Electric bicycles are growing in popularity across a broad spectrum of people and a wide array of uses. This is a story about one such e-bike, the Harley-Davidson IRONe12, and the enormous positive impact it has had on us as a family.
The Harley-Davidson IRONe12 entered our lives at the perfect moment. Collectively, the entire family was fatigued with the COVID-19 stay-at-home restrictions. My wife and I were running out of ways to keep our kids and ourselves healthy—mentally and physically. One day seemed to blur into the next and, with too much screen-time and not enough fresh-air outdoors, the monotony was numbing for everyone.
Our three-year-old son, Tor, may have been impacted the most. Without a physical pre-school to attend, and with the rest of the family glued to Zoom meetings for work and school, he was caught somewhere in the middle.
Enter the Harley-Davidson IRONe12—an uber-cool balance bike that’s both a push-bike and a powered bicycle all wrapped into one. Tor’s eyes lit up the moment it arrived. In the weeks since, he talks about his Harley-Davidson incessantly to people and inanimate objects alike. The Harley-Davidson IRONe12 was precisely what the doctor ordered, and we are so much better off for it.
Tor is off the couch and on the move with his battery-powered H-D, from early-morning neighborhood jaunts to walk the dog to midafternoon romps in the backyard to weekend rides in the park. The Harley-Davidson IRONe12 and his full-face Fly Racing Kinetic Invazion helmet are permanently stored in the back of the family SUV, always at the ready.
From initial assembly to aftermarket tuning, Tor and I have had a complete blast with Harley-Davidson IRONe12, and it has revolutionized our family’s daily routine. Here are the 14 fast facts that you and need to know about the Harley-Davidson IRONe12.
- The Harley-Davidson IRONe12 is an entry-level offering that spans the spectrum from manual balance bike to powered e-bike. It’s a high-quality, highly refined two-wheeled scoot that is both easy and approachable for adults and youngsters alike. The operative words here are simple and easy.
- The IRONe12 refers to the 12-inch wheel size and is ideal for kids 3-to-5 years old with inseams of 14-to-20 inches. The 13-inch seat height is adjustable as your child grows—75 pounds is the maximum weight for all the IRONe bikes. Plus, there is a larger, more powerful Harley-Davidson IRONe16 for kids 5-to-8 years old and inseams of 18-to-24 inches.
- The IRONe12 is based wholly on the proven Stacyc Stability Cycle platform. The Stacyc (pronounced stay-sic) folks pioneered the youth e-bike movement to get kids outside and on two-wheels sooner. In 2019, Harley-Davidson acquired Stacyc Stability Cycle to complement its foray into electric motorcycles.
- Assembly is a snap, requiring only a handful of common tools. Essentially, the bike comes pre-assembled. It takes longer to remove the cardboard and Styrofoam bits used for shipping than it does to assemble the bike. Simply slip the headset—the handlebars already attached to it—to the top tube and tighten the bolt. Mount the front wheel to the fork, check the air in the tires, and your youngster is ready to ride.
- The proprietary 20-volt rechargeable battery resembles that for cordless tools and comes with an easy-to-use quick charger. Be sure to begin charging the battery before beginning assembly of the bike. Twenty minutes later, both the battery and the bike will be ready to go, saving your little ripper from any additional agonizing wait time.
- The H-D IRONe12 doesn’t need to be in a powered mode to be fun. Tor is only three years old, and it took him a couple of days of pushing the IRONe12 in manual mode before he was ready to move to Slow mode with the battery installed. This allowed him ample time to build up his confidence before learning to actuate the hand brake and twist throttle.
- There are three different max speed settings to choose from, and there’s a bit of a routine to switch from one to the other. That’s by design, as the adult should be the one setting the ride mode. Low/Training goes up to 5 mph, Medium/Standard up to 7 mph, and High/Advanced mode up to 9 mph.
- Low/Training mode is perfect for learning and building confidence. It’s slow enough that the accompanying adult can intervene to keep Junior from unintentionally riding off into the sunset. Because IRONe12 is first and foremost a balance bike, the young pilot can give it a little throttle to get going, and then just coast, augmenting speed when necessary with another little blip of throttle.
- Small hands may find the handlebar-mounted rear brake lever hard to reach. Although the stock brake lever is adjustable, even when adjusted to be as close to the handgrip as possible, it was still hard for Tor to get his little hand over the brake lever and squeeze. This meant that he resorted to stopping with his feet, rather than using the brake—he was wearing out his shoes!
- ASV F2 Series Off-Road Rear Brake Lever to the rescue! You can always count on the aftermarket to fill a performance need, and ASV Inventions came through for us. I love their levers for motorcycle racing applications, so I was excited to see that they created the ASV F2 “Unbreakable” forged-aluminum lever specifically for Stacyc-based e-bikes. Installation is a cinch, as it uses the stock lever perch. With a full four inches of range adjustment, it is perfect for Tor’s little hands. The ASV F2 lever is a precision-engineered piece of kit that is easier to pull, totally adjustable, is nearly unbreakable, and comes in four colors (but not orange). At $55, it’s not cheap, but worth every penny for us. It will inevitably be traded over to the Harley-Davidson IRONe16 when Tor grows out of the 12.
- Range anxiety is non-existent with the H-D IRONe12. If your little ripper runs out of juice, he can just paddle his way back, no problem. But at three years old, Tor’s attention span is no match for the 2 Ah battery, which easily lasts over 50 minutes in the Low/Training mode. For longer periods at the park, or when we’re out camping, we charge the battery using an inverter plugged into the 12-volt socket in the truck. A long-life 5 Ah spare battery is available for $164.
- The H-D IRONe12 is virtually maintenance-free. Aside from keeping the battery charged and air in the tires, there’s not much to do. Similar to a pedal-bike, an occasional lube of the chain after some wet weather riding would be a good idea.
- The IRONe12 goes where we go. At 17 pounds, including the battery, it is easily stowed anywhere. Operationally, it is super quiet and can literally be ridden anyplace. Tor loves to ride it in the park, around baseball diamonds, along with us on walks, in the backyard—everywhere! The most common comment we get from other adults is, “Wow! I wished we had those when we were kids!”
- The Harley-Davidson IRONe12 is serious fun for kids, allowing them to learn balance and control, and a great way to break the stay-at-home blues. The H-D IRONe12 has an MSRP of $649 and is available at Harley-Davidson dealers and the Harley-Davidson website. You can even get aunts, uncles, and grandparents to chip in with H-D IronE apparel, graphics kits, or a battery at Christmastime and for the next birthday.
Photography by Don Williams