EDIT: OK OK, it was an April Fools Day Joke. See ya next year!
The wild news continues for Harley-Davidson. Just weeks after unveiling the new Pan America adventure motorcycle, the MoCo has announced plans to enter the 2022 Dakar Rally. And, it’s planning to one-up the competition. Harley-Davidson plans to enter an electric motorcycle into the competition, with Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman as riders on the factory team.
Details on the bike
For now, Harley-Davidson is keeping quiet on most details of the new bike. However, the release does drop some basic specs.
Harley-Davidson claims the new bike has more than 200 miles of battery range. That’s not enough for the longest special stages at Dakar, but it seems there’s a plan to work out details for recharging stations, or maybe battery swap points. There’s also a strong rumor coming from the British moto-mags that Harley-Davidson is working on a powerful new mobile charging capacity, that could deliver massive energy to the bike anywhere on the course. Supposedly, the new tech is code-named Skynet, and sponsors Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook are very keen on making it go ahead.
Although no mainstream publications have seen the bike, online influencer Keen S. Hill, posting to YouTube on the Coiffes and Cruisers channel, was given an exclusive look at the bike. He says it’s easily the coolest thing he’s seen Harley-Davidson build in his months of covering the motorcycle industry.
The race effort
Naturally, there are details to work out for Harley-Davidson in its first-time effort. Reportedly, the company’s management has found dealing with Dakar officials very frustrating. One exec, who wished to remain unnamed, said Harley had hoped for a smooth transition, but “those ASO guys are much different from the AMA flat track guys we dealt with in the ’80s and ’90s. Although, as soon as we mentioned painting the bike orange, they seemed to instantly come around to our ideas.”
Perhaps the most surprising move is choosing McGregor and Boorman as the factory riders. Boorman last attempted the Dakar Rally in 2006, and McGregor has never attempted the race. However, neither rider seemed fazed by suggestions they might not be up for the job. McGregor says if he gets a bit peaked during the race, he can just rest in the shade of his chase truck.
“I feel this is the perfect way to showcase the capabilities of electric vehicles,” McGregor said. “Sailing these bikes to Saudi Arabia, and showing the locals just what an electric motorcycle is capable of, will go a long way towards our EV future.”
Chances of success?
Does this make sense for Harley-Davidson? Given the decline of the petroleum industry, it’s clever to side-step the whole problem entirely, instead of wasting years developing a 450 desert bike. Instead, they’ve come out with a plan, and today’s announcement on April 1 will give them lots of time to prepare for the year ahead.