Harley-Davidson has now presented its first electric motorcycle LiveWire in detail. The LiveWire is scheduled to be launched at select dealers in the USA and most European countries shortly with expanding global availability planned for 2020 through 2021.
With the LiveWire, Harley-Davidson is venturing into the field of electric motorcycles. This is not an easy step for the traditional manufacturer from Milwaukee, as the heavy bikes have so far been defined primarily by the heavy V2 gasoline engine. The fans love this and have contributed to the world fame of the Harley-Davidson brand. However, most of these fans usually already have at least one Harley in their garage. As a result, sales of new motorbikes have been in a slow decline for years.
This is why the strategy aims to bring in new customers with the LiveWire. The electric motorcycle is an important component of the ‘More Roads to Harley-Davidson’ strategy, with which the company wants to address a new generation of motorcyclists. The data that Harley has now published in the run-up to the market launch is clearly aimed at this new clientele. A new world, which is to be made attractive with some of the quirkiness of the brand.
Harley states that the range is 146 miles or 235 kilometres, so the bike is more tailored to an urban environment. Measured in the World Motorcycle Test Cycle (WMTC), the range is 98 miles (157.7 kilometres) – the effective truth is somewhere between these values. With DC fast charging the battery is reportedly able to be charged to 80 per cent in 40 minutes, adding another 20 more minutes for a completely full charge. While the LiveWire can be charged free of charge in the USA at Electrify America charging stations, such a deal is still missing in Europe. After all, Harley-Davidson dealers who offer LiveWire will have a fast-charge station on site.
The electric motor, which Harley calls the H-D Revelation drive, accelerates from 0 to 60 mph (96.6 km/h) in 3 seconds and pulls from 60 (96.6 km/h) to 80 mph (128.8 km/h) in 1.9 seconds. Thanks to the high and immediate torque of the electric motor, the LiveWire shows itself to be absolutely sovereign in overtaking processes, says the manufacturer.
However, Harley still has not revealed the exact technical data of the drive. However, media reports claim to know more: The engine reportedly has an output of 78 kW and the battery should have a capacity of 15.5 kWh. This would make it the largest battery to be installed in a production electric motorcycle. Zero Motorcycles currently uses batteries with up to 14.4 kWh – a comparative advantage for Harley-Davidson. However, since the Zero DS ZF14.4 is significantly lighter than the LiveWire, it can travel up to 328 kilometres with one charge – the advantage of Zero Motorcycles. However, since the DS ZF 14.4 pursues a different concept, few customers are likely to hesitate between the Adventure Zero and the Harley Cruiser.
Regarding the earlier-mentioned quirkiness – during the ride, the electric drive of the LiveWire ensures minimal vibrations. This is not the case when stationary; As soon as the drive is started, the electric motor emits discreet torque pulses. This is intended to convey to the driver that the drive is ready for use – and of course, remind us of the classic V2 engines. The pulsation ends when the car starts and resumes when stationary.
The LiveWire takes over the belt drive from the combustion Harleys. According to the manufacturer, the electric Harley is also undemanding in other respects, as it does not require the numerous components that require regular maintenance in a combustion engine. There are no spark plugs, no air filter, no primary drive and of course, there is no need to change the engine oil. Additionally, Harley-Davidson offers a five-year unlimited mileage warranty on the traction battery. Prices start around $29,799 (€26,560).