Hello once more, outdated good friend. What you are is the Harley-Davidson LiveWire, a really totally different bike from a really conventional bike firm. It’s Harley’s first EV, and the primary EV from what I’d think about a significant, mainstream bike firm. At $29,799, it is also probably the most costly. I used to be fortunate to experience a prototype of this bike means again in 2014, and whereas I’m not solely certain what’s taken so lengthy to deliver it to manufacturing, I’m very glad to say that this factor was well worth the wait.
The methodThe conventional method of Harley-Davidson is one thing like this: Take a large V-twin engine and wrap a motorbike round it. That bike can both be on the minimalist aspect, like in a Sportster, or the extreme aspect, like in an Electra Glide, however all the time that engine is the important thing, loping away to announce the presence, arrival or departure of motorbike and rider.With the LiveWire it is all a bit totally different. 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 is as an alternative 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, it is a “Renewable Energy Storage System.”Whatever 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’s 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 Motorcycle Test Cycle.) That’s 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 Power Tank, is rated for 223 within the metropolis.
You can get a full cost in lower than an hour. An 80% cost takes simply 40 minutes.
So no matter the way you have a look at it, vary is on the low aspect. But then the LiveWire has a trick up it sleeve: DC quick charging. Find your self an acceptable charger, of the type being put in at each 250 LiveWire-selling Harley-Davidson dealerships globally, and you may 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 totally adjustable Showa suspension with Big 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.Physical controls are busy however complete. The gauge cluster, nevertheless, leaves one thing to be desired.
The controlsIt would not do for a sophisticated bike 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 huge, thick leather-based gauntlets. Mind you, you will not want to the touch it, as you possibly can toggle by means of the essential screens due to a sequence of controls on proper grip.The show allows a outstanding quantity of customization and suppleness, however I’ve to say I’m disillusioned by the aesthetic. There’s nothing both basic or futuristic concerning the factor, it simply seems like a primary Android pill with a slapdash set of apps and widgets. You can do issues like ship navigation data out of your telephone and create the right drive mode for each temper, however I actually want it seemed extra, nicely, premium.Thankfully it is bought it the place it counts, beginning with a sea of rider modes. Four 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 will have three extra (A, B and C) which are totally customizable. Sadly it isn’t fairly as complete because the Ducati Multistrada, as you will nonetheless have to fiddle with the suspension the old style means (learn: screwdriver and wrench), however this sort of personalization remains 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 little bit an excessive amount of throttle or brakes.Engaging? Oh sure, very.
The rideThough a lot of my day within the saddle of the LiveWire was spent on twisty lanes that snaked by means of the attractive forests within the Pacific Northwest, fortunately I did not have to check these security techniques to keep away from Bambi or any of her buddies. That stated, I did get a style of ABS when braking on a few of downtown Portland’s damaged asphalt, and the traction management stored me pointed in the precise route when the rear wheel spun up whereas following a railway line.That I did not pattern the rider aids extra regularly talks to the great nature of the general package deal. The suspension feels a little bit under-damped at first blush, however most likely essentially so to ship a great mixture of experience high quality whereas additionally holding this 549-pound sled on course.Even extra spectacular is the throttle mapping. Harley has clearly spent loads of time ensuring it is pristine. Whether navigating parking heaps at a strolling tempo, creeping alongside in visitors ready for the automobile forward to maneuver or screaming by means of sinuous again roads, the LiveWire all the time 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 means, requiring a wide-open throttle to get any response.
When 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 honest, plus it is obtainable immediately and all the time makes this factor really feel remarkably fast. At low speeds it is going to teleport into any hole in visitors. At larger speeds the LiveWire is extra relaxed — such is the best way of EVs — however by no means feels sluggish. This is a motorcycle with all of the real-world usable energy you possibly can ever need with the brakes and suspension to match.Riding place is certainly extra sportbike than cruiser, however nonetheless pretty upright and relaxed. I did not spend a lot time at significantly excessive speeds however, regardless of the dearth 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 simple attain for many. (Harley-Davidson may even provide a good decrease seat for anybody so inclined.) The LiveWire doesn’t disappoint. But will it promote?
Wrap-upAt first blush, $29,799 for a motorbike providing much less vary and fewer pace than the instant competitors is a tall order. However, should you’ve learn this far and nonetheless cannot get previous that time, let me remind you once more that it is a Harley-Davidson. Bikes bearing the Bar & Shield not often compete purely on value and efficiency. Beyond that, the LiveWire is a much more comprehensively constructed and tuned bike than its instant opponents, whereas the existence of a pervasive dealership community actually does not damage.The query stays, nevertheless, whether or not the model can depend on its heritage to promote premium bikes with a premium value to a brand new technology of fickle customers. And I confess I’m nonetheless a little bit skeptical about whether or not the corporate can truly promote the issues. Harley-Davidson famously tried and didn’t woo the final new technology of patrons with Buell. Today, will its dealerships show extra welcoming to these all in favour of carbon offsets than loud pipes? I actually hope so, as a result of the LiveWire is a superb experience. It’d be a disgrace to see it wither on the vine.