I have this same, eerie feeling now as when the first microwave oven graced our kitchen counter. I was standing there, in complete awe and fully aware of how my life would never be the same. Pretty cool. Harley-Davidson just announced to the world that an electric motorcycle – apply named Project LiveWire, with that familiar Bar and Shield on its faux tank – could possibly be coming to dealers near you. I will spare you the humorous names I’ve come up with. No, on second thought; Electric Glide, Volt-Rod, FXAC/DC and many more. All kidding aside, let’s take a moment to let this all sink in. When the Motor Company came to be in 1903, there really wasn’t any clarification on what kind of motor it would be – combustible or electric. A company steeped in tradition and often criticized for not breaking out of the original mold from which their bikes are built, has shocked the world with this announcement. Yes, I said shocked.
I wrote about the 2014 release of the Rushmore Project in a previous post The Paint is Dry at Harley-Davidson on how the Motor Company may have painted themselves into a corner with those who buy their motorcycles. Tradition can definitely hold you back when your customers expect business as usual. It’s hard to break free of what works so well, but it can also be liberating when you finally do so. If the Rushmore Project, the Street 500 and 750 and now the Project LiveWire are a sign of things to come, then hang on, it’s going to get exciting!
Whether you think an electric motorcycle makes sense or not, it’s truly about making those innovative changes, flexing gray matter and pushing the limits of design and technology. Here’s what impresses me most with the Motor Company. For a 110+ year old company with a reputation of building their bikes using the same parts over and over, they surprised us with something a bit futuristic with very little resemblance to anything within the walls of the Harley-Davidson Museum. Sure, every company goes through some weird times with ideas and designs, (Harley-Davidson is no exception) but to actually push the limits of what they built the entire company on is surely a sign of new blood and enthusiasm within the Motor Company.
Is it in our near future to see the electric motorcycle capable of touring? Will I be traveling to Sturgis for a week of touring the Blackhills on an electric bike? Probably not in my lifetime, but there was a time when I didn’t think it possible to heat soup in a little electric box in a matter of seconds, either. You must admit, Project LiveWire is cool. We must applaud the Motor Company for stepping up and stepping out of the corner in which we painted them into. That’s right. We held the Motor Company back by our childish wants, needs and desires to hang on to the past. But, Harley-Davidson allowed us to hold them back. Sure, we were comfortable and what the Motor Company was doing worked for so many years. But just as the microwave changed my household forever, I didn’t stop buying soup because of it. I like soup.
I’m excited, not only for the loyalists but the Motor Company as well. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain when limits get pushed. As Harley-Davidson steps out of their comfort zone and goes to the public and asks their opinion, it can only be a good thing. For a company to be that plugged in to their customer base speaks volumes to where Harley-Davidson is headed. So the next time you use any of your modern gadgetry just ask yourself this; would you have it any other way? Welcome to the future.
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