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What happens when the world’s most customary motorcycle brand breaks new ground and leads the mainstream market into the future?

With its 116-year-old back catalogue of traditional two-wheel engineering, Harley-Davidson is the most conservative motorcycle company on the planet. So it’s both astounding and ironic that it has beat BMW, Ducati and all four Japanese manufacturers into the mainstream electric motorcycle marketplace.

But that’s exactly what’s happened. The 2020 LiveWire will roll into 250 dealerships around the world – 150 in the USA and, at this stage, none in Australia – later this year.

It’s the fulfilment of a far-sighted project that began back in 2010, just as Tesla was building production momentum, and its two-wheeled equivalent Zero Motorcycles had begun delivering customer EVs.

Harley sees the LiveWire as a ‘halo’ model that will showcase the potential of its EV technology, which goes some way to justify its high price. It employs top-level dedicated componentry from companies like Bosch, Brembo, Showa, Panasonic and Michelin, as a top-down precursor to more affordable Harley-Davidson electric models currently under development.

Harley’s key target as it seeks to attract new riders to the fold is a new demographic of relatively youthful well-heeled clients, many of them probably Tesla owners living in energy-efficient houses. They’re probably people who are already customers for other leading edge technology-driven purchases, and are ready to acquire a two-wheeled EV, perhaps mainly for city use. Such dispassionate customers who take a test ride on both a Zero SR/F with all the fruit at US$20,995 will be hard pressed to justify spending a tad under US$9,000 more just to join the Harley Owners Group.

Here’s hoping by the time it lands in Oz, the price is a bit more realistic. Otherwise it’s an excellent example of Harley-Davidson trailblazing the two-wheel future.

Read the full story in the current issue of AMCN out now…