When Harley-Davidson introduced the LiveWire for the 2019 model year, it marked a major change for the Motor Company. As with any and all deviations from the brand’s established niche, not all its fans were on board. (I mean, isn’t that always the case?)
Whether the idea was to attract new fans who weren’t previously attracted to the company’s established mythos was beside the point. Fans of big cruisers didn’t like the styling, and riders who might have wanted to give the bar and shield’s EV a chance were left staring down at a $30K MSRP for the company’s first attempt at an electric bike. While the price would come down after LiveWire was spun off into its own brand and LiveWire One came out, that took a couple of years to happen—and it still didn’t do anything for those riders who prefer the classic styling of, say, an Electra Glide.
That’s where YouTube channel Rich Rebuilds decided that his team’s talents were needed. For those unfamiliar, Rich and his team like to do all kinds of things with EVs, such as stuffing a Zero SR motor inside a rat rod from the 1930s. Here in 2022, he and his team got their hands on a 1997 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide—and together, they decided it was time to build a more traditional take on an electric Harley.
As of August 31, 2022, the build series is three videos long—and it’s moving along pretty quickly. The stock V-twin had to come out, of course—along with the rest of the original drivetrain. After draining all the fluids (including a truly ginormous amount of oil), and pulling all the mechanical bits out of the frame, it was time to analyze the space they had to work with and decide how best to fit their chosen Golden electric motor, batteries, controller, and new direct drive configuration inside.
The chosen motor is a 20-kilowatt unit with peak power of 50 kilowatts, claimed torque of 80 newton-meters (or 59 pound-feet), and peak torque of 160 Nm (or 118 lb-ft). It’s also liquid-cooled, unlike the stock air-cooled V-twin that it’s replacing. Weight is listed as 39 kilograms, or about 86 pounds. The controller is also a Golden Motors unit, and all information about the off-the-shelf components Rich Rebuilds uses is included in the descriptions of their videos for each build.
So far, the controller has been given a new home under what was previously the fuel tank, which serves to maintain some of the original look of the bike. Of course, it’s electric—and also, Rich and Steven decided to incorporate some Ducati trellis-frame styling cues to surround the motor and batteries and give the profile more of a finished appearance when it’s done. Also, they’re swapping out the original halogen lights up front for a single round LED lighting unit that they haven’t shown the audience yet. It’s not clear what the plans are for the taillights, but it’d be surprising if something similar wasn’t in pipeline.
Originally, Rich and Steven planned to do a chain drive conversion on this build, but they decided instead to listen to a YouTube commenter and try to do a belt drive instead. Since a sprocket is off with a machinist (because it does apparently take longer than the 15 minutes to do that the commenter, in their infinite wisdom, suggested), it’s not yet clear how well that plan is going to work out—but that’s what the next videos in the series are for.