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Best Innovation of 2014 – Harley Project LiveWire

2014 President’s Picks: Best Innovation - Harley Project LiveWire
Harley-Davidson Project LiveWire

Best Innovation – Harley Project LiveWire

A lot of people would scoff at the thought of Harley-Davidson being “innovative.” Jokes still abound about parts dropping off bikes during a ride, and old, slow V-twins that have to “do their best” on 80 mph highways.

But actually, nothing could be further from the truth. Harleys are well engineered, reliable motorcycles that have for many years included complex electronics systems such as self-canceling turn signals, fuel injection, cruise control, and now ABS.

Truth is, Harleys are highly sophisticated modern machines, and millions of dollars has been spent to make them look like olde-worlde classics.

So it came as a bit of a shock (no pun intended) when Harley announced its Project LiveWire electric motorcycle project — something so far beyond what is currently produced by The Motor Company it seems to have blown past several stages of evolution in the process.

But if you think about it, the decision to “go electric” is actually not all that surprising. It is merely the answer to precisely who Harley thinks they will be selling to in 20 years—and maybe sooner.

The bike itself is typical of the several electric motorcycles currently out there — it works well, whines a bit and produces gobs of torque. It is also quite heavy and has minimal range. But those latter two detractions are merely a reflection of current battery technology, and as that technology matures, the weight will come down and the range will go up.

So kudos to Harley for flying in the face of its current market and brand perception, and opening its lab doors to the public’s gaze. LiveWire is undoubtedly the future; it is just a question of how long it will take battery technology to advance to the point where electric motor powered machines reach critical mass.

What I can predict, is that the kids (the so-called “millennials”) are not going to be buying the current crop of Dyna Glides and Ultra Classics when they hit their mid-life crises at age 45; so Harley’s innovation and forward-focus is both understandable and very laudable—at least they’re thinking hard.

About Ultimate MotorCycling 2014 President’s Picks:

As President of Ultimate MotorCycling, I am a fortunate individual. Not only do I get to ride a huge variety of machines, I am also privileged to be a part of this fascinating industry that so intensely fuels our passions.

As 2014 draws into its last quarter a picture has emerged of various developments that have happened in the past year. Don Williams, our Magazine Editor, has already published his Top Ten Motorcycle Picks and somewhat naturally I agreed with him. When Ron Lieback, our Website Editor, challenged me to come up with picks of my own, I naturally gravitated more towards the industry happenings, although I do have some machinery opinions as well.

I find myself interested in those manufacturers who have the best feeling for the current motorcycle buyer; those who are trying to listen to market demand and not just thrust their latest whizz-bang machine at us; those who are trying to encourage new and returning riders to the fold; those who are trying to make the pie bigger.

So this is what I’ve come up with. It goes without saying that these are my personal picks and you may or may not agree with me; of course you may feel I’ve left something out. Respectful discussion is very healthy and I’d love to hear everyone’s opinion—good, bad or ugly. Thanks for reading and being a part of the Ultimate MotorCycling family!

To read the others, visit 2014 President’s Picks.

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