Bike Review: Harley-Davidson Serial 1 eBike

They’re all fantastically quiet and powerful. Fit and finish, as well as ride quality, are top-notch. We really liked the simplicity of...

Harley-Davidson Serial 1 eBike

Harley-Davidson has had an electric plan and road map for at least the past five years. We’ve ridden their flagship halo product, the LiveWire motorcycle, and it is fantastic—and priced at over $25,000, also very expensive. But, two years ago at the annual Milan motorcycle show, they also revealed their product road map that included electric bicycles as well. 

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

The name, Serial 1, is an homage to the first motorcycle Harley-Davidson built back in 1903, which was affectionately referred to as “Serial Number One.” Two models will be available in 2021—the Mosh and the Rush.

 

“You’re never surprised by it, but it comes on strong!”

 

Serial 1 is HD’s new spin-off company created exclusively for electric bicycles, and as brand director Aaron Frank explained, the reason for the separate company was to allow them to be more agile and act like a startup bicycle company instead of a small cog in a massive corporate machine.

There’s extra room above the batteries on the Rush models, so Serial 1 engineers put in lockable storage that uses the same key as the battery. It’s sized to exactly fit an Abus Bordo lock, which can be keyed alike to your bike. One key for three locks.

 

As evidence of their separate status, the Serial 1 headquarters are located in Salt Lake City, Utah, far from Harley’s historical headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. What the partnership allows is access to their resources, including engineering, manufacturing and design.

 

Unlike some vehicle companies that use someone else’s bike and put their badge on it, H-D engineers demanded that the bikes be built to their specifications. They almost didn’t make a low-step-through frame version of these bikes, because they tested many others on the market, and the flaws they found required more engineering to be able to live up to the expectations they had.

THE MOTOR 

All of the bikes feature a Brose mid-drive motor and a fairly small battery located directly above the motor for optimum weight distribution. The Class 1 versions use the Brose S Mag mid-drive motor, and the Class 3 versions use the Brose TF Mag mid-drive motor. The battery used depends on the model, as some come with a smaller 529-Wh battery (especially the step-through models), while others have the slightly larger 706-Wh battery. Serial 1 claims a range of 25–110 miles per charge, depending on battery, rider weight, ride mode and terrain. 

From the H-D engineering side, it had to be built to their expectations. Note the internal gusseting around the battery compartment.

 

The display is different on the two bikes. The Mosh has a really simple Brose display remote that has simple LEDs to tell you which mode you’re in and how much energy is still in your battery. The Rush models all have a 1.5-inch Brose TFT display, showing ride mode, speed, odometer, charge level and headlight on/off status. 

All bikes have four power-assist modes—Eco, Tour, Sport and Boost—as well as a push-button walk-assist function to help if you ever have to walk the bike up a hill.

Brose motors are almost hidden in the frame.

 

The integrated lighting is a nice touch. The headlight is extremely bright and great as a daytime running light or for at night, and it’s on an articulated mount on the front of the stem to allow it to be aimed up or down. Rear lights are integrated into the rear dropouts, and they get brighter when braking, thanks to a built-in accelerometer. 

All the bikes have a hydro-formed aluminum frames with internal cable routing. Unlike most bikes on the market, the only exposed cables are the brake cables that disappear into the handlebar almost immediately after leaving the brake lever. Brakes are Tektro hydraulic discs with 203mm rotors for ample stopping power.

Note how clean the cockpit is, you almost can’t see any cables on this bike.

 

The Mosh/CTY is a single-speed Class 1 e-bike. It’s the epitome of simplicity, and a beautiful frame that pays homage to an early 20th-century Harley-Davidson design with some nods to a dirt-jumping bike. Priced at $3399, it’s the simplest and the least expensive model available.

The Rush/CTY comes in two variants and two frame styles. There’s a traditional step-over frame and also a low-step frame. The City comes with a Class 1, 20-mph motor, and the City S comes with a 28-mph motor. Price of the top-of-the-line Speed version is $4999. All the Rush models come with fenders and racks standard.

THE RIDE

Thanks to the Gates belt drive, as well as the belt-driven internals on the Brose motors, the ride on any of these bikes is quieter than that of a traditional bicycle. Literally, while riding, the only thing you can hear is the voluminous Schwalbe Moto-X tires against the ground and the wind noise in your ears. Even shifting with the Enviolo Automatiq CVT (continuously variable transmission) is silent.

The tires are a favorite, they track well, feel like they’re gliding over bumps, and offer good grip even in slippery situations. We cruised along the beach bike path dusted with sand, and the tires never slipped. They do a good job of alleviating shock from bumps, but for longer rides we’d probably opt for a suspension seatpost. Owing to the 203mm rotors, the braking worked equally well.

Note the belt drivetrain and the chainstay design so you don’t have to separate the frame to put a belt on it.

 

We took the single-speed Mosh up a steep hill, and in Sport or Boost modes it didn’t lack up the climb, though getting started took a bit of effort. Over 20 mph with the single-speed, you really feel the difference without assist.

The speed version of the Rush was even better. The CVT is so intuitive. For this ride, they’d set it at the default cadence of 75 rpm. This can be tweaked from 45 to 110 rpm, depending on how hard you want to push. At 45, it’d be like you’re pushing a really tall gear; at 110, you’d be spinning your brains out. At 75 rpm, it always feels like it starts in low gear and is really easy to get going. 

A very unique and elegant feature of these bikes is the light-up head tube badge.

 

The geometry is really well thought out, as the ride is lively but controllable, and we could easily ride no-handed on the bikes. The Brose motors offer class-leading 90 N/m of torque that it delivers very naturally. You’re never surprised by it, but it comes on strong!

We didn’t have a chance to try the Serial 1 smartphone app, as it wasn’t ready by the time we rode the bike. It will offer more ride stats and allow you to change settings on the Enviolo CVT, and they say it will be available some time in spring of 2021. 

Rear lights are integrated into the rear dropouts. They’re bright and actually actuated by an accelerometer, so any time you slow down, they light up. This is such a brilliant idea!

 

Serial 1 sells their bikes directly or through participating Harley-Davidson dealers. They can ship to customers 95 percent built (just attach the front wheel and pedals out of the box) or can be shipped to and assembled by an H-D dealer. Currently, these bikes are available in the U.S. and Germany.

THE VERDICT

Serial 1 has an impressive first effort in the electric bicycle world. They’re all fantastically quiet and powerful. Fit and finish, as well as ride quality, are top notch. We really liked the simplicity of the Mosh City, but the speed and automatic transmission of the Rush City Speed made for a faster, safer ride. The latter is, to us, worth the extra price. Serial 1 says they have these priced reasonably instead of premium pricing to allow better acceptance in the market. So far, that has worked, as they sold out of all their first production run in pre-sales.

 

SERIAL 1 MOSH/CTY

Price: $3399

Frame: Hydroformed aluminum

Fork: Aluminum

Motor: Brose S Mag, 250W, mid-drive

Battery: 529 Wh 

Controls: Brose

Charge time: 3–5 hours

Top speed: 20 mph

Range: 35–105 miles (claimed)

Chain: Gates carbon drive

Brakes: Tektro hydraulic disc, 2-piston calipers and 203mm rotor

Saddle: Serial 1

Rims: Alloy

Tires: Schwalbe Super Moto-X, 27.5×2.8”

Weight: 48.3 pounds (large)

Color choice: Matte Black/Gloss Rowdy Blue, Matte Black/Gloss Midnight Black

Sizes: S, M, L, XL

 

SERIAL 1 RUSH/CTY

Price: $4499

Frame: Hydroformed aluminum

Fork: Aluminum

Motor: Brose S Mag, 250W, mid-drive

Battery: 529 Wh 

Controls: Brose TFT display

Charge time: 3–5 hours

Top speed: 20 mph

Range: 35-105 miles (claimed)

Chain: Gates carbon drive

Drive: Enviolo Automatiq CVT

Brakes: Tektro hydraulic disc, 4-piston calipers and 203mm rotor

Saddle: Serial 1

Rims: Alloy

Tires: Schwalbe Super Moto-X, 27.5×2.8”

Weight: 59.0 pounds (large)

Color choice: Gloss White/Gilded Denim/Matte Black, Gloss Midnight

Black/Matte Black

Sizes: S, M, L, XL

 

SERIAL 1 RUSH/CTY SPEED

Price: $4999

Frame: Hydroformed aluminum

Fork: Aluminum

Motor: Brose TF Mag, 250W, mid-drive

Battery: 706 Wh 

Controls: Brose TFT display

Charge time: 3–5 hours

Top speed: 20 mph

Range: 35–105 miles (claimed)

Chain: Gates carbon drive

Drive: Enviolo Automatiq CVT

Brakes: Tektro hydraulic disc, 4-piston calipers and 203mm rotor

Saddle: Serial 1

Rims: Alloy

Tires: Schwalbe Super Moto-X, 27.5×2.8”

Weight: 59.0 pounds (large)

Color choice: Gloss IRIS Silver Lead Grey/Matte Black, Gloss Pearl Egret

White/Matte Black

Sizes: S, M, L, XL

www.serial1.com