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Harley’s electric moped stalled, so this 55 mph Chinese version ripped off the design

Back in 2018 Harley-Davidson unveiled one of the coolest-looking electric mopeds we had seen at the time. But years later the Milwaukee-based motorcycle manufacturer hasn’t shown us any more progress than a two-year-old prototype.

That opened the door for others to try their hand at Harley’s design, and a Chinese motorbike manufacturer seems to have created a pretty decent copy of the design.

The company is known as Guangzhou Wow Electronics Technology.

They manufacturer a range of electric motorbikes under the ONAN brand.

And it just so happens that the ONAN Ark looks pretty darn similar to the original Harley-Davidson electric moped concept.

Major components like the frame geometry (though not the frame tubes), handlebars, running boards, and the low-slung battery all match pretty well with the Harley-Davidson design.

We don’t know the tech specs for Harley’s concept, but the ONAN Ark claims a top speed of 90 km/h (55.9 mph) from a 2.5 kW motor. It also sports a range of 40-70 km (25-44 miles) from a 72V battery available in capacities of 1.2-2.4 kWh.

That 2.5 kW motor and 50 mph top speed don’t seem to match very well, unless it just takes a very long time to get up to speed.

But that might also be the continuous motor rating, which is more commonly used than the peak figure by Chinese electric motorbike companies.

To be fair, Harley’s version seems to be a much more refined design, while the ONAN Ark appears to make a number of concessions to affordability.

The mid-drive motor has been replaced by a cheaper hub motor, the large halo headlight looks much smaller and the sweet double kickstand seems to be replaced with… no kickstand at all?

Even so, the ONAN Ark also appears to one-up Harley in one key area: rear suspension.

While the Harley electric moped was a hardtail design, the ONAN Ark sports a pair of coilover shocks in the rear.

I’ve ridden several of these minibike-style electric mopeds and the ones without rear suspension have a tendency to catapult you out of the saddle when you hit any decent-size bump at over 30 mph (50 km/h).

So even if that suspension isn’t fancy, it might actually give you a prayer when hitting a pothole at high speed.

One other innovation ONAN seems to have landed on is the price. The Ark starts at just $999, which is likely several times less expensive than Harley’s version will run – if it ever makes it to production.

Though there’s no word on what shipping from China will cost, so don’t expect to actually ride off into the sunset for under a thousand bucks.

Electrek‘s take

Grumble, grumble, “China ripping off American designs,”,grumble grumble…

Yeah, I hear you.

And that part is frustrating.

But you know what else is frustrating? Harley dangling that sweet electric moped in front of us for years and not giving us any indication if it will ever make it to production.

If Harley-Davidson had brought theirs to market yet, I almost certainly would have bought it already. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve bought an electric two-wheeler that I’ve covered here on Electrek. Or the second. Or the third. Or the fourth. Hmm, I think I might have a problem.

But Harley won’t let me buy their awesome electric moped. And I actually like the design so much that I’m honestly considering trying to buy one of these ONAN Arks.

Hopefully this inevitable copycat sends a message to the execs in Milwaukee. There’s a market for fun, lightweight electric two-wheelers. Your LiveWire electric motorcycle kicked ass, it’s awesome. And your forward thinkingness on that bought you a several-year lead over the rest of the legacy manufacturers. Now do the same thing with the rest of your electric concept models. Because if you don’t, there’s no shortage of smaller companies that will step in for you, and they’ll eat up the market you squandered in the process.

h/t @Ebikejames

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Avatar for Micah Toll Micah Toll

Micah Toll is a personal electric vehicle enthusiast, battery nerd and author of the Amazon #1 bestselling books DIY Lithium Batteries, DIY Solar Power and the Ultimate DIY Ebike Guide.

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