Harley Davidson LiveWire: the all-electric muscle bike for the following era
George Chapman rides the brand new Harley Davidson LiveWire – the model’s first all-electric bike
The all-new Harley Davidson LiveWire is the world’s first sequence manufacturing electrical bike from a mainstream producer; fairly an achievement for Harley Davidson, a model famend for following a really conventional recipe when designing and manufacturing bikes. Out there now, priced from £28,995 within the UK, it’s positioned amongst the model’s range-topping fashions however faces the tough process of attracting a youthful, extra tech-savvy viewers to the enduring all-American model. However is it an actual Harley Davidson?
From afar the all-new machine possesses greater than a passing resemblance to its massive V-twin engined brethren. The styling of the squared-off headlight cowl and (pretend) petrol tank are clear Harley design cues. On nearer inspection nonetheless it’s apparent that every one will not be fairly because it appears. On the very core of the bike sits its sizable battery, one thing Harley Davidson calls a ’Renewable Power Storage System’. In technical phrases, it’s a 5.5kWh high-voltage lithium ion battery pack with a built-in energy era system. Contained in a solid aluminium case with cooling fins it acts as a burdened chassis member with the body bolted round it. The unit could be charged to 80% in below 40 minutes at a public quick charger however takes a lot, for much longer (round 10 hours or extra) if plugged right into a home three-pin socket.
The official most ‘metropolis vary’ for the LiveWire is given as 146 miles, however on take a look at, this proved wholly optimistic. Extra correct is the 95 miles of ‘mixed stop-and-go and freeway’ vary. Make no mistake, this isn’t a motorcycle designed for touring and cautious route planning is crucial.
Situated immediately beneath the battery is the LiveWire’s ‘Revelation’ water-cooled electrical motor, which Harley Davidson says is nice for 0-60mph in 3.0 seconds. Ought to the necessity for just about immediate overtaking manoeuvres come up, it could additionally shoot from 60-80mph in a vastly spectacular 1.9 seconds.
In actual fact, driving the LiveWire is the place the bundle actually begins to ask questions of conventional petrol-powered bikes. Electrical or not, this can be a enjoyable and interesting bike to journey. The driving place feels macho and surprisingly aggressive for a factory-made Harley and reminds you of a streetfighter or muscle bike from the Nineties. When you’ve chosen one in all seven driving modes (three of that are customisable) to electronically management the efficiency traits of the bike and the extent of digital intervention, the LiveWire’s energy unit gently ‘throbs’ when stationary. This not solely lets you realize the throttle is energetic but in addition serves to remind you that you’re astride a motorcycle developed to disclose a particular character and a few would possibly say, soul. It feels like a weird idea, however in apply it’s surprisingly efficient.
As soon as underway you possibly can’t fail to spot the smoothness of the motor, the jet turbine-style sound it makes and the distinct lack of gears, which has your left hand and foot typically reaching into skinny air for an absent clutch or gear lever. You additionally shortly heat to the plentiful energy and torque, all 104bhp and 86 lb ft of it. Delivered in a splendidly controllable and linear method, the system is tremendous easy to function, you merely twist and go. Which means you’re quickly throwing the bike into corners with all the arrogance of an all-season dispatch rider. Able to 114mph flat out, eager riders can be happy to listen to that the LiveWire is a motorcycle extra targeted on how simply it goes quick, quite than merely how briskly it goes.
On the dealing with entrance, there’s much more to have a good time. In contrast to nearly all different Harley Davidsons, and regardless of its 250kg bulk, this bike is really at dwelling on twisty difficult roads. The journey offered by the big-piston Showa forks and a equally branded rear shock do an amazing job and ship little or no drama till very closely pushed. Traction management and ABS are commonplace, as are a set of monoblock Brembo calipers gripping twin 300mm discs, which do a high quality job of hauling the LiveWire down from velocity.
As is befitting of many premium new bikes in 2020, a 4.3-inch color TFT touchscreen presents the rider a variety of knowledge on a show that’s vivid and straightforward to learn. Bluetooth connectivity additionally comes as commonplace, so must you want, you possibly can simply settle for calls and listen to navigation directions through your smartphone. The Harley Davidson Join app additionally offers you with useful instructions, journey planning info, supplier and occasion areas and the reassurance of having the ability to remotely monitor your bike’s safety, utilizing tamper alerts.
From a design perspective, and when it comes to pushing the boundaries of expertise, the LiveWire is a large hit on many accounts. Few different electrical bikes accessible right now are as fascinating, as efficient or as a lot enjoyable to journey. The truth that there’s a Harley Davidson badge on the tank is probably extra shocking nonetheless, and solely a courageous salesman will try to persuade an present buyer that the spirit of the model is alive and effectively on this impressively high-tech and future-ready machine. So sure, the LiveWire is a superb Harley, however actually not as you realize it. §