Hoping Harley-Davidson sticks with Project LiveWire

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Harley-Davidson Project LiveWire Cycle World photo

Harley-Davidson’s Project Livewire is the storied motorcycle maker’s first all-electric model. We like what we see. (Jeff Allen photo courtesy Cycle World)

I’m a sometime motorcyclist, but every time I go into the local Harley-Davidson shop, it doesn’t take long until I remember why it had been forever since I last darkened its doors: I don’t feel like I belong there.

I feel that way for a few reasons. Principally:

  • Harley-Davidson motorcycles tend to be expensive compared to the level of refinement you get
  • The dealership seems as focused on selling H-D branded clothing as they do on selling H-D bikes
  • I’m just not drawn to any of Harley-Davidson’s current motorcycle products

The last time I was truly interested in a Harley-Davidson product was when the legendary motorcycle manufacturer released the XR1200, which had the riding position and design sensibility of a “standard,” or a bike that is neither a high-performance sportbike nor a laid-back cruiser — the latter of which would be the category where every other Harley-Davidson model would fall.

After a short 2009-2013 model run, the XR1200 was discontinued by Harley-Davidson, and my interest in H-D products was back to zero.

I almost feel like the marketing brass at H-D didn’t want the XR1200 in the lineup because it was the odd duck among all the super-chromed, ultra laid-back cruisers in any Harley dealership. It had amazing potential to change the demographic of people who considered owning the American icon of motorcycle brands, but its life on the U.S. market was cut short despite largely positive reviews in the motorcycle press.

That’s a real shame for Harley-Davidson, because in my opinion, the brand needs a new, younger demographic. We’re not all well-off guys with a ton of disposable income to throw at customizing an Electra Glide, and even those of us who might have that kind of money to spend on a motorcycle don’t necessarily dig the aesthetic of Harley’s model range. That’s something even Harley-Davidson itself is acknowledging, with the coming middleweight bikes based on new — and smaller-displacement — engine technology.

Now Harley-Davidson is showcasing another idea that could shake up the customer base. The Harley-Davidson LiveWire is the first all-electric motorcycle from the storied builder, and I, like a lot of what Harley dealers might consider “unconventional customers,” really like what I see.

A press release from Harley-Davidson said select consumers across the country will be able to ride and provide feedback on the bike starting next week, helping to shape the future of the first all-electric Hog.

Harley-Davidson Motor Company President and Chief Operating Officer Matt Levatich said, “America at its best has always been about reinvention, and, like America, Harley-Davidson has reinvented itself many times in our history, with customers leading us every step of the way. Project LiveWire is another exciting, customer-led moment in our history.”

Levatich added, “This builds on many recent reinvention successes for Harley-Davidson. In just the last few years, we’ve broadened our reach to serve an increasingly diverse society, as well as reinvented our approach to product development and manufacturing. This has resulted in cutting-edge products like the recently launched Project Rushmore touring bikes, Harley-Davidson Street 500 and 750 models and this reveal of Project LiveWire.”

I will certainly hope Harley-Davidson sticks with the Project LiveWire idea longer than they did the XR1200. I would like nothing more than to see an American legend of motorcycling leading the charge for EV charging stations right alongside four-wheeled EV makers such as Nissan. For Harley dealers, who seem to get a lot of business on branded merchandise, just imagine the profit margin on a Harley-Davidson Shield Logo-wearing EV charging station!

And if Harley-Davidson needs a journalist to do a test ride and review of Project LiveWire, this former Suzuki LS650 and BMW K75 owner would be more than up to the task. Just sayin’.

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