- Harley Davidson, the motorcycle company, owns an e-bike company called Serial 1
- Serial 1’s new electric mountain bike (abbreviated to eMTBs) is perfect for both beginners and experienced mountain bike riders
Unless you’re a motorcycle die-hard or look closely enough, bike brand Serial 1 appears to be a fairly typical performance-minded cycling and mountain biking company. But as a small decal on the lower part of the frame reveals, the brand has deep roots in biking of a different sort.
Founded in 2020, Serial 1 is an internal Harley-Davidson development project turned standalone brand (the name refers to the first Harley ever made, the Serial Number One). Its specialty is e-bikes, and its latest creation, dubbed the Switch/Mtn ($4,500), was made for off-the-grid riding. Here’s what you need to know.
Techy But Rugged
To say Switch/Mtn is ready to cut through tough mountain terrain is slightly redundant, but it bears repeating: this bike is a serious mountain bike, not a motorcycle company’s vanity project.
The bike is retrofitted with knobby Michelin E-Wild tires, easy-tuning front suspension, and a seat post that you can adjust on the fly, it’s got all the mountain biking basics done right. Where it stands out is the ‘e’ part of the equation. All Serial 1 bikes are cloud-connected via the Serial 1 App, which is rather rare in this category of biking. The app supports features like Google Maps turn-by-turn navigation and a large suite of data reports (distance, speed, elevation, etc.). The bike also carries a 10W USB-C charging unit in case your phone’s battery dips too low.
The removable 529Wh battery charge is stout as well. Depending on the terrain you’re riding and the mode it’s in, the range is 30 to 95 miles on a single charge. That may seem like a wide gap, but the amount of power needed to assist a rider pushing up a steep gradient is dramatically greater than keeping the tires rotating on even gravel. Charge time is more straightforward: charging from zero to 75 percent takes a little more than two-and-a-half hours, and the remaining 25 percent of the battery takes just over two hours. This is fairly typical among eMTBs.
Built for Comfort, Not Extremes
It’s worth noting that the bike was designed for mountain biking, but is perhaps not at its best in the extremely rugged downhill terrains. Why? The Switch/Mtn is what’s called a “hardtail” mountain bike, which means it has suspension built into the front wheel but not the middle part of the bike. This means that steep or extremely rocky rides will be more challenging than they would be if you were riding a full-suspension bike, which is what it sounds like: a mountain bike with suspension at the front and middle part of the frame.
So where do you ride a mountain bike if not downhill, rocky areas? Well, the rest of the mountain, really. These types of bikes are perfect for mountain trails, fire roads, ski hills, and more. Given the battery life and hardtail frame, Serial 1’s Switch/Mtn is clearly designed for making long rides through the woods more comfortable.
Why Get an Electric Mountain Bike?
While relying purely on your own two legs all the time might be ideal from a fitness perspective, it’s not always possible when mountain biking over significant distance. The reality is that mountain biking even a short stretch of slightly elevating off-road terrain requires far more energy than it would on a paved surface. Every little divot, rock, and tree root you trundle over is more work for your legs, and if you wish to be able to stand up after your ride, light assistance is extraordinarily helpful. Most eMTBs these days pedal assist up to 20mph should you need it, but offer different “modes” to ride in that provide greater or lesser aide. Basically, you get one if you want to enjoy mountain biking in lengthier stings, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.