It doesn’t get more classic than the Harley-Davidson brand, did you think? However, the venerable US brand proves its openness through its latest projects which contrast with its history engraved in the shelves: after its electric motorcycle, here come very high-end bikes, of which we tested the most versatile model.
“The technology is there today, even more so than for electric motorcycles,” explains Aaron Frank, the brand director of Serial 1, Harley-Davidson’s new label dedicated to electric bikes. Specially coming from Milwaukee (Wisconsin), the city of HD, for a European launch tour, the former motorcycle journalist recounts the development of this label, unimaginable even a few years ago in the Harley universe, at the heart of the show- room of a Parisian concessionaire. Yet the brand made bikes a long time ago, in the years 1915 to 1923, with the badge-like logo found on the frames of the current range.
“Harley-Davidson Livewire electric chief engineer Ben Lund developed the line of bikes after a few years at cycle drivetrain specialist SRAM. » 7 years ago, HD started its More Roads program dedicated to the diversification of the product range, while according to their studies, if 96% of the public know the brand, only 15% imagine it appropriate for them. So the Serial 1 range is a way to reach this segment of the public. 100% designed and developed by HD, it represents a work of two years which monopolized 22 people in total. But why did you opt for such a wise look for these models, almost everywhere, when you would have imagined the designers letting go? The answer is simply marketing, with studies of 3,000 people who ride an e-bike in Paris, Berlin, or the US: they imagined themselves riding an e-bike of the discreet type…
A very simple range
The range is reduced to two main models, the entry-level Mosh (€3,499 all the same!), with a big BMX look, intended to be more fun and easier to customize, and the two variants of Rush, more dedicated to daily travel, in open (Step Thru) and closed frame versions. It is this last model that we were able to take in hand for a few hours. A beautiful baby displayed at €4,699, with a very complete staffing and top-of-the-range equipment.
The look of this urban VAE is quite classic, rather elegant and discreet, quite massive: it could even be a speed-bike, but the brand does not offer this type of model in Europe. The Rush is therefore a classic VAE limited to 25 km/h, with an engine that is rarely found on the market, signed Brose, a German supplier who also equips Specialized. Advantage of this strong block of 90 Nm of torque at the level of the crankset, it can be tuned as desired to best adapt it to the philosophy of a model. The battery is specific and uses the same cells as in the brand’s Livewire electric motorcycle. It is well integrated into the bottom of the frame, even if it protrudes more than in the other models: for the Rush/CTY, the brand has chosen a greater capacity, with 706 Wh instead of 529, offering a range that can largely exceed 100 km in the best conditions. We didn’t have time to drive enough to check.
Note, once the battery capacity is displayed at zero, there are 2 hours of light and transmission autonomy left. The latter is indeed electrically controlled, signed Enviolo (ex-Leovinci), controlled with a specific application to adjust the variable system as desired, with the number of crank revolutions per minute that one wishes. The final transmission is provided by a belt, as for the brand’s motorcycles. Finally, it takes 6.6 hours to recharge the battery from 0 to 100%.
Above the battery is a small, enclosed slot in the frame tube, like a mini glove box that just fits an Abus folding lock, which uses the same key to unlock the battery. Practical, even if for such a machine, it is better to use a stronger U lock, especially since no alarm is provided.
A small light surrounds the coat of arms logo on the front of the bike, in addition to the headlight. The rear lights are perfectly integrated into the frame, and they light up more intensely when braking thanks to the presence of an accelerometer. The aluminum frame, available in 4 different sizes, is manufactured by Giant in Taiwan, the country king of the bicycle industry. The American dream will have fizzled out…
A partnership has been signed with Google Cloud Intelligent Product Essentials for the connectivity of the next models, from spring 2022, aiming at a so-called intelligent product experience with, for example, a function of tracking from a distance. HD will be the first manufacturer to use it in the world of mobility, but we don’t know much more about the features to come.
In the meantime, getting started with our test model is very easy to use, without trying to dive into the menus that allow you to adjust the transmission ratio at start-up or the management of the type transmission. variator, linear and without fixed ratios, like an automotive CVT box.
Result, a great start-up feeling smooth, which does not prevent you from reaching the maximum speed of 25 km/h very quickly. Accompanied by a slight hum from the engine, the operation of the assembly is particularly pleasant in town: all you have to do is pedal without worrying about anything, except to choose one of the 4 assistance modes (Eco, Tour, Sports, Boost). On journeys on flat ground, there is no need to go to a pronounced assistance, the generous torque of the engine is enough to ensure rapid evolutions without effort, despite the approximately 26.8 kg of the machine. Thanks to the large Schwalbe Super Moto-X balloon tires with tubes (they are also compatible with a tubeless configuration), the absence of any suspension is compensated correctly, offering the equivalent of 3/4 inch of suspension according to our interlocutor. Kevlar reinforcements in the tread help limit the risk of punctures.
On the handlebars, the driving position is very natural and by operating the 203 mm brakes signed Tektro Brakes, we are surprised by the feeling and the power released by the 4-piston caliper which pinches the front disc.
Harley-Davidson Serial 1 Rush/CTY
- Brose S Mag motor, 90Nm, 250W
- Integrated removable battery 706 Wh, range of 56 to 185 km depending on mode and terrain
- Enviolo Automatiq CVT transmission, Gates carbon belt
- Integrated front/rear racks and mini frame storage
- Weight 26.8 kg (size L)
- Price: €4,699