1. A Cleaner HogGet It
For most of its 116-year history, the allure of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle has been in the controlled chaos of its internal combustion engine, the primal rumble of its V-twin power plant, and the feeling you’d get from catching a whiff of its exhaust. So it was a big deal when Harley started building a plug-in electric motorcycle. The visual component of the project fell to Ben McGinley, then a 23-year-old industrial designer just out of the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design. “It was exciting to experience, for sure, to show up on my first day in 2010, and somebody put a battery pack in front of me,” says McGinley, a longtime gearhead who has a garage full of vintage bikes—only two of which turn over. “Nobody at that time was thinking Harley-Davidson would be considering something like that.”
The result of McGinley and his team’s work arrives this month: LiveWire. It’s a high-tech, emission-free hellion that hits 60 miles per hour in less than three seconds—just a tick behind a Ducati. The biggest challenge, McGinley says, was making sure a bike that was such a departure for Harley didn’t look like it. This took countless design iterations and piles of sketches on the cutting-room floor—all part of the “exploration,” he says. Eventually, the team realized that “it’s not really Harley’s style to hide what makes a motorcycle move.” So they celebrate the electric powertrain rather than mask it: An aluminum frame shows off the long, three-phase induction electric motor, holding it like a jewel in a setting. Yet there are still callbacks to Harley’s history: The top cover references the 1970s-era XR 750 dirt track racing bike’s fuel tank, used here to hide some of the tech—electronic chassis controls, a touchscreen, and the port to recharge its battery, which lasts 140 miles of city driving and juices up in an hour with a DC Fast Charger.
And that famous rumble? Replaced by an electrical whir. “There’s nothing fake in there—what you hear are all powertrain noises,” says McGinley. But really, the designer can’t wait for riders to feel it. “You have total control of the power, and all the torque is right there. It’s intoxicating.”
[from $29,799; harley-davidson.com]Back to top