Serial 1: Riding Harley-Davidson's new Rush CTY Speed and Mosh CTY e-bikes

A world away from its iconic motorcycles, Harley's new sub-brand delivers fun, premium e-bikes.

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The Serial 1 Rush CTY Speed e-bike is geared for commuting, and it's got the racks and fenders to prove it.
Evan Miller/Roadshow

A few years back, Harley-Davidson decided to broaden its scope with a strategic business plan called More Roads. Facing an increasingly bleak financial picture and a need to attract younger customers, the legendary American motorcycle company inked plans to diversify its product lineup. The biggest sign that things weren't purely "business as usual" at the company was the introduction of the LiveWire, Harley's first electric motorcycle. Now, with that project a few miles down the road, Harley is pushing even further into new territory with a range of four electric bicycles from its recently spun-off sub-brand, Serial 1, and I got the chance to take quick spins on two of the first, the Rush CTY Speed and Mosh CTY.

Lots of e-bike manufacturers just slap components from third-party vendors onto a frame and call it a day, but that's not the case with the Serial 1 lineup. From the ground up, Harley-Davidson/Serial 1 has engineered and designed these new e-bikes, and that's something you can feel when you're at the handlebars.

Rush CTY Speed

Due this spring, the Rush CTY Speed is Serial 1's flagship model, and it's focused on commuter comfort and speed. As such, it incorporates helpful features like full fenders and a rear rack, plus built-in lighting and storage.

The Rush Speed is a Class 3 e-bike, which means it provides electric pedal assist up to 28 mph, in this case, leveraging an Enviolo CVT hub. Yeah, it's got a continuously variable transmission, roughly similar to what's under the hood of your mom's Toyota Corolla, at least in terms of the way it operates. The Enviolo CVT "automatically adjusts the gear ratio to maintain the rider's optimal, personalized pedaling cadence as terrain or speed changes." While riding, the belt-driven CVT was transparent for me, never getting in my way while conquering the endless hills of San Francisco.

This 59-pound bike is also fitted with a removable 706-wH battery pack that's nicely incorporated into the aluminum frame above the motor. Serial 1 lists the charge time as 3.5 hours for 0 to 75%, and a further three hours to top up the pack completely.

The midmounted Brose TF MAG makes up to 66 pound-feet of torque, but it also makes a slight droning sound. Fortunately, it isn't too noticeable while riding. The motor feels good while pedaling, but there seems to be a little extra resistance. It's not bad by any means, but it's not as smooth as the Shimano motors I've experienced on e-bikes like the Yuba El Mundo.

The Rush CTY Speed's range is anywhere from 25 to 115 miles, depending on terrain and ride mode. I didn't really get a chance to test the bike's overall range given there was only enough time for shorter rides at the launch event, but I could easily see the Rush Speed being able to tackle my 12-mile commute in Boost mode (the highest-assist setting) for multiple days without charging, even with the Bay Area's prodigious hills and my need to keep up a fast pace.

Overall, the bike feels well built, and I like its sharper, beefier design. The Rush handles really well with its battery and motor centered low in the frame. I'm also a big fan of the hidden glove box that sits above the battery on the downtube. The latter is designed to fit the Abus Bordo family of security locks, and you can even get your lock keyed to match your bike. I think I would just fill the storage with snacks, though.

The Rush CTY Speed lines up against the Specialized Turbo Vado Series and the Riese & Muller Roadster. Available in four frame sizes, it starts at $5,000, a very competitive price against other, more established brands. If that price seems too high, Serial 1's Rush CTY costs slightly less, $4,500. It offers many of the same features as the Rush City Speed, but in a slower Class 1 package.

Serial 1's Mosh CTY is a Class 1 e-bike that's more about having fun than it is about strictly commuting.

Evan Miller/Roadshow

Mosh CTY

Also due this spring, this Mosh CTY is centered around urban fun rather than commuting duty like the Rush. In the saddle, this bike delivers SE Bikes' PK Ripper vibes, and by that, I mean this bike can do wheelies and bunnyhops. In fact, that dirt pile you've been eyeing is entirely jumpable with the Mosh CTY. The design of the Mosh is also styled to attract a younger crowd, especially with my test bike's Vans-like blue checkerboard pattern scattered around the aluminum frame.

The Mosh has a different powertrain setup than the Rush Speed. The Mosh has a smaller (but still removable) 529-wH battery with an estimated range of 35 to 105 miles. The company says the battery pack can be charged from 0 to 75% in 2.6 hours, with that last 25% taking a further 2.15 hours.

The Mosh features a Brose S Mag middrive motor with up to 66 pound-feet of torque, and it's a single-speed, freewheel setup. No CVT here, but a Gates carbon-fiber drive belt is included, too, promising maintenance-free running. At 48.3 pounds, the Mosh weighs about 10 pounds less than the Rush Speed. Also, it's a Class 1 e-bike, so it'll pedal-assist up to 20 mph.

Both bikes feature integrated lighting, including tail lights that get brighter when decelerating.

Evan Miller/Roadshow

I definitely prefer Class 3 e-bikes over Class 1 models, because I find the ability to be assisted up to 28 mph really does help during a commute, but I can see why Harley went with a Class 1 here. First off, doing so helps dramatically lower the price -- the Mosh CTY costs $3,400, some $1,600 less than the Rush Speed. However, I think the company also went in this direction to simplify the overall design, giving the Mosh more of a single-speed bicycle design aesthetic. Additionally, I think designers wanted to make the bike lighter to aid maneuverability while riding over demanding terrain.

During my ride, I really enjoyed the wide, 2.8-inch Schwalbe Super Moto-X tires, which allowed for comfortable riding over all terrains and helped absorb landings nicely. I also felt comfortable standing up on the pedals and cranking the bike side-to-side to get up to speed. The Mosh handles trail-like conditions well and is able to tackle hills easily because the bike has a good amount of torque. Like the Rush, the Mosh is available in four different frame sizes to ensure proper geometry and ride comfort.

Overall, Harley-Davidson's Serial 1 crew has done an incredible job designing these bikes. One of the most refreshing bits about these machines is that most of their cable work lives within their frames, so they both have a very clean look. Other design elements that I really enjoy include the integrated tail lights that live within the frame by the wheels. The taillights automatically brighten when you slow down, and the front badge on the headtube lights up, too -- very clever. Also, the glove box is a nice addition to the Rush CTY Speed. I'm now accepting snack donations.

The Serial 1 E-bikes are on the pricier side, but they deliver a premium feel overall. Preorders are available now and the first deliveries are slated to begin in the spring.

It will be interesting if Harley-Davidson can use Serial 1 as a springboard to future electric motorcycle ownership.

Evan Miller/Roadshow