Harley-Davidson unveils the LiveWire - its first-ever electric motorcycle

The bike has 74 horsepower and a top speed of 92mph, with an all-electric engine that produces a high-speed whir like a jet engine powering up

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The Independent Tech

Legendary motorcycle manufacturers Harley-Davidson is set to unveil their first ever electric bike: the Harley-Davidson LiveWire.

Although the bike isn’t expected to hit the market for several years, the company is beginning a 30-city tour of the LiveWire in order to refine its design based on feedback from Harley-Davidson fans.

A teaser trailer of the LiveWire whizzing down Route 66 (see below) reveals that the bike is missing the characteristic roar of a gas-powered cycle but instead sounds like some sort of sci-fi hover bike: the engine itself is silent but the meshing of the gears emits a high-pitch whine like a jet engine powering up.

Lead engineer Jeff Richlen told the Associated Press: “Some people may get on it thinking, 'golf cart' [but] they get off thinking 'rocket ship.'" The bike offers riders 74 horsepower, 52 foot-pounds of torque and a top speed of 92mph - although Harley-Davidson says it doesn't want to focus on specs in case they put customers off.

Despite the undeniably impressive design of the LiveWire, Harley-Davidson has a number of hurdles to overcome - not least of all the fact there is next to no market for full-sized electric motorcycles at the moment, or that the bike’s limited range (130 miles) is hampered by recharges that take 30 minutes to an hour.

Harley-Davidson however insist they’re interested in the long-term potential of the market. President Matt Levatich said: "We think that the trends in both EV technology and customer openness to EV products, both automotive and motorcycles, is only going to increase.”

The company sold more than 260,000 conventional motorcycles last year, while the top-selling electric bike brand, Zero Motorcycles, expects to sell 2,400 vehicles in 2014.

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