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Harley-Davidson has created a new, separate e-bicycle brand. This photo shows a prototype e-bicycle fashioned as a tribute to the original Harley-Davidson motorcycle known as ‘Serial Number One.’  Exactly what the e-bicycles will look like has yet to be revealed.

Harley-Davidson has created a new, separate e-bicycle brand. This photo shows a prototype e-bicycle fashioned as a tribute to the original Harley-Davidson motorcycle known as ‘Serial Number One.’ Exactly what the e-bicycles will look like has yet to be revealed. (Photo: Serial 1 Cycle Co.)

Harley-Davidson on Tuesday unveiled a brand that will focus exclusively on the electric, or e-bicycle, market.

Known as Serial 1 Cycle Co., the brand takes its name from “Serial Number One,” the nickname for Harley-Davidson’s first motorcycle.

“Serial 1 Cycle Co. combines Harley-Davidson’s world-class product development capability and leadership in two-wheel electric propulsion with the agility and innovation of a start-up brand dedicated exclusively to the e-bicycle product and customer,” according to a statement from Serial 1.

The brand was “born as a skunkworks deep inside Harley-Davidson’s Product Development Center,” according to the statement.  “The decision was made to structure the e-bicycle business into a new entity …”

Entering the electric bicycle business underscores efforts to remake Harley-Davidson into a more nimble company that reacts quickly to market conditions and consumer preferences.

The e-bicycle market is going gangbusters right now, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Aaron Frank, brand director for Serial 1. 

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Serial 1 is a new brand created by Harley-Davidson.

Serial 1 is a new brand created by Harley-Davidson. (Photo: Serial 1 Cycle Co.)

“With the pandemic, people were looking for a safe way to exercise and get out of the house, and people in cities were looking for a way to safely commute that didn’t involve a subway or a bus,” Frank said. “Bicycle sales, period, are just through the roof right now.”

According to The NPD Group, a market research company, bicycle sales in June were up 63% over the same month in 2019. Those gains “primarily stemmed from higher-end bikes typically purchased by enthusiasts, including road, gravel and full suspension mountain bikes, as well as electric bikes,” NPD said.

“Sales of bikes with average selling prices above $1,000 experienced impressive growth in June 2020 compared to the same month last year,” NPD said, with e-bicycles posting a 190% gain.

The global e-bicycle market was estimated to be over $15 billion in 2019. Last summer, local bike stores reported strong sales and said some bikes were hard to find.

Battery-powered boost

The Serial 1 products are known as pedal-assist electric bicycles, Frank said.

Pedal-assist is considered a bicycle so you can ride it in bicycle lanes, on bicycle trails – anywhere you would ride a bicycle. 

“Fundamentally, it is a bicycle,” Frank said. “The difference is, it has a small electric motor and a battery that will give you power assistance from 1 to 4 times what you are putting into the pedals.

“Depending on what assist setting you select, you are going to be 1 to 4 times stronger than you would