News from Oakland Harley-Davidson

Behind the design of the Harley-Davidson LiveWire

Posted by Oakland H-D Contributor on Mar 22, 2020 11:00:00 AM

How do you go about building the first-ever mass-produced electric motorcycle? How do you begin the design of the Harley-Davidson LiveWire? Starting with the battery and the wheels. Follow the design process and listen to the design team through a variety of interviews to dig in to how the design of the Harley-Davidson LiveWire was developed.


“Where it all comes together is part of what makes it so interesting. That’s why it’s so exciting to do motorcycles for me.” - Ben McGinley

Get an inside peek at one of the minds behind the 2020 Harley-Davidson LiveWire.


Learn how history, design and innovation all played a role in the new #LiveWire. ⚡

Learn how the 2020 Harley-Davidson #LiveWire came to life over the years. ⚡

Marc McAllister, Harley-Davidson VP of Product Portfolio, and other leaders talk about how companies design new products based on customer feedback.

Harley-Davidson VP of Styling and Design Brad Richards talks with other experts at Master of Design about how the design of LiveWire came to life. ⚡

Harley-Davidson EV Business Planning Manager Jon Bekefy and other design leaders discuss the future of transportation, including motorcycles, scooters and public transportation.

Harley-Davidson VP of Styling and Design Brad Richards and other design experts discuss walking the line between updating their brand look and feel, while preserving the essential facets of a heritage brand.

Cycle World Interview, Matt Levatich, Harley-Davidson President and CEO

So we talk about look, sound, and feel. First of all the LiveWire sounds cool, but there are all the other sounds. When we did the early press stuff, I was out at that airstrip in Southern California [the closed El Toro Marine Corps Air Station]. I was riding side by side with a journalist and we were having a conversation at 70 mph like you and I are now. We got excited about the product and then we commissioned 33 of them at quite a lot of money because we needed to see what customers thought.matt-leviatich-1-saviero

First of all, we had to put a no-excuses electric motorcycle in their hands because everyone is thinking what I was thinking: golf cart, probably anemic. To a person, 12,000 people said, “It's done, I want it now. You guys nailed it. Why can't I buy one?” And there were practical reasons why. Cost. Range at the time. We could have met range requirements by making the battery bigger but it wouldn't have been that product, it would have been a heavier product, a wider product.

Why is all this important? The biggest thing that it demonstrated to us is that the customers are much more willing to see innovative and progressing things from Harley than probably we are allowing ourselves to do. Through our history there are a number of examples of different things we have done that maybe they were successful or maybe they weren't, but they seem to sit in everybody's memory as authentic, credible things that Harley did that we can do again.


I remember riding LiveWire at the launch in June of 2014 in lower Manhattan. Being in lower Manhattan with messenger bikes and pedestrians and taxis and potholes and stoplights and it was like a ballet experience. But no heat, no clutch; twist and go, perfectly balanced. Perfect motor control. It was freedom in an urban setting which, you know, on a Street Glide, I have enough skill to be able to do that. And you think about the doors that LiveWire opens to people in urban environments. It's exciting to us because it's a great motorcycle and it enables a different awesome ride. That goes back to your question: What constraints do we have as a brand and company? There are financial constraints and so forth, but we feel like we have way more permission from riders globally than we probably give ourselves internally.

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