I was selected to test drive one of the prototype Harley-Davidson LiveWire motorcycles. It’s all electric and not yet for sale. Harley wants its riders to give them feedback on design, ride and improvements before they begin to manufacture them.
The orientation was quick and easy. It’s a crotch-rocket design. There is no clutch lever on the left handlebar and there is no shift pedal because there is only one gear. During deceleration, the bike uses the torque generated from the motor to charge the batteries. This creates a little more drag than normal during engine downshifting but it was by no means disturbing or unmanageable. As a matter of fact, it was very predictable when slowing to a stop and therefore, I rarely used the brake.
We rode in a group of eight riders, which was a bit unnerving since I didn’t know the abilities of the other riders. It became clear very quickly that we were all experienced group riders and we all kept safe spacing.
After getting comfortable with the bike, we all began to goose the throttle and got a real adrenaline rush out of the power. It was quicker and more powerful than any gas driven engine I’ve ever ridden on. It was truly phenomenal how fast it went – zero to sixty mph in less than 4 seconds. Awesome!
Harley riders need to hear noise when they ride. We use tailpipe noise to alert drivers that we are around. The LiveWire had excellent noise – it sounded like a jet engine! I thought it was possibly created by a computer noise generator but the specs say the noise comes from the electric motor gear and drive belt. I sat on the stationary demo bike in the expo area after my ride and rev-ed up the engine so you can hear it. The fella told me don’t let it go over 65mph. When you watch the video, notice that in less than 5 seconds as the engine winds up, I’m already at 78mph! So I shut it down. It got up to that speed that fast! I’m telling you…this sucker is FAST!
They never told us the planned price tag but in the follow-up survey, they asked what we’d expect to pay and/or what would we be willing to pay. What would you say? I told them no more than $20,000. We’ll see what happens.
I loved it however, I typically prefer the cruiser style bike and not a crotch rocket. I keep getting tempted to ride faster and lean harder. That’s probably not what I need to be doing. Laid-back cruising is more my style. Fast laid-back cruising, that is.
Listen to this!