“What’s in a name?” Shakespeare once famously mused. Clearly, The Bard crafted that quotable query before Harley-Davidson’s time. Over the years, those five syllables have grown into a loaded term, tinged with all things Boomer. So much so, that vintage H-D t-shirts are the latest ironic fashion statement, thrifted by the same Millennials and Gen Zers that refuse to purchase Hogs.
In an attempt to appeal to this ever-elusive demographic, Harley introduced a brand-new electric bicycle lineup in 2021. You won’t find the iconic Bar and Shield, Screamin’ Eagle, or pinstriped flames on these two-wheelers, though. The Motor Company, instead, harkened back to its very first motorcycle, the 1903 Serial Number One. Thus, the Serial 1 brand was born, bringing classic H-D design to the hyper-competitive e-bicycle market.
Those bygone influences are most evident in the entry-level MOSH/CTY model. An LED headtube shield pays homage to the firm’s early metal badges while the frame emulates the MoCo’s VL platform from the 1930s. Serial 1 wraps all that retro inspiration in a thoroughly modern package. But, will that stylistic subterfuge attract a new crowd to the Harley offshoot? To find out, we first have to take a peek under the hood.
Behind the Badge
Saying that Serial 1 is proud of its design chops would be an understatement. As opposed to slapping an H-D decal on an existing e-bike, the Harley-funded startup built the MOSH/CTY from the mezzanine up. Sure, the brand fashioned its own hydroformed aluminum frame and developed a mass-centralized 529Wh battery, but the MOSH/CTY isn’t going anywhere far without the mid-mounted Brose S Mag motor.
|Quick Stats||Serial 1 MOSH/CTY|
|Motor:||Brose S MAG Mid-Mounted Motor|
|Range:||35-105 miles (ride mode- and terrain-dependent)|
Paired with a Brose Allround LCD display, the powertrain offers users four ride modes (Eco, Tour, Sport, and Boost) and a 20-mph assisted top speed. In Boost mode, the MOSH/CTY lays down 66 lb-ft of torque. Be forewarned, though, aggressive riding yields mileage at the lower end of the 35-105-mile range. Drain the battery and you’re liable to wait nearly five hours for the removable power pack to fully recharge.
Those apt to a leisurely pace will rejoice over the simplicity of the single-gear freewheel and the Gates Carbon Drive belt’s maintenance-free functionality. On the flip side, Serial 1 caters to performance-minded riders with TRP hydraulic disc brakes and 35mm alloy rims wrapped in 27.5mm Schwalbe Super Moto-X tires. Those lightweight components can’t keep the MOSH/CTY from tipping the scales at 48.3 pounds (Large size), yet the minimalist e-bike (mostly) defies that metric.
Live to Ride, Ride to Live
Gallery: Serial 1 MOSH/CTY
Serial 1 armed the MOSH/CTY with a 50-tooth chainring and a 22-tooth rear sprocket (2.27 ratio). That gearing may suit the model’s targeted urban commuter customer, but the single-gear configuration limits its adaptability. Of course, the four-level power settings help compensate for the lack of additional gears, but they’re not a direct replacement.
On level pavement, I frequently opted for the Tour and Sport modes. Under the same conditions, Boost mode easily achieved the MOSH/CTY’s 20-mph max but a “spinny” cadence accompanied all that velocity. As a result, I reserved that full-power mode for hill climbs, and for good reason. Even when facing steep grades, I never needed to raise out of the seat to power up the incline. When it was time to bomb down the other end, Eco mode kept my legs from whirling into oblivion.
Riding the MOSH/CTY within these parameters produces the best results. After all, no hill climber worth their salt opts for long gears on the ascent and short gears on the descent. With that in mind, here’s one more word to the wise: don’t let the MOSH/CTY run out of juice. In order to record the bike’s practical range, I purposefully sapped the battery during an extended weekend ride.
Unfortunately, several steep hills dotted my route back home. As one would expect, the 50/22 gear ratio didn’t exactly shuttle me up to the mountaintop. Neither did the MOSH/CTY’s 48.3-pound weight. After pumping up several hills and walking the bike up a mile-long climb, I vowed to never leave Serial 1 uncharged again.
Don’t get me wrong, even when burning the lithium-ion candle at both ends with Sport and Boost mode, I tallied more than 50 miles on a single charge. Should you forget to sufficiently power the 529Wh pack, however, there are grave consequences to pay. Luckily, users can keep tabs on the power levels via the battery’s dedicated readout or the Brose Allround LCD display.
While that austere controller matches the MOSH/CTY’s streamlined form, the interface isn’t the most legible unit on the market—especially under direct sunlight. The LCD display communicates the charge status as a single green light with five white dots (20 percent each) and the power mode as a blue light with four white dots. In the end, the Allround LCD display gets the job done, but it certainly seems like a lo-fi solution—particularly when considering the MOSH/CTY’s MSRP.
A Fitting Finish:
At $3,799, the MOSH/CTY may be Serial 1’s entry option, but that doesn’t make it budget-friendly. Anyone doubting the e-bike’s build quality, however, need only examine the premium componentry, internal cable routing, and immaculate welds. That Harley-Davidson-esque attention to detail extends to everything from the factory-mounted LED headlight to the integrated taillights (with brake light), including the MOSH/CTY’s performance.
Yes, without much flex built in, the aluminum frame can deliver a stiff ride at times, but that doesn’t stop the Serial 1 from carving corners, hopping curbs, skidding to a halt, or nose wheelieing with the best of them. The dual two-piston calipers and 203mm discs present excellent feel and feedback both fore and aft, while the dual-purpose tires enable users to pound the pavement and dabble in the dirt. The Serial 1 name may not command the same notoriety as Harley-Davidson, but the MOSH/CTY is one major stepping stone to redefining the legacy brand.