Easy riders

We rode Harley-Davidson's Serial 1 e-bike: Lose the leather, grab a latte

Less bat out of hell, more yuppie out of Starbucks.

On the first snowy day of December 2020...

... I met up with Aaron Frank, Serial 1's brand director (not pictured here, sorry Aaron), to test ride the brand's e-bikes around Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York.

He explained that Harley-Davidson started out in a shed in 1903 making motors. Had the tricycle, quad, or recumbent been the technological marvel of the time, it could just as easily have motorized those. But two wheels were en vogue and the company's first motor was actually intended for a bicycle. Soon motorcycles took off, though, and Harley-Davidson was ready to capitalize on the trend.

Fast forward almost 120 years and motorcycles aren't the only show two-wheelers in town anymore. Dense urban environments, ecological concerns, and shorter commutes (especially this year) mean last-mile solutions are getting ever more popular.

Riding on the shoulders of giants

A standalone brand but with Harley-Davidson as its key investor, Serial 1 benefits from all of the same engineering prowess and research into the ergonomics of its parent company... and carries its name on its bikes.

Serial 1 makes two e-bike platforms, the minimalist (but ready for anything) Mosh/Cty, and the commuter-friendly Rush/Cty.

Choose your fighter

The Mosh is a single-speed, fender-less e-bike intended as an urbanite plaything, but which can also handle light trail duty, curb hops, and the like.

The Rush's addition of fenders, variable gears, and luggage racks means it's aimed at daily riders looking to give up their cars — or at least forsake them more often than not.

All four variants (three Rush models, and the single Mosh) have a few things in common.

1) They're designed from scratch by Harley-Davidson's engineering team.

2) They have removable custom batteries and mid-drive Brose TF MAG motors.

3) They have Gates carbon-fiber belt drives rather than chains.

That combination means superb ergonomics, great handling, excellent range, and minimal maintenance.

Aaron's hands 👇

4

How many sizes each variant comes in (S, M, L, XL)

One size doesn't fit all

Serial 1 offers four frame sizes for each variant and a sizing tool on its website to help ensure you get the right fit.

That's a happy medium between the totally made-to-fit frames offered by the likes of Superstrata, and the two-sizes-fit-all approach of the likes of VanMoof.

28 MPH

The maximum assisted speed of the full-fat Serial 1 Rush/Cty.

Standstill to fun in seconds

We rode both the Mosh and the Rush and they have different charms. Both are hop-on and go bikes, no throttle, no gear shifts. But the Mosh feels more sporty and playful, and ready for a bit of trail abuse from weekend warriors. The Rush, meanwhile, is faster and more luxurious, and a better fit for daily commuters.

Infinite gears

The Rush range each includes "the fully enclosed, maintenance-free Enviolo AutomatiQ intelligent automatic transmission."

It's an electronically controlled CVT (Constantly Variable Transmission) rear hub that automatically adjusts the gear ratio to maintain the rider’s optimal, personalized pedaling cadence as terrain or speed changes. Riders can set their preferred cadence via the accompanying app.

This means effectively infinite gear gradations that adjust automatically. Pedal harder and the gears shift accordingly, and imperceptibly.

Aaron Frank told me Serial1 opted to forgo full-on suspension because it would've added significant cost to an already pricey bike, and isn't really part of the intended use-cases.

Thanks to the use of fat tires (2.4-inch diameter on the Rush, and 2.8-inch on the Mosh) and aluminum for the frames, the ride's plenty smooth nonetheless.

The Rush variants have a 1.5-inch, 240 x 240-pixel TFT display that shows speed, odometer, ride modes, and other key information.

20 MPH

The maximum assisted speed of the Serial 1 Mosh.

Fewer bells, just as many whistles

The Mosh doesn't have the same digital display as the Rush. Instead, it's got a pared-down strip of LEDs to indicate ride mode, though riders can use the accompanying app as a digital dashboard.

It's oh so quiet

Both the Rush and Mosh impressed me with their thoughtful design decisions. Integrated head- and taillights, concealed cables and electrical wiring, and the elevated chainstays all make for an elegant and understated end result. If anything, it's this quiet confidence that's the least Harley-Davidson-esque thing about them.

Daily Drivers?

The Mosh is the lightest in the range at just over 48 lbs and thanks to its 529 Wh battery. The Rush/Cty Speed is the heaviest at 59 lbs, but benefits from a larger 706 Wh battery. So you won't want to be carrying either up too many stairs (or, preferably, up any at all).

But the removable battery and concealed cabling mean you won't have to, even if you can't park them in a garage. They should weather the elements, though we'd be reluctant to leave them chained to a street light in NYC. Depending where you live, that might be less of an issue.

If I had to choose one, it would be one of the Rush models, because fenders and racks are on my list of essentials. But I'd be happy to ride any of them on the reg.

Preorders are open now

The Serial 1 e-bikes will start shipping in Spring 2021. Click any of the titles below to head to their respective info pages for the full specs:

💨 Rush/Cty Speed (starting at $4,999)

🏙 Rush/Cty (starting at $4,499)

👣 Rush/Cty Step-Thru (starting at $4,399)

🤘 Mosh/Cty (starting at $3,399)

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