First Drive: I used to be mistaken concerning the Harley-Davidson Livewire
“Using the Livewire is in contrast to something I’ve skilled on two wheels.”
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There’s a row of lime inexperienced and burnt orange Harley-Davidson Livewires attractively parked on a busy one-way road. They’re trying photo-shoot prepared, and so they’re right here for me to play with.
A lone late mannequin sport bike, chubby rider clad in a high-vis jacket, seems down the road road and slowly cruises as much as the Harleys at neighborhood speeds. As soon as our portly good friend is about 10 ft away, he aggressively revs his throttle 4 or 5 instances as he slides by our lineup of electrical bikes.
I’ll by no means know if he meant to sign his approval of the electrical Harleys, or he was displaying off his loud combustion engine to name the electrical bikes out. No matter his intent, he seemed like a relic. Subsequent to those battery-powered bikes, his was a dinosaur giving its final roar earlier than extinction.
The Livewire goals to additionally stop an extinction, as properly. That of Harley-Davidson itself. U.S. bike gross sales have declined for years, and Harley’s costly bikes are among the many decline’s victims. With the announcement of the Livewire, and the next drip of specs and particulars, I believed this electrical bike was Harley’s sole hope for resurrection. I used to be mistaken about that. I used to be mistaken about so much with the Livewire.
Throwing my leg over the low saddle of this new form of Harley-Davidson, I used to be stunned how light-weight the bike felt as I rocked it forwards and backwards beneath me. Most Harleys have a wholesome and purposeful heft. Whereas the Livewire factually lives as much as that fame at 549lbs, the load is hung so low within the chassis that it fortunately methods you into pondering it’s a a lot lighter bike.
The Livewire has no drawback motivating itself from a useless cease.
The overwhelming majority of the bike’s weight is concentrated within the 15.5kWh battery and the distinctive “Revelation” electrical motor, which is mounted simply 5.1 inches off the tarmac. That customized Harley coronary heart is sweet for 105hp and 86ft-lbs of torque, lots for a motorbike of any form. The Livewire has no drawback motivating itself from a useless cease.
Motivating me for the time being is the need to lastly take a look at out the Livewire, so I hit the two-button sequence that brings this high-tech Harley to life. The engineers use two notifications to let house owners and riders know when the bike is purposeful and when the throttle is “scorching.” One in all these is logical and welcome. The opposite, not a lot.
The sprint display screen lights up with a inexperienced border, inexperienced after all which means go. The second, extra uncommon notification arrives from a pulse that vibrates by the bike itself. The engineers achieved this by having the electrical motor rock and forwards and backwards ever so barely.
Adam Kaslikowski/Digital Traits
The Harley staff in contrast this to the machine’s heartbeat. That was not my first thought with a pulsing feeling between my thighs. Is it oddly sexual to really feel this bike throb beneath you? Sure. Is the pulsing adjustable for rider choice? Additionally sure.
Lastly, it was time to hit the streets. Rolling on the throttle provides 1 / 4 inch of no response, then immediate and silent propulsion out into the ready road.
The bike just isn’t silent. No electrical bike, automotive, airplane, practice, or motorized baggage is definitely silent. You at all times hear the rising thrum of the electrical motor spinning as you improve revolutions per minute. The sound from the Livewire’s motor and driveshaft has tuned by engineering and supplies selections to be as pleasing as doable.
It labored, too. The sound is a welcome accompaniment to the elevated ahead momentum I’m piling on as I familiarize myself with the Livewire’s really feel and response.
As I (actually) zip by visitors, it’s value debunking a well-liked criticism about electrical bikes. The motto that “loud pipes save lives” is antithetical to EV motos, and a relentless pushback from conventional bike house owners.
Right here’s the issue with that principle. The overwhelming majority of motorbike accidents contain a automobile turning left in entrance of an oncoming rider. The opposite main trigger is motorcyclists driving inebriated. Neither of those conditions could be mounted by having loud tailpipes.
Adam Kaslikowski/Digital Traits
Different conditions the place a loud bike is useful – like lane splitting in California, the place I stay – will be solved by tapping your bike’s horn to alert automobiles to your presence. Do because the South Asians do on their scooters, and make that horn your co-pilot.
Honking by no means turns into crucial whereas I’m on the Livewire, as each different highway consumer appears transfixed with the bike and my silent rolling progress. And that progress is spirited certainly.
The Livewire appears to have an infinite candy spot of acceleration. At any pace, you possibly can rapidly acquire 10 extra miles per hour with the slightest twist of your wrist. Whenever you’ve overdone it, the brakes – conventional metal discs which have a progressive and predictable chunk – deliver you to a swift and assured cease.
The texture of using the Livewire is in contrast to something I’ve skilled on two wheels.
The Livewire’s switches and mirrors are immediately recognizable from the Harley elements catalogue. Which means replacements or upgrades ought to be as easy an affair as on different bikes. The seating place is comfy, and the saddle supplied loads of shock and bump absorption. With no transmission, I felt no jerkiness or hangups. All controls fall simply handy and are intuitive after just some minutes on the bike.
The texture of using the Livewire is in contrast to something I’ve skilled on two wheels. Truly, that’s not strictly true. When you find yourself on a standard bike, stringing corners collectively completely, your bike can soften away and appear to vanish beneath you. In these fleeting moments, in that break up second, it may possibly really feel like you might be weightless and flying a number of ft off the bottom. There isn’t any bike, simply you.
That’s what the Livewire appears like. On a regular basis.
With no engine vibration and with no exhaust noise, you might be left with scant few reminders that you’re on a motorbike in any respect. Above 50mph, the electrical hum of the motor disappears behind the wind noise towards your helmet, and you might be left with nothing however you and the canyon unwinding in entrance of you, hitting turns forwards and backwards in as speedy a succession as you’re ready. It’s an eerie feeling, and one which I’d pay a good-looking value to recapture every day. I’ve by no means been a canyon-carver motorcyclist, however I’d fortunately change that with a Livewire in my secure.
I’ve to say, I used to be mistaken about this bike. I believed it was going to be too heavy, because it’s a Harley. I used to be unimpressed with the 146 miles of max vary. I believed they missed the mark, confirmed as much as market a day late and a greenback brief. I used to be mistaken about all of that. The Livewire is a superb bike and an awesome effort from the Harley staff.
It’s not heavy in observe because the dense parts are so low within the chassis. The vary isn’t spectacular when in comparison with a Zero SR/F, however is greater than sufficient to stay with every day. The engineers have additionally ensured you can acquire 13 miles of vary by charging for an hour at a lowly family 120v, and as much as 116 miles in simply 40 minutes utilizing a DC Quick Cost at an Electrify America (or different community) station.
The worth is sort of expensive at $29,799, however the shock for me was that Harley-Davidson is aware of this, and isn’t bothered within the slightest. You see, the Livewire is their showcase. It’s their halo mannequin, to point out what they’re able to constructing and get kids like myself involved in their electrical portfolio.
The Harley staff was desirous to level out that the Livewire goes to spawn a complete lineup of electrical bikes that may cowl a broad vary of costs.
My time with the lime inexperienced Livewire was confined to a handful of hours within the California mountains and adjoining cities. With out residing with the bike for days at a time, I can’t say whether or not my conversion would final. However proper right here, proper now, on the bike, I see no purpose why it wouldn’t.