When Harley-Davidson revealed its first-ever battery-electric motorcycle, the 2020 LiveWire, there was pushback from some fans who believe Harleys are thunderous, attention-getting machines with gas engines — only.
Well, then the Milwaukee-based company’s next debut should just send those folks right over the edge.
The legendary motorcycle producer, maker of some of the biggest, loudest bikes ever, just unveiled their prototypes for electric bikes. No, not another EV motorcycle like LiveWire, but electric bicycles that use a small electric motor to give pedalers some help when they need it.
The company unveiled the prototypes during its recent dealers meeting in Milwaukee. Harley officials aren’t saying anything publicly about the new e-bikes, but they appear to be a part of the company’s growth plans going forward based on dealer reaction.
“Is it going to be the core of our business?” said Todd Berlin, general manager at Suburban Motors Harley-Davidson in Thiensville, Wisconsin, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Absolutely not. Internal combustion engines are still what we do.”
While a photo has been released, there is no information available – particularly pricing – about the bikes on the company’s website. Earlier this year, the company did purchase StaCyc, Inc., producer of the 12 and 16 EDRIVE, electric-powered two-wheelers specifically designed for kids.
StaCyc, which entered the market in 2016, currently designs, markets and sells their EDRIVE models for kids, with an MSRP range of $649 to $699. StaCyc EDRIVES are sold in the U.S. through powersports dealerships, including 29 Harley-Davidson dealerships, online and in specialty bicycle retailers. No pricing was revealed for the new Harley offerings.
Harley-Davidson has been looking for ways to raise revenue. The company has been battling financial headwinds for the past 18 months, some of them created by President Donald Trump, who has publicly chastised the company for producing motorcycles in other countries.
Harley-Davidson, whose top officials met with Trump at the White House early in his presidency including an all-smiles photo op where he lavished praise on the company, became a target after it mentioned some of Trump’s trade policies, specifically tariffs, would cost the company $100 million in revenue.
The acquisition did leave the door open to this possibility, as Harley-Davidson Senior Vice President of Marketing and Brand Heather Malenshek noted the deal allows the company to reach “kids everywhere.”
But perhaps more directly, she said, the deal “expands Harley-Davidson’s electric portfolio and reinforces its commitment to lead in the electrification of motorcycling.” Adding that in addition to LiveWire, more – and larger – battery-electric motorcycles would be coming in the next two years.
The new e-bikes appear to be part of the company’s planned resurgence it unveiled in 2018, called the More Roads to Harley-Davidson plan. The accelerated plan focuses on building the next generation of riders through new products in additional motorcycle segments, providing broader access to the brand and products and a commitment to supporting and strengthening dealers globally.
Taking on e-bikes as an addition revenue stream makes sense – as in dollars and sense. Clearly dealers don’t mind the extra sales and e-bikes are hot. They account for a small share of the U.S. bicycle market, but sales have nearly tripled in the last two years, to $176 million for the 12 months ended in June, according to market research firm NPD Group.
“We’ve said previously that we believe electric vehicles are where global mobility is headed and they hold great appeal for existing riders as well as opportunity to build new riders,” said Malenshek.
“As we lead in the electrification of motorcycling, we’re demonstrating our commitment by delivering a full range of electric products for a vast audience who will be inspired to imagine and discover what is possible from Harley-Davidson.”