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Harley-Davidson unveils first electric motorcycle

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    Harley-Davidson

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    Harley-Davidson

Like loud pipes? Better get them while you can.

Harley-Davidson today revealed its first electric motorcycle, called Project LiveWire.

It’s the most radical departure in the 111-year history of the brand, best known for building rolling thunder on two wheels. A vision for a possible future production bike, Project LiveWire features more of a sporty touring look than the company’s classic cruisers.

The prototype is powered by a longitudinally-mounted electric motor rated at 74 hp and 52 lb-ft of torque, on par with H-D’s 833 cc internal combustion engine. The battery-powered unit was developed with help from electric powertrain specialist Mission Motors.  Harley-Davidson says the belt-driven bike can accelerate from 0-60 mph in under four seconds, and has an electronically restricted top speed of 92 mph.

A teaser video of the bike in action reveals a sound that’s the sort of futuristic combination of whine and whoosh familiar to fans of electric motorcycle racing.

The current range of the development version of Project LiveWire is 53 miles per charge, but Chief Engineer Jeff Richlen says H-D will be soliciting feedback from current and potential customers to find out the sort of performance they’d expect from this type of motorcycle if it makes it to production.

To that end, starting next week in New York, he’s sending the bikes on a tour of H-D dealerships across the country, where test rides will be available. As for when something like Project LiveWire may be on sale in those stores, H-D hasn’t announced a timeline just yet.

Harley-Davidson sold over 260,000 motorcycles last year and is aggressively pursuing new markets around the world. It recently introduced a new lineup of small, low-priced motorcycles, the Street 500 and Street 750, that it builds in the U.S. and India and targets at new and urban riders. Richlen expects it's new rolling lightning to appeal to overseas customers, as well.

Also: 2014 Harley-Davidson lineup revealed