Now it's possible, at least somewhere in Canada. Harley-Davidson Canada opened the doors to "1903" on Friday in downtown Toronto. The 4,200-square-foot cafe and retro biker lounge, named for the year the company was founded, boasts vintage Americana decor through and through. Yes, that means someone who just scored a caffeine fix could plop down with a laptop at a well-worn table that looks like a garage workbench or on a sleek black leather couch. Suddenly a trip to Starbucks (SBUX) - Get Report never seemed more sterile. The menu at 1903 features everything from cold brew coffee (which has been a hot-seller for Starbucks) to cookies to scones.
Customers could gawk at new and classic Harley motorcycles on display, too, and sign up for workshops on how to replace an exhaust pipe. "The café is a bold step towards making the company's motorcycles and lifestyle more accessible to both experienced riders and those new to the sport," said Anoop Prakash, managing director of Harley-Davidson Canada.
It has been a pretty good week of news for Harley-Davidson, which has battled sluggish sales in the U.S. and a concerned Wall Street that has sent the stock down about 25% the past year.
In a talk with the Milwaukee Business Journal, Harley's senior vice president of global demand, Sean Cummings, said there will be an electric bike from Harley within the next five years. That loosely pegs the release, at the latest, in 2021.
Anoop Prakash orders a coffee at 1903.
Harley has been trying to drum up interest in the bike and requesting consumer feedback for several years. The company unveiled Project Livewire, its marketing campaign for the electric bike, during a June 2014 U.S. tour down Route 66. From June until year end, the company visited more than 30 Harley-Davidson dealerships. In 2015, Project LiveWire experiences continued in the U.S. and expanded into Canada and Europe.
"We have gotten strong customer feedback -- 10,000 people have ridden this bike on real roads, and 10,000 people have said they want one," Harley-Davidson CEO Matt Levatich told TheStreet in a January interview. According to Levatich, consumers have told Harley they want more riding range from the battery. The LiveWire is powered by 3-phase AC electric induction motor, which produces 74 hp and 8000 rpm. The bike maxes out at 92 mph and accelerates from 0-60 mph in four seconds. A full recharge takes about 3.5 hours, and its average range so far has been 53 miles.
Added Levatich, "We have put a stake in the ground, and want to show people what's possible in an electric motorcycle from Harley-Davidson because everybody thinks oh, it must be a golf cart, or some sort of anemic thing -- now we have to deliver to those expectations we have set, which are very high, I am excited about it."
Maybe by 2021, owners of electric Harley's -- who will likely live in dense urban areas -- will be loyalists to any one of the bike maker's 100 1903 cafe locations in the U.S. Oh, the possibilities.