Harley-Davidson’s First E-Bike Has a Historic Name

As turbulent as the last few months and years have been for Harley-Davidson, some of the company’s long-term plans are starting to come to life. For example, the long-teased Pan America adventure bike is coming in 2021. But there’s one more product that’s about to hit the road: an e-bike. It’s called the Harley-Davidson Serial 1, and its name comes from a vital part of the marque’s history.

How Harley-Davidson went from ‘Serial One’ to the Serial 1

The Harley-Davidson company dates back basically to the beginning of the 20th century. These were motorcycles’ early years when they were essentially just bicycles with engines. And this was way before Harley introduced its now ubiquitous V-twin engine.

The side view of the black-framed 1903 Harley-Davidson Serial One
1903 Harley-Davidson Serial One | Harley-Davidson

But there was still a motorcycle: the 1903 Harley-Davidson Serial One. It’s the oldest-known Harley in the world, though it’s not the first Harley-Davidson, Ultimate Motorcycling reports. It’s more like a developmental prototype, with a design more suited to board-track racing than the street. But it’s still the motorcycle from which all modern Harley-Davidsons descend.

It’s also the inspiration behind the new Harley-Davidson Serial 1 e-bike, Autoblog reports. The e-bike, like the motorcycle, has white tires, a spring-supported brown leather saddle, leather-wrapped handlebars, and a black metal frame. The frame’s overall design even mimics the look of early-20th century motorcycles, RideApart reports.

However, as an e-bike, the Harley-Davidson Serial 1 is definitely ahead of its historic namesake in terms of technology.

What does the Harley-Davidson Serial 1 e-bike offer?

The headtube, handlebars, and saddle of the Harley-Davidson Serial 1
Harley-Davidson Serial 1 front details | Harley-Davidson

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The Harley-Davidson Serial 1’s frame doesn’t just evoke vintage motorcycles—it also houses the battery. The e-bike’s cables and wires also pass through the frame. Meanwhile, the electric motor is built into the crank and bottom bracket, Popular Science reports.

The Harley-Davidson Serial 1's taillights and belt-drive
Harley-Davidson Serial 1 taillights | Harley-Davidson

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Instead of a chain drive, the Harley-Davidson Serial 1 has a belt-drive, which requires less maintenance. It’s likely a Gates Carbon system, The Verge reports. The Serial 1 also has taillights and a headlight integrated into the frame itself. The e-bike doesn’t have suspension, hence the saddle springs. However, it does have hydraulic Tektro disc brakes.

Interestingly, although it has ‘Harley-Davidson’ printed on the frame, the Serial 1 will be part of a stand-alone e-bike brand, Cycle World reports. It’s expected to launch in spring 2021.

What do we still not know?

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Unfortunately, as of this writing, that’s about all we know about the Harley-Davidson Serial 1. Price, electric motor output, range—it’s all unknown. However, on the Serial 1 marque’s website is a timer counting down to November 16th, 2020. It’s likely more information will become available then.

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Spinning off the e-bike business also raises questions about how potential buyers will be able to get these bikes. Will Harley-Davidson dealerships stock them, or will they be at separate stores? It’s worth pointing out that Triumph, which has its own e-bikes, sells them at its dealerships. Ducati does the same with its electric bicycles, though Jeep doesn’t.

Still, the fact that Harley-Davidson is continuing with its e-bike plan in any form is worth celebrating. Let’s just see if the new Serial 1 has as much of an impact as the original.

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