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Harley's new venture: Serial 1 eBikes

Okay, let’s talk about the Harley Davidson Serial 1. Before we get to the WHY!?! Let’s talk about the what. What is Serial 1? The name is derived from the first know Harley Davidson affectionately referred to as “Serial Number One”. Let’s try and sum it up based on what the H-D site has posted (as-of 11/16) - Four models are being offered by the MoCo, with an estimated deliver date of Spring 2021 (Summer for the Rush/City Speed model). Top speeds vary from 20 mph For the Mosh model and the Rush/City Speed at 28 mph.

The drive train consists of a magnesium Brose S Mag motor, with a brushless internal rotar and mid-drive mounting. This will produce 66 ft. lb. torque which should make hill climbing a breeze. It is belt driven which means no chain maintenance or lubrication. The three rush models will include enviolo hubs, featuring rotating planets that, over the hub’s ratio range, permit countless ratios between incoming pedal power and outgoing power, virtually making this a shiftless bicycle (comparable to a Continuously Variable Transmission or CVT), which in theory means less maintenance.

Battery range will vary depending on model, but the removable battery is designed to give riders a range of 30-90 miles depending on mode and terrain. The battery can be quickly removed from the frame without tools and a key locks the battery into the frame for enhanced security. Full charge is estimated at under 5 hours.

Braking is done with hydraulic four-piston-caliper disc brakes front and rear, 203mm X 2.3mm “heavy-duty” rotors.

You can sync your bike with the Serial 1 App, that when paired by Bluetooth, can operate as a secondary digital dashboard on both RUSH/CTY models or a primary digital dashboard on the MOSH/CTY model, not equipped with a digital display. The LED screen can control 4 boost modes and complemented with a 1.5”, 240 x 240-pixel TFT display shows selected ride mode, current speed, odometer/trip meter, battery charge level, and headlamp on/off status at a glance.

The bike has an LED headlamp mounted on the handlebar stem as well as LED tail and brake lights integrated into the frame dropouts. All models are in the 60 lb weight range, and will come in four different colors (all variations of black and white).

Prices will range from $3400 for the Mosh all the way up to $5000 for the top Rush/Speed.

Okay, with that firehose of information, let’s start with some takeaways. Really I have so many questions, but let’s forego those and if you have any, drop them into the comments and we can discuss there. Also, don’t forget to tap that like button and please consider subscribing. Also before I start, this is one guy’s non-expert opinion, so with that in mind let’s jump in with my Takeaways - let’s start where I usually do with H-D products - price.

Surprisingly the pricing is competitive to market. Affordability is relative, so say what you will about how much they cost. Some of the top cycle makers including Trek and Specialized have similar offerings, but with slightly better peak motor performance, and lighter weights. However, the H-D motor seems to be in a class of it’s own with a shiftless ride and belt drive.

They won’t have the bicycle brand-name advantage in this venture, unless you were in that small subsection of the venn diagram that includes Harley riders and ebike shoppers that might make you a prime candidate for the ebike, so they really needed to stick the landing on this ebike. And, I have to applaud H-D on this, because I think they did.

My only real concern is with the mobile app HD connect for the livewire was a huge disappointment, and for a company that’s struggled with tech, we’ll have to see if they’ve learned their lesson. This venture was almost derailed by COVID, and still they recognized that they may really be on to something here with the Serial 1, and stuck with it. Though they were prepared for a summer 2020 release, they pushed it to 2021. I do question that decision though, with the demand for bicycles at its peak BECAUSE of COVID, and cycle shops literally selling out, that they missed an opportunity to release while the market was primed with people stuck at home. Let’s just hope they didn’t miss their window of opportunity. Finally, I know that style and design are completely subjective, but I personally think it is a sleek and sexy bike. I only wish it came in a few more colors.

So, with those takeaways, the real criticism I’ve been seeing is simply WHY? Design and engineering for the Serial 1 seem to be top notch, and pricing is competitive (not like the LiveWire’s ridiculous MSRP), but still, why is Harley doing this? They could have sold the design to a bicycle maker and said something along the lines of “powered by harley” but they went all out for this project. One theory is that they are looking to get the H-D brand name out there, in more places and households and this is the avenue they’ve chosen.

Another might think that the future of Harley is going in a completely different direction, and the LiveWire and the Serial 1 are the start of an entirely different generation of bikes. The Pan America and Custom are both still slated for next year, so at best, this is a wait and see situation. As a fan of H-D I’m in the “willing to wait and see” crowd, but where are you? Does this move the needle for you in Harley fandom in either direction? Are you in the market for an ebike, and does this entry intrigue you? These are all questions I can’t answer, but 2021 is right around the corner, and the people will answer with their wallets.

We are in a period of uncertainty in the world right now, so there are an endless amount of variables that will decide the success of the Serial 1 and Harley Davidson. As a fan of the Motor Company, I can only hope this is the start of a new generation of innovative design matched with timeless style. That is something I can definitely get behind. But I’m just a guy with a youtube channel and a platform to share my opinion. What’s yours?

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