Electric cars have been getting a lot of attention in recent years, but did you know that brands all over the world are starting to release some truly impressive electric motorcycles? There are few brands more synonymous with the word “motorcycle” than Harley-Davidson, but the company has been looking to change its brand representation in recent years. One of the coolest initiatives they have launched is the Harley LiveWire series. Today, we are going to look at this famously loud motorcycle brand’s take on a quiet electric machine. Let’s get started.
What is the Harley LiveWire?
Harley LiveWire is one of the newest initiatives by the famous motorcycle company, Harley-Davidson. Although Harleys are famously known to be low-riding and loud, this new iteration of the company seeks to change consumers’ ideas about who drives Harley’s nowadays. Gone (or at least hidden) are the vest-wearing, goatee-sporting customers of the past. The new Harley-Davidson customers are here, wearing a thrifted shirt, Thursday boots from an Instagram ad, and wanting something much more green.
The first LiveWire was released in 2019, but a lot has changed since then. In fact, Harley has already begun the process of splitting off LiveWire from the parent company and creating its own SPAC (special purpose acquisition company) within the first half of 2022. Things are looking great for the spinoff as well, with a current valuation of nearly USD 2 billion. Still, as cool as an electric bike sounds, is this electric take on a classic bike all it’s chalked up to be? Let’s get into the details.
Essential Specs Overview
We’ve split the important features of this bike into two categories, Essential and Special Features. Essential features and specifications are important for any prospective bike owner to know, regardless if it’s electric or not. These will help give a baseline as to how the LiveWire compares to a standard bike. Special features are things that are unique to the LiveWire, as well as other electric bikes. It’s important to note that this overview is based on the LiveWire One, although it was historically known as just the LiveWire. A new model is set to be released in the coming years and is known as the LiveWire Del Mar.
Chassis and Frame
The LiveWire looks like a modern bike without the standard trimmings you expect with an engine. As such, there is no exhaust or engine, although the powertrain is present, just hooked up to an electric motor. The bike also features SHOWA front forks and rear shocks, with a mono-shock rear suspension system. Overall, the LiveWire weighs 470 pounds dry and has a cast aluminum frame.
Battery and Charging
Like anything electric, the LiveWire has its own battery and charging system. For many brands looking to create EVs, this is a make-or-break bit of hardware. Poor battery performance or design results in low mileage and short life. Thankfully, the LiveWire doesn’t seem to cut any corners.
The onboard battery has a total capacity of 15.4 kWh and features 0-100% charging in 60 minutes or 0-80% charging in 40 minutes (generally, as you increase battery capacity, the charging slows, so this is standard). It’s important to note that these charging measurements are stated using the DC fast-charge system. More realistically, LiveWire claims 13 miles per hour of charging, although this is surely variable. The included charger is a Type 2 connector and can be used at home or in public. Additionally, there is a CCS connector that allows for rapid charging.
The range on the LiveWire is split into three categories: city, combined, and highway.
|Type of Driving||Range|
|Combined Stop-and-Go||95 miles|
Power and Speed
The LiveWire features the REVELATION electric motor and is liquid-cooled through a water jacket and the circulation of coolant. Here are the current stats:
|0-60 mph||3.0 seconds|
|60-80 mph||+1.9 seconds|
|Top Speed||110 mph|
Although these aren’t stats comparative to bikes designed for speed (R1s, Ninjas, Hayabusas, for example), they are quite comparable to the standard bikes in the Harley-Davidsons lineup. Regardless, hitting 60 mph in three seconds is plenty of thrill for anyone.
Special Features on the Harley LiveWire
Part of what makes riding a bike so exhilarating is the connection between you and your machine. In traditional ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles, you can feel certain things that allow you to better drive (RPMS, gears, etc.) Since there is no shifting and no engine on the LiveWire, Harley-Davidson has a built-in haptic system (deep vibration system) that helps you to feel more connected with your bike. When you first turn it on, for example, it pulses like a heartbeat.
Almost all EVs come standard with regenerative braking. Essentially, physics allows you to forcibly turn an electric motor backward, charging the battery. In many cars, the motors are used as brakes, saving the brakes themselves, while also charging the battery every time you slow down.
A benefit of having an electric vehicle is that it can connect to the internet! As such, you can monitor your charge, lock, and track your bike all from your cell phone. Additionally, you can connect Bluetooth and manage settings on the 4.3-inch touchscreen acting as the bike’s brain.
An added benefit of the LiveWire is that you can customize certain ride features to maximize various elements. These customizations tweak the regen braking level, power settings, and throttle capabilities. Using these three settings, users can select from five ride modes: Sport, Road, Range, Rain, and Custom.
How Much Does A Harley LiveWire Cost?
For the basic stock model Harley LiveWire, expect to spend at least $22,799 USD. There are some incentives available, but those vary by location. Adding any customizations, including the Radius Carbon Fiber Kit or the Rizoma Precision Billet Kit, could run as much as $1,300.
Is the Harley LiveWire Right for You?
There are a few things that anyone looking to buy a LiveWire should consider.
What are you hoping to use this bike for? While you could use it as a distance bike, you would probably have a really rough time. If you are just looking for a daily driver with a short commute or a fun weekend bike, this would be ideal. The range is most definitely a limiting factor, although most daily commuters would charge theirs fully at night.
This isn’t a cheap bike, but it isn’t a luxury bike either. If you are looking for your first bike and want something to tear up a bit, this may be a bit too expensive for you. With a price tag of over $20,000, you are well into the range where almost any bike is available directly off the lot. Competition is high in that price range.
There is something wonderful about the sound of a motorcycle. Still, to be clear, silently gliding down a street at night in an electric bike is its own sort of feeling. As a consumer, you need to decide if one is a necessity, especially if you are going to spend 20k on a bike.