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Harley-Davidson Livewire: the two-wheeled Tesla is here

The Livewire, Harley-Davidson's first electric cycle, is in town for evaluation for sale.

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With direct current fast charging (available in Singapore through SP Group charge stations), the bike can be recharged fully in one hour. Home charging on a conventional wall socket could take seven hours or more.

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Singapore

HARLEY-DAVIDSON motorcycles are famous for their rumbling twin-cylinder engines, but the next one to go on sale in Singapore might not have an engine at all. The Livewire is the American manufacturer's first electric motorcycle, and is meant to be a futuristic and sporty departure from the classic choppers responsible for Harley's heritage.

The Business Times understands that at least one Livewire is in town and undergoing evaluation for sale here. If it receives approval from the relevant authorities, that would make Singapore one of the first markets in the world to have the Livewire in showrooms.

Spokespersons from Harley-Davidson Asia Pacific and Harley-Davidson of Singapore declined to confirm that the Livewire is here.

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In the United States, the bike's first deliveries begin in August. At a pre-order price of US$29,799, the Livewire could cost at least S$55,000, with taxes and Certificate of Entitlement (COE) in Singapore, BT estimates.

Harley-Davidson has yet to release final specifications, but claims the Livewire's battery will deliver up to 225km of range in urban environments, and 145km of mixed town and highway riding.

With direct current fast charging (available in Singapore through SP Group charge stations), the bike can be recharged fully in one hour. Home charging on a conventional wall socket could take seven hours or more.

More high tech features include a 4.2-inch touchscreen instrument panel and H-D Connect, a service that allows owners to remotely check the battery's charge level and track the bike's location via a cellular network.

The Livewire is a complete departure from a brand best known for heavy, chrome-laden cruisers.

The thumping sound made by Harley's V-twin engines is so strongly tied to the brand that the Milwaukee-based manufacturer once tried to patent it, but the Livewire has a futuristic whirr, like the sound of an electric car.

The company says the whirr was purposely engineered to be "a new signature Harley-Davidson sound". Harley also touts the Livewire's sportiness and agility, in a bid to win new fans for the brand.

"This is a bike I would love to own and ride to work in support of a greener environment, and the 225km of range is quite exciting," says Sandeep Bamrah, 47, a commodities banker and motorcycle enthusiast. "However, the huge motor and battery do make it look very different from classic Harleys, and I'm a bit sad it won't sound like one either."

The Livewire is only the first fruit of Harley's ongoing efforts to reinvent itself and broaden its customer base. It is branching out into the adventure motorcycle segment dominated by BMW, and investing heavily in electric drive.

At the Geneva motor show in March, Harley unveiled two electric concept machines in the form of a mountain bike and a personal mobility device.

"We're at a historic juncture in the evolution of mobility, and Harley-Davidson is at the forefront," Matt Levatich, Harley-Davidson's president and chief executive, said at the show. "These two concepts are further statements towards our commitment to lead in the electric mobility space that begins this fall with the production of 2020 Livewire."