Ewan McGregor Goes a Long Way Thanks to Rivian and the Harley-Davidson Livewire

Electric vehicles, whether trucks or motorcycles aren’t typically the steeds of choice for off-road adventures. Especially not ones like the Harley-Davidson LiveWire which, despite offering genuinely impressive performance, isn’t exactly an ADV bike. But if an Indian Scout Sixty can tackle Amazonian jungles, then an electric Harley should be able to as well. And movie star and avid motorcycle fan Ewan McGregor is aiming to demonstrate exactly that.

Ewan McGregor’s past ‘Long Way’ films

This isn’t the first time Ewan McGregor and his friend, British TV star and writer Charley Boorman, have gone on an off-road bike adventure together. It’s not even the second.

In 2004, the duo set off on a trip from London to NYC, going the “long way ‘round” via Russia, Forbes reports. It took over 2 months and saw McGregor and Boorman travel through Mongolia, Ukraine, Siberia, and Canada. That became the subject of the eponymous series Long Way Round, RideApart explains, detailing the 22,345-mile ride.

It eventually inspired a sequel, Long Way Down. It was shorter, Express UK reports, at ‘only’ 19,198 miles. But it saw Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman travel from the northernmost point in Scotland to the southernmost part of South Africa.

Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman with their blue and red BMW R1200GS Adventures in the desert
Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman with their BMW R1200GS Adventures | Long Way Down

In both films, McGregor and Boorman, as well as photographer Claudio von Planta, rode on BMW adventure bikes. In Long Way Round, they were R1150GS Adventures, the predecessors to the R1200GS Adventures used in Long Way Down.

2020 BMW R 1250 GS Adventure
2020 BMW R 1250 GS Adventure | BMW

The modern equivalent is the BMW R1250GS Adventure, which starts at $20,195. For that, you get a skid plate, electronically-adjustable suspension, hill-start control, off-road-capable ABS, stability control, traction control, and heated grips. And powering BMW’s flagship ADV is a 1254cc boxer-twin, rated at 136 hp and 105 lb-ft.

‘Long Way Up’, Rivian, and the Harley-Davidson LiveWire

Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman standing in front of their blue and orange Harley-Davidson LiveWires in the middle of the desert
Ewan McGregor (left) and Charley Boorman with their Harley-Davidson LiveWires | Apple TV

For their latest series, Long Way Up, Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman aren’t using BMWs. They’re riding modified Harley-Davidson LiveWires. And providing support, Motor Trend reports, are 2 Rivian R1T electric pickup trucks.

It’s not clear exactly what modifications McGregor and Boorman have fitted to their LiveWires. At the very least, ADVRider reports, the electric motorcycles have strengthened wire-spoke wheels, skid plates, and engine guards.

But while the Harley-Davidson LiveWire can out-drag a Tesla Model 3, why pick it? In an interview with Jimmy Fallon, McGregor said that the duo “wanted to be part of that new wave of transportation.” And they found suitable partners with Rivian, which used the journey as a kind of extended validation test, MT reports. Basically, seeing how the electric trucks wear and stand up to heavy abuse, and how easy or hard it is to work on them.

What’s arguably more incredible than the fact that both R1Ts survived is the prep-work that went into the trip. Filming Long Way Up required setting up over 200 charging stations. And even with all that, plus the outlets in the back of the R1Ts, McGregor, and Boorman sometimes had to beg locals for a charge, MCN reports.

What can we expect and when?


The Best Used Off-Road Motorcycles Under $10,000

Speaking of locals and setting, for Long Way Up, Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman start in Ushuaia, at the very end of South America, Autoblog reports. They then ride over 13,000 miles into Mexico, passing through countries like Ecuador, Chile, and Peru.

Long Way Up will stream only on Apple TV+, starting on September 18th, 2020.

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