What does an electric Harley Davidson sound like? We’re about to find out

Harley Davidson is going silent.
Harley Davidson is going silent.
Image: Harley Davidson
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Harley-Davidson, the iconic American motorcycle brand, never bothered too much with the electric revolution that sent the world’s carmakers scrambling to electrify their lineups. Now, it can’t wait any longer.

The company flirted with the electric concept with Project LiveWire, first revealed as a prototype in 2014. Many saw it more as a publicity stunt than a sincere effort to wean itself off fossil fuels. But, on Nov. 6, the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, based company finally unveiled its all-electric LiveWire production bike at a motorcycle show in Milan.

The electric bike’s aluminum chassis will hold a fast-charging lithium-ion battery, anti-lock brakes, adjustable suspension, and a liquid-crystal display designed for urban street riders. In place of Harley-Davidson’s “crown jewel” V-Twin engine, its electric motor and battery will sit in a stylish metal housing with functional cooling fins (the exact specifications were not released).

What about the motorcycle’s trademark roar? Harley-Davidson said in a statement that the LiveWire will “produce a tone that increases in pitch and volume with speed—a new sound that represents the smooth, electric power of the LiveWire motorcycle.” You can listen to a brief clip here.

Harley-Davidson is struggling. Sales have been falling in the U.S. and around the world. It recently closed an assembly plant in Kansas City and moved its manufacturing abroad (prompting US president Donald Trump to accuse the company of having “surrendered” in his recent trade war). To save itself, Harley-Davidson has plans to expand its appeal beyond aging Baby Boomers by boosting international sales, as well as riders in the US by at least 2 million, many of whom it hopes will be women, minorities, urbanites, and young adults, reports MarketWatch.

That means electric. Most major vehicle manufacturers have already announced plans to go all electric, with one of the most ambitious, Volvo, pledging all its cars will be electric or hybrid by 2019. Even if Harley-Davidson isn’t abandoning the internal combustion engine, it’s planning a “full portfolio of electric motorcycles” by 2022.

LiveWire, scheduled to debut in 2019, is part of that effort. “Harley-Davidson intends to be the world leader in the electrification of motorcycles, and is aggressively, but wisely, investing in electric vehicle technology,” the company said.