While most bikers want a manual transmission in their Harley Davidson motorcycles, some people want or need an automatic transmission while still wanting Harley’s power and style.
Until recently, Harley Davidson didn’t produce an automatic motorcycle; all of their transmissions were manual.
That’s right, yes, Harley Davidson has motorcycles with an automatic transmission.
There wasn’t a big enough demand for automatic transmissions, and automatics are costlier to produce.
However, after listening to customers, the company has come out with their first automatic Harley Davidson Motorcycle.
Harley Davidson’s Automatic Motorcycle
Harley Davidson’s first and only automatic motorcycle was introduced in 2020 – the 2020 LiveWire motorcycle.
These automatic Harleys are fully electric and are often a good choice for urban riders.
Even though the bike is electric, it has superior acceleration due to the permanent magnet electric motor, which produces 100% of its rated torque instantaneously.
It has 105 horsepower and produces 86 ft. lbs. of torque.
It has up to seven different ride modes, so you can get the performance you want and the safety you need.
Four of the modes are preset: range, road, sport, and rain.
There are also three modes that are available for you to customize to your riding style. You can also add hand and foot controls for added ease of use.
When fully charged, this bike will go up to 146 miles in the city and up to 95 miles on the highway.
You can charge the battery using a standard wall outlet, or if you’re on the road, you can stop at a quick-charge location.
2023 Livewire Motorcycles Livewire One
For 2023, Harley Davidson enthusiasts can hit the road on the 2023 Livewire Motorcycles Livewire One.
This electric motorcycle boasts a single-charge range varying between 100 and 150 miles, making it more than sufficient for daily commutes and leisurely weekend rides in the city.
Sporting 105 horsepower equivalent and 86 pound-feet of torque, this e-bike certainly packs a punch, positioning itself as a sporty cruiser in Harley’s portfolio.
The bike’s power comes from a unique permanent magnet electric motor that essentially operates on a single gear.
While it might sound simplistic, the bike features a sort of “auto-shift” function that lets the rider toggle among neutral, drive, and reverse modes. Adding to its authentic motorcycle feel, the Livewire One uses any idle time off the throttle for regeneration.
This slight recharging of the battery mimics the sensation of engine braking, enhancing the overall riding experience.
Why Get a Motorcycle With an Automatic Transmission?
While most motorcycle riders prefer a manual transmission, there are several reasons that some riders want an automatic transmission.
An automatic is more comfortable to drive and is often a good option for beginning bikers.
There’s a lot to focus on when you’re first learning to ride a bike, and an automatic gives you one less thing to focus on until you get your bearings.
Sometimes experienced riders also want an automatic transmission.
If you’re mainly riding for pleasure and relaxation, you may not want the extra work of having to shift gears.
An automatic transmission allows you to get on your bike and go. Additionally, some riders who have a disability may need an automatic transmission to ride.
One other reason some drivers like an automatic transmission is safety.
Automatic Harleys are safer than manual.
Many motorcycle drivers don’t know how to shift adequately and can cause an accident due to a mistake.
Some drivers prefer to take the safer route and use an automatic.
Why Do People Prefer Harley Davidson Motorcycles With a Manual Transmission?
Despite the good reasons for wanting an automatic transmission, most riders want a manual transmission, and the majority of bikes are manual.
Manual transmissions are more popular for many reasons.
First, many riders want the full experience of riding a motorcycle, and that includes shifting gears.
They enjoy feeling the clutch release when shifting, and like that they feel more in control of the ride when using a manual transmission.
Simply put, driving a manual transmission Harley is more exciting.
In more practical terms, manual bikes tend to be cheaper, more reliable, and are more fuel-efficient.
Automatic transmissions are much more complicated and are thus more costly to produce, increasing a bike’s cost.
Since there are so many more parts in automatic transmissions, they’re more likely to break and more difficult to fix.
Manual transmissions are slightly more fuel-efficient, but only when the driver shifts gears correctly.
Can You Modify a Harley Davidson to Make It Automatic?
While there are few automatic Harleys on the road, if you have a manual transmission Harley and want to modify it to an automatic, it’s possible, but it can be expensive.
You’ll either need some mechanical know-how or take it to a mechanic who’s experienced in working on transmissions.
You can modify your Harley into either a semi-automatic or a fully-automatic transmission.
For a semi-automatic, you’ll need to change gears just as you would with a manual, but you won’t have to pull the clutch, so you may find it easier to handle.
The clutch will engage automatically as you change RPM.
If you want to go for a semi-automatic, you can fit your bike with an auto clutch.
You may like this option if you want some of the features of an automatic but don’t want to give up total control of your bike.
Many auto clutches will also allow you to control the clutch if you wish to do so.
You can also install an electric shifter.
With an electric shifter, you’ll no longer need to use the gear shift pedal. Instead, you can change gears by pressing a button.
This option is often perfect for disabled riders who can’t use the gear shift pedal but still want the experience of a manual transmission.
If you want to modify your Harley Davidson to a fully-automatic transmission, you’ll need to take it to a mechanic unless you have extensive experience working on bikes.
To go fully automatic, you can expect to pay quite a bit for both the parts and labor.
However, if you really want or need your bike to be automatic, then the cost is worth it.
Do Other Motorcycles Have Automatic Transmissions?
If you have your heart set on a gas-powered motorcycle with an automatic transmission, you can find one if you’re willing to buy something other than a Harley Davidson.
Several brands make automatic models, but the most famous is Honda.
The brand has quite a few bikes with automatic options.
Harley Davidson’s only automatic bike was released in 2020 after devotees had been asking for one for quite a while.
The LiveWire has an automatic transmission and is fully electric, making it a good option for city dwellers.
Since automatic transmissions aren’t as popular with bikers, it’s unlikely that Harley will release a fully-automatic transmission on a gas-powered bike.
Still, if you want an automatic, the LiveWire is a good choice, or you can modify your manual transmission to make it automatic.