Rennie Scaysbrook | August 28, 2020
Three weeks with a Harley-Davidson LiveWire produced some enjoyable rides, some perplexed onlookers, and extra questions than solutions.
Images by Equipment Palmer
Final August, I flew as much as Portland to journey the Harley-Davidson LiveWire electrical bike. To say this was eagerly awaited can be considerably of an understatement. Was I excited? Sure. Proud of the way it carried out? Sure. Satisfied of its potential? Additionally, sure, however…
Press launches are designed to point out the bike in its very best mild and Harley did a superb job with the LiveWire. Portland’s roads appeared to swimsuit the vary of its very speedy electrical motor and battery pack, though the roads did present up the stiff and reasonably unforgiving nature of the suspension and chassis mixture.
As such, judgement was reserved till I received maintain of 1 a 12 months later (can’t consider it’s already been that lengthy), for a three-week sojourn in So Cal. Would the vary be as much as LA-style driving, what with its plenty of freeways which might be a should to get anyplace? Would I be so enamored with the LiveWire that I’d contemplate throwing down $30K for one? Learn on.
At $29,799, the LiveWire is the sixth costliest bike in its vary of road bikes/cruisers (not together with trikes, as a result of, you recognize, they ain’t actual bikes). For that cash, you get far and away the sportiest machine within the Harley’s line-up. And when you think about the electrical propulsion, that makes the LiveWire ironic within the excessive.
Electrical bike producers like to pipe on about how all of the torque is obtainable from zero rpm. Meaning you get all of the go, on a regular basis, and consider me, there’s a number of go along with the LiveWire.
20-60 mph roll-ons present such acceleration it’s genuinely exhausting to consider it’s Harley-Davidson supplying you with this expertise, not Yamaha, Ducati or Aprilia. Pin the throttle even from a standstill and also you’re fired towards the horizon quicker than most supercars, but it surely’s whenever you’re already shifting that the acceleration actually shines. It’s not simply quick for a Harley, it’s quick, full cease.
My absolute favourite a part of the LiveWire is the throttle response. Harley has accomplished exceptionally properly on this entrance, mapping a connection between the rider and the twist grip that’s the most effective I’ve ever skilled on an electrical bike and among the finest on any gasoline bike, for that matter. The significance of such a feat must be emphasised, as a result of, not like its petrol-powered brethren, the LiveWire has no emissions legal guidelines to stick to, which is the enemy of a pleasant throttle response by way of the fuel-injection mapping required to move mentioned legal guidelines.
The throttle is delightfully deft, permitting the rider to dial in as a lot go as they like so fluidly, it’s nearly telepathic. Wind it on and issues occur so fast you don’t have time to consider the dearth of noise, or the lacking gearbox—you’re merely involved with having fun with a journey so very completely different to what you’d count on from the Bar & Defend.
That’s till you have a look at the sprint and see your vary disappearing like Houdini on a bender.
Right here’s my least favourite a part of the LiveWire. The vary from the 15.5kWh battery is solely not adequate, not in case your driving contains freeways, metropolis driving, city commuting, you recognize, all of the locations you go on any given journey.
Once I left my place to spend a morning capturing pictures for this text, I had the LiveWire charged to the hilt. A full one hundred pc vary confirmed, and I used to be off and working. My journey included a little bit little bit of suburbia, a fast stint on the freeway, a canyon scratch, some extra suburbia, and one other quick freeway leg dwelling. That totaled 73.4 miles, leaving me with seven p.c cost accessible and a quoted six miles of vary.
Granted, this was within the Highway mode (you get Sport, Highway, Rain and Vary—that last mode is designed to work the regenerative braking as exhausting as doable to get extra cost again into the battery whenever you roll off the throttle). I ought to have put it in Vary however needed to see how far I’d go simply utilizing the Highway setting, which has rather less regenerative braking.
The end result? A doable 80-miles vary in Highway mode. For a $29,799 MSRP bike. Excuse me in my criticism, however that’s a joke. Once I returned dwelling, I plugged the LiveWire into the wall and was proven it will take 10 hours and 43 minutes to cost again to full.
Harley-Davidson didn’t match Degree Two charging (Degree One and Two cost on the similar fee), however you may roll as much as any Degree Three DC Quick Cost station throughout the nation and go from zero to 80 p.c in 40 minutes, or one hundred pc in an hour, and with the abundance of Degree Three stations round in populated city areas, getting a cost shouldn’t be a difficulty. Nevertheless, you may’t be blissful for those who journey for 80 miles and you must sit for an hour every time you want a cost. The place the LiveWire turns into a viable various is for those who journey 20-25 miles every approach to work and might cost it whenever you get dwelling, and even at work. Aside from that, it’s not a convincing argument.
One fascinating factor is that electrical motors, not simply the Harley, are claimed to realize higher rage for those who use them in cease/begin conditions, like metropolis visitors, in comparison with utilizing them at a relentless velocity on the freeway, like gasoline bikes.
Harley claims 146 miles of vary when utilized in “metropolis” driving, nonetheless, I couldn’t get a greater common than about 1.1-1.3 p.c of vary per mile whereas driving round my native streets, which was as near NYC-style driving as I might get.
That will then get me near about 90-95 miles of vary, method beneath what Harley quotes. Nevertheless, I can’t remark definitively on the “metropolis” vary till I simply take one into downtown LA and dodge the tent cities for a day. However then I’d be caught there, for at the very least an hour, till I received a DC Quick Cost high up.
It will need to have been powerful for Diego Cardenas, the Californian who rode a LiveWire from San Diego to the Canadian border by driving the West Coast Inexperienced Freeway. The optimum phrase right here is “freeway.” That’s the world the place you get the least quantity of vary from a given cost. Cardenas rode over 1400 miles and took eight days to get there (presumably he was simply out for an extended cruise, reasonably than to make time). If he did it in even half that point, he’d be stopping a lot to cost he could as properly have taken the prepare.
It could sound like I’m being an a-hole right here, and in some respects, I’m. Nevertheless, driving with one eye consistently on the remaining vary will not be solely annoying, it detracts from an in any other case wonderful bike.
The match and end on the LiveWire is great, as is the 4.3-inch touchscreen that really does work with gloves, reasonably than simply the corporate saying it does. There’s cruise management, respectable brakes, though the texture on the lever is a little bit wood, and luxury is usually fairly good regardless of the stiff suspension. There’s a little bit of a attain to the ’bar, but it surely helps total consolation by serving to the rider lean into the wind with out placing a lot weight on the wrists.
Oh, and the appears to be like on folks’s faces whenever you glide previous, proud and silent, letting the paint shimmer within the solar, is nearly well worth the ticket value alone.
However the vary means I can’t advocate the LiveWire over a gasoline machine. Not but, at the very least. Bummer, as a result of there’s nothing just like the jollies you get from pinning a LiveWire at 20 mph and see 80 mph flash up on the display earlier than your thoughts has had an opportunity to catch up. It’s silly quick, and in that regard, already method forward of most gasoline bikes.
Hopefully, someday, in a couple of many years from now, somebody will learn this text and say, “man, how far we’ve come!” Electrical bikes will solely get higher from right here, cost occasions will scale back, vary will enhance, and so forth. However that point isn’t right here but. CN
2020 Harley-Davidson LiveWire Specs
|Energy unit:||Revelation Inside Everlasting Magnet Synchronous Motor with Water Jacket cooling|
|Charging:||Onboard DC to DC conversion|
|Entrance suspension:||43mm Inverted Separate Perform Fork, totally adjustable|
|Rear suspension:||Steadiness Free Rear Cushion Lite (BFRC-lite), totally adjustable|
|Entrance brake:||Twin 300mm disc, 4-piston caliper, ABS elective|
|Rear brake:||260mm disc, 1-piston caliper, ABS elective|
|Entrance tire:||120/70 ZR17|
|Rear tire:||180/55 ZR17|
|Seat top:||30 in.|
|Weight (claimed):||549 lbs.|
|Coloration:||Orange Fuse, Yellow Fuse, Vivid Black|
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