The perception of motor vehicles often hinges on the sound profile associated with them, and up until now buyers knew that the Mazda goes “hmmmmm” and a Harley-Davidson goes, “VROOOM-KAH-CHUGGA-CHUGGAH.”
That may change since Harley-Davidson president Matt Levatich rolled out the the LiveWire, a hushed electric version of the big, bad bike.
That change may attract fans of innovation, performance, environmental awareness, and perhaps the movie Tron.
A motorcycle with no tailpipes not only emits no roar but also no environmentally unfriendly pollutants.
According to reports, the engine is silent, but when the gears engage (although not manually like traditional models) the result is a hum like a jet taking off.
Many may prefer the rush of a jet engine to the bone rattling trademark Harley hammer.
The bike has fluid, futuristic lines and a high-tech sound profile, both of which could spawn a new Harley-Davidson culture.
There are no shifting gears on the slender bike, which is more like a whippet than a junkyard dog.
This bike can get up and go from 0 to 60 m.p.h. in about 4 seconds, leaving little time to worry about how it sounded to the people left in its wake.
This is the “Who’s your favorite super hero” debate in motorcycle form.
If Captain America’s your guy, you aren’t going to give this bike much of a second look.
However, Iron Man fans may be all over this innovation.
While production is still several years away, a few dozen riders will get a 30-city tour to test drive the bikes and give their feedback, which the company will use to refine the bike.
According to the Washington Post, “there’s currently almost no market for full-size electric motorcycles.”
Levatich told the Associated Press, “We think that the trends in both [electric-vehicle] technology and customer openness to EV products, both automotive and motorcycles, is only going to increase, and when you think about sustainability and environmental trends, we just see that being an increasing part of the lifestyle and the requirements of riders.”
The beauty of this innovation will be determined not only in the eye of the beholder but the listener as well.
To die-hard Harley-Davidson H.O.G.s (Harley Owners Groups), it may be seen as a silent, shiftless, light weight.
However to fans of innovation, it just may be the sleek, stealth ride of the future that takes the weight off the planet’s resources and environment.
Only time and test rides will tell.