Serial 1 E-Bike Buyer's Guide

Harley-Davidson has entered in the E-bike game with Serial 1. Find out what makes these bikes tick and why you should consider one for yourself.

Written by
Bruce Lin

Published on

Posted in
Guides

You may not know this, but Harley-Davidson didn’t start out making motorcycles. Its first creation was actually a bicycle fitted with a 116cc motor dubbed the “power-cycle.” Harley was later able to use what it learned making the power-cycle to build its first motorcycle, affectionately referred to as “Serial Number One.” Now, 120 years later, Harley-Davidson is returning to its cycling roots with its spin-off e-bike brand, Serial 1. Here’s what you need to know.

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What are Serial 1 E-bikes?
Serial 1 models
Serial 1 sizing
Serial 1 features
Serial 1 ride review

What are Serial 1 E-Bikes?

In a world where people increasingly want their bodies and the environment to be healthier, riding e-bikes just makes sense for those leery of “acoustic” bikes. To make it in this space, Harley-Davidson could have just relied on its heritage and name recognition, but it wanted to do things right.

Harley engineers are no strangers to bicycles. A few are actually bicycle engineers who happen to be motorcycle enthusiasts, while a few others are motorcycle engineers who happened to be bicycle enthusiasts. These engineers all got together in a small team to design the e-bikes that they themselves wanted to ride.

They created their own hydroformed aluminum frames and equipped them with the best parts: Brose motors, integrated batteries, Gates carbon fiber belt drives, Enviolo transmission, comfy 27.5+ wheels and tires, and built-in LED lights.

Serial 1 e-bikes are pedal-assist e-bikes. There’s no throttle, and your speed is controlled by how fast you choose to pedal. Anyone who can ride a regular bike can already ride a Serial 1. Leather jackets are optional.

To learn more about how e-bikes work and the different e-bike classes, check out our general E-bike Buyer’s Guide.

Serial 1 E-bike models

Mosh/CTY

Serial 1 mosh

[product-block handle="serial-1-mosh-cty-medium-matte-black-gloss-midnight-black-2"/]

Motor: Brose S Mag
Battery: 529 Wh
Range: 35-105 miles
Top speed: 20 mph
Weight: 48.3 lbs (large)
Price: $3,799.00

The Mosh is Serial 1’s base model. The main difference between the Mosh and the Rush is the bare-bones frame and singlespeed drivetrain. Without racks, fenders, or transmission to worry about, it’s lighter, simpler, and more playful. 

Rush/CTY

Serial 1 Rush CTY

[product-block handle="serial-1-rush-cty-medium-matte-vapor-silver-gloss-burst-orange-matte-black"/]

Motor: Brose S Mag
Battery: 706 Wh
Range: 25-115 miles
Top speed: 20 mph
Weight: 59.0 lbs (large)
Price: $4,999.00

The Rush is the perfect city bike. Racks make it easy to mount bags, fenders protect riders from wet streets, and a lockable storage compartment in the downtube keeps small items safe. An Enviolo CVT transmission makes it easier to tackle hills and keep up with fast-moving traffic. 

Rush/CTY STEP-THRU

Serial 1 Rush CTY Step Thru

[product-block handle="serial-1-rush-cty-step-thru-medium-gloss-midnight-black-matte-black-1"/]

Motor: Brose S Mag
Battery: 529 Wh
Range: 30-90 miles
Top speed: 20 mph
Weight: 59.5 lbs (large)
Price: $4,999.00

The same as the Rush/CTY but with a step-thru frame that makes it easy to get in the saddle and to stand flat-footed over the bike when stopped. For some urban commuters, a step-thru frame is essential for comfort and confidence.

Rush/CTY SPEED

Serial 1 rush CTY SpeedMotor: Brose TF Mag
Battery: 706 Wh
Range: 25-115 miles
Top speed: 28 mph
Weight: 59.0 lbs (large)
Price: $5,599.00

Full speed ahead! The SPEED is the quickest Serial 1 model, with a more powerful motor providing pedal assistance up to 28 mph*. It’s ideal for riders who need to cover ground fast or who just want the ultimate riding experience. 

*Check your local laws before riding Class 3 (28mph) e-bikes on bike paths. 

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Serial 1 E-Bike Sizing

Serial 1 e bike sizing

Serial 1 E-bike features

Serial 1 e bike featuresBrose motors 

German Brose motors are already proven by many top bike brands. Its S Mag and TF Mag motors are lightweight, quiet, and powerful (90Nm/66 ft. lb. of torque). Brose motors can instantly toggle between Eco, Tour, Sport, or Boost ride modes, to provide riders with their desired amount of assistance and battery life. They also have a “walk mode” that provides a bit of assistance when you need to push the bike around. 

Integrated battery

A lithium-Ion battery is tucked into the downtube for a sleeker silhouette. It can be quickly removed without tools or locked for enhanced security. Charging is done through a convenient charging port or with the battery removed. Range largely depends on ride mode, terrain, and pedal input but can reach over 100 miles in the right conditions.

Gates carbon fiber belt drive

The Gates carbon-fiber belt drive system is smooth, quiet, and maintenance-free. Unlike traditional chain drives, it requires no cleaning, lubrication, or adjustment.

Enviolo Transmission

The Serial 1 Rush models all use the fully enclosed and 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 optimal pedaling cadence. No shifting necessary!

27.5+ wheels and tires

High-volume tires gained popularity in mountain bikes because of the extra traction and comfort they provide. “Plus” tires let Serial 1 bikes handle any road surface from pavement to gravel. 

Built-in LED lights

Bright, integrated LED headlights and taillights increase safety and visibility on the road and let riders go out any time of day. The taillight also functions as a brake light so those behind you know when you’re coming to a stop. 

Serial 1 ride review

If you’ve never ridden a pedal-assist e-bike, let me tell you it’s easy as pie. You just press the on button and ride away. Power from the electric motor comes on instantly and smoothly with the first turn of the pedals, and controlling your speed by pedaling is instinctive. During my week of testing, I even took it off-road. Dirt and gravel road were no problem for the big plus tires as I rolled through short sections of singletrack without too much trouble

With the Enviolo CVT transmission, there’s no need to select gears. If you want to accelerate, you give the pedals a little extra umph, and suddenly you’re going faster with barely any extra effort. On hills, you just keep your cadence where it’s comfortable and the transmission does the rest. It’s nearly invisible and pretty darn impressive.

With a toggle button at the left hand, it’s easy to select between Eco, Tour, Sport, or Boost drive modes while riding. Even in Eco mode, there’s plenty of pedal-assist for casual riding. If you’re looking for more of a workout on your rides, Eco is ideal. I found myself using Tour and Sport the most. Both modes let me comfortably achieve 20-25mph. To achieve the 28mph top-speed, I put it in Boost mode, which is absurdly fun, but drains the battery.

Even without bags, I was able to use a pair of cheap bungee straps to secure a small stash of groceries to the rear rack and a six-pack to the front. The small “glove box” in the downtube can just barely fit an additional 12oz can but it’s probably better for things like your wallet and phone. With proper bags, the Rush will be a solid car replacement for commuting and everyday errands. It’s definitely way more fun than a car!

Rush/CTY vs. Rush/CTY SPEED

Will you need the higher top speed of the Rush/CTY SPEED? For regular city riding and bike paths, you’ll likely spend most of your time well under 20 mph. Even when riding the SPEED model around town in Boost mode, I could accelerate faster but rarely got above 20 mph before I had to slow down or stop. The 28 mph top speed is more useful if you’re a fit rider who can already ride over 20 mph on a standard bike, or you live somewhere with lots of wide-open roads for you to drop the hammer.    

Mosh/CTY vs. Rush/CTY

What about the singlespeed Mosh? It’s lighter, simpler, and more affordable than any of the Rush models. If you don’t need extra features like racks or fenders, the Mosh is a great option for jetting across town or just hooning around and having fun. The motor will still help you power up hills, just with a bit more effort than with the CVT transmission. If you ride someplace hilly, or you’re regularly transporting loads, the Rush will be the better option.   

Final thoughts

Serial 1 Rush CTY Speed reviewI didn’t expect much when I picked up the Serial 1 Rush/CTY SPEED, but it’s now the bike I’ve ridden the most in the last week. It’s just so practical and fun. I found endless excuses to go to 7-Eleven because the bike just makes it so easy to get out the door and go.

I think Harley-Davidson made the right move by designing its own frame. Unlike a lot of the no-name e-bikes I see commuters riding, the Serial 1 feels solid and well put together. It easily competes with the best e-bikes from big brands like Trek and Specialized.

The best part of riding the Serial 1 over the last week has been letting my wife and 70-year-old neighbor ride the bike too. When they got back, they both had huge smiles on their faces, and said pretty much the same thing: “Holy f#@%, this thing’s fun!”

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