Picture story: Harley's FIRST 'Livewire'

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Harley-Davidson’s ‘Livewire’ electric bike has been much in the news this year, but it isn’t the first time H-Ds have dabbled in a bit of e. Brooks Stevens, designer of Harley’s 1949 Hydra-Glide owned this Sportster-based 1978 ‘Transitron’ electric Harley prototype.

Its 24-volt, 95-amp Baldor electric motor was linked via a primary drive belt to a four-speed automatic chain final drive transmission. Top speed was around 50mph while four deep-cycle lead-acid batteries were said to last up to six hours.

At 285kg it weighed about 75kg more than the new Livewire and could only manage a 0-30mph time of 6 seconds. Perhaps not surprisingly, Harley Davidson didn’t run with the idea.