SERIAL 1 SWITCH/MTN
Harley-Davidson rolls out a new electric mountain bike
Not to be confused with their LiveWire e-bike moto brand, Serial 1 is the American motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson’s e-bike pedal brand, and they invited us to the launch of their first mountain bike entry. The event took place at the (self-proclaimed) “mountain biking capital of the world,” more popularly (and accurately) known simply as Bentonville, Arkansas, which indeed is a great destination for riding mountain bikes.
Thanks to the elevated chainstays, the Switch/MTN has a unique look. The frame is made from hydro-formed aluminum with internal gusseting designed by the engineers to make the frame both stronger and stiffer. For suspension you’ll find a 120mm SR Suntour Zeron35 Boost Air fully adjustable suspension fork. It’s not just a dirt version of the Rush city bike (that shares the frame) with a suspension fork and knobby tires. The geometry has been optimized for mountain biking to make it steer and handle like a mountain bike should. Even the fork isn’t an off-the-rack version, as it’s valved to Serial 1’s desired spec. The Zeron fork performs extremely well at handling big hits, but also has excellent small-bump compliance, keeping us on the trail with jumps, rocky sections and anything else.
Of course, the bike comes with integrated lighting, starting with the LED head-tube badge that doubles as a daytime running light, as well as taillights near the rear dropouts that can be seen from the rear and sides, and they have built-in accelerometers, so they light up when you’re slowing down. They won’t actuate from the
brake levers, but when you slow down, it lets riders behind you know you’re decelerating. We think this is really smart!
Last but not least is the extremely bright headlight that can be turned on or off from the display remote. They found a perfect beam pattern that is compatible with the specifications of every country the bikes are sold in.
For stopping duties, the Switch has TRP Slate T4 quad-piston calipers with 203mm rotors. Being e-bike-specific, the thicker-than-standard 2.3mm-thick rotors offer better heat dissipation on long descents. We found them very easy to modulate, and even on loose rocks and dirt the rear could offer plenty of bite to rein in our speed without fear of sliding the front end when cornering.
Electric assist is provided by a Brose S-Mag mid-drive motor, easily powering the bike to 20 mph with 90 N/m of torque. There are five modes, offering you 50-percent assistance up to 400 percent in the highest mode. We found that we almost never used the top mode, nor eco, because where’s the fun in that?
The stock battery is 530 Wh, and with us climbing quite a bit for a dozen miles or so and usually being in level 3 or 4, we used about 40–50 percent of the battery. You can also get a 706Wh battery if you need more capacity. The interchangeable batteries are uniquely designed to fit lower in the frame to drop the center of gravity.
The display is a Brose display remote, a very small remote mounted on the left side of the handlebar and using LEDs to indicate power mode chosen, as well as battery level remaining in 20-percent increments (five lights). It shows the battery most of the time but shows the mode for a couple of seconds when you make a change.
THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT
Far more information can be had with their smartphone app that was developed with Google (after Google approached Serial 1). There are only a handful of automotive companies now in strategic partnerships with Google, and the implications are huge. The app can track and record all kinds of parameters—from distance to human torque input—and you can record your rides for later analysis. It can also give you Google-powered turn-by-turn directions and point you to bike-friendly routes.
They provided us a Quadlock mount and phone case for our phone, which offers the unique opportunity to not only wirelessly connect to the bike, but the Quadlock mount has wireless charging built in via a USB-C port in the stem that can provide up to 10 watts of fast charging from the battery (most wired wall chargers charge at 5 watts and take much longer to charge your phone).
The app is very useful in that it offers security features, including warning you if your bike moves when you’re not there. You can disable the motor if it’s stolen. You can also use the app for over-the-air updates. Now, there are other bikes with the technology to do diagnostics, tracking and OTA updates, but not many that can disable the bike if stolen.
For those of you wondering how personal this information that’s collected is, it is anonymized and fully GDPR compliant. Serial 1 is looking to see how riders use their bikes to speak to how they might improve them on
The bike itself has an internal battery, so if you take your battery out to charge it, the internal battery will allow the bike to monitor movement and other systems. Serial 1 says that the battery can last two weeks to two months without the other battery being installed, and it charges from the removable battery.
Our first ride on this bike proved to be very capable and confidence-inspiring. The low center of gravity and geometry made us comfortable on much more than fire roads in the incredible trails in Bentonville. Financed largely by the cycling-friendly Walton family (of Walmart fame), there are about 160 miles of trails to ride, with everything from simple fire roads and singletracks to jumps, rollers, wooden and stone obstacles. You can enjoy as much or as little on this bike as you’re comfortable with, or perhaps sometimes uncomfortable with if you’re pushing your personal limits.
The Switch/MTN handled everything we threw at it with aplomb. The carefully chosen Michelin E-Wild tires had fantastic grip on all of the trails and obstacles, including wooden bridges. With a hardtail, tire choice is important for a number of reasons, including it being part of the suspension. The 27.5×2.6-inch tires have the volume to make the ride just a little more comfortable. The battery sitting so low definitely made the bike feel both planted and balanced.
The tagline for the Switch on the Serial 1 website is “Enjoy every trail,” and while the bike is a capable off-roader, the Serial 1 isn’t a hardcore mountain biker’s dream bike. Between the hardtail rear end and limited-travel front fork, it is a bike that can easily deliver some off-road fun, albeit with limitations on how hard it is ridden. A durable electric mountain bike will never be as cheap (or light) as a city bike, nor will a hardtail be as capable or expensive (and heavy) as a full-suspension bike.
Serial 1 has a track record of making good bikes and selling them at a reasonable price. The Switch/MTN lives up to that growing legacy, as it’s a really fun bike to ride. We like the distinctive design and style with two colorways to choose from. Although visiting a motorcycle shop is always a good thing, Harley-Davidson is making the bike available at non-affiliated bicycle shops and through the consumer-direct channel.
The Brose S-Mag motor is very powerful and yet very natural in power delivery. It’s only our first ride, but we were impressed with the overall ride quality, the confidence this inspired, and the fun we had on this bike. Beginners and more experienced riders alike can enjoy this bike, and depending on where you live, you can push limits with it. For $1000 less you can throw a leg over the Bash mountain bike, which uses a different frame and sports a rigid carbon fork up front.
SERIAL 1 SWITCH/MTN
Frame: Hydroformed aluminum
Fork: SR Suntour Zeron35 Boost Air suspension
Motor: Brose S-Mag
Battery: Serial 1, 529 Wh
Charge time: 3–4 hours
Top speed: 20 mph
Range: 35-75 miles (claimed)
Rear derailleur: SRAM SX Eagle 1×12, 11-50T
Brakes: TRP hydraulic 4-piston disc brakes with
Saddle: Serial 1
Dropper post: TranzX
Rims: 27.5x35mm aluminum with Sapim stainless
Hubs: Serial 1
Tires: Michelin E-Wild E-Gum 27.5×2.6”
Weight: 53 lb. (size L)
Color choices: Wasatch Green or Unita Gray
Sizes: S, M, L, XL