Rich Benoit of Rich Rebuilds on YouTube built an electric Harley-Davidson to glide around town with a certain quiet style. Or, you know, completely different than just about every other Harley on the road.
As seen on YouTube, the build is based on a 2007 Harley-Davidson Electraglide. The bike originally shipped with a 1.5-liter V-twin making around 71 horsepower or so. That was pulled out and replaced with a 20 kW (26 hp) brushless DC motor from Golden Motor, hooked up to the rear wheel via a belt drive. The motor, along with a four-pack of lithium-ion batteries, sits directly under the seat where the engine used to go.
Nominally, it's quite a different bike to the Harley-Davidson LiveWire, the company's own electric bike. The LiveWire features a 105 horsepower motor and a top speed of 110 mph for a lofty price of $30,000. However, the Live Wire abandons Harley's classic cruiser style, embracing more of a sport-touring ethos. In comparison, Benoit's bike is essentially a big old Harley cruiser that quietly whooshes around on electric power.
Fitting the motor took some work. The Harley gained a trellis frame inspired by Ducati designs to help mount all the new hardware. The frame provides structure to hold the battery and motor in place and helps bulk out the bike's lines in the absence of a big meaty V-twin powerplant. Other mods include a set of four battery monitors on the dash to replace the original engine gauges that are no longer required. All told, 230 pounds were removed from the bike, including the engine, transmission, and several wiring harnesses. After installing the electric powertrain, the bike ended up 60 pounds lighter than it started.
With only 26 hp and weighing 678 pounds, the bike won't win any drag races. However, the instant-on torque of the electric motor gives it plenty enough push to get going when necessary. It's impressive just how quiet the bike is, too. This is thanks to the electric motor, with the belt drive also helping to keep the noise down versus a more traditional chain setup. The bike is so quiet that a whole bunch of other noises are audible while riding, like squeaks from the frame and tires.
Notably, at one point, Benoit claims he was even hit by another driver who failed to hear him as he turned in front of their car. Thankfully, the slow-speed incident only did minor damage to the bike and no injuries.
Based on a 15-mile ride in cold conditions, Benoit estimates the bike's total range is close to 90 miles. The bike has storage bags on the back, which Benoit notes could add double the battery capacity to give the bike much longer legs.
The bike looks genuinely fun to ride around town, and the electric drive solves a lot of the original bike's problems. Maintenance is far simpler, there's theoretically less oil to leak all over the driveway, and it's possible to ride it without the noise making you Neighborhood Enemy No. 1. It's almost surprising Harley-Davidson hasn't pursued such a product already. If it doesn't, it's almost a certainty another company will.
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