Howdy once more, previous pal. What you are taking a look at is the Harley-Davidson LiveWire, a really totally different bike from a really conventional motorbike firm. It is Harley’s first EV, and the primary EV from what I’d think about a serious, mainstream motorbike firm. At $29,799, it is also one of the vital costly. I used to be fortunate to trip a prototype of this bike method again in 2014, and whereas I am not solely positive what’s taken so lengthy to deliver it to manufacturing, I am very glad to say that this factor was definitely worth the wait.

The method

The standard method of Harley-Davidson is one thing like this: Take an enormous V-twin engine and wrap a motorbike round it. That motorbike can both be on the minimalist facet, like in a Sportster, or the extreme facet, like in an Electra Glide, however at all times that engine is the important thing, loping away to announce the presence, arrival or departure of motorcycle and rider.

With the LiveWire it is all a bit totally different. Right here, the core of the bike is not a V-twin or every other type of engine, as a result of there merely is not one. There’s as a substitute an 85-horsepower electrical motor, however regardless of its chrome plating it is actually the battery pack that serves as the center of this bike — a lot in order that Harley is not even calling it a battery pack. Oh no, this can be a “Renewable Vitality Storage System.”

No matter it’s, it shops 15.5 kilowatt-hours of electrical energy in its lithium-ion coronary heart, sufficient for the LiveWire to cowl an estimated 146 miles of most vary. That is in low-speed metropolis driving, although. Hit the freeway and you will do as few as 70 on a cost, with a mixed determine of 95. (The bike scores 98 miles on the World Bike Check Cycle.) That is a good bit shorter than one thing like a Sportster 1200, which is able to do about 200 miles on a tank of excellent ‘ol gasoline, and fairly a bit lower than the electrical Zero SR which, with the Energy Tank, is rated for 223 within the metropolis.

You will get a full cost in lower than an hour. An 80% cost takes simply 40 minutes.

So no matter the way you take a look at it, vary is on the low facet. However then the LiveWire has a trick up it sleeve: DC quick charging. End up an appropriate charger, of the kind being put in at each 250 LiveWire-selling Harley-Davidson dealerships globally, and you will get a full cost in lower than an hour. An 80% cost takes simply 40 minutes.

Augmenting all that could be a complete set of off-the-shelf goodies, like absolutely adjustable Showa suspension with Large Piston forks. Radially mounted, four-piston Brembo monobloc calipers squeeze twin discs on the entrance, whereas a quiet and maintenance-free belt drive spins the rear wheel.

Bodily controls are busy however complete. The gauge cluster, nevertheless, leaves one thing to be desired.

Tim Stevens/Roadshow

The controls

It would not do for a complicated motorbike like this to make do with any ‘ol gauge cluster, and so Harley-Davidson has augmented the LiveWire with a capacitive-touch LCD that, sure, works with gloves on. Even massive, thick leather-based gauntlets. Thoughts you, you will not want to the touch it, as you may toggle by the essential screens due to a collection of controls on proper grip.

The show permits a outstanding quantity of customization and suppleness, however I’ve to say I am disillusioned by the aesthetic. There’s nothing both basic or futuristic in regards to the factor, it simply seems to be like a primary Android pill with a slapdash set of apps and widgets. You are able to do issues like ship navigation data out of your cellphone and create the proper drive mode for each temper, however I actually want it regarded extra, effectively, premium.

Fortunately it is acquired it the place it counts, beginning with a sea of rider modes. 4 to start out, together with highway, rain, sport and vary. These modify the throttle response, final energy, quantity of regeneration and intrusiveness of the traction management. If that is not sufficient, you could have three extra (A, B and C) which can be absolutely customizable. Sadly it is not fairly as complete because the Ducati Multistrada, as you may nonetheless have to fiddle with the suspension the old style method (learn: screwdriver and wrench), however this type of personalization continues to be drastically appreciated.

All that’s tied to Harley’s most complete rider-assistance package deal but, that includes primary stuff like traction management and ABS however augmented with a six-axis accelerometer to make sure each perform correctly at any diploma of lean. There’s additionally anti-wheelie and even anti-stoppie, guaranteeing you do not get a shock when grabbing both a bit an excessive amount of throttle or brakes.

Partaking? Oh sure, very.


The trip

Although a lot of my day within the saddle of the LiveWire was spent on twisty lanes that snaked by the attractive forests within the Pacific Northwest, fortunately I did not have to check these security methods to keep away from Bambi or any of her associates. That stated, I did get a style of ABS when braking on a few of downtown Portland’s damaged asphalt, and the traction management saved me pointed in the appropriate route when the rear wheel spun up whereas following a railway line.

That I did not pattern the rider aids extra often talks to the excellent nature of the general package deal. The suspension feels a bit under-damped at first blush, however in all probability essentially so to ship a very good mixture of trip high quality whereas additionally maintaining this 549-pound sled not off course.

Much more spectacular is the throttle mapping. Harley has clearly spent a whole lot of time ensuring it is pristine. Whether or not navigating parking heaps at a strolling tempo, creeping alongside in site visitors ready for the automotive forward to maneuver or screaming by sinuous again roads, the LiveWire at all times reacted simply as I needed to. Many different EVs are too snatchy with the throttle, lurching ahead with the slightest twist. Some go too far the opposite method, requiring a wide-open throttle to get any response.

If you do actually open the throttle the LiveWire leaps ahead with eye-opening rapidity.

LiveWire does it proper, and while you do actually open the throttle it leaps ahead with eye-opening rapidity. Eighty-six pound-feet of torque is healthier than truthful, plus it is obtainable immediately and at all times makes this factor really feel remarkably fast. At low speeds it would teleport into any hole in site visitors. At greater speeds the LiveWire is extra relaxed — such is the way in which of EVs — however by no means feels gradual. This can be a bike with all of the real-world usable energy you would ever need with the brakes and suspension to match.

Using place is unquestionably extra sportbike than cruiser, however nonetheless pretty upright and relaxed. I did not spend a lot time at notably excessive speeds however, regardless of the shortage of fairing, buffeting wasn’t a problem. The small seat is sort of comfy and, at simply 30.7 inches off the bottom, will show a straightforward attain for many. (Harley-Davidson can even supply a fair decrease seat for anybody so inclined.) 

The LiveWire doesn’t disappoint. However will it promote?



At first blush, $29,799 for a motorbike providing much less vary and fewer velocity than the fast competitors is a tall order. Nevertheless, for those who’ve learn this far and nonetheless cannot get previous that time, let me remind you once more that this can be a Harley-Davidson. Bikes bearing the Bar & Defend not often compete purely on worth and efficiency. Past that, the LiveWire is a much more comprehensively constructed and tuned bike than its fast rivals, whereas the existence of a pervasive dealership community definitely does not damage.

The query stays, nevertheless, whether or not the model can depend on its heritage to promote premium bikes with a premium worth to a brand new technology of fickle customers. And I confess I am nonetheless a bit skeptical about whether or not the corporate can really promote the issues. Harley-Davidson famously tried and didn’t woo the final new technology of consumers with Buell. At present, will its dealerships show extra welcoming to these focused on carbon offsets than loud pipes? I definitely hope so, as a result of the LiveWire is a good trip. It might be a disgrace to see it wither on the vine.


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