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Harley-Davidson hits the US road with electric motorcycle

Harley-Davidson is hitting the road to see what its legion of die-hard fans think of its latest product -- a futuristic all-electric motorcycle.

WASHINGTON: Harley-Davidson is hitting the road to see what its legion of die-hard fans think of its latest product -- a futuristic all-electric motorcycle.

Dubbed the Project LiveWire, the bike accelerates to 60 miles (110 kilometre) an hour in four seconds, then cruises leisurely for around 100 miles on its lithium-ion battery.

Unusual for a brand famous for the growl of its deep-throated engines, it's sufficiently quiet for two motorcyclists riding alongside each other to carry on a conversation at highway speed.

"I think the biggest difference in riding is the nature of the EV (electric) power delivery, which is immediate and with incredible torque," Harley-Davidson president Matt Levatich told AFP by telephone on Thursday.

Thirty of the black bikes will fan out across the United States this year, enabling the 111-year-old manufacturer of the world's most famous motorcycles to canvass market reaction to its most innovative product in years.

The road show will extend into Canada and Europe next year, but Levatich said there are no immediate plans to put the Project LiveWire into production and onto the general market.

"We're interested in what people think, because we could take this in a lot of different directions," he said.

"We're at the very cusp of an emerging industry, and we're excited about it."

Powering the Project LiveWire is a 74 horsepower engine that delivers 52 pound-feet of torque via a belt-driven transmission, giving a top speed of 92 miles per hour.

Initial reaction on social media reflected the passion of hardcore Harley-Davidson enthusiasts.

"Congrats Harley-Davidson on taking a step away from fossil fuels and making a badass looking bike in the process!" wrote Tyler Hutcherson of Springfield, Missouri on the company's Facebook page.

Dissenting from South Africa was Enslin van Niekerk, who favoured the unmistakable groan of the enduring, gas-powered "hogs."

"Not for me this one. I prefer the 'guglug guglug guglug!!!' sound of my twin V thank you very much!" he wrote on the same Facebook page.

"Stick to the legend and basics HD, leave electric bikes for the Japanese. (Just my two cents...)"

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