Harley-Davidson Livewire electric motorcycle.
Harley-Davidson Livewire electric motorcycle.

Harley-Davidson’s surprising new bike is a real livewire

MOST major car brands have now taken the leap into electric powered vehicles and over the next decade electric cars will become much more common on our roads.

Harley-Davidson has now become the first major motorcycle manufacturer to go electric. It's new Livewire electric sports motorcycle has just been revealed at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, along with electric scooter and dirt bike prototypes.

Livewire is priced at US$29,799 (A$39,190) in its homemarket. It will reach Australia and New Zealand in late 2020.

The world's oldest motorcycle manufacturer, Harley is celebrating its 115th birthday in 2019, but its traditional customer base of ageing baby boomers is declining, so the Livewire is the first in a series of electric Harleys, marketed under its Twist and Go slogan, designed to appeal to younger, more tech-savvy riders.

Harley-Davidson Livewire electric motorcycle will reach Australia in 2020.
Harley-Davidson Livewire electric motorcycle will reach Australia in 2020.

Livewire's electric motor sits underneath a lithium-ion battery. The "Revelation" drivetrain, as Harley calls it, is housed in a lightweight aluminium frame. It's a serious sports motorcycle, with premium performance components such as fully adjustable Showa suspension, Brembo brakes and Michelin Scorcher tyres. ABS braking and traction control are also standard.

It's quick, too, with a claimed 0-100km/h time of "under 3.5 seconds", according to Harley. There's no clutch and no gears. All you do it twist the throttle on the right handlebar and you're away. Instead of the old fashioned Harley V-Twin roar under acceleration, Livewire makes what Harley calls a "new, futuristic sound." When you release the throttle, the electric motor acts as a brake and switches to regeneration mode, charging the battery.

Charging is via sockets on top of the dummy tank. An onboard charger and power cord allow you to plug into a household outlet and charge the bike overnight. Fast charging can be done at a dedicated DC roadside charging station.

Harley-Davidson Livewire electric motorcycle will feature fake engine sounds.
Harley-Davidson Livewire electric motorcycle will feature fake engine sounds.

Harley claims a range of about 180km for Livewire.

Instead of conventional instruments, Livewire has a car-style infotainment touchscreen, with speed, range and battery charge status readouts, plus selectable music and navigation displays. HD Connect, also standard (with an annual subscription payable after the first year) connects the bike with your smartphone via an app so you can remotely check its location, range, battery status and service requirements, plus find the nearest charging station. An alert is also sent to your phone if the bike is tampered with or moved.

HD Connect will also collect your vehicle usage data, unless you opt out.


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