Automobile News, Motorbike Reviews, Opinion

Harley Davidson – LiveWire… the electric machine!

Electric bikes have been around longer than you expected. The first electric motorcycle was patented in 1897. Then, there was no progress in the electric motorcycle development for about a 100 years. Now, a lot of manufacturers are taking interest in the electric motorcycle and one of the most conservative, conventional and traditional manufacturer, Harley Davidson, has taken interest in the electric motorcycle and started project LiveWire.

Harley Davidson - LiveWire
LiveWire Badge

It is good to see the company progressing and coming up with such new ideas.

Harley-Davidson kicked off a US tour travelling through 30 Harley dealerships and it also intends to do the same across Europe and Canada. All this to show the product and take a customer survey.

Harley Davidson - LiveWire bikes
Prototype LiveWire’s

Anyone who thinks about Harley’s, the first thing that comes to mind in a beautifully thumping V-Twin Motor. The Project Live Wire is nothing like that. It is an opportunity for Harley Davidson’s customers to get on an all electric motorcycle and give Harley Davidson a little feedback on what they feel.

We as human beings have a tendency to resist change. It’s just a natural phenomenon. Over time we then come to accept these changes. The traditional Harley riders are a little skeptical about this change and want to stick to the traditional loud bikes but the feedback from the newer generation riders has been amazing. The bike is pegged for female riders and customers from other brands too.

Harley Davidson does not intend to change over to these types of bikes. The V-Twin powered bikes will continue to be produced alongside.

The biggest problem with any vehicle powered by electricity is range. The range on this concept has been optimized as a demonstration vehicle of 53 miles. They are taking feedback from riders about what sort of range they would like on the bike.
The battery technology is fast growing and over time, when this motorcycle does come into production, it will have a really optimized range.

The design team who makes the Harley’s, have their design centered around the jewel of the bike, the v-twin engine, similarly, the design of the LiveWire was designed to focus and highlight on the longitudinally mounted motor. The motor looks like an in-line 4 cylinder engine when you look at the casing.

The bike uses a traditional Harley Davidson belt drive and is a single speed gearbox. This gives amazing throttle response and a 0-100 kmph just under 4 seconds.

Harley Davidson - LiveWire speed
Harley Davidson LiveWire

The stance of the bike is aggressive, which features an ultra light cast aluminium frame weighing just above 6 kgs. The whole bike weighs 210 kgs. A adjustable rear mounted mono shock suspension, fully adjustable inverted front forks.

The bike is really comfortable for people of all sizes and girls as well.

The design is a blend of both old and new, the lights are are a combination of both reflector and projector LED technology and all the lights are full LED. LED’s certainly are expensive but they are light, compact and consume very less power and at the same time provide bright illumination.

Harley Davidson - LiveWire looks
Full LED front Headlamps and Indicator Stocks

The instrument cluster, a touchscreen interface, isn’t completely integrated into the design and looks like a large smartphone or tablet.

Harley Davidson - LiveWire dashboard
Touchscreen Instrument Cluster

The bike is great for new riders as it has no clutch, no gears to shift and is a complete get on and go bike. The only things that need a service are the brake fluids and the tires.

The team made some deliberate decisions as far as the sound of the bike is concerned. Unlike other electric bikes which are distinctly silent, the LiveWire makes a characteristic sound. It’s best described as the sound of a jet engine. The sound is based on a gear noise and not artificially generated. The longitudinally mounted motor which is transmitted up a bevel gear which helps make its characteristic sound.

To start the bike, flick a switch from the off position to the run position which is activated by the key fob, similar to the key-less entry systems on cars. Then press and hold the start button.

Before starting off, riders have to choose between a range mode and a power ride mode which run for 59 & 29 miles respectively on full charge. However, to switch over you need to stop.

The ride is pleasant at speed and the bike is light weight and handles it really well. Top speed is 92 MPH. The re-gen is just amazing and the brake pads are hardly used. Both used in conjunction is really amazing and the bike has only one disc on the front. This is more than sufficient. The throttle is progressive and at no point does it lurch or jerk in any way.
Compared to the traditional Harley’s with the foot clutch and hand shift this is the complete opposite to ride.

The LiveWire is a running prototype that will set the baseline for the models that Harley’s generate, based on the same concept.

Harley Davidson - LiveWire specifications
Harley Davidson LiveWire

I commend Harley Davidson from sticking their head in the sand and making the same thing year in and year out. It is the reason why we saw the demise of many British motorcycle companies and also Indian. As traditional a manufacturer as Harley Davidson may be, it is good to see them thinking ahead about the future.

In a couple of years when electric bike’s become faster and more convenient, that is when the revolution is going to start and i am confident that Harley Davidson will be one of the leaders to be a part of this revolution.

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A pure petrol head. Soon to be Automobile Engineer, Top Gear and F1 Fan. EDM Lover.