Tradition is a big part of the Harley-Davidson brand. So is customization. If you come across a group of 50 Harley riders out touring the countryside, all will have the same engine and gearbox, but not one of them will look like the others. Harley owners have a dizzying array of colors and trims to choose from from the factory, but the aftermarket supplies an inexhaustible selection of seats, exhaust pipes, and other accouterments as well. A blue Honda Civic looks like every other blue Honda Civic, but no two Harleys look the same and that’s what endears them to their owners.
Harley has a problem, though. Its demographic is almost as old as Buick and Cadillac owners. So a few years ago, the company decided to reinvent itself as an electric bicycle company. The first offering was called the Serial 1 Mosh/City, priced at $3,999. My colleague Jo Borras gave it a scathing review last spring. He trashed it for its insipid matte black finish and crappy seat. (I think it was supposed to look like their all black Cafe Racer.) Well, Jo, somebody at Harley headquarters must have been listening to your rant.
This week, the company unveiled its Serial 1 Mosh/Tribute, an e-bike that more faithfully evokes the look of the first Harley-Davidson motorcycle in 1903 that is forever enshrined in company lore as Serial 1. It has that rich, deep, glossy black paint, brass accents, a real seat with real springs, polished cranks, and other thoughtful touches that are much truer to the Serial 1 original.
The white Schwalbe Super Moto-X tires are exclusive to Serial 1, and the leather saddle and matching leather grips are handmade by Brooks England. Apart from those highlights, the bike itself is identical to the Mosh/City. It features a Gates Carbon Drive belt, Brose mid-drive motor, TRP hydraulic disc brakes, internally routed cables and wires, and integrated lighting, according to The Verge.
The Mosh/Tribute is available for online ordering now on the company’s electric bike website. The price is $5,999 and Harley says it will be delivered in time for the holidays. Presumably they mean Christmas, not Yom Kippur.
Harley says it will only sell 650 of the Mosh/Tribute bikes. True to its roots, the company will release other models in the future, based on the company’s fascination with manufacturing custom-made products that don’t feel mass produced. There is no word on when those additional models will be released, what features will set them apart, or what their prices will be. One thing we do know is they will all have the same basic frame and drive system that debuted with the Mosh/City.
Harley wants to bond with a younger demographic and that’s fine. Whether the Series 1 approach will establish it as a major player in the electric bike market remains to be seen. As Jo Borras said, there are plenty of other companies crowding into that space, some with superior products at lower prices. But they don’t say Harley-Davidson on the side and that has to count for something, doesn’t it? “We’ll see,” said the Zen master.