“Nicola Davidson” — A Recommendation for Harley to Partner With Elon Musk

- July 11, 2014 10:21 AM
Categories: Commentary, Friday Rant, Innovation | Tags:

Maybe you’ve heard or read about the electric Harley shown in the photo below– or at least the concept, called LiveWire. You can read more about it on the Harley Davidson site. It’s not in production.

Image: Harley-Davidson

Image: Harley-Davidson

If you’re into Harleys, you already know their Electra Glide, which isn’t electric at all. Personally, I’ve had several Harleys over the years – starting with an exceedingly temperamental custom-built ’67 XLCH that I bought when I was 17. It had a race shop built 1200cc engine, aluminum cylinders, magneto, kick start only, left brake, right shift – just the right bike for a teenager. No, not really.

When it ran, it was the proverbial bat out of hell. With around 90hp and a weight of less than 400 pounds, it was crazy fast at the time, sounding like a WWII bomber with its nearly unmuffled shotgun pipes. My later Harleys were more sensible, serving as my daily transportation to the factory and office when I lived in Japan. Ever the contrarian, I found it more fun to have a non-Japanese motorcycle when I lived there. It was also efficient; a distance that would take me close to an hour via subway in Osaka could be traversed in less than 10 minutes on the bike – that’s time better spent in bed catching up on the never-ending lack of sleep that comes with living and working in Japan.

Back to the electric Harley. One major issue I have with this bike is that it lacks a critical feature for a Harley, as well as for any bike that I’d care to ride: it’s nearly silent! “Loud pipes save lives” – that is a maxim I agree with. Would you really want to cruise around in Atlanta traffic on a bike that sounds like it came out of Tron, one that is nearly silent? And no, it doesn’t sound like a jet plane – anyone who has been near an actual jet plane knows that they don’t sound like that. That’s stupid.

It is a cool sound – for a golf cart. Not a Harley.

Here’s my suggestion for Harley, go partner up with Elon Musk (the founder of Tesla) and create a two-wheeled Tesla motorcycle. Call it the Nikola or perhaps the Nikola Davidson? The electric bike concept has merits, bikes are by and large pleasure vehicles that usually don’t need to a thousand-mile range – I’m sure a lot of people rarely travel farther than 50 miles from home – so electric could work. Ride it to work, charge up there, ride home, rinse and repeat.

Just make sure to put a big gasoline engine on the thing that goes vroom-vroom, vibrates, and maybe even leaks a little bit of oil every now and then! All else fails, you can go the route of BMW (and others) and deploy a speaker system to create fake engine noise… that’s what they do in their M5. Cheaters!

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