There is no bigger proof that electric bikes are here to stay than the Harley-Davidson LiveWire. The mother of all chopper brands, the one we all dream of released an EV and it rips. Faithful to its principles, the motorcycle is a powerful vehicle outdoing most of the incipient competition. The lines are aggressive, the colour scheme is bold and the result quite a trip. I don't want to be a spoiler, so I'll stop right there. Let me tell you that it was a huge pleasure to be on top of this machine. Riding the future right into the sunset is a one-of-a-kind feeling I'm about to share with you. Besides the Harley-Davidson LiveWire, I will tell you about some amazing accessories you should try out.
Let’s get right to it, the future doesn't wait for anyone, including you and me.
The Harley-Davidson LiveWire is such an important step forward for the motorcycle industry. Besides being a fully electric vehicle, it is the first-ever mass-produced motorcycle of its kind. No other major manufacturer did this before thus it is the first but it shall not be the last. In fact, Harley started this project back in 2014 with the idea of releasing a full line of EVs.
Now, if you have been riding for some time and have been on a Harley or two, you know what the brand stands for. It is not a super modern Japanese concept brand, but the entire opposite. Harley represents the entire world the peak of what we know as American Muscle Bikes. Although Indian is always ahead, there are also some iconic touring, highly ornamented models that made history. Besides these two categories, bikes like the Roadster turned new generations into the idea, the dream of owning a Harley. The company understood that big muscle cars and bikes are something from the past. They came up with newer, more efficient and smaller versions ready to conquer the streets.
This is a bold leap for a company that represents the exact opposite in the minds of most people. Also, the Harley-Davidson LiveWire might bring Harley some detraction from long-time fans. Given all this, it is clear that they are after a segment that is now empty. In other words, they want Harley-Davidson LiveWire electric segment just like they own the chopper one. This is to say that they need to not only redefine the brand aesthetic, but also the brand´s aim. Harley worked really hard building legendary bikes to be a synonym of freedom, open road, and exuberant roaring exhausts. They will have to invest the same in the Harley-Davidson LiveWire series to gain that spot in the EV category. They made it first, but in the long run; can they outdo the competition?
We all know that the world needs a break from fossil fuels. I´m not going to go into statistics, but switching to electric vehicles is a definite must. Electric cars have been around for some time and also electric mopeds and scooters. The real challenge that the brand faced with this model was to make a really capable bike running solely on electricity. The Harley-Davidson LiveWire 2020 is exactly that: a full-on bike with a different fuel. Did Harley exploit fully the new advantages of an electric vehicle or did they just mimic combustion engine bikes? Well, I´m more inclined to think of the second option. They even put the charging port where the fuel tank would be filled through!
Make no mistake though; the Harley-Davidson LiveWire is a transition vehicle. Time will tell if electric vehicles will change the way we conceive ergonomics and comfort or not. This first mass-produced all-electric motorcycle by a big brand is decidedly an important step. Also, it is not the only step; other big brands will certainly follow if the Harley-Davidson LiveWire is successful.
Its introduction to the world of motorcycles caused quite a shock. Harley fed on that shock and positive reviews. According to the company, people are really enjoying the Harley-Davidson LiveWire. In fact, actor, rider and adventurer Ewan McGregor drove one from Tierra del Fuego all the way to Los Angeles. He mentions in this interview that charging was quite an issue. That is the case for many riders since it is much easier to find a petrol station than it is to find an outlet for your bike. That being said, Level 3 charging could fill the battery up to 100% from zero in less than an hour. The only problem is to find such outlets everywhere in the world.
Well, yes, I know what you are thinking and I definitely agree: I´m a very lucky man. When you are an avid rider and writer and get this kind of call you can´t do anything else but smile. Let´s get one thing straight right from the beginning: I am a chopper/tourer lover. I did many trips across the country on board of several Indians, Harleys, and even owned a Honda Gold Wing for a while. I´m very used to the sound, feel, and the response of internal combustion engines. I´ve been riding them for the past 30 years!
I had been following the release of the Harley-Davidson LiveWire since the very beginning. And, I felt that kind of pride when your favourite brand does something cool. I am a Harley lover and I do think that electric vehicles are the future. The bottom line, I was super excited.
When I got to the dealership where we were going to do the test I saw all the bikes standing outside. Let me tell you first of all that the Harley-Davidson LiveWire looks great. The sleek curves and ergonomics are top of the line. Also, the matte finish is very modern and suits the modern-bike lines perfectly. What I did notice walking towards it is that it is more of a street fighter, naked bike rather than a traditional Harley. Also, you have no exhaust pipes, no clutch, and no gears. It does feel weird in a good way because no exhaust pipes translate into no emissions to the air. It means a greener, better world. That put a smile on my face and wearing my extended lips I walked in to say hi to everyone.
We set off almost immediately. When you start it (do I need to say it has an “electric starter” instead of a kick?) it takes some seconds to be ready. The two green lines on both sides of the great touch-screen TFT display and a sudden vibration through the bike let you know you´re good to go. The amount of battery left, the current speed and other indicators are clearly visible. The bike has a total of seven riding modes. Four of those seven modes are factory presets; the remaining three are up to the user to configure. The rain mode is the safest and the one we were told to use when leaving the dealership.
There is no clutch, no gears so rolling this 250kg bike to the asphalt was kind of daunting. I had to use the throttle and this bike really pushes you forward. I felt a little embarrassed by it. There´s a learning curve to the fact that you have no gears or clutch; especially at higher speeds. Your brain has automatized movements that kick in instinctively and hence you reach out for the clutch to downshift before a curve, for example. Speaking of which, the bike has a recharging system that slows it down a bit. Depending on the mode, it will recharge the battery as soon as you let go of the throttle. These are small things but when your bike does 0 to 60mph in 3 seconds, it is something to bear in mind.
The gravity centre of the bike is so low that you don´t feel like carrying a big object around. Also, it makes it more agile, nimble and perfect for the streets. Changing the modes you can certainly change the entire bike response. The “eco” mode is the most conservative and the regeneration of the battery has more effect on the bike´s performance. The “road” mode is the one I enjoyed the most because it is the most balanced one. Finally, the “sport” mode is outrageous. As you read it. The sport mode turns this bike into a daredevil. The amazing aspect of this resides in the fact that there are no dead spots like in combustion engines. You can push forward as powerfully and quickly at high speeds as at low speeds. It flies over the asphalt. I would not recommend riding in sport mode in the city at all.
Speaking of asphalt and city, the bike worked as a marvel on city streets. The stealth mode silence of it is so welcome that you don´t even miss the low roar of the pipes. This is partly because you feel like riding the future rather than the past.
The highway was a great place to really push the engine and it responded perfectly. Harley put a lot of work and thought to this bike. The suspension although fully adjustable felt a little too stiff to take bumps in the city but was perfect at high-speed scenarios.
Returning the bike was not a happy moment but it got me thinking: if the beginning is like this; I´m very excited about the future.
Every part of the Harley-Davidson LiveWire was specifically designed for it and hence we can´t really talk about accessorizing it. Rather, we can speak about Harley´s program to design your own. What I do have to talk to you about are two accessories that blew my mind and will blow yours too.
The Harley-Davidson LiveWire is the next step in motorcycle history. In fact, riding one is to ride history in the making. Will, it set the benchmark for all models to come, or will it go by as a good attempt? To me, it is such a capable, powerful, and fun machine to ride that it has nothing to envy other Harleys I own. The only drawback I see is that the world isn´t ready for it yet. There have to be more charging outlets to make electric vehicles a thing. If the world supplies the means, there is no doubt we are on the verge of a revolution.
Have you had any electric vehicle experience already? Feel free to tell me all about it in the comments and to share this with fellow riders. Especially, share it with Harley lovers!
Happy (electric) riding!