedes-Benz unveiled an electric scooter, Ford acquired e-scooter startup Spin, and Jeep recently unveiled a high-powered electric mountain bike. But it hasn’t been without its potholes, too. Ariv, the e-bike brand launched by General Motors, was quietly shutdown in May in the midst of the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Harley-Davidson hopes to avoid those same pitfalls. From Easy Rider to Terminator 2, the motorcycle giant occupies an indelible place in our culture. And this isn’t a moment completely without precedent, either. Harley-Davidson released its first bicycle in 1917, an olive-green number with paloma handlebars that was mainly marketed to preteen boys in an attempt to build customer loyalty at the youngest possible age.

Serial 1 Cycles is different. The e-bike brand “is an effort that represents the best of two worlds,” the company says, “combining Harley-Davidson’s legendary motorcycle expertise and leadership in two-wheel electric propulsion with the agility and innovation of a new brand dedicated exclusively to the eBicycle product and customer.”

The bikes will be available at any Harley-Davidson dealership or through the company’s website. Presale reservations start today.

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